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Manufacturing Tomorrow

Manufacturing Tomorrow


4 Practical Ways Manufacturers Can Leverage IIoT With Shop Floor Optics

Dec 20, 2018
By: Mark Stevens

4 Practical Ways Manufacturers Can Leverage IIoT With Shop Floor Optics

While full integration of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) is only present in a small number of manufacturing facilities, companies that invest in integrated technology are still disrupting traditional processes and operations to achieve better outcomes. Some IIoT initiatives require major capital expenditures, but one practical approach — Shop Floor Optics — is proving to be an economical yet highly effective application.

While extracting data from machines is nothing new in manufacturing, Shop Floor Optics differs in that it can not only identify a machine malfunction but also help determine when, where and why production variances occur. This machine-monitoring platform utilizes simple smart boxes affixed to machines. It compiles and displays metrics on a dashboard for visibility throughout a facility in real time, making it possible to analyze and quickly leverage the data.

Another difference is that, unlike many IIoT initiatives that can take months and even years to implement, Shop Floor Optics can be installed within hours and provide valuable metrics quickly, saving time and money.

While we’ve written before about how this innovative technology can have a positive impact, here’s a recap of the top four areas where Shop Floor Optics has the greatest potential impact:

1. Using Data to Find the Root Cause of Production Leakage

Production managers often struggle to pinpoint the causes of variances in capacity and output on the shop floor. Even after adding new equipment and skilled operators, productivity and profits may not achieve an acceptable level. On-time delivery is slipping, scheduling is off and managers need to constantly make adjustments to work-center planning. All these labor variances lead to increased pricing per unit.

Shop Floor Optics displays machine data on a dashboard and captures information in real-time to target not only where but also why variances occur. Is it operator error, slow startup times, a mechanical issue or some other factor slowing down cycle times? The devices affixed to each machine create transparency and visibility into production outcomes by tracking and reporting historical performance, as well as provide instant notifications of deviations via a dashboard or text alert and identify where losses occur.

View sample dashboards and real-life examples of Shop Floor Optics insights in the full article here.

2. Empowering Supervisors and Improving Employee Engagement

With the labor shortage expected to present a growing challenge over the next several years, keeping your current workforce happy and engaged is critical to retention efforts. Technology can be part of the solution when used as a tool for enhancing employee engagement, helping them achieve their optimal performance and giving praise where praise is due.  

Because the insights from Shop Floor Optics are visible to all shop floor employees, each individual can feel empowered to impact results positively and help solve issues proactively. Knowing they have the power of data to back them up, employees can approach challenges with more confidence and feel like their contributions provide value — a significant factor in job satisfaction and employee retention.

Accurate, real-time data also empowers supervisors to offer immediate feedback based on hard facts, and they can assess equipment performance and materials handling, provide coaching and, just as importantly, praise and reward workers for a job well done.

Learn more about how the insights from Shop Floor Optics can improve employee morale and retention in the full article here.

3. Identifying Downtime Causes and Equipment Faults to Improve Uptime

There’s no doubt that equipment may go down, and resolving those issues as quickly as possible is the key to maximizing production. One of the most effective ways to improve resolution time is making sure everyone is equipped with accurate data in real time. Displaying metrics in multiple locations throughout a plant or even remotely on mobile devices improves monitoring capabilities and visibility and can even help operators and production managers mitigate the risks of downtime by proactively addressing potential breakdowns before they occur.

Color-coded dashboards display the status of each machine with simple, easily interpreted results. The colors change dynamically to indicate the current performance of each machine. If a machine is performing as desired, the dashboard indicator is green. If a section suddenly turns red, the dashboard displays information on the cause, leading to a faster diagnosis as well as the ability to address the root cause quickly and increase uptime assurance.

See a sample of this dashboard to better understand how it works, along with expanded thoughts, in this article.

4. Improving Supply Chain Management and Profits

Managing the supply chain and materials can require constant adjustments — from the need to eliminate excess inventory to acquiring materials sooner than anticipated if a project is completed ahead of schedule.

Machines and operators perform at uneven efficiencies depending on multiple variables, including startup times, equipment, maintenance and more. These variances result in parts needing to be replenished at different intervals.

Machine data can help determine a realistic, attainable production plan that will help make the entire supply chain operate more efficiently. You can update bills of materials (BOMs) and routings based on dashboard indicators and notifications, improving lead times. You can also improve compliance when machine data indicates that poor quality raw materials were the cause of lower output, allowing you to have informed conversations with suppliers and use data to back up potential chargebacks or corrections.

Learn more about how the insights from Shop Floor Optics can improve supply chain management, lead times, cash flow, quality and profits in the full article here.

See What Shop Floor Optics Can Do for You

Wipfli's Shop Floor Optics can offer the robust functionality required to maximize productivity, improve cycle times and help ensure the timely and accurate delivery of raw materials and goods. Reach out today for a free demonstration of how Shop Floor Optics technology can enhance your operations.


Mark Stevens
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