It’s often said in business that “what gets measured, gets managed”. Machine monitoring helps companies do just that.
At its most simple definition, machine monitoring is a process to integrate your machines with the internet to collect and understand data.
We’re entering the fourth industrial age. While the opportunities are endless, there will be casualties too for businesses that don’t adapt data-driven practices. Machine monitoring helps businesses prepare for a successful digital transformation.
In this article, we shed some light on how machine monitoring works. The benefits to firms include streamlined workflows, reduced bottlenecks, enhanced efficiencies and instant boosts to production.
What goes into a machine monitoring system?
A machine monitoring system could be considered to be an ecosystem. It’s made up of hardware and software tools that capture and process raw data being processed by machines.
Each system is individual to the company and product that it serves.
However, from a hardware point of view systems can include anything from touch-screen interfaces built into machines, electronic devices with local intelligence systems to sensors. The software side of things usually includes monitoring and analysis tools.
Why having real-time data is a competitive advantage
Businesses have always sought to identify problems and optimise their processes.
A machine monitoring system gives businesses the ability to do this by integrating hardware and software to reveal real-time data. This is becoming known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
This is a game-changer for companies.
Think about how companies had to work in the past.
Prior to the technological advances we have today, investigating problems with machinery came with a big cost.
Firstly, investigation required manual intervention.
Secondly, it came with downtime. And downtime equals lost revenue.
A third problem would also trip up businesses in that there was no ability to forecast the need for maintenance. Charting historical patterns (the opposite of real-time data) may have helped, but the risk of unplanned downtime was usually significant.
If your business lacks visibility of real-time data, it means that you can only deal with problems reactively. There is no way to preempt and solve an issue.
Without real-time data, each machine in your business also acts as an individual unit even though it’s part of a wider operation. A machine monitoring system links your whole business together. This network connectivity eliminates the problem of one machine slowing down or disrupting a whole process.
A lack of connectivity also has major implications for communication between the frontline staff and management. How is each side able to fulfil their roles best without the data they need to make operational decisions?
The benefits of IoT
Transforming your machinery into “smart machines” is the foundation step to harnessing the power of IoT in your business.
Machine monitoring will help you do that. The benefits you will enjoy once you are measuring and analysing your machine data include:
- Capture vital data of the device or machine in use
- Vastly reduced waste
- Clearer communication throughout your organisation (this includes between management and operations)
- Data being collected and analysed in real-time allowing stakeholders to make decisions based on accurate information
- Alerts and notifications flagging up data that highlights potential problems with how a machine or section of your supply chain is performing
Implementing a machine monitoring system in your organisation gives you access to immediate data. But the software element of your system will also provide you with deep insights into historical data. You can segment this across machines, jobs or shifts, and quickly identify and reduce inefficiencies.
How to implement machine monitoring in your organisation
It’s worth noting again that the path to getting machine monitoring up and running in your organisation will be individual to you.
However, in general there is a proven path to adopting a machine monitoring system in your business and becoming an IoT driven firm. These steps include:
- Capture visually your entire machine network. Don’t leave any machine out. Our origins lie in the fuel industry and we still work closely with many operators in it. We map each and every pump, truck and all machines in the middle when we create a machine monitoring system for a business in this field.
- Capture as much functional data as you know about each machine, e.g. age, data on breakdowns.
- Identify what your most pressing challenges are and rank them across your entire organisation. This step is critical to understand what problems you want your integrated “smart machines” to solve.
- Look at your physical infrastructure. What does your organisation need to manage a machine monitoring system? Upgrades may be necessary to take full advantage of IoT functionality.
Once you’ve undertaken these steps, you’ll be in a strong position to install a system that increases efficiency and productivity in your organisation.
Please contact us if you’d like further information or to discuss what machine monitoring could do for your organisation. We’d be delighted to talk with you.