“Manufacturers are struggling for survival – OEE is everything”
Why Visual Factories founder Matti Tiano is bringing Industry 4.0 to UK manufacturing
The recent takeover of Vauxhall by PSA Peugeot-Citroen was a wake-up call for UK manufacturing. With factories in Ellesmere Port and Luton, PSA’s CEO Carlos Tavares was on the charm offensive saying that the Vauxhall deal wasn’t about factory closures but about improving performance. “As long as we improve the performance and we become the best, there is no risk they should fear,” he told the BBC.
But with the difference between profit and loss hanging on a knife-edge for many, how can UK factories with business rates, taxes, high labour costs and uncertainty about Brexit compete with the Far East and Asia to offer a competitive location to manufacture?
Matti Tiano, founder of Performance Improvement Management (PIM) software from Visual Factories, says adopting Industry 4.0 is the only way UK factories can compete.
“Right now, manufacturers are struggling to survive,” says Matti. “Profitability is so low and global competition so strong, it is increasingly difficult for manufacturers to maintain high performance at lower costs. Every little thing you can do now to be more efficient and to improve your use of resources will strengthen your position.”
Enter Industry 4.0. The phrase was first used by the German government in 2011 as part of its High-Tech Strategy 2020 Action Plan (INDUSTRIE 4.0). Its aim was to mark a step change in manufacturing productivity and ‘future proof production.’
Since then it has come under several guises, as Industrial IoT (the Americans); Industry 2025 (The Chinese) and the ‘4th Industrial Revolution’ (everyone else). In the UK, we’re getting used to the idea of Industry 4.0 but it’s taking time to trickle down into real action. In the BDO Industry 4.0 Survey 2016
, only 8% of UK manufacturers said they had significant understanding of the term Industry 4.0, yet 59% said it will have a big impact on the Manufacturing Sector.
So, what is Industry 4.0?
Matti explains it as the connecting of two technologies - the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data Analytics. However, for Industry 4.0 to help manufacturers progress and become more competitive, the secret is in matching these emerging technologies of Industry 4.0 with a product that has value and adds benefits to the customer.
It is this school of thought that has led Matti to establish Visual Factories and develop the PIM software system that builds a bridge between the data analysis and the user. The software is having a big impact on manufacturing in his home country of Israel. So far, 10 global manufacturers in the aerospace and tooling industries have adopted Visual Factories’ PIM system and implemented it on hundreds of machines. Within three months, their Operations Equipment Efficiency (OEE) rates have improved by 20% with much more to follow.
The impact Visual Factories is having on Israeli manufacturing caught the eye of Microsoft who has signed the company up for its Microsoft Accelerator programme in Tel Aviv. Israel, known also as the Start-up Nation, now has more Nasdaq-listed companies than any other country, after the US and China, thanks largely to a strong eco-system of start-ups and multinational technology corporates. Just recently, Israeli start-up Mobileye, which develops autonomous car technology was bought by Intel in a $15.3bn deal with Intel stating it will move its automotive unit to Israel.
Matti says: “Our Visual Factories PIM solution was developed from the shop floor to maximise productivity and reduce cost. It is not starting a revolution but it is an innovative operations approach that is gaining traction by delivering a ‘win-win-win’ situation for everyone from the shop floor upwards.”
By accurately measuring the value of a machines’ performance before implementing any PIM improvements, Visual Factories has found (based on a typical 3-shift manufacturing operation) that companies are losing on average 250 inefficient hours per machine per month during working hours.
The PIM system captures the production machines’ activity in real time. It uses state-of-the-art proprietary algorithms to learn, analyse and present the collected data through unique easy to comprehend displays and reports. Often, it is not operator inefficiency that is causing the machines to be idle but a lack of raw materials, wrong tooling or problems with the actual machines that need to be managed and fixed.
“Industry 4.0 can create a lot of messy data that has no value,” adds Matti. “Visual Factories uses technology to sift through all that noise to focus on what manufacturers really need to know to get positive results.”
One of Matti’s greatest pleasures is presenting the Visual Factories Periodic Reports to customers and helping them identify what actions the company can take for continuous improvements for the next month.
“Visual Factories is giving companies a window to the shop floor that managers have never had before. The Periodic Reports are an incredible tool. Recently, I was with an Operations Director (OD) and 3 managers going through a report when one of the displays showed an operator who was consistently highlighted as one of the top performers.
“This company has a 600-strong workforce with a high turnover, so the OD asked who this operator was. It turns out this man was always the first one to clock on and last to clock off, and took the minimal allowance for breaks. Although the manager had already rewarded this man, the OD wanted to reward him one more time and called him up to the meeting. It was an incredibly emotional and exciting moment for me to see such a positive impact from the results of the software,” he says.
“By using Industry 4.0 technologies, we are bridging the cultural gap between technology and the shop floor to help manufacturers analyse and improve output while also future-proofing their productivity.
“The manufacturers who can recognise, understand and drive the benefits of Industry 4.0 will be the winners. It’s happening right now in France and Germany and the UK sector needs to get aboard fast.”
Matti Tiano from Visual Factories will be speaking at the Industry 4.0 Summit in Manchester on 4-5 April.
Visual Factories PIM solution is supplied exclusively in the UK by engineering software solutions provider NT CADCAM. For more information call 0800 018 6957.