We’ve been hard at work implementing a series of high-impact IoT initiatives, with the key goals to improve how we monitor production processes, and, generally increase productivity.
To get started, we hired one of Hong Kong’s leading Internet-of-Things consulting firms, to use their extensive experience in the injection molding industry to identify those areas most ripe for a major productivity boost. For three months, we collected all relevant information so that we could assess the status quo. We then selected the following two focus areas:
- improve monitoring of injection molding machine activity, and,
- better the planning and (pre)ordering raw material process.
With +200 injection molding machines running in parallel and non-stop, it’s difficult to be everywhere at the same time. That’s why we installed simple “reading monitors” on a selection of machines, that now trigger a “notification” on our all-factory dashboard once any abnormal ‘behavior’ is recorded.
As our factory in Heyuan/Guangdong spreads over 20,000 square meters in 6x buildings, we chose one of the buildings to setup the system for a trial run. After some initial fine-tuning, we saw following first results:
- the monitoring makes complex information ‘simple’,
- it gives the right info to the right person at the right time,
- is helping us to gain complete visibility of all process lines.
Once those IoT initiatives and the system run smoothly and efficiently, we plan to replicate and roll out the system to other buildings in the future. Real-time line visibility is most important here. It allows us to improve our budgeting, scheduling, operational performance, and logistics. The data we collect gets put into an integrated cloud repository, allowing us to not only monitor the performance of a single factor, but to compare factors and monitor how their relationships affect each other over time.
We can now generate trend analysis that provides us with the ability to monitor the flow-on effects between different production lines, and significantly decreases the time spent gathering and aggregating different data sources.
In a separate article, we’ll talk more about how we use the recently integrated IoT initiatives to advance our current warehousing management to ‘smart warehousing’. Stay tuned.