Benefits, procedures and suitable tools

Production Monitoring

By monitoring equipment, production processes and environmental data in real time, companies can identify downtimes, inefficiencies, error sources and trends – ideally without any delay. In this article, we want like to take a closer look at the possibilities of modern production monitoring.

Benefits

How do companies benefit from production monitoring?

Equipment failures and production downtimes are associated with financial losses for companies. Depending on the situation, these losses can be very significant – for example, if a disruption lasts for an extended period of time, critical infrastructure is affected or important orders cannot be fulfilled on time. In the latter case, companies may even incur contractual penalties and loss of reputation.

To counteract this, companies invest in monitoring their production processes. Recording relevant parameters not only enables quick reactions to urgent problems, but also serves as a preventative measure: Ideally, sources of error are identified and rectified as early as possible so that a failure or even a risk to employees never occurs in the first place.

But production monitoring does more than just prevent damage. Tracking various metrics also makes it possible to identify areas for improvement. These improvements can be very diverse and range from more efficient machine utilization to the avoidance of unnecessary work steps. Below we have listed some examples that show how companies can benefit from production monitoring:

  • Identification of time loss due to changeover procedures and suboptimal machine utilization
  • Improved production planning through access to (historical) data on equipment availability and performance
  • Detection of bottlenecks
  • Minimizing waste through analysis of error sources
  • Saving capacity for data procurement and organization
  • Enablement of data-driven decision-making
  • … and many more

Production monitoring is one of the most important sub-tasks of production management. Monitoring the relevant production areas is a prerequisite for effective production planning and production control.

Procedure

Which areas of a production are being monitored?

In a modern production environment, huge amounts of data are being generated that can potentially be used for monitoring. Examples of common data sources include machine controllers and sensors, but also lower-level software systems and databases.

Production time and times for set-up processes, maintenance, cleaning etc. are commonly recorded for individual machines. This is also intended to identify breakdowns and their frequency – both longer-lasting downtimes as well as shorter stops. Many machines are able to provide information such as error codes, which help to quickly localize problems and are ideally communicated immediately to the responsible teams (e.g. via automated notifications).

Recording the quantity and quality of the goods produced is another important element of production monitoring. While the production quantity is usually recorded automatically, the data on the quality of a finished product, intermediate product or material can come from automated checks as well as manual entries. This in turn is used to derive key figures such as the production volume and the reject rate.

Depending on the type of production environment, data on energy consumption or certain environmental measurements (temperature, humidity, etc.) are among the most important parameters that need to be monitored around the clock as part of production monitoring.

Software

Software for production monitoring

Due to the importance of production monitoring and the diversity of requirements, there are a large number of software systems that are involved in monitoring individual production areas in a variety of ways.

Some of these are located in close proximity to the production processes, while others are responsible for aggregating and visualizing data at the enterprise level.

Below we present some of the most important and well-known categories of monitoring software in production.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is responsible for controlling and monitoring production processes in real time.

The most important functions of an MES include order management and resource planning, as well as monitoring machine performance, product quality and maintenance history. The documentation and traceability functions of an MES are also highly relevant, particularly in regulated industries.

An MES should be able to record and visualize key production metrics, such as OEE, scrap rate and throughput times.

The Manufacturing Execution System serves as an interface between production processes and the higher planning level. It collects data directly from machine control systems and other devices or from other software systems such as SCADA systems and quality assurance systems.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

The Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP system) is located one level higher than the MES in the classic automation pyramid and integrates various business processes. As the name suggests, an ERP system focuses on the management of company resources. It supports core tasks such as accounting, procurement, personnel and supply chain management and is intended to facilitate the flow of information between company divisions.

In the context of production monitoring, the ERP system offers a more holistic view of production processes. In addition to key figures from production, an ERP system aggregates plant and employee data, order data and data from other business areas such as warehousing, procurement, sales and finance.

As a result, the ERP system supports the strategic planning and optimization of existing production capacities and ensures that production processes, material requirements and the order volume are optimally coordinated. Furthermore, the company-wide data integration of an ERP system enables the retracing of materials and products in order to identify problems and sources of error. Last but not least, an ERP system also provides valuable information about the costs of production.

Cloud platforms

Cloud platforms of various kinds also play an important role in production monitoring. Depending on their implementation, they can fulfill a wide range of functions. Cloud platforms are often used to consolidate data from distributed production sites in one central location, allowing for the creation of visualizations that combine or compare production data across all sites.

Cloud computing offers a number of key advantages, particularly in the context of production monitoring. One of these is accessibility and mobility: In principle, anyone in the company anywhere in the world can access production data in the cloud via a web browser – even on mobile devices. In practice, authorizations can be assigned so that certain groups of people have access to the data and functions relevant to them.

Another advantage of cloud platforms is their scalability. Large cloud providers offer the option of adjusting resource utilization at any time. This makes it easier for companies to include additional locations in production monitoring or to make use of additional functions in line with current requirements.

Our manubes platform is an example of a specialized cloud platform that combines a wide range of production monitoring and production control functions in a powerful and secure cloud environment. manubes users have the option of creating interactive real-time visualizations that not only provide insights into any production area, but can also be utlized to directly manage various processes from the cloud.

Digital production management in the cloud

With manubes, you are able to systematically automate production processes and visualize all areas of a production in real time.

The manubes platform offers worldwide access via web browser, easy operation and maximum security for production data.

Other software applications in production monitoring

In addition to MES and ERP, which usually combine a large number of functions in one product, there are numerous solutions that focus on individual functions. These primarily offer the advantage of a higher degree of specialization, but simpler implementation or lower costs can also be reasons why companies opt for such solutions. A key challenge, however, is integrating these software systems into the overall infrastructure.

Examples of more specialized solutions include quality management systems that document data and reports on product quality or software systems to support maintenance. The latter include, for example, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and predictive maintenance systems, which are used to manage maintenance-relevant information (CMMS) or calculate the ideal maintenance time based on available plant data (Predictive Maintenance).

Specialized software systems that monitor stock levels or energy consumption, coordinate supply chains or manage safety-relevant information may also be used in production monitoring.

Summary

Conclusion: The importance of production monitoring

Production monitoring is of high relevance to every manufacturing company. It can not only avert financial damage and potential risks to employees, but also forms the basis for a systematic optimization of production processes.

The most frequently monitored areas include system status, production output and product quality. Depending on the specific production environment, numerous other parameters may be relevant.

To what extent certain production areas and parameters are monitored as well as the tools utilized to do so depend on numerous factors, including industry sector, company structure, budget and openness to technology.

Discover manubes!

Cloud-based production management with manubes: Our innovative platform offers specialized tools for connecting production systems, managing and visualizing production data and automating production processes. manubes users benefit from a powerful infrastructure, worldwide access and maximum security.