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Beating the Devil in the Details

Smart Manufacturing, Quality Management System (QMS)
April 25, 2023

Imagine driving down a dark road at night. You're cruising along, listening to the radio, and suddenly, your engine dies. You look down and see the “Check Engine” light as you ease to a stop on the side of the road.

If your car is older, the technology on board may tell you nothing other than that your engine has a problem. If you're lucky, and your car's onboard technology is a bit more advanced, you may see a second light for "Oil."

But is it an oil pan leak? A gasket? Or something else? You’ll only know once you get to the shop. Newer cars have much more advanced diagnostics, and many will tell you the specific problem as it happens, either onboard or through an app. But the older technology will only point you in the right direction. It doesn't deal with the "why." Like many things in life, the devil is in the details.

Manufacturing and the Plight of the Engine Light

In many ways, traditional manufacturing is like the “Check Engine” light. Equipment may have enough electronics to point you in the right direction, but it still doesn't show you the "why."The reason is that early automation was only designed to show you that there was a problem.

Diagnosing the cause of the problem was still a matter of trial and error or search and rescue. Often, with notification that finished goods were out of spec and producing off-quality results, operators, techs, and other staff had to roam the machine searching for the cause. The warning didn't provide enough data.

How Smart Manufacturing Tackles the Details

Smart manufacturing software changes all that. By harnessing the power of data and analytics, smart manufacturing software can uncover hidden trends that allow teams to be proactive to prevent problems that impact quality.

Real-time data and advanced analytics also allow companies to automatically drill down to the "why" of the engine problem and act confidently and quickly to increase productivity and lower costs.

This happens by identifying trends in critical segments of the production process. These trends are then analyzed to determine the cause, and insights are delivered to enable process improvement across multiple departments.

There are several areas where smart manufacturing software can uncover critical trends that give you the information needed to address problems quickly:

  1. Improved Quality - Smart manufacturing software identifies trends for product defects, inspection variances, and other quality issues. This capability allows manufacturers to leverage real-time data and analytics to act proactively before problems grow or scrap becomes excessive.
  2. Improved Equipment Maintenance - Trends identified when encountering equipment failure can be used to improve overall maintenance. With smart manufacturing software, many companies are moving away from preventive maintenance and toward predictive maintenance strategies. This shift eliminates under and over-maintained equipment issues and allows service during scheduled downtime like changeovers.
  3. Increased Productivity – With the right software, operators and quality staff move past manual data collection and its inherent flaws. Because real-time data drives analysis, teams have complete visibility over the present moment. Downstream and upstream production is automatically adjusted to address what is happening in the production flow. And intuitive dashboards on HMIs allow operators to respond or intervene quickly, increasing productivity.
  4. Supply Chain Optimization - Technology optimizes supply chain management by creating end-to-end supply chain visibility. Planners can see supplier performance and delivery in real time and work with them to improve performance. These trends can also help identify quality issues before they reach the facility and help dynamically manage compliance, traceability, and expiry issues.
  5. Improved Decision-making – Knowing the trends leads to informed decisions. And leveraging real-time data and analytics enables managers to make data-driven decisions. This improvement in decision-making capacity leads to improved performance, increased efficiency, and greater customer satisfaction.

Manage the Details with Smarter Manufacturing

If the engine light on your equipment only tells you there’s a problem without providing the why, it's time to upgrade. Taking smart manufacturing to the next level will unlock deep insights and advanced analytics so your "detail" reveals the trends you need to know.

Don't get stuck with a check engine light that doesn’t tell you the "why.” Click here to learn how the Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform™ helps you beat the devil in the details and optimize your manufacturing engine.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.