Optimise processes in manual production with data analytics

Shopfloor without a black box

Manual work steps within production processes are a reality – even in the digital shop floor. However, from a data point of view, manual workstations are a black box. While machines and robots provide vast amounts of data, which can be used to analyse the productivity, data is recorded at the manual workstation using paper lists. Even if spreadsheet programs such as Excel are used, information has to be actively entered into these programs by the worker.

This takes time and this data is also not reliable. However, to determine key figures such as productivity, the production and assembly managers require valid data. This is the only way to display the digital comparison of irregularities within individual work steps, to determine causes and, in the end, to optimise the entire production process.

OEE – the key figure for overall equipment effectiveness

For the productivity of systems, the parameters for availability, output and quality are crucial. If these are multiplied together, this results in the handy OEE key figure: Overall Equipment Effectiveness.

What looks simple in the formula is not easy to implement in practice. The main reason for this is the availability of data – which is not just the case for manual workstations. On the other hand, the key figure also has psychological aspects. For workers, it mostly means bad news, paired with the feeling of always being watched.

Until now, there were no suitable sensors in the manual production to confirm when a work step had actually been completed. Specified time intervals may include interruptions in which no work is carried out. Or there are also idle times in which no work is carried out, because the interval is too long. In both cases, this should be corrected. However, to do this, data about the actual duration of the work steps is required.

This is where the Smart Klaus assistance system comes into play. The new version of this system can store visual data from the production process and, as part of the production data acquisition (PDA), map this in the digital shadows.

Integrating the "human factor" into the analysis

For PDA, man and machine form one unit using the Smart Klaus worker assistance system. The manual workstation is therefore integrated into the PDA without media disruption. Data, such as quantity, number of corrections or downtime, is stored for each shift and can be displayed directly in the system on a simple dashboard or can be loaded into an ERP tool for further analysis.

Documented processes are not only important for production managers, but also for production employees, since they guarantee transparency. A key aspect in the overall shopfloor management. Data plausibly demonstrates why changes must be made in order to execute customer orders in optimum time.

With the integration of OEE-relevant data from the Smart Klaus assistance system, another milestone is possible in the digitalisation of the shopfloor – we are no longer talking about the black box at the manual workstation.