How can real-time data facilitate industrial operations?
Businesses are evolving with an impressively fast pace day by day, motivated by the changing demands, needs, and desires of the customers. But in such a quickly developing world, real-time data is key for the continuous success and growth: especially when it comes to production and manufacturing.
If we look closely into any industrial operations, their success is measured by three core criteria: pace, quality, and process (or chain) simplicity. In other words, any lucrative manufacturing process should be time and task-optimized, and the end product: impeccable (and in accordance with the clients' requests).
The collection, analysis, and interpretation of real-time data from IoT devices and operational technologies can contribute not only to sustainable and optimized business operations, but also to higher quality products, better decision-making process, planning, risk evaluation, cost and carbon footprint reduction, employee and customer satisfaction, and, as a result, stable profits in the long run.
Let's see in detail how that live, accurate data facilitates business operations:
Real-time track and trace
Movement, storage, and distribution of raw materials, assembly parts and finished products are inevitable processes in every supply chain. And for businesses, it is essential to be able to track and trace goods in their live location to ensure the effectiveness of the organizational activities.
Being able to detect the actual location of assets, allows the management to have control over the business processes, and immediately intervene if any sudden problems occur. As a result, better planning and decision-making are achieved, and delays can be efficiently avoided.
For example, if a whole batch of newly manufactured products is missing from the factory's storage, companies that have access to real-time data would solve the problem instantly. And entities that don't benefit from live tracking and tracing would have to update their monitoring systems to be able to locate the particular batch. And this leads to delays, operational issues, and financial losses.
Minimize losses by live quality check
Imagine that a client has placed a big order, which requires the manufacturing of several product batches. And all the batches meet the quality criteria set by the client, except for one. Now all the flawed goods have to be thrown away, contributing to material and financial losses.
Streaming real-time data can prevent the occurrence of such situations, as live quality check can be conducted. This way any possible manufacturing defects would be diminished to the first faulty product, and instead of a whole batch, the company would have to throw away only one unit of goods. As a result, the losses will be minimized and any repeating tasks would be avoided.
Enhanced performance of industrial assets
No matter the production strategy (make to stock, assembly to order, make to order), machines, automated appliances, production lines, and mobile devices are crucial assets for every modern and innovative manufacturing plant. According to IFR, the number of industrial robots used in factories worldwide will reach 3 million units until 2020. However, such “equipment” is often very expensive to be both purchased and fixed if any issue occurs.
Connecting those operational assets to real-time data collector allows the business entities to prolong the life of the machines, optimizing their usage (by avoiding over or under usage), and as a result, preventing fast depreciation, which has a direct reflection on the financial statements.
Direct access to live information from each operating appliance enables the machine supervisors to notice any changes and malfunctions in the devices, and act before any operational or financial damage is caused due to delays or shutdowns. Data about the condition of both software and hardware, battery life, electricity usage and working time give tons of useful insights about performance trends and patterns, which facilitate the planning process.
Real-time data for sustainable operations
Sustainable operations do not only mean smooth flow of activities and continuous profits but also reduced energy usage and diminished environmental footprint. And real-time data analytics can contribute to all those three pillars.
Having up-to-the-minute information about everything that is going on in the manufacturing plant allows better outlining and optimization of production activities: how to organize assembly lines, packaging, quality control, consolidation of goods for shipment, etc. When all those processes are monitored, the risk of disruptions decreases tremendously and the quality of CX increases steadily.
On the other hand, great planning and scheduling reduces the number of unnecessary tasks conducted by the employees in the manufacturing plant and increases their satisfaction levels. And happy is always more productive and attentive to details.
Last but not least, the environment. According to research conducted by IHS and OSIsoft: “The real-time data is helping the engineers to optimize processes and minimize utility usage during product changes and down times. Changes to processes and behavior alone have resulted in savings of over $100M in 3 years, with little or no additional capital cost.”
It can be concluded that by using the acquired insights from real-time data analysis, business entities can tackle complex problems using smart solutions. Moreover, they can obtain a competitive advantage, boost CX and employee satisfaction, maximize productivity and profits, and minimize their costs, losses, and negative environmental impact.