Just last week, SensrTrx and three of our fellow partner vendors put on the first Smart Factory Summit in Columbus, Ohio. This free manufacturer’s only event was the combined brainchild of SensrTrx, Banner Engineering, FiiX Software and Siemens PLM. Together, these vendors represent a slice of the IoT SaaS/PaaS ecosystem available to manufacturers today — the full solution stack you might say.

No Need for Million Dollar IoT Pilots

Banner Engineering provides the best machine sensors and wireless technology around. Their sensors are the closest to “peel and stick” connectivity we have ever seen. We recommend them wholeheartedly to customers that want to track vibration and machine cycles without the need to interface with machine PLCs — perfect for legacy machines.

Matt Negaard also spoke about trends in the industry, in which even large manufacturing concerns are moving away from million dollar pilots towards low-cost reliable solutions. Vibration data can also be used to understand motor use, so manufacturers can begin to understand machine usage for the purposes of proactive maintenance.

The Power of a Single Data Point

Our own Bryan Sapot provided use cases on how these and other low-cost hardware solutions can provide visibility based on a single data point. This single data point provides uptime and machine cycle times so manufacturers can reliably gain insight into availability and performance metrics.

Supplementing machine data with operator input provides more detail and context. With this extra data, downtime reasons can be categorized, analyzed and investigated. SensrTrx analytics can then be leveraged to troubleshoot bottlenecks as well as benchmarking and tracking all ongoing continuous improvement efforts. In addition, valuable employees can be freed up and stop using pen/paper and Excel and start analyzing in real-time.

Our customers gain critical visibility through cycle times and downtime alone, but for those seeking a full realistic OEE taking into account, adding data points through photo-eyes, scrap counts for Quality metrics, or tracking temperature and vibration can fuel data-driven decisions and evidence-based asset management and maintenance, increasing cost-savings all throughout the organization.

Tucking a banner temperature sensor under his arm to mimic a sensor that might monitor a machine tool polisher for example, Bryan demonstrated how real-time sensors can be tracked on a dashboard, trigger an alert in SensrTrx and an automated maintenance ticket in another system like a CMMS, in this case, FiiX Software.

At the end of his presentation, Bryan polled the crowd on what their guesses were in terms of the cost of this type of solution. For much less than they thought, manufacturers can gain this type of visibility, especially if they start small and scale up.

AM Panel – Data, Machines and People

In the morning, our moderator and industry veteran (Plex Software and Sight Machine) Brian Gillespie, did a fantastic job getting to the foundations of Industry 4.0 for manufacturers:

Matt Negaard:

  • “Establish your business goals to drive IoT adoption and investment. Get management involved.”
  • “Don’t use IoT to solve a problem you haven’t defined. Use it to accomplish tangible business goals and track valuable metrics.”
  • “IT and Maintenance need to be brought to the table. They are part of the solution and the future.”

Bryan Sapot:

  • “Analytics will drive continuous improvement, but if you use them in production meetings, trigger real-time alerts and email dashboard reports, they can fundamentally change daily production meetings into evidence-based exercises.”
  • “Scoreboards on the floor and dashboard reports in your daily production meetings will change the culture into a data-driven organization.”

Lunch from Donatos!

CMMS – Better Maintenance

Our afternoon session started with a presentation by FiiX Software. This powerful, SaaS CMMS solution. Greg Dierickse started his presentation with the evolution of maintenance from the older run-to-failure techniques, or reactive maintenance to something in-between condition-based and predictive maintenance. This proactive approach will reduce unplanned downtime, lower maintenance costs and keep critical and expensive assets running.

FiiX engineer Stuart Fergusson gave us a in-depth look at how easy it is to schedule maintenance and empower maintenance champions to take actions that affect productivity and the bottom-line. Not every asset needs predictive maintenance, Stuart says, “lightbulbs can be ran-to-failure. Motors that cost tens of thousands of dollar, however, should be managed differently.”

Siemens on SaaS, PaaS and Digital Transformation

Our final presentation was from John Auld from Siemens Mindsphere. Siemens has thousands of factories all over the world and their software runs some of the world’s biggest and best Smart Factories.

He began by comparing the data revolution in the industry to the Moneyball revolution in baseball. Those that leverage this data will gain competitive advantage, those that don’t, won’t.

PM Panel – A Smart Factory, Today

For our last panel, led again by the incomparable Brian Gillespie, all the presenters, vendors, an analyst from LNS Research, Pattrick Fetterman and attendees had a round table discussion on the future of the Smart Factory from technology, software, hardware, data and analytics, digital twins, platform investment, IoT ROI.

The knowledge sharing was great and the final panel didn’t disappoint. For just under an hour, we discussed the first steps required for manufacturers just starting their Digital Transformation journeys, the best way to manage data (in the cloud or edge), how much data to track, how to make data effective and analytics visible, and what the future holds for companies adopting IoT platforms and software.

Edge Innovation Hub: A Great Space For Innovation

Finally, we wanted to thank Edge Innovation Hub for the space, it was the first event held there in advance of their grand opening in April and the space is great. To learn more about Edge and how to have your next event there, contact them here.