How to Solve Shop Floor Issues Inexpensively with Video and Data

Ken Koenemann | December 17, 2020 | 

Are you already employing IIoT sensors on the shop floor?

Can you spare a few hundred dollars for a GoPro or other versatile camera?

Then you are already halfway to having an invaluable tool for understanding issues with machines or processes on the shop floor. And given the potential value of the solution for quickly showing you why something happened, it’s an idea and relatively easy hack that’s well worth entertaining.

Because when only matters when you know why

Between IoT sensors and other data sources in the factory, it’s easy to pinpoint when an issue happens and even predict something is about to happen. Of course, that’s valuable information. But what’s even more important is understanding why it happened so you can minimize the amount of troubleshooting required to fix it and/or eliminate future occurrences.

Did a part misload into a machine, jamming the conveyor? Was there a foreign material in a mold? Was there an imbalanced flow on a conveyor?

Unless someone sees the event that caused an outage, it can be very difficult to answer these types of questions. Especially for a complex process.

Keeping “visual” needs in perspective

It’s true that there are already many types of solutions that employ video in the factory. Vision systems that address quality issues at high speeds on the fly. Video solutions that employ AI to confirm key steps are completed. These and other types of solutions are focused on specific needs like quality or avoiding warranty issues. But these types of higher cost technologies don’t make sense for more general problem solving.

What could inexpensive cameras do for your operations?

When it comes to selecting any type of solution, Lean production preparation (2P) processes consider exploring multiple options for addressing a need and picking the best one. And the combination of inexpensive cameras and IoT data leaves a lot of room for creativity in problem solving.

The technology combo is particularly well suited to environments with assembly lines where you have various product types that require different numbers of operators. For example, if your IoT data is identifying frequent issues on a line, you can add a camera or cameras in strategic locations and then use cross reference alert times with timestamps from the video. And reviews could happen on the line or even in an engineer’s office at another location.

Machine maintenance visibility

How to get cultural buy in

The idea of adding cameras to an environment inevitably raise questions about employee privacy, so it’s worth carefully considering how you introduce them. At the end of the day, the key to making people comfortable with the idea boils down to proving that it will be used to make the plant run more effectively and make their working situation better. For example, incorporating video will help identify potential safety concerns that need addressing before an incident occurs. Video is also good for training on equipment usage and processes for new employees.

An easy and inexpensive trial

As you can see, this is the type of opportunity where you don’t have much to lose by trying it. In last week’s post we talked about prove and move as part of your technology selection process. This video solution via a simple Go-Pro (or similar video technology) is a simple and inexpensive way to test the value of video technology and the data you get from it. If you are looking for some guidance on how to get started, give us a call.

Ken Koenemann, VP Technology & Supply Chain
Ken Koenemann

VICE PRESIDENT, SUPPLY CHAIN & TECHNOLOGY
Ken is a 25+ year veteran of manufacturing, operational excellence and supply chain optimization. He believes that it is critical for organizations to address the challenges of strategic planning and use of big data in manufacturing. At TBM, Ken is actively leading the effort to our suite of services to include emerging technologies that improve productivity and convert complex data into information for improved decision making.