Saturday, October 5, 2013

Want a Low-Budget, High-Feature Shop Floor Information Network?

How would you like a hand-held, in-plant information network for almost no investment?  What if all your managers, line supervisors and maintenance techs each had a hand-held device, networked to key performance indicators, production dashboards, maintenance manuals, "how-to" videos, email and text?   

A Chief Executive Boards International member has a network like that, using mobile terminals that cost $100 or less.  What are they using?   Old iPhones (either 3, 4 or an iPod touch will also work).   Not on a cellular network, but on their own secure, in-plant Wi-Fi network.  

To do this, you must have a Wi-Fi network and individual iCloud accounts set up for all users of this type of system. iCloud accounts are free to set up and there's no cost to use all the services. With an iCloud account and an Apple device you can text message, email, share calendars, share reminders, share pictures and videos or tele-conference with another user anywhere and any time. Again, at no monthly subscription expense. 

You can share pictures and movies with any number of employees.  For example, you can video machine repairs or tooling changeovers or anything that you may want to share with employees or groups of employees like all shifts in the maintenance department.  Or you can remotely troubleshoot a piece of equipment with support from another employee who is either at home or anywhere else outside the plant at any time of the day.  An outgoing shift can leave email or text messages to alert the next shift of a problem.  

Worried about Facebook, personal email or other surfing abuses?   It's a special-purpose network so you can lock it down pretty tightly, using site blocking features in the wireless router itself or a low-end security appliance. 

The company doing this is the Wilson Bohannan padlock company, founded in 1860.   They've been making "Locks since Lincoln".  They're not old-fashioned, though.  They've continued to automate their production and have now taken a leap into shop floor information networks with a very clever, cost-effective use of recycled equipment.  

If you have some clever in-plant information network implementations, click "Comments" below and share them with others.     
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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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