Connecting Workers in the Factory – Driving Productivity via Real-Time Access to Data and Collaboration
This year’s theme at Hannover revolves around this concept. The networking of people, machines, and data are created through common platforms where they exchange and multiply their knowledge. The role of humans is that of an enabler. The production of tomorrow is not possible without their process knowledge and their diverse qualifications. Industrial Intelligence, therefore, stands for the expansion of knowledge management and the training of knowledge carriers.
Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to completely change the way we solve problems, make decisions, and work as a team within our industrial environments.
Today, when problems occur on the factory floor, every second to respond and correct the issues collectively cost manufacturers billions of dollars in lost productivity each year. Unplanned downtime can cost $20,000 per minute or more, so the clock is ticking. In many cases, the maintenance teams on-site lack the expertise and knowledge required to troubleshoot and solve the problems themselves. Industry challenges including an aging workforce have created a knowledge gap in factory operations and imposed a reliance on younger, less experienced workers on the floor. The information required to address the issue quickly resides in the heads of seasoned workers and remote experts located around the world, and in vast repositories of technical manuals and work instructions, and in some cases within the machines themselves. The time and costs required to gather relevant data and assemble remote experts on-site to analyze the situation and effect repairs are significant. But what if there was a better way?
The obvious solution is to leverage technology to connect the factory workers with remote experts and the data they need to solve the problem quickly. Typically, this communication is handled using rudimentary voice-only technology such as conversing one-to-one over hand-held walkie-talkies and sharing of data via email attachments and fax. This approach presents two challenges; the remote experts can’t visually observe the actual happenings on the factory floor, and the shared information isn’t readily accessible to those directly working on the problem.
By connecting workers on the factory floor with advanced mobile collaboration and data sharing solutions, maintenance workers can easily identify and connect with teams of remote experts and access relevant data to analyze and solve problems quickly. Integrated video conferencing, chat, photo capture, whiteboarding and augmented reality provides a rich collaborative experience that empowers factory workers and reduces downtime.
This presentation will provide an industry solutions approach. My conversation at Hannover Messe will provide specific examples detailing how humans gain productivity in the work environment in the context of Industrie 4.0, including:
- Increased worker productivity through virtual remediation, mentoring and training on the factory floor
- Reduced response and repair times for factory floor equipment and systems, as remote experts virtually collaborate over mobile devices in real time at the point of the issue.
- Improved equipment utilization and reduce operating costs through greater equipment uptime
- Enhanced recruiting and development of next-generation workforce trained by seasoned remote experts located anywhere in the world