We all know that technology is rapidly changing the way companies across a range of industries operate. In particular, the benefits of automation in manufacturing and logistics environments are manyfold: reduced costs, lower dependency on manual labour, less risk of human errors, increased capacity, greater efficiencies on the shop floor and improved understanding of the entire operation, to name just a few.

With companies under increasing pressure to stay ahead of the competition and achieve operational efficiencies, demand for innovative and fully integrated human resources software solutions is rising. We’re seeing more and more manufacturing and logistics companies turn to automation to help them address today’s operational challenges.

One such challenge is improving visibility, efficiency and transparency on the factory floor. In order to proactively resolve issues, address production bottlenecks and improve overall productivity, companies need access to real-time information.

The value of real-time data

So why is capturing information in real time so invaluable? Well, first and foremost, real-time shop floor data collection is key to improving operational performance. But it’s more than just improving plant productivity and profitability. It’s also about equipping management with time-sensitive information from the shop floor that they can review and respond to immediately. If a production problem occurs, it can be dealt with there and then, with real-time alerts sent to all parties who need to be made aware of the problem.

Access to real-time data makes it much easier to analyse both plant and employee performance –With this data immediately to hand 24/7/365, managers are much better positioned to make proactive and informed decisions about current and future shop floor operations.

A flexible factory floor solution 

As part of K3 Equator’s suite of modular software systems, we’ve developed our ‘Real-time Data Collection’ module, also known as a ‘Shop Floor Data Collection’. The system enables information from the factory floor to be collected and collated electronically.  As soon as each operation or activity is performed, the information is easily captured in real time by the employee using a wide range of different devices’ barcodes, proximity tags, biometric readers and touch screen technology, including iPhones and android devices.

The user-defined information collected can include employee number, job number, operation number, quantity produced, start and finish times, quantity scrapped and so on. The system can be tailored to customers’ requirements, depending on what data they want to capture. Customers can then choose whether to ‘collect’ the data entries and update their main system in real time or at pre-set intervals. Collected data can then be used for a variety of purposes, including automatic posting to Time and Attendance, Work-in-Progress and instant productive and non-productive analysis.

Integration is key

With more and more companies introducing alternative working patterns and integrating systems across more than one site, our ‘Real-time Data Collection’ module system has been designed to offer advanced functionality and flexibility by incorporating unlimited user-defined work patterns including UK and continental work terms such as flexi-time and rotations, as well as multiple operations per employee.

We recognise that integration of shop floor data collection into existing systems is key and that’s where our modular approach to software systems stands out as a flexible solution. Across both the manufacturing and logistics industries, companies use a vast array of desktop, ERP and back office systems, so Real-time Data Collection has been designed to integrate with almost all of these mobile or PC-based systems.

And although the Real-time Data Collection system forms part of our fully integrated Equator product suite, it’s also available as a stand-alone module, making it a cost-effective option for customers who want to reap the benefits of real-time data capture, but aren’t yet at the stage of introducing the full product suite.

There’s no doubt that the next few years will see automation play an increasingly important role across the board as companies strive for even greater visibility, efficiency, and differentiation from their competitors.

For more information on Equator HR, contact Tommy Hynes, tommy.hynes@k3btg.com or call on 0161 876 4498.