Smart Manufacturing: Top 5 Shop Floor Challenges (and Solutions to Overcome)

Digital Transformation

Smart Manufacturing: Top 5 Shop Floor Challenges (and Solutions to Overcome)

Growing customer needs and technology advancements have started to transform all industries and Manufacturing is no exception.

With too many challenges to seek solutions for, the industry is looking for technology advancements (and right IoT app development company or reputed digital transformation services to partner with) to help improve shop floor productivity, growth and ensure delivering unparalleled customer experience.

Here’re 5 common challenges every manufacturing floor faces. 

  1. Lack of top floor to shop floor visibility
  2. Manual job allocations
  3. Lack of real-time data for monitoring LE & OEE
  4. Unplanned machine downtime and maintenance costs
  5. Lack of employee health safety measures

Top manufacturing companies that have incorporated the Industry 4.0 solutions built of robust technologies like mobile app development, IoT, Sensors have accelerated their productivity by at least 10x than it was before. 

Still not convinced? The sections below will help you understand the impact of Industry 4.0 and what smart factories mean for manufacturers.

What are smart factories?

Any factory that can be automated thoroughly and has the ability to self-optimize and improve its performance with the help of Industry 4.0 solutions is termed as a smart factory. Internet of Things is one of the advanced technologies used along with AI and ML to help factories improve performance with self-optimization. 

Is automation and smart manufacturing the same? True or false.

It’s false. Not all automations can be called smart manufacturing. While automation can be as simple as transforming a paper-based process to digital, smart manufacturing involves a lot of processes like technology implementation, monitoring, evaluation of data to arrive at consensus for improvement. Smart manufacturing involves more than one or more technologies while automation can be attained using a simple mobile app.

Your competitors are already there, are you?

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Industry 4.0 solutions have transformed the way shop floors function and I have name a few below that are supercharging floor productivity.  

Let’s put a deep dive into how these solutions work and help improve the shop floor operations. 

Shop floor automation solution

A major challenge that affects the productivity and improvements of the manufacturing operations is the visibility happenings in the shop floor to the top floor. As the operations are still conventional in most manufacturing companies, updating the machine, operator data to the existing ERP on a daily basis poses a huge challenge. 

Besides, every day the supervisor has to monitor and track the operator, machine data manually and update it to the higher authorities. 

This is a backbreaking and time-consuming process that contributes to bad decision making and floor heads are left with fewer and unrealistic data to decide from. 

So, the first step is to bridge the gap between the shop floor and top floor. 

Shop floor automation (digitization)

This can be achieved by empowering the operators/supervisors with the mobile app and connecting IoT devices to machines. 

Digitizing the machines with an IoT device would help operators record the data in real-time through a mobile app. Updating the data to ERP using the mobile app is seamless and any operator can perform this job on-the-go. 

Also, the top-level executives of manufacturing units will be powered by an interactive business dashboard to monitor real-time operations and this necessitates faster decision making. 

The second step is to assign tasks dynamically to operators for improved productivity. 

Shop floor automation

Job card digitization

Similarly, the supervisors would be able to assign and schedule tasks to operators from anywhere, any time using the apps. Also, the digitization enables the supervisors to assign tasks to employees dynamically when the task is not completed fully or the task-assigned employee is on leave. 

With everything digitized monitoring the complete job cards assigned against each and every operator becomes super easy for any supervisor and saves a lot of his time. 

These two automation steps apparently increase labour efficiency (LE) and overall productivity on the shop floor.  

The third step would be to utilize the machines efficiently for avoiding costly machine repairs. 

Preventive maintenance

Well, with improving labour efficiency, the next step would be improving the overall efficiency of the equipment. Unplanned maintenance is one of the reasons for the drop in manufacturing productivity and having this unnoticed for a long time declines machine efficiency. You won’t be able to utilize the equipment to its fullest due to the frequent maintenance of the machines even when not required. 

Also, unplanned downtime can be exorbitant as it involves instant repair costs and labour fee to negotiate the challenge. 

With a preventive maintenance(or planned maintenance) system in place, monitoring the devices is simple, efficient, and cost-effective.  

The preventive maintenance system includes IoT devices fixed on the machines to monitor their performances in real-time. 

The real-time data garnered through these next-gen devices help the operators identify the downtime well in advance to prevent costly repairs and labour costs. 

Simply put, you’d be able to prevent unplanned downtime with real-time data. This will also help you utilize your machines efficiently throughout their lifecycle rather than frequent maintenance or unplanned maintenance. The data also helps you measure the overall equipment efficiency (OEE) as well. 

The fourth step would be ensuring employee safety on the shop floor. 

Employee safety management system

Another major setback for any employee within a manufacturing unit is safety when handling machines. Performing a checklist of the machines that are in a sensitive environment on a daily basis and reporting the incidences manually could be nightmarish as this involves a lot of risks. 

Ensuring employee safety is a must to help and motivate them to deliver better. 

With an employee safety management application in place, carrying out equipment checks regularly is simple. Besides, the employees can also raise incidences, machine defects, malfunctions, and report observations to the higher authorities on-the-go and on-time to get the condition of the equipment to deteriorate further. 

So, by automating your day-to-day shop floor operations with the aforementioned solution(s) would help your business accelerate productivity, motivate employees and ensure substantial growth. 

Transform your shop floor operations with an automation solution(s) now to beat the competition and deliver an unparalleled customer experience. 

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