Manufacturing Intelligence Brings Swedish Furniture Manufacturer Uniform Results, Better Visibility

March 10, 2011

A supplier to a leading Swedish furniture retailer was facing tough competition from other subcontractors. The smallest production shortcoming often meant an order went to another company. However, if it could improve machinery availability by adopting more stringent machinery monitoring capabilities, the company could submit stronger bids and increase orders.

“We manufacture about 13 million drawers in process molds annually, and will soon be installing our fourth machinery line,” said the technical manager at the manufacturer. “Because our operations are entirely automated, we’re constantly striving for higher machinery utilization.”

The company needed an easier way of gathering machine information and communicating the situation – in relation to its goals – to various functions within the company. “We chose to invest in FactoryTalk Metrics software,” explained the manager. “It gathers data from the machines’ PLCs, converts the data into an overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) figure and presents it to those that need to see it.”

FactoryTalk Metrics software from Rockwell Automation monitors plant-floor equipment to provide accurate, timely, granular, and specific information on machine performance. This data provides the basis for understanding causes of inefficiency, waste, lost capacity, and equipment states.

Open communication protocols, such as EtherNet/IP and DeviceNet, allow the software to interface with existing factory- and office-based networks. This promotes a two-way flow of information, allowing shop-floor to top-floor data gathering and visibility of operations via a normal web interface.

“FactoryTalk Metrics allows us to see quality figures, machine utilization levels and efficiency rates for each production line,” said the technical manager. “KPIs, OEE, and downtime causes can be displayed on a screen in the staff room so that everyone can see how effective the machines are in comparison to established goals.”

“Prior to installation, all measurements were conducted manually,” he explained. “Different people could submit different measurement results, and as a result, we were at 60 percent machine utilization. Everything is now measured in a standardized manner, and all downtime is precisely monitored. As a result, the rate of work increased, which is vital in beating the lower-priced competition. We’re approaching 70 percent utilization after just four months.”

The manager concluded that, “we have become much stronger in the market place and have been able to sell larger volumes than before. FactoryTalk Metrics is one of the best investments we have made.”

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