Leveraging IoT for Success: Turning Data into Partnerships and Profit

Thursday, December 17, 2020Categories: Apparel/Fashion, Automated Cutting, Automated Spreading, Blog, CAD, Cutting Room, Nesting, PLM, Software

At its heart, the Internet of Things (IoT, or, Industry 4.0) is simply a collection and an exchange of data between devices which are eventually presented on a screen. What a user does with this data has a major impact on business results. In manufacturing, data and, more importantly, the proper utilization of data, is THE decider between being a true partner and being a company constantly searching for business and opportunities. Regardless of industry, data and your capability to act on it is the primary differentiator between successful manufacturers and those who will struggle to survive, especially in a pandemic world.

Think for a moment about your own business. If you’re reading this, odds are, you participate in product creation for the apparel, furniture, transportation, industrial products, or PPE sectors.  Regardless, your product creation can be enhanced and made more efficient by data. From the planning stage through the post-production analytics, proper utilization of data can help ensure your factory is running efficiently and you’re being an ideal ally for your customers and partners. With better information, you can optimize your shop floor for speed and waste, enhance your revenue, compare and contrast across sites, lines, or machines, and ensure your operators are performing their very best possible.

Production made fast and efficient.

Starting in the production planning phase, as a manufacturer, you want to be able to allocate jobs to machines in a manner that optimizes machine performance while also ensuring that costly mistakes don’t occur, such as incorrect allocation of rolls to jobs. You also want to understand your materials, including how much you have left of different ones, so that you can optimize your remaining goods for the jobs you need to produce. Not having this information can lead to costly mistakes, wasted material, and, worse, bottlenecks that slow down production and cause delays in getting goods to your customers, who are trying to meet the latest trends as quickly as possible. To alleviate this concern, Gerber’s AccuPlan product can help you manage your factory floor, boost production up to 90%, increase material utilization by 5%, and ensure material is available and properly cut via integration with Gerber’s AccuMark software.

When production is occurring, you want your operators to know what they’re doing and make sure they don’t make mistakes. Depending on your industry, you may also want to integrate your cutting process with your other automated robotic processes, which is where Gerber’s Cut Ticket and I/O Module tools can help you ensure that not only have you planned your jobs properly, but that they are also spread and cut properly. Gerber’s Cut Ticket, as generated in AccuMark, can tie together all of the information and data an operator needs by simply scanning a barcode or QR code at the spreader. With this information, the machine knows exactly what it needs to do to optimally spread and cut as well as how far along in the process it is. This continues to ensure spread and cut integrity while also ensuring operators know exactly how far in the process they are, optimizing lines. 

Connecting you to a new era.

Industries like transportation have been quick to adapt automation throughout the production process and robots are an integral part of manufacturing. Industries where handling hazardous materials is part of production also benefit from integration with robots. Gerber recognizes this and supports this, and in fact has for many years! With a devoted I/O module, Gerber can seamlessly integrate with robots, such as automatic picking and stacking. As COVID continues to ravage the globe and companies are unable to have multiple workers in close contact, many companies are considering converting to robotics. For these companies, it’s important to have solutions that can integrate with robotics, which is where Gerber can provide support. 

Make smarter business decisions based on past jobs.

Now that your products have been made, do you know how you did? Going forward, do you have what you need to ensure your machines stay up and online? GERBERconnect, Gerber’s devoted service and analytics platform, allows you to analyze the performance of your factories.

GERBERconnect is also a Remote Support tool that allows Gerber’s service staff to remotely review performance and telemetry data on cutters, which helps to better diagnose and understand errors that have occurred. GERBERconnect monitors over 160 data points from 50+ sensors on our Gerber Paragon cutter. The new Gerber Atria Digital Cutter provides even more data, including from our patent-pending KnifeEdge sensor. 

In conjunction with TeamViewer, GERBERconnect can resolve over 80% of all issues that arise, remotely. GERBERconnect saves you tens of thousands of dollars by reducing downtime, repairs and FSE visits. Additionally, Gerber can monitor significant spikes in your machine utilization and offer recommendations on consumables and spare parts that will ensure your machine runs as optimally as it can. The data collected from GERBERconnect aims to keep you online and save you money.

Providing key job analytics to enhance your operations.

But what about when your machine is running smoothly? This is where having the ability to review your production data, your way, without a 3rd-party login is critical. With Gerber, customers who have ERP, MES, or other Business Intelligence software can utilize an API tie-in to their machine to collect and visualize their performance. This integration provides key job-by-job analytics, such as job and mode times, distances, and counts that will help you understand your floor better and optimize your processes, people and machines. Customers without such internal tools can utilize a devoted web portal for analyzing and visualizing their machine performance which will be available in the near future. 

With this information, you can get an accurate understanding of whether certain job types are consistently under or over their standard allowable minutes, allowing you to better allocate jobs and plan work. You can see if materials tied to certain customers take longer to produce than you believed, allowing you to enhance your revenue. If one of your production sites is operating more efficiently than others, you can have that site train the rest of your facilities.

You can even re-allocate work across the sites based on this information. You can see where one operator may benefit from additional training. You can understand your true machine utilization. These are just some examples of the kinds of analyses and understandings you may gain by having this data. 

Gerber offers customers data across the entire manufacturing process, all collected and exchanged throughout the process. But it is indeed what you do with it that really matters; how you save materials, money, and time, keep your machines online, and enhance your production across your sites in a way that most benefits you. That is the heart of IoT: data on a screen that turns into partnership and profit for you. 

If you would like more information about Gerber’s IoT options, please reach out to Brendan Bliss for more information!