In manufacturing, it’s all about producing a quality product for the lowest cost and being able to deliver it to customers efficiently. An important part of doing this is ensuring the right business data is being collected and analyzed in a way that can improve processes from the office to the manufacturing floor.
Trying to gather this data in the past meant using a variety of manual or stand-alone software-based methods that weren’t interconnected. Trying to connect the dots and bring data together from multiple sources was time-consuming. Until… connected cloud solutions came along that enabled data automation.
Data and process automation allow manufacturing companies to identify weak spots in their workflows, reduce mistakes, and better allocate resources to boost output. They also drastically reduce the time needed to gather, analyze, and make data-based decisions.
Manufacturers with the highest growth rates list enhanced data availability as their #1 tech priority. (NIST)
What are the biggest technology priorities for manufacturers that have a growth rate of over 10%?
- Enhanced data availability
- Enhanced collaboration with customers and suppliers
- Enhanced market intelligence
- Higher productivity
- Real-time availability of critical business information
Let’s look at ways that data automation can help you achieve those objectives.
Benefits of Automation in Manufacturing
Manufacturer investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) alone is expected to grow from $737B in 2016 to $1.521B in 2021. Technology is driving lean manufacturing and other efficiency improvements and here are some key areas where automation is making a big impact.
When equipment goes down, it can cost manufacturing companies over $100,000 for each hour of downtime. So, catching any potential problems with machinery before they become a major issue is important to keeping production lines running on schedule.
Predictive maintenance technologies can reduce maintenance costs by 20% and unplanned downtime by 50%, significantly reducing costs and also improving the lifespan of factory equipment.
Data automation programs are able to monitor factory equipment while it’s in use using multiple performance metrics to help predict when a particular repair is needed and sending maintenance alerts to the appropriate personnel.
Using sensors and automation in warehouses can significantly decrease employee injury rates. Smart devices now have the ability to collect safety data allowing managers to zero-in on problem areas to institute improvements.
Real-time monitoring of how equipment is being handled can also find discrepancies between operating procedures and how things are actually being done on the floor to mitigate any device misuse that could result in worker injury.
Data analytics can help reveal seasonal problems or long-term safety trends which in turn can help organizations reduce workplace injuries, keeping workers healthier and more productive.
Accuracy and Quality Assurance
A big benefit of automating data flow, which reduces the need to manually re-key information from one system into another, is that errors decrease and costs due to mistakes decrease along with them.
Cloud computing that’s integrated with AI can quickly spot anomalies in patterns that indicate a quality assurance problem, which makes products not meeting quality standards much easier to spot and stop them from ending up in a customer’s hands.
Are there certain times a week that you have more or fewer resources allocated to a production run than needed? Do your customers purchase according to seasonal schedules? Automating your data on ordering, workforce productivity, and supply chain can help you optimize more effectively to meet demands.
The strength of today’s business intelligence dashboards are able to overlay data from multiple sources into a single informative report to help you spot areas where you can reduce costs by matching resources to demand, whether that means scheduling more employees during anticipated peak periods or reducing the cash you have tied up in raw materials that you keep in the warehouse that aren’t immediately needed.
Product Research & Development
Multiple data points go into the design of a new product, including market demand, performance capabilities, and lifecycle estimates, just to name a few. Data automation can decrease the time from concept to product launch by crunching the numbers your team needs to make timely decisions during the R&D phase.
Advances in augmented reality and virtual reality also offer a more robust testing phase during development so data on performance and most efficient production methods can be worked out virtually before a manufacturer invests in the production equipment and product marketing.
Work with Manufacturing IT Experts
Have you been wanting to take advantage of the benefits of technology in your manufacturing facility, but aren’t quite sure where to begin or go next? Neuron Computers has experience helping manufacturers with everything from specialized equipment and software to inventory and staff management systems that can help boost efficiency and reduce costs.
Contact us today to schedule a free IT consultation! Call us at 909.418.1410 or connect with us online.