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April 11, 2024

Manufacturing Analytics Software: What is it and Why is it Useful?

Manufacturing analytics software have changed the way manufacturers collect and process data. Gone are the days of manual data entry and dozens of spreadsheets, this software has enabled companies to analyse their data and improve efficiency like never before. This blog post will dive into what manufacturing analytics software is, and why every manufacturer needs it.

What is Manufacturing Analytics Software?

Manufacturing analytics software is an advanced technological solution designed to collect, analyse, and interpret data from various manufacturing processes. Most software utilise Internet of Things (IoT) devices to connect machines to the cloud, in order to gather real-time data on machine performance, production output, and operational efficiency. This allows manufacturers to view their entire shop-floor in a simple dashboard, and be alerted to any issues quickly and easily.

Manufacturing analytics software is so useful because prior to its conception, you would have to set up data collection through your ERP or MES solution. This would require very specialist skill sets from experienced consultants, and this is extremely time consuming (and expensive!). Now, you can purchase purpose-built software that has already done all the leg work for you. With a quick and easy set up, you can have your system running in less than a day, and uncovering efficiency gains in no time.

Key Features of Manufacturing Analytics Software

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

OEE is a comprehensive metric that evaluates how effectively a manufacturing operation utilises its resources. It combines availability, performance, and quality metrics to provide a single figure that reflects the percentage of manufacturing time that is truly productive. An optimal manufacturing analytics solution should offer detailed insights into OEE, enabling manufacturers to identify areas for improvement and monitor the impact of changes on production efficiency​. For more info on OEE, check out our blogs on how to calculate OEE and common mistakes that people make when calculating OEE.

Machine Downtime

Tracking and analysing machine downtime is another common feature of a good manufacturing analytics software. The software can map the entire shop-floor and tell you exactly which machines are working and which are not. If a machine is down, it will tell send you an immediate alert and provide you with the cause of the issue so you can fix it swiftly. This minimises production interruptions and maximises productivity.

The software also helps to identify patterns and common root causes of downtime, whether they're due to mechanical failures, material shortages, or human factors. This information can then be used to address the common causes of downtime , which significantly improves the rate of downtime and its associated costs​.

Cycle Time Analysis

Another key feature is cycle time analysis. This involves measuring the time required to complete a manufacturing cycle from start to finish. This feature helps in identifying bottlenecks and understanding how different stages of the production process contribute to overall cycle times. By analysing this data, manufacturers can streamline their processes, improve workflow, and increase throughput​.

Our software Busroot provides advanced cycle time analysis due to our unique set up. We use advanced IoT technology to connect our devices directly to your machines. This allows us to use a production signal to know that your machine is working, and therefore how long your production is taking. All other softwares place devices around cables and measure a currency to infer whether your machines are working, but this can never be 100% sure. This is therefore much more inaccurate and can lead to unreliable cycle time data.

Asset Utilisation

Analytics software also offer insights into how well assets are being utilised. This can be done on a factory wide level, right down to an individual machine level. It's a critical measure of the effectiveness with which a manufacturing entity manages its physical assets (machinery, equipment, tools, labour etc) to produce goods. The software is able to track the entire factory and highlight areas of improvement.

High asset utilisation rates indicate that a manufacturer is getting the most out of its available assets, leading to improved operational efficiency and profitability. This can be an extremely hard metric to measure, given it encompasses everything from availability, to supply chain management, to labour. As such, this software can save a significant amount of time, and provide essential productivity gains.

Energy Use Optimisation

Another key feature of manufacturing analytics software is energy use optimisation. With energy costs constituting a significant portion of operational expenses for many manufacturers, optimising energy use is a priority. Manufacturing analytics software can track energy consumption across different machines and processes, identify inefficiencies, and suggest areas where energy use can be reduced without compromising output or quality​. This can result in massive cost reductions, and is also great for the environment and sustainability commitments.

Proactive Maintenance Scheduling

Finally, any good analytics software will provide proactive maintenance scheduling. Proactive or predictive maintenance schedules are developed based on analysis of past causes of downtime. They measure the key causes of downtime for each machine and how frequently they occurred. The software will then use this data to put a schedule in place that will put maintenance activities at the perfect time, just before a breakdown would normally occur, but not before the part has been used sufficiently.

This can significantly reduce unplanned downtime, but also planned downtime, as your team won't have to perform maintenance checks as often due to trust in the system. It can also extend the lifespan of equipment as you won't have any unnoticed issues that cause further damage. A proactive maintenance schedule is therefore an absolutely essential feature, as it takes all of your data and uses it to reduce costs and improve productivity.

Key Benefits of Manufacturing Analytics Software

There are so many benefits of implementing a manufacturing analytics software, including increased visibility of your shop-floor, reduced downtime and associated costs, improved asset utilisation, increased production line efficiency and improved employee satisfaction. For more info on the incredible benefits of manufacturing analytics software, check out our new blog!

Choosing the Right Manufacturing Analytics Software

When picking manufacturing analytics software, it's important to focus on ones that offer real-time data analysis and predictive analytics. Real-time data analysis helps you see and act on what's happening in your production right away. It's no good being alerted to your issues at the end of the day, your software needs to have capabilities to monitor production in real time and send you alerts as soon as an issue arises. Busroot not only provides it's users with real time updates, but you can set up specific workflows so that each issue is sent to the correct employee who is responsible for the fix.

Predictive analytics is also an essential aspect of a good piece of software. This uses past data to predict future issues or needs, letting you prepare or fix things before they become problems. This feature also puts in place a predictive maintenance schedule, so that you can significantly reduce the rate of unplanned downtime.

Additionally, make sure the software can easily work with your current systems and is easy for everyone to use. Easy integration means less hassle getting everything to work together, and a simple interface means people will actually use it. Scalability is another must-have; as your business grows, your software should be able to keep up. It should be able to continue to add machines and still be able to function effectively.

Make sure you only look for softwares that are within your specified budget, and look out for providers who offer continued support packages. This shows they actually care about your business, and don't just want to take your money! Keeping these points in mind will help you choose software that fits your needs now and as you grow.

Steps for a Successful Implementation

Implementing manufacturing analytics software is generally a pretty straight forward task, but here a few tips to help ensure a smooth implementation: 

  1. Needs Assessment: Begin by evaluating your manufacturing processes to identify specific needs and objectives that the analytics software should address.
  2. Vendor Selection: Choose a software provider that offers a solution aligning with your operational requirements and future growth plans.
  3. Pilot Testing: Implement the software on a small scale initially to assess its impact and make necessary adjustments before a full-scale rollout.
  4. Training and Onboarding: Invest in comprehensive training for staff to ensure they are confident in using the new system.
  5. Continuous Evaluation: Once implemented, regularly review the software's performance and the benefits it brings to your operations, making adjustments as needed to optimise its utility.

Manufacturing analytics software can be a transformative investment for manufacturing entities aiming to elevate their operational efficiency, product quality, and decision-making processes. By carefully selecting and implementing the right software, manufacturers can achieve significant competitive advantages in an increasingly complex and demanding marketplace.