What operational performance is and its applications
How an operational performance application will define the factory of the future
The industrial solutions that enable operational performance application
Improving industrial efficiency is a continuous process. The introduction of Industrie 4.0 came at a time when the manufacturing industry was going through a period of stagnancy. This inventive German study group highlighted the importance of gathering data and analyzing it using industrial solutions to drive growth to improve operational performance.
Improving operational performance within industrial environments starts with measurement to evaluate the operational level of a facility. Various metrics such as overall equipment effectiveness and machine utilization are compared against benchmark data to discover discrepancies. The data-driven process to discover discrepancies provides the foundation for plant optimization.
What is an operational performance application?
Reducing operational costs while ensuring that throughput quality remains at the highest levels is one way to attain profitability. Operational performance is the ability of enterprises to deliver products or services to customers using economical processes. This description of operational performance highlights its close association with lean manufacturing and Six Sigma methodologies to drive growth.
The introduction of lean methodologies in the Toyota facilities helped usher in a new era in the manufacturing industry. Implementing lean methodologies in the 1930s and the decades after relied on optimizing workflow through just-in-time material handling strategies and optimized schedules to reduce waste. In the context of lean manufacturing, waste refers to material, capital, and labor resources.
Lean methodologies focused on optimizing processes within facilities. Operational performance takes lean strategies a step further by including the need to optimize both processes and individual assets operating within the shop floor. To achieve this, the interrelationships that support production cycles must be optimized. Examples include optimizing supply chains, material handling systems, workstations, operations schedules, and equipment on the factory floor.
Industrial solutions to implement operational performance application
Operational performance application refers to the strategies that a factory owner applies to solve production challenges or to improve operational efficiency. Implementing these strategies requires the use of industrial solutions for data collection, aggregation, and analytical purposes.
The industrial solutions that drive operational performance are digital transformation technologies that enable the development of interconnected facilities to enhance data management. These solutions can be categorized under hardware and software technology sections. Hardware such as IoT, edge devices, and HMIs simplify the data-collection process. Software applications provide the computing resources to analyze data.
The interconnected factory is driven by unifying the architecture or assets within the shop floor. OPC UA provides a set of rules that simplifies the unification process and data collection. Achieving unification is the first important phase to implementing operational performance strategies, analyzing data with industrial software is the second, and relaying analyzed data to operators using visualization technologies is the third. Then enter Human-Machine Interface devices.
HMIs visualize data using graphics and languages that humans understand. HMIs are a crucial part of the operational performance application puzzle and are perfectly described below:
“HMIs are magical pieces of engineering;
It communicates edge to cloud across 200 protocols,
It has the power to manage real-time analytics,
You can use it with or without display,
With gloves in the harshest or cleanest of environments,
It delivers performance faster than you can say HMI,
It defines the positive correlation between aesthetics and usability,
In summary, it is the gateway to digitalization and optimizing operational performance.”
Leveraging the visualization solutions that HMIs produce using data-capturing hardware and analytics software, manufacturers can devise unique operational performance applications to solve complex problems. Although optimizing performance covers every aspect of the industrial process, four major operational performance applications or strategies exist.
What are the operational performance applications?
Resource tracking and management – The throughput quality of a production cycle is determined by the resources utilized in the manufacturing process. Increasing customer-service levels also requires completing customer-demand orders and delivering finished goods within the specified delivery date. Utilizing automation industrial solutions such as autonomous mobile robots to properly manage and transport resources is an operational performance strategy that speeds up the production cycle. The strategy can also include RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to track the supply chain and the movement of resources to the factory floor. For example, when using materials with short shelf lives, resource tracking ensures the manufacturer knows how long it takes batches of raw materials to get to the factory. Defective materials can then be discarded to avoid recalls.
Operator management – Within the majority of factories, operators remain as important assets to fulfilling customer orders. Although Industrie 4.0 promises complete automation, most facilities still rely on manual labor to execute production tasks. Providing optimized schedules for operators, monitoring operator performance, and implementing continuous training are operational performance strategies that optimize productivity. The industrial solutions used to improve operator performance include simulation modeling and scheduling software, digital twin solutions, and human-resources-management platforms. These solutions can also be applied to implement remote monitoring activities to ensure safety within the factory floor.
Data-driven plant performance optimization – Accurately measuring the KPIs that highlight plant performance provides the required data to optimize operations. Data collection and analytical industrial solutions are utilized to implement this operational performance strategy. Metrics such as OEE, machine utilization, and forecasted demand can be analyzed to develop far-reaching policies to improve productivity.
Predictive maintenance – Faulty equipment and unplanned downtime affect productivity in diverse ways. Machine downtime can reduce the focus of operators, lead to material waste, and affect the quality of products produced. Thus, developing predictive-maintenance strategies improves the performance of manufacturing equipment and the quality of throughput attached to a production cycle.
Operational performance application leverages benchmarking, data analytics, visualization technology, as well as monitoring and controlling industrial solutions to optimize plant productivity levels. Utilizing digital-transformation technologies to implement operational performance application strategies is recommended. The digital transformation of the factory floor paves the way for adopting Industrie 4.0 and solving complex operational problems.