Digital Shopfloor Management
Performance increase on the shop floor
Should every employee receive shift planning via smartphone? Or the plant management can compare solution proposals on a virtual dashboard in real time in the event of disruptions in the production flow? Thanks to the available IoT technologies, these and many other work simplifications of a digital shop floor management can be easily implemented today. Automobile manufacturers in particular like to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization and already have various systems in use, at all stages of maturity.
The catch here is that even within a corporate group, the systems and tools usually do not harmonize with each other beyond the plant boundaries. A lack of "digital consistency", however, creates grey areas for small problems and disruptions that are not captured and thus weaken hidden value creation. ROI tackled this challenge with a car manufacturer. The aim: to create a "best practice" model for digital shop floor management with two plants, to expand the approach to around 50 plants globally and thus achieve optimum networking of all shop floor information.
An automotive group wants to increase the performance of its global plant network through a uniform, digital shop floor management system. Improvement initiatives should be initialized faster and more efficiently, and the plants should be comparable on the basis of uniform key figures.MORE
A consistent platform strategy is essential: different plants can only be compared on the basis of uniform key figures and a uniform data model.MORE
ROI success model
Changing requirements require a flexible objective. This means an agile approach and maximum flexibility in order to be able to adapt the approach in the project to new requirements and goals at any time.MORE
In order to exactly understand the initial situation and requirements in the plants, ROI started the project at the core of value creation: the consultants spoke with the foremen, shift and line managers and the employees at the machines. From their point of view, they were able to understand the workflows, process hurdles and already well-functioning approaches in shop floor management at the locations.
This very quickly resulted in very concrete starting points for further action: for example, employees in some plants first noted important information on malfunctions, quantities or rejects manually, then transferred it to Excel sheets, from which new tables in other formats were created in further stages. The clerk created a report from it, distributed it and hung it out on the shop floor. This procedure took some employees half a day to retype and distribute existing information. A clear contrast to other plants, where the team already digitally recorded process and object data.
Due to this considerable range of maturity levels in the digitization of shop floor processes, the ROI team decided to pursue a dual approach. Together with the customer, it selected two plants as "pilots": one that was a step ahead technologically and one that was particularly far behind in this respect.
IoT platform creates connectivity and comparability
The challenge now was to develop a joint solution that would be of great benefit to both plants. One hurdle: creating connectivity is not the problem in individual cases - scaled to hundreds of systems, it looks different. Because in reality there is always a different data model here. Accordingly, the ongoing transfer of information across several interfaces is a demanding and time-consuming task for production line controllers, IT staff or IT programmers.
ROI convinced the company to collect and store all information on an IoT platform in order to be able to connect plants uniformly with a standardized, comparable data model in the future. All data that is now collected can be aggregated at any time from the machine up to the plant management. Comparable data sets are delivered immediately, which is the maximum benefit for the project. On the basis of uniform key figures and a uniform data model, the various plants can also be compared with each other for the first time. Vertical integration, from automated data collection to reporting, guarantees the necessary digital consistency. There are no more system breaks, a data acquisition system is no longer needed because everything runs on the platform.
Fitness tests in practice
ROI made the success of the project dependent on how the employees used the newly developed solutions in everyday life. For this purpose the project team relied on an agile approach: Everything concerning IT, whether hardware, smart devices or user interfaces, was developed in the two plants in daily sprints together with the responsible employees. In "weekly reviews" the results were presented and discussed in the teams. A uniform ROI reporting system supported the communication between the management and the employees in the plants. This made decisions transparent and allowed consultants to process customer input promptly. This approach proved to be advantageous in the project, especially when calculating the added value of the plants.
Overall Equipment Effectiveness as a reference point
In this project phase, the "Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)" indicator was a key reference point: it contains a great deal of information on quantities, quality losses, downtimes and availability.
After just a few weeks, the workers accessed the OEE data via their platform account and received all relevant key figures via a specially developed app on the smartphone. In addition, for the first time they were able to "walk into the lines" with their smartphone, i.e. view all necessary data in a simple and understandable way. This made it possible for the first time to compare the processes in the two plants, and since then, malfunctions and breakdowns have been documented uniformly.
Close cooperation between employees is crucial
Close cooperation with the specialist departments, their special requirements and the IT programmers who understand and implement them is crucial for the success of digital shop floor management projects. ROI brought together the responsible workers and IT developers in a team from the start of the project and was thus able to coordinate all process and development steps together with those responsible. The coordination processes were correspondingly short, suitable prototypes for testing and trial were ready in a few days. Since the customer's management now also had all the necessary key figures at its disposal, it was able to intervene in a supportive manner at any time.
On the way to the digital factory
Digital shop floor management is an important building block for the digital factory, as it can be further developed into a Smart Factory at any time. All the competences, skills and functions required for a fully functional plant are then integrated here. The project team will transfer the findings and successes gained from this project to other plants of the company.