by Dan Janka, president of Mazak Corporation
POSTED ON 4/18/2019 – Mazak recently received the prestigious Top Plant Award from Plant Engineering magazine. The award recognized all that we’ve accomplished at our Florence, Kentucky, plant, and I’d like to take this time to share what we’ve done.
At Mazak, we thought ahead to the capabilities of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to transform how we work, and that led us to a massive shift in our production process. In 2014, we began to monitor the equipment in our Florence, KY, facility and quickly realized how much productivity we could gain by simply listening to what our performance data could tell us.
When we expanded the facility by 100,000 sq. ft., we added the fiber optic and wireless connectivity to support digital networking for IIoT. In our first year of IIoT implementation, we saw a 17% improvement in productivity, and our monitoring system paid for itself in six months. Now, we’ve become a technology showcase for our own customers, reaping the benefits of a manufacturing system built around the combination of data insights and employee feedback.
That feedback is the second critical part of Industry 4.0, drawing on the insights and knowledge of the people who run the technology for us. At the same time that we’ve increased our output by 20% – in part by using automation to compensate for the area’s skilled-labor shortage and to increase the output of our existing production team – we’ve also made and kept a commitment to listen to what our people tell us.