How to keep your shop floor running smoothly

Posted on 12 Jun 2023 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

Your manufacturing floor is busy on a normal day, but when a machine breaks down unexpectedly? At best, it’s a major headache. At worst, it can put a screeching halt to your production.

Utilising predictive maintenance with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology can avoid these stressful situations. Andrew Robling, Product Marketing Manager at Epicor, explained: “By using sensors to connect to equipment and tooling, a manufacturer can get an understanding of when an asset is going to fail or break down before it happens.”

These sensors, like a vibration sensor or a fluid level sensor, attach to the asset to report back information. “When a sensor goes outside predetermined thresholds, the IIoT solution could set off an alarm or notify maintenance of a pending issue,” he added.

The key to an efficient shop floor is having actionable data. “Manufacturers are continually striving to streamline their business by increasing productivity, improving quality, and reducing downtime,” Robling stated.

By using IIoT solutions, you can easily and safely connect to smart devices that gather data to streamline your business. “By simply monitoring how long the process takes and using that information to identify where there are bottlenecks, you can make changes to gain efficiencies,” he explained.

IIoT allows for real-time insights. Sensors collect the specific parameters that are important to you, like cycle speed, downtime, and machine conditions. By acting on this information, you can avoid a machine breakdown.

Top five costs of a breakdown

Equipment or tool breakdown can be very costly, but not just in terms of the breakdown itself:

  1. Lost production time
  2. Possibility of missing a shipment
  3. Costs of expedited shipping
  4. Low vendor ratings
  5. Possible lost business

Allow your IT department to shine

You already have a ton to keep track of—IT challenges shouldn’t have to take up more of your time. The good news is there are tools that allow your IT talent to be available for critical tech decisions, instead of spending all their time upgrading software, pulling long data reports, and dealing with security breaches.

If you find your IT spends more time compiling and explaining data than you do making decisions off those numbers, it’s time to investigate a different solution. Elizabeth Cain, product marketing manager at Epicor, shares how the right data system can make a big difference.

“An IT department or consultant spends way too much time and money connecting ERP data to an off-the-shelf business intelligence solution. For the average end-user, deciphering what they compile might be no easier than looking at an Excel sheet with row after row of numbers and stats,” she explained.

By using a comprehensive ERP with visible and drill-down analytics capabilities with packaged content integrating all areas of the business, you suddenly have instant access to real-time, user-friendly data that gives the full picture into your business. And it’s right there when you need it without taking up extensive IT resources.

The kind of hosting you choose for your solution is another way to optimise your IT department. Maintaining a large business intelligence system with an on-premises solution is not an easy task. Cloud hosting grants you access to more powerful processing and greater data – and that reduces the strain on IT while allowing cost savings on expensive servers.

Cloud enables the highest level of performance, scalability, and reliability. It also allows you to properly utilise the data your system collects, as Cain explained: “The term ‘big data’ implies it is supported with the necessary hardware infrastructure for powerful data processing and massive data storage providing instant query results from enterprise-wide data. Until recently this was out of reach of most small to midsize manufacturers but that has changed with the availability of these services in the cloud.”

On-premises solutions require complicated, lengthy upgrades to stay up-to-date, while cloud upgrades automatically. Additionally, on-premises hosting for your legacy ERP actually opens up your company to some hidden risks. Software is commonly hosted on the same network as company email, but this makes it easy for hackers to access your customer data and private business information.

Additionally, servers are expensive. Having them on your property could be a huge risk in the event of flooding, temperature control issues, or even possible theft. Hosting on the cloud is more secure, as well as a load off your mind.

Plus, cloud allows you access to the latest tech in your industry. Being on the forefront, instead of catching up, places you in the same tech ballpark as large organisations. Your talent can now do what they do best – employ creative solutions using modern technology. It’s an edge that can put you in front of your competitors.