The Amper Way, Part 1: Why Machine Utilization Data Is Crucial

Adopting new technology in your shop can feel incredibly daunting. It requires a significant amount of resources, time, and effort, making it challenging to know where to even begin. Moreover, most vendors only care about your purchase—and then leave you to figure it all out after signing the contract. But it doesn’t have to be like that anymore. At Amper, we've developed a different approach to better serve manufacturers.

In this blog, we’ll explore the first of five phases of the Amper WayTM, a new phased adoption process designed to help manufacturers navigate the process of implementing shop floor technology in a simple, manageable way—with no hassle and no overwhelm.

The Need for a Better Approach to Technology Adoption

Adopting new technology often feels like exercising. Everyone says you should do it and you know the long-term benefits are worth it. But getting started is, frankly, the absolute worst. So how do you start? Start small! Taking a small first step can be simple and impactful.

Starting small and having a clear path forward eliminates that daunting feeling that comes with plans for digitization. We noticed that manufacturers kept delaying crucial technology investments because they saw implementation as a single, massive project and therefore felt too overwhelmed to start.

That’s exactly why we developed the Amper Way: a flexible, phased approach to adoption with five easy-to-implement steps. It’s a roadmap to adoption and long-term success (kind of like the Couch-to-5K program).

The best part is that you can move through the phases at your own pace according to your needs and resources and you’ll still get value at every step the whole time you’re there. Since you get paired with a dedicated Customer Success Engineer, you have the support and guidance you need to grow into the Amper Way.

Phase 1: Measuring True Machine Utilization and Empowering the Team

The first phase of the Amper Way delivers instant ways to understand and improve your factory. It entails measuring true machine utilization and empowering operators with useful tools. This pairing is crucial for successful adoption. Without introducing ways to support operators, they'll just feel like you've started watching and tracking their every move—which doesn't exactly lead to a supportive work culture. We'll get into why utilization data is important first, and then what you can do to empower your operators.

Measuring your true machine utilization is an essential first step because it establishes a baseline you can use to measure progress. (After all, what gets measured gets improved!) Without this first step, you won’t know where to make adjustments for increased capacity or be able to track OEE (if that’s one of your goals).

Utilization data provides you with real-time insights into machine performance, allowing you to analyze trends in capacity and runtime. This information can then be used to address unused capacity and improve overall shift performance.

Now, it is equally important to pair this monitoring with operator enablement tools to ensure successful adoption. Operators can sometimes perceive machine utilization tracking as a Big Brother initiative, making them feel like you’re watching their every move. This oftentimes leads to mistrust and resistance to new technology, so it’s vital to alleviate concerns by pairing these kinds of initiatives with tools that can help make their jobs and performance easier.

That’s why Phase 1 is all about monitoring utilization and providing your operators with helpful tools. Amper’s Call Team and andon communication feature, for instance, allows operators to call for help without leaving their stations, eliminating the need to wander around the facility for support. That means a higher utilization for you (since they'll be at their stations more) as well as a streamlined support process and better experience for them.

It also means that operators view new technology as a helpful tool for them to do their job, and not as a way to keep tabs on their work. This extremely important for the adoption of your digitization initiatives. 

In short, this phase of the Amper Way focuses on getting the most out of your machines and setting your operators up for success. 

The Importance and Benefits of Machine Utilization

In a broad sense, manufacturing KPIs are the answer when it comes to objectively understanding your operations and making sound judgment calls. While the ultimate bottom line and P&L statements are your long-term output metrics, they are lagging indicators and don’t offer actionable opportunities on a daily basis.

However, having a clear set of meaningful manufacturing KPIs can impact your ultimate financial goals by allowing you to measure your daily performance and make improvements as you go. One of these KPIs is—you guessed it—machine utilization.

The less your machines are in use, the fewer parts you produce. And of course, the fewer parts you produce, the less money you make. So measuring machine utilization tells you where to make changes to boost margins. Let’s look at some of the benefits in detail.

Identify Inefficiencies

Utilization is an essential metric for manufacturers because it provides a clear picture of how efficiently equipment and labor are being used. Real-time utilization data enables managers to identify trends in bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and downtime in production and take corrective action. Utilization data can also be used to identify underutilized equipment or personnel, which can be addressed to improve efficiency.

Understand Shift Performance

Want to know if you’re winning or losing the day at any given moment? One significant benefit of measuring utilization is that it provides manufacturers with real-time insights into shift performance. This information enables managers to identify trends and patterns in production, allowing them to make data-driven decisions to improve efficiency and productivity.

Maximize Capacity

Utilization data can also be used to make plans to maximize capacity. By identifying areas of unused capacity, manufacturers can take action to increase productivity without having to make significant investments in new equipment or personnel.

Overall, having a high utilization rate indicates that you’re making the most out of your (very expensive) machines. High utilization leads to higher productivity and therefore higher profits, meaning you can afford to take on business costs (e.g. labor, utilities, raw materials), invest in new equipment (hello, increased capacity), take on new contracts, and delight customers with on-time delivery.

For more benefits and use cases related to utilization, check out Everything You Need to Know About Machine Utilization.

What to Do With Your Utilization Data

Utilization data can be used in various ways, including visual management, reports, and decision-making regarding maintenance, purchases, and labor. Utilization data provides managers with insights into how equipment and labor are being used, allowing them to make data-driven decisions to improve efficiency and productivity.

Visual Management

Visual management is a powerful tool for manufacturers because it enables managers to see real-time information about production. This information can be displayed on a screen or dashboard, providing a quick overview of how equipment and labor are being used. (See Amper's Scoreboard below). 

At Amper, we’ve even seen customers improve utilization by as much as 20% purely because of the Hawthorne Effect, which is the phenomenon where behavior changes because people are aware they’re being observed.

amper scoreboard


Utilization reports are another valuable tool for manufacturers. Reports can be used to provide detailed information about your productivity, including utilization rates, downtime, and shift performance. This information can be used to identify areas with room for improvement and to make data-driven decisions about maintenance, purchases, and labor.

utilization reports


Continuous Improvement

Utilization data can also be used to inform operations adjustments. By analyzing utilization data, managers can identify areas where improvements can be made and take corrective action to improve efficiency and productivity.

Utilization for CI projects

Answers Derived From Measuring Utilization

What are my machines doing right now?

What does a good day look like? A bad day?

Which shifts perform better than others?

Which machines are my problem machines?

Do I have machines with unused capacity? Any that are at capacity?

Which machines are my biggest money makers?

How much is my downtime costing me?

Which machines are starting late/stopping early?

Phase 1 in Real Life: Using Utilization Data for Forecasting and Capacity Planning

Belden Universal implemented Amper to get real-time visibility. Within two weeks, Belden could see machine status and utilization at any given time. The utilization data alone revealed they could delay buying two machines, saving $50,000 in annual interest expenses alone. Additionally, they were able to recover hours of capacity that added up to a 10x ROI on their Amper purchase.

Watch the video above or read the full case study to see everything Belden does with their utilization data.

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