Did we make money on that job?
Has our scrap rate improved?
Were we efficient in machining last month?
We’ve all asked, or been asked, questions like this in our jobs. We often think we know the answer based on our gut feeling, but the only measurable answer is found in the underlying data. How efficiently that data is accessed and analyzed has a direct effect on the reaction time before operational improvements can be made.
Every operation has manual data collection procedures. Operators at their cell record information to count cycles, record downtime, notate scrap occurrences among many other data points. This data is invaluable, but it has the effect of slowing the operator’s pace and necessitates that a production assistant collect, make calculations from and summarize the manual data. While this can be effective, the resources required and the potential inaccuracies make this method less than perfect.
Automating data collection is often as simple as using data that is available in a PLC or can be logged from the PLC. It can be exported into spreadsheets or databases from which reports can be produced. Any process that is already being controlled with a PLC is a candidate.
Processes that are not currently controlled by a PLC can, with relative ease, be upgraded to use a simple PLC. For an investment of under $5,000, a PLC could be added to not only provide a means of collecting data, but also as a means of improving process control. If manual data collection consumes 30 minutes per day, a $5,000 investment would pay back in less than one year.
Data is critical to operating and improving your business. Your time is better spent analyzing it, not creating it. Automation of the data collection process will refocus an operation allowing it to spend time improving their processes.
For more information, please contact Godfrey & Wing.