Uncovering the Hidden Factory — and Connecting it to the Business

Industry Week – September 11, 2014

How do you move from the traditional “disconnected” manufacturing model to a connected digital model?

You start with data, asserts David McPhail, CEO of Memex Automation, and then you connect it to the business–that’s right: “shop floor to the top floor.”

“Start with having the data on your shop floor contextualized and put into a database,” he advises. “Have the data that the machines are creating right now, that you’re not tracking, and track it, and connect them.” That allows companies to calculate OEE and to tie profitability and productivity directly together.

“If you don’t have the data, you’re throwing darts, you’re just guessing,” he quips.

“Connectivity is the most important piece,” McPhail adds. “It enables the foundation by which all of these other applications can consume the data and create value.

Easier said than done, though Memex Automation has hardware-software solutions to help — as do other companies exhibiting at IMTS 2014.

McPhail asserts that the solution his company provides can move equipment’s OEE from 32% to “world class at 85%–it’s almost like fining an additional factory and a half in capacity.”

But it’s not all just equipment and software; it’s also about how the solution empowers the workforce.

“Typically 5% to 10% of the improvement comes just from involving the shop floor with the top floor,” explains McPhail. “Having the operator being engaged… [and] part of the solution, rather than just pointing out there’s a problem. Having the operator be proactive and be able to effect change on the shop floor. We give them the tools to do that now.”