Shining a light on 'black box' operations
Accessing production data would open up new possibilities for the component division.
Its critical manufacturing processes were “black box” operations. This meant workers had no data proving that the process and product were actually meeting engineering specifications. The lack of data also resulted in inefficiencies and sub-optimal processes, which ultimately drove rework and other non-value-added costs.
“Our goal was twofold,” said Brent Ruth, global ACM ERP CoE Leader, Caterpillar. “First of all, we wanted to learn how to connect and utilize IIoT devices within our factory environment and get some quick wins. And secondarily, we wanted to gain insight into our actual manufacturing processes to include understanding what is happening in real time to be able to improve and optimize our process and efficiency.”
Starting the journey
An initial proof-of-concept took place over a blistering four weeks before Christmas. The goal? Capture PLC data from critical-constraint machines and present it with graphical analysis to manufacturing engineers, all of which would be done using the FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC.
For the project, Ruth built a team that brought together deep technical and process expertise, while also leveraging the support of Rockwell Automation and PTC. Team members came from IT and OT backgrounds that historically have had competing priorities. But they were able to work together because they both understood the vision of the project and were involved in executing it.