MTConnect vs OPC UA

mtconnectIn the January issue of Modern Machine Shop, Josh Davids of DataXchange discusses the difference between two different, popular protocols. MTConnect and OPC UA are compared.

“Although OPC UA and MTConnect are both http-based protocols (which makes them usable on internet-enabled networks), the question why MTConnect exists often arises since OPC UA has been around for a while and has wide support throughout industry,” Davids said.

“If we view machine monitoring at a high level, it’s apparent that MTConnect is best-suited for equipment with standardized functions, such as CNC controls or other equipment that has known capability. OPC UA is generally best-suited for one-off integration projects that use programmable logic controllers (PLCs),” Davids continued. “Another difference is that OPC UA can be a read-write protocol, whereas MTConnect is read-only. Nothing can be written back to the machine.”

There is much more insight on why MTConnect and OPC UA are different in Davids’ contribution piece.

For more information on machine monitoring, DataXchange or MTConnect, please contact us! We are the #1 reseller of DataXchange and we have the distinction of being an MTConnect Institute Roster Member. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form.

SFA Legacy Blog – Edition XII

shop floor automations blogWhile a big focus of Shop Floor Automations is to help customers access crucial, real-time data, we also know how important it is to look at important information of the past. Here is another edition of our Legacy Blog where we cover past media coverage.

MoldMaking Technology covered our upcoming 20th Anniversary.  Speaking of event-related news, MFG Talk Radio shared our piece about MFG Day 2017, as well as Manufacturing Tomorrow sharing it.

Our solutions and how they go hand-in-hand with safety in the manufacturing process was mentioned on the WitzShared blog, which is part of the WarehouseFlow Advisors. Gear Solutions posted our piece on the benefits of machine monitoring software.

In an amusing piece of news – our Marketing Coordinator won a manufacturing talent contest last summer for performing a spoof of a Beetles song. AMT also wrote about our comic strip Shop Floor Man in a past updateFabricating and Metalworking also shared our piece on why spreadsheets are deadweight.

If you would like any further information on our solutions or any articles mentioned above, please contact us. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form

Modern Machine Shop – January 2018

modern machine shop

Our customers at R & D Manco were highlighted in a feature piece from Modern Machine Shop (MMS) in their January issue. A big focus of the piece was about machine monitoring software from us, here at Shop Floor Automations.

“Machine monitoring has been another important factor in R&D Manco’s success,” states MMS editor Peter Zelinski. “Gathering basic data on machine status, and studying the data to diagnose and remedy the causes of non-cutting time, has been the shop’s most powerful resource for realizing machining capacity improvements.”

“For older machines or for machines from builders not providing this openness [of Windows-based control], the company has retrofitted the controls with MTConnect adapters from Shop Floor Automations in order to also get these machines into the shop-wide machine monitoring system.”

We encourage you to read more about how machine monitoring is allowing R&D Manco to increase productivity.

For more information on machine monitoring, please get in touch with us! We are the #1 reseller of Predator Software. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form.

Machinists Are Not The Problem

cnc machinistsIf you are in charge of production on a manufacturing shop floor, there is no doubt that you have likely come across productivity issues. Nothing is perfect, and this includes your employees and your equipment.

When there is a decrease in productivity, some leaders may automatically assume that machinists are not doing their job since they are directly handling the machines. Before we jump to this conclusion, we need to ask if we are being fair to these skilled workers who are the backbone of the manufacturing industry.

According to a study shared by Harvard Business Review, “when leaders are fair to the members of their team, the team members display more citizenship behavior and are more productive, both individually and as a team.”

With this in mind, here are three productivity problems and the tools you can use to combat each of them:

Read more

Software for Less MFG Stress in 2018

manufacturing softwareThe stress of unplanned downtime and how it will impact production is a common factor for those who work in manufacturing. What if bringing in new manufacturing software to your shop floor in 2018 could help with this stress?

Unplanned downtime occurs due to machine issues, which means unless there is a similar machine to pick up the slack, production is halted. An avalanche of consequences follows, which includes having to update manual spread sheets to track jobs needing to be updated.

According to a press release from the August 2017 issue of MetalForming Magazine, District President for Robert Half’s Accountemps program Bill Driscoll states 52% of workers are stressed on a day-to-day basis.

Three of the attributes to this stress are heavy workloads, hovering deadlines, and what they feel to be unrealistic expectations from management. All three of these worker stresses can be quelled by making a move towards smart manufacturing.

Read more

Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – NOV/DEC 2017

The following is an archived copy of the Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – the NOV/DEC 2017 issue.

shop floor automations NewsletterMachine Monitoring Webinar in January

Do you want to improve your shop floor efficiencies? Would you like to get text messages or email notifications if there is a problem on your shop floor? Our machine monitoring solutions empower managers to identify issues and resolve them quickly.

We will be holding a DataXchange machine monitoring webinar on January 10th, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Pacific time.

You will see popular features of the data collection system in action, as well as get a chance to ask us questions.

If you can’t make the webinar, please feel free to contact us and ask about other opportunities to see DataXchange software. We also have quite a few videos on our YouTube channel to check out.

Holiday Discount Code

It is not too late to spend end-of-the-year funds on solutions to help your shop floor. Get a head start on combating productivity issues and eliminating downtime with some of our best-selling solutions:

  • Portable USB Connect – backup for your DNC system
  • Pendant USB Connect – adds USB to any CNC machine
  • Floppy Emulators – replaces the floppy drive on your machine (ask about our Haas Floppy emulator!)
  • Wireless Connect – go wireless with any CNC machine

Use discount code “HappyNewYear” for a discount in our online store. Code expires 1/2/18

DNC Software – The Heart Beat of the Shop Floor

If there was one new piece of technology we would recommend for your shop floor, it would be DNC software. Within weeks or a few months, you will see ROI when you implement this system to streamline your management of CNC programs.

If you want to control which file is delivered to the CNC, you need DNC. If you are still carrying USB sticks or PCMCIA cards out to your CNCs to load programs, you need DNC. If you want a better system to manage your CNC programs while saving time, you need DNC.

Link to newsletter

Call (877) 611-5825 for more info!

 

Shop Floor Newsletter – November 2017 – Lights Out Manufacturing

lights out manufacturingThe following is an archived copy of our Shop Floor Automations newsletter from November 2017 focusing on lights-out manufacturing:

2018 is coming up fast. What are your main concerns with your manufacturing production? If productivity is a major focus, then getting started with lights out manufacturing is a good goal to reach for.

We previously focused on lights-out manufacturing (AKA lights out manufacturing) in regards to battling rising electricity costs for 2016. However, the power bill for your shop floor is only one of many concerns.

Does the manufacturing skills gap limit what you can manufacture and get out the door to customers? Do you perhaps want to aim for fewer injuries in the workplace, or want better quality of products? Taking advantage of lights-out manufacturing can help with all of these issues.

One crucial part of adopting lights-out manufacturing in your shop helps to minimize labor costs for each part you make, which in turn helps you compete on a global level. This helps the Made in America movement grow stronger while increasing your profits and customer base.

How can Shop Floor Automations help you begin the path to lights-out manufacturing? Production Machining states that machine monitoring is a pivotal part of the process, since “there is always the possibility of machine failure, cutting tool breakage, power outages, and other unexpected issues.”

Put in a request for more info on lights-out manufacturing by calling (877) 611-5825! You can also fill out a request for info form here. Link to original newsletter here

Lights Out Manufacturing

Have you considered lights out manufacturing for 2018?

lights out manufacturing You may remember our blog last year where we focused on the economic benefits of lights out manufacturing (AKA lights-out manufacturing). The main focus was on how adopting this manufacturing process could help combat rising electricity prices. There are other benefits to lights out manufacturing to discuss.

Goals vary: Whether the aim of  lights out manufacturing is to get better quality and throughput rates, to reduce workplace injuries, or to help increase production during a skills gap, shop floors all across America have the incentive to begin this initiative.

Enhancing, Not Replacing, Labor: While it is enticing that lights out manufacturing can lower production costs by replacing manual labor, there can be a stigma across the shop floor that this form of automation could aim to completely replace workers. This is far from the truth.

“By minimizing the labor cost for each part made, manufacturers can compete with the low costs encountered from foreign manufacturers, as well as gain a larger market share among domestic competition,” Aerospace Manufacturing and Design says. “At the minimum, automation is necessary just to stay in business.”

“Shops do not realize how much they rely on operators,” Peter Zelinski writes for Modern Machine Shop. He explains that in order for a shop to successfully put lights out manufacturing into play for their shops, they must first intensely work with the machinists to eliminate glitches that can shut down overnight production.

Machine Monitoring is Crucial to Lights Out Manufacturing:  “There is always the possibility of machine failure, cutting tool breakage, power outages and other unexpected issues,” Mark Eddy writes for Production Machining. “That’s when having a remote monitoring system is invaluable.”

“A number of manufacturers use MTConnect for universal connectivity,” Mark continues. “It is, essentially, a common translator based on Internet standards that enables CNC and non-CNC machine tools and other shopfloor equipment to communicate with each other and with a central production monitoring system.”

If you are ready to take on lights out manufacturing, get in touch with Shop Floor Automations today! Our solutions of Scytec DataXchange or Predator MDC will be the best products to get you started, and they are MTConnect compatible. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a sales contact form.

Machine Monitoring: Improve OEE & Ownership Costs

Did you know that machine monitoring helps to improve OEE, as well as to keep ownership costs low?

Improve oee

Click the photo for video blog is based on

At WESTEC 2017, Josh Davids of DataXchange spoke at a panel about how to improve equipment utilization & quality, while keeping the total cost of ownership low. In this discussion, his main focus was on how simple implementing machine data collection is – especially in terms of Cloud-based software.

“Another thing the Cloud allows you to do, and this again works with on-premise types of solutions, but basically, analyze the data,” Davids discussed. “Looking at the data as it’s collected can be something so simple. To look for trends in real-time…such as looking at the last few records that came in and displaying results, triggered text or email notifications, something so simple.”

Why Use The Cloud – Cloud tech makes adopting new technology accessible with a low entry cost and flexibility. For instance, Cloud-based machine monitoring from DataXchange has a low entry cost, no long-term commitment and it’s as low as $45 per month per machine. Since the data is not being housed on-site, it also allows for better security, as well as automatic software updates from the vendor and better quality of support. This blog explains more about what happens to your data in the Cloud, which is a common concern to new users.

How does Cloud-based machine monitoring help with OEE and ownership costs? Real-time data from machine monitoring helps machinists present accurate data for production meetings, as well as to communicate to higher-ups items needing attention. With notifications on-the-go for smartphones and email notifications, this also allows those on and off the shop floor to take immediate action when downtime occurs, which helps utilization. When utilization improves, then less raw material is wasted. Also, when machine operators are dealing less with downtime and can spend less time trying to communicate machine issues, this is less time wasted on human error and overtime.

Is machine monitoring only for CNC machines? Not at all! On the subject of machine monitoring, FABshop Magazine recently published a piece from us where we discussed unconventional machine data collection. Operators of lasers, press brakes, welders, and more equipment should look into the availability of monitoring. Our Senior Account Executive Amy Gates told the publication that “fabrication machines are becoming more common for people to want to monitor,” Gates said. “Just like with our standard CNC monitoring, customers want to know when their machines are cutting and when they are not.”

For more information on machine monitoring and OEE on the manufacturing shop floor, call (877) 611-5825. You can also fill out this contact form and we will get back to you when it is most convenient! 

 

Manufacturing ROI & Manufacturing Integrators

Manufacturing ROI - shop floor automationsAs a manufacturer, you have a lot of daily concerns, such as downtime and productivity. Is your manufacturing ROI an issue that is falling to the wayside?

With a new year coming up fast, your ROI (or return on investment) should be bumped up to one of your largest concerns, if it is not already. You may remember when we did a previous blog explaining different types of costs for a manufacturer. For this blog post, we wanted to take the time to explain the top 3 ways that working with a manufacturing integrator like Shop Floor Automations will help you with ROI!

#1 Reduce procurement costs:

The only time you ever want the amount of money you are spending on raw materials to go up is because your productivity is at sky-high levels. Unfortunately, you may be spending a lot on raw materials due to downtime on the machine interfering with the quality of products. You may even be spending a lot on paper for spreadsheets and other shop floor documents. Using tools such as machine monitoring software can help you increase utilization of machines, and combining products like job scheduling software and PDM software can help you go paperless. Do you still use floppy disks or constantly invest in CAT-5 cable that needs to be replaced and restrung once a year? Invest in new hardware that will replace these processes and old media sources. These solutions should help bring down some significant procurement costs.

#2 Time-sensitive efficiencies:

Manufacturing is one of the most time-sensitive processes in the world. Certain quantities need to be done perfectly and they need to be on time. What happens when downtime takes down one of your machines? Or you have to spend time manually updating spreadsheets for your production schedule? Or your CNC’s have communication failures on a regular basis? Using the tools of DNC software for CNC communications, machine monitoring for combatting downtime, and graphical job scheduling to be able to see production changes in real time, all make for the perfect trinity to help jobs get out to customers on time.

#3 Marketplace advantage:

American manufacturing is coming back to a place of significant prominence. While the industry deals with a skills gap combined with reshoring, you need to make sure you can take on as many jobs as possible to stay ahead of the competition. If you spent less time updating spreadsheets, invested in less overtime to fix human error and were able to prevent more downtime on your shop floor, imagine how many more jobs you can take on. Implementing any of the tools mentioned above can help with productivity and cement your place in this industry as a top manufacturer.

If you are interested in these solutions, please fill out a contact form or call us at (877) 611-5825