Following several years of disruption to production and global supply chains, manufacturers are searching for ways in which they can work more efficiently and intelligently.
By modernising their operations to create ‘factories of the future’, organisations hope to build the capabilities they need to work in a more flexible, agile and intelligent way to enable them to become more resilient and adapt to future challenges.
For Chris Dobbrow, vice president of strategic partnerships at machine health specialist Augury, the crucial factor in making these visions a reality will be the effective use of data.
“Just having data by itself doesn’t achieve anything,” he says. “You must be able to drive insights. Once a manufacturer has that ability, everything in the production operation becomes predictable, from maintenance and quality assurance to scrap levels and energy consumption.”
Contrary to the common vision of a future factory populated only by robots, Augury envisages a workforce empowered with the tools, data insights and predictive capabilities that will enable them to make more effective and rewarding use of their time.
“Modernisation will significantly impact the workforce, as employees will spend far less time on unnecessary firefighting tasks when that predictive capability is in place,” says Dobbrow. “This will allow them to focus on far more interesting, high-value work that has more influence on the operations of the factory environment.”
As manufacturers look to improve and modernise their operations, Dobbrow suggests they exploit the potential of their existing machines as a way of dramatically increasing production without investing in an entirely new factory.
“Many of the manufacturers we work with have what we call a ‘shadow factory’ within their existing operations,” he says. “They have a significant amount of untapped capacity because their machines and processes simply aren’t operating at maximum productivity. To access that capacity, manufacturers can start by outfitting those machines with sensors, creating a source of insight that helps to detect and eliminate hidden malfunctions. Once that has been achieved, they can move on to finding ways to eliminate waste and improve the overall quality of their production.”
An example of this is Augury’s work to implement its Machine Health solution across the manufacturing sites of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division.
“The Machine Health solution resulted in zero unplanned downtime events over a four-month period and the production of an additional one million pounds of snacks,” says Dobbrow. “That’s the equivalent of an entirely new factory, without the need for significant capital expenditure. The knock-on effect from minimising downtime extends to multiple areas and has resulted in tremendous value for PepsiCo, as it has for all our partners who have used this solution.”
This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.