Restarting shop floor operations with digital transformation

Restarting shop floor operations with digital transformation

As manufacturing companies gear up to restart shop floor operations, it is imperative that plant heads are equipped with the right digital tools to automate key processes.
At ComplianceQuest, we offer a suite of cloud-based QHSE (Quality, Health, Safety & Environment) solutions which can fit in seamlessly into your workflow. In this blog, we present a set of guidelines for plant heads to embrace next-generation digital transformation and operate a truly digital factory.
Modernization. Digitization. Smart Factories. Digital Twins.
All these words define the factory of the future. Globally, manufacturing companies are looking to embrace the latest trends in digital transformation and adopt a holistic approach to modernization.
But, what exactly do we refer to as holistic? Before we answer that – let’s look at a day in the life of a plant head at a digitized factory.
7.30 AM: The head of shop floor operations has taken care of all safety precautions before operations start for the day. His workforce has completed all safety check-ins. The inspection reports from the previous day show that required sanitation protocols are complete.
8.00 AM: Through his ERP and QHSE dashboards – he has complete visibility into every aspect including manufacturing schedule, procurement and inventory status, labor availability, inspection and audit schedules, and maintenance status of equipment.
8.15 AM: He organizes a daily huddle with his direct reports to ensure each team has a clear “routine”. This is entered into the daily routine management checklist in the ERP for each of the manufacturing lines. The entire operational strategy is data-driven and automated. The plant head has a finger on the pulse of everything – from manufacturing volume and inspections/audits to maintenance and quality control.
9.00 AM: He looks at key data from across the entire factory on his digital twin. Thanks to IoT-based sensors, he knows the status of every line, every machine. A digital twin refers to a virtual replica of the entire factory including all equipment, processes, workflows and assembly lines. Sensors embedded in various processes is able to capture data and share it with the digital twin.
10.00 AM: He walks around the factory chatting with various employees. He’s there to help and intervene as needed. He manually ensures all key safety norms including social distancing and wearing PPEs are adhered to, cross-checking if the automated process works.
11.00 AM: There’s a CAPA notification that pops up in the QHSE. There has been a complaint and the solution has to come from the shop floor. He sends out communication to relevant process heads to take action.
12.00 noon: He’s now analyzing data to see where efficiencies can be increased. He has a plan to reduce wastage of material in one of the lines. Equipment recalibration is also scheduled. Both are added to the EQMS to track and close.
1.00 PM: Next up is a quick working lunch with his head of procurement and GM of quality assurance. They discuss the agenda for the call with their COO later in the day.
2.00 PM: There are some predictive insights that have come in (from data in another factory). He makes a note to take action and run some experiments to improve the necessary process. He’s also analyzing the status of new supplier onboarding and the scorecards from their supplier qualification exercise.
2.30 PM: The COOs call revolved around taking advantage of AI and ML-based technologies to increase the efficiency of operations. There was clearly room for improvement by reducing machine downtime. Predictive maintenance, based on data from past operations, was the key. Maintenance frequency could be increased – a simple step to reduce machine downtime. The right time could be picked based on demand cycles.
4.00 PM: He’s going through new EU-MDR guidelines as the component being manufactured was being supplied to a medical device company. The EQMS system had a pre-built framework to ensure compliance with ISO 13485. He’s specifically looking at Clauses 8.2.5 and 8.2.6: The first one requires monitoring of processes; The second focuses on monitoring of products. Both, of course, are done for quality control.
4:30 PM: A factory worker reports a laceration on her hand. After attending to the worker and getting her the appropriate medical attention, the floor supervisor enters the incident into the system with his tablet. Noticing a trend towards lacerations with particular tasks, the supervisor creates creative actions to update the operating procedure and orders PPE to protect workers performing this task in the future.
5.00 PM: He is gearing up to wrap up his day at work, looking intently at the end of day dashboard & reports. These reports had been automated and customized, as per his request. He revisits his manufacturing plan for the next day. He’s thankful for all this automation he’s now getting used to! As a manufacturing leader for 30 years, he’s seen the world shift in front of his eyes.
The key aspect to note here is this: Data is at the front and center of modern factory operations. Not just any data, but data with the right benchmarks and goals. The most valuable factors in any shop floor are time and quality. All this means nothing if safety is sacrificed.
As companies resume shop floor operations, the time is now right to drive a holistic approach to four key processes:

  1. Workplace Safety and Employee Health
  2. End-to-End Quality and Safety Management
  3. Supply Chain Readiness
  4. A data-driven approach to manufacturing operations where ERP, CRM, EQMS, and EHS are seamlessly integrated.

In each of these aspects, Continuous Improvement (CI) is critical. Data sets backed with visualization, benchmarks, and insights will enable real improvement.
In this Whitepaper, we offer a checklist for plant heads to restart shop floor operations with safety and quality at its core.
The checklist is divided into four parts:

  1. Gap Analysis
  2. Workflow Improvements
  3. Shop floor data integrated with the entire ERP and QHSE system
  4. Continuous Improvement, taking advantage of predictive analytics and proactive measures

The checklist at the end of each section in the whitepaper is only a starting point. It needs to be fine-tuned and enhanced on a case-to-case basis.
Overall, Connected Automation is the key to drive efficiency into your manufacturing process. ComplianceQuest offers a scalable, flexible, customizable QHSE (EQMS + EHS) solution to make this happen. These products can seamlessly integrate with each other and also connect with other ERP and CRM systems. Such a connected process is absolutely essential to drive improvements on the shop floor. And the best part, each of ComplianceQuest’s solutions are designed from the ground up for the cloud. It makes it easy to deploy, easy to scale, and needless to add, way more affordable in terms of initial investments.

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