Industry 4.0
Machine monitoring
KPIs & data

How to Avoid Production Disasters: The Key to Stopping Issues Before It's Too Late

In manufacturing, time is money. Every second counts! We probably don’t need to tell you that any unexpected production hiccup can be quite costly. This isn’t just because you’re shipping less product than you have the potential to, but also because it could lead to customer dissatisfaction and churn. Let’s talk about how to avoid that. 

At Amper, we speak to dozens of manufacturers every week. One common challenge always crops up: the struggle to promptly detect when a machine goes down or when a job veers off course. 

Sound familiar? You're far from alone. It's a story we hear all the time: a tale of machines sitting idle or broken down for way too long before anyone notices, resulting in frustrating productivity losses and expensive delays. 

Similarly, when a job goes off track, it often flies under the radar until someone goes around collecting data and crunching numbers. This delay in detection not only disrupts production schedules but also leads to increased material waste and higher labor costs required to rectify the situation.

Plus, failing to detect production hiccups in a timely manner has more than just financial consequences. Production surprises are also stressful and overwhelming! Aren’t you tired of losing sleep over your bottom line, commitments to customers, and reputation?

There’s one clear culprit here: a lack of real-time information. Without these insights, manufacturers can’t know what’s happening on their shop floor at any given moment. As a result, they spend their valuable time scrambling to put out fires instead of strategizing to prevent them altogether. In other words, they’re running operations reactively instead of proactively. 

Because of this reactive position, manufacturers usually try to increase capacity by throwing money at their problems. This might look like buying new equipment or spending more on employee overtime. But what if manufacturers could increase capacity without more resources? What if they could find and unlock the hidden capacity lurking in their inefficiencies? It’s possible—and simpler than you might think.

3 Ways to Escalate Production Issues Faster

There are three strategies that manufacturers can use if they’re ready to put down the fire extinguisher and start running predictable operations. The most important one is effective information radiation. In other words, you need a good way to make sure everyone in your shop is on the same page about how production is going and what needs to be done. 

Then, to further strengthen your new process-oriented shop, you’ll need an automated alerting system and tools to empower your operators, so they can get more work done with less hassle. 

Let’s dive into what these strategies might look like.

1. Information Radiation

At the core of smooth operations is strong communication. Keeping everyone in your plant informed—from the floor to the office—is essential if you want to hit those production targets. 

How do you even begin tackling this vague concept of communication? We suggest establishing a single source of truth and then finding a way of disseminating its information throughout your shop. 

Single Source of Truth

For this part, you need a solution that captures real-time data about your entire plant (that means machines, people, and jobs) and delivers centralized insights everyone can use. Your teams should be able to find data on downtime, utilization, part counts, root causes, and more in the same place.

Data Dissemination

Once you have a reliable way to collect live production insights, make this data visible everywhere and make it easy to access. This can be in the form of large screens or tablets throughout your shop, for example. 

While many manufacturers use whiteboards, Excel, and paper hour-by-hour sheets, these methods take too much time out of people’s schedules. So not only is it costly in terms of labor, but if someone misses any details, you’ll also be making decisions with inaccurate or outdated data. That’s just as bad as having no data at all!

Sure, these methods are effective to some extent, but they often fall short when it comes to preventing production surprises. After all, what good is information if it's only available after the fact, once it's too late to act? 

Having the ability to quickly check where your machines and jobs stand at any given minute will be invaluable for making immediate adjustments to get production back on track. No more waiting around, no more surprises, and no more expensive overtime to fix things.

2. Alerting Systems

Every manufacturer wants to prevent production issues. The next best thing is finding out about problems as soon as they crop up and nipping them in the bud. The key to this is notifying the right people at the right time (immediately). This can take the form of a simple light system on a machine or a more sophisticated automated alerting system. 

Having these instant insights will help you come up with solutions before problems escalate to full-blown disasters. Plus, the more you can problem-solve proactively, the more time you’ll have to investigate root causes and develop meaningful strategies to prevent future problems. A life free of production hiccups could be just a few automated alerts away. 

3. Operator Communication

Being on the shop floor is a huge communication hurdle. There are no computers for Slack or email, often no service for texting, and certainly no quiet corners for phone calls. Consequently, operators often have to leave their posts to look for a manager or wait for someone to come around before escalating an issue. 

To eliminate production interruptions, operators need a reliable way to communicate issues quickly and without having to traipse around the shop floor. This includes bringing production problems to their managers, requesting support from maintenance teams, or summoning the materials team for quality assurances. 

Amper Brings Issues to You Sooner

Amper is all about enabling smooth and predictable operations. Our solution turns your scattered shop floor data into centralized insights for all your teams to use. With this real-time single source of truth, there’s visibility for everyone, everywhere, all the time—whether on the floor or off the floor. 

Let’s dive into Amper’s best tools for preventing production surprises.

Visual Management: Scoreboards and Hour-by-Hour Boards

Visual management is a powerful tool for keeping track of operations. Having an easy way to check where your machines, people, and jobs stand is crucial for making timely and informed decisions. 

Scoreboard

Our Scoreboard feature serves as a central hub of information. It’s a real-time dashboard that displays machine status, utilization, operators on shift, downtime length and reasons, OEE, cycle times, and more. 

Amper customers usually display the Scoreboard on a large screen on the shop floor and central office location. With critical data at your fingertips when you need it most, the Scoreboard is the perfect antidote to information bottlenecks and miscommunication headaches.

I’m always looking at the Scoreboard because I can see in real time if machines are up or not. I can see if they’re on setup… without leaving my desk. We’ve seen value with Amper just because of how quickly I can get answers to other people in production when they have questions.
— Alex Hahn, Production Manager, Belden Universal

Hour-by-Hour Boards

Amper’s hour-by-hour (HxH) board is one of our latest features. It’s already so well loved, one of our customers called it “the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen.” 

In essence, the HxH board makes hourly visual management easier than ever. This real-time dashboard provides a visual view of your production status over the last 24 hours. Easily see if jobs and machines are on track and quickly spot any deviations from the plan to take immediate action.

Automated Downtime Alerts and More 

If you love the idea of knowing your production status without leaving your desk, you’ll also love Amper’s automated alerts. Choose from preexisting options or set up custom scenarios to make sure the right people get notified as soon as a particular issue occurs. 

For instance, Amper can automatically notify your maintenance supervisor when a machine goes down, completely eliminating those end-of-day surprises that throw everything off track and suck up resources.

Downtime alerts were a gamechanger at SWD, a metal finishing and fastener sorting company in Illinois. It would generally take 30-60 minutes for a manager to be alerted to problems, followed by up to an hour of information gathering before breakdowns could be addressed. 

Now, with Amper, when a machine malfunctions, the system immediately issues text or email alerts to the appropriate personnel, so problems can be fixed right away.

Immediately, our level of insight increased, and the quality of our data improved. Not only could we compare downtime data more effectively across shifts, but it reduced the amount of time managers spent collecting data from up to five hours per week to just 20 minutes per week.
— Karyme Molina, Operations Transformation Leader, SWD

Call Team

Amper’s Call Team feature streamlines communication by providing a one-click solution for operators to summon assistance as soon as issues arise. It also measures response times to those assistance requests, making it easier to hold all your team members accountable and identifying opportunities to improve responses to production challenges.

In addition to response times, you can easily review how many Call Team alerts are going out. If you see there are requests going out more frequently than you’d like, it can be a helpful indicator that you may need to hire more maintenance or materials team members. 

Our customers often see that the Call Team feature greatly increases operator buy-in and morale. Having tools that are just for them make them feel heard and supported instead of monitored. 

There’s a ‘call team’ button, and when an operator runs into a problem that’s going to prevent him from maximizing his output for the day, he clicks on “call team” and it automatically texts the right people. The operators quickly saw, ‘hey, they’re serious about this. I’ve got an issue, I click the button, the materials manager shows up.
— Ryan Roberson, President, Master Power Transmission

See These Features in Action

Wondering how these features might impact your operations? Drop us a line and let us show you! 

Your Partner for Clear and Predictable Operations

We believe that running your shop shouldn’t be so damn hard. That’s why Amper strives to make production issues a thing of the past. With a product designed by manufacturers, for manufacturers, your success is our main priority. 

Our production management software helps you stay ahead of the curve, run a smooth shop, and ultimately, keep production disasters at bay. When you choose Amper, you make every minute on the shop floor count. 

Ready to try the easiest way to run an efficient and profitable shop? Get in touch to schedule your product demo and discuss our free trial program!

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