Every manufacturer understands the importance of keeping their machinery in tip-top condition – but how closely do you really monitor their true performance and utilisation? British manufacturing has evolved immensely over the years, but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that some of the manufacturing equipment hasn’t changed in decades.
What has changed over the decades is the technology available to manufacturers, and more recently the role smart technology, such as cloud-based machine monitoring software can play in enabling manufacturers to understand how efficient and utilised even their old machines are.
It has long been known by manufacturers that understanding a machine’s performance is key to reducing production costs and increasing production capacity. The fact is though, getting this data has often been a difficult manual process as traditional machine monitoring solutions have required large capital investments and expert knowledge to operate.
How smart technology is replacing opinion with fact
Traditionally this information is collected manually by machine operators but the data logging rarely happens at the right time. Factory floors are busy, and are likely to have changing priorities and multiple work orders on the go at once. The result, based on what we have learnt, is that the data is often unreliable and full of inaccuracies that are difficult to pinpoint, for example, identical work orders varying in length from three seconds to three days. Unreliable data is useless data, so how can you use it to make the right decisions – important decisions such as pricing up repeat jobs, deciding whether to buy a new machine, knowing if you have the right processes in place or hiring future talent?
What if you had a Fitness tracker-type device but for every machine in your factory that automatically captures productivity performance accurately and in real-time? FourJaw’s machine monitoring software has been dubbed ‘Fitbit for manufacturers’, neatly sidestepping the costly and invasive big-ticket alternatives to deliver the right information at the right time, securely from the cloud.
The ‘plug-and-play’ technology is connected to factory equipment and uses the shop floor wi-fi network to provide machine analytics via a tablet device installed conveniently on (or next to) each machine in your factory. The FourJaw platform can be applied to any type of manufacturing/ production equipment – regardless of brand, model or age – and installation doesn’t require someone with specialist knowledge.
FourJaw’s machine monitoring platform knows when each of your machines is running productively, by capturing the downtime reasons which are input and displayed on the tablets. This gives staff operatives and managers easy-to-digest accurate and reliable data that can drive big improvements in productivity within the manufacturing process.
Most of the manufacturing businesses FourJaw works with estimate machine utilisation at between 50% and 60%. However, after implementing ‘plug and play’ manufacturing analytics software, the data shows that actual utilisation rates are, on average, between 20% and 30%.
For a lot of manufacturers, the first instinct is to invest in new equipment to help increase efficiency. In many cases, with the right information at their fingertips, those businesses can significantly improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) without having to invest in new kit, simply by tapping into the capacity in their existing machinery.
This potential often remains untapped as many manufacturers don’t realise that this type of ‘plug and play’ machine monitoring exists, or how quick, easy, and cost-effective it is to implement across an entire manufacturing facility, giving them a holistic view and enabling them to address productivity across the site, rather than focusing in one specific pain point.
Investing in the right package
Family-owned Packaging Automation Ltd in Cheshire is one company that has benefited from FourJaw’s software. They realised they had no way of accurately tracking spindle and run times: the firm relied heavily on experience, operator knowledge and manual processes to produce potentially unreliable estimates and forecasts. This would result in discrepancies between predicted times and actual times, with no way of resolving them or understanding why they were occurring. Without the ability to directly monitor machine downtime, the company was also unable to identify where problems might be occurring on specific machines, creating potential maintenance issues.
After the quick installation of the FourJaw system Packaging Automation could monitor machine utilisation in real-time and take immediate action as appropriate. It was a game-changer. Read more about how the company benefited from deploying plug-and-play machine monitoring from FourJaw across their shop floor.
In the current economic climate, it’s fair to say many British manufacturers are under huge pressure following the fallout from Covid and Brexit, plus the added costs coming from rising energy bills, increasing inflation and the impact on exchange rates. Now is an ideal time to take advantage of the benefits smart technology can bring to a factory’s shop floor. Using a low-cost manufacturing analytics software, like FourJaw’s will enable you to gain a clear understanding of your factory’s production process, ensuring that all resources – machinery, staff skills, energy, and time – are used efficiently and cost-effectively to drive productivity, gain capacity and grow profitably.