Production monitoring

Ilabo team
March 24, 2022
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Production monitoring
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Production monitoring in manufacturing – what is it all about?

Though it sounds pretty intuitive, it is worth explaining, what is production monitoring. It can be described as a method of supporting the comprehensive optimization of the production process. Its biggest advantage is the possibility of quick problem-solving, thanks to preventive improvements introduced on the basis of data analysis from various sources, including that automatically collected from the PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) and sensors analyzing the operation of machines.

Production monitoring system operates in real time, measuring the production line performance. It involves collecting and processing data describing different stages of the manufacturing process, including machine and production line downtime or any other productivity issues that are observed due to losses of utilisation, availability, performance or quality. 

Such a system indicates current and historic OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) and displays it within dashboards, available on phones and tablets, laptops or bigger shop floor monitors (SFM). It is used for reporting to the managers and for coherent communication anong production employees.

You can read more about OEE and why it’s so important in a separate article: What is OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)?

The system therefore provides valuable information and analysis that, in addition to being used in real time, can also be stored for future reference. The data can be then processed, analysed and utilised by production teams to increase productivity and efficiency of the factory.

View of the monitored line in PackOS application.
OEE real-time monitoring

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How to monitor the production process in the factory?

There are several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which can be tracked by the production monitoring software to help your workers set and achieve goals, eliminate waste in production, improve efficiency and detect early signs of equipment wear. Although application of the specific KPIs often vary depending on the company, its internal politics and practices, some of them are commonly used. Among them, you can find for example:

  • Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) – determines the resource usage. Its growth means more efficient operation of machines. A perfect result means that the factory produces only good pieces and does it as quickly as possible, with no breaks. OEE monitoring helps you to identify and eliminate reasons for losses, evaluate progress and eliminate waste.
  • Availability – Defines what percentage of time has been lost, due to stoppages marked as ‘Availability loss’. To calculate it, we use a scheduled time (already excluding all utilisation losses), and total duration of all availability losses:

Production time = ScheduledTime – AvailabilityLosses

Availability = ProductionTime / ScheduledTime

  • Performance – defines what percentage of time has been lost, due to slower production (including performance loss stoppages). To calculate it, we use a production time (already excluding availability losses), and total duration of all performance losses:

Operating time = ProductionTime – PerformanceLosses

Performance = OperatingTime / ProductionTime

  • Quality – defines what percentage of time has been lost, due to bad, wasted products. To calculate it, we use a operating time (already excluding all availability and performance losses), and total duration of all quality losses:

Effective time = OperatingTime – QualityLosses

Quality = EffectiveTime / OperatingTime

  • Total Effective Equipment Performance (TEEP) – helps understand how much time is lost on scheduled activities, usually not taken into account in OEE. It indicates how much time is lost, because e.g. there are only 2 shifts, instead of 3. TEEP use Total time in denominator, utilisation losses are not subtracted.

TEEP = EffectiveTime / TotalTime

  • Count (good or waste products) – number of units produced, allows you to measure the time needed for raw materials to go through the entire production process and obtain finished products. It includes time required for: processing, inspection, transportation, and queuing
  • Takt time – describes the time needed to complete a task. Keeping track of this information helps you identify and fix bottlenecks. This is a key measure for optimizing team performance, reducing process waste, and maintaining a continuous workflow.

Why production monitoring is important?

With knowledge on parameters that can be used to measure efficiency of your factory, it is easy to understand why real-time production monitoring is such an essential tool. 

Read more about tools used in lean manufacturing.

Foremost, it allows you to gather all the data necessary to evaluate KPIs and their changes over time. This means you gain much improved insight both in overall efficiency of your production chain and its components, including machinery and labour productivity. Continuous monitoring of the key parameters helps you spot the occurring issues and react to them appropriately, quickly and even automatically.

View from PackOS application which generates up-to-date production performance reports.
Production reports and analysis

With various types of data collected, including production time, targets and rejection rates, you can set and achieve goals more easily for continuous improvement. 

Production monitoring is a great way to achieve a higher return on investment and enable your company to produce more efficiently. Bottlenecks spotting allows you to fix them more easily, thus to increase productivity and product quality without buying new equipment or hiring additional staff.

Benefits of production monitoring

Thanks to the modularity of the advanced systems, use of the cloud and SaaS model, Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) the implementation of a production monitoring system is not difficult. Once installed, you can almost immediately see the benefits. Easy deployment means low initial costs of the effort, while intuitive operation reduces the time needed to train the employees. A good production monitoring system can also be integrated with different types of systems used on the shopfloor, regardless of their functions. 

On top of that, production monitoring systems can improve the effectiveness of communication. Production staff no longer discusses what they think has happened but based on the valid data they have at hand, what actually did happen. It focuses improvements-discussion on the right spots. 

Getting the information on selected incidents can also be automated. For example, the system can send e-mail notifications when problems occur at the production line at any point in time. This means that it can be solved as quickly as possible, without disrupting production for longer than necessary. 

With data gathered through production monitoring, you can solve current downtime problems and prevent future issues, increasing efficiency of your manufacturing process.