Data Collection: Your Key to Better Manufacturing

It’s often said, if we forget our past mistakes, we are destined to repeat them. 

This phrase is just as true in the manufacturing industry as it is in life. 

And in the highly competitive environment we find ourselves in today, businesses certainly can’t afford to repeat any past mistakes. 

That’s where data collection and analysis come into play. 

A business who is strategic with their data collection, analysis and overall implementation is going to have a better chance at adaptability and growth in the days ahead. 

That’s why, for anyone looking to grow their business, the importance of this process cannot be understated. 

Today, we explore the latest developments in this key component to industry success and how you can better utilize your data to help propel your facility into the 21st century. 

Data Collection: The Basics

In the manufacturing world, data collection refers to the procedure of gathering and analyzing various types of information generated during the overall manufacturing process. 

The goal of manufacturing data collection is to monitor, measure, and optimize various aspects of the manufacturing process to improve efficiency, quality, and overall productivity. 

Years ago, this process was mainly a manual one, relying on individuals with pens and paper to go from machine to machine reviewing their individual outputs. 

Today, despite a few holdouts (more on them later), this process has been streamlined, allowing your data to be collected via machinery, sensors, equipment, and/or production lines and ready for analysis in real time, providing you the opportunity to set in motion any necessary changes you deem appropriate in as little time as possible. 

A facility that has a timely system in place to collect the necessary data to allow these positive results to occur will be more likely to see timely results and not be bogged down by system errors and unnecessary delays. 

Data Collection: Key Terms

As you’ll soon find out, there are many attributes to successfully collecting your facilities data. 

Now that you understand the basics of WHAT data collection is and HOW it can benefit your facility, let’s review some of the key aspects of manufacturing data that you might come across during this process. 

Key aspects of manufacturing data collection: 

  • Data Sources: Manufacturing data can come from different sources, such as sensors (temperature, pressure, vibration), production equipment (machines, robots), human operators (manual inputs, quality checks), and more. 
  • Data Points: Different types of data can be collected, including production rates, cycle times, defect rates, energy consumption, material usage, equipment uptime/downtime, and other relevant metrics. 
  • Real-time Monitoring: Collecting data in real-time allows manufacturers to monitor the production process continuously and respond quickly to any deviations or issues. 
  • Data Storage and Management: Proper storage and management of collected data are crucial. Manufacturers often use databases or cloud-based solutions to store and organize data for analysis. 
  • Data Analysis: Analyzing manufacturing data can provide insights into process efficiency, quality control, predictive maintenance, and opportunities for optimization. Techniques such as statistical analysis, machine learning, and data visualization are used to uncover patterns and trends. 
  • Quality Control: Manufacturing data collection enables quality control by identifying defects, variations, or anomalies in the production process, helping manufacturers take corrective actions to maintain product quality. 
  • Predictive Maintenance: By analyzing data from machinery and equipment, manufacturers can predict when maintenance is needed, reducing downtime, and preventing costly breakdowns. 
  • Process Optimization: Insights from data analysis can lead to process improvements, such as optimizing production schedules, adjusting machine settings, or streamlining workflows. 
  • Regulatory Compliance: In certain industries, collecting and maintaining accurate manufacturing data is essential for regulatory compliance and traceability. 
  • Decision Making: Data-driven decision-making allows manufacturers to make informed choices about production strategies, resource allocation, and overall business operations. 
  • Integration with Manufacturing Systems: Modern manufacturing often involves integrating data collection systems with other manufacturing systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms.

Now that you’re familiar with some of the key components and phrases involved in this process, let’s take a closer look at how you can implement these tactics to better your overall business output and profitability. 

How to Get the Most out of Your Data

As stated above, data collection is a vital process in system maintenance and development. The results of such analysis can play a key role in growing and turning a profit for your facility. 

Anyone who is hoping this will be a one and done process, however, is sure to be disappointed… 

You see, using this data to improve your business is an ongoing process that involves collecting, analyzing, and leveraging relevant information to make informed decisions, optimize processes, and drive growth on a routine basis. 

… But, in today’s hard job climate, where qualified workers are often hard to come by, who can afford to waste a good worker on minute data collection tasks? 

That’s where data collection software is going to come in handy. 

You see, by investing in software that is able to monitor your equipment’s overall performance, you will be able to benefit from having this data in your hands without dedicating one of your valuable employees to do the collecting. 

And with such software in place, you’re going to have a better chance of being notified of any occurring or pending issues that could get in the way of your daily operation. 

It’s for these very reasons – and many others – that this type of digital, real time data collection has become the norm in the manufacturing industry today. 

Even still, though, there are some holdouts that have yet to make the jump to such advanced methods of data collection. 

Should you be one of those lagging in this department, we can’t encourage you enough to consider the many benefits this small change in your facility will produce for you, your team and your clients. 

Remember, in these competitive times, we can’t afford to repeat our past mistakes… 

One of the best ways to avoid such situations is to embrace today’s resources, which have been designed to help us maneuver around the issues of yesterday to result in a better tomorrow.

The Wrap Up

Hopefully, by this point, you have a clear understanding of how timely data collection and analysis can lead to better results and higher revenues for you and your business. 

In short, manufacturing data collection plays a vital role in achieving operational excellence, reducing costs, increasing product quality, and staying competitive in today’s rapidly changing manufacturing landscape. 

It empowers manufacturers to make data-driven decisions that lead to more efficient, agile, and responsive production processes, which is sure to benefit all involved. 

Now, no matter how much we praise the process or whatever facts we may lay at your feet, we understand there are some people out there that are simply set in their ways, who willingly continue to remain stagnate in their methods of business. 

To them, we offer our best wishes. 

To those of you out there, however, that have an open mind and are willing to discuss moving your facility into the 21st century through digital data collection, we want you to know Rain Engineering is here for you. 

Our team of highly qualified manufacturing experts have been specifically trained to answer any and all digital transformation questions you might have and are here to help guide you through the ins and outs of this process, no matter where you currently find yourself on your journey. 

P.S. If you’re interested in discussing the details of implementing such advanced methods of data collection in your facility, we think you should know about Connectivity from Rain Engineering. 

Facilities that invest in Connectivity are able to collect and analyze valuable system data in real time, providing an opportunity to alter strategic courses or catch time consuming issues before they gain momentum. 

In a brief (FREE) 30-minute workshop, your Rain Engineering representative will be able to tell you: 

  • The specific challenges to connecting your assets
  • What data you need from your machines to meet your goals
  • Which common methods exist for connectivity
  • If you are a candidate for a Connectivity Assessment
  • Approximate cost and time investment to get your assets connected

During this discovery workshop, we’ll also share how a Rain Connectivity Assessment can further help you through this process. 

Should you decide to purchase an assessment, your team will then receive an official report detailing: 

  • How to connect each of your specific assets
  • What data is available from your equipment
  • How much it will cost to connect
  • How long the process will take
  • How to integrate to your information systems (MES, QMS, QAS, SPC, CMMS, and PLM Software systems)

The workshop is quick and painless and will give you many answers to questions you might already be asking. 

Interested? Here’s how to get things going… 

Getting started on the assessment is easy and gives you a much quicker path to capturing the data your shop floor can provide. 

It works like this: 

  1. Schedule your shop floor assessment
  2. Receive your custom plan for every asset
  3. Start using data to do better

It’s as simple as that! No hassle, no major changes to your operating procedure. 

… And it doesn’t matter how old your equipment is or what controller it currently has. Rain Engineering has successfully connected thousands of machines and can do the same for yours. 

Don’t waste weeks coordinating with machine builders waiting for answers that get you nowhere. 

Get connected and start profiting in less time with a little help from Rain Engineering!