Setting Your Sights on Efficiency


How do you monitor and measure LIVE production performance to ensure you are running as efficiently as possible? Paper travelers, manual data gathering, and ERP systems only show what’s happened in the past. You need visibility into what’s happening right NOW to maximize efficiency.

Measuring Efficiency 

ERP systems set goals for the number of parts to be produced each shift based on estimates. Your operators clock in and out and report on parts produced. If the number of parts is equal to the plan, then it looks like you have 100% labor efficiency. Looking at efficiency this way means that the only way to grow is to add more machines or more people.

What happens when you don’t meet your production numbers? How do you figure out what went wrong? Or better yet, how can you intervene when issues first come up to keep jobs on track? And how do you know if the utilization numbers you are using to calculate pricing and profits accurately reflects what your shop is capable of?

“Fairly quickly, it was obvious that our ERP system was not going to provide all of the data we needed to reach our goals, especially when it comes to live operations. With our ERP system, data accuracy is critical and our shop supervisor and production leads do a good job of updating the system, but it’s all after the fact. Instead of looking backwards, we needed a real-time solution to take M&H to the next level.”

—Chris Burns VP of Business Development, M&H Engineering, Danvers, MA

Measuring Machine Efficiency

CNC machines do most of the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively, in precision machining. Looking at the efficiency of your machines will give you a much better idea of what your shop is capable of producing in a day.  Here is what machine efficiency looks like:

Green represents active cutting time, yellow is “waiting for operator” or touch time, and red is downtime associated with an alarm state.

These two examples of actual machine efficiency show 57% and 52% utilization—a long way from 100%. If your ERP estimate is 75% efficiency for your quotes, you are way off and potentially losing money on these jobs. So what else does the data show? The top bar above represents a job whose plan includes making 170 parts per shift. At lunch, less than 60 have been made. Doing a manual count at lunch will give you that information, but real-time data would have alerted you at the first big “waiting for operator” gap, giving the operator and/or supervisor the opportunity to intervene and make the necessary adjustments to ensure the rest of the day went as planned.

The other bar shows a 1 hour and 9 minute Waiting for Operator gap (big yellow box) around the morning break (purple box inside it). It also shows wildly different downtimes for Program Stops, which are the activities that operators must do to complete the cycle, such as clearing chips, etc. Having visibility into this LIVE means that people on the floor have the information they need to perform their best and meet production targets.

Hitting Your Numbers 

You have a business plan for every job, and the most critical component of meeting it is to have your machines running at the utilization rate you used to create the quote. If you’re not doing that, you’re losing money. At Datanomix, we recommend three proven ways to maximize efficiency. They focus on addressing small issues quickly, before they become big problems. We call them Quick Wins.

  1. Continuously broadcast to the production floor what machines are down, why, and for how long. Enables a team approach to getting machines up and running by empowering everyone to step in and clear chips, etc. when they see a machine down.
  2. Get supervisors and managers involved when issues are not resolved quickly. Determine what amount of downtime is acceptable for various issues and then decide who needs to be notified on their mobile devices when issues exceed those times.
  3. Track, trend, and display three key transition times during every shift:
    1. The time it takes to get every machine into cycle
    2. Downtime before and after scheduled breaks
    3. The time between the last finished part and the end of shift

The Quick Wins program is the foundation of Datanomix Production Monitoring. It introduces everyone in the facility to the power of real-time data and helps set a new benchmark for performance. The average customer sees an additional hour of uptime per day, per machine. Imagine how much more product you could get out the door every week, every month, every year.

Check out our ROI calculator that will show you the potential impact of implementing Quick Wins at your facility.

Datanomix ROI Calculator

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