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Top 5 Ways Manufacturers Should be Using Their Data

If you’re already collecting data in your organization, great! However, if you’re collecting data, and dropping it into a repository where it’s never seen again, what’s the point?

There are many great articles written on how companies should use their data, but manufacturers are quite different than retailers, or service providers, of any business that deal directly with the end user customer of their product. According to a recent article in Forbes, the common Top 5 ways to leverage data for those kinds of companies is:

  1. Make more informed decisions
  2. Understand customers, and market trends
  3. Provide smarter products and services
  4. Improve internal operations
  5. Create additional revenue opportunities

For many manufacturing plants however – those that don’t design the products they build or sell to the end customer as those functions and responsibilities belong to their customers – some of the above don’t apply ‘directly’. In the case of point 2, “Understand customers and market trends”, for many factories it would be more important to understand their workforce and the trends within the work force. Most companies in this category would not get a chance to create additional revenue opportunities, but they could use data to drive operator engagement on the plant floor, by modifying behavior, and thus creating more production capacity (i.e. revenue), or decreased cost, which creates additional earning, or improves competitiveness, which may lead to more business.

Our Top 5 list for Manufacturers would be:

  1. Make more informed decisions
  2. Understand your current workforce, and future trends to attract the best
  3. Make quicker decisions to prevent adding value to waste
  4. Improve internal operations (Lean, CI, digitization of documents etc.)
  5. Put data into action in real time to modify behavior engage workers

Arguably the most important of these 5 however, is making more informed, data-driven decisionsRandy Bean, and Thomas Davenport of the Harvard Business Review state:

“Analytical decisions and actions continue to be generally superior to those based on intuition and experience.”

There are many business cases that support this assertion, and manufacturers serve as an excellent example. Since the advent of industry 4.0, it’s become easier than ever to obtain performance metrics from manufacturing equipment. However, simply generating data in a manufacturing environment does not improve efficiency or productivity. Rather, it’s how manufacturers use their data that enables improvement. By monitoring their machine data, communicating more effectively with their operators, and scheduling dynamically, manufacturers can identify and address process bottlenecks, eliminate wasted time, material or energy, and greatly improving their overall production. This this allows manufacturers to produce more with the same amount of resources – directly benefiting the bottom line.

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Paul Hogendoorn
Founder
FreePoint Technologies Inc.

Getting Ready for the Restart

Industry is getting ready to restart. Prior to the Covid crisis, you may have been contemplating things like connecting your machines to a system that gave you better visibility into production activity remotely and eliminating paperwork on the plant floor. If these things seemed like a good idea then, they most certainly must have moved up to near the top of the priority list now.

If you have been hesitating or were too busy to get started on this before but want to get a good jump on it now – before the full restart – give us a call right away. We can get your machines (or more machines) connected right away and have programs to defer the costs to later. Or, if eliminating the paperwork passed around on the plant floor is your concern and you want to start simple by digitizing some forms and checklists, reach out to us and we will connect with you promptly.

The new ShiftWorx Plus machine view tracking job, operator, and scrap.

I believe it’s now our time to be proactive. We have endured a long period with little choice but to follow and wait. Now is the time to act and to lead.

Looking forward to the restart with all of you.
FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn
Paul Hogendoorn
Founder and Chairman
FreePoint Technologies Inc.

5 Ways You Can Customize Your IIoT Experience

As more manufacturers begin to transition to an IIoT environment, sometimes they may find an off-the-shelf solution just isn’t enough. At FreePoint, we think manufacturers deserve a custom solution as unique as their process.

To ensure manufacturers can take full advantage of their IIoT solutions, those solutions must be flexible, versatile and scalable. Flexible, customized software solutions can grow alongside your business, meaning you don’t have to keep purchasing additional solutions as your needs evolve.

In light of our recent acquisition of custom software development company: CoreSolutions Software – we have come up with 5 ways we can to customize your IIoT experience:

  1. Custom Modules
  2. Customized Production Scheduling
  3. Customized Dashboards
  4. System Integration
  5. Data Mobilization

Custom Modules

custom modulesMany IIoT solutions will come with a standardized set of features and functions to help manufacturers increase efficiency. Machine monitoring and downtime tracking are usually two of the most common features. However, by offering custom module development, we can develop unique applications that perfectly cater to your distinct workflows.

For example, our ShiftWorx Notifications module sends email and text alerts when a specific machine condition has been met. We can even customize the notification module to automatically trigger specific actions elsewhere in your system.

Customized Production Scheduling

For manufacturers looking to increase production capacity without purchasing new equipment or hiring additional employees – consider custom production scheduling. An asset to managers as well as operators, customized production scheduling allows individuals to prioritize the data most relevant to them. Management can focus on scheduling views and performance statistics while operators focus on task lists and work instructions. The best part about customized solutions is that they are tailored to fit your shops unique needs. Whether you want to:

  • Increase production capacity
  • Reduce changeover & startup times
  • Reduce time & material waste
  • Improve scheduling accuracy

Custom scheduling solutions can help get you there. From defect reporting, to ERP and MRP integration, custom solutions pack more of a punch then their off-the-shelf counterparts.

Customized Dashboards

Custom dashboards are another powerful means of obtaining actionable, impactful insights into your process. Every manufacturer is different, so it makes sense that their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) would be as well. Rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, customizable dashboards give you the power to view the information that is most important in your shop, in real-time. Custom dashboards can also access data from across your organization, allowing you to more easily identify production trends and patterns, as well as areas of improvement.

System Integration

Another way we can customize manufacturer’s IIoT solutions is through custom system integrations. By giving manufacturers more flexibility, they can work across multiple connected systems and complete more tasks in less time. In addition, manufacturers will find custom integrations open the door for major process improvements. For example, by integrating IIoT solutions with ERP & MRP systems, manufacturers can supercharge their quality control, as well as their supply chain:

“If you can catch deviations from specifications when the product is being manufactured, you could easily stop and fix them. This would greatly minimize defective parts, if not completely eliminate it.”

ERP Software Blog

Data Mobilization

custom data mobilization

Data mobilization is also an avenue through which we can customize your IIoT solution. Through CoreSolutions’ mobile application development, we can provide efficient, versatile, and reliable access to your data, regardless of where you are. Make your machine data accessible from company tablets anywhere across the shop floor, or even from your cell phone for the times you are off-site.

Final Thoughts

Industry 4.0 solution packages that are scalable allow machine and equipment availability to be increased and processes to be optimized. If you’re interested in processes that provide lightning-fast cost savings, provide a competitive advantage, and offer valuable real-time insight into your OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), you should consider machine monitoring.

Contact us to learn more about how we can create and customize an IIoT solution for you to call your own.

4 Myths of IIoT and Industry 4.0

Recently, we had the pleasure of participating in the speaker series with the Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium to discuss the 4 Myths of IIoT and how Industry 4.0 is collecting real-time data on older analog machines.

Business owners interested in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are looking for ways to explore an asset performance management system for engaging employees, connecting machines and increasing productivity.  In today’s world, attracting, retaining and empowering employees through new technology must be a core focus.

Let’s take a few moments and break down the 4 myths of Industry 4.0 and IIOT.

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