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Why Manufacturers Can’t Track Uptime & Efficiency

I Bet Most Manufacturers Can’t Really Track Uptime and Efficiency

Sorry for the inflammatory title. The purpose of this piece isn’t to challenge any manufacturers. In fact, the point of this entire article is designed to point out something I’ve noticed that several manufacturers are doing extremely well.

Unfortunately, when it comes to uptime, resource performance, and efficiency, a large number of manufacturers wrongly believe they are accurately tracking data. I’ll show you why some of the smartest manufacturers in the market beg to differ.

Manufacturing has a Human Problem

Let’s imagine for a second that there are two guys, let’s call them Bert and Jerry. Bert and Jerry run the same machines on the shop floor. They run the machines as they were trained and are equally equipped with the same skills and abilities to effectively do their job.

Now, they are both asked to record things like resource performance, scrap rate, uptime, and downtime. They may be trained to do this according to set criteria, but both have a level of subjectivity to how this data is recorded. Perhaps neither record every single tiny smoke break as downtime; perhaps Bert has a different understanding of how things should be recorded than Jerry does. Maybe Jerry is a stickler for recording everything and records every single shortstop. Bert might think it’s only important to record extended stops. And, let’s assume that both (intentionally or not) are inclined to fudge the numbers or inaccurately record the data to better reflect their performance on the job.

Those in the manufacturing world know that this scenario is very common. The problem is that this is the quality of the data that many manufacturers are relying on to determine the efficiency of their shop floor operations. Their projections and metrics are entirely based on subjective data in these areas. Data that does not reflect reality, and that over time will cause the recorded data and actual data to differ dramatically.

ERP can be Your Enemy

I don’t mean to be over-simplistic in my example, but the truth is that many manufacturers are using subjective data manually entered into their ERP to make critical business decisions. Smart manufacturers have quickly learned the nature of some of these errors. They knew early on that the manual data wasn’t accurate, but they had trouble peeling back the layers of the onion to determine why this was.

In our example above, if even a handful of shop floor data recorders aren’t recording short stops effectively, manufacturers could be missing out on hours of productivity each day… and not even know about it! Data-driven lean manufacturers can quickly identify these issues, but tracking this data effectively can be a real challenge. An ERP system cannot serve as a system of record for tracking the data in real-time.

What Data-Driven Lean Manufacturers Did

The smart guys in this industry know that paper is a real problem. The data they see in their reports are telling them what their downtime, scrap rates, and cycle times are but they don’t know for sure because that data is not pulled from the source (the machines). It’s compiled by humans and brought into systems that are only looking at subjective data retroactively. So here’s what they do…

These manufacturers pull the data right out of their machines and monitor it proactively as it occurs so they can see what is truly taking place on the shop floor. This is the only way to ensure that this data is accurate and worth measuring.

The entire idea is to simply get to a number that you know is accurate and consistent. This way you know what things impact your business and that number; and what things don’t. If the data is subjective, and can only be reviewed in retrospect, you will never know if the information is consistent or if the decisions you’re making are positively or negatively affecting that data. Most importantly, you won’t know how “true” the data you’re looking at really is.

This means that if you have the data coming from the source (the machines), and can determine a consistent data point, that you actually can measure resource performance, up-time, scrap rate, and efficiency. Good or bad you can actually do it.

The scary thing is many think they can, but they actually can’t. They are looking at manual data loaded into their ERP so they really don’t know what these things are and these things are probably costing them valuable dollars on daily basis.

How This All Comes Together

Many think they have to implement and monitor complicated MES systems or deploy BI software to do this level of accurate tracking. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You simply have to know what you want to track.

That’s why a lot of smart manufacturers are working with companies like Mingo to establish and accurately record this data. They know that simple tools like this give them the data they want without the complexity of big-time software or complex systems.

Ultimately, the IIoT has more hype than ever, but some of the brightest minds in this industry are stepping back and realizing it’s the data that really matters. Not lots of data, the right data.

The example above is a great sample of how some of the innovators in the manufacturing space are starting to look at their businesses. We hope that you’ll join the conversation.

Picture of Bryan Sapot
Bryan Sapot
Bryan Sapot is a lifelong entrepreneur, speaker, CEO, and founder of Mingo. With more than 24 years of experience in manufacturing technology, Bryan is known for his deep manufacturing industry insights. Throughout his career, he’s built products and started companies that leveraged technology to solve problems to make the lives of manufacturers easier. Follow Bryan on LinkedIn here.