Why is production monitoring critical?
Manufacturing is a very complex process, and each part of it has the potential for significant optimization, which could increase profits and reduce production costs. Conversely, each part of the process can malfunction and lead to unnecessary expenses, material losses, delays, or workplace injury.
No wonder, then, that a Production Monitoring System (PMS; sometimes called Shop Floor Monitoring System) is necessary for companies in all manufacturing industries – whether it’s pharmaceutical, food, chemical, or automotive production.
What is a production monitoring system?
Production monitoring, or shop floor monitoring system, allows production managers and operators to monitor the process flow in real-time and prevent malfunctions and accidents. It also enables collecting and analyzing valuable data, which can be used for many purposes, from procurement, maintenance, and process optimization, to HR, finance, and logistics.
How can you improve your production management with data?
An advanced real-time shop floor monitoring system can be a powerful tool for both process monitoring and a source of data insights that managers can use, analysts, and systems across the whole organization.
Analyzing production data and working out process improvements takes time. It is one of the reasons why some production companies – especially smaller ones – fail to leverage Lean methodologies to improve processes continuously. Working on process improvements is not a priority when managers are pressed for time. With an advanced digital monitoring system, managers can save hundreds of work hours on data entry and analysis while accessing previously unavailable metrics and intelligent insight.
1. Efficient real-time production monitoring
Some immediate benefits provided by production monitoring systems are:
- Process monitoring: real-time visibility of process flow in the production facility. The more advanced systems can visualize the processes across different production management system modules in interactive diagrams accurately representing the factory topography.
- Monitoring of integrated IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) devices is usually valid for newer generation custom systems equipped with robust API. In comparison, older systems tend to have a more restricted and closed architecture, making integrating smart sensors difficult.
- Accurate tracking of supply chain data.
- Monitoring of machine metrics, such as their physical state ( temperature, pressure, electrical circuit parameters ), alerts and warnings on potential disturbances and downtime;
- Tracking Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE), i.e., machine availability, performance, and quality of products. Aside from giving insight into overall production performance, this enables instant reporting of machine malfunctions and planning maintenance.
- Production line metrics, e.g., throughput, lead time, cycle time, overhead, losses.
- Staff monitoring capabilities include tracking work hours, productivity, delays, and disturbances. It enables managers to better plan staffing needs, production, product shipping, and process deadlines.
All the monitoring capabilities and automation massively improve safety and basic production KPIs, but enabling factory management is just the first step of the value that digital production monitoring systems provide.
A crucial and powerful feature of Production Monitoring Systems is collecting and analyzing data, which can be used in a greater scope of process optimization and improving the operational efficiency of the whole company.
2. Improving business efficiency: What is a production and operations management system?
Advanced production and operations management systems integrate raw data collected on the shop floor and business operations into actionable insights, empowering managers to improve the factory’s technical efficiency and provide information for other departments. All this helps optimize integrated processes across the value chain and business operations.
Newer generation systems provide real-time machine and IoT visualizations on the factory terminals and remotely, which makes the insights instantly available to different departments in the production company, regardless of their location. This type of insight can enhance:
- Process management and optimization; whether a manager focuses on Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, OEE, supply chain management, project management, or any other domain – analyzing production monitoring data and benchmarking insights are powerful tools to reduce waste and delays, improve product quality and material efficiency and identify opportunities for ongoing improvement.
- Process automation; in times of staff shortages and rising transport and material prices, manufacturing companies can reduce costs and waste by leveraging precise production line data for process automation.
- Logistics and accurate monitoring of production inputs, efficiency, status, and throughput are indispensable in managing supply chains – from procurement to shipping and delivery. Furthermore, predictive analytics and real-time alerts available to other departments globally allow managers to make quick decisions, such as changing prices, notifying customers, or even looking for new suppliers.
- Sustainability management; all of the above insights combined contribute to reduced waste of energy and materials, which is an immediate sustainability gain. But more advanced and custom solutions enable further improvements, thanks to integrations with IIoT devices (such as pollution or leakage sensors and fail-safe mechanisms) and supply chain management platforms. All these lead to reducing emissions, material use, and risk of environmental damage.
- Human resources; production facility data can reduce or increase staffing as needed. For example, when reducing production due to supply shortages or technical downtime, or increasing production due to increased efficiency or seasonal demand. It is relevant not just for factory staff but also for shipping and delivery workers and sales departments. Furthermore, data insights and monitoring available to all factory employees through graphic interfaces reduce the need for managerial oversight and direct production involvement, freeing them to focus on process improvement.
Manufacturing Data Collection and Custom Production Monitoring Software
The most valuable and advanced production monitoring systems monitor operations within a specific factory. They can be integrated with other systems through API, such as ERP, cloud-based data platforms, or IoT infrastructure.
We deliver these qualities by focusing on software architecture features such as:
- Modularity and scalability – throughout the years we have been working on industrial technology projects, we have developed various modules, from IoT sensor monitoring, process flow management, and real-time visual data simulations. They can be combined into diverse custom solutions for every industry and adapted to a nearly infinite array of purposes.
- Open protocols and APIs prevent software lock-in, which is one of the nightmares of IT system managers in all industries, limiting system capabilities and making it difficult or impossible to expand or modernize. Open architecture makes integrating with other systems and modules efficient, which opens up infinite possibilities for improving business operations.
- Real-time alerts and monitoring are crucial to warrant safety and minimize losses, allowing staff to react to issues quickly.
- Custom development and consulting – no two companies are the same, and neither should be their processes or production systems. A custom-built digital production management system provides a unique value that gives manufacturing companies the competitive edge to become market leaders.
In the times of digital transformation and Industry 4.0, production monitoring software is – above all else – a data platform. It needs to provide accessible real-time insights and robust analytical capabilities to empower managers in growing the business. To that end, two features are essential:
- Graphic interfaces and data visualizations – visualizations and accessible interfaces make decision-making faster for managers. They also empower line workers and maintenance staff to quickly access all the vital information and instructions on their own.
- Extensive reporting and advanced analytics – to be successful in digital transformation, it’s important to monitor data flow across the entire organization. Comprehensive reporting is necessary to track progress and continuously grow and improve operations and business results.
Production monitoring systems are necessary for all manufacturing companies, regardless of their size. But even though having this system is the industry standard, the systems are not standardized, and customization combined with robust monitoring, visualization, and data capabilities can be the source of tremendous competitive advantage, especially at the edge of resource shortages and supply chain reconfiguration.
Every company should be data-driven in the digital transformation era, and the production management software should reflect that.