Trade injection moulder RGE Group has invested in award-winning ThingTrax IoT technology to monitor its production facilities across the UK and Europe. Now a data-driven powerhouse, RGE has improved efficiencies and reduced costs and CO2, future-proofing its operations.
Established in 1965, RGE Group specialise in precision plastic injection moulding, tooling and product design. Headquartered in Cambridgeshire, RGE operates on a global scale with facilities across the UK, Lithuania and China. The group houses over 150 plastic injection moulding machines, ranging from 25-tonnes to an enormous 3150-tonnes and produces an impressive 80 million parts per year for customers worldwide.
With the sheer volume of injection moulded components it produces per year, RGE is future-proofing its operations with investments that will save energy, time, and cost, enabling the company to keep up with demand without compromising quality. Innovation and high-quality standards are at the heart of the family-owned business. To remain competitive and serve its customers efficiently, RGE must maintain the utmost standards throughout its factories and continuously strive to improve quality, not just in the components it produces but also in its customer service.
That, combined with its long-term goal to operate more sustainably and bring environmental consciousness to the forefront of its business, RGE has recently invested in digitalisation and installed energy-efficient injection moulding machines and solar panels at its largest manufacturing site in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire. Meanwhile, its Lithuania facility received green certification as it utilises electricity produced from 100% renewable energy sources.
RGE discovered ThingTrax, an IoT and AI smart factory solution, when it was looking to replace its previous production system, which was becoming outdated and ultimately costing the company valuable resources in the long term. With a large and highly skilled workforce at the helm of the business, RGE was seeking a solution that monitors its day-to-day operations and promotes worker safety and engagement. Like many manufacturers, RGE could be hindered by the cost of unplanned downtime, strengthening its need for a system to reduce said downtime and save costs by reducing scrap, energy use and material usage, at a time where all remain extremely costly in the current market. With the rise of Industry 4.0 and a drive to increase productivity and decrease costs and CO2, RGE approached ThingTrax.
ThingTrax aims to help manufacturers transform the way their labour, processes, and machinery connect. The company was founded seven years ago by Aman Gupta and Imran Shafqat and is led by Software-as-a-Service veteran Paul Reader as CEO. ThingTrax offers a Manufacturing Performance Platform leveraging IoT technology, AI and cloud computing to provide automated, real-time, factory-wide data and actionable insights that enable optimised operational execution. The modular platform is designed to be an affordable, future-proof solution that all manufacturing businesses of all sizes can adopt quickly. Its mission is to help 500 new customers each generate 500% annual ROI of incremental value for their businesses by 2026.
ThingTrax was an attractive option for RGE. Its competitive pricing and cloud-based servers allow for easy remote access and eliminate the need for additional equipment on the shop floor. After evaluating ThingTrax’s capabilities, RGE implemented the technology on all of its machines at its UK and Lithuania manufacturing sites in 2017.
Having assessed the company’s needs, ThingTrax recommended the “Productivity” module for RGE, an end-to-end solution combining hardware and software. It enables manufacturers to increase productivity by increasing output and minimising downtime whilst simultaneously reducing costs. The solution provides real-time performance monitoring, triggers just-in-time operational improvement interventions, and enables deep-dive root cause analysis. RGE is harnessing the module to enhance its overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), energy consumption, job planning and breakdown management.
Speaking about how ThingTrax’s Manufacturing Performance Platform functions, Marcus Leech, UK Sales Director at RGE, commented:
“The system covers many aspects of the production process, from production planning through to production control and the performance of our machines. It monitors our energy usage, cycle times, labour and planned and reactive maintenance. All of these are measures that can be seen as a live review or fed out as a report.”
RGE has strengthened its offering as a full-service provider with the implementation of ThingTrax’s Manufacturing Performance Platform. ThingTrax gives RGE a complete view of its facilities throughout the UK and Europe through a single dashboard, empowering the team to proactively identify and manage downtime, among other issues, rather than reacting. In doing so, RGE has made substantial cost savings and increased productivity.
The manufacturer is using ThingTrax to monitor, capture and analyse data from its machinery, planned jobs and workers, including their engagement and safety. The data and insights indicate which machines are due maintenance and when production schedules can be optimised to allow more jobs to be run and generate more revenue. RGE employees can view up-to-the-minute information quickly and easily by logging in on any device.
David Ancill, UK Operations Director at RGE, commented:
“The fully tailored dashboard assists with high-level overview management, with many sub-menus that support the live finite detail of OEE and scrap and quality analysis. This assists with tight cost control on output and, with the current climate on utilities, close cost intelligence on power consumption supports efficient planning and machine control.”
The ThingTrax Solution: What is a Manufacturing Performance Platform?
The ThingTrax Manufacturing Performance Platform is a complete digital operations solution that offers everything a manufacturing business needs to enable its digitisation journey. Customers simply choose to turn-on the modules needed today with the comfort of knowing that ThingTrax has all the capabilities they will ever need as they mature and become more sophisticated with time.
- Daily Management – With the “daily management” module, set-out your organisationally aligned performance goals, run meetings, proactively manage tasks, hold people accountable, instigate countermeasures and reward team members who execute to achieve organisational objectives. Leverage this ThingTrax module to foster a progressive, positive, performance-oriented team culture.
- Productivity – With the “productivity” module, you can automatically ingest jobs from your ERP, drag-and-drop jobs to the right machines, then sequence the jobs for each machine into an optimised schedule. Meanwhile, sensors on each machine and cameras at each manual assembly cell or packing station give you real-time data and insights on jobs status triggering just-in-time interventions to increase output or reduce cost. Algorithms automatically predict if jobs will finish and be delivered on time. They will also automatically predict the knock-on effect of job delays on other jobs in the queue so that planners can adjust scheduling and customer expectations can be managed proactively.
- Quality – The “quality” module enables customers to manage customer complaints from receipt to resolution in a trackable compliant manner. The module guides teams through an 8-step process from forming a team, describing the problem, containing the problem, understanding the root cause, identifying a corrective action, implementing the corrective action, preventing the issue from occurring again, and recognising the team for resolving the customer problem.
- Maintenance – If you have opted for the “productivity” module, then ThingTrax has all the operational data about your machines. It knows how many hours each machine has run, how much of that has been downtime, how much has been productive time, how many cycles have run, and how many parts have been produced with which tools. As a result, the “maintenance” module add-on can reference each machine and tool’s maintenance schedule, then automatically instigate preventative maintenance tickets and capture the status of those tickets. Increased visibility of maintenance across the business and proactive maintenance discipline enabled by ThingTrax maximises the lifespan of your assets and minimises unplanned downtime, which can cause expensive delays and missed customer deliveries.
- Sustainability & Safety – Most manufacturing businesses have corporate sustainability objectives. You will have goals to reduce your carbon footprint as well as continue to improve your health and safety record. With energy prices rising, you have the desire to monitor and minimise energy consumption as much as possible whilst maintaining output. With the ThingTrax sustainability & safety module, the platform can give you real-time insights into how each of your factories and your business is performing against these corporate goals.
- Connected Applications – The ThingTrax Manufacturing Performance Platform is built on the latest technologies. As a result, through pre-built connectors, it can be rapidly integrated with hundreds of other applications without the need for costly or lengthy custom integration projects. Whether it be your ERP system (like SAP or Dynamics), a Business Intelligence solution (like DataBox, PowerBI, or Tableau), or countless other complementary factory applications with a few clicks, ThingTrax will interoperate with the other tools that you use to run your business.
- Partner Solutions – The ThingTrax Manufacturing Performance Platform offers partners who provide complementary services the option of digitising their offering together. Whether it be oil testing, PPE vending, spare parts vending, or any other third-party service that your manufacturing business relies upon…orchestrate it all in one place with ThingTrax.
The investment in ThingTrax has modernised RGE’s operations, reinforcing the need for smart manufacturing and flexibility as capacity and demand continue to increase.