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Tuesday | 15 August, 2017 | 10:41 am

Data-driven dynamic

By Corinna Petry

Above: Companies want to understand what stops a line and how that impacts each and every other process on the floor.

Startup assists OEMs, end users and fabricators in managing their productivity using targeted, real-time information

August 2017 - IT departments tend to get excited about technology developments, but it’s sometimes a hard sell both in the C-suite and on the production line. Executives and managers worry they’ll spend too many hours improving processes that their team might not adapt to, or even that employees might detest an intrusion in how they do things.

On the other hand, what many companies have begun to realize is that minute bits of data have value, and if you could gather, analyze and employ the knowledge gained from that data—to create quality scheduling, to even out workflows and significantly benefit the bottom line, why not pursue the opportunity?

Industrial Intelligence, co-founded by Steve Leebow, Darren Tessitore and Brent Hill, started up in January 2017 in Kennesaw, Georgia. The end-to-end smart manufacturing solution Industrial Intelligence designed is already proving to be of great value to Pacesetter Steel’s three service centers in Atlanta, Chicago and Houston, according to CEO Aviva Leebow Wolmer and Vice President of Operations Tyler Grahovec.

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Smart manufacturing is as much about connecting people with real-time intel as it is about networking machinery.

But first, what is smart manufacturing? Industrial Intelligence COO Tessitore explains that his firm goes into factories to conduct “a detailed assessment, looking for key data points that aren’t being utilized, and we design a solution to gather and analyze those data points.”

Say you are making widgets and you do not have a grasp of actual downtime on a particular manufacturing line. “We connect to the machine and tell you when it is and when it is not running, and provide analytic information as well as the reasons why the line is not up and running.”

Information connection

In another scenario, “your coils or pallets aren’t at the manufacturing line. Now you can let the key people in the factory know what’s happening in real time and why it’s happening.” It is very uncommon, says Tessitore, that manufacturing companies, fabricators and OEMs know how to gather this information. By using smart manufacturing, “we reach out to people, processes and machines and create data connectivity.” Industrial Intelligence will select key points along the production chain, assess the information and provide visibility of this information in displays, graphs and reports. In addition, the firm will create real-time alerts of what’s happening, and prompt operators, plant managers, heads of manufacturing, and other executives to take actions to improve productivity.

“Our solutions utilize hardware and software. The hardware connects to machines and pulls data. We connect to most machines through programmable logic controllers (PLC).” The software will sift through actual data to allow analytics to compare different data points and provide actionable intelligence, says Tessitore.

Any tablet or smart phone can view dashboards and reports. The software helps users to “understand and correlate data which for example can be used to create predictive maintenance alerts,” he says.

End to end

“What makes us different is we are not just a software platform,” Tessitore says. “A lot of customers don’t have the expertise of where to begin.” The process appears to be confusing, time consuming and expensive. Industrial Intelligence has created a solution that is not confusing, is not time consuming and is relatively inexpensive and easy to implement, the co-founders say.

Bottom line, says Tessitore, is that “we want to make manufacturing more productive, efficient and profitable by bringing it up to speed with technology known as IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things).”

Getting a report, a day after a downtime event happens is not productive. But, “if the plant manager can be alerted by text message that Line X has been down for 30 minutes, and he can discover in real time what the problem is, he can take action. IIoT allows us to alert anyone at any time of anything we want, giving management true actionable intelligence.”

One significant feature within  the solution is how to automatically track downtime without manual entry. “Using IIoT technology, we are able to provide [the necessary information] and evaluate the reason that downtime has occurred,” says Tessitore.

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The trick is how to present the data and make it useful to operators at the line level. The guy at the line needs one view; the floor manager needs another. As you roll up the company, you need to have different ‘looks’.

Root causes

Wolmer says she brought this project to Pacesetter because “we wanted to find out where we had operating inefficiencies and the reason for those inefficiencies. We wanted to understand where we were stopping manufacturing lines and the root causes.” She credits the operations vice president and plant manager with working with the Industrial Intelligence team to pilot the solution.

The main benefit, says Wolmer, is that “we learned the different reasons for downtime, found the things that were causing problem ,and started working on solutions. We reorganized some processes based on the data analysis. We are able to do more with less and this has been effective in helping us service our customers. It is making us better at providing the ultimate customer experience.”

Implementation

Grahovec says the process of collecting and interpreting data began long before 2017. It started with Pacesetter’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Over time, “We took different business problems and tied in sensors with our ERP. We designed first-generation dashboards to understand how our equipment is performing generally.

“We have tons of data out there,” he says. “You can pull data from almost anything. The trick is how to present the data and make it useful to operators at the line level. The guy at the line needs one view; the floor manager needs another. As you roll up the company, you need to have different ‘looks’. The line level must know what’s going on instantly. But the managers must study the information historically—for the week, month, quarter and year, and focus on attacking the low-hanging fruit.”

Basically, the company needs to understand what’s stopping a multimillion-dollar production line from working efficiently and how that integrates with each and every other process. Before implementing this solution, Grahovec and his team received a spreadsheet of information from the day before. “But we didn’t have a handle on what we were had accomplished. We wanted real-time data to fix things faster. Due to the smart manufacturing solution, Industrial Intelligence has streamlined our operations. The next step is to have them integrate predictive maintenance tools.”

Spreading the word

Now, Pacesetter is using tablets for key personnel to make sure everyone is connected and, says Grahovec, “the reports sent to the tablets will be customized for each user.”

He feels that using Industrial Intelligence’s solutions, the company will reduce many waste producing activities, such as paperwork and unnecessary movement of people and materials.

Wolmer says she believes “this technology is great for us and for manufacturers in many different industries We will use Industrial Intelligence to bring [the resource] to some of our customers’ facilities.” MM

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