Smarter Shop Floor With Cloud-Based Monitoring

Project Introduction:
Tech Manufacturing, a long-time manufacturer of machined metal parts for aerospace clients such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Bombardier, needed to raise production capacity and reduce lead times for their clients’ largest and most urgent orders. With their 5-axis CNC machines already running 24 hours a day up to 7 days a week, Jerry Halley, Chief Engineer at Tech Manufacturing, looked towards smarter operation and real-time performance data to increase the productivity and useful life of their existing machines. “We needed a better understanding of how our machines were actually performing for us in real-time,” said Halley. “Live and historical machine performance data would also help us identify technical or process issues that were detrimental to productivity.” With a combination of hardware and software, a CNC monitoring system would collect, analyze, and visualize the necessary performance metrics. However, Halley needed to weigh the productivity gains of such a system against the cost and effort of deployment, especially if it involved a new and unfamiliar server-based IT infrastructure. The ideal system would be easily deployed without specialized IT equipment, knowledge, or effort, and would not require repeated software installation, updates, or configuration.

Application Requirements:
-Live dashboard with alerts based on historical and target performance metrics
-Easy to use with existing CNC machines that may not have built-in Ethernet interface
-Does not require investment or expertise in specialized IT infrastructure, servers, or software
-Knowledgeable and experienced integration and vendor support team

Solution:
Tech Manufacturing selected Shop Floor Automations, one of the most prominent systems integrators in North America specializing in CNC monitoring systems, to assist with cloud-based monitoring. Each CNC machine was connected to the existing local area network, so no additional IT infrastructure was required. For legacy machines that did not have a readily available Ethernet port, Shop Floor Automations provided an easy-to-deploy solution that was developed with Moxa. “The industrial networking units from Moxa make it easy for us to get our clients’ legacy machines connected to the cloud,” said Greg Mercurio, President of Shop Floor Automations. “For industrial users like Tech Manufacturing, these solutions are invaluable in extending the capabilities and useful life of their still-functional but older CNC machines.” With the local network connected to the Internet, machine performance data was easily viewed and analyzed by cloud-based software such as Scytec DataXchange or Predator Machine Data Collection. Key performance metrics were organized on a visual dashboard so owners and machine operators were able to see exactly how productive each cell was, down to the machine level.

“Getting our CNC machines connected and monitored has made it much easier for us to deliver on our clients’ build to print orders with maximum efficiency and minimum lead time. It is lot easier to get connected than a lot of people may realize.” Jerry Halley, Chief Engineer at Tech Manufacturing

Business Benefits:
With a cloud-based monitoring system, Tech Manufacturing was able to minimize their upfront cost and deployment effort. “Many clients perceive it to be difficult and expensive to set up a CNC monitoring system,” according to Mercurio. “However, with today’s cloud-based solutions, you can be set up in less than a day, with almost zero additional IT infrastructure or maintenance effort.” The live dashboard made it easy for Tech Manufacturing to identify critical productivity issues. One immediate finding was that set-up times on certain machines were unnecessarily long, leading to hours of lost productivity every day. By rearranging setup sequence and on/off times, Halley quickly achieved significant productivity gains with those machines. Having comprehensive machine performance data on hand provided an additional benefit: better service from CNC manufacturers. Service calls were now backed by a rich set of historical data, making it easier to identify and troubleshoot potential hardware issues. “Manufacturers became more willing and able to provide support when we needed it because we had the data to show abnormal operation,” noted Halley.

Highlights:
-Setup completed in less than a day
-No additional IT infrastructure or maintenance effort
-Visual dashboard with rich performance data on each cell and machine
-Significantly improved productivity
-Extended useful life for older CNC machines

 

For more information on this solution, call our Sales department at (877) 611-5825 or email us at sales@shopfloorautomations.com

#1 In Predator Software Sales 15 Years Running

SHOP FLOOR AUTOMATIONS – #1 In Predator Software Sales 15 Years Running

La Mesa, CALIF – June 9, 2015  – Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a leader in software solutions for the manufacturing shop floor,  has continued to rank #1 in Predator software sales for 15 years running. This accomplishment is credited to the SFA team due to dedication and quality customer service.

This honor recognizes Shop Floor Automation’s achievement as Predator Software’s top revenue producing reseller for the past 15 years.

The company is frequently required to go through certification and training at Predator Software Corporate Office in Portland, OR.  This hands on training consist of install, trouble shooting, implementing, and best practices for the complete line of the Predator Software Suite.

SFA has also been involved with new product development and features for enhancements to existing products in beta testing and new hardware solutions.

As a service center and training center for Predator Software, SFA continues to show dedicationb, technical skills, new methods of implementation and connectivity to the manufacturing industry using CNC machines and other type of equipment.  Onsite training is provide at customer locations as well as SFA’s corporate office in La Mesa, about 10 miles near San Diego, California.

For more information: www.shopfloorautomations.com, email: info@shopfloorautomations.com,
Tel: 619-461-4000, fax: 619-461-5918, toll free: 877-611-5825.

Improving Productivity with Cloud-Based Monitoring

Check out this article about Cloud-Based Monitoring and how it can improve productivity. This is a powerful tool for any modern machine shop and it is important to learn how easy it is to revolutionize the way machines are being monitored.

As a manufacturer of machined metal parts for aerospace clients such as BoeingLockheed Martin and Bombardier, Tech Manufacturing often ran its five-axis CNC machines 24 hours a day up to seven days a week. With such heavy CNC demands, the company began looking for ways to increase its production capacity and reduce lead times for its clients’ largest and most urgent orders.

Purchasing additional machines would, of course, be one way to achieve this. But Jerry Halley, chief engineer at Tech Manufacturing, was interested in finding a smarter, more efficient approach that did not require a large capital investment.

“It was clear to me that we needed a much better understanding of how our machines were actually performing for us in real time,” Halley explains. “In addition, if we had live and historical machine performance data available, we would be able to identify any technical or process issues that were detrimental to individual or overall productivity.”

These kinds of goals are increasingly shared by companies all over the world, and they are “driving interest in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT),” says Paul Wacker, product marketing manager at Moxa. A manufacturer of communications equipment for industrial use, Moxa has seen growing demand for products that enable easy network connectivity and interoperability in industrial settings and applications.

The IIoT world is one in which machines and devices of all types share data with each other and are able to adjust behavior based on intelligent analysis of that data. For companies like Tech Manufacturing, the first step toward becoming a part of this world is enabling the collection and analysis of performance data for their existing machines. If the machines are not already connected to a network, obtaining machine performance data requires an investment in both monitoring hardware and software.

Although Halley saw the value of establishing a smarter, more connected machine floor, he had concerns about deploying a server-based IT infrastructure to support a CNC monitoring system. Not only would this be technically challenging, time-consuming and expensive, it would also introduce new ongoing in-house maintenance requirements.

Greg Mercurio of Shop Floor Automations, a system integrator that specializes in CNC monitoring systems, is very familiar with Halley’s concerns. “Most clients think it’s difficult and expensive to get set up with CNC monitoring,” Mercurio says. “However, with today’s cloud-based solutions, you can be set up in less than a day, with almost zero additional IT infrastructure or maintenance effort.”

Cloud-based software such as Scytec DataXchange or Predator Machine Data Collection can easily monitor CNC machines that already have the necessary interfaces to connect to a network and the Internet, according to Mercurio. For legacy machines that do not have a readily available Ethernet port, Shop Floor Automations has found easy-to-deploy solutions to establish cloud connectivity.

“The industrial networking units from Moxa make it easy for us to get our clients’ legacy machines connected to the cloud,” Mercurio says. “For industrial users like Tech Manufacturing, these units are invaluable in extending the capabilities and useful life of their still-functional, but older CNC machines.”

Plus, it doesn’t require “entirely new machines or IT infrastructure to benefit from this trend towards cloud connectivity and the IIoT,” Wacker adds. “Companies can easily collect data from their existing machines and share it over the cloud with relatively simple hardware additions like the ones Moxa and Shop Floor Automations have developed.”

Using Internet-based monitoring software, there was no need for Tech Manufacturing to have an expensive and locally maintained IT infrastructure. Each CNC machine was simply connected to the local area network (LAN), either through its own native interface or through the Moxa hardware deployed by Shop Floor Automations. The information is then relayed to the cloud for immediate analysis and viewing. The monitoring software was able to collect machine performance data, store it in the cloud and, in near real time, present it in an easy-to-understand way for machine shop owners. Key performance metrics were organized on a visual dashboard, which updates automatically and can rotate through multiple sets of data, allowing owners and machine operators to see exactly how productive each cell is down to the machine level.

“This is a light bulb moment for many of our clients,” Mercurio says. “Productivity monitoring can be a vague concept to wrap your head around. But once you see it for yourself with your own machines and with live data, you wonder immediately how you ever operated without that knowledge and awareness.”

The visual monitoring dashboard made it easy for Tech Manufacturing to see immediately where its most glaring productivity issues were. For certain machines, they found setup times to be unnecessarily long, meaning hours of lost productivity every day. With a relatively simple rearrangement of setup sequence and on/off times, Halley was able to achieve immediate and significant productivity gains with those machines. After these and other measures were put into place, Tech Manufacturing was very pleased by the improvement in machine uptimes and overall productivity.

Halley also saw an additional benefit from having comprehensive machine performance data on hand: better service from CNC manufacturers. With many key performance metrics tracked and recorded, service calls could be made with a much higher degree of confidence that a hardware issue was present, and Tech Manufacturing could provide manufacturers with a rich set of data to aid in troubleshooting.

“With our intimate knowledge of how our machines should be performing, we found that manufacturers were more willing to provide support when we requested it because they knew we were not wasting their time” Halley notes.

Tech Manufacturing’s experience exemplifies the kind of immediate practical benefits that can be achieved by collecting more information about more devices, according to Wacker. “You don’t have to wait for new technology to experience the benefits of the IIoT,” he says. “Companies like Shop Floor Automations are showing that you can leverage today’s technology to achieve very real and practical benefits, while also positioning yourself for the IIoT.”

By , Regional marketing manager, Moxa, on

Click here to see the article at Automation World.

Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – May June 2015

Archived copy of the Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – May June 2015.

Replace your floppy disk drives and media with USB solutions.shop floor automations newsletter - may june 2015

Our proven solution works with a variety of machines and equipment that use 1.44MB floppy disk drives.  All documentation and technical support are included to allow for a quick upgrade.

Simple to install using existing ribbon cable and power cable.  No modifications needed to your machines or special software required.

Are you still using Windows Server 2003 in your facility? There are some things you need to consider.

Microsoft is ending support for Windows Server 2003  on  July 14, 2015 which means no new security updates, hotfixes, assisted support options, or updated technical content.

Among other challenges, businesses will face increased risk from cyber-attack, and lack of PCI compliance. Windows Server 2003 end of support opens the door for new opportunities to introduce your customers to cloud and hybrid-cloud IT. Most companies now using Windows Server 2003 plan to migrate to a newer version of Windows Server, and many are considering cloud options.

“How to Improve Shop Efficiencies using the Cloud”

Join Shop Floor Automations and our partner Scytec Consulting for a webinar on a useful tool to monitor the efficiency of your shop floor.

Learn how you can monitor your shop in real-time and
– Decrease downtime
– Increase productivity
– Receive instant notifications
– View and report on your data from anywhere
– View unlimited dashboards for real time data
– Collect feed, speeds, overrides and more

Did you miss our webinar on Plant Maintenance Management software?

See a demonstration of the highlighted features in this video at your desk or on your mobile device.

We covered the following areas:
– Asset & equipment management
– Work orders and requests
– Inventory and purchasing
– Predictive maintenance
– Built-in reporting & analytics
– Mobility and more!

We have been serving our customers since 1998 and expanded our product lines.  While we have been recognized as the number one reseller for Predator Software for 15 years and known for wired and wireless DNC, check out our other product lines.  We specialize in machine monitoring, plant maintenance and job scheduling software to improve the work flow and processes throughout the shop floor. Contact us today for a free consultation on how we can help build a better partnership with you.

Link to original newsletter HERE 

Southwest Manufacturing News June 2015

Southwest Manufacturing News June 2015We have opened a new regional office in Houston, Texas. In the ad, pictured here on Southwest Manufacturing News, we speak about the services we offer.

“Manage. Measure. Improve,” SFA declares. Among the services offered, we will continue to provide machine monitoring and OEE, job scheduling, DNC software, MTConnect, plant maintenance (CMMS), document control, and more future solutions.

Also, SFA gave a window into how USB can replace Floppy Drives. Our advertisement for more detail is here at Southwest Manufacturing News.

Southwest Manufacturing News June 2015 USBWith machines such as Fanuc, Fadal, Haas, Mitsubishi, Siemens, Mazak, & Yasnac, a company can convert from using floppy disks to USB for CNC controls.

Please Contact us for more information toll free at (877) 611-5825 or tweet us at @SFA_inc