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

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 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.

 

Comfort for Cloud Technology Concerns

Cloud technology concerns - Cloud-based Monitoring from DataXchange

Click on this graphic for a larger view

If you use cloud-based machine monitoring or have been thinking about it due to the affordable cost of it, there is likely one big question on your mind: what happens to my data?

We have provided a configuration graphic for your reference in this blog about where exactly the data is pulled from, where it goes, and how it gets back to you. Other than this concern of how the data is grabbed and presented, there are a few other concerns people can have with using a service that is cloud-based versus on premise. Let’s explore those concerns here:

What is the cost and what kind of commitment do I need to make?
The $45 per machine, per month option from machine monitoring solution DataXchange has been a very attractive addition to many shop floors. The best part is that this monthly option does not require a long-term commitment, and it includes software updates, plus support.

Paying as you go is a great option for customers to feel if at any time it is not working for them, they can try something else. It also allows them more financial freedom to invest money into other areas of their business, such as marketing or hiring more people to fill the manufacturing skills gap.

I am uncomfortable with my data not being only on my company’s network. From the 2015 International Conference on Computational Science, a study on the sources of uncertainty in Cloud technology state that the biggest parameters of uncertainty are effective performance, bandwidth, available memory, and the number of processors available via the Cloud technology provider. DataXchange meets the demand of all these needs.

The study also stated that Cloud tech which has load balancing and adaptive scheduling, and explaining these concepts in detail, can help those with uncertainty in committing to the Cloud. With DataXchange being developed from over 15 years of experience in creating OEE software solutions, they have thought ahead to meet consumer uncertainties when it comes to the valuable data of customers.

A publication called Enterprise Tech also 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.

What existing results are out there that can convince me to adopt Cloud monitoring?

Shop Floor Automations has been a trusted reseller of Scytec’s cloud-based machine monitoring through DataXchange for years. You can read this case study about how one manufacturer used DataXchange through Shop Floor Automations for a 10 percent efficiency increase in just over two years.

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!

If you are interested in learning more about cloud-based machine monitoring, or any kind of machine monitoring software, please contact us today! We are available at (877) 611-5825 or you can reach us via this website’s chat function, as well as on social media

 

The Case for Change: Automation & IIoT

Manufacturing shop floor automation progression of technology - machine monitoringEmbracing manufacturing shop floor automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), or in our case, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), will help the American manufacturing sector as it tries to keep pace with the millions of MFG jobs that need filling. Implementing automation tactics such as machine monitoring, DNC software, job scheduling, CMMS, and more, does not intend to replace people who could do these jobs, but rather to make up for the fact that there is a sufficient skills gap in manufacturing. These tools also help to make the jobs of those who are still in this industry, or just entering it, more efficient and easy.

NIST (the National Institute of Standards for Technology) states “intelligent automation systems could make greater contributions to US manufacturing” and also provides many factors as to why automation, and yes, increasing Robot density level (Robots per ever 10,000 manufacturing workers) can benefit the Made in America movement. Especially considering that in 2008, we had 4.7 workers per every retiree in this country, but by 2050, it is projected to drop to 2.7 workers per retiree, which will no doubt effect the manufacturing sector.

An article from Information Week regarding the aging workforce encouraging the IoT movement states “small companies need technical support to implement new technologies.” Aside from Government measures such as the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Commitees, there is also the significance placed on the willingness of businesses to take the leap to embrace new tech. The George Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute did a 2012 survey of Georgia manufacturers and while 24% of these shops said technical skills are an issue, 27% also said they were not willing to spend funds on employee training. Adding certain automation tools that are quick to learn could benefit both these issues, as they can often be more affordable than expected.

The benefits of IIoT towards lean manufacturing should also be considered. “Applying the industrial internet of things (IIoT) enables new means for removing waste,” says the ARC Advisory Group, responding to an inquiry from tech publication Ziff Davis. “For example, IIoT can be applied to equipment for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance. Maintenance is performed when needed rather than on a fixed time period, which can reduce maintenance costs by 50%.”

The bottom line here is that embracing IIoT and automation on manufacturing shop floors is just a natural progression of how this industry is changing. In the 1700s and 1800s, we had manual machines for manufacturing. The 1940s were when we were first introduced to NC (numeric control) machines, then we gained CNC (computer numeric control) machines. Each time these new innovations came around, it was likely a culture shock, but embracing these changes has made our industry what it is. It’s time to keep moving.

If you are interested in how automation and the IIoT can help your shop floor, we would love to help! Call (877) 611-5825 or contact us via one of our social media channels.

New Shop Floor Man Comics

SHOP FLOOR MAN comic Christmas Holidays 2016 Machine Monitoring MFG

Click comic for a larger view on Instagram

Shop Floor Man, our manufacturing comic book hero, has been on some new adventures since we last posted the Halloween strip here on our blog. Let’s see what other machinist hijinks he has gotten up to, since we last left off.

Since the holidays just passed us, it was natural that this time of year entered into Shop Floor Man’s realm. In this strip, we learned the real reason why machine monitoring was implemented into our cartoon protagonist’s shop. Santa always knows when someone is doing something naughty, even on a manufacturing shop floor!

Then today, we saw that Shop Floor Man looks to have made a New Years Resolution by replacing complicated, antiquated job scheduling techniques with graphical job scheduling. This is sure to save him lots of time and aggravation.

Shop Floor Man comic job scheduling

Click comic for a larger view on Instagram

If there are any manufacturing or machinist themed adventures you would like to see Shop Floor Man explore in future comics, we would love to hear from you!

Contact us here, or via one of our social media channels. We are also available at Toll Free at (877) 611-5825. Remember – our solutions are better than our comics.

3 Reasons Not To Buy a New CNC Machine Tool

3 reasons to not buy a new CNC machine tool With the start of a New Year, you may be thinking about purchasing a new CNC machine tool, or tools, for your shop floor to help with productivity. You may be of the mindset that a brand new machine would be great, similar to the feeling of buying and sitting in a brand new car, but there are three factors to consider as to why buying a new machine right now is not the best time:

Repurposing money for a new machine into helping fill the manufacturing skills gap is a wiser move. With a huge portion of this industry retiring from the workforce within the next decade, the loss is definitely being felt. With a younger workforce slowly coming on board, the solution may seem to be to invest in newer equipment, similar to what the new work force is bring trained on.

The issue here is that buying a new machine, which can cost five to six figures, especially more if you are investing in multiple machines, is money that is being spent on tools. What about the people who work on the tools? Especially if you are leasing new equipment, it will be hard to pay it off with less of a work force.

The best strategy would be to spend thousands of dollars not on new machine tools, but on a new workforce. Giving them solutions to make legacy machines operate more smoothly has the potential to help production surpass goals, as well as keeping the Made in America manufacturing workforce afloat.

New machine sales haven’t been prevalent in over two years. According to EDA, a data-driven market insight company, there was a huge spike in buying or leasing new machines between 2000 and 2001, with a minimum of 2k machines sold per month between August 2000 and January 2001. February 2002 was when new machine sales/leasing finally dipped below 1k units per month.

Buy a new CNC machine tool has been a low priority for years

Click the graph above for a larger view.

This event seemed to trigger a trend for low sales of new machines until October 2003, when sales started to recover. Sales and leasing of new machines hit a healthy stride until January of 2009, sales significantly dropped.

Since that point, sales and leasing of new machines has been up and down – new machine sales or leasing has not surpassed 2k per month since December of 2014. Sales or leasing of used machines has always been consistent, and even surpassed new machines once in 2001, for half of 2002, more than half the year in 2003, once in 2009 and once as recently as October 2015.

Leveraging the tools you already have saves time and money. Adding supplements to the tools and equipment you already have will save you precious time, teach you new skills, plus the benefit of money being saved by not buying new machines or losing production time by staying with what you have and not changing it.

Time spent by manually tracking data or using spreadsheets for job scheduling can be replaced with machine monitoring or graphical schedulers. Instead of hoping programs send to machines or dealing with programs too large to download to machines, use DNC software to drip-feed (it will also save you the time from going back and forth to the PC, or bringing your laptop all around the shop). If you are constantly replacing cabling due to a caustic shop floor environment, maybe now is the time to go wireless.

If you are interested in more info, we invite you to give us a call or chat with us on our site. Call (877) 611-5825 and make the most of your New Years shop floor resolutions today!

Unconventional Machine Monitoring

Unconventional Machine Monitoring from SFAWe love it when we get to surprise people who work for manufacturing shop floors, machine shops and job shops with what exactly our solutions can be used for. The general assumption is that our hardware and software only works on CNC machines, but the reality is far different. For instance, one of our techs relayed this story of how we helped implement machine monitoring to help prevent environmental conditions from halting production.

“This Aerospace company was painting airplane parts and in order to do that, you have to control the environment,” one of our longtime technicians said in an interview. “They have 9 different stations within the facility, but these 2 air handling systems were basically the best way to indicate whether they were working or not, in terms of temperature and humidity.”

“We just wired the machine monitoring into the air handling systems, which is different from what we normally do,” our technician said. “Normally, we wire into a CNC machine or a particular device, or something like that. This was just kind of a different way of doing things.”

Though it was a creative challenge, SFA was able to get it done for the customer, with time to spare. “We had to dig into the schematics and figure [out] just exactly what was turning that whole system on and off. We planned for an entire day for each machine, but I actually ended up finishing early!”

This is just the tip of the iceberg for monitoring unconventional machines or systems. Aside from a dairy farm that we help monitor, there are also other examples. “Autoclaves are kind of a strange one, and some of the other techs were talking about forklifts, which is pretty interesting.”

“There is a whole set of different things we can tap into that we’re not really [doing] right now,” our tech says, “and it’s just a matter of finding the right condition to be met. To say ‘this is what is actually considered cycling, running, or operating’.”

To learn more about machine monitoring in manufacturing, click here. We also invite you to call us at (877) 611-5825 or visit us on social media

Top 3 Tools for Continuous Improvement in 2017

Continuous Improvement Tips from Shop Floor AutomationsIf you frequently attend a fitness gym, you know that you have a goal. You want to lose weight or gain muscle mass. Sometimes, you may require the assistance of a trainer to meet these goals. You are aiming for continuous improvement of your physique or health.

With a manufacturing process, you likely don’t want to aim at just meeting your quota – you want to take on new clients and surpass your goals to make more money for everyone who works on your shop floor. This is where solutions such as machine monitoring, job scheduling and DNC can come in handy towards the goal of continuous improvement in manufacturing.

“Continuous improvement, sometimes called continual improvement, is the ongoing improvement of products, services or processes through incremental and breakthrough improvements,” states ASQ, a global knowledge network in America dedicated to improved business management tactics.

Here are the Top 3 ways you can aim for the goal of continuous improvement on your shop floor in 2017:

1 – Implement Machine Monitoring. Collecting and processing real-time data from machines is extremely valuable in manufacturing. Getting emails or text notifications when there are issues with production is crucial to making sure the Made in America movement is on its game. Having accurate production data can help make better-informed decisions about machine utilization and can often be integrated with other programs or hardware. Especially with the $45 per month, per machine Cloud option from DataXchange, it is certainly more affordable than most shop floors expect! FYI – DataXchange can also be integrated with Bigfoot CMMS for plant maintenance.

2 – Utilize Job Scheduling. A real-time graphical scheduler will not only replace outdated spreadsheets, but it can also accomplish such tasks as tracking jobs and helping you move them to another machine with less utilization when there is unexpected downtime. It can help you redirect the time you would have spent manually updating and filing spread sheets on other pursuits. Also, even though it’s not a crystal ball, a job scheduler such as JobPack will allow you to see up to 365 days into the future for scheduled jobs.

3 – Adopt DNC Software for CNC Communications into your routine. Why manually manage and send programs? What if programs are too large to download at machines for operators? You can have revision control and spend less time either running back and forth from a PC, or bringing a laptop from machine to machine. Don’t just hope for a program to send to a machine, or rely on switch boxes, or worry about constantly replacing RS232 cabling.

Interested in any, or all, of the solutions above? We are ready to help you achieve your continuous improvement goals. Call (877) 611-5825 or connect with us on social media. You can also read our many Customer Testimonials to see for yourself the benefits of our solutions.

Top 5 Shop Floor Product Updates in 2016

Top 5 Shop Floor Product Manufacturing 2016With the year quickly coming to a close, we wanted to take the time to share some updates to shop floor software and hardware that you all need to see. Whether you implemented them into your manufacturing routine or you are looking for new tech for 2017, here is what you need to know to obtain the goals of lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, and turning data into actionable items:

1 –  Scytec DataXchange Machine Monitoring & Data Collection – Many shop floor runners are fans of DataXchange for their $45 per month, per machine Cloud pricing, but they may also want to check out Version 2016.10.03 updates. New features include an MTConnect Data Viewer, which is a testament to DataXchange’s continuing advocacy of the protocol. Scytec Support staff will also be able to remotely restart DataXchange for users without remote access, as well as many utilization tools being updated or refreshed. You can also integrate DataXchange with Bigfoot CMMS from Smartware Group if you are seeking a plant maintenance management system, which you can read more about here.

2 – The WiFi USB Connect – This new piece of hardware is a wireless USB solution for the manufacturing shop floor. It emulates a USB stick, allowing you to share data from a PC to your machines. No drivers are required, plus Floppy drive emulators and CNC machines with a USB port can now have wireless abilities! The device serves as an easy and economic shop floor upgrade, with more info here from MoldMaking Technology.

3 – Machine Monitoring through Predator MDCWith v11 now available, there are many incredible new updates, and quite a few improved features, that will be beneficial to your shop floor. From being able to access MDC machine monitoring on Android phones, to having a real-time view of data from any browser, many new charts to display information on, and an updated list of Windows Support, MDC is worth checking out.

4 – MTConnect & the Cloud –   More CNC machine controls, and more shop floors, are embracing MTConnect. The open, royalty free factory floor communication standard is universal and embraced by shop floor factories. Comparative to Bluetooth technology that allows for plug-and-play connectivity of shop floor devices, equipment and systems, the protocol helps collect and process data from machines. The concept of software on the Cloud, AKA IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), is also taking off. Cloud tech can be cost effective (as you saw above with DataXchange’s Cloud pricing), is easy to implement, and can often come with advanced tech support that will help a company’s IT Department struggle less. Industrial Machinery Digest published a piece about integrating MTConnect, along with machine monitoring, at this link.

5- Predator’s Touch HMI – A big button interface, Predator’s Touch HMI replaces barcode readers, handheld terminals and proprietary shopfloor hardware; simplifies data collection on machine uptime; enables access to information via tablet, PC or CNC; and provides buttons to transfer NC programs or launch the part drawing on the shop floor for the operator. It can also be color-coded for the convenience of individual machinists, and novelty buttons can be added through the magic of IoT. More on Touch HMI via a Modern Machine Shop piece you can read here.

Want to become the hero of your shop floor by helping achieve better machine utilization? Call us at (877) 611-5825 or chat with us on social media. Check out any of the products mentioned in our store, or contact us for info on MTConnect & Cloud options.