Mastercam 2018 Rollout

mastercam 2018 rollout CAD/CAM Consulting Inc. recently held a Mastercam 2018 rollout event at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA. Shop Floor Automations (SFA) was lucky enough to participate as a vendor whose solutions integrate with Mastercam software.

Guests of the event not only got to sit in on informative demonstrations of new and improved Mastercam features, but they also got to walk throughout this beautiful museum full of aviation history. Lunch was served and a raffle took place at the end of the event – SFA even got to give out our Wireless CNC Connect and the Wired CNC Connect.

Click here to watch our video from the event & subscribe to our YouTube channel

Some of the enhancements reviewed for the event were general, which include analyzing the toolpath, analyzing the distance along the curve, lathe coordinates, and more.  Overall design enhancements, as well as tool enhancements, mill enhancements (2D and 3D), lathe enhancements, and mill-turn enhancements, were discussed.

Some detailed presentations given to attendees touched on customizing your interface with nifty features such as the Quick Access Toolbar. A litany of commands are at your fingertips and your tabs can be customized to your ease of use, which includes selecting the option of displaying large icons. We were also informed that posts from Mastercam which are three versions back or newer can also be updated to the Mastercam 2018 version.

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mastercam 2018 rolloutHow does SFA work with Mastercam? The three best solutions are:

# 1 – DNC Software: Once Mastercam is done building your programs, send them to your machines with DNC Software. Able to store 1000’s of programs securely, you won’t have to worry anymore if your programs are floating around the shop, or if the program is too large for the CNC memory. This is a great upgrade if you find your current CNC communication methods are failing.

# 2 – Hardware: A more economic approach when compared to DNC Software, some opt for our USB Connect hardware (available in units which can be mounted on a machine or in a rugged, portable unit) or they gravitate towards our Wired/Wireless, CNC Connect devices. No longer run from the machine to the PC, or risk damaging your laptop by carrying it around the shop floor. Expensive memory upgrades will now be a thing of the past.

# 3 – Machine Monitoring: Okay, it’s more of an accessory to Mastercam, but it is a great addition to your shop. Monitoring downtime and other machine trends help to increase OEE and drives real-time improvements on your shop floor. Customers report productivity increases of up to 25% just from monitoring the utilization of their machines. Imagine the time you’ll save with Mastercam plus machine monitoring in your shop!

If you want more information on this event or any of the solutions mentioned above, Shop Floor Automations would love to hear from you! Fill out our Sales contact form, or call (877) 611-5825. 

Why Customers Use Machine Monitoring Software

What is Machine Monitoring Software? Machine Monitoring gives you the ability to see what your machines are doing in real-time.

machine monitoring This software allows you to collect and process data from your machines using software like MTConnect, FANUC FOCAS, custom macros, or hardware devices. Optional data collection terminals can be used for additional operator input.

Runtime, downtime, and OEE data is then presented via dashboards, historical reports, and charts.  Emails or text notifications can be sent to notify you of production issues on the shop floor. Machine monitoring can be done on-premise or via the Cloud at various price ranges.

Now that you know a little more about machine monitoring software, here are some reasons why our customers use it:

I am very happy with the software and it is having a positive impact on our productivity…There was minimal startup cost and it requires little software management on the user end. Significant increases in machine utilization, better information flow between engineering guys and programming guys, quality guys, shop floor guys, and us as owners! Knowing what’s happening on the shop floor. -Jerry, Tech Manufacturing LLC

We were looking for some machine monitoring software to be able to see the effectiveness of our machines. -Tom, AMT Senior Aerospace

We have been able to increase our productivity by 25 percent just monitoring the machine utilization. SFA did it all remotely and it worked great. The software is very easy to use. -Derek, Aero Precision

Read more customer reviews on our products and services from SFA by clicking here. Click here to schedule a machine monitoring webinar with an account executive, or if you are ready to make a purchase, call us at (877) 611-5825. 

Cloudy with a Chance of OEE

“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.

IIoT Cloud OEE MFGShop 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

Yes, 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. 

CNC Machine DowntimeA 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.

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.

machine monitoring status

Click for large view of secondary status notes

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

When 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. 

machine monitoring benefitsReason 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

machine monitoring

Click 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 technology trendsEmbracing 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) stated on a study previously published on their site that “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 stated in a piece that “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

Click to see the whole comic

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 with some new Shop Floor Man comics.

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.

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

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.

machine purchase

Click the graph for 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

Machine MonitoringWe 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