The Manufacturer’s Apprentice

shop floor automations manufacturing APPRENTICE blogWith the manufacturing skills gap being a topic that is on all of our minds, one of the tactics being used to address the issue is a time-tested tradition. The position of the manufacturing apprentice, as well as apprentice positions for other industrial jobs like electricians, technicians, and similar jobs, is an excellent option for both job seekers and those in the industry who need skilled workers.

What exactly is an apprentice? The Department of Labor defines an apprentice as a position that “combines on-the-job training with job-related instruction…a “learn while you earn” model – apprentices receive a paycheck from the first day and progressive increases in wages as their skills advance.”

Basically, if you want to be an apprentice, you want to be paid to learn how to do your job. This is preferential to those who know what they want to do for a career. They don’t want to spend two to four years while paying to get a degree somewhere that is not specific to the niche industrial areas that have an urgent need of employees. It’s a win-win.

Here are the three things people seeking an apprenticeship in this job field will need to know to get started:

First, you need to evaluate what area you would want to work in. CareerOneStop, which is a site sponsored by the Department of Labor, will help you build a skills profile. By looking into traits such as your social skills, listening skills, speaking skills, problem-solving skills, technical skills, computer skills, and more, it will give you a list of possible jobs that would suit you. If any of the careers listed are remotely industrial, technical or relative to manufacturing, an apprenticeship would be a good option.

Secondly, you need a starting point, which would be this resource page via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Here, you will find resources like workshops and apprenticeship listings to take advantage of. The Department of Labor even has special resources for women who want these higher-paying, but unconventional jobs, under the Pre-Apprenticeship Program.

Finally, pick the apprenticeship for you. Once you enter one of these programs, the length of the program and rate of pay will vary. An apprenticeship can be anywhere from one to six years long. There are even informal apprentice positions private companies offer when you look them up on job sites like Indeed.com

Do you already work in the manufacturing industry and need better productivity on your shop floor? Call Shop Floor Automations at (877) 611-5825 or interact with us on social media

Cloudy with a Chance of OEE

Cloud IIoT Security“By 2020, a corporate ‘no-Cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no-internet’ policy is today.” This is a bold claim from Gartner, a respected information technology research company. With the growing dependence on this technology, Cloud IIoT Security is becoming a major concern in the manufacturing industry.

Shop Floor Automations is a big proponent of Cloud tech, especially in terms of the Industrial Internet of Things, or the IIoT. One of our hottest sellers is DataXchange from Scytec, with it’s $45 per month per machine pricing policy for Cloud-based services. We also realize that secure drip-feeding is a concern of note, as well, in the manufacturing community.

For those who are apprehensive about adopting IIoT Cloud tech or any kind of software/devices to help with drip-feeding via DNC Software, here are three resources to help you make an informed decision:

Cloud tech is more reliable than you previously thought.  A publication called Enterprise Tech states that Global IT spending should increase close to 3 percent in 2017 – the projected $3.46 Trillion spent this year on worldwide IT is in part due to the Cloud infrastructure being so significant, as time goes by. In keeping with this fact, Cloud-based machine monitoring has helped many of our customers. One such manufacturer has even been able to run their existing five-axis CNC machines for 24 hours at a time at increased productivity, rather than feeling the need to invest in more machines to achieve their production goals. That definitely speaks to the trust of this Cloud-based program!

Implement a cyber security assurance program along with your Cloud solutions. The Cybersecurity Assurance Program (UL CAP) for industrial control systems from a global safety science organization UL was introduced for IMTS 2016. “UL CAP is intended for control system manufacturers who need support in assessing security risks while they continue to focus on product innovation to help build safer, more secure products,” states Mark Albert from Modern Machine Shop. “These steps will help protect the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The program should benefit OEMs, machine tool builders, system integrators, and retrofitters who want to mitigate risks by sourcing products assessed by an expert third party.”

SecureDNC makes DNC software communications safer.  This is a Windows application designed to be installed on Windows-based CNC machines, CMMs, test stands, and other equipment. This application from Predator DNC supports a wireless or wired Ethernet interface via TCP/IP. It not only supports older versions of Windows, which reduces the need for costly Windows updates on CNC machines, but it is also a good measure against unauthorized access via hackers. Read more about SecureDNC here.

Ready to get started? Contact Shop Floor Automations for better, and safer, OEE through IIoT. Call (877) 611-5825 or contact us on social media

Legacy SFA Blogs – Edition 6

Shop Floor Automations blog - Legacy SFA Blogs - Press Coverage - Media CoverageSince we understand the significance of backing up important documents, Shop Floor Automations also takes it’s own archival process very seriously. Here is the 6th installment of our SFA Legacy Blogs series, where we thank the press for past and current coverage of our company.

CNC West Shop Floor Automations

Click for a larger view of the article

MFG Talk Radio published our article about graphical job scheduling, which was wonderful to see.  Production Machining had us in their extensive Buyer’s Guide for their January 2017 issue – we were on pages 92, 94, and 97, in the areas of Software (under CAD/CAM & related software), ERP & Other Shop Management Software, as well as Support Equipment & Data Collection Devices for Gaging.

We were also in Modern Machine Shop’s January 2017 issue for our piece on Touch HMI. For press on the same product, MoldMaking Technology put us in their January 2017 issue on page 46, talking about how Touch HMI “can be leveraged for machine monitoring in the future without the added cost of hardware.”

CNC West was kind enough to publish us in back to back issues. In the December 2016/January 2017 issue, on page 66, they shared an update from us about DataXchange, quoting “new features include the MTConnect Data Viewer, making the software more compatible with MTConnect.” Then in the February/March 2017 issue, on page 54, they dedicated an entire page to our article about graphical job scheduling versus spreadsheets.

To wrap it up, Industrial Machinery Digest wrote about our unofficial mascot, Shop Floor Man, in this piece. If you are curious to see what our comic strip character has been up to, check out our humor Instagram account.

If you would like information on how to improve productivity on your manufacturing shop floor, please get in touch with us today! You can reach us at (877) 611-5825 or fill out this contact form

When More Than Downtime Matters

machine monitoring for manufacturing - oee, downtime, maintenance, materials alertsYes, downtime is a huge concern and a big reason why shop floors invest in machine monitoring software. However, there are added benefits when using machine monitoring software that helps to give machine operators a voice. 

A specific brand of machine monitoring software through Shop Floor Automations has a feature that will be useful to machinists called secondary status notes. As an example of what it can do, let’s say the machine is running and cutting parts, so the status is “In Cycle,” but the operator wants to notify someone that they are running low on material. They can put it in a “need material” secondary status note.

Since the need for material is not actually affecting the current cycling of the machine, it’s a secondary need.  So that machinist can push a button and put it in this secondary status. This will display as a different color to make it stand out to anyone looking up at the universal status screen.

DataXchange machine monitoring software secondary status notes

Click for a larger view of secondary status notes

The need for material is not downtime for the machine, but a request or notification of something else that needs attention that can also slow down production if it is not addressed can be very important on the shop floor, as well. This status can also appear as an email alert, as well as the status screen previously mentioned.

This secondary status notes field is also important because it is a tool for machinists to be heard – it gives the operator an ability in the data entry screen to enter downtime reasons and explanations. It allows operators to give feedback to other users to understand production issues with a given machine, which can help with higher ups who don’t work directly with the machines.

This feature also helps so a report can be run of all notes for specific downtime reasons. Are they happening at similar times for similar issues, or are there issues of materials not being brought to a machine in a timely manner, or a machine not being kept on a decent maintenance schedule?

If you want more information on all of the benefits machine monitoring can bring to your shop, such as integrating machine monitoring with CMMS solutions, please contact Shop Floor Automations. Call (877) 611-5825 or chat with us on social media

Top 3 Reasons for Product Data Management

Product Data Management PDM document controlGetting organized is consistently on the top 10 list of New Years Resolutions. It’s now March, and we wonder how many people have actually stuck to this resolution. If getting organized at your shop is a concern, here are the top 3 reasons why you should be investing in product data management (PDM) through document control software for your manufacturing operation.

Reason1 – PDM helps you go paperless. If you are tired of buying file cabinets and losing track of documents, then PDM is the best way to manage incoming documents paperlessly. For the rest, we suggest scanning them, making sure they are properly saved, then safely shredding them. Also, an approach of truly brilliant people that you can adopt into your routine is called the “touch only once” rule – when a piece of paper is brought to you, whether a file or a piece of mail, deal with it immediately, when at all possible, so it is off your plate.

Reason 2 – PDM makes your job easier. Using manufacturing-driven, open architecture PDM document control software can do more than you might have imagined. It is designed to organize & control CNC programs, setup sheets, safety procedures, quality documents, & other files with complete document control plus file revision control.

PDM can also be integrated with other software, such as DNC software and CNC editor. Keep in touch with your Quality and Engineering Departments, while feeling assured that if an audit happens, you’re covered.

Reason 3 – Simply put, it’s the law. Granted, while it is not required that you have a digitial organization system like PDM for your important documentation, you are required to keep track of the documents. If keeping tidy isn’t motivation enough, then the law definitely should be.

As a manufacturer, you need to abide by legal code 21 CFR 820.40 – establishing and maintaining procedures to control documents (more info here). As a business, you need to keep tax documents and any related records for anywhere from three to seven years. Employment records need to be kept for a minimum of a year and payroll records kept a minimum of three years.

Feel bad you haven’t been keeping organized? Even a branch of the USA government can relate to having issues with tracking documentation! The US Department of Reclamation (also known as BOR) had documents scattered in a few different locations and began to make an attempt at document control. They pooled what they learned in this process into a report called “Maintain Asset Data Integrity and Reap the Benefits of the ‘Internet of Things.’”

If you are ready to see what PDM can do for you, or aim for better OEE, get in touch with Shop Floor Automations. Call (877) 611-5825, or chat with us via one of our social media channels

International Women’s Day

Rosie the Riveter Royalty Free Image - International Women's DayFor International Women’s Day, Shop Floor Automations wants to take the time to recognize women in the field of manufacturing and similar jobs. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of women in manufacturing, or women in industrial jobs, is Rosie the Riveter, which is a great place to start.

The real life inspiration for this iconic figure is said to be a woman named Rose Will Monroe. The month of May is extremely significant to Rosie, as the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company came out with the well known “We Can Do It!” poster in May of 1942, while a Norman Rockwell painting inspired by the ad came out in May of 1943. Rose herself passed away in May of 1997.

World War II was a historic time for women in the workplace. Women who would normally work low-paying administrative assistant type jobs, or were stay-at-home mothers, were filling these important positions during this tumultuous time. A great book to read about this era is “A Mouthful of Rivets: Women at Work in World War II.”

When World War II ended, many women either returned to their homes or office jobs, but a good amount remained in the manufacturing industry. Today, there is a need to maintain and bring more women into this field of work.

“According to a 2015 report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, women make up 47 percent of the overall workforce but just 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce,” writes Penny Brown of AMT. “Simply put, it can get lonely for a woman on the factory floor. At a time when manufacturing is seeing a desperate need for skilled workers, it seems that it’s a very good time to address ways to tap this vast talent pool.”

“Like young people, women need to see the value of a manufacturing career, but they also need to feel like there is a place for them in it,” Penny continues. “Whether their skill is design, management, engineering, or some other area of business, diversity is proven to improve a company’s competitiveness and innovation.”

Some encouraging sites in regards to women in the field of manufacturing are the Women Can Build photo exhibit, via the California Institute of Technology, as well as many organizations that continue the dialogue to include women in manufacturing, industrial and technical jobs. Just off the top of our heads, there is SWE (Society of Women Engineers), WiM (Women in Manufacturing), Girls Who Code, and SkillScout, for starters.

There are also modern depictions of Rosie that remain alive to this day, from women who do photo shoots dressed up as her, women who cosplay as her for conventions or Halloween, or even the popular Rosie’s restaurant aboard the Carnival Valor ship, which can fit nearly 3000 passengers for each voyage. No matter how you think of women in manufacturing, whether in vintage or modern tones, it is great to see that the conversation never closed up shop.

If you work on a manufacturing shop floor and want to see better productivity, as well as improved OEE, please contact us for solutions! Call us at (877) 611-5825 or contact us on social media

MFG School of the Month: Cardinal Manufacturing

MFG School of the Month - shop floor automationsIn a new blog installment from Shop Floor Automations called MFG School of the Month, we want to take a moment to highlight a place of learning that is helping to keep the Made in America movement going.

We encourage you to check out our previous, separate pieces on Workshops for Warriors, OSML, and Edge Factor, but for now, we want to take a look at what Cardinal Manufacturing is doing.

The Cardinal Manufacturing program from the Eleva-Strum School District has been in operation for 10 years. The public school system is also known for their Digital Learning Initiative. They are clearly striving to keep their students up to date with current technology, as it relates to getting a career.

Conceptualized in 2007, the program was “designed as a localized way to address the skills gap in advanced manufacturing and to engage our students in meaningful education,” the school website declares. “We are exposing students to the potential of manufacturing-related careers, sharpening their technical skills, and instilling the soft skills and professionalism that employers crave.”

Cardinal is treated as a fully operational machine shop, where locals can order machining, welding, or fabrication jobs from the students. Check out a video from Modern Machine Shop about this terrific school by clicking here.

The school will be holding a workshop on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 for potential future students to come and see what their futures could look like!

If you want information on how to increase productivity in your machine shop, contact Shop Floor Automations today. Reach us at (877) 611-5825 or chat with us on social media

 

Top 3 Benefits of Machine Monitoring

The benefits of machine monitoring - Shop Floor AutomationsWhen Shop Floor Automations brings its machine monitoring solutions to trade shows, once in a while, we have people approach us saying they have a need for tool monitoring. When we clarify our software monitors utilization of machines and not tools (even though we do have tool management, which is different), some start to walk away disappointed. We are able to pull them back in by quickly describing to them the Top 3 benefits of machine monitoring, and we wanted to share that information with you today. 

Reason 1 – Reducing downtime is a universal concern in manufacturing. Driving improvement off of real data that is collected in real-time is crucial to this cause. With machine monitoring, we can find ways to eliminate downtimes, which should increase uptime significantly.

Reason 2 – It gives your operators a voice. The people working on the shop floor want to explain what is going on in a way that someone who is not a machinist can understand and see. They might tell their supervisor about the problems they have, but maybe the info does not get through to upper management, so then upper management just thinks the machinists are not doing a good enough job. Machine monitoring and the data collected gives them the ability to tell everyone in the company why machines are not running, which means that hopefully, a new process can be put in place to help with the concerns of downtime.

Check out our video tutorial on how to use the data entry screen on DataXchange machine monitoring by clicking here!

Reason 3 –  You will have confidence knowing a machine needs to be fixed or replaced. When we take our car to the repair shop, we ask for diagnostic codes of what is wrong with our vehicles so we can do research on what exactly is the problem that needs fixing. This is because we want to determine what kind of investment we can or want to put into an aging machine. With machine monitoring, understanding true utilization of the machines and being able to identify if machines are underutilized or overburdened can help aid a company into seeing why a machine has issues. This can help with decisions on whether new equipment needs to be purchased by being able to track unplanned downtime.

Want more info? Fill out a request to attend a machine monitoring webinar by clicking here, or call us at (877) 611-5825.

 

Jeremy Bout Edge Factor Interview

Jeremy Bout Edge Factor Interview - Shop Floor AutomationsIt is pretty difficult these days to find someone who does not have a NetFlix, YouTube or Hulu account. They are gateways not only for entertainment but also a good resource to learn about different cultures than our own, in the instances of “how to” videos, reality programming (well, some of it) and documentaries. Now, there is a network of programming online for the manufacturing industry, MFG Day & the Made in America movement similar to these platforms called Edge Factor.

The introduction video to Edge Factor is a great window into what they do. It starts with the point of view of the parent, the educator and the employer. It all focuses on how manufacturing jobs are the perfect middle ground for the frustrated parent who paid for a child’s education who does not have a job in that career field, while the employer gets skilled workers, and the educator can get the resources they need to teach in this realm.

Jeremy Bout Edge Factor Interview - Shop Floor AutomationsThe Founder of Edge Factor Jeremy Bout was a typical high school graduate who didn’t quite know what he wanted to do. What was atypical about him was that he experimented with manufacturing by trying out a five-axis machine. He said the experience changed his life significantly.

In an interview with Shop Floor Automations, Jeremy spoke about how the first piece he ever built with a machine set him on a path that would change his life, as well as the lives of others. For Disney, it was all started by a mouse, and for Jeremy, it was all started by an end mill.

“A standard, four flute end mill which looks so simple really became a catalyst for just recognizing that everything is made in using that one tool. Boy oh boy, you can make an awful lot of different parts [with it]. The diversity of things that an end mill can create is shocking and astounding, so for me, the end mill was a gateway to a much, much bigger journey in life.”

Read more after the page break below! 

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Hunting Bigfoot CMMS

Hunting Bigfoot CMMS There are many elusive creatures and mysteries in the world that people dedicate their lives to finding. One goal which may seem equally elusive to many shop floor workers is in getting rid of downtime. If you are hunting for a solution to help with downtime and plant maintenance, then you should be hunting Bigfoot CMMS.

In a nutshell, some of the best features of Bigfoot CMMS for plant maintenance software are:

1) Keeping organized to reduce downtime – Automatic reminders prevent PMs from falling through the cracks, which reduces equipment downtime.

2) Saving time – A request form saves maintenance department one hour per day by not having to field or respond to calls or emails for non-emergency maintenance requests.

3) Reporting – Identify what work has been done on equipment over time & what’s overdue.

4) Analysis – See how much it costs to maintain a piece of equipment over time, when it’s down, & why.

Want to see measurable results? One company was able to reduce downtime by 76 percent with Bigfoot CMMS. Another company was able to decrease downtime by 90 percent in a span of two years!

Bigfoot CMMS through Shop Floor AutomationsOne amazing aspect of Bigfoot CMMS is that it can be paired with the machine monitoring solution of Scytec’s DataXchange. These are both solutions that Shop Floor Automations can customize and integrate onto your shop floor.

Something technologically to note about Bigfoot CMMS is that it has an app you can access from both Apple and Android phones. This flexibility is definitely an attractive feature for Bigfoot users.

Check out our most recent article on Bigfoot CMMS in the February issue of MFG News by clicking here. For more info, contact sales via this form or call (877) 611-5825.