Thursday, August 17, 2017

Defense and Aerospace Plant Monitoring Using MTConnect Article by SME

I have worked a lot with the folks at SME - Society for Mechanical Engineers - and they do great work.  This article is especially well written with numerous real life examples.

Zooming ahead in data-management tool adoption by Sean Lyngaas - Contributing Editor 

 The article starts out:

"Manufacturers of many stripes can save money just by making better use of data emanating from the factory floor. But for those in aerospace and defense—Airbus Helicopters is a prime example—the potential payoffs are legion.

The combination of strict product-tracking requirements and high labor and maintenance costs are driving adoption of data management products
among aerospace and defense companies, industry insiders said."

 Aerospace and defense are seeing tremendous payoffs from knowing what is happening on the shop floor.  Dave McPhail nails it below:

“Every hour that I can save in taking it from a nonproductive hour to a productive hour is of substantially more benefit to aerospace and defense manufacturing than it is to, say, automotive or maybe food and beverage packaging,” said David McPhail, CEO of Ontario-based Memex Inc., which makes software that monitors machine efficiency. The aerospace industry involves expensive equipment, personnel, and product maintenance, which are all incentives to exploit shop-floor data, he noted."

Long time friend and MTConnect thought leader, RonPieper of TechSolve discusses MTConnect and a great IIoT example that TechSolve deployed for an engine aircraft maker:

"Another enticement is the fact that some aerospace companies are starting to require the MTConnect standard in their equipment purchase requirements, said Ron Pieper, product manager at TechSolve Inc., a Cincinnati-based manufacturing consultancy.

The ROI for aerospace companies adopting data-management tools is evident, Pieper and others said. He cited an example of an aircraft engine maker that wanted to monitor the consumption of a specific gas during the manufacturing process. After TechSolve installed sensors on the manufacturers’ gas lines, he said, they discovered a gas leak that had amounted to an annual loss of roughly $100,000."

The article addresses the multi-billion question of WHY aren't more companies embracing MTConnect and shop floor monitoring?

"Despite all of the incentives for greater use of shop-floor data products, aerospace and defense companies are not immune to the cultural hurdles practitioners say are impeding digitization in the manufacturing sector writ large. Some analysts estimate that the percentage of manufacturers that have implemented data-management software on the factory floor is still in or near the single digits."

My experience tells me that the number is in the VERY low single digits.

All of the individuals interviewed for this article nail the reason for slow adoption -- it is cultural and financial.  Below are the points made on culture and MOST importantly, Crawl, Walk and then Run in your implementations.

"Making the jump to data-driven manufacturing requires a culture within the company that sees data as the glue that can hold the factory together, McPhail said. The goal is “one objective view of exactly what’s going on in the factory,” he added.

One way of getting to that shared vision of data among management is to only bite off what you can chew.

“We actually caution shops, when I go talk to them about doing monitoring and data collection, about not trying to get too much data too soon, because the big hurdle is cultural; it’s not technical,” Pieper said.  McPhail echoed that reasoning, urging manufacturers to identify business objectives up front that data-driven manufacturing can help realize.

Of course, the flood of data available once factory machines are digitized can be overwhelming.
Jody Romanowski, CEO of software vendor Cimco Americas, said customers sometimes have grand ambitions for data collection—to want operators to scan, for example, dozens of downtime codes when machines aren’t running. Such high-volume scanning is often not feasible, so her firm works with customers to break down the amount of data sought into manageable categories.

“We’re always trying to find ways to make that happen more efficiently,” she said of crunching data captured on the factory floor. “That’s a huge consideration and still a struggle sometimes.”

To avoid flooding customers with data, Wintriss only dispatches data relevant to the customer’s mission, Finnerty said. “If we send a data word from one of our controllers up to the database, every bit in that word means something."

It is great to see MTConnect to continue to really grow and thrive.