Why Industry 4.0 is a Game Changer for Contract Manufacturers
The long-term advantage of digital transformation is a game changer – a recent study by McKinsey & Company reveals that adopting IoT and Industry 4.0 can result in a 30-50% machine downtime reduction, among many other improvements. By increasing interconnectivity and automation, we can create a digital ecosystem that enhances visibility, optimizes processes, and minimizes wasted time.
At MSI Express, we're leveraging internet of things (IoT) connected machines, industry 4.0, connected sensors, and associated automation to improve our operational equipment effectiveness (OEE) and empower our employees.
Just like teams competing in the March basketball tournaments, our journey towards Industry 4.0 has been hard-fought, and we have learned a few things along the way.
Avoiding an Air Ball - Using IoT For Better Decisions
The contract manufacturing industry always faces tight budgets, which is why any technology integrated into our system needs to generate significant ROI quickly. Any new hardware or software must be highly adaptable and flexible enough to work with a wide range of technologies, approaches, and skill sets, given the inherent variability in our business.
A good game plan is essential, starting with a data pipeline that is relevant to each business use case. Our on-court players need to know the score during the game to make the right strategic moves, rather than just being informed when the game is over. Business Intelligence (BI) dashboards for each business group serve as real-time scoreboards, enabling teams to adjust tactics and create intra-shift or line healthy competition.
A robust data pipeline integrated into our warehousing operation enables us to "watch film" on our operations. Similar to basketball teams analyzing past games to identify areas for improvement, we can analyze our historical data to identify trends, uncover inefficiencies, and make better-informed decisions for the future.
Better Zone Defense - A Process For New Technology Integration
Industry 4.0 transformation is complicated, but the process becomes more predictable with each push. MSI Express covers five critical zones with each new technology or system integration.
Given the increased line connectivity of many important machines, strict network protection is critical.
Investing in properly training our team to maximize the benefits of any new technology is crucial. We use vendor-provided lessons, or create our own depending on how the new tool relates to existing systems.
Dashboards and data reporting should be oriented towards a specific use case and the information presented should be easily consumable by its target audience. Our team on the manufacturing line, engineers in the office, maintenance roaming the floor, plant management, and company leadership all look at the data with different lenses. Each of those may require different tools and technologies.
Patience can wear thin as teams learn the possibilities of these emerging toolkits. ROI may be slow to deliver tangible improvements. Furthermore, as one plant sees the power of the tool, others want to have it quickly. A planned, deliberate roll out is critical.
Finally, we’ve learned all too well the importance of scalability and interoperability in our solutions. As our business has grown and evolved, we’ve needed to adapt existing tools and integrate with other systems and technologies.
In Conclusion - Look For The Assist
Success is in the measurement. With a clear understanding of the proper ROI metrics, you can correctly focus on the areas that will deliver the most significant returns and justify the investment.
Ultimately, all of this work benefits the end customer. Manufacturing downtime is reduced, resulting in more reliable schedules. Quality checks that are instant and traceable lead to better and more consistent product quality. Real-time decision-making helps to lower overall production costs and ensure on-time delivery. That’s a real win-win.