The myth of process optimization

Last updated on October 25th, 2022

Has modern manufacturing lost sight of its end goal? Many precision manufacturers see process optimization as their key objective – built on a solid foundation of advanced equipment automation and comprehensive data collection systems. Deloitte notes that manufacturers are increasingly making advances and getting results from more connected, reliable, efficient, and predictive plant processes. The common belief is that once precision manufacturers have their processes optimized, the parts they create will fall in line as well. But therein lies the myth: that process optimization equates to part optimization. The reality is that you need a solution dedicated to part quality to achieve part optimization. 

Let’s break it down. In what many believe is an ideal Industry 4.0 world, you would rely on the following systems as part of your future-forward manufacturing tech stack.

Manufacturing tech stack

If we look at the above pyramid from the bottom up, all the necessary systems seem to be in place, including: 

  • PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) Sensors and Signals  
    At the bottom of the pyramid are the sensors and signals that your manufacturing engineers rely on every day to keep lines running and to control the stations that build your parts. 

  • Asset Management and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)  
    As you start working up the pyramid, you get into the tools that capture data, process it, and provide feedback, enabling supervisory control over all your different lines, as well as asset and inventory management. 

  • Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Statistical Process Control (SPC) 
    Further up the pyramid, you have MES and SPC software which work together to help control, analyze, and manage processes and ensure that consistency and standards are met.  

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) 
    At the top of the pyramid you have your ERP software, which manages all of your organization’s day-to-day business operations, from manufacturing to the supply chain to sales to finance to HR and everything in between. 

All of the layers of this pyramid would have been carefully put in place over time, from asset management software through to business management tools. Yet here’s the kicker: they are only tangentially related to the ultimate purpose of your business building a part! Using this system, when you see defects in your plant or warranty stream, there is no way to know if it is partrelated, processrelated, or equipment-related so all avenues need to be investigated.  

The Missing Piece of the Pyramid

While all of the systems in the above pyramid are critical to Industry 4.0, none of them is focused on optimizing parts. Process optimization does not simply equate to part optimization. Instead, part quality is normally part of a secondary analysis, figured out through subtraction, with data pulled from the many peripheral systems that aren’t targeting the quality of specific parts. This puts manufacturers in a reactive, firefighting posture.  

The ideal Industry 4.0 factory should actually look like the pyramid below. It should include intelligent part analytics software that proactively provides data to optimize part quality, detect defects, provide root cause analysis, and improve first time yield. Only then will you be able to transition from firefighter to manufacturer.  

Manufacturing tech stack Industry 4.0

Part Analytics Software Is the Key to Part Optimization

It’s true that many companies are still in the process of adding the grey layers to their pyramid. But the ideal factory of the future looks like the pyramid above, with a dedicated part quality solution, and that’s where we can help.  

Our LinePulse software is a manufacturing analytics solution that focuses exclusively on the part, part quality and how it is affected by the manufacturing process. This is especially critical for precision manufacturers since every product and process is unique, and there are no standardized procedures to follow when developing an optimal manufacturing process.  

Deloitte reports that 93% of manufacturers believe AI will be a pivotal technology to drive their growth and innovation. LinePulse helps precision manufacturers build better parts more efficiently, by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) to product and production data.  

By aggregating and analyzing all relevant data from all sources, LinePulse can provide you with a real-time view across the manufacturing line to improve production quality. It then provides insights so you can develop data-driven action plans that increase efficiency, flag where to look for failures, avoid problems proactively, and solve issues faster. 

Want to learn more? Get in touch. 

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