You’ve likely heard the term Internet of Things (IoT) in reference to smart home technology but how does it relate to your shop floor? In its simplest definition, IoT means “things” that are connected to the internet, physical objects such as your home, office or car. In smart manufacturing, it’s known as Industrial IoT (IIoT) or Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution. It provides manufacturers with the ability to connect all machines and equipment in their plant to the internet to gather real-time, actionable data. With Freepoint, connecting machines is quick and easy on both legacy and new machines.
FreePoint was recently honored to be featured in a double-page spread article in the March/April edition of Manufacturing Automation magazine. The article focuses on the many benefits that machine monitoring brings to companies who suffer from excessive downtime. It explores the increases in efficiencies that machine monitoring systems glean for companies that struggle to meet targets or demand and details the advantages of obtaining a clear overview of the factory floor, as well as the increased productivity margins that are almost instantly observed.
One of the common concerns about machine monitoring is the perception that it represents the acceptance of Big Brother into the workplace. Employees are, sometimes, concerned that this technology is there to monitor them, rather than the machines. It’s a natural concern, of course, but one that’s not substantiated by reality when applied to the workplace.
The article, Improvement Through Engagement, focuses on the installation of machine monitoring hardware and software for hot stamp die manufacturing business, Massiv Die-Form, who introduced the technology into their factories to overcome machine downtime and inefficiency problems they were experiencing within their processes. It examines the consultation process between FreePoint and Massiv Die-Form that help to ensure that the client receives a bespoke system that directly serves their immediate needs.
Jason Sultana, machine shop manager of Massiv Die-Form, explains how management went through a consultation process with their employees to ensure that concerns were met directly –
“When we switched to FreePoint, we made the transition about the employees, and about what they wanted to see. We made them understand that it wasn’t there to track their performance; but it’s there to help us, as management, make their job easier. And make their lives easier while they’re at work.”
Once installed, workforce and management alike discovered a flexible solution that enabled the operator to report downtime issues to management; reinforcing the importance of operator expertise. They recognized that they’d introduced a flexible solution to their manufacturing problems that benefited everyone; a more efficient workplace equals a more fruitful environment for everyone, after all.
The system – built to accommodate their needs directly – had been quickly installed and expeditious in helping them develop their scheduling processes, so that efficiency savings could rapidly be found, along with a tangible method of gauging improvement on the factory floor.
It’s a great read, and we’re very proud to have been featured. To read the full article, click here.
The world of industry and technology are merging and expanding exponentially, forming a connected network of people and machines that maximize productivity, innovation, and possibility. For those of us in the manufacturing industry, we’re living in amazingly exciting times, but it’s certainly not without the fear that we might get left behind.
Moore’s Law is the belief that the processing power of computers doubles every two years. But recent advances in Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality have progressed with such processing power to literally blow Moore’s Law entirely out of the water.
Woah! Slow down
All this progress can feel a little intimidating, to say the least. But there’s a huge amount to be excited about.
The “inter-connected factory” is a conduit between our existing manual (and digital) machinery and the productivity of our people. Through machine-monitoring technologies, these innovations provide real-time oversight of the entire manufacturing process that helps us to increase productivity and efficiency in a way never before possible.
Let’s Put This All Into Context –
First, we had steam and the first wave of mechanization. It was met with initial panic because it was believed that the machines would put workers out of work. Whole gangs of Luddites gathered together to protest and smash up the machines. Nonetheless, progress overcame, and human labor found new roles within the same industries.
Next came electricity, assembly lines, and the advent of mass production. Machines became more powerful, able to produce more, with higher efficiency, and in new ways. It was met with initial panic because it was believed that it put jobs at risk. But, again, industry adapted, and human resources were redeployed in new areas made possible by the new paths that those innovations had forged.
Then came computers and the introduction of robots onto the production line. Again – met with initial panic that humans were going to lose out.
There’s a Pattern
So, there’s a pattern, here. And it’s understandable.
But manufacturing has always embraced change, and has always been at the cutting edge when it comes to the application of new technologies. And as technology frees up human resource, we find new ways to re-deploy the unique skills and talents of the workforce.
Utilizing the Unique Skills of the Workforce
Where machines have made production more efficient, human labor has become more valuable in skilled areas; employing potential, rather than just headcount.
Machine monitoring is the next leap forward in mechanization, unifying repetitious machine-driven processes with the workforce while creating a monitoring system that consolidates human and mechanical processes together in a data-center that provides a real-time window into the productivity of your factory.
Machine monitoring is compatible with old-school, manual machinery and up-to-the minute networked machines alike. It creates a digital infrastructure that connects real-time production efficiency with the needs of your customers, helping you to avoid the big 7 (or in our case 10) wastes of manufacturing. It helps empower your staff by allowing them to monitor their own productivity, and gamify their work-day to add a little competitive spirit into their daily role.
Machine monitoring provides you with a real-time oversight of the entire production line – letting the machines tell you when they require maintenance; recognizing areas in production that are over-producing or under-producing; and using the interchangeable skills of the workforce to keep production at maximum potential.
And the future?
The future never stops, of course. And manufacturing will continue to evolve, finding new ways to employ the unique talents of the individuals we employ.
The truth of the matter is that to stay current, you need to look ahead – and consider human and machine as allies. The evolution of production is something to embrace, to protect the jobs and the securities of those we employ.
FreePoint Technologies has a comprehensive suite of machine monitoring technologies that help you stay at the forefront of manufacturing innovation.
The term “employee engagement” might sound like just one more inaccessible management consultant’s buzzword but, in actuality, the importance of positive employee engagement certainly can’t be overstated. Companies that fail to take employee engagement seriously often suffer from poor productivity, worrying staff retention, and weak profit margins due to fast staff turnaround and disenfranchized people functioning at minimum velocity in under-valued jobs.
What do we mean by “engagement”?
Engagement is about focus, presence, enthusiasm, and, perhaps, most importantly, purpose. If you can provide reward in ways additional to the obvious financial, some surprising things will happen.
Job satisfaction is that intangible product of a positive environment that might surprise and enthuse when present, but certainly dishearten when absent.
Engaged people naturally go above and beyond what is required of them because they feel a part of something important; they want to contribute to the bigger picture; and they can see how the end product benefits society in some way (perhaps by just making everyone else’s lives a little easier, or more pleasant). Engaged workers feel included, and they feel valued, so they repay you in dedication, loyalty; all with the unifying power of the positive person.
It’s estimated that over 25% of all workforces are subject to reduced staff retention, and a third of those are amongst the most talented, motivated employees (under the right conditions). It’s a commonly recognized belief that nurtured talent thrives, while ignored talent and enthusiasm diminishes.
A piece of research carried out by recruitment website, Glassdoor, concluded that 54% of currently employed individuals felt confident that if they were to quit or lose their job, they’d be successful in finding a comparable job within six months.
If employees know that there’s something equivalent or alternative just around the corner, then we have to make the manufacturing industry an engaging employer who trains, invests, and retains their most valuable resource – their people. In short, if you don’t make the workplace a satisfying, rewarding, and engaging place to work, you’re going to lose your staff. Or continue to achieve low or mediocre productivity.
So, how do you keep hold of your most talented employees? And how do you nurture the dedication and enthusiasm of the rest of the workforce? Everyone deserves to feel valued, so here are some tips on methods to keep your workers happy and engaged.
So, how do you engage your staff?
A bit of civility doesn’t cost a penny, but it could surprise you. Words of encouragement and appreciation go a long way in nurturing a positive working environment. It’s said that “a thank you is worth its weight in gold” and it’s undoubtedly true that verbal recognition for a job well done is a great morale booster.
A “thank you” card might feel a little “soft-skill” but who wouldn’t appreciate a personal note from their boss recognizing their contribution? A team night out can help amalgamate a disparate workforce, as long as it remains optional and there is no sense of social rejection for those that choose not to attend.
There is very little in life guaranteed to stultify more than repetition and the prospect of eternal, monotonous servitude. Engage your workforce by listening to them and involving them in change. Workers who operate machinery, for example, are most likely to have lucid, valid perceptions of how to improve productivity, so invite and listen to their suggestions. But listening isn’t enough – make efforts to implement the improvements that they have instigated and credit them for their input.
Enthusiastic individuals who have proven their mettle on the work floor should be offered opportunities to develop, and training them in new roles (or offering secondments to other departments) is a great way to reward dedication. Of course, not everyone wants to progress, and this should certainly be respected if they’re performing well in their current role.
Likewise, forcing the workforce to carry out training courses that feel irrelevant or counter-intuitive to their current role can be disenfranchizing.
Everyone has a life outside of work and accommodating people’s family lives goes a long way to garnering a positive working environment. Flexibility goes both ways, of course, so if you can help your workers when they need time off to attend something important, they’re going to be much more likely to go out of their way to help you out when you most need them.
Employee engagement tools
Machine monitoring is an employee engagement tool that doubles as an efficiency monitor. Machine monitoring hardware is compatible with most analog and digital machines, so adopting this technology costs much less than you might think.
In essence, machine monitoring software collects efficiency data that can help improve productivity and increase employee engagement by putting the individual in control of their daily activity. Data collated from machine monitoring can be used to justify incentives and reward the most hard-working, while giving those who might naturally sit in the background to recognize that greater contribution brings better rewards.
Machine monitoring introduces gamification into the workplace as a means of incorporating data into productivity. You can encourage a little friendly competition into daily production by recognizing the best performers and the best improvers; all backed up with a transparent, irrefutable data stream.
Running contests on the shop floor is an excellent way of engaging your workers; encouraging a sense of healthy competition and camaraderie if the contest requires teamwork.
There are lots of ways of helping promote a positive working environment with engaged employees who are likely to go the extra mile for you. Most require a just change in culture as opposed to a financial investment, so can you really afford to deny your workforce the opportunity to fully engage with your workplace?
Manufacturing is a great place to work. It’s an industry that satisfies those who enjoy “doing”, and it’s one of the largest sectors in North America. Manufacturing employs 8.7% of the population in the USA and accounts for almost 11% of Canada’s GDP.
There are lots of reasons why it’s great to work in manufacturing. We thought we’d do a bit of research to find out what people who work in manufacturing think about manufacturing.
1. It’s exciting
Manufacturing covers a wide array of industries – it’s difficult for people not to find it interesting. Manufacturing spans some of the most interesting high-tech industries, such as aerospace, food technology, machine monitoring, and pharmaceuticals. Not everyone gets the opportunity to tell friends about their day-job, but when you’re working on the latest developments in aerospace, people want to listen.
2. It’s safe
To the contrary of what’s widely believed, the days of workers crammed into darkened sweat-boxes, handling dangerous chemicals and machines that would gladly rip off a limb are now, mostly, resigned to history. Things have come a long way. Robots, machine monitoring, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and automation are all employed to ensure that the workplace is a smart and safe one.
3. You’re creating tangible things
Manufacturing is all about producing things which go on to help people live their lives. And there’s very little that’s more satisfying than seeing the fruits of your labor and saying “I made that”. Workers in manufacturing are responsible for bringing products into stores, and maybe even set pieces into blockbuster movies. If you work in a bank, you shuffled some numbers today – and those numbers got shuffled by someone else. Manufacturing produces tangible products.
4. There’s a career path
There’s more to manufacturing than fabrication and welding – although, these days, these are highly skilled roles. Automation has taken a lot of the dangerous, repetitive work away from the factory floor, leaving many specialized tasks behind for talented individuals.
As the baby boomers retire, there are opportunities in leadership, as well as opportunities in sales, business development, marketing, product research and development, and HR. Manufacturing can provide stability and life-long career paths.
5. The Cutting Edge
Manufacturing has always driven innovation: 3D printing, the IIoT, drones, robotics, for example. We adopt new technologies before they become widely available on the consumer market, so we get the opportunity to use and perfect the development of these cutting-edge technologies. It’s a great reason to get up for work in the morning.
Manufacturing makes a significant contribution to home and global economies, as well as puts food on the table at a local level. With a substantial contribution to GDP, manufacturing helps raise the standard of living for workers and consumers, while lubricating the economy. We’re also producing products that make lives easier, so not only is the contribution financial, but we’re adding to the quality of life for millions of consumers.
7. There’s a need
There’s a huge skills gap in manufacturing. In 2011, the National Association of Manufacturers identified that there was a 67% deficit in available, qualified workers. That means that there’s a huge opportunity for training, and for those hoping to develop life-long skills. The world of work has become transient as our economies have shifted to a service-based focus; the “job for life” in those industries has become a thing of the past. But manufacturing is here to stay and needs skilled workers, especially as the baby boomers are retiring, leaving huge gaps in the workforce.
With the massive demand for skilled people, there’s a huge array of career progression opportunities in manufacturing. The image of repetitive production lines and grubby overalls is not the new norm. Of course, those roles are still available for those who want them, but technology has stepped in, leaving wider possibilities for skilled workers. It’s not all shop-floor working; there are opportunities in prototyping, product development, as well as the many office and marketing roles.
9. You get paid!
Manufacturing offers competitive pay and benefit packages. There’s a higher percentage of workers in manufacturing with retirement plans, in comparison with other private sector industries. And there’s often a good range of health care benefits available, and on a more generous basis than in other industries.
Pay, on average, is higher for equivalent roles in other industries.
10. New skills
As manufacturing adapts to new technologies, so do the roles. There’s a distinct push for people with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills, as machines require programming and new software needs development.
Companies are struggling to recruit people with these skills; partly because it’s not widely understood that these skills are required. But for highly qualified, technical specialists, manufacturing offers excellent potential for a great career.
So, there you have it – ten reasons why it’s great to work in this exciting industry. If you’re interested in getting involved, speak to your local careers advisor, or approach your local manufacturer directly and let them know what you have to offer them.
If you are already in the manufacturing industry and what to improve your productivity, reach out to us today.
The political landscape of 2017 has been a portrait of peaks and troughs. Brexit in the UK presents potential possibilities for trade deals with the US and beyond, and (love him or hate him) President Trump’s tempestuous first year in office was preceded with promises to rebuild North America’s industrial sector. Whether his ambitious promises yield fruit is yet to be seen, and it’s rather too easy to get lost in the crowd hysteria that big change conjures. However, significant transformation brings significant opportunities, and in the manufacturing sector particularly, we’ve seen increased adoption of digital technologies, harboring a new dawn in manufacturing processes.
In the same way that the Industrial Revolution had a major impact on manufacturing and society, digital transformation within manufacturing houses is set to change the way we produce and cater to our customers. Not since Henry Ford developed mass-production manufacturing have we seen changes like those that 2017 has exposed us to; but “digital” represents a move away from mass-production, toward a leaner, less wasteful, bespoke, and customized production approach.
However, only 5% of manufacturing executives are satisfied with their existing digital strategies, or even recognize the importance of this digital revolution. Digitization helps to overcome the “Seven Wastes” of lean manufacturing by making more affordable the bespoke production approach; as opposed to over-producing, under-engaging employees and keeping customers waiting while we produce against demand.
Internet of Things (IoT)
At the heart of the change in manufacturing processes in 2017 was the implementation of IoT processes, providing live reporting of incremental production data, defect and damage.
By effectively connecting our analog (and digital) machines to monitoring networks, companies have found an essential, competitive edge in consistency, efficiency, employee engagement, and instant visualization of project progress; yielding benefits to the manufacturing process and to the customer, as the price of wastage drops as a result of digital monitoring.
Industry 4.0 and mass customization
Scary as it sounds, Industry 4.0 presents a reverie of the interconnected factory, and this has developed exponentially in 2017. Machines are online and capable of making decisions.
Now, don’t run for the hills, here – this is good! Industry 4.0 presents a hybrid approach of actual and virtual content-producing warehouses, freeing up workforce to focus on mass customization which can directly react to consumer demand.
IoT and Industry 4.0 are developing the way we interact with our customers post-sale, by providing immediate and consistent support online.
AI is nothing new – IBM’s supercomputer defeated the world’s best chess player over ten years ago, after all. Advanced algorithms are collecting data on the factory floor, performing skilled labor, and predicting consumer behavior, so that we, the manufacturer, can better cater to their needs. Smart factories can increase production capacity by 20% by gleaning live information from integrated IT systems. And FreePoint Technologies can help!
Quality becomes more consistent as machine learning determines the factors affecting service and quality of product.
Manufacturing continues to be an essential contributor to Canada’s GDP; providing 1.7 million quality, well-paid jobs, and contributing over 10% of Canada’s overall GDP (around $174 billion).
The manufacturing industry, therefore, has massive potential for strengthening Canada’s economic future. We have the skills, innovation and exports of more that $354 billion each year, which represents 68% of Canada’s entire merchandise exports. Competition is healthy and success breeds success: where our industry grows, we attract new investment.
Growth is dependent upon continued innovation, and the more we adopt new technologies, the more our healthy manufacturing sector continues to grow.
As a quick, whistle-stop reminder, Lean Manufacturing is a concept developed during the 1990s – at the time, referred to as the Toyota Production System (TPS). It sets out to clarify the processes within the manufacturing timeline that add value, and eliminate the processes that inhibit it.
TPS identified the “seven wastes”, which we’ll be exploring in this article. But it doesn’t stop there – we’ll be examining some additional areas of waste that affect the factory line.
The TPS “seven wastes” are easily remembered via the acronym – “TIM WOOD”
Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-Processing, Overproduction, Defects
What is Waste in Lean Manufacturing?
Waste is anything that adds no value. When your production line follows a large number of processes, it’s inevitable that, over time, elements of that process develop that hamper the efficiency of the build. This costs the manufacturer money, which, in turn, gets transferred to the customer.
Eliminating waste is an essential component in a company’s ability to compete; while helping increase profits.
Your customers expect timely delivery, consistent quality and the right price. So, streamlining your processes to remove waste is essential.
Unnecessary transportation of goods within a factory-line is the product of a variety of problems: poor factory-floor layout; complex handling systems; large batch sizes; storage in multiple locations; and over-production. These all result in unnecessary transportation.
The movement of materials from location to location is a waste because it adds no value. You need to pay people to move materials, and the maintenance of vehicles is costly. A poor floor layout can increase the distance between operations, resulting in delays in processing and expensive transportation costs.
Inventory costs the manufacturer money until it has been sold on to the customer. Every finished product or material component require storage space; waiting on the shelf to be sold.
Large amounts of inventory increase the chance of transit damage and cause delays in transportation.
Unnecessary motion occurs where movements by either man or machine are not as small or as simple as they could be. It could be that your engineer needs to bend down to pick up heavy objects multiple times throughout a shift – this puts strain on their back and could be eliminated by merely feeding those materials at waist-height, rather than on the floor.
This is all common sense because even robots will wear out eventually.
A sloppy production timeline results in unsynchronized activity, causing waiting within the production process. Idle time occurs when interdependent procedures are not in synch: operators are kept waiting, or work slowly to accommodate slack cogs in the wheel.
Overproduction breeds waste! It results from producing more product than your customer requires.
This causes storage problems from unnecessarily large batch sizes, and an inability to respond to customer need.
If your customer wants 150 pieces of x and 12 pieces of y, but you already have 700 pieces of y and only 10 pieces of x, then your customer is going to have to wait for your to produce to their requirement.
Streamlining your processes to meet customer need means that product is sent directly to the customer, in a timely fashion (and not stored).
Over-processing occurs where elements of your manufacture don’t add value. Painting of unseen parts of the product; cleaning or polishing beyond required levels: these are manifestations of over-processing.
Aim to process to the degree that is useful and necessary.
Over-processing is generally caused by a lack of standardization, unclear specifications, and inconsistent quality acceptance standards.
Defective goods are the most apparent waste. While faults can never be eliminated entirely, you can reduce them by implementing poka-yoke systems (processes that help equipment operators to avoid mistakes).
This requires thorough documentation of processes and standardized training so that everyone follows a standard set of operations to achieve a uniform result.
8. Wasted Talent
If an employee is simply moving materials or equipment from one place to another (transportation), then that person’s talents are being under-utilized.
Non-utilized talent equally refers to management’s ignorance of continuous improvement feedback that comes from those operating the machines. If management fails to engage with talent, it’s considered a waste in lean manufacturing terms.
9. Ineffective Performance Measures
Machine monitoring is a valuable resource for transitioning a process to lean manufacturing. By obtaining an accurate data-reflection of current processes, you can identify waste.
You can also empower the workforce by providing the ability to monitor their own performance and recognize productivity norms, while rewarding uniform, standardized working practices.
10. Poor Supplier Quality
No production process can overcome an unreliable supplier. If you need materials to produce, then you need to be able to rely on your suppliers to make sure your processes are as efficient as they can be.
Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances, but if your suppliers are continuously letting you down, it might be time to look elsewhere.
Your workforce is your business, and making sure that they’re productive is more than continually watching over them. Listen to them, because they will have the first-hand experience of any problems on your production line.
Eliminating waste is about examining your existing processes, and empowering operators to help you streamline the factory floor.
With machine monitoring and our ShiftWorx Platform, we allow companies to measure and record granular production information right off the plant floor, from any machine, in real time. Not only does this help eliminate waste, it engages your employees with actionable data.
Can’t fill those empty shifts? Perhaps you have permanent roles for the right people, but you just can’t recruit the right people?
Manufacturing is one of the longest-standing industries, yet we struggle to recruit top talent to fill our highly specialized jobs. Whether it’s finding casual labor to fill open shifts or hiring talent for permanent roles, the manufacturing and logistics industries are struggling to find the right people for the right jobs.
You’re not alone if you’re struggling to recruit.
So we’ve compiled a list of suggestions from some of the top people in the recruitment industry, to help you find the top manufacturing talent in 2018.
Social media is the principal means of communication for millennials, so becoming familiar with Facebook and Twitter is the way to capture their imagination, and find new talent.
The key to a successful social media campaign is engagement – just posting one-way pictures and videos don’t demand a physical response. Run competitions, quizzes, get people to apply for jobs on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, and you’ll find that the freshest talent will come to you. Offer your existing employees bonuses or perks if they share your posts with their friends and followers.
Facebook advertising is cheap and can be directly targeted so that the right people will see your post.
Explore Playbuzz for ideas for engaging online quizzes and games.
LinkedIn is a networking platform for professionals, so it’s a rich resource of existing talent. You’ll be able to see people’s CVs and get in touch with them directly. Everyone is flattered by head-hunting, so don’t overlook it as a method of recruiting top talent.
Go to where the talent is
Creating partnerships with local schools is a great way to “go to the talent.” Your local community is the key, so make sure that your business is visible, with a favorable image.
Develop a positive image
One of the significant problems facing recruitment in manufacturing is the perception that the workplace is dangerous, dirty, noisy, poorly lit, and a purgatory of unskilled, repetitive tasks. If you can help to change that perception, people will come to you.
Obviously, the first thing is to make sure that your workplace isn’t dangerous, dirty, noisy and poorly lit. Have open days, where the local community is invited in to see how things are done. Present the workplace as a laboratory for commerce with a skilled, dedicated workforce, and perceptions will change. And so will the empty mailbox.
Strategic employee referral programs are an excellent way to find new talent. Incentivize your existing workforce to help you find new talent – for every employee that gets taken on, as a result, offer a reward.
Nobody’s impressed with business speak, so avoid jargon and keywords when you’re putting your job spec together, especially if it’s a job that you’re offering training for.
Clear language gives the impression of transparency, while overly technical business-speak can trigger suspicion. If the job role is for a cleaner, don’t advertise it as a Habitat Contaminant Removal Executive, because they’re going to be disappointed when you hand them a bucket and a mop on their first day.
This is a methodology to employ after you’ve recruited, but if you introduce it onto the floor now, you can use it as an enticement for new talent.
Gamification is a motivational technique that introduces gaming mechanics into existing business processes. It’s a way to engage and incentivize the existing workforce, using machine monitoring technologies to facilitate self-assessment, gameplay, and target setting; by putting the employee in charge of their progress.
The potential for training is enticing for potential new talent – conscientious workers always welcome the development of new skills. If you can present progression opportunities, you’re going to attract top talent, because top talent is ambitious.
Courses, seminars and coaching sessions are great ways for the company to come together to share skills.
Investing in existing employees is a sensible approach to enticing new employees to the fold.
Building a team
A supportive team is a valuable resource for any business, but if you can demonstrate an existing support network to potential employees, then new talent will come.
Developing a positive workplace culture is important – you get more out of your existing employees, who will, in turn, invite new people to the team.
Social events are good team-building activities – team quizzes, sports events, days out. It definitely doesn’t need to be that whole “build-a-bridge-out-of-3-sheets-of-paper” type situation. And social events don’t have to cost a lot of money – it’s just a way of showing some appreciation for hard work, and it will repay you in dedication and drive.
Work/life balance has been shifting over the past decade, in favor of work over life. However, a little appreciation of an employee’s home life goes a long way in creating a culture of goodwill, which will be repaid with flexibility and hard work from your employees.
Develop your workplace culture
Developing a positive workplace culture is one of the most significant ways that you can make the workplace an inviting place for top talent.
The problem with top talent is that they’re sought after – not just by you, but by everyone.
Making changes in your workplace to create a positive culture is your way of ensuring that they choose you – as much as you choose them.
Help recruit the right talent by having a modern, innovative workplace. Bring your shop floor into the 21st century with machine monitoring technology.
The world is changing, and 2018 is likely to become the year the manufacturing industries adopt many of the innovations and trends once confined to the novels of Philip K Dick and Arthur C Clarke. It seems that the future has finally caught up with us; changing the way we work, communicate and manage our businesses.
Manufacturing is thriving in North America – offering employment to over 12 million full-timers, having brought in $6 trillion in nominal gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2017 alone. Technology is already playing its part in making our factories more efficient, cost-effective, safe, and easier to manage. The move towards greater automation is the unavoidable flow of change.
We’ll be exploring the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), robots and automation, 3D printing, intelligent decision-making and inbound marketing in this article; posing the question of how these revolutionary innovations and trends can transform our manufacturing processes.
New technologies are offering new modes of product development, innovations in operation and a revolution in how we serve our customers.
But adoption of such technologies isn’t without its challenges: we may struggle to upgrade our legacy systems, keep hold of workforce talent, and handle the vast quantities of Big Data that is produced by such developments.
Here are some of the answers to the questions that these changes inevitably present.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The term “Internet of Things” refers to the cyber-connected world – our heating can speak to our smartphones, our washing machine can order our washing-powder, and the refrigerator can fill itself with food.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) therefore, means that our machines will communicate with us (and to other devices), providing us with data that we can use to apply efficiencies; making production more productive.
The first thing that people often say is that their machinery is too old, and it would be entirely unrealistic to upgrade – there’s not a computer-chip on the whole floor, they whisper. While this is arguably true in many cases, it need not be a barrier to installing the IIoT on the factory floor.
Inexpensive machine monitoring sensors can be easily attached to old-school analog equipment: connecting devices with software applications, which enable manufacturers to gather information, so that they can come to real-time decisions, based on accurate real-time facts.
IIoT functionality can facilitate inter-machine communication – logging production stats, and even monitoring equipment and production lines for safety; identifying any problems that may occur.
IIoT can track work quotas and determine optimum times for equipment maintenance, ensuring the longevity of your machines.
IIoT will, ultimately, revolutionize the factory floor, helping it to be a safer, more productive environment.
Automation is nothing new in manufacturing – machines have been completing technical and repetitive tasks for decades, and are due to become more in demand in 2018.
International spending on robotics is predicted to reach $67 billion by 2025, with almost a third of that being allocated by the manufacturing industries.
Robotic automation will help manufacturers to achieve work of high precision, productivity, and safety. Robots can work in hazardous and inhospitable environments, tackling the challenges that human workers would rather avoid. With the advent of voice and image recognition, robots can integrate into the workplace, duplicating complex human tasks with high levels of consistency.
Robots are already busy at work on the floors in the healthcare and food manufacturing industries, as well as tackling the jobs that are too dangerous for humans in our ever-growing world of mitigation. Environments that require clean rooms (such as in pharmaceutical plants) and lights-out facilities will operate around the clock, with robots at the helm.
Robots can take the humdrum, repetitive tasks; providing new pathways for our human workforce, creating new and different jobs. Forrester Research estimates that 15 million new jobs will evolve over the coming decade thanks to the opening up of the industry that robotics and automation will provide.
It might sound like a gimmick on a smartphone, but AR is set to change the way in which we develop new products – testing different manufacturing scenarios before a product goes into full production.
AR tools can simulate the production phase, drawing attention to potential problems which could halt production. It will help to ensure that the manufacturing process produces precisely what you hoped to create.
AR can also help with inventory tracking, worker training and provide insight into a company’s optimal operational standards.
Again, what might seem like a short-term trend, provides a unique, low-cost method of creating prototypes. 3D printing is already an indelible part of many manufacturing businesses, but 2018 will see more companies adopting these machines to improve their product development practices, resultantly bringing new products to the market more quickly.
The applications for 3D printing are broad, offering significant implications to high-volume production lines, in the creation of a full spectrum of devices, from toys to medical devices.
Intelligent Decision Making
Machine monitoring brings with it enormous volumes of data that requires processing for it to be significant.
The success of machine monitoring is in a company’s ability to translate that data into significant indicators of a production’s output.
Trying to track too much information is counter-productive, so companies such as FreePoint can offer complete solutions for discerning, communicating and controlling processes, so that you can make decisions that have a positive impact on the production floor, in real-time.
The days of the flyer, the trade ad, attending trade shows, and sending out direct mail aren’t entirely defunct, but they’re certainly on the wane.
Original content on websites, social media engagement, and search engine optimization are all low-cost ways of communicating your marketing message to the masses.
Online marketing is all about engagement – attracting potential customers through original content and encouraging interaction. It can be quantifiably successful, undoubtedly more so than old-school leaflet drops.
The internet hasn’t just changed the way we communicate, socialize, and consume our entertainment, but it is having an impact on how we run our businesses.
Perhaps this all sounds a little too much to take on-board all in one go. And this is where the experts at FreePoint Technologies can help. We have a range of solutions that can help drag your manufacturing business out of the 20th century, and into the new, exciting world of 2018.