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NEC, Birmingham(B40 1NT)

30/10/2019 - 31/10/2019

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From signal tower to Industry 4.0 machine and workstation monitor

From signal tower to Industry 4.0 machine and workstation monitor

Renowned for its signal towers and sounders, Werma has taken a fresh look at what are traditionally regarded as off-the-shelf, bolt-on machine accessories. Focusing on how the information from a product such as a signal tower could be integrated into the wider production control system, and how this could help manufacturers to improve their OEE scores, it has taken a systems approach to machine and workstation monitoring.

The result is SmartMonitor, an intelligent monitoring solution designed to help companies looking for a way to quickly and easily gather reliable data to optimise their manufacturing processes. SmartMonitor provides all of the relevant data for machines, systems and manual workstations easily at the touch of a button. Unlike other traditional and much more complex monitoring systems, Werma UK managing director Simon Adams explains that SmartMonitor is a simple, wireless-based retrofit solution for signalling and analysing your entire production facility –  at a glance.

In operation, as well as the signal tower itself providing local indication of machine status, that same data is highlighted on a higher-level screen, giving everyone who needs to know full access to productivity data. By reacting to the illuminated andon lights or by checking the status on the control station screen – or indeed by having a message sent to a smartphone – companies can shorten response times and optimise manufacturing processes, with the guarantee that they’ll never overlook a critical situation. Further, everything is documented and stored to a database, from which reports can be generated to highlight where improvements might be made to processes and productivity.

From a machine monitoring perspective, companies benefit from faster reaction to downtime, increased productivity, and an overview of the complete production facility. Importantly, Adams stresses that the system can be easily retrofitted to most machines and equipment, irrespective of age or type.

From a production monitoring perspective, companies benefit from transparency of the complete production facility, even when operations are spread over several buildings. SmartMonitor can help companies to identify free capacity, reduce downtime, and increase machine productivity. At the same time, it is easy to integrate manual workstations, with the potential to make virtually all aspects of a company’s production operations part of an Industry 4.0 architecture. In all, companies report significantly improved productivity, reduced waste, reduced costs and improved process times. The system is also readily scalable, so that you can integrate additional machines and workstations as required.

While SmartMonitor is new to the market, Werma can already point to trial installations where users have seen significant improvements in productivity. In one example, Adams highlights a company where a production manager noticed from the generated reports a regular pattern of downtime between production runs. Trying to understand why this was happening, the production manager spoke to the machine operator, who pointed out that he was quality checking each produced part before starting the machine on the next. On the face of it, this was a sensible move, but on looking at wastage rates it became apparent that there were very few errors – perhaps one in a couple of hundred. 

As a result, the production manager suggested that the operator start the machine on the next part while measuring the current part. The risk was that, in the worst case when an error was found, the company would wind up throwing away two scrap products instead of one. But, given the reject rates, this risk was far outweighed by the benefit of increased machine uptime.

Without the SmartMonitor, such an opportunity to increase productivity might never have been spotted.

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