Manufacturing Data Collection: The Key to Optimizing the Shop Floor

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Big data and manufacturing go hand in hand, because so much of what goes on in a manufacturing business is measurable and able to be optimized. Data streams are increasing in size, relevance, and number as manufacturers flock to the powerful capabilities, predictions, and insights data can unlock for their businesses.

Why Is Collecting Data So Important For Manufacturers?

In a word: visibility. Manufacturers are able to measure and see many aspects of their business only through the collection of data.

Manufacturers should collect data to be used for analysis so they can make data-driven business decisions that keep them on a path of success. When used in conjunction with predictive analytics and similar technologies, manufacturers are able to realize massive boosts in productivity and innovation capacity, reduced costs in warehousing and supplies, and a decreased frequency of unexpected downtime and quality issues due to equipment failure thanks to predictive and prescriptive maintenance.

Using data—and collecting that data for use—is a competitive advantage for manufacturers who do so effectively. Data can even lead to happier customers, increased sales, and augmented service and support satisfaction.

The Benefits of Manufacturing Data Collection

The benefits of collecting data are multi-faceted for modern manufacturers. Although not an exhaustive list by any means, adopters of data-driven strategies can see benefits in the form of:

  • Deeper insights into their customer’s journey
  • Optimization of efficiency and productivity on the factory floor
  • Better maintenance of equipment
  • Reduced supply costs with the addition of demand forecasting, supplier scoring, waste reduction, and warehouse optimization
  • Higher quality products that better align with customers’ wants and needs based on how products are used in real-world scenarios
  • Reputation management and customer satisfaction by analyzing data from social media and other customer communication channels

A customer of MachineMetrics displays a prominent production dashboard over she shop floor for operators and managers to know where they stand when it comes to production goals as well as to quickly identify when machines are down or falling behind.

Techniques for Collecting Data from the Shop Floor

With so many potential sources of data, it follows that manufacturers often use a variety of data collection techniques. Some of these include:

  • IoT (Internet of Things) sensor integration which is used for digital factory components like smart lighting and HVAC, production flow monitoring, quality control, and plant safety.
  • PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) integration for measuring and controlling steps in the production process.
  • Line HMI (Human Machine Interface) system integration such as touch screens mounted on factory equipment that allow for the addition of human context to data
  • RTU (Remote Terminal Units) integration for remote monitoring and control of factory equipment.
  • SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems to control operations in an overarching sense.
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) barcode integration for tracking purposes.
  • CNC and other machine integration (new and legacy models) to track maintenance needs and performance.

Manufacturing Downtime ReportA pareto chart from MachineMetrics displaying the top reasons for machine downtime events.

MachineMetrics utilizes many different methodologies for collecting data from machines. How we go about data collection is entirely dependent on the unique features and limitations of each machine. Age, control, make, and model all factor into a machine’s capabilities. Get in touch with our team to learn how you can collect and use data from your equipment more effectively.

Manufacturing Data Collection Software

You can’t successfully manually collect the types and levels of data needed to realize the types of benefits we’ve discussed thus far, so you need a system to do it. Requirements you should look for in a system built for manufacturing data collection include:

  • Real-time data collection via the edge to manage automated tasks that need to occur as close to real-time as possible—such as safety shutoffs—that don’t have time to go to the cloud and back. Air-gapped facilities also use this type of data collection for security purposes, and remote facilities use this method to make real-time predictions until they are back online via satellite and other equipment
  • A cloud platform for data collection and processing that allows you to utilize powerful resources at a fraction of the cost of purchasing the same equipment to store and analyze data at a deeper level
  • Machine integration via the PLC or I/O to accurately and quickly collect machine data in a way that is not prone to error or constant need for adjustment the way that some sensors are
  • Integration with other manufacturing software, such as the MES, ERP, CMMS, etc.
  • Ability to connect with sensors for instances when sensors are the ideal device to use such as HVAC, motion detectors, and machine-vision quality control
  • High Frequency Data Collection capabilities to leverage as inputs for time series or machine learning models

MachineMetrics offers all of these options and more. Learn how you can use MachineMetrics plug-and-play solutions to easily collect production data and get instant visibility and control of the shop floor. Book a demo with our team or reach out with any questions.

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