Machine monitoring – is it an evolution or a revolution?
In this blog, we’ll cover the topic of machine monitoring, the confusion surrounding the exact definition of machine monitoring, and how it relates to the all-encompassing manufacturing analytics. Learn:
Machine monitoring means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There are many, many definitions of machine monitoring, depending on the intended purpose and goal in mind.
No, we get that our answer doesn’t explicitly answer the question directly but keep reading, and we’ll explain why machine monitoring is a vague term that has so many different meanings.
In its simplest scenario, machine monitoring is determining if a machine is running or not.
However, there are also two other purposes that many add to the category, even though they are technically in categories of their own.
So, if you’re like us, you consider machine monitoring to only mean monitoring if the machine is running. For others, the definition also includes preventive and production data.
By the end of this blog, you will have formed your own opinion of how machine monitoring should be defined. There isn’t really one right or wrong answer, but our hope, not only with this blog but in the world of manufacturing in general, is to have a general, universal understanding of what machine monitoring actually means.
Is it just one thing? Is it all three?
Okay, so if we’re going to write this blog with the purpose of helping to define what machine monitoring actually means, that also means we have to elaborate on those other two categories often grouped in the general definition.
Many consider machine monitoring to also include understanding preventive maintenance and condition monitoring. If the machine is running, is it running right? Does the data indicate there could be a potential problem on the horizon? If something is wrong, do we need to contact maintenance to fix the problem before a more serious problem occurs? These are all examples of questions preventive maintenance data can give insight into.
Then, the third category involves actual production. If the machine is running and it’s running right, are we producing the correct goods at the right rates? Essentially, are we creating a quality product?
If one or all of those things above aren’t happening, why not?
The insight you gain from all three data sets gives you the visibility and accountability you need to run your floor efficiently, solving problems before they arise and continuously improving production.
So in a sense, machine monitoring is pretty basic, but over the years, the definition has been blurred, and many now assume it also includes preventive maintenance and productivity.
Again, that is for you decide, but as a manufacturing analytics software company, we believe machine monitoring is, at its most basic form, the understanding of if a machine is running or not, plain and simple. We’ll dive even further into why we believe there is a vast difference between simply understanding if a machine is running, preventive maintenance, and the data you can get from insight into actual production.
To recap, most people consider the following three questions when talking about machine monitoring:
Let’s start this paragraph off by stating that machine monitoring systems are not equal to manufacturing analytics systems. But, why bring manufacturing analytics into the conversation at all if this is a blog about machine monitoring?
The answer is, to put it plainly, you can’t have a conversation about machine monitoring without leading into the next generation of understanding factory data – manufacturing analytics.
The two are different because manufacturing analytics truly encompasses all three of those categories we mentioned above – monitoring, preventative, and production data, all wrapped into one.
Broadly, manufacturing analytics helps a factory make better decisions about the process because it’s entire purpose is more holistic – the understanding of the whole manufacturing process.
It’s a software that is much more capable than a machine monitoring system that is simply focusing on just one machine, not the line, not multiple lines, not the floor as a whole.
Machine monitoring software usually is just looking at the machine and determining if it’s running or not, without any context to explain why.
Manufacturing analytics, on the other hand, encompasses not only monitoring if the machine is running, but also if there is a problem or potential for problems and visibility into productivity of the machine. It ties all three of those benefits together, becoming the true, all-in-one software package.
If you were to go with another type of software, such as machine monitoring, you’d be buying individual products that do one of those things, or maybe two, but never all three. For all three, manufacturing analytics is the answer to gathering true machine metrics data.
So now that we got the differences out of the way, let’s say for clarity purposes, people still refer to a manufacturing analytics system as a machine monitoring system. (Fine, we’ll let it slide just this once, but know, at the heart of it all, they don’t really do the same thing.) Manufacturing analytics is a much more robust, well-rounded software delivering immense value to manufacturers.
But, we digress.
In the end, a manufacturer truly only wants to know why something is happening, or if it’s not, why not? In our opinion, we also believe manufacturers what to know if a machine or line is running, performing correctly, and producing all of the right stuff – all of that. Would you agree?
People have monitored machines and gathered machine metrics for a long time, just in a different, less technologically driven way. Before the computer, automated data collection, smart factory, or Industry 4.0, people monitored machines based on their 5 senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste (well, less likely on taste, but you get the point).
Then, as basic technology was created, people moved into using simple Andon systems – a tower light – to determine is a machine was running. That light will glow green if the machine is running, yellow if in setup, or red if not running at all.
As technology progressed, factories implemented new, flashier technologies that allowed for automated data collection, in real-time, a true monitoring solution (or, if we’re being definitely correct, manufacturing analytics solution).
So, in short, yes, machine monitoring has been around for a long time, but over time, it evolved to mean a lot of different things. It’s become much more technologically advanced, and since that time, has evolved into manufacturing analytics.
We’re making it our job to educate the manufacturing industry on the definition of monitoring vs. manufacturing analytics, and the differences are profound, with one clear winner coming out on top.
The great thing about manufacturing analytics is that it’s a great fit for every manufacturing industry – discrete, process, you name it. But, the benefits don’t stop there.
Manufacturing analytics can benefit other types of equipment you have in your factory, too, including critical equipment. It’s not limited to just machines – air compressors, hydraulics, elevators, conveyor belts, anything you can think of, manufacturing analytics will be very helpful.
If you started out thinking machine monitoring was all of those things we mentioned above and by the end of this blog, have changed your mind, well then, we did our job. If you still don’t agree, let us know why. We’re interested in hearing more.
We’ll end this by saying, “Is manufacturing analytics an evolution or a revolution?”