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How to transform valleys of downtime into peak efficiencies

Several manufacturers recently shared ways to help manufacturers move from downtime to peak efficiency, as they feel increased pressure to optimize, to stay competitive in global markets.

Kraft Foods’ Dragan Filipovic, systems of the future, strategic innovative research, studies global technology and quality, looking particularly at advanced manufacturing systems to develop tool-sets to address many of the issues mentioned. These include advanced diagnostic and servicing tools to maximize line performance and reduce equipment downtime. Advanced manufacturing systems offer opportunities:

* Service and training become larger problems as organizations get leaner, and U.S. education and interest in engineering decreases. The U.S. will import expertise from China and elsewhere, Filipovic suggests, but risks losing the momentum of generations of skilled labor. Systems need to appeal to and make experts of younger workers with less experience. For example, augmented-reality goggles that show people how to do things may help.

Vision, safety, smarts

Automation technologies can help, says Guerrino Suffi, manager, sensor marketing group, Omron Electronics LLC, including machine vision for intelligence, RFID for traceability, network-capable operator safety controls, and smarter logic/human-machine interfaces. Functional customer-centric platforms and advanced automation solutions offer means for continuous improvement, higher productivity, greater throughput, reduced waste, and lower total cost of ownership.

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