Can You Handle a Manufacturing Knuckleball?
It’s that time of year again: baseball playoffs. The top teams in both leagues are squaring off against one another this fall. One of the charms of baseball is that the best players make the game look easy. But it’s more difficult than it seems—especially hitting.
Consider the knuckleball: baseball’s weirdest, most interesting pitch. This pitch slowly bobs, weaves, and flutters its way to home plate. It’s completely unpredictable—even pitchers and catchers don’t know where it will go. Hitters hate the knuckleball. It makes them look helpless and can throw off their rhythm for days.
What if you had to face a knuckleball every day?
Knuckleballs are rare in today’s game, but what if you had to face something just as unpredictable every day on the factory floor? It’s hard to plan for the unexpected when you lack visibility into your environment.
According to a recent study, 77% of manufacturers rated responding to unforeseen events as a top challenge. Factory machines can be sensitive to all kinds of variables that we can’t always predict or control. Anything from a slight rise in operating temperature to unexpected vibrations or overdue maintenance can put a finely calibrated production line at risk.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) rapidly matures, manufacturing environments are getting more connected and complex. It’s crucial to understand and react to everything that’s happening as the connections between the data center, factory floor, people, and devices multiply.
Big data can help you read the signs in advance
When you digitize the manufacturing environment, you gain real-time access to all the data in your connected environment to make better decisions.
For example, Daimler Trucks North America uses the insights provided by Cisco’s IoT solutions to boost its agility and minimize production issues.
“We produce and collect a massive amount of data to understand where we are during the assembly of the truck. Now we can provide dashboard information to management, stay informed about any parts shortages, and know the status of the vehicle in real time, any time.” – Dieter Haban, CIO of Daimler Trucks North America
In a survey by SCM World, more than 40% of participants expected smart manufacturing to help them exceed their target for world-class overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The study showed an average improvement in OEE of up to 16%.
Keeping your starters in the game with connected machines
The IoT not only helps you see what’s coming next, but helps you discover and solve potential problems in advance. With connected machines, you can network machines and factory robots beyond the plant floor all the way to the machine builders who created them. By reducing downtime, you’ll keep your most important players in the game.
For example, downtime costs an average of $22,000 per minute for automobile manufacturers. Fanuc America is helping its manufacturing customers save an estimated $40 million in downtime with connected machines.
And machine manufacturer Mazak improved its machine utilization by double digits using the solution.
Cisco can help you get in front of the next pitch
Manufacturing is changing fast and there will always be unpredictable challenges. But with a good eye, you’ll have a better idea of when the next knuckleball is coming your way.
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