How digital transformation benefits frontline manufacturing workers
As manufacturers continue bringing digital transformation to all areas of their business, today’s frontline workers are finding powerful new gains from technology. Oftentimes, technology is a behind-the-scenes type of tool. However, today’s frontline enablement tools are changing the type of work required for the shop floor.
Here are four key ways that Industry 4.0 tools can benefit frontline workers on a daily basis.
Real-time data visibility
In order to make improvements in real-time, operators and frontline workers need visibility into what’s happening—right now—on the shop floor. Siloed production data living in different systems is a major barrier to improving reaction times, catching critical breaks, and streamlining operators’ efficiency.
There are some instances where operators may not even have access to production data. They’re required to pace the shop floor watching for critical events, hoping they’re able to catch problems at the right time. Not only is this inefficient for production, but it’s draining for employees.
Braincube’s Studio App is an operator launchpad for employees to view and act upon shop floor data. The app makes it possible to combine real-time Cloud data with live Edge data within a single, easy-to-use hub. Compiling different data sources into one interface enables frontline teams to see the entire factory at-a-glance.
Individual machines, MES/ERP system data, and even outside tools like PowerBI can be displayed simultaneously in a versatile hybrid workspace. For example, teams can view historical data alongside live conditions, ensuring that production runs according to plan. Designed for scalability, workspaces can be shared with the click of a button between peers or with management.
Studio’s versatility provides shop floor teams with unprecedented visibility. Using an intuitive WYSIWYG interface, teams can choose what data to display, how to display it, and what type of workflow they need. Employees can receive alerts on critical events or production drifts, view live production standards on the shop floor, and see defect rates or machine statuses–all while they are occurring instead of after the fact.
Clarity around real-time plant conditions is a crucial step in advancing frontline teams. The Studio App is a foundational operational technology pillar, helping teams advance toward data-driven operations.
Hone efforts on critical tasks
Even if teams have access to production data, they may be overwhelmed or uncertain about what to do with it. Visibility has its benefits, but trying to decipher what’s happening from multiple systems and reports can feel like drinking from a fire hose.
The reality is that diverse data needs to be readily available for always changing priorities. Of course, certain information will be more valuable at different times. But having easy access to shift change data, quality checks, or critical events isn’t always straightforward.
For the most part, teams want to know when production is drifting or when a problem is brewing. These situations are when they need to take action—the sooner, the better.
Teams want to know when production is drifting or when a problem is brewing. These situations are when they need to take action—the sooner, the better.
Tools like Braincube’s OEE App help direct frontline workers to the most pressing tasks at any given time. The app provides users with a live, auto-calculated OEE score. Teams can quickly see how well they are performing and if they are on track to hit production targets.
Most importantly, the OEE App also classifies the reason why a facility might not be at its highest OEE potential. These valuable insights point teams in the right direction to make immediate productivity improvements. Maintenance teams, operators, engineers, and managers can not only view the same data: they can better focus their efforts and adapt the shop floor strategy to the most important issues right now.
There are other IIoT technologies that seem simple from a conceptual standpoint but provide manufacturers with immense value. Braincube’s Alerts App can automatically notify the right team members as soon as a parameter goes out of specification. Determine which conditions you wanted to be alerted about, when and how often the alert should be triggered, and who should receive the email or SMS notifications—all without any required coding.
While this seems basic in concept, the Alerts App can be paired with other Braincube apps to maximize production efficiencies. For example, the Alerts App can be combined with Machine Status, Counter, or OEE apps to trigger real-time Alerts whenever there is unplanned downtime, product defects, or a drop in performance. It’s also possible to set alerts on any other IoT data from within your plant (e.g. Edge devices or sensors).
Reduce unplanned downtime and delays
Convenience plays a major role in improving the day-to-day tasks of frontline workers. Plant floor employees have many responsibilities and conflicting priorities, some of which arise unexpectedly.
But what if it was possible to minimize unexpected situations? Overarching strategies like predictive maintenance can help to improve efficiencies across the entire organization. It helps ensure the frontline is seeing their efforts contribute to broader company goals.
Braincube’s Machines’ Performance Tracker App was designed to make frontline workers’ jobs more efficient. This application gives process engineers and operators a simple, effective way to track the real-time performance of individual machines within a wider group of machines.
Best of all, teams can align the app’s performance tracking with their most important production parameters. Some example KPIs include defect rates, FFT vibrations, or even a custom performance indicator specific to your processes. Essentially, any process data can be monitored for drifting performance.
Offering holistic monitoring and alerting on a group of machines enables frontline teams to reduce unplanned downtime, delays, or defects. For example, the app notifies users when the performance of a specific machine within the group is drifting. Employees can easily determine which machine needs attention and start working toward a solution quickly. This rapid troubleshooting ensures that production isn’t impacted as drastically.
Pairing granular, machine-level visibility with intelligent alerting brings a new layer of convenience to frontline employees. These powerful tools enable them to go beyond putting out fires: they can begin to anticipate and proactively prevent issues from occurring in the first place.
Shop floors are loud, busy, and massive. Holding a conversation next to machinery can be just as difficult as relaying a message across the plant floor. When communication is hindered, so is collaboration.
Braincube’s IIoT Platform connects data from any system, in any format, and continuously updates it so it is available 24/7. Our technologies also automate data cleaning, management, and manipulation so data is readily available and usable for anyone at the company. Centralized data management makes it easier than ever to augment your operations.
Once data is centralized, Braincube also serves as a companywide communication tool by empowering users to collaborate on projects and tasks. Sharing valuable insights (whether in the form of a chart, report, or specific widget) can be done with the click of a button. Sending messages via the platform ensures that data is shared securely.
Technologies like Braincube’s IIoT Platform equip manufacturers with the tools they need to collaborate more effectively, regardless of where they sit within the organization.
Tools that save employees time, effort, or headaches are exponentially valuable to manufacturing organizations. These are the tools that employees will want to utilize on a daily basis. In turn, these tools are more likely to have high adoption rates and ROI, which is a win-win for both operations and executive teams.
Digital transformation should be spearheaded by top leadership, but the revolution takes place on the plant floor. Putting the right IIoT tools into the hands of frontline workers can drive momentum forward in a big way.
Learn about the common challenges that IT and OT teams sometimes experience when working together. We’ll also unpack key ways to help these two teams find common ground for holistic digital transformation success.
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