10 Ways Real Time Data Is Revolutionizing Manufacturing

Competing for new opportunities and growing quicker than competitors requires real time data and the insights it provides.

All manufacturers are pursuing greater speed, scale and simplicity across every area of their operations. Real-time data is the catalyst making these three goals and many others possible to achieve.

For many manufacturers, they are competing more against time and customers’ continually increasing expectations of consistent manufacturing quality.  Of the many areas where real-time data is contributing today, product quality is one where the results are most measurable and revolutionary.

The technologies enabling real-time data capture are also fueling a revolution in manufacturing quality. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are now commonplace across many manufacturing operations, providing real-time data on machine quality, reliability, and performance.

Machine to machine (M2M) technology is also bringing real-time data to Statistical Process Control (SPC) applications capable of providing real-time alerts, graphs and reports. And the potential for Internet of Things (IoT) to capture data that has eluded manufacturers for many years is now within reach.

Using Real-Time Data To Fuel Business Growth

From the shop floor to the top floor, real-time data is one of the most powerful catalysts enabling greater manufacturing growth. By improving the quality of decisions, real-time data is meeting a diverse and demanding series of needs across every phase of manufacturing today.

The results are greater revenue earned from higher levels of compliance, manufacturing quality and best of all, delighted customers.

The following are 10 ways real-time data is revolutionizing manufacturing:

1. Continually improve product quality by using real-time data for Statistical Process Control (SPC).

Knowing which production processes, machines, work centers and product lines are operating at high-quality levels and which aren’t is essential for keeping shop floor operations running smoothly. Having real-time data to use in SPC for continually tracking, controlling and fine-tuning manufacturing processes is key.

Machine operators can also get a real-time view of process performance using quick inspection, control and trend charts. Setting up alerts in SPC Modules to alert quality management, production engineering, and scheduling when there is a deviation in performance can help avert millions of dollars in lost production time.

2. Attain higher levels of compliance and traceability by receiving data directly from any machine on the shop floor in real-time.

Given the rapid advances in PLC-based monitoring and Machine to Machine (M2M) interfaces, it’s possible to capture real-time data on metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of interest.

Collecting data across the shop floor in real-time and looking for patterns, trends and predictive insights form the foundation of Manufacturing Intelligence.

It’s possible today to capture item number, manufacturing number, work order details, lot numbers, date, time and additional KPIs to make traceability one of the strongest aspects of a manufacturing operation.

3. Improve production plan performance by attaining greater schedule accuracy.

It’s best to consider fixed production times on the Bill of Materials (BOM) as an average or median estimate that can vary widely depending on work center assignments, parts availability and many other factors.

By having real-time data, the production time on BOMs can be fine-tuned and checked for accuracy. Without it, long-standing assumptions of fixed production times can hold an entire production line back from accomplishing more.

Greater schedule accuracy based on real-time data from the shop floor makes production plans more efficient, increasing work center productivity and improving machinery utilization as well.

4. Convert more sales quotes and proposals into orders by providing real-time Available-To-Promise (ATP) and Capable-To-Promise (CTP) dates on all standard or custom product configurations.

Manufacturers who are the quickest at delivering complete quotes are the ones winning the most deals. Providing ATP and CTP dates on every quote requires real-time integration between quoting, selling and manufacturing systems that scale across a company’s entire product line.

With real-time ATP and CTP embedded in each quote regardless of the product configuration, customers have the information they need to make a purchasing decision.

5. Manufacturers are gaining up to a 6% improvement in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) when they rely on real-time quality metrics.

By relying on real-time data, manufacturers are gaining quicker insights and can determine which areas of availability, performance and quality are most impacting performance. LNS Research found that manufacturers who rely on real-time data gain a significant competitive advantage over their peers.

In the blog post, Improving OEE through Real-Time Visibility of Quality Metrics, the research firm advises that manufacturers with OEE levels below 80% need to consider shifting from batch-based to real-time data.

6. Prolonging the life of equipment, machinery and tools using real-time data to predict when maintenance, repair and overhaul need to take place.

Real-time monitoring is providing an entirely new series of insights into how manufacturing equipment and machinery life spans can be improved.By combining real-time data with predictive analytics, it’s possible to determine when a given machine will need repair.

Best of all, long-standing assumptions regarding preventative maintenance are changing due to greater insights gained from real-time data.  All of these factors contribute to better business results, driving up Return On Invested Capital (ROIC) as machinery lasts longer.

7. Enable higher levels of inventory control accuracy and performance across all production locations.

Batch-oriented approaches to inventory control, while economical, delay decisions and are prone to errors. Migrating to real-time inventory control delivers a wealth of benefits including eliminating overstock of raw materials, increasing inventory turns, and drastically reducing physical inventory from weeks to days.

Manufacturers are also reducing inventory holding costs and safety stocks while optimizing inventory levels for their most in-demand products. The bottom line is that real time data is the lifeblood of any world-class inventory control system and manufacturing operation.

8. Reaching a new level of accuracy, quality, precision and speed with internal and regulatory audits.

For medical device manufacturers who face many of the most stringent compliance requirements including those from the FDA, 21 CFR Part 11 and ISO, having real-time data can reduce the time taken to get audits done from weeks to days.

Internal quality audits can be done faster and more often to undercover areas for improvement. Aerospace and Defense (A&D) manufacturers are relying on real-time data to meet AS 9100 Rev. C and D requirements, further accelerating their time-to-market.

9. Improving cycle times and reducing scrapped parts by using real-time data to better manage and optimize against constraints.

Attaining higher levels of cycle time performance often requires redefining and reengineering parts of the production process. Constraints that get in the way of gaining greater cycle time improvements are integrated into the production process itself.

Knowing which plant floor processes to change and how much to improve cycle times is key. Real-time monitoring can help to quantify constraints more accurately and define plans on how to overcome each to attain higher cycle times.

10. Simplifying and scaling complex new business models based on mass customization and build-to-order profitable faster.

Managing mass customization and build-to-order manufacturing strategies are among the most challenging business models for manufacturers today.

A prerequisite to excelling at these business model is real-time data on supplier inventory positions, quality levels, acceptance levels, production yields, Bill Of Materials (BOM) and work instruction accuracy, and most of all, order performance.

The bottom line is that real-time data is a must-have for these business models as customers’ expectations of immediate responses is the new normal.


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For more than 25 years, IQMS has been designing and developing manufacturing ERP software for the repetitive, process and discrete industries. Today, IQMS provides a comprehensive real-time ERP software and MES solution to the automotive, medical, packaging, consumer goods and other manufacturing markets. The extended single-database enterprise software solution, EnterpriseIQ, offers a scalable system designed to grow with the client and complete business functionality, including accounting, quality control, supply chain, shop floor, CRM and eBusiness. With offices across North America, Europe and Asia, IQMS serves manufacturers around the world. For more information, please visit iqms.com.