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Choosing The Best Industrial IoT, IIoT, Solution

What Is IIoT

Known as the Industrial Internet of Things, it is the capability to capture data from industrial equipment. Most times internet connectivity is used to create a centralized and accessible (from anywhere) user interface. Visualization of the data is meant to provide meaningful insight through real-time information.

Why Is It a Revolution or Called Industry 4.0

The 4th Industrial Revolution encompasses the use of technology to make more intelligent decisions about industrial processes and procedures. This heightened intelligence comes from the ability to capture data more easily, in real-time, and from more sources. This data is used to predict, plan, and improve production. Industry 4.0 is the process of creating the digital factory.

Machine Monitoring Options

Today there are many technology solutions for monitoring your production equipment. They range from simplistic to extremely complex and from $100's to $10,000's. The more simplistic and affordable solutions will provide basic uptime and down time information, should work on any piece of equipment, install in minutes, and require very little to no training to use.

The more complex expensive solutions involve protocol standards, specific machine tool software enablement, network bridges, lots of data, and extensive training. Both types of solutions are marketed under headings like: MES (Manufacturing Execution System), Machine Monitoring, Machine Tracking, OEE Dashboard, Production Tracking System, Shop Floor Automation, Machine Condition Monitoring etc

What Is The Best Solution For Your Operation

The key in choosing a solutions is understanding your production, key equipment, your team, and your culture.

  1. It's extremely important that you know your production very well. And most Operational Supervisors do. In fact they've developed keen senses of smell, hearing, and sight to know how things are going. This knowledge will help you make quick production improvements once you start receiving real-time data. Managing with real-time information open your eyes to many opportunities to get more productivity from your current machines, equipment, and people.

  2. When you start considering capturing data from your production equipment you might think you need data from everything. This just isn't true. There are key pieces of production equipment that you should start with and expand from there. We recommend starting with less than 10 machines and grow over time. You might find that some machines may never need to be monitored.

  3. Is your team open to gathering real-time data from the machines and equipment they work with? Understanding your team's thoughts on this will help in knowing the messaging the team-leads need to provide. Most of the negativity is centered around false intentions of the company. The goal of machine monitoring should never be about ferreting out bad apples...that always backfires. Fundamentally, the digitization of your operations, is rooted in improving efficiency, the business, and the working environment so the team can work smarter and be more productive.

  4. Adjusting your culture to ingesting real-time information. Most production facilities have a well established practice of [manually] gathering data and sharing it down stream from when it's most useful. There needs to be new practices put in place to share and collaborate around real-time data and the ability to adjust. Status quo and silo mentalities will severely limit the value and benefits you can achieve from Machine Tracking.

Finally, Be Honest About Your Goals

Many approach the prospects of gathering machine data with much exuberance. They have grandiose plans of capturing data lakes worth of real-time information and integrating all their existing computerized systems. They will have text messages sent, machines alerting them before break downs, etc etc. There are many promises made about the digital factory. But huge amounts of effort is just not needed to take advantage of the significant benefits equipment monitoring provides. In fact, 80% of the value can be achieve with 20% of the effort.

Gathering simple uptime, down time, and causes of production stoppage will net you a 30% improvement in your production output. Many manufactures are operating at 50% machine utilization and in weeks of capturing uptime information they are able to increase utilization to 65%. The key difference, Supervisors never had the information in a timely manner (i.e. real-time) to mitigate disruptions before the production opportunity was lost. It's the difference between being proactive vs reactive. Beyond 65% utilization takes a culture adjustment discussed above and 75% machine utilization is achievable. To get to 80-90% machine utilization takes significantly more investment in IT, people, and time. So be honest with yourself about the goals you wold like to achieve with machine tracking.

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