Your factory runs fine; you produce enough widgets to meet demand and generally there are few complaints. But how do you know things are running well, how can you accurately predict if you have the capacity to produce more widgets at a lower operating cost to stay competitive in today's market.

You have heard about smart factories and smart manufacturing, but you manufacture widgets that aren't very smart so don't see the immediate value to your business

The vision of 'smart' is to enable timely decision making through communication and continuous monitoring of equipment, people, and processes. Smart factories and manufacturing is enabled through the use of new technologies and capabilities, these including;

  • Industrial IoT
  • Predictive analytics
  • virtualisation and simulation
  • Collaborative robotics
  • Digital thread, tracking and tracing
  • Social media based communication
  • ...and mobility and Cloud

During the day-to-day management of 'Widgets Inc,' a decision in one area of operations can impact another. The use of real-time decision-making systems will help balance the critical constraints and deliver support for dynamic scheduling to balance the interaction of throughput, OEE, and inventory.

The use of 'smart' tools will help your operators have the right information to make autonomous decisions through the use of easy to access work instructions, leading practices, media, 3D models, etc. System tools need to be easy to operate, hard to make mistakes in, and available anytime, anywhere allow you to;

  • Decrease defects and warranty claims
  • Support additive manufacturing
  • Decrease lot size
  • Shorten time-to-market
  • Balance demand/supply
  • Improve customer experience
  • Smarter resource consumption
  • Provide flexible manufacturing
  • ...and Improve labor effectiveness

Real-time manufacturing decision support and optimisation requires a smart manufacturing platform that supports current and near-future information needs. While there are no quick fix's to measures and improve the Overall Equipment Effectiveness of a manufacturing plant, having a defined approach, methodology and integrated system tools will help you determine and monitor the most meaningful KPI's for your operations.

If time is against you, and you know your OEE score is likely to be low, I recommend you start by looking at machine failures that create the greatest impact on your operations and start collecting data. Secondly, I recommend contacting a systems integrator with a proven heritage in manufacturing operational technologies that can help guide you to industry leading OEE scores.