Productivity is a trending topic for manufacturing facilities all over the world. Maximizing output while minimizing waste and downtime is a key goal for any operations department. A key area of focus in this search for productivity is empowering workers at the machine level. Live signaling and diagnostics, access to proper tools, and reasonable processes for improvement can dramatically improve productivity on the plant floor.
Most machines, regardless of process or operation, will have some sort of light indication. A simple example would be a green light showing that a machine is running and a red light for when the machine is idle.
While this gives instant visual feedback on if your machine is running or not, it doesn’t tell the whole story. A machine could be jammed, causing unusable material to be produced. A machine could need to be calibrated before running its daily batches. When operators can’t determine the specific state a machine is in, time and money could be wasted.
Why an HMI?
HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) provide much greater detail than a few lights. Error codes and detailed descriptions can help operators identify issues and how they can correct the problem. Preventative feedback, like temperature or pressure, can also help keep folks on the plant floor informed at all times.
Identifying an issue is the first step in minimizing downtime, but it has to be followed by a fix. Issues that require an engineer or specialist to correct can be costly. What if something occurs while the engineer is off the clock? What if you always have a specialist on hand, but two machines go down at the same time? Putting the efficiency of an entire plant in the hands of a few specialists can lead to problems. Empowering every worker on the plant floor to fix issues that arise is a desirable alternative. With detailed error information provided by machines, operators can given the tools and knowledge to handle any situation.
Maxing Productivity by Empowering your Workforce
Once an issue is addressed, the final steps to maximized productivity are feedback and adjustment. Encouraging an environment where all workers can provide solutions is critical. People working daily with machines will often encounter issues that no one else would recognize. This familiarity means they can recommend solutions that others might not think of. It is easy to overlook this valuable perspective, but doing so can lead to spending time and money on repetitive problems. Tapping into the knowledge of workers on the floor will help eliminate such problems, increasing uptime and minimizing waste.
As the demand for productivity increases, don’t forget what can be done for workers on the factory floor – improved signaling and diagnostics, access to proper tools, and constant actionable improvement.
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