Manufacturing companies are constantly seeking ways to improve their production processes. Most of them are already organized to be highly lean thanks to adopting the Lean Six Sigma model.
Six Sigma is a disciplined, statistical-based, data-driven approach and continuous improvement methodology for eliminating defects in a product, process or service. Lean is a popular approach to streamlining manufacturing and transactional processes by eliminating waste and optimizing flow while continuing to deliver value to customers. Lean Six Sigma combines two popular Process Improvement methods—Lean and Six Sigma—that pave the way for operational excellence. The traditional goals and challenges are improving efficiency, increasing productivity, and profitability.
In 2023, manufacturers will continue to focus on improving processes, embracing new technologies, and driving sustainability initiatives. As we move into the future, the manufacturing industry continues to evolve.
In years past, the relationship between a manufacturer and its customers was surface-level. Today, customers expect near-constant access to and regular engagement with brands, i.e., unbeatable user-experience design and enhanced technology to meet shifting demand. As a result, manufacturers invest in disruptive technologies, data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and manufacturing.
Amidst the manufacturing industry’s market challenges, technology offers organizations the chance to combat workforce disruptions and thrive. The industry is seeing growing success due to business leaders initiating the change and using or implementing digital manufacturing technology. These technology solutions allow manufacturers to maneuver complex operations regarding supply chains and inventory, helping track and automate routine tasks. Through real-time data capabilities, manufacturers can instantly be aware of issues or delays, allowing problem-solving.
This flexibility also makes manufacturers better prepared to make smarter business decisions. When logistics are running smoothly across different facets of an organization, unnecessary delays and confusion can be identified before they become a problem and avoid.
Data-driven manufacturing is an approach to making process decisions based on data, as opposed to historical best practices and even generalized manufacturer recommendations based on average data — not the real performance of the equipment in the facility. It is an approach that leverages data from shop floor equipment, operators, and the supply chain, among other sources, to enable manufacturers to make better decisions as they work to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.
Data in manufacturing is primarily acquired through equipment operators and sensors, which record massive amounts of information about the machine and process performance, status, and quality.
To successfully leverage data in operation, manufacturers first need to collect accurate data that can be effectively processed and displayed in such a way that is easy for the user to consume. Data analysis in the manufacturing industry is the crux of data-driven manufacturing, as it provides historical benchmarks and actionable real-time assessments by which highly effective decisions can be made.
Data analysis enables predictive and proactive maintenance, more effective preventive maintenance, and on-the-fly equipment adjustments for optimal quality and performance. The key benefits of using data-driven manufacturing operations are:
- Automation: Companies can automate both data collection and its analysis to achieve critical insights that drive informed decisions in the business.
- Predictive maintenance: by revealing the real-time data, companies have the opportunity to adopt a proactive approach to upkeep the performance of their equipment.
- Process optimization: Data and indicators can offer valuable insights to operators and managers to streamline processes to achieve optimal production levels at all times.
- Lowered costs: Data, when combined with other modern manufacturing strategies, enables companies to optimize the production process, reduce waste and lower the costs of operations.
IoT & Industry
The manufacturer’s continues target is to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing costs. The internet of things (IoT) has emerged as a potential solution to these challenges. As a network of physical objects embedded with sensors that collect and exchange data, the IoT helps manufacturing optimize production processes and reduce downtime. Here are some ways the IoT helps streamline the production process:
- It enables manufacturers to collect data from various machines and equipment in the factory, allowing them to identify trends and areas for improvement.
- It offers critical metrics and allows monitoring of production status in real-time. This enables easy replication of the production processes, automated auditing and timely resolution of production-related problems.
- It connects machines and equipment wirelessly to the internet, which allows manufacturers to remotely monitor and control them, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency.
- IoT-enabled machines can communicate with each other, allowing for a more coordinated and streamlined production process.
- IoT can help manufacturers fix problems before they occur, reducing unplanned downtime and increasing productivity.
The right mix of technology adoption that strengthens your core business (process automation, data analytics) while pushing the edges can improve efficiency. In 2023, we expect to see more manufacturers embrace innovation and jumpstart their digital transformation journey.
As the market evolves and confronts challenges, including labour shortages, high inflation rates and supply chain disruptions, manufacturers must understand and utilize available technologies to become agile and adaptable organizations. Engaging with emerging and evolving technology means manufacturers will take advantage of business opportunities due to an outdated tech stack. Now is the time to invest in technology to turn risks into advantages and capture growth in this market.
If you’re looking to invest in upgrading your technology stack, give Field Eagle a try.