Achieving smart manufacturing isn’t necessarily about driving one giant digital revolution in your factory; it can be a step-by-step process using cost-effective upgrades to produce incremental efficiencies in your quality process and, in turn, savings for your business.
We talk about ‘the journey towards the smart factory’, but in truth smart manufacturing is not a destination that you reach then sit back and enjoy the view. Yes, there are objectives that you want to reach, whether that’s increased throughput, improving time-to-market, or driving right-first-time manufacturing. But when you achieve these goals, the journey doesn’t end there.
And we’re not necessarily talking here about continuous improvement or aiming for the next level of productivity, although of course that is important for growth. What we’re talking about is maintaining the intelligence that you’ve achieved.
In many ways, the smart factory is like the human brain. A multitude of different processes are connected and communicating across different regions. They are optimised for analysing data efficiently, making informed decisions based on that data, and using intelligence to adapt accordingly. But just as the brain needs the right nutrients, exercise and care to function at its best, the smart factory needs the right input and maintenance too.
Of course, maintenance typically means to keep something in good working condition. When we hear the word in relation to quality systems, we might immediately think of repair work or preventative maintenance. Of course, these activities are important to avoid downtime and keep your machine and quality operations up and running. But ‘smart’ is in one sense a relative term; in the context of the smart factory, maintenance is also about keeping up with the latest advancements to stay smart.
Take metrology software, for example. As you read this, there is almost certainly a developer somewhere in the world working on some coding or testing out a new feature of their metrology software. Metrology software is continually improved. New versions are released regularly, with enhanced capabilities, improvements, and bug removals. So what was smart metrology software a few years ago, might still be effective, but is no longer the smartest. What’s more, it is eventually unsupported.
That’s why maintenance is so important. It keeps systems running in the smartest way possible. It protects your investment so you keep getting returns, maybe even improving them. The smartest way to maintain your quality system is through a maintenance agreement. Guaranteed hardware and software maintenance means getting periodic support or timely repair work when you need it and staying up to date with the latest software updates and innovations.
Factories and brains are primed to be smart, but without the right care they can easily go the other way! Let’s make manufacturing smarter and keep it smarter.
To learn more about how your existing Hexagon CMMs can begin their journey to towards the smart factory, download the free Simple steps to smart manufacturing eBook.