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Mingo Smart Factory’s Role in Industry 4.0

We’ve all heard the buzz around Industry 4.0 and smart factories. Advances in automation, connectivity, analytics are ushering in a new era of hyper-efficient, hyper-aware manufacturing. But behind all the tech, there’s one key element driving this revolution: data. Massive amounts of incredibly detailed data streaming from every machine, sensor, and system across your plant floor.

For discrete manufacturers in industries like food and beverage, metal forming, and industrial machinery, harnessing this tidal wave of information is where the real magic happens. Smart production monitoring is the key component that turns corporate initiatives like OEE improvement and lean manufacturing into tangible operational gains.

Think about it – your machines are already little data silos, pumping out details on run times, material consumption, cycle counts, downtime and more. But without the ability to aggregate and analyze this knowledge, it stays fragmented and virtually useless. The flow of data starts and stops with the human operator. If they have the ability to receive and enter information on a dashboard, then the information doesn’t need to stop at the printer or the whiteboard.

The Power of Data and Establishing a Feedback System

That’s where a solid production monitoring system like Mingo Smart Factory comes into play. It acts as the central nervous system, consolidating all those flickering digital signals into a single unified stream of end-to-end insight. Think of it as a search engine that brings all of the relevant results together into one screen. Millions of points of data are transformed into a visual dashboard that you can both read and understand. Suddenly, you’ve got full plant visibility and a quantifiable baseline to measure performance against.

“Okay, okay,” you might be thinking, “I get the value of data…in theory. But how does monitoring actually solve my daily firefighting on the shop floor?”

The truth is this: the real power of industry 4.0 comes from using that unified data stream to identify opportunities, plan countermeasures, measure the impact, then repeat. If you’re not looking at this data on a regular basis, and don’t have a plan for taking action based on those observations, then what was the point of setting up monitors all over the factory floor? A finely-tuned feedback loop that brings stellar efficiency along for the ride. The right system for your plant should be one that you will never outgrow. Each time you find a new area to optimize, the system should be ready to identify the next opportunity for growth.

OEE Got You Down? Take a Data-Driven Approach

Let’s use OEE as an example. OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) is the gold standard that scores how effective your machines are at doing their jobs. Low OEE likely signals issues with unplanned downtime, changeovers, cycle time inconsistencies, you name it. But pinpointing the root causes? That usually devolves into tribal knowledge, anecdotes, and tons of wasted time studying the scattered tea leaves.

This is where production monitoring systems like Mingo Smart Factory shine. Knowing why an OEE scores goes up or down is just as important as With a few clicks, you can instantly see the top downtime culprits, availability losses, and speed factors busting your OEE scores. Even better, you can analyze the data in real-time to stop issues in their tracks. If a key machine starts deviating from its cycle time, you can dig into the details right then and there to uncover the underlying cause and address it immediately. No scrambling after the fire has already started.

Benefits of OEE in Industry 4.0

Let’s say quality kickbacks are bringing down your overall OEE. With powerful reporting and analytics, you can quickly slice and dice the performance data across all machines, shifts, part runs – whatever context you need. That context breeds insight, allowing you to identify trends, determine root causes, then launch targeted continuous improvement projects from a position of data-driven confidence. And we’re just scratching the surface here. That same closed-loop process applies across your entire manufacturing operations.

Having granular monitoring data at your fingertips lets you identify and address virtually any type of opportunity, such as:

  • Suboptimal material consumption and elevated scrap/rework rates
  • Find the ideal balance across your constraint operations
  • Streamline labor and processes for repetitive tasks like changeovers
  • Validate the impact of kaizen efforts with before-and-after data
  • Bring the inexact science of preventative maintenance into focus

Check out this case study on how H&T Waterbury integrated Mingo Smart Factory with Fiix to automate their preventative maintenance procedures.

The list goes on and on. Whenever you need to analyze an issue, plan a solution, deploy it, then measure success – monitoring gives you the real-time data visibility to do it pragmatically and systemically.

So Being Data-Driven is the Silver Bullet, Right?

In a word? Nope! There’s an absolutely crucial element that monitoring and analytics tools alone can never provide: context. See, data on its own is just ones and zeros. It’s simply a factual recording of what occurred on your machines and across your processes.

But manufacturing operations are inherently complex beasts influenced by a million different variables. To effectively analyze those reams of data and bring operations into their highest state of flow and efficiency, you need human expertise to properly interpret the information through a lens of context.

That context, whether it relates to process knowledge, machine quirks, material constraints, or hundreds of other factors, lives in the collective tribal knowledge of your staff. Experienced operators and managers who have seen it all and understand overall equipment tendencies in a way no algorithm ever could.

The magic happens when you pair that expertise with the transparency provided by a modern production monitoring system. Suddenly, your operators have the tools to effortlessly capture and share their knowledge in documented, quantifiable ways. Engaged operators are a true sign that a factory has embraced industry 4.0.

If a material run hits inconsistencies, the data is there to kickstart an investigation and get to the root cause. If quality starts tanking on second shift, the analytics are available to isolate potential process or training deltas to address.

And the visibility works both ways. With real-time monitoring deployed, management gains insight into everything happening on the plant floor at any given moment. Stay looped into count/downtime status across all operations and easily identify areas for collaboration to bring operators’ process-level expertise to bear.

It’s the ultimate scenario of Zen and the Art of Manufacturing podcast – free-flowing communication enhanced with rich data/analytics and aligned around shared actual truths. No conflicting anecdotal viewpoints or cleaving to inaccurate tribal knowledge. Just pragmatic, fact-based efforts to systematically identify and address opportunities for greater efficiency.

The Path to Sustainable Operational Excellence

Author Stephen Covey was definitely onto something when he wrote about the “abundance mentality” in his seminal book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Having the mindset that there are enough opportunities and resources for everyone succeeds far better than a scarcity mentality.

That principle rings especially true in a manufacturing environment powered by production monitoring data and the human expertise to properly interpret and contextualize it. Instead of scarcity in the form of limited insights and firefighting mentalities, monitoring unlocks abundant opportunities to enhance efficiency at every turn. Simple, continuous steps towards the potential of industry 4.0.

This closed-loop process of pragmatic analysis, collaborative problem-solving, and constantly measuring/refining becomes self-sustaining. Each little improvement enhances the data set, which in turn surfaces additional opportunities for improvement. One improvement builds on the next until it because part of the continuous improvement cycle. Over time, the compounding impact of these incremental efficiency gains becomes profound. Downtime dwindles, quality soars, unplanned overtime becomes a rare unicorn and lean manufacturing principles come to the forefront of the process.

That’s the true power of production monitoring and data-fueled insights. Not as a shiny technology tactic on its own, but as an enabler to foster calm, flow, and ever-increasing sustainable operational excellence. Do you want to bring calm and flow to your factory floor? Contact Mingo Smart Factory for a free demo.

Alyxandra Sherwood
Alyxandra Sherwood
Digital Marketing Manager @ Mingo Smart Factory I Adjunct Professor @ SUNY Geneseo I Boston Marathoner I Second Street Award Winner I Media Professional with 15 Years Experience