Making manufacturing more efficient with the Internet of Things.

Introduction

It begins with the factory floor

For large-scale manufacturers, having an efficient factory floor is critical. Making everything work together seamlessly is key to profitability. But getting a clear picture of how processes can be improved is difficult. Instead of monitoring the environment, analyzing the data and proactively making changes to increase efficiencies, many companies wait until they get an all-too-clear signal that something has gone wrong. The end result?

  • Waste of time
  • Waste of money
  • Loss of product

Background

Change is coming

But change is coming. The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling a new wave of tech-nology that will dramatically shift how manufacturing facilities function, improving efficiencies exponentially. Interconnected machines, people and systems will empower real-time decision making that can streamline processes and transform operations.

One part operational technology (OT) and one part information technology (IT), the IoT enables companies to build digital bridges to the physical assets and analyze the collected data. It’s a new way of thinking for many companies, but the IoT is not new to Dell. We have deep experience working with partner organizations to harness, manage and analyze sensor data — and we started long before the term “IoT” was even coined.

One such partnership is between Dell OEM Solutions and Action Point.


The Dell & Action Point Solution

Bringing intelligence to the factory floor

The Dell and Action Point solution.

  • Dell Edge Gateway with an Intel® Atom™ processor
  • Action Point traceability system
  • Action Point environmental monitoring IoT system
  • ALPS sensors (temperature/ humidity/pressure/etc.)
  • B+B Smart Wzzards for Sensor Connectivity
  • Dell Statistica

Dell and Action Point — bringing intelligence to the factory floor.

For Action Point, success is all about helping customers achieve goals through innovative use of technology. For more than a decade, they’ve been delivering premium quality, custom software development services across Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. When their customer, ALPS Electric Ireland, Ltd. needed to increase their manufacturing efficiencies, Action Point knew just what to do.

Because ALPS Ireland wanted to capture data from the factory floor, Action Point developed a monitoring system that would capture key environmental factors on the factory floor. This information would be correlated against activities that were recorded by a complementary traceability product also created by Action Point.

Then Action Point turned to Dell OEM Solutions. Using a distributed network of ALPS sensors, all data was communicated back via a wireless mesh of B+B Wzzards through to a Dell Edge Gateway powered by an Intel® Atom™ processor. Using Dell Statistica on Intel® Xeon® processor-based systems, ALPS Electric Ireland could look for correlations between sensor data and outcomes on the factory floor, such as failure rates and throughput.

In one instance, ALPS Ireland switches paint thinners on a seasonal basis, with a trial-and-error process used to identify when the changeover happens. This can result in an increase in failure rates and hence increased costs. After implementing the traceability system to capture environmental information, they were able to predict a failure before it happens, avoiding unnecessary downtime and failures.

The environmental data also highlighted a previously unknown training issue when the environmental data from a machine on the SMT line that has tightly controlled temperature and humidity showed regular humidity spikes and temperature dips. The machine was being opened at unplanned times, potentially causing quality issues, but management visibility will allow this to be improved.

The various air pressure readings from outside the factory through to the positive-pressure paint-booth are being analyzed and correlated with failure rates. The aim is to confirm an assumed correlation of lower paint booth air-pressure with paint inclusions. It can be costly to maintain a positive air pressure, so if the correlation is weaker than expected, there could be potential savings on HVAC costs.

ALPS Electric Ireland, Ltd. now has full visibility into the functionality of their factory floor. Powerful insight that makes them more efficient than ever, and is a strong enabler for testing and measuring continuous process improvement.

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Action Point proved to be a solid and reliable partner in exploring the possibilities that IoT can bring to a modern factory floor. The resulting solution delivered a number of real-time dashboards and analytics, which provide actionable insights into our day-to-day operations. I’d strongly recommend Action Point as an IoT Systems Integrator and custom software developer for your IoT project.

John Foley, Quality Assurance Senior Manager, ALPS Electric (Ireland) Ltd

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