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Key considerations for a data collection strategy in the connected factory

Contributed by: Aaron Alberts

When collecting process data, it’s important to understand that more is better.

Collect data from all sources in the plant and don’t leave anything out of your process. Looking beyond the obvious elements that are critical to your quality inspections and expanding the scope of data collection is crucial to drive improvements and new efficiencies in your plant.

Break down data silos across production lines and plants

What you don’t want to do is gather that data together in a way that segregates and silos it throughout your plant – your DC tool data in one spot, your vision data in another, your leak test data in a third spot.

When data you need is where you need it, when you need it (or is incomplete or appears suspect in any way), it immediately lowers your confidence in the results. The key to making the most of your data is to always have confidence in what it tells you. The best approach is to centralize all your data into a common repository that can be accessed by each of your plants and indexed for easy cross-reference by serial number.

Access to data is key to improving your production line

Giving your staff access to the information they need empowers them to become an agent of change to improve your processes overall. This is a very important aspect to moving forward with the next revolution in manufacturing. Your team, or teams, can look beyond a particular issue with a particular process and gain a strategic view to spot emerging trends that may warn of larger problems with a line or even an entire plant.

It’s great for people in the plant to have access to the data and it’s also great for people external to the specific product line to have access to the data so that anyone in your organization can help solve a problem. This expands your internal resources, as no one has to rely solely on the knowledge set that is local to the problem. With a centralized database easily accessible throughout the organization, getting a second opinion from other staff members across the line, or even across plants, is as easy as logging in.

Data gives you the opportunity to be proactive

With easy access to centralized, organized, meaningful data, your organization has the opportunity to be more proactive. Insights from one plant or line can be applied to others, providing a substantial increase in yield. Once the root cause of a production or quality issue has been identified, the comparable process, test or machine on other lines or at other plants can be adjusted before they can suffer the same problem.

This, of course, depends on having the same systems for data collection, management and visualization employed across the enterprise, to create a single standard for quality that is objective and consistent.

Always remember – the goal of collecting data isn’t to simply store it away, but to use it and act upon the insight it can provide to trace root cause, protect against theft or loss, provide evidence of compliance, and to improve processes and overall quality across your entire organization.

Aaron Alberts addresses this subject as part of Sciemetric’s “Ask the Expert” video series. Click here to watch this video, "What are the key considerations when planning a data collection strategy in the connected factory?", and more.