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Factory Manager on factory floor
James BrookJul 7, 2023 2:32:28 PM4 min read

How machine monitoring enables manufacturers to optimise productivity and energy usage

Increasing productivity while optimising energy usage has long been the holy grail for manufacturers. However, for many, it has been hard to achieve.

That doesn’t have to be the case though. By adopting Industry 4.0 technologies such as machine monitoring, manufacturers can capture the data insight to inform decisions that lead to increased productivity, optimised energy usage and a reduced carbon footprint. 

Improving Manufacturing Productivity

A survey by MakeUK found that 74% of manufacturers cited improving productivity as the reason behind an investment with 70% pointing to return on investment as another factor.

To maximise productivity on the factory floor, manufacturers must first identify any bottlenecks or other inefficiencies that are occurring. Traditionally, this would be a manual process involving someone, typically walking around the factory floor with a clipboard gathering data from each machine. This method is not only time-consuming, but it is open to human error, and the likelihood is the data will be out of date by the time it is reviewed.

Advancements in technology are enabling manufacturers of all sizes, to remove manual data capture with real-time machine monitoring software. Platforms such as those available from FourJaw are designed to be affordable and scalable, providing manufacturers who may not have the skills or budget to deploy expensive ERP systems, to install the technology on their machine, no matter the age or model.

Not only does the technology automate data capture, freeing up human resources to focus on jobs that utilise their skills, but the data captured can be used to support continuous improvement programmes, confidently inform commercial and operational decisions, in doing so improve processes that lead to increased productivity, improved cycle-times and additional production capacity.

FourJaw provides manufacturers with key productivity metrics such as machine utilisation and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) so they know the context of the data within their factory. For example, when capturing machine utilisation data, manufacturers can see the top causes of unproductive downtime, per machine, cell, production line or factory. This insight can then be used to identify where to focus their efforts in order to remove inefficiencies that are having a negative impact on their manufacturing operations.

More efficient production means making more goods with the same resources, more profitably.

Optimising Energy Efficiency

With the unprecedented price increases over the last 18 months, energy costs are at the forefront of all manufacturers’ minds.

Although in recent weeks the price of energy has fallen, this doesn’t help businesses who perhaps fixed their energy contracts to try and protect themselves when prices were increasing. According to MakeUK, more than 52% of manufacturers expect their electricity costs to rise further over the next 12 months. This prospect accelerates the need to streamline production processes and reduce any wasted energy, which will help keep energy bills as low as possible.

It is not just energy costs that are on the radar, most businesses are looking to move towards or achieve Net Zero, amongst other sustainability goals. In both instances, the obvious answer is to reduce energy usage to bring costs down and reduce carbon emissions.

While cutting energy consumption works well with sustainability goals, the effects of cutting down on energy usage may need to be weighed up with the effect that could potentially have on production, and so revenue.

Manufacturers are huge consumers of energy and simply cannot turn off machines or use fewer machines to reduce energy usage.

So how can machine monitoring help optimise energy efficiency in a factory?

In addition to improving productivity, FourJaw’s machine monitoring software includes an energy monitoring feature that supports manufacturers by capturing energy usage data, which can be used to optimise energy usage, reduce their carbon footprint and save costs.

For example, manufacturers can understand how much energy is used by machines, cells or factories. From an environmental perspective, they can assess the carbon impact of equipment to inform sustainability decisions and meet benchmarks and from a financial point of view, they can use the data to reduce the cost of production by understanding the cost of energy and reducing unproductive downtime.

And finally, by having this information, manufacturers can educate their people to drive behaviours when it comes to energy usage. This could be as simple as turning a machine on or off at a certain point when it isn’t in use. It could also help identify a machine that is running inefficiently due to a maintenance issue, which when fixed would reduce energy consumption.

The perfect combo for an efficient, profitable factory

Having both machine productivity and energy usage data in one place gives manufacturers an all-round picture of what is going on in their production facility and, helps them to identify what they do well, where process improvements can be made and where they can reduce energy usage and become more sustainable.

All of which lead to a more efficient and profitable factory.

Find out how FourJaw can improve and optimise your manufacturing operations with a free, no-obligation demo of our platform. Still not convinced about Industry 4.0? Download our free guide which challenges common misconceptions about Industry 4.0 and factory digitisation.