Manufacturers across the globe are struggling to squeeze the most value out of operations, leading to poor manpower utilization and less machine uptime. Not surprisingly, workers are not being trained as robustly as the high-skill jobs resulting from new technologies initiatives demand.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives growth is expected to create new opportunities to the industry. Global spending on industrial IoT has been estimated to grow from $29 billion in 2015 to $70 billion by 2020.
However, the expected opportunities also comes with inevitable pain points, according to global manufacturing IT firm Advanced Technology Services (ATS). According to Mike Waltrip, vice president of Industrial Parts Services and Supply Chain at ATS, the three things that, in his experience, are pretty consistent headaches are:
- The challenge to make sure equipment continues to perform reliably.
- The lack of skillsets, not only of the people working with the machines and processes but also of maintenance technicians who repair equipment.
- The continuous pressure to improve efficiencies within particular value streams, or manufacturers processes.
According to ATS, the most common causes of unscheduled downtime in manufacturing facilities are aging equipment with a 50%, followed by 15% of operator error, and 14% of lack of time. Respondents to the recent Plant Engineering Maintenance Study 2016 indicated that their maintenance teams only receive basic mechanical and electrical skills training.
When manufacturers make investments in technology they need to make investments in the people who support that technology as well, whether is the reliability engineers in the machines, operators, or the maintenance technicians, Waltrip said.
As technology continues to change manufacturers have to have mechanisms in place to make sure that the technology they have invested in last a long time, said Waltrip.
Image Source: ATS
Actions manufacturers should take
To fight these inevitable problems OEMs are facing today, "manufacturers need to address them from the maintenance perspective, equipment performance, and reliability, having the right parts at the right time, collecting information and data about machine performance and failures, so that it's possible to make decisions to improve the overall efficiency of the production equipment," said Waltrip.
"They can make significant investments in machines, tools, and technology, but if they don't make significant investments in the people to support those things then that equipment is not going to perform to expectations, he added. "Then it becomes a cycle trying to continue to improve, or trying to understand what has failed, or what the problems are in the process."
Manufacturers, or industries need to continue to identify ways to leverage various means of technology that continue to improve and drive efficiencies within the manufacturing process, according to Waltrip. Whether that's highly sophisticated electronic equipment, or pretty basic sensors that bring more productive or proactive procedures to the manufacturing floor.