Technologies are evolving rapidly in the manufacturing equipment industry — and buyers are paying attention. Industrial machinery production grew some 9% in 2014, with another 9% increase anticipated in 2015. Why? Because manufacturing execs want their plants to remain safe, compliant, and profitable — and they know they need new equipment to remain competitive.
Savvy leaders also understand that there’s plenty of room to improve plant utilization. Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) — a measure of machine reliability, quality yield, and capacity to produce — was 80 percent (median) at U.S. plants in 2014. Yet one-quarter of plants reported poor OEE numbers of less than 70 percent. Investments in machinery — along with process improvements — can boost OEE and improve plant-wide optimization by:
- Speeding deliveries — minimize downtime and unplanned maintenance
- Improving quality — keep machines operating within accepted variances, and lower scrap and rework
- Increasing capacity — generate higher output from the same plant footprint
- Cutting costs — streamline production processes, minimize inventories, and reduce energy consumption and labor requirements
New equipment is needed to drive innovation and keep up with compliance, too, by:
- Accommodating new products, materials, and/or component technologies
- Addressing new government and industry regulations — and customer specifications — required by new products
- Complying with stricter operations requirements (emissions, sound, employee safety)
New equipment and upgrades also offer opportunities for long-term planning and improved production agility. Leading manufacturers (such as Rockwell Automation) have implemented Connected Enterprise models — advanced information technology/operations technology (IT/OT) infrastructures that enable executives to use data from production equipment to tap into real-time operations and supply-chain insights for better, proactive decision-making. As companies leverage the Internet of Things with intelligent devices embedded within equipment, they also can secure their IT/OT infrastructures and keep information, networks, and operations safe.
How safe, effective, connected, and profitable is your equipment today? More importantly, how competitive will it be tomorrow?
 Daniel Meckstroth, U.S. Industrial Outlook: Growth Mode, MAPI, Sept. 9 2014.
 OEE = % machine availability X % quality yield X % of optimal rate that equipment operates
 2014 MPI Manufacturing Study, The MPI Group, February 2015.