As a manufacturing business leader, you understand that the choices you make have a major impact on the success of your shop floor operations. Similarly, the manufacturing processes you implement have the power to increase your company’s profitability—or detract from it.
With the right tools, the burden of good decision making becomes a little easier. Machine monitoring tools can help you gather important metrics and real-time information you can use to optimize your business processes. Machine monitoring allows you to gather this real-time data without being slowed down by time-consuming tasks and analog systems.
In this article, we’ll explore more about the power of machine monitoring and why it benefits your overall factory operations.
What Is Machine Monitoring?
In the manufacturing industry, machine monitoring is the use of sensors to gather information about the assets and equipment in your shop or factory. This technology collects real-time insights and data metrics such as which machines are currently in production, reasons for downtime, good parts vs. scrap parts, overall equipment efficiency (OEE) and more.
What Is Machine Condition Monitoring?
Machine condition monitoring is a type of machine monitoring that tracks machine health and performance over time. This includes measuring parameters like vibrations, RPM, currents and temperatures. It also looks for different thresholds of degradation that predict unplanned downtime.
While machine monitoring and machine condition monitoring are similar, condition monitoring focuses more on how well the machine is running and indicates when it needs to be maintained or when a part needs to be replaced. Classic machine monitoring collects data that can be used for business decision making, such as how many units a machine produced or which machine operators are best utilizing a machine. Most machine monitoring software options will help you with both types of monitoring tasks.
How Does Machine Monitoring Work?
Let’s explore exactly how a machine monitoring system works and how you can leverage it to understand your data and use it proactively to run your businesses.
1. Collect Data
The first thing that machine monitoring does is collect data. Usually, a machine monitoring plug-in is placed directly onto the machine or piece of equipment to collect important data metrics and KPIs like:
Once data has been collected, it needs to be stored and secured in a way that makes sense. That is, data needs to be organized in a way that fosters consistent interpretations and highlights meaningful patterns. This makes it easier for the decision makers within your organization to understand and act upon it when needed.
Many machine monitoring solutions are cloud-based, meaning that all data is stored wirelessly in the cloud. You can then transfer or access the data from any device, making it mobile and therefore more useful to busy business owners and executives.
3. Analyze Data
Raw data can be extremely difficult to understand. Effective machine monitoring tools will take care of the heavy lifting by completing data analyses for you to help provide meaningful and actionable insights. These results are often displayed on machine monitoring dashboards that can be used for many things, like helping you determine machine issues, identifying problems with certain operators or parts, increasing uptime and finding other areas of improvement in your processes.
Key Benefits of Machine Monitoring
There are many reasons why you should implement a machine monitoring system at your business. A good machine monitoring system does more than help you track your machines’ performance—although that is a major contributor. Rather, it’s a tool that can be used to help improve the functionality of your business practices overall. Let’s take a look at the key benefits of machine monitoring.
1. Automates Data Collection
Manual data entry is inefficient, irritating and time consuming. It can also be full of mistakes due to human error and can cause many issues within your processes. When you have machine monitoring tools in place, you can automate almost all of the functions of data collection and get a single source of truth for your data analysis.
2. Improves Operator Productivity and Performance
Without machine monitoring on all your machines, it’s difficult to accurately judge operator productivity and performance. But when you deploy a monitoring system and track OEE factory-wide, you can visualize the full potential of your workforce and create systems or schedules that equip your operators for success.
3. Increases Job Productivity and Performance
Similar to gaining an understanding of operator productivity and performance, you want to be able to judge your job performance effectively. In order to accurately see your job-by-job efficiency and improve your costing, you need to see how well the job is performed during each operation. You can't do that unless you're measuring all operations.
4. Enables More Informed CapEx Decisions
If you implement machine monitoring across your shop, you’re able to consider your factory-wide data, which is more conducive to providing quality justifications for CapEx decisions. You’ll be able to show with certainty how assets and operators are performing on your shop floor and make decisions accordingly. Furthermore, you’ll be able to answer the “why” questions and have the data necessary to support your decisions.
5. Provides True Root Cause Analysis
Root cause analysis of any problem is only as good as the quality and quantity of data. By considering all variables, you can approach problem solving with a wider lens, enabling you to find the true root cause and implement an appropriate and effective solution.
6 Steps to Set Up Your Machine Monitoring System for Success
Now that you understand how valuable a machine monitoring system can be, let’s discuss how you can set yours up to make the system as successful as possible.
1. Understand the Objective of a Machine Monitoring System
The first factor you need to consider when choosing a machine monitoring system is how to define your objectives and success parameters. Different machine monitoring tools and software solutions will accomplish different tasks. Therefore, it’s important for you to take the time to learn more about your own budgets, resources and needs before you can determine what type of machine monitoring solution will work best in your facility.
2. Appoint a High-Level Product Champion
In order to win workforce buy-in and establish the right procedures from day one, your new machine monitoring system needs a high-level champion. To be most impactful, the project champion should participate in implementation meetings and stay involved with the system. They should be eager to review the ongoing data and keep pushing the team toward success.
3. Run a Trial and Validate Results
The next step is to make sure that you are easing your team into the implementation process. By running a trial, you can start small on a couple of machines. After that, you can slowly build the process into your regular production floor processes, incorporating more machinery as you go. This gradual approach ensures that your team can adjust without feeling rushed. This will reduce errors and stress as well as prevent major, plant-wide changes from happening all at once.
4. Launch Your Machine Monitoring System
Once you’ve run your trial, it’s time for the full-scale launch of your machine monitoring system. No matter how simple your machine monitoring system is though, it still takes work to see that it’s fully implemented, from equipment installation to training initiatives. Identifying a project owner to manage implementation will help your launch. In many cases, continuous improvement managers, project managers and process engineers make great project owners.
5. Review Data and Incorporate Into Plant KPIs
Like many manufacturing processes, you need to approach machine monitoring with a mindset of continuous improvement. It’s essential that your supervisors and production leads—the people who run your daily operations—stay on top of the system data and incorporate it into the company’s KPIs. Measuring metrics like production hours and machine uptime allows the entire team to track its performance relative to factory goals. If this data isn’t integrated into this process, your system will never be fully adopted.
6. Scale Your Machine Monitoring System
It’s great to have a machine monitoring system in place when you want to grow and scale your business. Scaling involves cutting back on unnecessary expenses and optimizing the processes you have in place so you can replicate and expand them as needed. Machine monitoring helps you discover areas of improvement and gives you real insights on how to address those issues through actionable data. This helps you plan for scaling and growing the business as a whole.
Implement Machine Monitoring With Ease Using Amper
When you have the support of a machine monitoring solution, you can do so much more than just track machine performance. It allows you to monitor your machine operators and understand what your machine status is across the production floor. You can also avoid bottlenecks, improve cycle times, eliminate downtime, improve your overall equipment effectiveness and build smart manufacturing processes.
Amper is an IoT machine monitoring tool that can help you track machine health and plan scheduled machine downtime to avoid inefficiencies. Learn more about Amper’s machine monitoring solutions to see how it helps manufacturers improve OEE and optimize their shop floor processes.
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