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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.

Driving Production Performance With Machine Monitoring and Real Time Data

FreePoint ShiftWorx™ brings Industry 4.0 benefits to manufacturing equipment regardless of age or function. FreePoint’s industrial IoT system connects to any age or type of machine or equipment, gathering valuable data and providing immediate visibility to everyone, engaging employees to use “human intelligence” to improve operations in real time. Manufacturers gain immediate and lasting benefits through increased operational efficiency and capacity throughput, improved employee performance and job satisfaction, and deferred capital expenditures on new equipment.

machine monitoring reporting dashboard

Machine Monitoring Reporting ShiftWorx Plus

FreePoint’s patented algorithm determines when a machine is doing value added work and presents real time information to the people who can make an immediate difference at all levels of the organization. This real time visibility provides a 360-degree view of your plant and allows you to:

 

  • View correlations between job, operator, scrap & machine activity
  • See the average run time of jobs on a specific machine
  • Determine yields on your part
  • View the amount of times you run a specific work order per year
  • Easily identify bottlenecks
  • Significantly reduce unscheduled downtime
  • Proactively manage machines
  • Benchmark against your current state
  • Increase the accuracy of their estimates
  • And more!

Take your data to the next level by integrating your machine data with your Business Central or Dynamics and Microsoft Power BI. If you are a manufacturer looking for simple and quick way to connect both new and legacy machines to visualize machine utilization, engage machine operators, and drive production performance with real time data, then we need to talk. FreePoint will help you set your data benchmark, understand the context of your data, improve accountability, make better decisions on the plant floor, and drive meaningful improvement. When fully implemented our customers can increase production performance by up to 50%!

 

ShiftWorx Custom Reporting Through BI Tools

When discussing the release of ShiftWorx Plus, we often touch on how we put more data at your fingertips than ever before. We talk about the enhanced customization capabilities for custom views and dashboard and today I wanted to discuss another similar critical element – How coupling the capability to capture Job and Operator data with the vast offerings available in the Business and Artificial Intelligence field creates a wealth of new insight extracted from ShiftWorx machine monitoring.

machine monitoring reporting dashboard

Machine Monitoring Reporting ShiftWorx Plus

As is the case with many Enterprise software products, we continue to evolve our reporting tools, though we will always be challenged to provide all of the reports in the exact format that a customer wants. There are simply too many ways in which each manufacturer wants to see data customized to their shop and process. This can be considered a challenge, but also creates an incredible opportunity.

Within ShiftWorx, many of our built-in reports and KPIs provide information across 2 or 3 dimensions – typically by DataSource, a TimeFrame and one element (Uptime/Downtime/Status/Job).  With the release of ShiftWorx Plus, we have many more combinations of dimensions on which we can report including Day, Shift, Status, Operator, Job (where multiple Status/Operator/Jobs can be active concurrently). More reporting options provide a wealth of great actionable insight, yet can also make reporting more complex when reporting on elements like Operator Uptime/Downtime/Production by Job/Product by Shift for a 6 month period – especially where multiple jobs may have been managed by multiple operators.

To address this, we have developed a process to normalize ShiftWorx data for consumption by business intelligence and reporting tools, providing the opportunity to extend the data in a way that is valuable for manufacturers, consultants, and other value added partners who can mine this information for insight into areas that can improve the performance and quality of manufacturing process.

Below are a few sample dynamic dashboards that we created using Microsoft Power BI as an example of our management reporting capabilities. By allowing and filtering multi-dimensional data, you can drill down to the metrics that matter and have the biggest impact in your shop.

At present, this is still in Beta and we are fine tuning the capability and will be rolling out a production version over the next few weeks. So you can see this in action, we have created the video below where we move the levers and slice the data. If you would like a live demo of this solution to understand the power of these tools, reach out to us.

 

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.

Top 4 Reasons You Need Custom Dashboards

A few weeks ago, we released a massive update to our ShiftWorx platform. Alongside the update, we added enhanced customization capabilities for manufacturers to create their own custom views and dashboards.

Cut through the noise by drilling down to the metrics that matter most to your shop, and to your people. Regardless of title, anybody within your organization can have role-specific views that quickly communicate the data needed to drive continuous process improvement throughout your operation.

Custom dashboards offer various benefits, but for simplicity sake, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 4:

  1. Showing the Right Data to The Right People
  2. Viewing Data from Across Your Organization
  3. Improving Decision Making
  4. Quickly Identifying Issues

1. Showing the Right Data to the Right People

Dashboards provide an easy way of visualizing actionable, impactful insights into your process. Rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, custom dashboards empower you to:

  • Create role-specific views for managers, supervisors, operators, team leads, etc.
  • Display the data that’s most important to your users
  • Customize your solution in a way that best suits your organization and your role

machine monitoring and downtime narration

ShiftWorx Machine Monitoring, KPI & Downtime Tracking Dashboard

By displaying metrics relevant to specific roles, employees within those roles can quickly and easily drill down to the data they need. Without the unnecessary complexity, manufacturers can react faster to issues on the shop floor while identifying areas of improvement within their control.

2. Viewing Data from Across Your Organization

You can also leverage custom dashboards to enhance operational visibility. Integrating your ShiftWorx solution with other systems, such as ERP, gives you all the metrics that matter most to you in one convenient location. In addition, by displaying ERP, MES, QEP or CRM data alongside production data, you get the full picture of what’s happening in your shop – with no blind spots!

3. Improving Decision Making

With intuitive, role-specific views providing real-time insight into your operation, managers and operators alike gain a 360° view of the processes that matter most in their organization. Deeper insight facilitates more informed and educated operational decisions while displaying relevant, actionable data to the individuals who can make a difference right away.

Custom Dashboard

Shop Supervisor Using a ShiftWorx Custom Dashboard

4. Quickly Identifying Issues

Every manufacturer is different, so it makes sense that their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) would be as well. As opposed to their off-the-shelf counterparts, customizable dashboards give you the power to view the information you need to quickly identify production issues.

Create & display your own KPI’s that reflect:

  • Machine Uptime/Downtime
  • Scrap/Waste
  • Production Performance

Experience the Benefits of Customization

In manufacturing, a few minutes of downtime can result in massive revenue losses for the shop. By giving the right people the right information as they need it, staff can respond faster and with more accuracy when addressing production issues on the floor.

To explore what customization options are available in the new ShiftWorx platform, schedule a demo with us today.

Announcing ShiftWorx Plus – Your End-to-End Machine Monitoring Solution

 A Machine Monitoring Solution that Tracks the Metrics that Matter Most to Manufacturers

FreePoint Technologies announces the release of their newly updated platform, ShiftWorx Plus, which will help manufacturers increase production by nearly 50%

London, ON – March 13th, 2020 – FreePoint Technologies, an award-winning industry leader in the industrial internet of things, announces the release of ShiftWorx Plus; an advanced machine monitoring solution that manufacturers are using to greatly increase their production capacity. Existing customers using FreePoint ShiftWorx have seen production improvements of up to 50%. Now, in addition to tracking and explaining machine downtime, manufacturers can use the new product to track production and machine uptime by job, part, and operator, and to document scrap, workorders and more. Now manufacturers can significantly increase the amount of actionable data being collected.

With ShiftWorx Plus, manufacturers see machine data presented in easy-to-understand dashboards that can be tailored to operators, supervisors and managers. With live, actionable data immediately visible on the shop floor, workers and managers alike become more engaged and can quickly take action to keep production moving at full speed. Collecting more data leads to richer reports, and deeper insight into the manufacturing process—highlighting nay bottlenecks that are present. And by displaying relevant metrics for everybody to see, manufacturers can produce more with less while driving meaningful, continuous improvement throughout their shop. With highly flexible configuration options, each manufacturer can scale out a ShiftWorx Plus solution that’s tailored to their unique needs.

“Customers are telling us ShiftWorx Plus is a game changer” says John Traynor, CEO of FreePoint Technologies:

“We’re always looking to provide manufacturers with the metrics they need to be successful. With the latest addition to our machine monitoring platform, we’re helping manufacturers better understand their data, while getting a 360° view of their downtime.”

Manufacturers can use FreePoint ShiftWorx Plus to identify and eliminate bottlenecks, inefficiencies and production issues within their shops. Now, manufacturers can experience end-to-end visibility on their shop floor, with no blind spots.

 

ShiftWorx Plus Machine Monitoring Benefits

Connect with FreePoint Technologies

About FreePoint Technologies:

FreePoint Technologies is a leading industrial internet of things and Software as a service (SaaS) company based in London Ontario. Collecting, monitoring and visualizing data for successful, growth-oriented manufacturers; FreePoint puts vital analytics in the hands of management and operators to improve efficiency, enhance employee engagement and fuel sustainable growth.

FreePoint delivers real-time productivity information, connecting manufacturing processes directly to managers and operators in innovative, practical, and cost-effective ways. The ShiftWorx platform allows customers to identify actionable information in the factory and share it effectively with the people that can make an immediate difference.

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For more information on FreePoint Technologies ShiftWorx Plus, or if you would like to schedule an interview, please contact:

Lisa Bailey | Director
Phone: +1 800.682.0486 x240
Email: lisa.bailey@getfreepoint.com

Explore The New ShiftWorx Plus

Big changes are coming to FreePoint Technologies! If you’re a manufacturer who wants more quantitative data from your machines while better understanding the context of that data, then we’ve got some great news for you – we have not only upgraded, but fundamentally improved the entirety of our ShiftWorx machine monitoring platform. This upgrade brings with it a variety of improvements including expanded functionality, enhanced customization and improved user experience.

ShiftWorx Plus Benefits

What is ShiftWorx?

ShiftWorx is a comprehensive machine monitoring solution that enables you to track your machine performance, downtime and activity. The platform collects and visualizes machine data in an easy to read, user-friendly dashboard that can be displayed on the shop floor for both your managers and operators to engage and discuss. This additional information empowers you to generate richer reports and gain deeper insight into your manufacturing process.

By displaying relevant metrics for everyone to see, you can improve accountability, make better, more educated decisions, and drive meaningful continuous improvement throughout your shop.

Introducing ShiftWorx Plus

The upgraded ShiftWorx Plus platform exists to provide manufacturers with additional data to help inform their decision making.  Enabling you to collect and monitor machine performance and downtime data, ShiftWorx Plus can also track additional variables, such as:

  • Jobs, Parts, Work Orders
  • Scrap, Waste, SKUs
  • Operators, Team Leads, Supervisors
  • And More!

ShiftWorx Plus ReportingYou can even use ShiftWorx Plus to create customized, role-specific dashboards! With more data available at your fingertips, you can run reports that highlight the various correlations between different data-points, see the run times on specific machines, determine yields on your part– the list goes on! With state-of-the-art, high-level monitoring capabilities, you get end-to-end, 360° insight into your entire shop with no blind-spots.

With optional add-ons available to ShiftWorx Plus users, manufacturers have more flexibility then ever before to build a solution around the specific needs of their shop. Available add-ons include custom integration, alerts & notifications, and our brand-new digital andon and call box system – giving you the benefits of an andon solution, without the additional wiring, labor and installation fees.

What it Means for You

For manufacturers, these new features provide more data to both drive improvement, and better inform their decisions. For current clients, rest assured nothing about your current ShiftWorx package is changing, except for the name. In the coming months, we will be performing the migration to the upgraded platform, at which point some additional training may be required for current customers.

 

For those looking to upgrade and experience the new features included in ShiftWorx Plus,  Reach out today!

Forbes Article: Industry 4.0 – Are Companies Doing Enough?

Industry 4.0 is the latest industrial revolution to shake up the manufacturing industry. As organizations begin to transition into this new, universally connected ecosystem, it can become challenging to leverage all of the data and information at their disposal.

An article published by Forbes Magazine explores industry 4.0 adoption, and how companies have been handling the transition:

“while connecting things and even gathering and analyzing the data supplied by those things has been growing, the actual application of data to inform better business decisions is still elusive for many organizations.”

Even though many manufacturers have begun collecting data throughout their shop floor, they are still having trouble taking full advantage of it. More than 60% of survey respondents mentioned in the article claim data-informed decision making has led to significant ROI, making it no surprise why so many manufacturers are eager to start putting their data to work. Corroborating Forbes findings is another study we referenced in a past article that found 66% of early IIoT adopters say IIoT is now a critical advantage for their business.

Some key takeaways from the article include:

  • “The B2B IIoT device market is expected to increase to 5.4 billion in 2020 from 2.5 billion in 2017.”
  • “+90% of respondents gather data from traditional sources such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, or non-transactional internal systems such as email – whereas than half of respondents collect data from some form of IoT.”
  • “Just over half of respondents rated themselves as capable of using data to make decisions in real time, while 45% said they don’t currently have the capability”

Read the full Forbes article here.

Getting Started With IIoT Has Never Been Easier

A common misconception we hear about IIoT and Industry 4.0 is that these technologies are the future of the manufacturing industry or just beyond manufacturers grasp. Many think the transformation is too costly, too challenging, or both!

Getting Started is Easier Than You Think

We understand that even for manufacturers who are ready for industry 4.0, the process can seem overwhelming. What do I need? How do I get it? Where do I begin? Starting your digital transformation doesn’t have to be so hectic.

With FreePoint, here is all it takes to begin your digital transformation:

  1. Connect Machines
    • We non-invasively connect FreePoint sensors to your machines
  2. Transfer Data to the Cloud
    • We connect your machines to our ShiftWorx software through a PC on your shop floor
  3. Visualize Data
    • You display the collected data on the shop floor using LCD screens

The Sooner, the Better

These first, small steps are really all it takes, and the sooner you can get started – the better! By deploying these technologies today on your shop floor, you will be able to establish baselines and collect data that will help you make more educated, data-based decisions in the future. It’s honestly never been easier!

Rather than a months-long process, FreePoint solutions can be installed non-invasively to any machine over the course of roughly 20 minutes – without the need for your IT people’s involvement. Once connected to the ShiftWorx platform, you can start purchasing whatever tablets, or LCD screens you need to visualize your data and engage your operators on the shop floor.

At FreePoint Technologies, this can all happen within 24 hours, and less than 20 minutes of machine downtime. To get a free quote or schedule a live demonstration, contact us today!

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.