Thursday, September 24, 2015

Modern Machine Shop's The Seven Things You Need To Know About The Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0

I have had the privilege of working with Mark Albert, Editor in Chief for Modern Machine Shop, on a number of occasions and it is always an honor and a real pleasure. Mark is a great writer and Modern Machine Shop is THE magazine for manufacturing.

Mark wrote a great article titled, The Seven Things You Need To Know About The Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0, and I had the chance to provide some comments in his article.

It is an excellent article and Mark asked my thoughts on how to get started and below is a snippet of my comments:

"Getting Started on the IoT Pathway

So how does a machine shop begin to bring on the power of the Industrial IoT? A practical option for many companies will be to install a comprehensive machine monitoring system. Dave Edstrom, the chief technology officer at Memex, recommends this approach because machine monitoring introduces key elements necessary for wider Industrial IoT connections. For example, even basic machine monitoring can require equipping machines with the necessary interfaces for data collection and reporting; establishing the framework for a shop-wide network; getting the shop workforce accustomed to a data-driven manufacturing environment; training managers to recognize and deal with data management issues (who gets what report and what do they do with the info); and so on.

“Most shops that implement a monitoring system such as MERLIN start with a small number of machines to ease the learning curve and get everyone on board,” Mr. Edstrom says. MERLIN (Manufacturing Execution Real-time Lean Information Network) is Memex’s manufacturing execution system and machine-to-machine communications platform that is MTConnect compliant. “Supervisors and operators must be involved in evaluating the machine monitoring software, encouraged to provide input and given a clear understanding of the direction the company is taking with this implementation,” he adds. He also notes that, from the start, machine data must translate into actionable information that helps both the operators and managers. Operators must feel that this is a tool for them and not Big Brother looking over their shoulders.

Installing large display screens to show reports such as machine utilization is typically part of a shop’s pilot project. Visual awareness creates quick (and significant) results, because shopfloor personnel instinctively focus their thinking and practices on improvements that boost utilization, Mr. Edstrom reports.

Once a shopfloor monitoring system is in place, the shop can deploy additional sensors to augment their dashboards and reports to improve performance and lower costs. “Monitoring software that can speak to a wide range of devices and provide real-time dashboards with notification triggers and reporting to drive down costs and drive up productivity in a secure and predictable way will be the heart of the Industrial IoT,” Mr. Edstrom concludes."