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Accurate, real-time data is the cornerstone of improvement strategies in manufacturing and production.

The importance of accurate data in manufacturing is indisputable. In today’s climate of fierce competition, manufacturers must continually search for ways to improve productivity and customer support.  In order to maximize results, companies must utilize their data in a strategic fashion, finding the strengths and weaknesses and looking for ways to improve.

While having accessible manufacturing data is no doubt beneficial, simply capturing data is not enough. Not having said data available and on hand when it is needed significantly reduces its usefulness. Imagine how many times during a day opportunities for improvement might be squandered if decision makers don’t have access to the right information.

Real-time data is information that is delivered immediately after collection. There is no delay in the timeliness of the information provided. It is about having access to that data in the right format and the right systems, allowing decision makers to make informed choices and identify opportunities that could improve productivity.

Here is how real-time data is revolutionizing manufacturing:

1. Improved Business Operations & Staff Utilization

Real-time data can easily help manufacturers systematically improve end-to-end business operations, giving them clear visibility into operational insights.

Using data as it becomes available allows managers to better plan daily tasks and activities which improves the efficiency of resources. It can also help them track time spent on actual tasks, giving an overall, detailed picture of strengths and weakness in operations and creating the opportunity for improvement.

2. Increased speed of production

Scheduling is one of the biggest challenges in manufacturing operations and scheduling accuracy is vital to streamlined processes.

Real-time data allows organisations to fine-tune scheduling and allow for sufficient production time, preventing delays on the production line.

Greater schedule accuracy based on real-time data from the shop floor makes production plans more efficient, improving time on jobs, time on maintenance, inventory accuracy, wastage tracking, productivity tracking, amongst others.

Real-time data can also indirectly improve employee morale – visible goals and achievable targets can assist with improving efficiencies. The data can also help identify bottle necks in production and employees who may need more assistance and training.

3. Reliable & Accurate Stock Data

Regular stock takes may give a picture of inventory, but the process is aften slow, delayed and prone to errors.

Ensuring stock is updated in real time through cycle count processing offers a host of benefits for manufacturing operations. These include eliminating overstocking, reducing inventory holding costs, reducing wastage, reducing delays due to unavailable inventory, increasing inventory turns, and optimizing inventory levels for the most in-demand products.

4. Improved Customer Service

The technologies enabling real-time data capture are also fuelling a revolution in manufacturing quality and customer service.

  • Increased production speed ensures quick turnaround for customers
  • Promised delivery times can be met with better scheduling
  • Promised inventory and available stocks ensures that customers receive their goods every time.
  • Real-time access to up-to-date customer and supplier information ensures efficiency through the entire supply chain

5. More efficient monitoring and maintenance of equipment

When combining real-time data insights with strategic analysis, manufacturers can prolong the life of equipment, tools and machinery by predicting when maintenance, repair and replacements need to take place.

Real-time data provides a more accurate picture of maintenance requirements than simple assumptions, creating opportunities for better preventative maintenance and resulting in machinery that lasts longer.

A Real Life Scenario

TrafFix, a client of TransLutionTM Software that manufacturers traffic control devices and crash attenuation products, has seen the impact of real-time data availability in their business.

Using TransLutionTM and integrating it with SYSPRO, TrafFix was able to implement a view of the Sales Order query that shows the sales order picking information. With TransLutionTM, managers can see the status of any sales order, who picked it, when it began and when it finished.

Data provided by TransLutionTM is displayed on screens on the floor, showing the status of job and sales order picks and making the data available to teams and managers in real time. Managers can see activity on the shop floor from their desktop, handheld tablet or even on their smart phone.

This means that warehouse managers can see a company-wide view of the sales orders that are ready for packing. Pickers can see the tasks pending for sales orders fulfilment and to ensure their work screen is clear before the end of the day. The availability of data in real time allows managers to keep an accurate picture of production tasks and warehouse activity.

“With paper, inventory was always off due to the timing of the transactions. We used dispatches so it would dispatch all the product before the pick – meaning inventory would be in a location physically but not yet moved systematically. If someone picked from the wrong bin location, it threw off our inventory compounding problems. Production jobs on the other hand were processed after the pick – so inventory would show as available systematically but not be there physically. And if pickers failed to write down the correct bin locations they picked from, our inventory would be off in those bins.” – Coren Jurgella – TrafFix Warehouse Manager.

Access to real-time data has successfully mitigated these stock control issues.

Read more about how TrafFix uses TransLutionTM to improve operations

The Outcomes

All of these improvements in manufacturing operations contribute to better business results, positively impacting the bottom line.

There is no doubt that real-time data capture linked to management dashboards forms the productivity cornerstone of any world-class manufacturing operation.