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5 Advantages of Connected Manufacturing


Today, technology allows us to connect in ways we never thought possible. During a presentation at MasterControl’s customer conference, Virtual Masters Summit 2020, Senior Vice President of Strategic Growth Brian Curran offered insights into how the connectivity we take for granted in our personal lives should be extended to our professional lives – manufacturing in particular.

Software makes it possible for Curran’s son to play fantasy football with six people in six locations and four separate states. The same type of connectivity has allowed many of us to work remotely during COVID-19, and without it, we would have trouble interacting with our colleagues to conduct business.

The tools needed for streamlined manufacturing are within reach, but many manufacturers still rely on paper-based processes. Curran asked, “Why are we, mostly life science manufacturers, still disconnected when this is possible?” He pointed to present-day manufacturing methods that are error-prone, lack visibility and are disconnected. Paper is the root of the problem. “The data on that paper is trapped forever, and it’s not connected to anything,” he said.

“I have to ask myself, why do we have amazing technology in our personal lives, yet almost unbelievable gaps on our shop floors? It’s time to change. Change by closing those gaps that exist in how we leverage technology in our personal lives, but don’t on our production floors,” he said. Curran stressed that connected manufacturing solves many of the current problems faced by manufacturers and makes it possible for production to be nearly errorless, provide visibility and offer connectivity.

Curran provided five examples of technology in our personal lives that we use almost every day, and how that same technology is available in MasterControl Manufacturing Excellence™.

1. Error Prevention

In our personal lives: Cars today have many safety features that prevent accidents. This includes backup cameras and a beeping signal that warns us when we are backing out of a driveway or parking space and get too close to another object.

In paper-based manufacturing: Right now, the person reviewing data at the end of production needs to cross-reference who did what alongside the latest training records. The hope is that workers are up-to-date on their training, but that isn’t discovered until after the fact.

With Manufacturing Excellence: The solution provides an integrated training system that won’t allow an operator to perform tasks until they’re current on training.

2. Remote Visibility and Operations

In our personal lives: If you’re not at home and want to check on the status of your sprinkler system, it’s possible to look at a smartphone or tablet and know what time the sprinklers will go on.

In paper-based manufacturing: With a paper-based system, remote visibility and operations are impossible.

With Manufacturing Excellence: With real-time dashboards, it’s easy to see what is happening during production, and all that information can be accessed remotely.

3. Review by Exception

In our personal lives: A popular software is available to help people prepare their taxes. It prompts you to enter all your financial information, and prior to submitting everything to the Internal Revenue Service, the software checks for any potential problems so you can review areas where mistakes might have been made.

In paper-based manufacturing: It’s not possible to conduct a review by exception. Instead, reviews are done page-by-page and line-by-line.

With Manufacturing Excellence: A dashboard shows exceptions like quality events, which can easily be reviewed. MasterControl customers who implemented Manufacturing Excellence have managed to shorten review times from weeks or days to mere hours.

4. Detailed Tracking Visibility

In our personal lives: When you place an order with Amazon, it’s simple to track the package, and as it nears your house, you can see how many stops away from your house it is.

In paper-based manufacturing: Tracking and visibility are unavailable.

With Manufacturing Excellence: A new feature coming soon to Manufacturing Excellence allows for tracking. For example, each step performed as part of a master batch record is tracked and the system provides information on the amount of time it takes to complete those steps.

5. Operator Performance

In our personal lives: Performance data from workouts is available through smartwatches, apps or the equipment itself. It’s possible to measure things like the length of the workout, number of calories burned, average heart rate and more.

In paper-based manufacturing: Information about operator performance is not possible to track.

With Manufacturing Excellence: The new feature mentioned above makes it possible to view operator performance and understand things like which team performs the fastest or has the fewest errors.

The technology that is available in our personal lives is ready to be part of manufacturing processes. As a manufacturing IT leader at a global medical device company says, “Remote access to data, real-time visibility, better collaboration and sharing – these will be critical in the future.”

And that future is here today.

Dale Thompson - Profile Picture

Dale Thompson is a content marketing specialist at MasterControl’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her areas of expertise are pharmaceuticals and manufacturing. Thompson’s varied career includes extensive work in grant writing and journalism as well as crafting content to highlight the work of biology professors and paleontologists. She has a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen State College and a master’s degree in professional communication from Westminster College.

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