Industrial automation makes way for information automation

Today, most manufacturing processes are automated on some level, and only growing more so. But can the same be said for our cognitive activities and information-related processes? Collecting, analysing, and extracting value from data is surely the next step in optimising industrial processes, yet the way it is currently treated in terms of technological investment and prioritisation would suggest otherwise. This is according to Jason Chester, Director of Global Channel Programs, InfinityQS.

A contrast in advanced technology

Even in highly automated industrial environments, it’s not uncommon to see process parameters, product quality checks, and lab checks recorded manually, potentially even still on paper. Monitoring production processes and quality simply aren’t on the same level when it comes to automation and technological innovation, and performance only suffers consequently.

Advanced shop floor information technologies, such as manufacturing and quality intelligence solutions, help to boost manufacturing performance in real-time by optimising end-to-end manufacturing processes. Preventing small errors in production compounding or eradicating unnecessary variability in a process produces less waste and less risk of creating subpar products which can damage consumer trust. When scaled up across the entire manufacturing lifecycle and all facilities, the net improvements can be significant.

This is done in principle by ensuring that the right data is available at the right time in the right place to the right user and presented in a way that can ensure they are constantly making the most informed decisions.  That relies on the effective automation of these data-related processes – from data acquisition, statistical analysis, and visualisation.

Improving efficiency and optimising operations

Manufacturers should take the opportunity to automate their data collection processes or make their manual data collection processes more efficient and robust. This can be implemented in the form of timed data collections, data collection workflows, and more, all controlled and directed to give workers the information they need when they need it.

As data is collected, it can then be further analysed in ways to provide real-time insight and alerts to workers. We now have the technology capabilities to effortlessly capture data in real-time, analyse that data in real-time using sophisticated algorithms, and present the result of that analysis in highly intuitive visualisations. This makes decision-making much quicker and more effective, enabling critical decisions to be made in real-time to ensure that production processes are running optimally.

Enjoy viewing the wider perspective

As information collection and analysis becomes more automated, this also translates into wider-scale insights on manufacturing performance across the company. Beyond the plant floor, quality professionals, operations managers, and C-suite executives can use the enterprise visibility attained through manufacturing and quality intelligence solutions to monitor and analyse automatically generated dashboards. These dashboards can be presented in real-time to show essential data and insights according to each user’s role, access permissions, and level of responsibility.

Decision-makers can apply optimal adjustments and best practices from top-performing plants to all sites for enterprise-wide benefits. They can also compare quality across multiple sites, products, processes, lines, shifts, or production runs to identify continuous improvement opportunities that lead to global transformation and exponential cost savings.

By unifying your data in a centralised, unified repository, you can gain the benefits of enterprise-wide visibility and operational intelligence and gain consistent process and quality improvements as you prepare your organisation for the next steps in its digital transformation. Embracing information automation across all sectors is the key for manufacturers to understand and continue to future proof their operations, and ahead of competitors.

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