How to use Industry 4.0 sensors to identify waste and improve your business faster

How to use Industry 4.0 sensors to identify waste and improve your business faster

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Industry 4.0 Sensors save you thousands in lost time gathering data and unleash thousands in additional productivity every month


Recently we caught up with our manufacturing client who had a problem

Their schedule was slipping and their people were working longer hours. It was perceived an underlying level of rework was occurring and disrupting the workflow, meaning the client was missing their scheduled deliverables, and to compensate, they were extending working hours to cope. This, of course, was costly and eroding margin.


So, we had a challenge

We needed to gather regular time studies from machinery in a client’s factory, but the cost to do so was high due to having someone spending large amounts of time observing other work.

The alternative was to ask machine operators to log their day in a journal in 15-minute increments, but this was difficult because:

  • They are already busy
  • It’s hard to see wasteful activity when you are working hard trying to overcome the waste
  • Everyone interprets what they are doing just a little differently – we all perceive we are far more efficient than we really are.
  • They were struggling to meet their schedule already – potentially doing 20-30% of their work during extended overtime hours


Enter the use of machine layer sensors

By placing machine layer sensors on the machines in the factory that continuously monitor movement and vibration data, we had hoped to find 2-5% additional capacity available in the machines, that would justify the cost of running the sensors and bring the factory back on track. The below picture shows how machine layer technology fits into Industry 4.0 and the bigger concept of the Internet of Things.


What we actually found in one day was astounding

We ran the data collection for an entire week. It is worth noting this manufacturer is known in their industry as a leader in Lean thinking – it was not like they weren’t already efficient:

  • The machines were utilised (doing purely value-added work) just 50% of the work time, the rest of the time running idle
  • This meant that monthly under-utilised capacity ran into many tens of thousands a month, not 2-5%!
  • We finally had an impartial way to identify that we had problems, measure them accurately and use the data to drive our continuous improvement focus.


We gathered the team and discussed the results

With this in mind, it was clear although there was rework, we had larger Hidden Factory issues.

We are now working through removing waste from the supporting processes and can see how we potentially use sensors to validate and maintain the positive flow-on effects to value-added time every day.


We have also found that this type of data gathering helps us with several Total Productive Maintenance principles:

  • Enhancing autonomous maintenance – the sensors can assist teams in identifying reliability trends in vibration data
  • Focused improvement – bringing timely data to problem-solving activities
  • Education and Training – the data helps focus the improving knowledge of operators on best practice operating techniques in balanced-flow and pull principles of Lean Manufacturing.


It’s an exciting time to be working in the Lean and Kaizen (Continuous improvement) space

Technology such as this is enhancing our ability to provide timely coaching and advice that has an immediate impact for teams and leaders.

Want to know more?

We can help!

Book a discussion to find out how we can help your business.


Contact us here.

Leadership – Part 1

I wanted to share with you my thoughts in relation to Lean and Kaizen, and I hope that my point of view is something that you might be able to make use of and perhaps apply at your workplace. So I wanted to talk about leadership, in the Lean and Kaizen environment, and just a…

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