Automated Production Monitoring of Your Plant Floor – For Real!

Gain control of your product proccesses with RealTIme production monitoringWow, I just made a personal promise to our customer that we will be able to complete their order tonight and ship it on an expedited truck for delivery tomorrow by noon to bail them out of a bind they got into. But, I just got a call from maintenance that the only machine that runs the tools and material for this job just went down. I hear that a bad valve that we should be able to fix quickly caused the problem. Then, the team leader for that department says the valve has been operating intermittently causing pressure drops over the last couple of weeks.

Now, we have no slack time to make the repair. It would have been very helpful if someone had told me about the flakey equipment behavior last week when we would have had time to replace the valve before it failed completely.

If you are on the plant floor, you can probably relate to issues like this. You probably have had a week that was sailing along smoothly only to be surprised by an equipment problem that you had to react to. It can be very challenging to recover from a failure in the middle of production. It can be especially frustrating if relevant information about the looming issue was known in advance, but somehow slipped through the cracks.

With all of the news and seminars about the industrial internet of things (IIoT), “big data” and analytics, there must be something to the newest technology inside the information blizzard being published. It seems that there should be something valuable here for your kind of manufacturing business, even though you are not a mega corporation with a big budget.

Affordable production monitoring technology

Here’s the good news: there is affordable and practical shop floor technology to help you track production, automatically monitor processes and catch equipment performance and product quality as it begins to trend out of control. One enterprise software provider, IQMS, has been automating shop floor data gathering, analysis and integration to its manufacturing execution, quality management and enterprise resource planning systems for many years.

IQMS has be working closely with manufacturers like you for over 25 years to bring the latest automation technologies to shop floor production scheduling, tracking and monitoring tied to front office information systems in one, end to end solution for workers, technicians and leaders.

Our goal is the same as yours – helping you to do more with less to become more productive this year.

Leveraging technology to mistake-proof production

Today, it is possible for mid-market manufacturers to leverage the unique IQMS RealTimeTM manufacturing monitoring software and hardware to mistake-proof the setup of production jobs scheduled to run: verify the product specifications, approved materials, packaging and label formats prior to the start of production. Then, as your operators start jobs running using our shop floor touch tablets, we can connect your machines’ sensors and PLCs as well as automated inspection equipment to capture throughput, rejects, process parameters and product characteristics to get a complete picture of production in your plant. Production data and equipment efficiency is continuously monitored so you aren’t blind sided with equipment and quality issues that quickly become costly problems.

Top performing manufacturers are thoughtfully innovating their information systems to assure availability of raw materials and components, approve operators, tooling, and equipment for scheduled production and then stay on top of operations around the clock. They are creating lights-out quality systems that do not experience gaps or mistakes in the records and analyses due to human factors like fatigue or distractions.

Some are already leveraging relevant “analytics” that help them identify and predict looming problems before they affect operating performance or product quality. One such company is Miniature Precision Components (MPC).  “We had nothing to show us what machines were running, and at what level of quality and productivity,” said Rich Simonson, a plant manager at MPC. “Once we saw RealTime in action, it was something we had to have. Information now flows immediately across every layer of our business, and we are able to see specifics we never knew were there before. It’s like going from a black and white television to high-definition.”

Now you can have this same technology too. With solutions designed and implemented by IQMS automation engineers, you can have your cake and eat it, too. You can not only automate the operation of your valuable capital assets to stretch your labor productivity, you can now be assured that your plans are being executed correctly and reliably.

Consider some of the concepts already deployed in the plants of our customers:

  • Verification and automatic printing of 100% accurate bar code labels
  • Download of product recipes for management of the equipment by plant floor PLCs
  • Monitor multiple sensors in work cells to identify the piece of equipment and component trending out of control
  • Connect sensors in tools for temperature and pressure monitoring
  • Link to automated CMM and vision inspection equipment
  • Map shop floor data analysis into SPC charts and executive KPI dashboards
  • Automate alerts of pending shop floor issues sent to smartphone, email or verbal announcements on plant PA system
  • Integrate custom shop floor status display boards with IQMS ERP and MES systems
  • Plus many, many more time saving ideas

Automation ideas on your wish list can soon become reality. With the cost of sensors and electronics coming down and capabilities expanding, you can add smart sensors to your older equipment to boost productivity without having to invest millions to replace your tried-and-true machines.

Learn more about how MPC gained real time control of production processes and reduced labor and production costs with IQMS RealTime™ production monitoring. Read more >>>

Ed Potoczak, IQMS Director of Industry Relations, has more than 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry. Formerly an ERP consultant at the Oakstone Group and Plante Moran, Ed has also held positions as a senior systems engineer for Chrysler, technical sales leader in parts suppliers and general manager for a process equipment builder.