Production Monitoring Software: A Guide for Plant Managers

To effectively manage manufacturing operations, it is necessary for the executive team to be concerned with the high-level performance metrics that determine business health. They must look at day-to-day plant performance and trends over time that indicate success. Often, however, manufacturers are slow to adapt resources that facilitate this task and instead rely on antiquated paper and Excel reporting systems, which are more prone to error.

Today, innovative production monitoring software technologies are available that simplify reporting processes and increase visibility across the plant. These investments pay for themselves over time in the form of increased productivity, greater efficiency, higher revenues and lower costs. It's a win-win for operators, managers, engineers and even the executive team.

What do you get from production monitoring?

Production monitoring provides more information to the executive team. These are manufacturing information emails that provide high-level metrics that indicate whether tasks went well the previous day. If not, those same emails provide additional information on what went wrong and what needs to be fixed.

This is also long-term trend information to better understand capacity and aggregate downtime. If there are requests for additional equipment due to demand constraints, you need to know if the data supports the purchase. Long-term data provides insight into the details that help make those decisions. For example, if the plant had a 36% drop in the last year, executives can determine whether it was due to underperforming machines or another problem through contextualized information. Production monitoring software tracks and provides information about the problem, whether it is machines, processes or people.

What is production monitoring software?

Most manufacturers have Excel and paper reports, but the problem is that they do not provide enough detail to make real-time decisions. Current reports are often detrimental to real-time decision making and in these cases production monitoring software offers a solution.

Following the example above, if the plant had a 36% decline over the course of the previous year, traditional reports make it difficult to determine and diagnose the real problem. Deciding whether to purchase new equipment is a difficult decision to make without understanding the problem. Digging deeper into the cause requires considerable effort on the part of whoever is in charge of reporting in the plant: data must be compiled to reflect the previous year, not the traditional weekly or monthly reports that are usually sent to the executive team. In addition, the main reasons why the plant experienced downtime, which often goes unrecorded, must be recorded. Sometimes, it's too much work and manufacturers rely on their intuition. Too often, there are a lot of details that cause big problems that manufacturers don't discover until there is a production monitoring system in place.

Why should executives invest in production monitoring software?

The adoption of production monitoring software is often driven by a major problem plaguing the plant or by a member of the executive team who is used to having data in a previous role, but in a new role has no data.

Ultimately, when there is a need, there must be a determination to find a solution that makes executives' lives easier. In this regard, technology, such as production monitoring software, surfaces key data that allows executives to make real-time, data-driven decisions that will positively impact the success of the plant.

Benefits of using production monitoring software

Manufacturers track production to gain more visibility into manufacturing operations. The resulting information informs business decisions, leading to a number of benefits. These include:

Consistent product quality

Production tracking allows manufacturers to track product and process standards in real time. This provides operators and supervisors with accurate and timely data on the status of production.

In the event of non-conformances or inconsistencies, the appropriate personnel can intervene. In this way, they can fix the problem or recalibrate the machines, ensuring that all products passing through the line conform to the same specifications. As an example, here are 10 ways that real-time monitoring of manufacturing improves accuracy and quality.

Smoother production

Increasingly complex and dynamic manufacturing environments offer several potential points of failure. However, robust production monitoring keeps an eye on all of these points, alerting the appropriate operator or supervisor in real time.

For example, if a machine breaks down in the middle of the production line, it creates a bottleneck that paralyzes operations at either end. However, with modern production monitoring, supervisors are aware of potential problems before they occur. As a result, the potential problem can be avoided through preventive maintenance, reducing downtime to allow for smoother production operations.

Employee safety

Thoughtful automation in smart factories makes the manufacturing business more productive. However, the introduction of more complex and powerful equipment can put plant workers at risk of injury.

With production monitoring software, manufacturers have real-time data on potentially hazardous machines. For example, pressurized machines have optimal operating ranges. If the pressure exceeds a certain limit, the production monitoring system alerts operators to leave the area.

Production savings

Real-time production monitoring software provides data from the plant's production processes. Analysis of this data provides managers with information they can apply to optimize overall equipment efficiency. This reduces downtime and its associated costs.

In addition, real-time data allows supervisors to monitor the status of production which enables them to make adjustments if production is delayed, thus reducing the costs associated with completing an order on a different production run scheduled for another order.

Improved customer satisfaction

Consistent product quality and on-time order fulfillment foster customer satisfaction, confidence and repeat business.

By implementing production monitoring software, companies can identify any sources of problems, enabling them to be resolved quickly and efficiently.

Improving real-time monitoring with production monitoring software

Production monitoring software leverages dynamic interconnectivity between shop floor equipment and IoT devices for more complete data sets. In addition, these systems have advanced analytical capabilities that provide actionable information in real time.

A production monitoring software also has visualization and customization features. Therefore, manufacturers can tailor these digital tools to fit their unique production operation. In addition, data can also be tracked and visualized in a matter of seconds using customizable manufacturing dashboards.

Finally, production monitoring data feeds into other aspects of manufacturing, such as material sourcing and shipping, and informs other business aspects such as finance, customer relations and logistics. Discover how machine monitoring in industrial manufacturing can help you optimize all your production processes.