How to Use Data to Improve Manufacturing

Data analysis has become a highly desired skillset across most industries. Unless you’re developing data collection processes and reports every day, it’s hard to figure out where to start or what to measure. It’s one thing to collect and store the data somewhere, but another to find the right insight from it. Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean it’s valuable to your operations. And, just because it works for one operations to track and analyze a certain data set, doesn’t mean it will have the same benefit in your facility.

One benefit of working with C³ is we’re stocked with self-appointed data nerds; Engineers who love combing through data sets and finding what’s valuable to improve operations. They know how to track individual units, wrap them into a SKU, match them to a production recipe, then take the overall data trends from that week of manufacturing in order to find and fix bottlenecks in your line. They prove data is incredibly powerful when analyzed correctly.

Tanner is a Mechanical Engineer on our team who’s specialized with large systems and projects where data analysis is critical to keep things running smoothly and make improvements throughout the line. Click his big grin to learn more about how data impacts manufacturing productivity:

Tanner explains how C³ equips our machines for data collection and where it’s used, “All of our standalone equipment tracks data. It’s a standard function in the PLC and customers can decide to use it or not. When you use it, you can look at past production trends and see where small inconsistencies built up to bigger production issues.”

Data collection is about more than counting how much product you made that day. If collected and analyzed correctly, you can make huge advances with your equipment with a few simple tweaks caught by the data. It also helps you manufacture with more consistency, as you can begin monitoring what batch a slew of faulty mattress covers came from, or from what block of foam a plate was cut.

“Data collection allows us to improve the final product by making quality more consistent,” Tanner says. “Now we’re able to trace what each unit of finished product was made of and test that final product to make sure it’s within your specifications before shipping to your customer.”

“You can find bigger process improvements using data or even small fixes down at each machine,” Tanner describes. “The end goal is always to consistently make product that meets your expectations and those communicated to your end customer.”

As Tanner described, data collection is inherent in most of our equipment designs. For example, with compression packaging equipment, the press has collection points at four corners, monitoring the force and feedback of the product while it’s being packaged. With use of the FD1000, it serves as an additional double check to make sure product is consistent and matches the expectations you advertise. In lamination, we released glue consumption controls. Monitoring these usage trends can help a facility better predict how much glue they need and consume over a period of time so they can better prepare.

“Once you have a smart machine and are tracking data, it creates a mindset in you facility for repeatability. If you create the same product meeting standard specifications, you get more efficient, producing more and better product,” Tanner says.

Now it’s possible to track all the product coming in and out of your facility. This makes it easier to guarantee what you ship out your door is indeed what you anticipated. It’s one step closer to reducing costly returns, creating a more streamlined manufacturing process, and yet again delighting your customers by delivering on expectations.