In today’s global economy, modern manufacturing is highly competitive, with companies vying for market share and often operating on razor-thin margins. To maintain a competitive edge, companies continuously push for improvements in efficiency through process improvement and increased OEE.
That search for solutions to drive these improvements has led many manufacturers to look to Platform as a Service (PaaS) for many of their mission critical deployments. Unlike traditional SaaS systems that provide only software and web-based apps for specific purposes, PaaS leverages third-party hardware as well as software for connection and data retrieval within the factory. Users can access the program through web connections where company data collected by the hardware is processed with the provider’s cloud-based functionality.
In manufacturing, however, the need to access and act upon the data from production equipment at the machine level requires both hardware deployment at the equipment level as well as access to the software in the cloud. The power of PaaS to deliver both software and the connection hardware needed to link equipment throughout the factory and offer it as a unified service has ushered in a new wave of innovation for services and applications that help manufacturers improve operational efficiencies within their factories.
Benefits of PaaS for Manufacturing
Manufacturers looking at PaaS to drive change and empower their manufacturing operation can discover benefits such as:1) Lower Cost
With the need to purchase and maintain expensive servers removed and the required equipment offered as part of a comprehensive package, capital can be used strategically for production equipment and machinery. And there are also no additional costs for support, training, or other support costs.
Traditional on-premise systems often include modules or applications that some manufacturers don’t require. PaaS is very adaptable to a company’s individual needs. A company may wish to start with a partial implementation or a targeted deployment that focuses on specific pain points and then grow as the system begins to deliver results. Others may want to grow proportionally as their factory grows. This adaptability allows PaaS to scale with all different types of organizations.
3) Compatibility and Accessibility
One very appealing aspect of PaaS is that upgrades can be deployed in real-time. In many cases, users may not even realize a change has occurred. This eliminates expensive software upgrades, patches, and fixes and prevents data degradation due to version incompatibility among staff in different locations. This greatly enhances security over an on-premise solution as security patches are quickly and effortlessly deployed.
4) Speed, Flexibility, and Accessibility
With a PaaS platform, there is no need to install software. This helps reduce implementation time upon deployment. PaaS is also accessible from web terminals in any location. This can even include phones, tablets, and laptops so that visualization of the shop floor can be accessed from any location allowing key staff and managers access from almost any location.
MachineMetrics customers can choose to use edge devices that are managed and updated remotely with latest versions of software. This simplifies installation and reduces the learning curve, saving time and increasing overall system flexibility.
Taking PaaS Benefits to the Factory Floor
At MachineMetrics, we bring PaaS directly to the factory floor with our industrial IoT edge connectivity, cloud IoT infrastructure, and out-of-the-box applications to enable manufacturing-as-a-service environment on the factory floor.
Because any platform for manufacturing must by necessity capture data from factory floor equipment, an edge device is deployed that has direct access to the manufacturing equipment. This edge device runs software that connects to equipment, contextualizes data, and sends this data to a data lake in the cloud. Unlike on-premise software that runs on servers managed by IT, the edge is typically located near the machine and on the machine’s network. A good edge platform will stay up to date by automatically requesting and installing updates from a centralized cloud server for security and reliability.
Data is streamed to a cloud Industrial IoT infrastructure where the data is stored, aggregated, and analyzed. API access allows for extensibility, access to data, and custom application development. Out-of-the-box applications give customers immediate value that is crucial for the success of a PaaS.
By bringing the power of PaaS all the way to the shop floor, our customers can leverage the benefits of IoT to discover hidden capacity through real-time insights into their production environment. A PaaS system for manufacturing turns machine data into actionable insights that improve the operation of people, systems, and machines on the factory floor.
Data that’s contextualized into reports and prescriptive instructions are easily visualized with intuitive displays deployed throughout the production floor. These insights can be used to drive action on the factory floor, reducing downtime, maintenance costs, and labor costs.
MachineMetrics’ platform is also scalable. Whether because of apprehension of a new system, a desire to start small as a pilot, or simply because a manufacturer may want to target specific equipment first, we understand that scalability is important. When National Oilwell Varco (NOV), a MachineMatrics client in the oil and gas industry, decided to use the MachineMetrics Platform to monitor their CNC equipment, they chose to implement a pilot program.
Within three months of implementing MachineMetrics, NOV improved its equipment utilization by 20% at its Houston facility. These results led them to scale their use of our platform to expand their monitoring footprint. And they have continued to develop and refine operational efficiencies and look at additional programs such as predictive maintenance.
When AccuRounds, a custom manufacturer of precision machine parts, deployed MachineMetrics platform as a solution, the accessibility and standardized data was a key to improving processes and developing more efficient workflows. AccuRounds was able to interact directly with operators at the machine level to address issues and yielding extensive improvements such as a 20% increase in OEE and a 15% reduction in tooling spend.
The Future is Now
Manufacturing continues to digitally transform through Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0. MachineMetrics goes beyond simple machine monitoring to help manufacturers obtain insights into their production floor that help them improve OEE as well as reduce labor and maintenance costs. These insights drive solutions for these manufacturers’ needs and help them develop a true digital factory that allows them to improve capacity and equipment utilization, allocate capital strategically because of the savings, and improve their competitive stance within their market.