Bottling up plant improvements
Manufacturers across all industry sectors are embracing real-time performance management as a means to improve flexibility and profitability, while coping with the reduction of manpower and the burden of monitoring assets. This is intensifying the need for companies to make key performance indicators (KPIs) visible across all levels of the operation to help provide that processes are operating correctly and assets are being effectively utilized.
While many companies have enormous potential for improving plant performance, they’re challenged with collecting, organizing and analyzing the data needed to identify areas for improvement. By applying performance management solutions organizations can simplify the information-gathering process, while providing the role-based visibility and in-depth analysis needed to make intelligent business decisions.
Combining advanced visualization, analysis and reporting tools with engineering experience, these solutions are designed to help companies shift from a repair-focused asset management strategy to a plan that is reliability-focused. This helps reduce overall maintenance costs, while transforming production data into actionable information that drives continuous improvement.
Accurate insight through OEE
One performance management tool that continues to deliver powerful results is overall equipment effectiveness. OEE targets the most common and critical sources of manufacturing productivity loss and places them into three primary categories-availability, performance, and quality. As a real-time measurement system, OEE provides a window to analyze out-of-the-ordinary issues and establishes a framework for reducing inefficiencies and driving improvements across the entire manufacturing process.
One driver for using automated OEE technology is measuring and comparing the performance of different plants. For example, many of today’s advanced software packages employ an OEE model to measure or compare the performance of plants, lines, machines, and even production teams within a manufacturing enterprise. The OEE model yields a single performance rating to help plant personnel determine how a particular manufacturing activity or asset is performing, while providing detailed machine event history to document performance.
The most effective OEE systems "intelligently" report the status of individual production line components, such as the correlation of a downtime event with the time of the day; the specific operator running a machine; or a particular equipment set-up procedure. This information, as opposed to a simple timer to monitor downtime, provides the type of "actionable intelligence" to allow proactive adjustments, rather than merely serving as an alarm to report a stoppage. In other words, the software adds the "why" to the "what, when" and "how often."
A targeted approach
Achieving leading-class OEE scores has been shown to help improve bottom line results in a wide range of industries. For Clos du Bois, installing OEE software to evaluate the performance of its critical production assets helped the winery improve efficiency by 20 percent. Located in the Sonoma County wine region in Northern California, Clos du Bois was seeking ways to cut costs and boost production in light of increased competition, changing consumer demands and thinning margins.
A key area of focus was the company’s high-speed bottling line, which had the greatest influence on overall production and yield. The line was experiencing unplanned bottlenecks and stoppages, and running at a mere 65% efficiency. However, with not enough clarity into what was actually happening, it was difficult to identify the areas that needed improvement. In order to make any improvement, Clos du Bois first needed to understand where the problems were and what was causing them.
"From a management perspective, having access to meaningful production information was the essential first step in making operational improvements," said Chase Cambron, vice president of operations, Clos du Bois. "You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and we knew that the key to solving our problems was gaining access to plant-floor data so that we could assess and improve our processes."
Clos du Bois turned to Rockwell Automation for a sophisticated data acquisition system that could deliver accurate, real-time information to help management identify the root cause of problems and drive continuous improvement. The Factory Talk system provides operators and managers with on-demand access to downtime monitoring and alerts, production performance analytics, and equipment operating metrics. Numerous reports display production metrics associated with time, shift, operator, work order and product.
Production information is displayed in easier-to-read graphics and customized reports on standard PCs off the shop floor. With a few mouse clicks, management is able to view general OEE calculations by work cell, downtime for each machine, quality data, changeover times, as well as specific events that cause line stoppages, such as a jammed bottle or spilled product.
In an industry not known for being technologically savvy, the winery was able to leverage advanced performance management techniques and real-time information from its own processes to improve efficiency and optimize production.
Gaining an edge
Some companies are implementing dashboards and portal technology to improve interactions with suppliers and customers by establishing a customer Web portal for all order entry and tracking – a portal that exchanges information directly with the factory floor. Integration benefits extend into customer service, as well, with the ability to connect manufacturing to customer relationship management systems accessed by sales people and supplier networks. Real-time sharing of knowledge in a way that helps both the manufacturer and the supplier means higher sales, while offering customers expanded choices and improved responsiveness to market demands.
Advanced performance management technologies are helping manufacturers across all industry sectors achieve demonstrable value from base-lining, visualizing and comparing actual plant performance to historic measures. Those companies that capitalize on these technologies will be the ones best positioned to reap continuous performance improvements and gain a substantial competitive advantage now and into the future.
Darren Riley is market development manager for software and applications for Rockwell Automation.