From being approached by Golden Wonder in 1977 to help with a new idea – the Pot Noodle –to winning the 2018 PPMA Industry award for the Most Innovative Processing System with its MiWeigh product, family-owned Packaging Automation Ltd (PA) have been innovators since 1963. No surprise that they should team up with FourJaw to exploit the power of machine monitoring data analytics.
Improving shop floor visibility and measuring machine downtime
PA’s Manufacturing Manager Ian Mayo knew he had no way of accurately tracking spindle and run times: the firm relied heavily on experience, operator knowledge and manual processes to produce potentially unreliable estimates and forecasts.
This would result in discrepancies between predicted times and actual times, with no way of resolving them or understanding why they were occurring.
“We were having issues with what we call pro reports,” says Ian. “They are what give us the run time estimates, but this often led to issues with jobs taking longer than was being reported on the pro report and we didn’t have any way of correlating the two.”
Without the ability to directly monitor machine downtime, PA were also unable to identify where problems might be occurring on specific machines, creating potential maintenance issues.
The firm was also exploring running machines through the night to give them the extra capacity to meet sudden surges in demand. “Without the ability to monitor the machines, we would come in on a morning to find there had been a problem,”. But with little or no insight into what had happened and when the problem could be difficult and time-consuming to solve.
FourJaw Plug & Play Machine Monitoring
On a visit to one of his sub-contractors, Ian noticed they were fitting FourJaw’s machine monitoring hardware, Machine Link on their shop floor. It seemed to be the answer to many of his challenges. After the quick installation of the Machine Link hardware to four machines at PA’s factory in Knutsford, Cheshire, Ian and his colleagues on the shop floor could monitor machine utilisation in real-time and take immediate action as appropriate. It was a game-changer.
“It’s a great tool. We have a dashboard on the shop floor and the operators have it on their screens all the time. I dip in and out of it during the day and use it to track where we are on jobs, identify potential bottlenecks and present accurate progress reports to the senior management,” Ian added.
Machine monitoring provided greater manufacturing productivity
- Tracking operator time on the job
- Identifying downtimes and the reasons for stoppages
- De-risking night-time machine running through remote monitoring
- Improved communication across the business – especially with the shop floor operatives and between the Manufacturing Manager and his team leads
- Run time discrepancies more easily resolved – data replacing opinion.
- Capturing trends in downtime to support predictive maintenance using offline reasons
- Improving culture on the shop floor through friendly competition and rewards based on data
- Access to FourJaw’s tech resource to problem solve and improve performance
“Tracking out lights out was something I didn’t expect to be able to do so quickly. Due to FourJaw’s machine monitoring insight, we now have an additional capacity that we are now able to keep track of, and as the work builds up we can then plan that in which just gives us another string to our bow: if work comes in and we are going to struggle to get that through during normal hours, we have this additional capacity we can call on.”
Ian Mayo-Manufacturing Manager-Packaging Automation.