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Why is automating the data collection from machines crucial?

Data collection is essential in manufacturing. With the help of data, you can make data-driven decisions that can have a great impact on your company’s performance.

Unfortunately, data is still in a lot of cases collected manually. In this article, we will discuss the importance of data automation and how it can bring huge benefits for your organization.

The importance of software in data collection

Competitive advantage stems from accurate, live information. But only automated data collection enables workers to promptly intervene on unplanned production downtime, and managers to take conscious decisions on what to improve.

By automating data collection using software and hardware, manufacturers fill this critical intelligence gap, laying the foundations of an efficient, knowledge-based factory environment.

Manual data collection harms productivity and fosters core procedural flaws

Our research and on-field experience show that insufficient data collection still dramatically troubles the industry. It is one of the most common obstacles towards achieving higher productivity and improved OEE (overall equipment effectiveness), chiefly rooted in manual methods of data gathering.

These impact not only data accuracy but also management decisions and the effective distribution of tasks among workers in the factory.

When you make workers manually update an Excel sheet or use pen and paper, core procedural flaws are just one step away:

  • Production downtime, breakdowns or smaller issues might go undetected, either because unseen or deemed not relevant. Subjectivity leads the assessment and, consequently, the data collection process.
  • Manual data collection takes time, and workers have to devote large parts of their shift to this low-productivity function. Not only mistakes are easy to make, but why should they engage in inefficient and tedious tasks when that could be automated.
  • Real-time information is missing entirely, and so is a quick reaction to unexpected stoppages. In most factories, timely detecting and fixing these problems is currently impossible due to the interval between the event occurred and its assessment.
  • As a result, collected data is inconsistent, ineffective, incomplete, and inaccurate. Furthermore, OEE evaluations and improvements are based on information that impairs the achievement of higher productivity.

The benefits on automated data collection

When automated data collection is in place, data quality improves in all six dimensions fundamental to smart manufacturing:

  • Relevance – the extent to which the data matches the company’s needs
  • Accuracy – whether the resulting values are precise and reliable
  • Timeliness – how much time spans between reference period and information
  • Accessibility – how easily operators can obtain and use the information
  • Interpretability – the ease of understanding of the data at hand
  • Transparency – objective evidence supporting data accuracy

Automated data collection improves OEE

Automated data collection allows us to precisely assess the underlying losses taking place in the production process, and correctly configure a plant that enhances productivity and OEE.

Quantitative and qualitative evidence makes the case for it – automating data collection leads to unidentified OEE losses becoming almost 0%.

Better data quality also means you have tools for better decision making. On top of that, the ease of understanding of machine data collection software’s visualisation component keeps shop floor operators in the loop, allowing them to become the first-hand source of solutions to prevent machine-related losses.

Our experience shows that automated data collection has enabled our clients to achieve remarkable results and maximise their ROI.

In food production, improvements of +20% in OEE performance were reached in just six months on all packaging lines. Metal components producer Meconet, by its part, recorded a +50% in productive work time.

Our OEE software has also enabled large scale projects of digital transformation in manufacturing at Yara, leading to a global average +15% of OEE performance in one year. Finally, wood processing company Thermory witnessed an increase in production efficiency of +20%.

Why should organizations incorporate it into their operations?

When data collection is manual, accuracy and timeliness are always out of the picture. Automated data collection provides accurate and reliable information in order to make data-driven decisions.

Moreover, incorporating it into your operations helps to achieve remarkable results and maximise ROI. If you are still collecting data manually, it is time for an upgrade.

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