Incorporating weld data monitoring
As more of the operational systems in your manufacturing facility become IT-enabled and connected, you may have questions about how best to use this data and keep information safe.
Learn more about the benefits of connecting the welding operation, and get answers to frequently asked questions about weld data monitoring systems.
Q1: How will a weld data monitoring system help reach operational goals?
When the weld cell data is digitalized, even small issues can be tracked and monitored to help improve productivity and results. Operations can see the entire picture of what’s happening, including the number of pieces or parts produced, deposition rates, arc-on time and time spent on rework. Here are some real-world examples of time and money saved:
- One company used digital welding data to justify capital spending on new equipment for welders (other than welding power sources) to increase arc-on time by as much as 10%, increasing productivity and making the workplace more efficient.
- Another company identified a problem with staffing on the second and third shifts where a piece of equipment would malfunction temporarily and no maintenance or repair staff were available to fix it. The company added third-shift maintenance staff to address problems in the welding area immediately, increasing arc-on time from 18% to 35%.
- Another company had a problem with missing or incorrectly performed welds. They were spending $400,000 per year to visually inspect, repair and repaint the parts being produced. After installing a welding intelligence solution, they saved $400,000 per year.
Q2: Why are manufacturing operational technology (OT) personnel so focused on connecting all of these systems?
It may seem that your production floor suddenly wants to connect all of the equipment and systems in the manufacturing operation to the internet. Connected systems in a manufacturing operation can run the gamut from welders and punch presses to laser cutters and hand tools.
OT personnel are likely looking for ways to improve efficiency and productivity. The more data that operations managers can get automatically from the shop floor from digitally connected solutions, the easier it is for them to find and address issues such as bottlenecks — and uncover opportunities for improvement in the production process.
Q3: How do I prevent data breaches with weld data monitoring solutions?
Consider installing a system that’s an on-premises solution, which provides complete control of all your security protocols. An on-premises solution avoids potential holes in the firewall or your existing IT security that protects the facility’s data.
Also, when using a cloud-based weld data monitoring solution, be sure to utilize an edge network (a network located on the periphery of a centralized network). That way, the traffic is on a separate domain from any sensitive internal information kept on the company’s primary internal domain.
Q4: How do I make sure I’m complying with all necessary regulations?
The two main data privacy and security regulations are GDPR and CCPA.
- GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is the strictest privacy and security law in the world. It was passed by the European Union, but it imposes obligations onto organizations anywhere in the world that target or collect data related to people who live in the EU.
- CCPA is the California Consumer Privacy Act, designed to give California consumers more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them.
It’s important to be aware of which data protection laws your company falls under to ensure you comply. If you’re concerned about compliance when it comes to your operating systems, look for a weld data monitoring system that doesn’t collect personally identifiable information. Most weld data monitoring systems do not require personally identifiable information or financial data for their operation.
Q5: How can I ensure data portability?
Once all of your systems are online and connected — and all providing data — it’s important for all of that data to be portable. In the past, it was typically up to each manufacturer’s individual system. But today, tool and equipment manufacturers are making the data for their systems exportable so it can be compiled in a central location using a common protocol such as MQTT.
Be sure any systems you invest in offer data portability. Operations managers and production managers don’t want to log into multiple systems to get a full picture of their production line operations. They want to see data all in one place and make sure the data being collected from a visualization system can be exported into another system.
Q6: What is my role in ongoing maintenance or troubleshooting for weld data monitoring systems?
Most of these systems require little ongoing maintenance or troubleshooting on the part of IT managers. After any firmware update or security patch, check to make sure systems that were previously functioning normally did not get knocked offline. You will likely check your critical day-to-day systems like email and phones, but don’t forget to look at any edge networks or edge devices to ensure that they are still functioning properly.