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The main purpose of SCADA monitoring is to streamline the gathering, monitoring and analyzation of all production data. This is so engineers, managers and operators can make decisions to improve production, efficiencies and operations. Last week, we mentioned the three SCADA questions that plant managers and continuous improvement leaders should ask. This blog post continues by answering the questions.

Will it improve my yield?

When implementing SCADA, managers and operators expect to gain comprehensive insights about the production processes. Of course, the priority benefit of these insights is to improve yield. However, calculating yield often depends upon the criteria used. And many companies look at criteria differently. Some focus on what was used and expected at the start of the production process and compare it to the number of successful finished units. Others look at production results and successes at different stages throughout the entire production process.

The key is to have a good view into historical production and production performance. An integrated SCADA solution allows for thorough historical data searches and management of the performance information. As well, the SCADA should help employees quickly comprehend the analysis and insights from that historical data.

To improve yield, DECIDE4ACTION SCADA focuses on driving information related to three critical areas:

  • Reducing the amount of raw material needed, i.e. reduce waste in process
  • Avoiding mistakes that cause a batch to go bad or be defective, i.e. avoid poor quality
  • Reusing existing finished goods and pass them again through the process
Reduce Raw Material Needed

For example, once a work order is issued on the factory-floor, our algorithms and analyses reach back into a facility’s ERP to auto-calculate the yield obtained from all previous orders. Once calculated, that information is placed on a dashboard for the planner. The planner sees basic information about previous orders, yield from those orders, and key process indicators that were associated with each previous order. Key process indicators are customizable per the type of production process. They may be temperature, pressure, nominal start value. Basically, they are anything that could be unique to quantifying the production process of each specific order.

Avoiding Mistakes

Preventing mistakes reduces waste which improves yield. Therefore, manufacturers need to have in-process verification solutions along the production line. Our Quality4Action module includes batch-verification, label verification and package/container verification. These verification solutions allow QA/QC persons to verify stages within the process per the info presented. Think of this as comparing and verifying what was picked or selected or measured to what the items or value should be.

Quality4Action verification solutions can be used for recipe processes, ingredients for production, list of items to ship, and even measurements of items. etc.  By preventing errors at various stages of a production line, the verification processes reduce errors along the line. Incorporating Quality4Action verification solution within our SCADA monitoring, allows for scanning of values during the production process, and for comparison of actual measurements to specified measurements.

Reuse Existing Inventory

Inventory is money within manufacturing. Yield improvement occurs by avoiding any unnecessary manufacturing runs. The DECIDE4ACTION SCADA looks through previous manufacturing runs and products in search of possible alternatives. For example, parts produced may have almost identical specifications except for accepted tolerance levels. Integrated SCADA solutions quickly incorporate the amount of existing products that meet customer tolerance specifications into production order calculations. The result is facilities only manufacture what is truly needed. Existing appropriate inventory is used instead of manufacturing additional product.

DECIDE4ACTION automatically digs through production history and historical performance results. It collects and analyzes the data related to yield and it makes predictions about what the output should be. Via detailed dashboards and an algorithm designed to supply more learning and analysis, DECIDE4ACTION produces a more informative and actionable dashboard.

From this dashboard, management can focus on recreating and reproducing the optimum conditions to provide the highest-yield. As well, DECIDE4ACTION with NanoEdge Artificial Intelligence can learn from the past and apply it to future decisions in a real-time basis.

DECIDE4ACTION becomes much more than just a cool graphics dashboard. It is a management tool to make the most-informed decision and take the right, most appropriate action.  Confident, informed action must come from the presented information otherwise it is just cool graphs and charts.

Richard Bergeron, CEO of DECIDE4ACTION, shared, “We help our clients evaluate the productivity of a line via customizable parameters such as month-on-month or product-by-product. This way they can better understand if their performance is getting better or worse. Plus, they can integrate this data and oversight with their production scheduling and OEE measurements like downtime tracking, as well integrate with their internal systems (ERP, MES, etc.) in order to get a 360° view of the business. This allows them to take the most precise actions to improve yield.”

Will it increase productivity?

How can you tell if SCADA actually increased or improved productivity? Graphical dashboards, cool charts and real-time overview probably will not show if productivity was increased. They will show results, perhaps by line, shift, day and month. But just showing number of units produced or how close production is to reaching a goal does not provide enough details or intelligence to adequately analyze productivity.  SCADA needs to dive deeper into the entire process of production. The SCADA solution needs to do more.

The Dependent Decisions Obstacle

To evaluate for an increase in productivity, the SCADA solution must be able to more easily pull data from the processes. To do this, production processes should separate the individual decisions that need to be made by an employee along the production line. The steps or stages along a production line need to avoid dependent decisions. For example, a dependent decision is when a production supervisor is the person who decides which order needs to be processed or produced next or determines if there is there enough material available to produce the amount desired.

Example of Wasted Productivity

Within a facility, an operator is about to perform a test somewhere along the production line. But before they can perform the test, the operator must go to engineering to get specs or approval. Typically, an operator must leave their area and go to a different department. Once there, the supervisor or approval person may not be there, or a discussion may have to take place. Each of these is example of wasted time. Then if an approval decision is not made, then that set-up and production run must be placed on hold. This is wasted productivity.

 Actionable Information.

A SCADA system should have the capability built within to evaluate all operational information, i.e. historical records from ERP, from the sales database, from the customer database, from MES systems, inventory and warehousing systems, etc. The analysis and calculations should be built within the SCADA system to drive more automated decision making. The result will be actionable information which produces independent decisions along the production line.

Independent Decisions

The SCADA system should allow for independent decision to be made throughout the process. Independent decisions are easily defined as when no more questions or insights needed. The employee should all have all information available at their fingertips or displayed and presented to them, so that they can make the right decision.

When this is achieved, employees will no longer have to ask questions to five different people to move a work order or production run forward. Independence is achieved. And once a facility has that in place, then all the employees can do a lot more.  Integrated SCADA platforms incorporate pre-decision-making criteria so that decisions are not waiting on people but included in the process. The information necessary for a decision or to more a process forward is presented at the appropriate time to the appropriate person so that the right decision can be made. Often, decisions can even be automated, so that employees are only verifying that the right decision has been made.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

Integrated SCADA solutions should also be evaluating the performance of all the machines and determining the actual and current capability of each machine during the production process. Each machine has its own OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). Stated simply, OEE is what is the capability at a certain state along the production line.

Window Manufacturing Example

Using window manufacturing production, each stage along the line, aka each machine along the line, has an estimated production capability if the machine was running at full speed. A production line could look something like the following:

  • Stage 1 – Cutting – capability of 100 windows per hour
  • Stage 2 – Drilling Holes – capability of 200 windows per hour
  • Stage 3 – Glazing – capability of 80 windows per hour
  • Stage 4 – Glass Panel Installation – capability of 200 windows per hour
  • Stage 5 – Finishing – capability of 150 windows per hour
  • Stage 6 – Packaging – capability of 200 windows per hour

The slowest stage is Glazing which is capable of 80 windows per hour. This affects the capability of the other machines as each of them can produce more windows per hour. When a certain stage creates an issue that issue is magnified across the whole production line.

An integrated SCADA solution should bring the statistics and the data. With the OEE and line effectiveness determined from an integrated SCADA solution, management will see more granularly into and across the line and the processes. It will see where the true laggard resides along the production process. Increase the laggard area increases overall production. With the same number of employees, a manufacturing facility becomes more productive.

Will it be a benefit for my people?

This is the hardest question to quantifiably answer. How do you ensure that a SCADA monitoring solution benefits your employees?

To truly benefit all employees, i.e. operators, supervisors, directors and management, the SCADA solution must do much more than simply provide cool-looking dashboards showing what was produced and is on track, goals for the day or month, progress towards those goals, etc. The SCADA solutions needs to be comprehensive in its integrated approach and intelligent in its results.

Short-Term Gains

Dashboards and immediate, real-time feedback are a starting point. Providing and sharing production performance feedback does benefit employees, particularly factory-floor level individuals and teams. The benefit is driven from two sources. The first being by creating a stronger sense of participation, of being a contributing member of a team. The collective team is seeing the results of their actions.

The second source driving benefits from real-time displayed feedback is that the individual recognizes their role and their responsibility within the overall team production concept. Most individuals will either take a competitive approach to the ownership for their role within the production process as they may want to be seen as top performer or best stage along the line. The other ownership approach will be to avoid being the reason that production is down or slower or underperforming. By simply presenting real-time production feedback via dashboards and large monitors, the Hawthorne effect occurs. That is, individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed. However, this beneficial influence is not long term, and it is limited to factory-floor level personnel.

Long-Term Gains

To benefit all employees and gain benefits over the long term, a SCADA solution must deliver pertinent actionable information that is specifically relevant to the appropriate personnel. When that is achieved, the following benefits will be easily recognized:

  • Streamlined work responsibilities
  • Increased workplace satisfaction
  • Reduced obstacles to achievement/success
  • Improved communications across roles and departments

DECIDE4ACTION offers a very comprehensive, intelligent and integrated SCADA solution. PRODUCTION4ACTION is able to integrate with a facility’s current systems and programs, best-of-breed, COTS, legacy and even homegrown. As well, PRODUCTION4ACTION is able to directly interface with just about any type of critical machine, digital or analog. If a machine does not have any connection point, then we also have the capability to incorporate industrial sensors along a production line and capture data direct from the sensor.

Our SCADA solutions can be as comprehensive, intelligent and integrated as a facility wants and desires. This ranges from incorporating automatic line stops based on determined triggers and/or captured data, to integrating workflow programs into the SCADA solution to automatically make decisions or deliver pertinent information to decision makers, to as simple as tracking a specific point along a line via one sensor.

For more information about a truly integrated SCADA solution, let’s schedule a personalized demo.