Recent events have reinforced the importance of managing and maintaining assets for manufacturing organizations. Outside influences, such as rising energy costs, have increased the pressure to manufacture faster, cheaper but also more sustainable products, while at the same time maintaining the quality.
With the growing scope of the industry, smart manufacturing provides full visibility of assets, processes, resources, and products. Recent research from IoT Analytics and Microsoft found that early adopters have already rolled out several smart factory use cases, with condition-based maintenance of equipment ranking in the top three use cases currently being adopted by manufacturers.
In this blog, we look at the journey towards improving asset performance and the role of digitization in building a factory of the future.
The current state of asset performance in the manufacturing industry
Another study from Deloitte found the average asset utilization across manufacturing industries is still relatively low (42%), highlighting the significant room for improvement in optimizing asset performance.
Reactive maintenance is one of the common barriers to improving asset performance. Reactive maintenance is synonymous with poor performance, unforeseen breakdowns and poorly planned maintenance budgets. It also has a 30-40% higher cost expectancy than predictive maintenance due to high emergency repair costs.
Having little or no proactive maintenance puts equipment at regular risk of suddenly being unavailable and bringing a halt to production, with downtime estimated to cost manufacturing businesses approximately $260,000 per hour.
Extracting meaningful information from the appropriate data is another common issue facing manufacturers. Considering the exponential rise in the amount of data created, the initial step of verifying the data being ingested is increasingly becoming a complicated task.
The digital tools to elevate asset performance
To address these challenges and improve asset utilization, manufacturers can start with digitizing their maintenance program. The following initiatives can help manufacturers unlock the untapped potential of their assets and drive higher utilization rates:
- Process optimization – gathering data from various points in your manufacturing process, like production lines, equipment, and sensors, enables you to analyze and pinpoint inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas that need improvement. This empowers your team to optimize processes, cut down on waste, boost productivity, and ultimately enhance overall operational efficiency
- Quality control – with AI, you can achieve greater accuracy, efficiency, and consistency in detecting quality defects through image recognition and other paramaters during production
- Predictive maintenance – utilizing data collection and analysis allows for predictive maintenance tasks. Predict your maintenance needs and preempt potential failures by continuously monitoring equipment and data patterns, and schedule maintenance proactively. This approach helps you minimize unplanned downtime and cut repair costs
Technologies such as AI and the Internet of Things can automate several tasks and increase the exchange of data between machines and systems, leading to higher levels of efficiency and productivity. Almost half of manufacturers surveyed by Make UK said that digitization has been their firm’s top driver of productivity improvements.
It’s no surprise that manufacturers prioritize this use case, given its significant impact on optimizing operations across multiple aspects and enhancing supply chain resilience.
Let’s dive into some of the other benefits of digitizing your equipment maintenance:
Digitizing your equipment maintenance ensures equipment undergoes inspections and servicing frequently and consistently , ensuring that the equipment is not over-inspected, and this is where technology truly adds value. This helps reduce unplanned downtime, minimize equipment breakdowns and ultimately improve overall equipment performance.
Digital technologies also allow you to track energy usage in real-time so you can assess which equipment uses the most energy and make changes accordingly. This further helps you save money and boost profits.
Manufacturing software allows you to consolidate all your equipment maintenance information into one system, helping you to gain one source of the truth and eliminate the need for multiple data entry. Employees can also access the same information in real-time (such as work history for a piece of equipment) without needing to cross-reference documentation through multiple Excel spreadsheets.
Enable cross-team collaboration
Cloud solutions enable an agile approach to equipment maintenance, making cross-team collaboration possible. Employees will be able to access data while on the go, as well as update and share documents in real-time, regardless of location.
For example, your teams will be able to:
- Create, schedule and assign equipment maintenance tasks to colleagues
- View tasks, complete them and notify the relevant people
- Keep track of completed maintenance tasks, view progress, and address any queries
Gain access to actionable insights in real-time
Receive up-to-date insights into all aspects of your maintenance tasks, such as knowing the status of tasks, who it was completed by and which tasks are outstanding. Accessing real-time equipment maintenance data also enhances your understanding of equipment availability, helping you make informed decisions on part orders and waste reduction.
Become a more sustainable business
As the awareness of protecting the planet grows, there’s an increasing demand for sustainable products and services. One in three consumers claim to have stopped purchasing certain products or brands because they had ethical and sustainable concerns about them, while 43% of manufacturers say they see the connection between digitization and decreasing carbon footprint. Digitizing your operations helps you remain agile, responsive and innovative for market change.
Addressing the challenges of technology adoption
Many manufacturers face challenges in scaling their transformative initiatives. As revealed by an IoT Analytics survey among leading companies already on their digital transformation journey, these challenges include a lack of data skills, inadequate change management, incomplete integration of IT systems with systems used for monitoring and controlling operations and devices, and more.
Our own experiences working with several customers also highlights these issues, so we'll review the core challenges below to help you stay prepared.
Limited technological infrastructure
Older or less technologically advanced firms may lack the right infrastructure to implement strategies such as predictive maintenance. By moving to the cloud, solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Infor CloudSuite provide a unified platform that integrates business functions such as maintenance, production, and supply chain.
It consolidates data from different sources, breaking down silos, and enabling comprehensive data analysis for predictive maintenance and other scenarios. You can prioritize which one to start with based on the value it brings. However, having an up-to-date digital platform is now imperative if you want to stay competitive.
The good news is that with the right partner, you can breakdown initiatives into smaller projects and prioritize them based on business value, leading to a quick ROI. With Columbus’ OnTarget Delivery Methodology, we bring structure and predictability to transformational IT projects. Our approach is to create value as early as possible, demonstrating functionality as the project progresses, ensuring no consideration is left by the wayside.
Food manufacturer Jackson’s Bakery was recently suffering from a limited technological infrastructure that was unable to cope with new levels of business growth. Since we helped the company overhaul its technology and supply chain, Jackson’s has been able to improve several areas of its business.
This includes modernizing core processes, creating a solid technology backbone on which Jackson’s could launch its new business and gaining new efficiencies such as business intelligence and continuous improvements from the cloud platform.
You can read the case study in full by clicking here.
Managing organizational culture change
Manufacturers require trusted data-driven insights for sustained success. Getting people to want to adopt the technology and trust the output and insights is critical to that success.
That’s why we help our customers prioritize by business value, foresee where problems are most likely to arise, and support them in creating a culture that embraces change readily. It’s important you keep your strategy and change plans active and adaptable for continuous success.
Take Watson Marlow for example, a global leader in niche peristaltic pump manufacturing and associated fluid path technologies. As part of a wider IT initiative, Watson-Marlow wanted to create the right environment for success.
Columbus worked closely with Watson-Marlow to realize various areas of value, such as improved user adoption, a customer-centric culture, data-driven insights and a standardized global approach with a local service.
Read more about how we helped Watson Marlow manage organizational change by clicking here.
Complexity of data analysis
Skilled workers with expertise in data analytics and machine learning are required for advanced data analysis to identify patterns, anomalies, and potential equipment failures. According to a Deloitte survey, nearly 83% of manufacturers believe attracting and retaining a quality workforce to be a top challenge.
But it’s not just the technical skills that are needed. The market for digital technologies is vast and not all solutions will fit every organization, making it difficult for manufacturers to navigate what’s right for them.
By working with a partner, you can fill in the technology gaps in your business with their resources and free up your in-house team to focus on other business-critical tasks. They’ll bring a wealth of experience and skills your teams might be lacking and help find ways to release value early and incrementally and ensure successful value management, steering your manufacturing organization towards a data-driven culture.
Incomplete integration of IT—OT
Many manufacturers have struggled to implement an enterprise architecture that integrates IT and OT, which enables the control and monitoring of connected systems and sensors on a large scale.
Implementing solutions such as predictive maintenance often requires upfront investments in sensors, data collection infrastructure, and analytics software. But in today’s swiftly evolving market, digitization is the differentiating factor for companies. Manufacturers must strive to reach a new level of agility by embracing digital solutions today – it’s the only way to remain competitive.
That’s why the value of working with a digital business consultancy cannot be understated. They can help you align manufacturing industry best practices with the goals of your company to drive transformation initiatives.
The convergence of IT and OT not only enhances operational efficiency by streamlining processes and communication between traditionally separate systems, but allows you to optimize customer experiences by leveraging integrated data to personalize services and respond quickly to customer needs. We dive into after-market services in this blog. You can learn more here.
Your first step towards predictive asset maintenance
By combining data from your systems, assets and other sources, you can shift from maintenance based on gut-feeling and guesswork to maintenance based on facts and figures. Then, over time, you can use data to optimize more and more processes.
Want to know more about driving asset availability and utilization? Curious if it’s the right initiative to kickstart your business transformation? Our free workshop can provide insights on tailoring asset management best practices to suit your specific business needs. Click the button below to find out more.