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Smart Monitoring Solutions for Smart Manufacturing

Smart Monitoring Solutions for Smart Manufacturing

In manufacturing, efficiency is the name of the game. Factory operators seeking to maximize production uptime and reduce costs need precise data (both real-time and aggregated) to optimize operations. If you are going to make progress with automation integration or use the Internet of Things (IoT) to its fullest potential, data is key in creating a smart factory. 

“The need for monitoring solutions and the use cases in manufacturing led me to this industry,” says Nate Nomeland, CEO at Packet Power. “I have spent a good part of my career optimizing operations in factories, from retail product manufacturers in rural China to top-tier defense and aerospace suppliers here in the United States. As such, I’m familiar with companies producing parts for a range of product types and industries, and accurate data is always the key driver in building efficient operations..” 

 

Data on Kilowatt-Hours, Runtimes, and Vibrations

“Obviously, a big expense in a manufacturing environment is power draw,” says Nate. “Things like CNC machines, welding stations, and flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) require a great deal of power and are huge investments for a company. You always want to make sure they’re running at their best.”

All Packet Power power monitoring systems provide data on kilowatt-hours. Operators can use this for energy efficiency analysis, cost reduction projects and budgeting as well as reporting on environmental compliance and sustainability initiatives.

“We would say, ‘If the spindle is turning, you’re making money,’” says Nate. “You want the operator to be running their machine on parts as many hours of the day as possible.” 

The binary (on/off) data Packet Power sensors track on machines can help a production manager determine how to decrease downtime and increase run time.

“Runtimes improve with well-planned and timely preventative maintenance,” adds Nate. “When a machine is running well, you’re going to see consistent power usage and a standard level of vibration. When readings on these factors begin to vary, or you start to see temperature variances, that can tip you off that preventative maintenance is needed.”

The small environmental monitors Packet Power offers can provide data on temperature, relative humidity, and vibration from any point on the factory floor. These monitors can generate automated alerts to be sent out to the appropriate maintenance staff if any of the readings get outside predetermined ranges. Since machine breakdowns can be catastrophic and disrupt production for weeks, preventing a single machine from experiencing an unplanned outage can often save a company more than the full cost of their monitoring system. 

Nate likens it to maintaining a car: “If something starts to rattle, you want to be aware of it right away so you can take it into the shop and get it fixed before it breaks down while you’re out on the road.”

 

Be Smart Selecting Your Monitoring System

“Running extra cables and adding intrusive devices is not good in manufacturing environments,” says Nate. “Packet Power’s Monitoring Made Easy™ approach capitalizes on secure wireless communication and simple installation of minimally invasive technology. The sensors are small, they fit wherever you need them on the factory floor, they do what you want, and you don’t have to add a bunch of extra wiring.”

Packet Power smart cables, for instance, can be added between almost any power source and the machine being monitored. The smart cables can monitor single or three-phase power circuits with amperages ranging from 10 A to 100 A and voltage between 100 V and 480 V.

 

“Beware of monitoring systems that rely on Wi-Fi, too,” adds Nate. “When I was working as a defense contractor, we were prohibited from implementing a monitoring solution utilizing Wi-Fi to transmit data as it did not comply with ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and other requirements of the Department of Defence. Packet Power’s proprietary wireless mesh system was designed with meeting the requirements of a variety of security-intensive industries in mind.”

Packet Power’s proprietary wireless technology creates a secure mesh network that only transmits monitoring data. This technology was developed for the tight security needs and wireless communications challenges present in highly secure data centers, so it translates well to manufacturing facilities that face similar security hurdles in protecting data.

“The demand for the data our solutions provide will only increase as manufacturers look for ways to automate more tasks and face ever-higher energy costs,” says Nate. “I’ve lived it firsthand. Those who get out in front of this and begin leveraging the data now will have a distinct advantage in the immediate future.” 

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