thumbnail post
What to Look for in a Downtime Tracking Solution Partner  

More and more manufacturers want to start intelligently tracking downtime these days, but a lot of them aren’t sure where to begin. Typically, the first step you need to take involves finding yourself a partner who can offer an intuitive, scalable and flexible downtime tracking solution to meet your needs. But be warned – not all so-called “partners” are created equally. 

A Genuine Collaborator in Every Sense of the Term 

Maybe the most important thing to look for when choosing a downtime tracking solution partner has to do with their perspective about your relationship in general. You don’t need someone who is going to come in, offer you a generic solution and say “here, we’ve done our part, good luck.” You need someone who is ready to work with your business to build the best downtime tracking experience possible, regardless of what that looks like within the context of your business. 

Case in point: at Thrive, we only build things into our solution because our customers expressly ask for it. We never add something simply because it’s cool or flashy, or because we think the market needs it. 

Everyone in the industry is going in the same, complex direction. They’re adding more features, more functionality, more pointless automation – you name it. Because we actually listen to and collaborate with our customers, we’re actually going in the opposite direction at Thrive. We only build what you tell us to and we’re focused on creating something that allows you not to replace your workforce, but make the most out of them. 

Not Just an Easy Solution, But Effortless 

Another one of the major things to look for in a downtime tracking partner ultimately has to do with the level of support they’re willing to offer long after that initial purchase is made. 

At Thrive, it’s absolutely true that we’re always available to answer your questions about how our solution works – but honestly, we don’t think we’re going to get to that point. We purposely don’t offer training of any kind because we built our solution from the top down to be so easy that anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about someone who has been with your business for years or who just walked in the door for the first time last week – they’ll be able to pick right up and get to work like an old pro. 

Other companies design software that is intentionally confusing and cumbersome so that they can sell you support services later – and that’s just now how we’ve ever done things and we’re certainly not going to start. If we have to train you on how to use our software, we believe that means we didn’t build it right to begin with. 

If you’d like to find out more information about what to look for in a downtime tracking solutions partner, or if you’d just like to learn more about our own downtime tracking and OEE management software to see more about what it can do, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today. 

 

 

thumbnail post
When You Bring Your Manufacturing to the United States, the First Thing You Want to Look at is Downtime Tracking

As you begin to move your manufacturing efforts into the United States, it stands to reason that one of your top priorities will be optimizing efficiency across the board. You want to hit the ground running and run the most profitable business that you can – you’re (rightfully) unwilling to let anything stand in your way.

Yet ironically, there are several factors that are potentially doing exactly that – possibly without you even realizing it. If you’re supposed to produce 100 parts a minute and you’re only producing 90, you’re still looking at 10 that weren’t made. Downtime is a situation when your machines aren’t running because of something that wasn’t planned… but that doesn’t always mean your machine was totally offline.

Luckily, these factors are NOT always beyond your control. With the right downtime tracking process in place, you won’t just know WHAT is happening across your lines. You’ll know WHY and, more importantly, you’ll know exactly what you need to do about it to optimize performance and quality across the board.

What Downtime Tracking Matters: Breaking Things Down

At its core, downtime tracking is essential because of the larger goal it helps you accomplish: you need to figure out why you’re not working as fast as you can and should be.

Sometimes it’s because one or more of your machines was offline due to a maintenance issue, yes. But it could also be because your operator has essentially throttled the machine – possibly through no fault of their own. It could also be because of micro starts and stops with the machine that are adding up to far more time than they should.

All three of these problems require vastly different approaches to fix – and you won’t know which one you need to implement unless you know EXACTLY what is happening at a moment’s notice.

With the right downtime tracking solution by your side, you won’t just have a “bird’s eye view” of your company. You’ll be able to measure your actual production output and compare it against your line’s full potential – thus easily tracking shift efficiency or analyzing trends by line in a way you simply couldn’t in the past.

How efficiently does your line produce one product versus another? Do you know what your biggest source of downtime is right now? How can you better prioritize things like equipment maintenance, purchases, and other actionable steps by the result you need to achieve the moment?

The answer to all these questions is simple: downtime tracking.

In the end, downtime tracking is able to unlock the most important advantage of all: the peace-of-mind that only comes with knowing your manufacturing efforts in the U.S. are as efficient as possible without any of the potential downsides that businesses like yours so often deal with.

If you’d like to find out more information about why downtime tracking is the FIRST thing you should be looking at when you bring your manufacturing into the United States, or if you’d just like to schedule your free demonstration to really see what our powerful solution can do, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.

thumbnail post
Why Quality Tracking is Imperative for Food and Beverage Businesses in Particular

Regardless of the type of business you’re running or even the industry that you’re operating in, obviously one of your biggest concerns on a daily basis is always going to be the quality of the products you put out in the world.

Not only is superior quality a way to create a genuine competitive advantage for yourself, but it’s also the most direct way to keep your customers happy and coming back for more – which may be the most important goal of all.

Having said that, there’s one industry in particular where quality tracking matters more than most. Here, it isn’t just important – it’s mission critical.

Of course, we’re talking about businesses in the food and beverage industry – and this is true for a wide range of reasons, all of which are worth exploring.

Quality Tracking: The Most Important Metric of All

Quality tracking is so important to food and beverage businesses, simply put, because “the cost of getting it wrong” in this context usually means getting people sick.

According to one study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated one out of every six Americans get sick from contaminated foods or beverages every single year. Not only that, but about 3,000 people die as a result of this issue.

Too much of the wrong ingredient won’t just change the flavor of your product – it could actually harm a large portion of your target audience. Bacteria, viruses and even parasites, if left unchecked, can easily cause illness and be deadly for people in certain high-risk groups.

All of this is a problem before you even consider the damage to your business’ reputation that will be caused by failing to pay enough attention to this one hugely important idea.

Any business operating in this industry has a responsibility to both protect people and reduce food borne illnesses in the United States and in no uncertain terms, quality tracking is a big, big part of how you do it.

The Future of Your Business Begins With the Quality Tracking Measures of Today

In the end, it’s absolutely true that quality tracking is important for any type of business you can name. But for food and beverage businesses in particular, it’s how you keep people happy AND healthy while they enjoy the products you’ve spent so much time developing.

Obviously, you never want to make people ill (or worse) – but to guarantee that with the level of consistency you need, you must have something a little more effective than just your intuition. Quality tracking is a big part of how you accomplish it and if you haven’t already started to implement these measures across your own production lines, now would be an excellent time to start.

If you’d like to learn even more about why quality tracking is mission critical for food and beverage businesses in particular, or if you’d just like to talk to someone about your own needs in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.

thumbnail post
The IIoT is Many Things, But One Thing It Doesn’t Have to Be is Hard

At its core, the Internet of Things refers to a series of sensors and computing devices embedded in everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data to one another. The Industrial Internet of Things (or IIoT, for short) is an extension of this idea – obviously taking the principles of this concept and applying them to warehouses, factory floors and other environments.

If nearly every device in your business is creating and sharing data in real-time, you suddenly have more visibility into what is really going on than ever before. Mission critical equipment can alert you to a small problem today before it becomes a much bigger one that takes that machine offline next week. You can see the larger context surrounding your supply chain and logistics operations, thus optimizing your resources to do more with less in a way that you wouldn’t have been able to a year ago.

If all of this sounds complicated and difficult, that’s because it is – from a certain perspective. But with the right tool by your side, uncovering the insight contained within all of this new data is easier than you realize. For many, that tool takes the form of downtime tracking software – something that brings with it a host of unique benefits that you cannot afford to ignore any longer.

The Power of Downtime Tracking in the IIoT World

A downtime tracking solution like Thrive has always been an effective way to measure your production line efficiency in real-time. But what you might not realize is that the more data Thrive has access to, the more insight you’re able to generate.

With a tool like Thrive, you’re able to take the information your IIoT devices are measuring and visualize them in a way that makes your plant’s operational effectiveness crystal clear. You’ll be able to recognize your biggest sources of equipment downtime so that you can do something about them immediately, yes. But you’ll also be able to create actionable steps to improve quality and production, save time and eliminate waste – essentially all at the same time.

Not only that, but with production run records and other features, you can easily track shift efficiency or analyze trends by line at a moment’s notice. So from that point of view, not only are you able to embrace the IIoT in a way that improves efficiency and productivity today. With Thrive, you can keep working with that insight and intelligence to improve things even further tomorrow, next week, next year and beyond.

All of this creates a perfect storm in the best possible way for a business like yours. You’re able to virtually guarantee that metrics like availability, efficiency and quality are exactly where they need to be, which ultimately creates better products and better experiences for the customers you’ve dedicated yourself to serving.

If you’d like to find out more information about why the IIoT doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult as you might think, or if you just have any other questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.

thumbnail post
Yes, OEE Absolutely Fits Into Your Existing Process. Here’s How.  

Original Equipment Effectiveness (or OEE for short) is a key performance indicator commonly used to determine the efficiency of manufacturing plants. The theory is that if you can accurately measure your plant’s operational effectiveness, you can understand what’s working and what isn’t – thus putting in place steps to double down on the former and get rid of the latter whenever you can.

But despite this, far too many people make the mistake of assuming that OEE is more complicated than it is – that it represents a change to “the way things are done” that they just don’t have the time or energy to make right now.

Luckily, this is false. You don’t have to change your existing process to work with OEE at all. In truth, that’s actually kind of the point.

An Organic Approach to OEE: What You Need to Know

Overall, OEE is typically applied to those manufacturing processes that create individual parts – but it can also be used in environments like refineries, too. This is because the type of data being generated by a true OEE implementation is in use practically everywhere – which is exactly why the concept has a home in your current process, too.

While OEE may be incredibly specific by its nature, it’s also a lot broader than people realize. Really, all you’re talking about is the ratio of Fully Productive Time to Planned Production Time. The first term refers to the actual amount of parts or other products that you’re manufacturing in a given period. The second refers to the highest number you can theoretically output during the same timeframe. Therefore, if yours is a manufacturing facility that produces absolutely anything – and of course it is – OEE has a home in your operations.

The difference between those two terms, by the way, is waste – which is also something everyone can benefit from eliminating.

Once you’ve identified your losses even on a single machine, you suddenly have a clearer picture than ever of the performance of your entire line. Thanks to downtime tracking software like Thrive, this is also as easy as you’d hoped it would be. In a matter of seconds after your initial activation, you can be measuring major loss factors like:

  • Equipment Failure.
  • Setups and Adjustments.
  • Idling Periods.
  • Minor Stops.
  • Reduced Speeds.
  • Process Defects.
  • Reduced Yield.
  • And more.

By making an effort to implement OEE into your existing process using Thrive and other tools, you’re not changing anything at all. Rather, you’re gaining more insight into what you’re already doing and are seeing exactly how productive you are versus how productive you can be. You’ll know more than just whether or not your lines are running – any analytical tool can tell you that, as can your own two eyes.

Instead, you’ll know exactly how efficiently they’re performing and exactly how to reduce production downtime – which is an incredibly exciting position for any manufacturing professional to be in.

If you’d like to find out more information about how OEE can effortlessly fit into your existing process, or if you’d just like to see what our innovative downtime management solution can do, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and contact Thrive today.

thumbnail post
Why Your Ability to Visualize Data Matters More Than You Realize  

In the world of business, data is a double-edged sword in the most literal sense of the term.

On the one hand, contained inside that data is the analytical information you need to understand what is REALLY going on with your shop floor. There’s a story inside just waiting to be uncovered… but getting to that point is a lot easier said than done.

This is why, for most modern enterprises, data visualization is a critical part of what they’re doing on a daily basis. At its core, data visualization is exactly what it sounds like – the act of taking the type of information that your production lines are generating and translating it into a visual context, using it to create something like a graph or even a map.

Why Data Visualization Matters

The key benefit to all of this is that data visualization takes even complicated topics and ideas and presents them in a way that is far easier and more natural for the human brain to understand. Rather than forcing someone to wade through reams of papers that are essentially unintelligible to anyone without an advanced computer science degree, you’re presenting those same ideas to them in a visual way that makes it easier to uncover trends, patterns and even outliers in groups of data that would have otherwise gone undiscovered.

Data visualization is also one of the concepts at the heart of Thrive’s own machine downtime tracking solution – something we handle by way of our easy-to-understand dashboards and related tools. Within just seconds of activation, you can access your Thrive dashboard from any computer or device with an active Internet connection – putting invaluable insight at your fingertips, essentially from the jump.

None of this would matter if Thrive’s solution was difficult to use, for the record. Visualizing machine downtime data is great – but if the road to get to that point is overly complicated and fraught with peril, you’re not really accomplishing as much as you think you are. That’s why we’ve gone out of our way to make Thrive so easy to use that we don’t even offer training – if we had to spend hours or even days training you to use our software, we really didn’t build it right.

What you’re left with is a plug and play solution that requires no server, PLC or even software to install. In a matter of minutes, you’re able to unlock visualized data and key performance metrics that are so simple they could be understood by your newest employee, someone who has been with your business for years and absolutely everyone in between.

Regardless of the industry you’re currently operating in, that is an exciting position for any business professional to be in, no question about it.

If you’d like to find out more information about why your ability to visualize data matters more than you realize, or if you’d just like to experience Thrive’s downtime tracking solution in a way that proves how easy it is to accomplish precisely that, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.

 

thumbnail post
Why OEE is the Key to the Continuous Improvement You Need  

Continuous improvement is one of those ideas that sounds great on paper, but that most manufacturing professionals also quickly find out is a lot easier said than done.

Sure, you’d love to create a situation where every day is a little bit more productive – and profitable – than the one that came before it. But how, exactly, are you supposed to do it?

Thankfully, the solution is simple – OEE, or overall equipment effectiveness. The OEE journey is an important one, but it’s also a lot more straightforward than you might think. You just need to keep a few key things in mind along the way.

The Power of OEE: Generating the Manufacturing Prowess You Need

OEE is important, in large part, because it’s a streamlined way to determine the precise efficiency of your plant operations. The only way you’re going to be able to guarantee that you’re operating at peak efficiency is if you understand what “peak efficiency” truly means in your situation. Therefore, OEE is a great way to not only measure your plant’s operational effectiveness, but to visualize it in a way that makes it easy for literally anyone to understand.

Once you understand the exact issues that are limiting your quality and production capabilities, that are costing you precious time, and that are creating more waste than you care to deal with, you can put actionable steps in place to improve these factors across the board. Sounds easy, right?

With the right solution, it absolutely is – and for most organizations, downtime tracking software marks the beginning of this journey into a larger world.

Thrive’s automated downtime tracking and analysis software is designed from the ground up not only with continuous improvement in mind, but also with ease-of-use being a top priority. You shouldn’t need to hire a team of developers or engineers to use the software, let alone to interpret the critical analytics that it’s feeding you on a daily basis. We’ve always said that if we need to train you to use our solution, we didn’t build it right – and we’re eager to prove to you just how true that really is.

Thrive is plug and play, meaning that it’s easy to install and you can access the intelligence it provides within seconds of activation. With a wide variety of different built-in reports – all of which are fully customizable – you can also dive deep into the metrics that matter most to you to get insight into YOUR operations, not someone else’s.

What you’re left with is more than just a way to finally understand what is causing downtime on your shop floor. You have the rock-solid foundation upon which all of your other OEE efforts will be built.

If you’d like to learn more about why OEE is the key to the continuous improvement your business needs to remain successful, or if you just have additional questions that you’d like to go over with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.

 

thumbnail post
Want to Reduce Downtime? The Journey Begins By Starting to Track It  

On your average factory floor, instances of downtime could be caused by an unfortunately large number of reasons. Maybe you’re dealing with more micro starts and stops than you realize. Maybe your operator has throttled a machine to the point where it isn’t operating at peak efficiency any longer. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Truly, it doesn’t matter – what you’re really dealing with is a situation where you’re not working as fast as you should, and you need to know why. Not tomorrow, not next week. Today. Right now.

If you don’t understand downtime within the context of your specific business, you really can’t do much – if anything – to avoid and eliminate it. That’s why if you truly want to reduce downtime (and make no mistake, you should), you need to put a plan in place to track it moving forward.

Downtime Tracking: The Key Tool You’re Not Utilizing Enough

To truly take advantage of your quest to reduce downtime for your business, you need to see it for what it really is: a marathon, not a sprint.

At Thrive, that marathon begins by way of our innovative downtime tracking solution. In minutes, it gives you access to all of the accurate, actionable information you need to not only understand WHAT is happening across your production lines, but WHY. This puts you in an incredible position to actually do something about it in a way that makes sense given exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.

Once you have total visibility into downtime, you can then move onto the next level of your journey – performance. WHY are you only producing 55 products a minute when you should really be producing 60? What is happening to cause that gap? What can you do about it?

Downtime tracking is the key to answering all of these questions as quickly as possible.

At that point, you can tackle the most important part of the journey of all: quality. Regardless of the type of industry you’re talking about, quality is of the utmost importance. Both in terms of keeping people safe (as is true with food and beverage companies) and with regards to carving out a competitive advantage for yourself.

The nexus between downtime, performance and quality tracking is the position that Thrive calls home. Yes, tracking things in this level of detail is difficult because there are so many moving parts at any given moment. But with the right solution by your side – like the one we’ve worked so hard to build – you’ll find that it’s every bit as easy (and dare we say, enjoyable) as you need it to be.

If you want to guarantee that the future of your business is as bright as it can possibly be, in our own humble opinion this is exactly how you do it.

If you’d like to discover even more ways in which tracking downtime can have a dramatic impact on your entire facility, or if you just have any additional questions that you’d like to go over with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Thrive today.