Data put to work
For much of its 88-year history, employees at Giovanni Foods Company Inc. have recorded downtime incidents manually. Over that time, the way data was collected evolved from pen and paper to spreadsheets on a desktop computer where it could be tracked and analyzed. The resulting data records were far from perfect; staff used different terms for the same problem, entries were left unfinished because the operator was interrupted by something more urgent, or incidents weren’t recorded at all.
This story isn’t unique to Giovanni; gaps and inconsistencies in operational data like these have long plagued plant managers and engineering staff across manufacturing. These often obscure the root causes for costly downtime and, consequently, make it hard for companies to plan for it.
Enter Industry 4.0.
Nick Leshkiv, Giovanni’s director of plant operations, saw an opportunity to apply Industry 4.0 to not only better track equipment downtime, but to predict when disruptions might happen. Using intelligent sensors that could communicate vibration, heat, or humidity data to an automated monitoring platform, Leshkiv wanted to make Giovanni’s assets “smarter.”
But to do that, Leshkiv first had to make sense of a year’s worth of downtime data that he had collected from the production lines at Giovanni’s facility in Baldwinsville, New York. Gerry Hurley, a technical program manager at RIT, worked with Leshkiv to “scrub”—a term for removing errors, biases, and inconsistencies from a dataset—the data. Hurley organized it into 30 unique categories and then assigned codes detailing the operators’ stated reasons for downtime, such as “breakdown repairs” or “lunch breaks.”
The data deep dive was just the beginning of an ongoing collaboration to discover Giovanni’s most cost-effective path to data connectivity, a pillar of digital manufacturing. RIT’s assistance has opened Giovanni’s management eyes to a wider view of how its equipment performs over time and why individual units go offline. With this improved visibility, the Giovanni team is currently selecting the assets that could be successfully integrated into a performance-monitoring system.
Importantly, Leshkiv intends the final product to be turnkey, using off-the-shelf components and open-source software. “I don’t want it to be only proprietary to Giovanni or somebody else. I want everybody to be able to use it,” he said.
“I don’t want it to be only proprietary to Giovanni or somebody else. I want everybody to be able to use it.”
– Nick Leshkiv, Director of Plant Operations, Giovanni Foods Company Inc.
This sentiment reflects one of the RIT Industry 4.0 program’s driving purposes; that is to foster innovation at the company level and to then translate it into knowledge and resources that are of benefit to New York’s manufacturing sector as a whole.