The challenge of productivity in the industrial field

Over the years new technologies come and gone to meet the need to reduce production costs and time. Today, to remain competitive on the market a factory must certainly be a digital factory. Here, the collection and the circulation of information is more agile and faster and they allow to improve productivity and process control. 

The guideline to follow is to fluidify processes as much as possible and manage the exchange and the collection of information in a digital and efficient way. One of the direct consequences will be the minimization of downtime, ie those periods of inactivity tremendously expensive for each industrial plant due to production setup errors, breakdowns, lack of preventive maintenance, delays in interventions on production lines.

How to increase productivity, therefore? On a general level, the following strategic levers can be identified:

  • Visibility: both operational visibility on the entire plant and visibility of the main metrics, on the basis of which the plant productivity is monitored on a timely basis.
  • Use of technology: as already mentioned, the digital and technological developments in the industrial field allow not only to collect huge amounts of data, but also to speed up many actions.
  • Skills and collaboration: the skills necessary to the industrial business are getting higher and higher. We need technicians with high specialization, often difficult to find. This is why it is necessary both to make the most of the experience of each resource, enhancing, through collaboration tools and knowledge sharing, the skills of each, which simplify the actions to be carried out to allow less experienced people to perform complex topics.

What does digital factory mean?

It is now very difficult to imagine a competitive factory where digital technologies are not foreseen in the production process. The goal of digitalization is not to replace human resources, but to ensure that they can rely on a technology that supports them in all their tasks, in ordinary and extraordinary daily operations, limiting errors and delays due to lack of real time information. The result: more efficient processes and greater reactivity.

To increase the productivity of the plants, the technology offers a valid support and allows, on the one hand, to improve efficiency and, on the other, to simplify the execution of tasks. For example, there are platforms that offer the possibility to share data, tutorials or information materials in real time. To do so, they use chat systems that understand and use human language to interact with machines. Through these tools, communication between man and machines will be speeded up.

A digital factory is therefore a punctually monitored production site, where technology is at the service of human resources to streamline and speed up processes and communications.

Know to improve: the control of KPIs

The first rule to increase the productivity of a plant is to have a 360 degree visibility of the processes that characterize it. Obviously, knowing in real time the status of the production cycle and of the plant, it is important to ensure that the expected standards are met.

In order to increase performance it is necessary to start with a careful measurement of the main metrics. We are talking, among the insiders, of KPI, or key performance indicator. Despite the knowledge of the plant and of the processes, it is not often easy to measure the KPIs and monitor them correctly. In order to do this, there should be an easy access to the data from which the plant's indicators can be determined. Technology allows us to have these indicators, providing clearly and easily accessible data useful for the measurement and monitoring of KPIs. Today it is also possible to use platforms that can interface with a multitude of machines and IT systems, which allow us to easily find all the necessary information from a single source.

Total efficiency of a plant: how to measure it and how to increase it

To have a complete view of the production plant it is essential to measure its efficiency. To this end, one of the most widespread metrics is certainly the OEE, which summarizes three different and equally important concepts: availability, performance and quality. Even without going into the details of the three variables, the overall efficiency of the system takes into account any type of production loss, from breakdowns to micro-stops up to rejects and reworkings.

All that matters, to increase the overall efficiency of the system, is to fully exploit the machines and the information systems collecting all the relevant data useful for monitoring, in order to have a precise view of the production system.

The second step is to understand the problems to be solved and to be able to reduce or even prevent them. The analysis of the collected data will therefore allow to make improvements to the production process, triggering a virtuous circle composed of three phases:

  • data collection;
  • analysis of data and precise identification of problems;
  • process improvement.

Which are the right industrial indicators to monitor? Find out the main ones in our glossary of industrial KPIs!

READ IT HERE

To reduce downtime due to faults: the importance of predictive maintenance

To digitize a production plant means having the opportunity to know in real time the status of production processes. But, even more, it is a fundamental step to collect data on which it is possible to carry out many types of different analyzes. Among these, analysis based on predictive models, aimed at anticipating breakdowns and malfunctions, are extremely important. We are talking about predictive maintenance. Thanks to the analysis of correlations, the timely control of anomalous values and the development of mathematical models on data, it is possible to intervene in advance, and in a targeted way, greatly reducing the time and costs due to interruptions in the production process.

Therefore, predictive maintenance has an important impact on plant productivity and management costs.

Knowledge management and sharing: an overall strategy

In a world where skills are increasingly important and where companies, especially the smaller ones, struggle to find them on the market, it is of fundamental importance to enhance the knowledge and the experiences in the company. This aspect, apparently far away, actually has very positive impacts on the productivity of all business processes, and it is much easier to implement than you might think.

It is therefore necessary to build a knowledge management strategy. In a production environment, to rely on a platform for collaboration and sharing is a solution. It allow you to consult and share guides, manuals, experiences or tutorials: no more paper information or documents saved in a disordered way. This type of platforms represents the most convenient way to save not only informational papers, but also the activities carried out during a given job, which will become easily available in the future in case of similar situations. In other words, the company's know-how will be available and accessible at any time.

A platform to increase industrial productivity: the contribution of Keethings

Keethings is a conversational and execution platform that has an extremely positive impact on the management of production and maintenance processes, on internal communication and on drastic reduction of downtime.

It also allows you to build a communication bridge between operators, machines and software systems, allowing communication in natural language. For example, you can ask from your mobile: "what is the temperature of the control unit 23?", And Keethings will answering you by collecting the data and offering it to the operator.

Through Keethings it is possible to create virtual collaborative spaces, where to manage processes and to quickly share data, information, guides or other informative materials. Only the people directly involved in the process to be carried out, will be added automatically in these spaces, called also workspace, in order to be able to examine together the context, to decide what to do and to activate specific workflows to give the correct instructions to the staff.

The platform speeds up and simplifies the communications and fully supports a knowledge management strategy. Documents, videos, guides and images are always available and easy to find for people in the correct context. The resolution of particular problems managed in virtual spaces can be memorized and will contribute to the growth of the company knowledge based on a natural and fast way, without any effort. The new staff can more easily find a solution to its needs and increase its know-how.

A collaboration platform such as Keethings one can become the backbone of all monitoring, alerting, operation management and information exchange activities in the factory, with a huge simplification of work and a speeding up of both human-man and human-machine communications.

 

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