Blogs

Data, Data Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Drink

Facility managers are surrounded by data in their factories. But like someone stranded in the Pacific, surrounded by water but with nothing to drink, how can a facility manager get to that data, visualize it, and translate that into actionable insights?

What happens when you have an ocean of data? What happens when you have more data than you know what to do with, but nothing specific to act on?

The pursuit of more sustainable manufacturing is a long journey, and data alone does not fuel that journey. Nope, one can’t live on data alone. Sustained progress requires informed and actionable insights.

When looking across their factory, the management team at the facility can see data everywhere. It’s visible on dials, gauges, and switches. They also see it on utility bills, safety records, and labor reports. It’s seen in unplanned downtime, production uptime, and employee overtime. The data comes in all forms: from CFM, hours, degrees, tons, to the most important units – dollars and cents.

McWane Inc. concentrates on the development of ductile iron pipe. Its foundries turn tons of recycled metal into the pipe that communities around the globe depend on for clean, safe drinking water.

These foundries are not what one might think of when thinking about modern, high-tech data-driven operations. The plants are decades old and the equipment they rely on for production is more heavy-duty than high-tech. But nevertheless, McWane sustains its ongoing pursuit of more sustainable manufacturing with data-informed insights.

Working with Synapse, McWane is starting to see that data on charts and graphs, and on their computer and phone screens.

The data has always been there for the facility management, but it was hidden away within the equipment, department, or high-level facility reports. The McWane team just needed a simple way to combine all that data into a single source that allowed them to refine our processes.

That is exactly what Synapse was conceived to do. Synapse is an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) company that develops affordable and effective ways for manufacturers to combine their most critical data into one, easy to manage place, and then draw on SimplySnap’s energy insights to convert that data into real and measurable process improvements.

At the heart of Synapse technology is its SimplySnap platform. SimplySnap is, like the name suggests, a simple combination of light hardware and sophisticated software that allows manufacturers to combine data from digital and analog sources into single platform and then see how process improvements drive meaningful change.

For example, with a handful of circuit transducers (CTs), the Sense 4-20, a SimplySnap wireless gateway and the SimplySnap Energy Insights platform, facilities managers can monitor how much energy a piece of critical production equipment or a department is consuming. The team can match up equipment or department energy consumption to the time of day, the plant’s production schedule, and the local energy rate schedule.

But that’s just data, until…

It informs the facility manager that more energy is being consumed than expected, and with this new information, the facility manager is able to identify energy-savings projects along with the expected savings.

From this complex ocean of data, facilities and energy managers are able to plot very specific courses toward reduction of wasted energy. They can see and act upon the insights to drive changes that drive out waste, drive down energy costs and drive forward hundreds upon hundreds of meaningful process improvements to advance McWane’s sustainability initiatives.

What’s more, the energy reductions and other process improvements are compared to the true energy cost – kWh are converted to dollars and cents – so facilities and energy managers can see the actual ROI of their actions.

From massive amounts of unorganized and unfiltered data, comes simple ways to do things better. Whether by equipment, department, or the entire facility, the management team can see, in dollars and cents, exactly what the process improvements have saved. Sometimes it’s small, sometimes it’s massive, but it is always measurable. As the old adage goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t really manage it.

For all case studies, including the case study on McWane Ductile’s use of SimplySnap Energy Insights to reduce the wasted compressed air energy costs, click here.