Sometimes the best first step in Digital transformation is to acquire just enough of the right data to validate a hypothesis before jumping into a major program. Consider the challenge of improving manufacturing line efficiency.

The Nameplate Problem

Every plant has what we like to call the “nameplate capacity” problem. Before Covid-19, I was at a plant with fairly new line designed to produce 65,000 cases of product a day. Unfortunately, their largest customer wanted a variation on the standard case that required some improvisation. While this solved the customers requirement, it created another challenge, the “customized line” was producing just 40,000 cases on a good day, delaying both shipments to the client and the financial performance of the plant.

A continuous improvement team was created and tasked with researching the problem, finding the root causes and implementing improvements to fix it.

We Have the Data, right?

In concept, it sounds easy. With all the automation on the new line, the team was sure it would it would be fairly easy to get data to analyze the problem. And, I’m sure, as you’ve already guessed or experienced personally, there are hurdles:  The line is automated in some areas, but not in others;  The OEM equipment is from different vendors; some or lack an open interface;  the plant may not have a technology platform with the flexibility or capacity to  collect the data. And as a result, without good data to analyze, the team must now spend it’s time searching for an appropriate solution.

A Solution, Ready-To-Go

In the past that search often led to engineering, only to find that adding to the plants data collection platform would be expensive. Today, pre-built solutions in the cloud offer simple, cost-effective and flexible solutions.

A simple, cloud-based operational platform we frequently recommend for this type of scenario is AVEVA Insight, which has low-cost, pre-built module designed specifically for downtime and OEE projects.

Clients can subscribe to this solution for as little as one year and pay for only what they need, the right amount of data and users. The solution is also lightweight from a technology standpoint. All that is required at the plant level is a workstation to run a simple data connection application and network connectivity to PLCs, sensors or databases to collect the data and push it one-way into the cloud. The cloud-hosted application has pre-engineered templates and tools accessible from any web browser to set up dashboards, analyze data trends, track downtime and even employ artificial intelligence agents to automatically detect and notify users of possible anomalies. It’s not uncommon to set this up and start viewing data within just a few hours.

Watch this demonstration recently recorded by our Senior Solutions Architect, Chris Selph.

Deploy and Adopt Faster with InSource X0

This outsourced technology model can apply to services too. If a manufacturer doesn’t have the technical resources available or the time to get started, InSource has that covered too. We call it InSource X0.

The InSource X0 platform can deliver a turnkey solution, with data collected and ready to act on in as little as 48 hours.  We take care of the hardware, equipment connectivity, setup to deliver personalized, dashboard views of the data.

And with projects like downtime tracking and OEE dashboards, you  may have had first-hand experience with the fact that technology alone is not enough.   The associates that use this solution will adopt it faster and deliver more value if they understand it and have confidence in their ability to use the tool set to solve their problems.   That is why we also provide adoption coaching services,  whether it’s to work with your team from operators on all shifts, assist the problem solvers on the continuous improvement team or even to consult with executive management to help select, interpret and manage to the most meaning metrics.

See how X0 Downtime was deployed at C-Care, LLC.

No More Dead Ends

In the old model, companies owned what they bought…forever. It sounds good, until business needs change and that application isn’t needed. The new, cloud-based approach offers flexibility. Have you finished that line optimization project and now want to use the data to look at predictive analytics? No problem.

I’ve just had a sneak peek at the 2020 roadmap for AVEVA, our premier technology partner, and it’s exciting. Their vision is to build a broad portfolio of tools that will allow clients to collect, share, analyze and act on their data. And as needs change, the commercial model permits scaling solutions up or down and the flexibility to move from one modular solution to another.

Today, manufacturing operations are doing everything they can to maintain production levels during this pandemic. The nameplate problem may have migrated to be a production staffing issue or a remote management puzzle or a sanitation procedure compliance project.

Interestingly, the right digital solutions can help you today with many of those issues and simultaneously propel your team to a new normal. Can my team at InSource help? I hope so. We have the pulse on new solutions, approaches and an innovative expanding portfolio from our partner, AVEVA, backed by our team’s experience in engineering successful outcomes for over 4000 clients.

Schedule a free consultation. We’d love to work with you.