Sight Machine, Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Jimenez recently met with the Operations Lead at a major global packaging manufacturer to learn how the company is working with Sight Machine to create a new type of working environment for its line packaging line operators.
Q: What are some of the challenges your company’s line operators face, given today’s data-driven approaches to manufacturing?
A: The packaging industry is facing a couple of major challenges. The first is an aging workforce – we have roughly an average age of 50 on the shop floor. This means that a lot of skills are going to transition out of the business in the coming years.
The second challenge is the impact of Industry 4.0 and what it means for packaging line operators in the future. We want to transition the next generation of employees into being far more advanced in the way that they operate machines. These new approaches to data and problem solving are going to be a regular part of their jobs – they won’t just press buttons and operate equipment.
Q: That’s going to change production and operations within your company, won’t it?
A: Absolutely. And, from a competitive point of view, this gives us an opportunity to develop in an area where no one can do what we can do. We see enabling the shop floor as a key to that.
Q: What role do you expect Sight Machine to play in that transformation?
A: Recently, we’ve been moving from not just having data analytics, but creating a single source of truth. Most of our processes involve long production lines that are impacted by upstream and downstream processes. Being able to link all of that data together, end to end, is hugely important. Sight Machine gives us the ability to make large-scale, data-based observations that operators simply cannot see on their own.
For example, our beverage can manufacturing processes takes about 45 minutes. The testers at the end of the line might find defects, but the packaging line operators can’t identify the causes because of the time lag as product goes through the various processes. Sight Machine lets us look at what those machines were doing 45 minutes ago, and build correlations between the up and downstream processes. And we might find that the error was actually occurring early in the process, so we know what needs to be done to fix it.
Q: What would you say is the unique differentiation that Sight Machine brings?
A: Sight Machine offers a valuable balance between capability and complexity. To enable the shop floor, I need a tool that is user-friendly. And Sight Machine IS easy to use, with an intuitive drag and drop interface. A lot of products out there require users to write lines of code to analyze data, which rules out a huge number of the workforce as its users. Our operators can go to a Sight Machine dashboard and look up data easily or create a correlation – without being data scientists!
Q: What are some of the unique expertise and capabilities that the Sight Machine team brings to bear?
A: Sight Machine’s data scientists are experts in manufacturing, and know the packaging business very well. Sight Machine has become a real partner in what we’re doing, working with us to explain issues and resolve roadblocks in a knowledgeable way.
Q: What do you see in the future, both for your company and the packaging industry?
A: The vision for us is that every single person in the organization, right down to the operator level, will own a piece of equipment or process, and they will be in charge of optimizing that. Sight Machine lets them do that, becoming a single source of truth to help each worker know what to do to deal with a specific issue. They are empowered to ask specific questions and do some problem solving before ever touching the affected equipment.
Manufacturing operators often come from a tradesman-based background, and our tendency when we have a problem is to start pulling stuff apart and having a look at what’s going on. However, this may mean that we spend a lot of time working on the wrong part of the process.
We may see that we have issues with the can decorator. However, the problem is often caused by bad cans created by an upstream process. That’s where Sight Machine helps us say, “Well, we don’t need to work on the decorator, because it’s actually an upstream piece of equipment that’s causing your problem.” That’s what we want to be able to achieve at the operator level.
The vision for us is to give every single person the ability to drive continuous improvement on the factory floor. Sight Machine helps us do that.
To learn how Sight Machine can deliver unprecedented optimization for your production lines and plants, visit www.sightmachine.com and request a virtual live demonstration.