The tendency in today’s world is to manage in an increasingly intelligent way and, unsurprisingly, this affects the industrial environment, the plants and industrial facilities in which the real-time planning and optimization of productive processes is fundamental for a business’ competitiveness. In practice, this is made possible through the incorporation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems that streamline business processes and significantly improve productivity. The "all connected" and "in time" production trend is now a reality, but this race towards innovation has its advantages and its disadvantages.
Let’s focus on the metal industry, where we are increasingly working to order and with tighter delivery times. We are all well aware of the inconveniences caused by having to squeeze in a new job, whether it’s an urgent order or a habitual production order, in the middle of a program of work orders which tend to be long and have tight deadlines themselves. The level of demand is substantial and, by prioritizing the most urgent orders you are sacrificing others, triggering the deceleration of production processes which may mean that you miss deadlines for the orders that are "less" urgent.
Being able to deal with these unexpected orders without the productivity and profitability level suffering is key. Let’s not forget that any unexpected job may imply additional costs, inconveniences and changes both in the allocation of materials at the work center and the optimization of nestings, to name but a few.
If we add additional variables that need to be met to the "puzzle" that is daily work and the optimum coordination and management of processes - such as agility, flexibility and a greater predictive ability when dispatching - the task of programming production becomes more complex. This situation highlights the importance of having a holistic and multidisciplinary vision of the factory’s activities to carry out a more effective and controlled programming that allows the plant to gain in competitiveness.
Optimizing and automatizing increasingly complex work loads
A factory is not confined to simply optimizing production, although this is fundamental, it should consider that systems are interacting with each other more and more. Nowadays, real-time planning, flexibility, speed and punctuality are increasingly valuable points if you want to compete in the metal transformation sector and be part of the Industry 4.0 ecosystem. Therefore, automatizing and optimizing workloads adequately, analyzing data properly in real time for greater efficiency in both IT and staff is essential.
To achieve this, solutions are required that are equipped with new functionalities that can significantly improve the way that these workloads are managed and simplify them, making it possible to react in time to resolve some situations and redirect others. It’s all about planning with time, coordinating machines, people and systems and seeing production as a whole, without islands. This is where the digital factory comes to mind with concepts such as Lantek Factory.
This approach tackles all of the aforementioned planning, automatizing and interconnecting, giving the production manager a holistic overview and greater decision-making power. This way, they can input production orders, visualize the status of the centers and perform corrections detecting the production capacity of each plant and, at all times, having a clear view of availability, being able to divert work from one center to another automatically to guarantee that orders are met, complying with standards and results as requested.
Subsequently, if the aim is to steer the productive process towards the intelligent factory, we must remember that the correct real-time management and planning of production has become, undoubtedly, one of the key features for the success of processes in the digital factories of the present and the future.