When Out To Improve Productivity, Start With TV Dashboards

When Out To Improve Productivity, Start With TV Dashboards

Richard Hefner – Vice President, FactoryWiz

This is the first in a series of regular blog posts that I intend to share with our FactoryWiz users and the manufacturing community at large about the best practices (and challenges) for a company when moving to data driven manufacturing. As the first topic I wanted to choose the single element of a manufacturing data collection platform which has the largest impact on productivity: the factory floor dashboards. The situation is so clear, in fact, that we insist any potential customer must place at least one TV on the shop floor as part of the deployment. Sites with TVs tend to succeed and shops without them almost always fail.

Why is this? After all, the same information is available through a multitude of ways. A customer can pull up a web page, a mobile phone screen, run a report, or receive an email for most of the same information. Still – the TV dashboard is our #1 predictor of success (and benefit!) for any new deployment. There are a multitude of reasons, but these are the top four:

TV dashboards work even if you are too busy to pull up a web page
By being in-your-face as you walk around the shop floor there is no choice but to take notice of them. They tend to become a regular point of interest (the supervisors make sure to at least give a glance every time they walk by) and even become a gathering point for daily meetings or shop walkthroughs.

Sharing information publicly expands the audience of invested parties
It is fairly common for a limited number of people to be the “owners” of any system that deals with manufacturing equipment. They have the login information, they get the reports, they drive adoption. They see the value, and they make use of the information – but sometimes it is difficult for them to relay to top management what they are getting out of the investment. But once the information is public to all the table tends to turn! The conversation is not “justify why you are spending money deploying this system I’ve never actually seen” but instead “what do you need to keep expanding this until I have visibility into all of our operations?”

Public displays instill a sense of ownership
Do not underestimate your employees’ desire to be a productive member of the team. Virtually nobody likes to see that their performance lags that of their peers. Highlighted information which is outside a norm (such as a color-coded indicator that a feedrate override dial has been turned down) tends to discourage that behavior because everybody naturally wants to match their peers. In those cases where a machine is stopped, the public display drives participation in entering the reason code so any supervisor who walks by will know that the machine is waiting for something that isn’t the operator’s fault. Which leads us to…

Displays can be designed to target stakeholders in real time
While it is fine to run analytics on what went wrong in the past, it is far better to distribute information in real time to get rid of the problems in the first place. A very common complaint among machinists who run the machines we monitor is that management will assume they are just being lazy when really the machine doesn’t run because of various problems outside their control. What we try to help them understand is that all of these problems outside their control are the most valuable part of what we are doing. If a machine sits for an hour at a time waiting for an inspection why not have the operator press a button on their tablet when running a first article part and tell us? And better than telling us, why not put that information on a dashboard in the quality department? A concise display of which machines are running first article parts and which machines have finished their parts and are now waiting (with a timer to add a sense of urgency) is a simple thing with the potential to improve productivity. Now the operator can take credit for helping reduce wasted time that was previously out of his control. Repeat for tooling, or maintenance, or put a wireless dashboard in the form of a tablet on the forklift to show the driver who is waiting for a load or unload. This is taking the step from simply having a monitoring system to having a smart data platform that keeps information flowing between the people who need it.

I have only scratched the surface of what is possible. We have helped customers put preventive maintenance notifications on screen, calibration reminders, help requests, monthly productivity data, profit sharing targets, and a multitude of other information. What it comes down to, though, is that for driving productivity and increasing user engagement – don’t keep that data trapped on somebody’s desk. Share it!

How to get there
For those who need the full functionality of the web portal, operator data input tablets, an API for integration with ERP systems, emailed reports, and our click-to-learn productivity browser feature – that’s where FactoryWiz Monitoring can step in and give you the TV dashboards along with the rest for any machine. Learn more about the complete FactoryWiz Monitoring package by visiting us at www.factorywiz.com

FactoryWiz is an on premise, datacenter, or cloud deployed factory data collection platform based on web architecture and the concept of open data exchange. The company, founded as Refresh Your Memory in 1983, has been a pioneer in all aspects of communication and data collection on the factory floor. That strong history with all vintages of equipment guides our development of a system which can collect information from virtually any manufacturing equipment. Learn more at www.factorywiz.com

Richard Hefner is a Vice President at FactoryWiz and the chief architect of the FactoryWiz Monitoring and DNC systems. His background was in MIS and IT before joining the company in 1998 to help machine tool people speak the language of information technology initiatives

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