MFG Skills Gap & Veterans

Preparing military veterans for manufacturing jobs is an amazing way to give back, but are we preparing them for the MFG skills gap? One school is making sure of it.

mfg skills gapWhen military veterans return home, they will face a series of challenges. Among the most important of these items to tend to – finding a career once their time in the military is over. To coordinate with the MFG industry needing to fill a skills gap, Workshops for Warriors aims to help with this important issue and support veterans at the same time.

Some of you may remember when we visited Workshops for Warriors (WFW) last summer and also when we got to interview WFW Founder & CEO Hernán Luis y Prado. Hernán served in the Navy for 15 years, so this topic hits close to home for him. His message has always been clear – that veterans are the perfect group of people to learn how to use manufacturing equipment to fill these jobs.

One big concern with the manufacturing industry, as well as many industries these days, is the skills gap. While much of the problem in manufacturing is attributed to lack of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) learning resources for students, there is another looming problem.

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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.

SFA Legacy Blogs Edition XI

Shop Floor Automations Blog – Legacy Edition 11

shop floor automations blogWelcome to another edition of the Shop Floor Automations legacy blog. Here, we take great measures to archive recent and past media coverage of our solutions, or our two cents on the manufacturing industry. Here is what we have to share for Edition 11:

In the October 2017 issue of Modern Machine Shop, a case study we did with one of our customers is featured. FabShop Magazine also featured us in their “MFG etc.” section, talking about machine monitoring for fabrication machines plus other unknown monitoring benefits in October 2017.

Here is a throwback: last year, Aerospace Manufacturing and Design published a piece about the hardware and software we had on display at IMTS 2016. We also remember when Industrial Machinery Digest first wrote about our comic strip called Shop Floor Man. We were also grateful when Manufacturing Global wrote about Shop Floor Man, proclaiming it was a step to “make an impact on a younger generation of manufacturing professionals.”

Fabricating and Metalworking wrote about how DataXchange and MTconnect were two great combined solutions on the shop floor to increase OEE. The same publication spoke about what we would have on display at FABTECH 2016 last year. Speaking of FABTECH 2016, Robotics Tomorrow also wrote about our exhibition at the show.

That will do it for this edition of the SFA Legacy Blogs. If you have any questions about combatting shop floor downtime, please give us a call at (877) 611-5825. You can also fill out a contact form and we will get back to you when it is most convenient. 

Reflecting on MFG Day 2017

Even with MFG Day 2017 efforts, there is much work to be done to fill the MFG skills gap.

mfg skills gapThere is good news for the manufacturing industry. Last night, the Senate passed a Tax Reform that the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) says is a “critical step forward” for US manufacturers. This is great, considering NAM also reported that 57% of manufacturers will increase wages, 64% will expand their businesses, and 57% will hire more workers if the tax reform was voted into place.

Please click “read more” or scroll down for the rest of this story!

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September/October 2017 Shop Floor Automations Newsletter

The following is an archived copy of our September/October 2017 Shop Floor Automations newsletter:

shop floor automations newsletterModern Machine Shop Case Study

Do you have CNC communication issues? You may be surprised at what can cause these shop floor problems.

One of our customers, Stollen Machine, took the time to explain how replacing their inferior shop floor cabling with our Wireless Connect hardware units helped increase their productivity. Modern Machine Shop published the case study in their October 2017 issue.

Whether it’s hardware or software, we want to help you combat downtime.

MFG Day 2017

Shop Floor Automations is a proud supporter of MFG Day and other efforts to fill the skills gap in the manufacturing industry. It is important not only to us but to the American economy, that manufacturing stays prosperous.

Recently, Hernan from Workshops for Warriors and Jeremy from Edge Factor spoke with us about their roles in helping make manufacturing jobs more appealing. While what they do is different and appeals to separate groups of people, it is still valuable to get these jobs filled.

We also got to interact with a lot of our Instagram followers about why they love working in the manufacturing industry. The answers varied, whether they loved the daily challenges, the creativity, or the fact that they were continuing a family tradition. The common bind amongst them was that they loved their jobs!

Manufacturing Integrators & ROI

Return on Investment, or ROI, is one of the most important elements on a shop floor. You want to make sure everything you purchase for your production adds to your profits.

Have you taken the time to think about the money you spend on paper and file cabinets? Or how much time spreadsheets take to manually update? Are you still taking time to seek out old media for your shop floor, such as floppy disks?

A manufacturing integrator can help you reduce procurement costs, help with time-sensitive efficiencies, and help you maintain a marketplace advantage in a newly-revitalized American manufacturing landscape.

 

For more information on these solutions mentioned above, please call (877) 611-5825

Original Newsletter Here

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! 

 

Helping Machinists Cope with Work Stress

Are you creating stressed out machine operators, and not even aware of it?

machinist stress relief sourcesThe manufacturing industry is experiencing a lot of growth, but it is also creating a demand for machinist stress relief resources. According to an interesting article in the August 2017 issue of MetalForming Magazine, 52% of workers say they are stressed on a daily basis and 60% say their work-related pressure has increased in the past 5 years. This information no doubt reflects on a newly revitalized manufacturing field.

“Workers shouldn’t suffer in silence,” quotes Bill Driscoll in the press release, who is a district President for Robert Half’s Accountemps program. “A stressed employee can have detrimental effects on the department or company, including decreased morale and productivity.”

There are internal actions you can take, such as team building exercises or casual weekly/monthly meetings to address issues. Otherwise, here are some of the concerns your workers have which can be addressed with the help of a manufacturing integrator:

Concern #1 – Heavy workloads: While heavier workloads in manufacturing can mostly be attributed to trying to fill a skills gap, there are ways you can help your machinists get their work done faster, even while short-handed. Machine monitoring software can be used to increase OEE by monitoring machine utilization. DNC software can be used to help with CNC communication failures, which can cause downtime. A good alternative for DNC if you have a smaller shop or want to make a smaller initial investment is using USB connect hardware for drip-feeding. Using CNC Editor software can help to ensure programs are correct and prevent operators from having to manually manage/compare files.

Concern #2 – Looming deadlines: Deadlines are crucial in manufacturing. When spreadsheets are used to track jobs on the shop floor, the information is inaccurate and the time it takes to manually update the sheets is a waste of time. When a machine goes down, it can also be hard to accurately shuffle around the production jobs needing to be done at the last minute. Using a graphical production planning software system, AKA job scheduling software, will help machinists see in real-time how moving jobs effects all other jobs and it can help with utilization.

Concern #3 – Unrealistic manager expectations: Before you get defensive, this is merely us being the messenger. If workers already feel overwhelmed with problems 1 and 2, then if you give them more work, they are going to feel as if they are being given unrealistic guidelines to work with. What can you do, in order to understand your operator’s concerns? Ask the machinists to share the data with you from the tools mentioned above. Look at real-time effects of moving jobs on the shop floor, or see what is happening with OEE. These tools are not only for your workers, but they will help make you a better boss!

If you want more information on any of the solutions above to help your operators feel less stressed on the job, please fill out a contact form or call us at (877) 611-5825. 

 

MFG Day 2017

mfg day 217Shop Floor Automations loves MFG Day.

We recognize that there are some challenges to the manufacturing industry and although our solutions help, there is still a skills gap that needs to be filled.

Around this time last year, we paid a visit to Workshops for Warriors (WFW) and even got to interview their founder Hernan Luis Y Prado about the organization at FABTECH 2016. This year, there has been a lot of progress, but WFW still aims to spread its message further.

“What sets WFW apart from any other Veteran educational organization in the nation are the Nationally-recognized portable and stackable credentials our graduates have the opportunity to earn,” Hernán told Shop Floor Automations. “These credentials are our graduates’ passport to financial freedom, anywhere in the world, for life.”

When Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Transitioning Service Members attend the programs of WFW, they are earning credentials from many organizations. Significantly, they can gain credentials from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), CNC Software Inc. (MasterCam), SolidWorks, Immerse2Learn, the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), and the American Welding Society (AWS).

Click “Read more” or scroll below for the rest of the story! 

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October 2017 Shop Floor Automations Case Study

Our favorite part of the job is learning the results our customers get after integrating our productivity solutions.

In this new Shop Floor Automations case study, our customers at Stollen Machine talk about how our hardware helped combat downtime.

shop floor automations case study

Thanks to Stollen Machine’s Instagram Account for this photo of the MMS article

In this October 2017 case study published in Modern Machine Shop, Doug at Stollen Machine says his inferior cabling was causing communication issues with his machines. After researching and weighing the pros/cons, he decided to go with our Wireless Connect devices in his multi-generation shop.

Investing in six hardware devices from Shop Floor Automations helped to replace an old system that wreaked havoc on Stollen Machine’s shop floor. The study found that they were able to get back 15% more time daily, which is invaluable in the manufacturing process.

Hardware isn’t the only way we help customers, either. Another customer of ours, Tech Manufacturing, attributes using machine monitoring through Shop Floor Automations for helping with overall productivity just by monitoring utilization. With many other solutions on hand, we look forward in the future to sharing more of these case studies with the manufacturing industry.

Check out our other case studies, or if you would like to share your story of how we helped your productivity, participate in a case study today. For more information, call Shop Floor Automations at (877) 611-5825

A little info about Shop Floor Automations: SFA was established in 1998 and will soon be celebrating our 20th anniversary in business. We have attended trade shows such as IMTS, WESTEC, FABTECH, and more. We support efforts to fill the skills gap, such as MFG Day and writing about organizations who focus on this cause. Our focus is to help the Made in America movement by supplying tools and support to combat downtime, increase OEE, organize your shop floor, and help with machine communication issues. Contact us today!

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