Downtime is the single largest source of lost productivity. Plant network downtime creates a high level of unwanted attention since equipment failures and breakdowns become highly visible. Many firms struggle to understand what causes such outages. But they can take steps, such as creating a sound networking foundation, collecting all available performance information, and extending intelligence to more endpoints via smart sensors, to prevent such problems from occurring, according to DC Plus’ guide, Eliminate Plant Manufacturing Network Downtime.
Unplanned downtime occurs as a result of various failures, such as an overloaded network connection, an operator misstep, and unplanned machine maintenance. The reality is that no manufacturer is immune from such outages, but few can afford to withstand significant network downtime. Downtime results in lost revenue, paying out wages but not having any work completed, supply chain bottlenecks due to a slowdown in manufacturing, decreased customer satisfaction, and higher operating costs.
The High Cost of Plant Network Downtime
When trying to gauge an outage’s impact, manufacturers focus on labor costs, which can be significant. Typically, manufacturers look at the direct impact, the amount of individuals who sit idly while the system is offline. Those numbers vary by industry, size, and task. ARC Advisory Group found that typical packaged food or consumer suppliers lose $15,000 an hour if the network is down.
Manufacturers incur other costs. An outage’s ripple effects filter throughout the company. The quality control inspector, tool setup person, line supervisor, maintenance supervisor, plant manager, parts procurer, engineering, material handlers, floor supervisor, safety personnel, accounting, and secretaries may all have to rearrange their workday in order to accommodate the lost time.
And downtime impacts manufacturers in other ways as well. Product shipments are delayed. In fact, a pharmaceutical company loses hundreds of thousands of dollars if one batch of products is delayed, according to ARC Advisory Group.
Unforeseen outages also result in lost customer trust and productivity. Manufacturers often cannot deliver services to customers, lose production time on a critical asset, and are unable to service or support specific equipment or assets. Finally, the brand image is damaged.
But you do not have to tolerate downtime. Every manufacturing plant can take several steps that keep their networks running. Here is some sound advice.
Find a Strong Network Option
Adopt a tested network standard. Ethernet/IP networks have become commonplace in the manufacturing sector for various reasons. This network option features high speed, low signal loss, high bandwidth, and flexibility. These systems support multiple types of broadcasting and include change-of-state monitoring. These solutions are designed around object design orientation so you control applications internally. This network option includes strong security features. Finally, the factory floor becomes more cohesive. With ethernet/IP, you connect all of your devices to one IP address and therefore gather data in a consistent manner.
Collect More Performance Information
Many manufacturers have the capacity to monitor their network devices more closely but do not connect, gather, share, and analyze such information. For example, machinery often tracks conditions in motor drives and devices, but without being connected, you do not have access to that data. Consequently, managers should check and determine that their intelligent variable frequency drives (VFD) are connected to the manufacturing network.
Deploy Smart Sensors
Recently, a new generation of intelligent wireless sensors emerged. These devices detect temperatures; monitor overheating or freezing; determine if objects are moving properly; calibrate valve opening or closing positions; and identify complete or incomplete services.
Previously when a machine broke down, someone was notified, came, troubleshot, and fixed the problem. In a best case scenario, the machine was up in a few hours but the process often took longer. By deploying intelligent devices in your facility, you detect issues before they take the device offline. A minor slowing down of a production robot arm, an increase in average system temperature, or a change in current, triggers a maintenance action. Such preventative steps improve asset performance, limit downtime, and even reduces your energy costs.
Hire a Certified Installer for Your Project
Networking is a complex technology, one becoming more diverse every day. Manufacturers need to recognize the limits of their expertise; most are not networking experts. A professional IT services and solutions provider can more effectively assess your network and determine the strengths and weaknesses of your existing setup. Even something as simple as making sure your connections are tested, it is best completed by such an expert.
DC Plus delivers proven network solutions, ones built on their vast experience in the manufacturing market. They have been working with manufacturing companies for many years and understand factory plant network pain points. The company works as your partner, solves network issues, and increases uptime.
DC Plus created a guide “Eliminate Manufacturing Network Downtime”, which helps companies keep their plant manufacturing networks up and running. The guide examines both the technical issues such as network design, and the personnel challenges like training employees, that cause networks to go down.
Such information is vital to ensuring that your company’s network problem does not become tomorrow’s headline. You can download your copy of the guide at here.