How Real-Time Manufacturing Data Collection Fuels Production-Line Performance and Growth

Analytics & Reporting, Shop Floor

Manual Worker With Bar Code Reader And Digital Tablet

Real-time data. You probably feel like you have heard this term over and over again from ERP providers, and you practically can’t read an article about ERPs without this term popping up.

But the thing is, it really is that important—real-time data has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, changing how shops are managed and goods are manufactured.

If you are running your shop without accurate and up-to-date data, you will always be one step behind your competition. Knowing which production processes, machines, work centers, and product lines that are operating at high levels of quality and efficiency, and which aren’t, is essential for keeping a manufacturing plant running smoothly. Having real-time data for continually tracking, controlling and fine-tuning manufacturing processes is key.

ERPs give you just that advantage—they let you see how your data and how your system is running in real-time. Real-time data lets you know how your shop is actually functioning and can alert you to a problem or bottleneck on your line, and let you sort it out quickly on the spot. Real-time data can also help you schedule your shop more efficiently, and give you a better estimate of how long a job will actually take your shop to do, making you better equipped to provide an accurate timeline to your customer, and to then deliver on time—leaving you with much happier customers.

How real-time data can help improve your manufacturing efficiency

There are many ways that real-time data helps your shop run more efficiently and effectively.

Real-time data allows you to schedule your shop floor with greater accuracy, making your production line more efficient, while also increasing work center productivity and improving machinery utilization. The production times on BOMs can also be fine-tuned and checked for accuracy, meaning that production times won’t be held up by problems or mistakes.

By relying on real-time data from an ERP, manufacturers are gaining quicker and better insights into their shop floor operations and can determine which areas of availability, performance and quality are most impacting performance. Real-time data lets you analyze production processes and cycles, giving you better awareness of how your shop runs, meaning you will know which plant floor processes you need to change to increase efficiency and attain higher levels of performance from your production line.

Constantly improving product quality

Having a real-time view of process performance can help to make sure quality is always delivered by knowing which of your production processes, machines, and work centers are operating at high-quality levels, and which aren’t. Real-time data from your ERP lets you track the quality performance of your plant, helping you to identify where there are potential problems with quality control.

Knowing where these problems are will help you to weed out potential issues, and produce higher quality products consistently, meaning lower part rejection rates saving you money. Machine operators can also get a real-time view of process performance using quick inspection, control and trend charts. Setting up alerts for when there is a dip in quality performance can quickly let management, production engineering, and scheduling know when there is a deviation in performance which can help save you money due to lost production time.

Maintenance and preventive measures

By having access to real-time operational data from machinery, it is easier to prevent failures and downtime, thus assuring a smoother output with virtually no interruption. Real-time monitoring is providing an entirely new series of insights into how manufacturing equipment and machinery life spans can be improved.

By combining real-time data with predictive analytics, it’s possible to determine when a given machine will need repair. Best of all, long-standing assumptions regarding preventative maintenance are changing due to greater insights gained from real-time data. All of these factors contribute to better business results, and mean that machinery and equipment will last longer in your plant.

Make better strategic business decisions with real-time data

We’ve already looked a bit at how having an ERP can increase efficiency, but real-time data tracking can also have a major impact on your bottom-line. Combining real-time data from the production lines with financial information lets you make better decisions regarding your business as a whole.

To grow, you need to make strategic decisions and strategic plans, but real growth can’t happen without a strategy that is driven by clear, comprehensive and timely information. The real-time data that an ERP gives you lets you build a solid foundation for your business on which you can grow. The marketplace is moving faster than ever before, and to stay competitive, and grow, in this fast-paced business climate, you need to be using an ERP system that can help you access and analyze key real-time data and figures.

Building a strategic plan for growth based on real facts and figures will give you a solid foundation, and make you confident that the direction you are taking your company is the right one. Leveraging your real-time data, not to just give you a snapshot of where your business is at, but using it to create a strong strategic direction for your company is key to growth. (If you want to take a more in-depth look at how ERPs can help you make better decisions read our blog post on why you should use an ERP to make strategic business decisions.)

Closing thoughts

Exploiting real-time data is now a critical part of manufacturing and leads you towards growth. Using accurate and up-to-date data helps you to run a more efficient and effective shop, letting you to better manage and balance your resources. Real-time data lets you better oversee your shop floor schedule, consistently improve product quality,  maintain your equipment, and balance your shop floor, to create a higher-performing manufacturing plant. Your plant will be able to deliver more orders consistently on-time, meaning you will have happier customers.

But real-time data does even more than that. It gives you the information, knowledge and insights into your operation that you need to make better decisions about your operation, and move your company forward. Without access to the quality real-time data that an ERP provides, your competition will get ahead of you. Using an ERP, and the real-time data it provides you with, will let you create a strong foundation to build on and grow as a business.

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