Guest Post

Working from Home in Support of an Industrial Manufacturing Plant

Mike Malone

Mike Malone graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1995 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He started his process engineering career at Toray Plastics just a few weeks later and has been improving up-rate and yield while reducing waste and costs for the company ever since. TrendMiner has been helping the Toray team unlock the power of data analytics since 2018. When Mike is not troubleshooting the manufacturing processes and analyzing trend data, he enjoys bike riding, astronomy, and spending time with his wife, family and friends.

In this special blog post, TrendMiner customer Mike Malone, Process Engineer at Toray Plastics (America),  discusses how, given work disruptions due to COVID-19, TrendMiner allowed for a seamless transition to working from home.

COVID-19 Turned the World Upside Down & Working from Home Became the New Normal

The onset of COVID-19 Pandemic really turned the world upside down so to speak, affecting everyone in ways both big and small. The work environment changed dramatically overnight with new rules, protocols and restrictions. 

process engineer Mike MaloneI consider myself very fortunate that my company was considered essential and could remain open. The daily office capacity was cut to 50% initially and then further. Suddenly, working from home a few days a week became the new normal; whereas it was not even a consideration previously. How does a process engineer support Manufacturing in a meaningful way from home?

Performing Data Analytics with TrendMiner from Home

I think if the Pandemic had occurred even a few years ago, the amount of meaningful work I could have accomplished from home would have been significantly less. Now, I have a robust VPN connection with access to TrendMiner Data Analytics Manufacturing Information Systems, as well as, other manufacturing support tools. I found out pretty quickly that a significant proportion of the work I do every day can be completed remotely at home. 

Performing data analytics with TrendMiner at home is no different than being on site. Adding context items through TrendHub and ContextHub gets more information in the hands of those I cannot be there with live to collaborate. Sharing data trends is also very helpful to allow those at the manufacturing site to take the troubleshooting further and report back to me via email, text, or Zoom call.

Figure 1. Context items in TrendHub.

Figure 2. Context items in ContextHub.

TrendMiner Monitors capability to send alerts also helped keep communication links solid with everyone not on site at the same time. Even if I could not brief everyone who needed to know about a certain process behavior, I could set a monitor to send out alerts if such a situation develops in the future. All in all, the transition to working from home was far less difficult than I would have thought, and TrendMiner was a huge part of making it streamlined.

Well Positioned for Seamless Work Transition

As the virus response and mitigation measures have improved, I have transitioned back to full time on site staffing. However, I and others have learned that working from home can and will be successful in the future. 

There is more flexibility for working some days from home going forward. With TrendMiner, I feel well positioned to seamlessly transition back to increased work from home this winter if the Pandemic response dictates. 

Read more about how TrendMiner is helping make remote working possible >

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