After talking with lab owners and managers, we found that they want even MORE technical information than before, not less. So LabTalk is giving you TechTalk—technical information that labs can use. The question we asked tech vendors is: What is the most important step lab managers need to take to properly manage the new production efficiency data available to them in the era of Industry 4.0?

The Power of Data

Kurt Atchison 
Schneider Optical Machines Inc.

The power of data provided by industry 4.0 systems, such as Schneider’s Control Center with Virtual Lab Manager capability, is tremendous. The key to maximizing its use is to really dive in and understand everything it offers, because everything you need is there! Labs have long sought out a truly integrated system but until now still ended up with a “machine by machine” segregated approach. Without a great 4.0-capable system, they depend on people to tell them what’s going on. An accurate picture depends on the involvement and accuracy of the supervisor or operator. Great people, no doubt, but not always equipped with the right information. 

Schneider’s Modulo Control Center takes away all the guesswork and provides all the information in one place, and that information is vast. A lab manager needs to be well trained on the control system and he or she will know what to do and when. Like with truly modern automobiles, no one physically checks things anymore like tire pressure, oil levels or what might be running poorly. They simply turn the key and look at the dashboard computer to tell them everything they need to know. A modern lab with the power of the Modulo Control Center can do the same, but with vastly more information available to them. Train yourself on the true power of your system and success will follow.

Don't Lose the Signal to the Noise

John Keane
Software Consultant
Digital Vision, Inc.

With an ocean of data available on laboratory operations, the most important skill a lab manager can apply is to take a business-oriented approach to analysis. Appropriately managed large data sets can help optimize production and maintenance cycle times, quickly identify process issues and tolerance drift, improve workflow and turn time and more.

With large data availability, though, it is possible to lose the signal to the noise. If a generator texts management 20 times a day because it is feeling lonely, it is not very likely that anybody will come running if an actual problem comes up.

Filtering out noise is critical in reviewing process data as well. The impulse to deep dive into every available aspect of production and improve performance on every graph and dial will lead to optimizing procedures that have no effect on the bottom line.

Ultimately, powerful analytic and diagnostic tools can assist lab managers with their operations in exciting new ways, but having a deep understanding of their lab’s process is critical to the successful implementation.


Labtalk March 2020