Idhammar Systems talks WCM and IIOT at Smart Industry Conferences

It’s been a busy few weeks at Idhammar Systems – from new international client wins, to additional roll-outs for existing clients, to our recent appearance at the Smart Industry Conferences Food and Beverages event. Here, our operations director, John Roberts, took centre stage to discuss the opportunities that World Class Manufacturing (WCM) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) present in the food and drink industry and beyond. For those of you who couldn’t attend the event, we wanted to share some of his key talking points and introduce you to ways of achieving WCM standards in the digital era.

What is WCM?

For those of you unfamiliar with WCM, let us explain. WCM has its foundation in TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) and organisations like Unilever and Jaguar Land Rover have already started to adopt this approach.  Ultimately, it’s a set of concepts, policies, techniques, and principles for operating and managing a manufacturing company with best practice approaches. Initially devised in 2005 by Professor Yamashina in Japan, WCM aims to achieve zero loss, zero defects – a concept which is becoming increasingly popular as more organisations strive to reduce the environmental impact of production.

WCM establishes 10 pillars for consideration. These areas include: safety, cost deployment, focused improvement, autonomous maintenance and workplace organization, professional maintenance, quality control, logistics and customer service, early equipment management, people development and the environment. The WCM proposition is that in order to be truly effective and achieve the zero targets, all 10 areas require individual consideration as well as the attention and support of the entire organisation. Controversially, in order to address all 10 technical pillars, many manufacturers now considered it necessary to use software. Let me explain.

Here’s where IIOT is complicating things…

When the theory of WCM first originated in 2005 stating the importance of manual data collection and analysis, the IIOT didn’t exist. Now, it’s set to become a $225 billion market by 2020, firmly securing its place in the future of manufacturing excellence. Today’s processing power was simply not available over a decade ago – instead the data available from machines, systems and devices could be gathered, processed, distributed and analysed by people using spreadsheets. But the industry has come a long way since then and even in the smallest manufacturing sites with increasingly connected machinery and systems, this level of analysis is not possible at a low cost without smart technology. This is why organisations such as Idhammar Systems are playing a pivotal role in developing IT solutions dedicated to allowing manufacturers to work towards their zero-defect targets faster and more efficiently than they could without such systems.

Working with Smart Technology

The drivers for introducing smart technology are usually to improve efficiencies and free up time and resources within your team. For example, some robots are able to perform the work of three to five people depending on the task. By automating data acquisition, analysis and reporting processes, technology can also allow your skilled people to engage in more complex, technical tasks. Freeing up this skilled resource also means that they are able to act on the data that the systems provide – particularly if the insights are served up in an easily digestible format. Indeed, today it’s not enough to simply gather data; it’s essential that it’s directed to the correct people, displayed in an accessible manner and therefore helps to create a measurable operational process. One great example of a streamlined approach to gathering and using data is the incorporation of the latest technical advances -including voice search, AI and AR – to deal with Emergency Work Orders with optimum speed and efficiency. Working with this new smart technology can really help solve site issues faster and more efficiently.

Is this all possible now?

Whilst much of this technology and approach may seem quite futuristic – it is all readily available now. However, for WCM standards to be truly achieved, this smart approach requires sustained engagement from senior level management. Additionally, the deployment of a wide range of new IT systems may be deemed necessary to make it possible, and it may require a cultural shift to change the attitudes of production directors, technicians and all those engaged in the production process. It’s a lot to consider but if you can get this right, your organisation can reap the rewards.

Before embarking on a project of this nature, it’s critical to remember that WCM standards cannot be achieved without investment from the senior leadership team. After all, it’s not a software project but the catalyst for a major cultural change within an organisation, requiring co-operation from all members if you truly wish to achieve fast return on investment. For more information about Idhammar’s WCM systems or to book a demo, contact our team today on 0117 920 9400 or email us at info@idhammarsystems.com