Example of utilizing QUICCA: VOL. 6
To the management and executives of food factories,
How about starting with "visualization" to introduce IoT?
Food factories are now actively introducing IoT. The factors behind this shift include chronic labor shortages, aging workers, and a remarkable rise in material cost. The objectives of the introduction of IoT include improvement in production efficiency, preventive maintenance, information sharing, paperless work, and the acceleration of decision-making to utilize resources (manpower, equipment, and money) effectively. On the other hand, we often hear that companies that have introduced IoT systems with too many functions have not experienced the investment returns that they expected. In this document, we drastically narrow down the objectives and describe the effect of "visualization," which is the basis of IoT, on increasing motivation in production line employees.
Introduction situations for IoT
The number of food products manufacturers who wish to introduce IoT in order to increase productivity has been steadily increasing. According to the results of a questionnaire administered to our clients, 72% of respondents are interested in IoT, 40% of whom have already introduced or will introduce IoT. These percentages are high.
Why does IoT often not work well?
There are two possible reasons.
1. Greatly different perceptions within the company
Companies are attracted by descriptions, such as "improving operational efficiency in all departments," which are written in IoT system catalogues. On the other hand, due to the large amount of investment, there are both expectations and anxieties when introducing a new IoT system. When the staff responsible for introducing an IoT system collects IoT-related requests from workers in the company, they are often surprised by how different perceptions are among departments and hierarchies. The staff typically tries to convince the workers, who are skeptical about or place excessive expectations on IoT, of the actual state of the technology. However, since the staff inevitably must engage in coordination after the introduction of the IoT system, they often become mentally exhausted.
2. Lack of staff who know IoT well
The forerunners of introducing IoT include automotive manufacturers and electronics device manufacturers. Their precondition for IoT use is that they will be able to establish a large-scale IoT system. Accordingly, they employ engineers who are dedicated to IoT. On the other hand, many of food manufactures are middle- or small-sized companies that desperately lack engineers who understand IoT.
Now, we would like to propose starting with "visualization" if they want to introduce IoT. So, where would "visualization" be sure to have an effect?
"Visualization" should be shared with production line workers.
The targets of "visualization" differ depending on job categories or hierarchies in the company. We believe that the targets need to be shared with workers in higher or lower positions through meetings or discussions. In order to secure agreement on or gain cooperation for the decisions you make, you need to use easily understandable figures and graphs to reinforce your argument.
Suppose that you are a manager (production line manager or team leader) of a production line. Consider the best way to inform workers on the production line about your expectations.
Information that should be "visualized" differs depending on position.
Production line workers
Production line manager (team leader)
- I don't want to work overtime. -Who can I rely on when I have problems?
- I want to produce products according to the production plan. -I want to improve yield.
- I want to show the results of improvement in monetary terms.
- With the current production equipment, we cannot increase production output.
- We need a sales amount and profit that match our investment.
- I want the employees to understand how our company should be.
Sharing information with production line workers in real time
Generally, food production processes have features such as short lead time, high-mix small-lot production, and susceptibility to changes in raw materials or climate. Therefore, they require daily monitoring and flexible measures. By "visualizing" the production processes at the production site, you, the production line manager, can encourage product line workers to "do our best," showing visual data such as graphs and target figures. Furthermore, devising how to show such visual data is expected to naturally improve the awareness and actions of production line workers. We would like to introduce some examples of "visualization" enabled by QUICCA, our total quality control system.
Goals of the team leader: To stick to the production schedule. To reduce the number of defective products. To activate QC activities of the employees.
Information to be shared with production line workers: Production start time, estimated production end time, time at which a temporary line stop occurred, target quantity, and production statistics (number of good/rejected products)
Information sharing methods:
1. Constantly displaying QUICCA’s "production progress monitor"
2. Installing a large monitor exclusively used for QUICCA in a place that allows the workers around it to easily view it
3. The production line manager carries a tablet to check problems and improvement results at any time.
Awareness of production line workers changes remarkably.
We often hear from our clients that the awareness of production line workers greatly changed after introducing QUICCA. We are told that such production line workers make supportive statements including those given below.
- I began to be worried about temporary line stops shown in red in the graph. Now, they naturally seem to be a waste of time.
- In the graph, when the line showing the actual production is above the line showing the production plan, I am satisfied. I can concentrate on QC activities when I finish my work faster than usual.
- When I am able to exactly predict production end time, I can smoothly prepare for cleanup and go home earlier, which makes me happy.
- Understanding the meanings of the indexes (percentages of rejects, overall equipment effectiveness [OEE], etc.) motivates me to improve them.
- The production line manager immediately shows me the graph indicating the degree of production efficiency improvement before and after implementation of improvement activities. This increases my motivation.
- When the production line manager told production line workers, including myself, at morning assembly that the progress in the next process is 30% slower than the original plan, I was more inclined to provide support for the next process during my spare time.
- I suggested to the leader that we should increase daily production amount because we were not so busy that day.
- The atmosphere of the entire workplace seems to have improved. The number of improvement suggestions has also increased.
How much is the cost of "visualization"?
The table below shows the cost of introducing the Standard Edition of QUICCA.
(Note) Expense for inspection equipment is excluded.
In a production line producing products amounting to 100 million yen per year, if "visualization" improves productivity by 3%, profit will rise by 3 million yen annually. The expected profit is greater than the cost of introducing QUICCA, which is shown in the table. Therefore, the budget-related barrier is not so high.
To clients who have already introduced large-scale IoT
To clients who have already introduced a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), we propose that they should newly introduce QUICCA instead of extensively changing the introduced system if they want to monitor the details regarding operating status of the inspection equipment in their production lines. QUICCA also supports data coordination with the host system.
This report describes "visualization" enabled by the "production progress monitor," a basic function of QUICCA. Please visualize a route map for easy understanding. If you understand travel distance, driving time, your present location, and distance to the destination, you will intuitively know the time of arrival. If you understand that at a certain driving speed, you can reach the destination earlier than scheduled, you may think that you can afford to choose a different route. We believe that a small start, namely "visualization," can enable you to fully realize the effect of IoT. In addition, we provide options for QUICCA that can later be added for improving productivity or quality. We hope that the examples of QUICCA utilization described in this document will serve as a useful reference for your plan to introduce IoT in the future.
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