Monday 10 December 2018

What is Visual Factory?

Visual Factory

The Visual Factory is an extension of TPM visual controls in an automated environment.

"The term ‘Visual Factory’ encompasses a system of data repositories, query engines, and web applications that together derive, format, and deliver target information to various functional groups."

The goal of the Visual Factory is to put Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in the hands of users (managers, engineers, supervisors, operators) in real-time, easy-to-access formats. A ‘Data Dashboard’ that displays user specific manufacturing performance information typically supports the Visual Factory.

Visual Focused concept

The Data Dashboard is highly integrate with the other automation components to collect and display information critical to the KPI’s. That is important to note that factory automation is not the ‘magic bullet’ for successful TPM implementation. It is certainly an important tool, but not the entire solution. It cannot be view as the quick fix that allows an operation to avoid the hard work of establishing an effective continuous improvement program. Observes that rushing to full automation prematurely may, in fact, hamper the TPM program.

‘Appropriateness to the task’ is the most important consideration when deploying automation to support TPM.”

The system is not the solution…the effective use of the system is the solution." Like all other tools, the benefit of automation must exceed. The cost and the results must be align with the TPM goals and objectives.

"Automation can help or hurt TPM implementation. If it provides 48 Identification of the alarm condition is frequently detect by another automation component such as SPC, Equipment Automation, MES, or CMMS.

Visual factory tips

One of the first things you need to keep in mind when operating a visual factory is that you can add visual cues just about anywhere in the facility. Whether you put up a sign on a wall, color code the pipes or use labels on containers, you should look to convey visual information in the best possible way, no matter where that may be.

The following are some of the many areas of a factory that can be use as visual surfaces to convey a message:

  • Walls – Of course, you can apply wall signs throughout your facility to share information. Walls are often ideal because you can put signs. Or other items at eye level so they are very easy to see.

  • Floors – Floor markings, floor signs, and floor stickers are an excellent form of visual communication. Floors have a particular advantage in that the information is typically only seen by those who are in the immediate area, which makes it possible to display more specific information than would typically be done on walls.

  • Machines – In many cases you can apply signs, labels or other visual items directly to certain parts of machines. The information can be specifically about that machine or useful for anyone who happens to be in the area immediately around the machine.

  • Ceilings – Ceilings are almost always overlook when planning a visual factory. But it can be very important. Using pipe marking labels. For example, can let people know what is in each pipe that travels along the ceiling of the facility. In some cases, you can even hang signs from the rafters to convey messages to larger areas around the factory.

  • Vehicles – Vehicles can be ‘mobile visual machines’ meaning that you can share information. That is relevant to anyone who happens to be around that vehicle. For example, a sign that reminds people of the potential danger of pinch points. It can help people to be more cautious when near a high-low.

One topic that has not receive significant investigation in the TPM literature. That is the use of TPM methodology towards the continuous improvement of automation hardware and application performance. Highly automate manufacturing operations are increasingly dependent on factory automation.  Many, in fact, cannot function without automation support. This is an area that merits further research.

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