Best practices to implement machine monitoring

Whether you have seven machines or 70 pieces of equipment on your floor, there are best practices that manufacturers across industries can apply to get the most out of your machine monitoring journey. As a top implementer and supporter of equipment monitoring software, Shop Floor Automations (SFA) has helped hundreds of manufacturers throughout North America benefit from increased shop floor data visibility. Here’s our top three recommendations to follow:

  1. Begin with the end in mind. How will you gauge success for your team using machine monitoring, e.g. less downtime, decreased cycle time, greater productivity? While you may uncover more wins throughout your machine monitoring journey, setting 1-2 initial goals you aim to achieve with your new equipment monitoring software will increase your chances of realistically accomplishing them within your target time frame.
  2. Start small. As a relatively simple software to install, machine monitoring can be tempting to roll out to all your equipment immediately. Resist the urge. Large volumes of data can quickly overwhelm your resources, particularly as you’re just learning and configuring the application. Instead, establish a pilot program among a few key pieces of machinery over a particular time frame. You can install the DataXchange equipment monitoring service, for example, on one computer, like a desktop or server operating system, to collect and transmit your machine data to the cloud securely. Then the application can be installed on the PC of each user. All of the equipment in your pilot program will need to be connected to the network and DataXchange, and you’ll need to do the same for the Operator Data Interface (ODI) of the machine monitoring solution if you’re looking to have operators enter downtime reason codes, scrap part counts or send an e-mail. Once you’ve fine-tuned the program for the pilot group, you can easily expand it to the rest of your floor and other locations.
  3. Involve all. Machine operators, maintenance, engineering, quality, all the way through management and executive leadership should take part in the machine monitoring undertaking. The engineers at one aerospace company leveraged machine monitoring to track probing adjustments made to work offsets to begin building a historical reference. This way they can check what change to the offset may have had on a nonconforming part.
    CNC connect in the factory - Scytec DataXchange

    Once you’ve fine-tuned your machine monitoring program, like DataXchange, for a pilot group of equipment, you can easily expand it to the rest of your floor and other locations.

    By pulling in tool numbers, tool life, maximum tool life, the maximum load, average load and average and maximum vibration – and applying custom variables to know how far and how long that tool is running – the team better understands the result if something was changed to see if it made the output better, or if the machine is running less or more. Today the manufacturer continues to expand its usage of the system, including setting a monthly cadence to verify part standards in ERP to actual cycle times, to meet the needs of its C-suite. By involving each stakeholder, you widen the chance of adoption success as well as new potential opportunities for improvement.

These three best practices are just the beginning of your machine monitoring voyage toward improved profitability. To determine the best approach to implement machine monitoring for your business, contact an automation expert at SFA today.

Equipment monitoring ERP - Scytec DataXchange

Maintenance, particularly on the shop floor, involves expensive machinery – which translates into high costs for actions like repair work. These costs can represent anywhere from 15-70% of expenses, says IEEE. But maintenance costs may not even be the biggest liability.


Equipment monitoring ERP - Scytec DataXchange

Inefficient maintenance processes, like manual data collection, contribute to unplanned downtime and costs, according to Forbes.

For companies with strict quality standards and challenging customer expectations, the cost of a nonconformance, rework or even rejection can be enough to draw the attention of executives due to the shipping, additional labor, materials and reallocated machine time required to correct the defective product. This says nothing of the damage to the customer relationship and the impact on their own tight schedule. It behooves manufacturers, then, to ensure shop floor equipment is always performing optimally with minimal downtime.

The Move Past Manual Downtime Tracking

To do so effectively, manufacturing machinery must be continuously monitored. Today’s smart factory showcases plants with modern machine monitoring software, like Scytec DataXchange, which replaces previous steps of manually tracking, handwriting or physically keying in cycle times, set up times, downtimes, costs and reason codes, and then piecing this data together to understand trends, performance and opportunities for improved efficiency. While these manual processes were time- and labor-intensive to compile, report and analyze, they were also often riddled with inaccuracies, in addition to the time delays that further hinder a company’s ability to react quickly. In fact, Forbes specifically cites these types of inefficient maintenance processes as bad attributes that contribute to unplanned downtime and costs.

Bigger Business Benefits

The utilization of equipment monitoring software becomes crucial, therefore, for businesses working towards the goal “to prolong production performance until it reaches a point that the machine requires complete replacement due to wear and tear or technology change, if justified,” writes Salman Taghizadegan in Essentials of Lean Six Sigma. But the benefits of equipment monitoring systems extend past precise predictive maintenance. Through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integration, ideal machine monitoring software can capture and populate data, like these, for an even bigger business-wide impact:

  • Actual set-up and run times. By comparing your estimates to your actuals, you’ll increase the accuracy of your job costing to give you a better handle on your margins and overall profitability. The visibility afforded by these actual times will allow for easier and more reliable planning and scheduling, as staffing requirements become predictable.
  • Machine statuses. Uptime and downtime records and notifications to maintenance, production and management can ensure service is planned for and executed when – and exactly – as needed.
  • Completed quantity. Inventory of raw materials, intermediates and finished goods can be affected in real-time by machine processing, as it occurs.
  • Scrap quantity. Material requirements may be altered based on the volume of actual scrap produced, adding to the dependability of planning and scheduling.
  • Scrap codes. Opportunities to reduce waste may be presented through reason code analysis.

Integrate Machine Monitoring with ERP

While machine monitoring software offers a lot towards optimal maintenance management, its integration with ERP is the lift that expands the effect of equipment data across the enterprise to grant clearer visibility into production, inventory, accounting, lean, planning, scheduling – and yes, maintenance – to help drive greater consistency into each process for more effective decision-making. Learn more about connecting your ERP with machine monitoring software by contacting a Shop Floor Automations representative today.