Planning Automation Projects: A KPI Glossary for Engineers

KPIs, or key performance indicators, are a crucial part of every professionally conducted automation project. They provide a robust way to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and verify project success. In the complex world of robotic systems and automation, choosing the right KPIs is a critical step towards your project's success.

Understanding KPIs in Automation Projects

KPIs are metrics that measure the success of a process and align closely with your project goal. Take, for instance:

A project aimed at 'increasing assembly line output by 15%, while reducing annual maintenance costs by at least 10%'. As a result, the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant are those that track output and maintenance costs.

However, it's essential to understand that data can be misleading when evaluating complex automation systems. Factors external to the automation process, such as a shortage of components, can skew overall project success metrics. In such cases, it becomes crucial to track KPIs that directly measure the new automation system's impact.

Key Manufacturing KPIs in Professional Automation Projects

Let's look at some vital KPIs that can be applied in a variety of different automation settings. Forming a comprehensive glossary for engineers and automation professionals:

1. Production Schedule Attainment: This calculated number shows how close the system is to achieving the projected level of output. The formula is: (actual output / projected output) x 100.

2. Scrap Value: This key performance indicator shows the amount of waste. It is possible to define it in regards to quantity, a time period, a cost, or a percentage. The formula for this is: (total scrap / total output).

3. Total Cycle Time: This is the total amount of time required to complete a procedure, starting from the very beginning. This is calculated using the formula: (cycle end time - cycle start time).

4. System Changeover Time: This KPI measures the time lost changing between tasks in larger processes. As well as indicating a reduction in production time when the available time remains consistent. The formula for this is: (net available time – actual production time).

5. Throughput (output): This is an essential KPI in the field of robotics. Since it demonstrates the output capabilities of an automated process. Formula: (number of units produced ÷ unit of time (day, week, or month)).

6. System Availability: This KPI evaluates the uptime of the system while taking into account any downtime that may have occurred. The formula for this is: (uptime ÷ ((uptime + downtime)).

7. Percentage Planned Maintenance: This ratio evaluates planned maintenance against emergency maintenance. Thus, indicating the reliability of the system and areas suitable for preventative maintenance. Formula: ((number of planned maintenance hours x 100)) ÷ total number of maintenance hours.)

8. Manufacturing or Maintenance Cost Per Unit: These KPIs show the cost of the equipment per unit produced or cycle completed. The formula for this is: (total manufacturing cost ÷ number of units or cycles). Or, on the other hand, (total maintenance cost ÷ number of units or cycles).

Identifying and monitoring the right KPIs is integral to the success of any professional automation project. Engineers and industrial automation professionals can utilise these KPIs to effectively measure progress. As well as, making informed decisions and repeatedly optimise their automation systems.

Utilising KPIs in an appropriate manner can dramatically improve the effectiveness and profitability of your project in a variety of ways. Including, increasing system throughput, decreasing cycle times, and managing maintenance costs.

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