Production Data Goes Mobile

June 13, 2013
FactoryTalk® VantagePoint software can connect to multiple data sources from the FactoryTalk suite and third-party vendors. The latest version from Rockwell Automation can trigger emails based on historical data changes that may signal an operational issue.

Kurt Roller was participating in an engineering meeting for Callaway Golf Co. when a company vice president asked how the Callaway Mexico plant was performing. Company managers attending the meeting offered reports from different sources that didn’t match up.

“He made it clear that there is only one truth, and we need to find out what that is,” recalled Roller, the company’s continuous improvement manager.

After considering its options, the golf equipment manufacturer implemented the FactoryTalk VantagePoint web-based reporting software from Rockwell Automation. Callaway managers hoped VantagePoint would increase visibility into plant operations and expand data availability across the enterprise, said Roller, who led a session on mobility at the Rockwell Automation RSTechED event in San Diego.

The software allowed the company to access data from multiple sources, including PLCs, its SAP database and Excel spreadsheets, in real time. Using a single data source, Callaway Golf was then able to remotely view diagnostics, monitor processes, improve overseas supplier quality monitoring and simplify data visibility.

VantagePoint can connect to multiple data sources from the FactoryTalk suite and third-party vendors. The latest version from Rockwell Automation can trigger emails based on historical data changes that may signal an operational issue. VantagePoint can generate these reports based on parameters set by the user. For instance, if pressure rises or falls beyond a certain cut-off point, VantagePoint will trigger an event.

Users can send the emails to multiple recipients and include a summary about what triggered the notification. They can also use HTML to embed associated data about the event, such as the number of motor starts or run time, said Andrew Ellis, commercial engineering manager, Rockwell Automation.

Such features display the content in a visual format that’s suitable for mobile devices, said Mike Pantaleano, business manager, Information Software, Rockwell Automation.

“This is a slightly different take on mobility,” Pantaleano said. “Let’s remove the person from having to stare at their piece of glass and notify them when things actually change. You’re not going to have operators walking around with their iPad. They’d be much better served to have the information sent to them on their phone.”

Mobile-Friendly Reports

VantagePoint software gives users the option to embed reports in the body of an email. In addition, an add-on called Mobile Favorites allows users to access “deep” data with content from multiple sources. Users can use the mobile tool to create subfolders that are easilyaccessible on a mobile device, said Ellis, who led an RSTechED session on mobile access to production information.

“You can’t have people on small devices trying to navigate a very complicated journey,” Ellis said.

Callaway Avoids Quality Sand Trap

VantagePoint alerted Carlsbad, Calif.-based Callaway to quality problems with a new material the company was testing at its Mexico plant. The company noticed defects that it had never seen before, Roller said. Using VantagePoint, managers at the company headquarters in Carlsbad tracked the issue to a problem in its ovens. They could monitor critical performance data, including energy usage, temperature and the length of time each part was in the oven.

The data in VantagePoint showed energy variances, including heaters performing differently. Further analysis led the company to an issue with the analog process controls in the oven. With access to such robust data at their fingertips, managers were able to troubleshoot via conference calls and email. 

“A big benefit is that no one had to travel from Carlsbad to Mexico,” Roller said. “We could do it all right at the headquarters.”

More importantly, the company saved approximately $200,000 in a short period of time because Callaway managers could identify and solve the issue quickly, Roller said.

Callaway also uses VantagePoint to track quality issues from its supplier in China and is in the process of deploying it to its plant in Japan.

The value of having flexible access to data becomes more valuable as it moves up the organizational chain, Pantaleanosaid.

“Instead of being buried behind his desk, now a shift supervisor can go out to the plant floor, look at his phone and see where OEE is dipping,” Pantaleano said. “Then he can walk up to that operator and help him get that needle going in the right direction.”


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