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A manufacturing productivity story: inspired by real events SENSE4

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

How an "Acme" company increased its productivity and yields with IoT technology?

A business tale

The ACME company has five cookie production machines.

- Each machine has a value close to $400,000 and its average electricity consumption per month is $15,000 each.

- Senior management receives the sales forecast from its sales team that indicates that they must increase production by at least 20% to cover the orders for the last quarter of the year.

- Purchasing management confirms to senior management that it has no problem acquiring the necessary raw material and on time to start production.

- Senior management estimates that the production capacity of its manufacturing equipment is underutilized but does not really know to what extent, so to organize this increase in production, management calls a meeting with the production and maintenance manager.

- The general manager begins the meeting by saying: “as I understand it, the manufacturers of our machines say that they can produce up to 10,000 packages of cookies per hour and I understand that at this moment we are producing less than 6,000 packages. Therefore, I believe that they will have no problem coordinating this increase in production by the end of the year. Certain?"

- The production manager sees his colleague again and discusses that, although the machines could produce a larger quantity, they are not always available since they constantly have stoppages due to technical problems with the equipment. And that therefore he cannot guarantee that the stated goal will be achieved.

- The maintenance manager indicates that, although there have been machine stoppages, all of them have been previously scheduled and maintenance has been carried out at times when the machines have not been used by production operators.

- Given this and before the nervous eyes of his two managers, the manager decides to go down to the production floor to speak directly with the machine operators.

- The operators indicate that they have had times when the machine has not been available due to mechanical problems, but that they have also had production coordination problems between the lines. A more daring operator confesses to the manager "the other day the flour line was delayed because two of their workers were missing due to vacations and even though we were ready here, we couldn't start up until two hours later because of them"

- The manager asks: "And in the meantime, what were they doing with the machines?" To which the operator replies: “Oh no… in that case we have the instruction that we leave the machines on because if the sealers do not cool down and then they take a long time to start and then they pay us extra hours for that”

- The operator, without being asked, adds one more comment: “And look what happened to us the other day.... We were running perfect on time. The production supervisor had asked us to increase the feed of the machine to leave on time that day, which was Mother's Day, and that he wanted those of us on the afternoon shift to leave with the indicators at 100%. I think it is because he they pay him more if we reach 100%, but well, that's up to him... It turned out that because of the speed we put on it, it seems that the shaft got stuck and we lost about 2,000 packages of raw material. All the work had to be thrown in the trash and then maintenance lasted about three more hours changing the blessed axis”. We left around midnight that day. At least it was a holiday and they paid us better for overtime.”

- The manager asks again: “Okeeey…. And tell me, how often does all this happen?” Do you have any documentation about it? To which the operator replies: “Ahhh, No sir… as well as documented no. But I tell you that it happens from time to time. Almost every day we have one to two hours with problems of this type. But I couldn't tell you how much is due to machine failures and how much is due to production processes. It's all mixed up. What I do tell you is that if they make me produce more than what comes out now, we're not going to leave here or go to sleep. We'd have to buy another machine and maybe that's how we'll get it.!”


OVERALL EFFICIENCY MEETIRING in manufacturing operations is always hasle and may be costly if it´s done with old school technologies. You have to accurate measure quantity, scrap and machine´s availabity for the whole process to get a real indicator.

From all the three factors, the real time machine availability is the most troublesome to measure. Quantity and quality can be measure after process, but machinery has to be measure every second to prevent missing micro stops that add up to minutes and hours of downtime at the end of each shift.

GBM and Lantern Technologies have jointed efforts to create SENSE4. An industrial IoT system based on IoT IBM and AWS capacities that tackle the machine status metering using non invasive wireless sensors. All the information is gathered in real time by IoT routers and visible on the cloud reports interface

Conclusion and benefits

Now the system has become a key component for generating all performance reports for production equipment and is critical for root cause analyzes for continuous improvement. Not a minute of downtime escapes without strict monitoring and documentation, allowing them to set efficiency goals, reduce the cost of maintaining machinery, and determine if new equipment is needed.

In addition, the system was integrated with third-party systems that count the amount of production and waste. With those additional metrics, the company was able to obtain real-time data on overall equipment efficiency (OEE) and compare it to international productivity benchmarks without any issues or inaccuracies.

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