The Importance of Real-time Data for the Packaging Industry
Packaging manufacturers manage time-sensitive issues every day and must adapt their operations quickly to meet consumer demands. Real-time data and analytics are crucial for any packaging company hoping to capture significant market share.
Understanding the true state of their operations in real time can help manufacturers:
- Increase revenue generation
- Improve production agility/efficiency
- Reduce costs
MES vs. Real-Time Production Analytics
MES (manufacturing execution system) software is commonplace in the packaging industry, however, not all systems have real-time capabilities. Understanding the difference underscores why real-time data is so valuable.
What is MES?
MES software for the packaging industry has been around a long time; the earliest systems originated in the 1990s. This type of software collects digital data from machines, sensors, and user inputs. It’s a significant upgrade over traditional pen-and-paper production tracking.
However, it only collects data at specific intervals. It is rarely able to provide moment-to-moment coverage.
An MES system for packaging is best used to glean high-level insights from your facility’s operational data, including information like:
- Machine availability
- Overall output
- Quality control statistics
MES systems excel at presenting historical information, however they also have several limitations; They can only be used after production disruptions have already occurred, making it useless for initiating quick responses to correct problems in the moment; Considerable amounts of human input and analysis are required, making MES systems slower, less informative, and less accurate than fully automated solutions.
How Real-Time Data is Different
In contrast, real-time production analytics automatically pull production data from your facility every second of every shift. This data is then synthesized using predictive analytics to provide specific, timely, and actionable insights, providing an advantage over your competition.
Not only does this process reveal exactly how well your facility is performing, but the resulting trends can also be used to set gold standard parameters for your factory’s operations.
The cumulative impact of all small day-to-day improvements enabled by real-time data is extremely significant. By optimizing operations on a granular level, manufacturers can correct many of the tiny inefficiencies that affect productivity within a plant.
Among other things, packaging manufacturers can use real-time data analytics to:
- Enforce proactive maintenance schedules
- Start or stop production in response to shifting demand
- Streamline shift change procedures
Every one of these small improvements brings your facility closer to achieving world-class 85% OEE in packaging.
What Real-Time Data Can Do
Real-time data should be central to every digital transformation in the packaging sector. This technology provides an array of benefits for packaging manufacturers:
Improved Management Strategies
A real-time shop floor control system provides important human resources information managers can use to increase productivity within your team. When you know which employees are on-site and where you can deploy and reassign staff as needed.
Real-time data can also be used to create a single, clear touchpoint for teams to reference when working together. This information is identical for all team members and can be accessed anywhere at any time, minimizing miscommunication or misinterpretation. Team members can see exactly what needs to be done and how they are contributing to that goal, creating a clear link between efforts and results.
Increased Knowledge of Current Market Trends
Real-time data gives you the opportunity to scale your production operations in response to short-term demand changes. If you notice a higher number of orders coming in for one particular type of packaging product, you can increase production immediately.
When demand wanes again, your incoming data will also reflect that and alert you it’s time to change course. This reporting allows you to keep pace with market developments and protect your bottom line from market volatility.
Better in-the-Moment Decisions
Without real-time data, every business decision you make will be based on outdated information. Even a few days’ delay can be enough for conditions to change dramatically.
Real-time data ensures you always know exactly what is going on in your plant. You can decide on the best course of action based on that information. Packaging manufacturers can use this data to reduce materials waste, keep quality standards high, and fulfill new orders quickly and accurately.
Improve Responsiveness Using Pre-Set Alerts
From quality control issues to hazardous material spills, there are countless things that can go wrong during each shift inside a factory. Acting quickly when these things happen allows you to reduce the possibility of downtime and keep that day’s production on track.
Real-time data provides a constant stream of information to keep you abreast of new developments. You can program your production software to tap into this stream and alert you and your team when the data deviates from expected parameters. Your team can then correct the problem that caused the disruption.
Be proactive. Be productive.
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Bring the Real-Time Advantage to Your Facility
Real-time data powers the best packaging production software on the market today and Matics clients have already used our software for packaging line optimization and other OEE-related improvements. With our help, you could improve your factory’s productivity by as much as 20% in a few weeks.
Contact us to hear more about how our solution leverages the power of real-time data or to book a demo and try it out for yourself.