Smart manufacturing revolves around monitoring and analyzing real-time data. Its significance cannot be overemphasized. A recent IQMS Manufacturer’s Survey of North American manufacturers found that 81% of the respondents rely on real-time monitoring to improve their businesses.
The top 10% of these manufacturers integrate real-time monitoring, transform the data into intelligence using analytics, and save time on the production floor by using mobility applications.
While these statistics underscore the value of real-time data, it can still leave some manufacturers wondering how it benefits their specific operations. Here are some of the essential ways real-time data can maximize a company’s production output:
Real-time inventory data lets you optimize your stock by avoiding overstocking while ensuring you have adequate amounts of the items you use the most. Real-time data provides a complete and current picture of your inventory, allowing your business to react quickly to supply chain needs. It also offers information about supplier inventory and order performance to help companies make better decisions.
In summary, the benefits of using real-time data to manage inventory include:
- Avoiding running out of stock
- Meeting deliveries
- Managing inventory levels to optimize profits
- Assisting with decision making
- Keeping the work flowing
- Keeping customers happy
Getting real-time data from the equipment on the factory floor gives you the KPIs or metrics you need to improve traceability and performance. Recent research has discovered that companies with real-time visibility of quality metrics outperform others by 6% in overall equipment effectiveness.
Using real-time data analytics to improve quality control is essential in today’s competitive market. Real-time and accurate data is the life force of any quality management program. It promotes informed decisions, enables continuous improvement, empowers collaboration throughout entire organizations, and ultimately creates a quality culture.
By combining real-time data, predictive analytics, and machine learning, companies know ahead of time when one of their machines will need maintenance or repair. This information can considerably prolong the life of your machines and help boost productivity.
Manufacturers with the most complex production processes gain the greatest benefits of real-time monitoring through reducing production downtime because of equipment failures. These companies receive faster insights and can quickly determine when their equipment needs maintenance, repair, and replacement.
Improve scheduling and productivity
Scheduling is one of the primary challenges in manufacturing because its accuracy is so critical to efficient processes. Inaccurate and out-of-date schedules cause delays and hurt productivity. But it is preventable when real-time data gives you accurate production times or machinery utilization rates.
Real-time data allows manufacturers to tweak their scheduling and adequate production time, avoiding production delays. Enhanced schedule accuracy based on real-time data from the shop floor makes production plans more efficient and improves time on jobs.
Optimize smart machinery
The era of smart, connected machines has arrived. Among survey participants in the IQMS Manufacturer’s Survey of North American manufacturers mentioned earlier, 41 percent indicate they are purchasing smart machinery.
Many of these machines, located in today’s smart manufacturing facilities, can self-diagnose, self-correct errors, and evaluate quality levels in real-time. However, smart machines depend on the real-time data collected and analyzed to be effective.
Fast quotes often make the difference in winning or losing a bid, so suppliers must respond quickly with pricing and availability requests. Real-time monitoring helps reduce supplier reject rates and inconsistent deliveries.
In the IQMS study, 34 percent of manufacturers cited erratic supplier quality and deliveries as major growth obstacles. Unsurprisingly, most of these companies use real-time data monitoring to help them overcome this challenge.
Real-time data reduces the time to do internal quality audits, which is especially critical for manufacturers with stricter compliance requirements. For example, medical device producers and manufacturers in aerospace may require fast and frequent audits.
Real-time data monitoring offers immeasurable advantages by streamlining and automating the audits. In other words, companies with complex audits that must remain in constant compliance with federal regulatory requirements will be the primary beneficiaries of real-time data monitoring.
Don’t underestimate the importance of real-time data
Manufacturers who ignore real-time data in their operations do so at their own peril. After all, data has evolved from merely a tool to analyze metrics and monitor statistics, to a way of reacting to growth potential when it appears.
Real-time data is an essential component in growing a successful business. It’s not an embellishment to say that manufacturers have little chance of competing with those who employ it efficiently without real-time data.
Analyzing data over time has value. However, today’s environment of constantly changing trends requires companies to make decisions quickly and correctly. And obtaining critical insights anytime and any place is an option that manufacturers cannot afford to ignore.
Eric Whitley has 30 years of experience in manufacturing, holding positions such as Total Productive Maintenance Champion for Autoliv ASP, an automotive safety system supplier that specializes in airbags and restraint systems. He is also an expert in lean and smart manufacturing practices and technologies. Over the years, Eric has worked with all sectors of industry including Food, Timber, Construction, Chemical, and Automotive to name a few. Currently, he’s a part of the L2L team.