What is Data Logging and Why Is It Important?

What is data logging?

Data logging is the collection and recording of information and data from around your production process.  Data is usually collected automatically, but there may also be the need for manual input points where staff can input data or add relevant comments to explain the reason for downtime, faults, or change of operator.

Within any production line there are large quantities of data that can be logged. The data that you decide to collect for your production process should be data that is going to be useful to you in informing developments and improvements within your production.  Examples of the type of data that is often collected include:

  • Quantity of parts made
  • Accuracy of parts made
  • Cycle time
  • Faults
  • Downtime
  • Reason for downtime
  • Run Time
  • Job changes
  • Operator changes

Data can be collected automatically by sensors within the production line that are set to monitor the production process.  The data that these sensors collect is then harnessed and recorded in a central PLC/PC based controller. This logged data can then be combined, recalculated, plotted on graphs, displayed on dashboards, compared to previous data and used to inform business decisions in relation to staff, product and production.

All of this data can be viewed from your PC or Smartphone enabling you to closely monitor your production line from anywhere at any time; you can even monitor your process from home on your smartphone via the cloud.  There is no longer the need to walk around the factory floor to see what is happening.

 

Why log data?

Many companies have lots of machinery within their production process but do not log the interaction between them or their running time and down time.  This means that making business decisions in relation to production can be very difficult as there is no data to work on. Without a data logging system it is very difficult to obtain the necessary information for you to know exactly what is happening in your production process.  Questions such as: ‘Why did the operator stop the machine?’, ‘Why did the machine operator not take any product off the machine for the last 15 minutes?’, and ‘Why was there a product fault?’ are all very difficult to answer without the relevant data.

Logging data provides you with the necessary information to make educated and informed decisions in relation to improving your production process and efficiency.  It enables you to pick up on areas of the production line or staff that are bottlenecks within the process.  Having collected the relevant data, you can then implement changes to eliminate the bottlenecks as well as having the option to set staff bonuses based on throughput and production speed.

Data logging is essential if you wish to get your factory up to I4 standards as it is necessary to have your complete production process connected and logged so that data is easily accessible.

 

The pitfalls of data logging

One of the largest pitfalls of data logging is collecting too much data.  Having too much data can mean that no data gets used at all as when there’s a lot of data it becomes cumbersome to pull out the data you really need.  It is therefore very important to be very focused on what data you need to collect and what you are going to use this data for.  It is important to think carefully as to what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to use the data that you collect to improve your production.

 

How to implement

As with any type of automation, you need to start with the end goal in mind and ensure your production monitoring system is built to suit your end goal.  If for instance you are wishing to just monitor the end of a production line, you can have some sensors installed around the end of the line to monitor quality, quantity and speed.

It is important to get staff buy in on a production monitoring scheme, and this can be achieved by introducing a bonus scheme based on the results from the data you collect, as well as enforcing the use of the system.

 

Use the data

If you don’t use the data you collect, production monitoring can easily become a wasted investment. As a production manager this data is very useful in identifying bottlenecks and faults within your process.  Having identified a fault or bottleneck, you can then implement change and monitor the data to check that the changes you have implemented have worked. It is then possible to back up why you have implement change when discussing with your staff or managers as you have the data available to prove your point. e.g. We have implemented these changes because the data showed this machine was a bottleneck/down for 5% of the time, due to an issue. Since we have identified and sorted this issue we have seen a 5% increase in production from that machine bringing £20,000 more revenue to the business per month.

Data can also be used for staff motivation schemes. Last week I was at a factory where we had installed a production monitoring system.  Part way through the afternoon one of the factory workers suddenly began leaping around and shouting for glee because he had hit his bonus target and his dashboard had gone green ahead of all the other factory staff. Actions like this are infectious!  Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm!  Having a scoreboard drives employee engagement as your staff can tell if they are winning or losing. Think about it; If you were watching a few kids having a football match at your local recreation ground from a distance, do you reckon you could tell if they were keeping score or not, just from the way they were playing? The answer is definitely YES! If you went to a football match but there were no scoreboards and you didn’t know the score, would you be as enthused about the game? Would you be giving the same level of support? When an employee knows what they are working towards it adds a sense of purpose to their work.  They become motivated by the scoreboard and start to take ownership for their part in the score, a positive culture starts to develop in the company.

 

For more information on production monitoring and data logging, contact our automation consultants on 01223 499488, or if you would prefer, get Instant Pricing for Production Monitoring and Data Logging Systems now.

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Robotic Palletising Cell Case Study – Granta Automation

Brief

Granta were asked by a medium sized food factory to look at ways of improving their current manual bag stacking process.  They were packing dry, free-flowing, granular product into 25kg bags and then manually stacking the filled bags onto pallets at the end of the production line.

They had been having complaints from staff in relation to back pain due to lifting and stacking the 25kg bags all day. There were also other issues with manually stacking the bags onto pallets:

  • Stacking quality was poor
  • Other health and safety and RSI issues
  • Manual labour was not fast enough to keep up with production speeds and was therefore reducing the machine’s output capacity.

With the need to increase production speeds and address the health and safety issues they were experiencing, they requested Granta to come up with a solution.

 

The Solution

We carried out an on-site assessment of the existing process so that we fully understood the customer’s requirements.  During this assessment we realised that there was an added challenge to automating the palletising process: once the bag had been laid down after the mouth of the bag had been stitched, we would then need to redistribute the product within the bag, prior to stacking it on the pallet.  We knew that flat bags were going to play a key part in achieving a neatly and safely stacked pallet.

Following our site visit, our automation consultants held a brainstorming session to come up with the best automation solution for this company.  We explored ideas and methods and discussed these with our customer and collaboratively came up with the following solution.

We designed, built and installed a bespoke robotic palletising cell for the end of their production line which included:

  • Bag flattening conveyors installed after the existing bag stitchers to redistribute the product in the bag.
  • A robotic palletiser with a specialist bag gripper; designed to cope with the floppy nature of the bags.
  • Specialist 3D safety scanner to protect the robot working area. A 3D safety scanner was installed because space was limited and an unusual layout was required to allow forklift access to the pallets.
  • The ability to allow for different bag fill weights and product characteristics by adjusting the layer height on the pallet.

The solution proved to be very successful and gave the food company an increased production throughput of 150%!

&amp

The Sequel

With the installed automation having been so successful the customer asked us to replicate the same system on two more of their manual bagging lines. Our automation consultants reviewed the palletiser system we had installed and came up with a scheme of using one robot to serve the additional two lines rather than having to install two separate robots.  This would save the customer cost and space.

Following consultation with the customer, we designed, built and installed the following system;

  • Two bag flattening conveyors – one on each of the two lines after the existing bag stitchers.
  • A KUKA robot with a specialist bag gripper that is able to stack to four pallet stations. The robot has the ability to stack the output from either line to any of the four stations; giving great flexibility to optimise the robot output to match the individual lines output.
  • Fencing and guarding around the four pallet station stacking area and robot.
  • A gate system with safe zone interlock to allow removal of two pallets while the palletiser continues stacking on the other two pallet stations.

 

The Final Outcome?

A very happy customer that has increased their production throughput significantly and improved health and safety in their workplace by reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

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Key Trends In The Manufacturing Industry – What You Need To Focus On For Your Manufacturing Plant in 2018-2019

The success of the manufacturing sector relies on constant evolution of the processes involved, utilising new equipment, technology and techniques to find optimal efficiency gains. The exponential growth of technology, in particular, remains as true today as it did 50 years ago and the production landscape is changing shape faster than ever before.

Keeping pace with developments allows your business to remain a constant and relevant force in the market place. With that in mind, we’ve listed what we believe to be the key trends in the manufacturing industry and what you need to focus on for your manufacturing plant in 2018/19.

 

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The need to increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve safety and incentivise product innovation are just some of the challenges facing manufacturers who are considering implementing the Internet of Things into their operations.

IoT enabled equipment will allow manufacturers to maximise the lifespan of their technology without disturbing the output. With lower levels of maintenance planning, equipment downtime and maintenance costs, it provides a number of essential advantages in an increasingly competitive market.

Enhanced connectivity will dramatically change how manufacturers capture and use key data. In turn this will provide stronger insights into the supply chain and inventory processes. Optimising production in real-time will enable businesses to become more efficient and limit wastage output.

 

Industry 4.0

Otherwise known as smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0 has been labelled as the 4th industrial revolution. The use of advanced manufacturing technology right across the production chain provides vast improvements on processes, enhancing efficiency and making the factory floor safer for employees. The ability to monitor and analyse assets more closely ensures it is possible to constantly tweak and evolve the level of output.

The implementation of Industry 4.0 provides a number of advantages for manufacturers, including increased productivity, faster reaction times to customers, the creation of new services and product lines, as well as improved delivery to market. With the right framework in place and the critical business areas addressed, smart manufacturing opens up extensive and exciting new possibilities across almost every sector.

 

Cobot Manufacturing

Collaborative robots are already in place in a number of factories in a wide number of industries. However, technology never stands still and the evolution of these robots means lightweight and agile versions are set to become more common place in the manufacturing sector.

Cobots are being designed to be more sensitive to respond to human interaction and reduce the level of risk involved in working more closely together. For example, built in sensors can detect the presence of a human and reduce the operating speed the closer the human gets to the machine. Cobot’s can also control the speed and force being applied and instantly stop when an obstacle is encountered, significantly lowering the impact density.

 

Augmented reality

While virtual reality has made great strides in the past decade, experts have always felt that augmented reality offered even greater opportunities. The blending together of the real world with advanced computer generated visual aids may still be in its early stages but interest from the manufacturing sector is rapidly gaining pace.

For example, the use of wearable technologies connects workers to a goldmine of information and data to help optimise job performance while increasing safety. AR could be implemented on assembly lines, skilled training, maintenance, support services, quality assurance and automation.

At one time this sort of technology may have seemed light years away from being used in real time environments. This is no longer the case with AR actually in use in a number of facilities right now. As the technology improves exponentially, so will the myriad of ways it will improve the manufacturing sector.

 

Additive manufacturing

The use of 3D printing technology is becoming more common place, helping to introduce efficient and cost effective practices. Additive manufacturing allows for the prototyping, tooling – and on occasion – the production of applications used within the manufacturing process.

3D printing enables manufacturers to reduce the large inventories of spare parts required to respond quickly to customer orders. By being able to produce the part without large stock levels adding to their storage space costs, response times are maintained, while being more cost effective and maintaining the integrity of the equipment supplied.

Using additive manufacturing processes to create prototypes and tooling moulds increases operational efficiency while also lowering costs. Rather than running up huge costs and taking months to produce, 3D printing enables this to be produced within a matter of days.

 

To find out how we can help you keep pace with the latest automation and robotic technology for your facility, contact our automation consultants who are always on hand to quickly respond to your questions, and provide detailed answers based on your current requirements. They can be contacted on 01223 499488, or via email at helpline@granta-automation.co.uk .

 

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Granta Update April 2018 – 5 Key Ways To Improve Machine Throughput!

journey-1Are You Coming On Our Journey?

You only need to bring:

  • Yourself and your co-workers
  • All your good ideas
  • A desire to achieve

Find out where they journey starts >>


vision-inspection-marchIs Improving Quality Control One of Your Key Targets?

Simply put, if your target market can depend on your ability to consistently produce products that meet their levels of expectation, it is far more likely your business will continue to grow.

But, how does this relate to quality control? We’ve found that improved quality control remains at the heart of retaining loyal customers.

Read more >>


Throughput-capacityHow Can I Improve The Throughput Capacity Of My Machinery?

This is a question that all manufacturers ask themselves at some point… Maintaining an efficient throughput is essential to the success of any manufacturing facility.

Clearing bottlenecks, training staff and implementing automation are just a few of the handy tips this post contains.

Read more >>


Case-study-ImagesControl System Upgrade for Large Injection Molding Company…

Granta were approached by a large injection molding company in the Midlands who manufacture a range of dosing valves for a well-known UK cleaning chemical manufacturer.

They had three testing units which they no longer had circuit diagrams for and the personnel who built the machines were no longer available.  This was making fault finding and troubleshooting very difficult.

Find out what we did >>


customer-happyWe Love Keeping Our Customers Happy…

Having completed a bespoke automation project installation for our customer he told us he wanted to say thank you because:

  • “You had everything with you that you needed to do the job.
  • You kept the work area clean and tidy.
  • You know what you are doing!”
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Manufacturing Industry Statistics for 2017 and Anticipated Statistics for 2018

Manufacturing-statistics

With the end of the financial year upon us, we take a look back at 2017 in the manufacturing sector to review how it has impacted companies in the UK. The last 12 months have largely been a success for many in the industry which has led to a number of bullish predictions for 2018 and beyond. Manufacturing accounts for approximately 10% of the British economy and usually provides a strong indication of what the coming months hold in store in financial terms for the country as a whole.

Take a look at the manufacturing industry statistics for 2017 and some of the anticipated statistics for 2018 below.

 

Statistics for 2017

The strength of the economy came as a surprise to many at the tailed end of 2017, which subsequently led to a more optimistic outlook for 2018.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research revealed the UK GDP grew by 0.6% in the final three months of last year, up against a predicted forecast of 0.5%. Taking this new estimate into account the UK economy as a whole expanded in 2017 by a total of 1.8%.

The good news is that the manufacturing sector played a significant role in this unexpected rise. In November 2017 alone, the industry grew by 0.4%. More pleasingly, the average between October to December was the highest seen for almost a decade, while also being 3.9% higher than in the same period in 2016. Seven consecutive months of growth marked the first time in 20 years the sector had experienced such a boom.

A growth in exports is the driving factor behind this current surge, assisted by a weaker pound and growing demand from economies in the Eurozone. According to a survey conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), 42% of those questioned stated output had increased in the final quarter of 2017, with only 11% stating it was down. 28% said their total order books were busier than normal, while 11% revealed orders had slowed in the same period.

 

What 2018 holds in store

The growth experienced in 2017 has created an optimistic mood for the next 12 months. In particular, manufacturers that have already committed to or are planning to, embrace the advantages that technology can add to their business, look set to benefit the most. This includes tools such robotics, automation, cognitive computing/artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics, and internet of things (IoT).

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC) Annual Manufacturing Report highlighted the important role Industry 4.0 (automation and data exchange) will play in the coming years. 80% of those included in the report believe digital technology has been beneficial to their business, while a further 79% agreed it will allow them to widen their customer base through service-based offering.

A survey of 378 firms in January by manufacturers organisation, EEF, showed that manufacturers are expecting the current cycle of growth to continue. Many are anticipating larger productivity gains for 2018, with 66% of the company’s surveyed anticipating improvements in efficiency.

The EEF also estimate the sector will continue to expand by approximately 2% in 2018, which is faster than the rate at which they expect the UK economy to grow as a whole. This is tempered slightly by output dropping to its lowest level in eight months in February this year, although the demand for new orders indicates this will not be a continuing trend for the next 12 months.

While the uncertainty that continues to linger around Brexit is weakening the strength of the pound, the positive effect it is having on manufacturing looks set to continue in the short to medium term at least. Coupled with the steady improvement of the global economy, this also means demand from overseas should remain stable.

This isn’t to say that Brexit is not a huge concern for industrialists. A lack of a clear national economic purpose from the government means that while many companies are keen to invest in new technology, some remain hesitant in the current climate. With the EU’s Michel Barnier highlighting the need to have the Brexit agreements in place by October of this year, it highlights how important the remainder of this year is to the manufacturing sector.

 

Conclusion

As we can see, after steady growth across most of 2017, there is currently a lot of optimism in the industry. At the same time, businesses remain cautious as they are aware how quickly the market could change due to the unknown outcome of the Brexit negotiations. With the global economy expanding by 3.3% in 2017, and the World Bank predicting an expansion of 3.1% in 2018, the export market looks set to continue bearing fruit for British manufacturers.

 

To find out more detail on how we can help your business in 2018, email our helpline helpline@granta-automation.co.uk, or call us on 01223 499488.

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Control System Upgrade Case Study – Granta Automation

 

Brief

Granta were approached by a large injection molding company in the Midlands who manufacture a range of dosing valves for a well-known UK cleaning chemical manufacturer.  This particular range of dosing valves include a venturi and the chemical manufacturer uses them to mix the cleaning chemicals into water to ensure correct dilution rates.

The parts for these dosing valves are molded and assembled and the completed assemblies then require 100% testing. The injection molding company have three test units for this purpose which are quite elderly, and whilst they generally operate satisfactorily, there are no electrical, pneumatic or hydraulic (water) circuit diagrams available and the personnel who built these units are no longer available.  This made fault finding and troubleshooting very difficult. The units also did not meet current safety requirements and therefore needed upgrading.

 

Result

Granta were initially commissioned to examine all three units and produce a report on their condition with recommendations for update and improvement. The report found that whilst overall design and functionality was good and the data acquisition system which had been recently upgraded also worked well, the electrical control system was in poor condition, was very untidy and did not meet current safety standards. Granta recommended utilising all the existing pumps, valves, sensors and data acquisition system but stripping out and rebuilding the controls system to modern standards. An option was also proposed to incorporate an uninterruptible power supply for the computers running the system.

After considerations of the report, Granta were invited to quote for the upgrade work and were subsequently awarded the job to complete this upgrade. The test rigs were transported to Granta’s Whittlesford workshop for the rebuild and testing, one at a time, to leave two rigs in service at any one point.

 

Case-study-Images

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How True This Quote of Henry Ford’s Is!

Henry-Ford-Quote

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What are The Advantages of Automatic Product Sorting?

 

Increasing the reliability and quality of your products and services is a must for any manufacturer. Those that work to short delivery times and high levels of distribution need to rely on machinery that will meet the demands of their customers while optimising efficiency to remain competitive.

Automated sorting systems play an integral part in ensuring goods and products across a range of industries are organised and distributed correctly. Manufacturers now understand the speed, accuracy and capacity benefits automated sorting machinery brings to the production line.

If you are thinking about introducing automated sorting systems to your facility and aren’t sure what the advantages of automatically sorting and counting products are, read on to find out more.

 

Increased efficiency

This begins with the staff working on the factory floor. Automated sorting machines are able to consistently perform the same repetitive motion to the same standard, lowering the prospect of injuries and, even worse, accidents. Injuries can lead to time off for the affected party and rising costs for the manufacturer.

The advantage for workers is the opportunity to learn other skills in the company away from uninspiring jobs that require them to repeat the same motion time and again. Robotic sorting systems do not require breaks or time off and can process a higher quota of products in a shorter space of time.

 

Lower costs

Combined with a faster rate of throughput, lower costs provides huge benefits for manufacturers. Although the upfront cost for any piece of automation should always be assessed by the business before making the commitment, it should also be tempered with the ROI. This will not be a slow process as gains in efficiency are almost immediate, meaning savings will impact the business straightaway.

Not only are there savings to be made with lower wage costs, but improved energy use management through better use of the machinery also has a positive effect. We have helped countless businesses who are contemplating investing in automation for the first time, and our Bespoke Machinery Buying Guide gives a good overview of what needs to be considered when investing in automation.

 

Improved accuracy

In many manufacturing sectors such as automotive, and pharmaceutical and medical, accuracy is of paramount importance. Sorting machines can operate quickly and more cost efficiently, while ensuring the quality of the product is never compromised.

Human error often plays a large part in many of the incidents that occur within a production facility and the introduction of counting and sorting systems removes much of those concerns. The positive knock on effect is that with a product being manufactured to a consistently higher standard, it opens the door to the acquisition of new customers.

 

With increased safety for employees, a faster rate of production, lower costs and better quality products, there are many reasons to invest in robotic sorting machines. Their ability to sort and count goods of any shape and size mean they can easily fit into any production process and add significant benefits.

According to the Association for Advancing Automation, the first half of 2017 saw a 26% rise in investment compared to the same period the previous year. 2018 looks set to continue that trend as companies across every sector begin to realise the advantages automation can add to their business.

We are always on hand to discuss your requirements in more detail. We’d love to answer any further questions you may have, so feel free to call us on 01223 499488 or email helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

 

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Why Use Vision Systems for Quality Control – What Are The Benefits?

3D-inspectionSustaining and improving quality control remains at the heart of any manufacturer who wishes to build a long lasting relationship with their customer base. Quite simply, if your target market can depend on your ability to consistently produce products that meet their levels of expectation it is far more likely your business will continue to grow.

The methods employed by companies vary across the board but ultimately finding the most accurate and cost effective method of providing quality assurance is the goal.  For a long time the manual inspection of the manufacturing process was seen as the most reliable way of maintaining standards. But even the most keen-eyed worker is prone to make mistakes and the repetitive nature of the work will eventually begin to show.

Even with the introduction of machine vision inspection systems there was some hesitation around implementing them into existing processes. Despite the opportunity to reduce wastage and increase data surrounding the production line, they were seen as limited, too expensive and difficult to integrate into existing systems.

Of course, the technology has moved on significantly over the past couple of decades with 2D, 3D and barcode reading systems becoming increasingly common place. There is still some hesitation from some companies unsure as to their value, but with the advances in technology, vision inspection can be carried out extremely fast on high speed production lines; more accurately than a human can do it and at a speed faster than the human eye can see.

2D-visionVision inspection is a generic term that covers a whole spectrum of automatic inspection systems, from digital standard 2D cameras to 3D laser line scanners and more. More recently 3D vision is being used in conjunction with a 6 axis robot for bin picking and other tasks that used to require human input. As AI becomes an increasing reality there is very little that can’t be achieved with automated vision inspection systems.

Using vision for quality control can cover a whole realm of tasks e.g. reading and checking the labels on products, measuring 3D objects to ensure they are manufactured correctly and within tolerance, sensing where products are on a conveyor so they can be picked up with a robot and orientated and placed accurately into a further process or packaging, ensuring products are not scratched marked, checking painting has been carried out correctly and much more.

A vision inspection system that has been properly installed and calibrated will be extremely accurate, fast and reliable. Automated quality control with vision inspection also has many additional benefits compared with people doing manual inspection, it can run 24 hours 7 days a week and it does not need tea breaks, it does not suffer fatigue like people do and will be a lot more accurate and fast. Typically the time saving from running 24/7 without breaks or shift handovers pays for the cost of automated vision inspection very quickly.

According to a 2016 report by Credence Research Inc, the machine vision inspection market is likely to be worth almost $15bn by 2022. The technology is improving year-on-year and making the investment sooner rather than later will give your business that crucial competitive edge. Find out how much a vision inspection system could potentially cost or get in contact with our automation consultants on 01223 499488, or email helpline@granta-automation.co.uk.

 

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The Granta Story – Your Story, Our Story, a Story of Passion to Continuously Achieve

Granta-Story

We are passionate about that moment when together we achieve with innovative automation beyond your expectations, and you begin your journey of continuous achievement.

Our many enjoyable hours of conceptualising, discussing, testing, prototyping, designing, drawing, manufacturing, programming and commissioning are over.   The moment has come when together we’re standing in front of the machine and you reach for the start button…

We watch the machine come to life; be it motors winding into action, pneumatics hissing, conveyors gently picking up speed, actuators gliding effortlessly, or robots uncurling, the machine becomes a hive of automated activity. Our hands run over the meticulously engineered framework of the machine as together we watch it produce something new and outstanding.

Captivated, we stand watching and smiles spread across our faces…. Coming out of the machine, quicker than ever before, is a freshly packed product, or something newly assembled, or even something that has changed colour… something new, changed and superior. From life saving devices to cleaning chemicals, from beautifully made furniture to solidly made construction products, or even tasty, freshly baked food… a revolution has occurred.   Our attention to detail has paid off, the machine is running like clockwork.  It’s your key to success!

Created with precision, care and skill, each machine is unique with its own distinct significance. Together we have created a machine that manufactures better, quicker, cheaper and more safely than ever before; producing products that make this world a better and happier place to live.

Together we are strengthening the heart of the UK’s economy and making a positive contribution to many people’s lives.

Before going to bed that evening you grab your smartphone and quickly log into your new automated machinery to find all is running well. Your head rests back on the pillow relaxed and happy; you have achieved, not just for today but for years to come.

Join us on the journey, come and share our passion to continuously achieve with automation. Are you ready?

Start this journey – contact us on 01223 499488 or helpline@granta-automation.co.uk 

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