MFG Costs, Budgets & Integration ROI

mfg costs mfg budget mfg integratorManufacturing costs are a pain.

When you are thinking of investments to help with production, you have to keep in mind your MFG costs and your budget. While it would be great if all of your costs were predictable, they are not.

There are four variables of expenses when running a manufacturing company, and we have done our best to break it down for you with a driving analogy:

Fixed Costs: You get in your car, you set up your GPS and map out the trip. You know how much time it will take to get there and how many miles. You set the path to avoid toll roads, so you know it will take a little extra time, but you’ve accounted for it. Fixed costs are part of the routine in manufacturing. These cover your utility bills, taxes, property costs, salaries for executives or administrative workers, and general facility maintenance. You can even account for a budget of office supplies and basic salaries for sales people and machinists in this category, too.

Variable Costs: When you plan to take your trip, you account for normal traffic patterns that will add a likely delay to get to your destination. It’s an annoyance we have come to both accept and expect for road trips. Variable costs can best be described as costs directly in relation with production. For example – when you produce more, you ultimately need more raw materials. These patterns are predictable and prescribe to the old saying “you gotta spend money to make money.”

Semi-Variable & Step-Variable Costs: When you’re on your trip, let’s say a horrific accident happens, or you hit an unexpected detour. These unforeseen but likely scenarios can add time to your trip, and let’s face it, most people don’t plan for these events to happen. Semi-variable costs account for costs that can vary, such as commissions for sales people or production-based bonuses. Step-variable costs are costs that remain fixed for a period of time, and can suddenly spike up. Let’s say a machine is producing consistently for a long period of time, but then, it goes down – this downtime is not only costly to production, but hiring a specialist to come out and look at it, or replacing it with another machine, will be expensive.

What is the common factor in all of these examples, though?

If you invested in the GPS, it will reroute you, or add time to your route when you hit traffic or unexpected snags in the road. It is monitoring conditions for you to give you expectations and suggestions on how to improve your route.

How does this relate to manufacturing integration solutions & ROI?

Investing in manufacturing integration solutions is the best ROI when taking into account situations that lead to step-variable costs in your production. It’s essentially giving yourself a GPS to help meet and exceed production goals.

If your machines are consistently having communication errors that cause thousands of dollars in stopped production time, then DNC software or hardware is a drop in the bucket to help prevent this from happening. If there are other issues with machines causing downtime that are not relative to CNC communication failures, then machine monitoring can help for better OEE and for machinists to better communicate issues for proper solutions.

If you are interested in Shop Floor Automations helping you combat production issues head on, we invite you to contact us! You can fill out a form here, or call us at (877) 611-5825 to utilize our decades of experience. 

 

New Manufacturing Techniques

People try out new technologies each day. The manufacturing industry is no exception.

They buy new phones, lease new cars, upgrade the software on their phones and computers, or add implements to their homes to improve their quality of life. Embracing new technology is a move that would benefit the manufacturing shop floor industry most.

new manufacturing technologyHere are the Top 3 ways that new manufacturing technology adopted on the shop floor can benefit your company:

1 – You can keep up with the competition. According to recent results from the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, the National Association of Manufacturers states that in 2017, there is a record-high level of optimism in the manufacturing industry. 91.4 percent of manufacturers said they would increase investments, hire more workers, and that they generally feel good about our industry’s growth. Do you fit in this category?

Are pieces of old tech, like floppy disk drives and handheld terminals holding you back? Are you experiencing communication failures due to lack of CNC memory for your programs? These are all problems that new technology can fix, so that you can get in on this wave of prosperity.

2 – Increase profit. When implementing new hardware and software into older machines, this can help drastically decrease downtime. When there is no downtime to deal with, or less of it, machinists are free to perfect their craft. According to SME, there have been proven studies that show on average, time will decrease 5 percent every time the number of completed pieces doubles.

Therefore, if a machinist has more time to actually do their job than deal with machines going down, that will ultimately make the company more productive. Implementing machine monitoring to track machine trends increases OEE and DNC software can help with CNC communication failure, which are two sure fire ways to combat downtime.

3 – More freedom. When there is less worry of machines going down, this can create a better work/life balance for those who work on the shop floor, and in the front office. Machine monitoring, which is a powerful IIoT (industrial internet of things) tool, is an amazing way to get notifications of what is going on with machines not only on the shop floor, but via email or text notifications.

When this proven solution to deal with downtime is combined with more accountability through the means of graphical job scheduling, PDM, and other resources on the shop floor, there is more trust in the workplace. More people can use their PTO to go on vacation, or workers who are home sick can help give guidance when a machine goes down via a notes section through machine monitoring.

If you are interested in new technology for your shop floor and experiencing the benefits listed above, contact us by filling out a sales form here, or call (877) 611-5825.

 

July 2017 Shop Floor Automations Newsletter

shop floor automations newsletter

The following is an archived copy of the Shop Floor Automations newsletter from July 2017:

The buzz is out. The Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, lean manufacturing, and OEE for manufacturing are all hot topics for our industry. Machine monitoring is one way to measure what you have before you can start improving, but what does it take to get started?

 

Is it affordable and compatible with your equipment? What about Cloud-based products that are low-cost and hosts data offsite? If you haven’t yet been persuaded, it’s likely because you’re wondering what exactly happens to your data. 

 

Many customers have turned to our Cloud-based solutions not only due to low cost, the ability to get email or text notifications of production issues, and no long term commitments but also because of proven reliability. One of our customers stated they were able to run their five-axis CNC machines for 24 hours a day to increase productivity instead of investing in more machines. That’s a big deal! 

 

“By 2020, a corporate ‘no-Cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no-internet’ policy is today,” states Gartner, which is a highly respected information technology research company. As the current workforce in manufacturing grapples with a mass departure of experienced workers who are retiring, a younger workforce that is likely more adaptive to modern technology trickles in. 

 

If you’re still on the fence about Cloud-based tech for your shop floor, read this blog from our site where we map out how exactly your data is handled for DataXchange machine monitoring. We also have this interesting blog that discovers how IIoT and Cloud tech can help cut down on maintenance costs and help with the current manufacturing skills gap.

Fill out a contact form for more information by clicking here. Link to the original newsletter here

Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – May/June 2017 Issue

2017 June July Shop Floor Automations Newsletter

The following is an archived copy of the 2017 June/May Shop Floor Automations Newsletter.

Consider Shop Floor Hardware

It is amazing how much hardware changes our daily lives. Your smartphone, your FitBit, your home assistant devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home – hardware helps improve your life in so many ways. Why not invest in some new hardware for your shop floor?

Add USB to any machine. Drip-feed programs that are too large for your CNC memory. Replace floppy disks or poorly insulated cables that are dropping your program transfers. Coming soon, use hardware that can function via WiFi, RS232 Serial, Ethernet, PLC, and the MTConnect protocol, at the same time. There are so many options at a very affordable cost.

Our customers have turned to our hardware to solve many shop floor problems. One customer found that his company could save money and not risk damaging their shop’s laptop by using our Portable USB Connect instead. Another customer who has been with us for over a decade has been using our wireless CNC machine networking devices in their shop for years. Another customer loves the process control and security of his shop’s programs from using our hardware devices. Just ask us about other hardware benefits!

Mastercam 2018 Rollout 

Our friends at CAD/CAM Consulting Inc. invited us to the Mastercam 2018 Rollout, which took place at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA.

We did a report on the event, which talks about enhancements made to Mastercam for this new version, plus our three best solutions that integrate with Mastercam Software.

We also have a fun, quick video from the event you can watch here.

Consulting a Technician Won’t Break The Bank

Have you ever bought hardware from some off-the-beaten-path discount store, or purchased cheap software, and have been dismayed at the lack of support or detailed documentation? It is so valuable when a technology company offers support for their products, and when offered, it may cost less than you think.

SFA is proud to have some of the best technicians in the manufacturing integration business. They not only offer support over the phone and via remote sessions for customers, but they can also come on-site to help.

We have some great resources on our website that explain why it is a great idea to use a technician instead of attempting to do it yourself. Sometimes cabling can be a little more difficult than you may have thought previously, which you can read about here. We also did a post on how setting up hardware can be a little more complex than imagined, which you can read by clicking here.

For more info, click here to contact us, or call (877) 611-5825. See the original newsletter here

SFA Legacy Blogs – Edition 9

shop floor automations blog

SFA Legacy Blogs – Edition 9

The Shop Floor Automations blog is dedicated to preserving the history of our company. An important part of this history is the press coverage we are always grateful to receive. Here is the latest news we would like to share:

WESTEC 2017 is around the corner and we will be at Booth 1935. We would like to thank  MFG Talk Radio and Today’s Medical Developments for posting pieces about what we will be up to at our booth.

Our popular piece about millennials in manufacturing jobs continues to make its way through our industry. Haas Technical Education Centers published the piece on their blog recently.

We also have some vintage news pieces we would like to share. This piece from Manufacturing Engineering Media (from SME) in 2014 features an interview with our company President Greg Mercurio. This piece from June of 2012 by MFG News was from a time when our floppy drive emulators were still fairly new. American Machinist also published this piece in December 2016 about how recent Scytec updates meant even more MTConnect compatibility.

We were also honored to be in the following recent publications: the CNC West April/May 2017 issue (pages 69 and 73), the MFG News March 2017 issue (in each edition – page 53 Midwest, page 65 West, etc), and the MFG News June 2017 issue (in all editions – page 76 Southwest, page 71 Midwest, etc.)

If you would like more information about how to increase productivity on your shop floor, call (877) 611-5825 or fill out our contact form here. Want to see some reasons why customers have stayed with us? Click here to read & view our reviews!

Military MFG Career Fair

Workshops for Warriors Career Fair

Military MFG Career Fair

Workshops for Warriors, a long time friend to Shop Floor Automations, will be hosting its inaugural Employer Career Fair on August 4th. More info is at this link, or read below:

“Employers will come to Workshops for Warriors in San Diego CA first for a tour of the facility, and second to participate in 20-minute ‘speed dating’ style interviews with students and Workshops for Warriors alumni,” Workshops for Warriors (WFW) proclaims in a press release about the event.

“We will work to connect Employers with students interested in relocating to their area or are interested in the specific jobs the Employers need to be filled. The event will be followed by an off-site networking event.”

WFW is the only accredited school in the nation that provides training, certifications, and job placement for military veterans. This includes those wounded in action and transitioning service members.

“As you may or may not know, veterans get up to four years to be trained in a particular military occupation, but they have less than one week to transition as civilians,” WFW founder Hernan Luis Y Prado said in an interview with Shop Floor Automations. “The challenging part that we have is that we know people love veterans, but loving a veteran does not make them a good machinist, or fabricator, or welder.”

To read more about what WFW does, click here to read about our visit to their school. If you run a manufacturing company and need solutions for better productivity, improved OEE, or better organization, call us at (877) 611-5825. You may also contact us by clicking here

Mastercam 2018 Rollout

mastercam 2018 rollout

Mastercam 2018 Rollout Event Review

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.

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.
mastercam 2018 rollout

How 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. 

Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program

Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program

America is the land of opportunity and the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) is an unconventional example of this ideal.

Those who are behind bars will have opportunities through this program to gain skills that will land them stable jobs and do something productive while incarcerated. There can be mixed feelings about this program, though. Prison industry enhancement certification programs
Here are five basic things to know about PIECP, before going forward:

#1 – It was created by Congress in 1979 with the goal of having inmates contribute to society while offsetting the cost of their incarceration, as well as to pay back the crime victims and support their families. Source

#2 – Other than monetary reasons, the program was created not only to reduce prison idleness but to increase job skills for those in prison so they have a good transition upon release and help the economy by filling jobs.

#3 – The only prisoners who are allowed to participate in the program are in State prisons (not Federal prison), are medically able to participate, and have minimum disciplinary records while serving time. Only minimum or medium security level prisons may participate in this program and the only prisoners who take part in PIECP volunteer to do so. Source

#4 – The program also helps with reincarceration rates, since the prisoners who underwent this training and transitioned properly out of prison had non-arrest rates ranging from 60% to 93% meaning more than half of the participants who were monitored did not return to prison. Source

#5 – These programs help to offset the cost to taxpayers of running prisons, as well as helping prisoners not bounce back into jail to eat up further resources. Information varies from source to source, but via this 2010 study, State contributions via taxes to help run prisons can be as low as $58,065 (total annually from taxpayers in North Dakota) all the way up to $7,932,388 (total annually from taxpayers in California). With inflation and prison populations growing over the years, these amounts have no doubt changed. Source 1 & Source 2

Click “read more” or keep scrolling for the rest of the story! 

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Why Up-To-Date Software Matters

shop floor software updates

Don’t Ignore Software Updates

We’ve all had those annoying reminders on our computers and our phones about a software update being imminent. Sometimes, we say to ourselves “I’ll get to it later,” but this train of thought is a mistake. This is especially true with shop floor software updates.

One of our seasoned technicians gave some feedback on why keeping your software for your shop floor updated is so important:

“Software updates frequently have new features that support a broader range of protocols. For example, the last release of Predator DNC added support for Fanuc FOCAS to allow hardware-less program transfers. In terms of Predator MDC, support for Gerber, Siemens, and OPC was added in v11.”

He continues with another reason these updates are crucial:

“In terms of security, Predator DNC v11 added SecureDNC to help isolate unsecured controls on the shop floor. Staying up to date is important because of the constant improvement in our security features that help defend against cyber attacks.”

Yes, it can be annoying to keep up with software updates, but as you can see from this blog, it is a vital task to complete. If you want more shop floor insight, call Shop Floor Automations at (877) 611-5825 or fill out this form, and we will get back to you at your convenience.

Legacy SFA Blogs – Edition 8

shop floor automations

Legacy SFA Blogs – Edition 8

A company does not thrive on satisfied customers alone. That is why we use the Shop Floor Automations blog to show we are grateful for the press coverage we get on our solutions and other company news we like to share. Here is another edition of our Legacy Blogs:

MFG Talk Radio published a piece from us where we discussed the top 3 reasons to get a floppy drive emulator. Speaking of our hardware, Modern Machine Shop published a blog on our WiFi USB Connect in April, as well as publishing a piece on the device in their May 2017 issue (pages 136 through 138). MFG News also published a piece about the same device on their blog, as well as in their June 2017 issue in all editions (page 76 for the Southwest edition and page 62 for the West edition, for example).

We were the May 2017 Tip of the Month for MoldMaking Technology, which you can check out by going to page 72 of the issue, or check it out on our Instagram accountVeterans Today shared our piece on the great work that Workshops for Warriors is doing.

A recent piece we have done on the top 3 reasons manufacturing jobs are for millennials has been picking up a lot of buzz. MFG Talk Radio published the piece MFR Tech published the piece, and Today’s Medical Developments published the piece. WhyMFG also published it, as well as Manufacturing Global publishing it. Want more information on how to get more OEE and better productivity?

Fill out a sales contact form, request a software demo, or call us at (877) 611-5825. Thank you for visiting the Shop Floor Automations blog!