Lean Production

Lean ProductionWhat is lean production? One can view it as an alternative term for lean manufacturing, but we wanted to take a deeper look.

“Lean production is centered on determining what activities or processes add value by reducing other aspects,” this Techopedia article explains.

So there is our concept: instead of focusing purely on the bad (what processes to get rid of), we choose to focus on what is working. What can we magnify in order to increase production?

The first part of the equation is always your talent on the shop floor. Without people at the equipment doing the work, nothing happens. So how can we help?

“In lean-production systems, a manufacturer’s employees are organized in teams,” this Economist article explains. The article goes on to explain how the team structure works.

“These tasks are less narrowly specialized than those demanded of the worker in a mass-production system,” they describe. “This variety enables the worker to escape from the soul-destroying repetition of the pure assembly line.”

What kind of teams can you form on the shop floor to help with productivity? We suggest taking on these projects with Shop Floor Automations’ help towards the overall goal of lean production:

  1. Lights Out Manufacturing – This will require a specialized team to evaluate where there are snags in the process in order to do 24/7 machining. Especially if you have team members who work different shifts, this helps them to compare data and see what is happening.
  2. CNC Revision Management – Assign a team to investigate if programs are floating around the shop floor that needs to be better controlled. This team will help make sure old revisions aren’t running at machines.
  3. Going Paperless – Have a team designated to help the shop floor go paperless. Take on a system of real-time dashboards versus spreadsheets or whiteboards. This team can even help the front office out for a real sense of teamwork.

For solutions that will help with these team goals, contact SFA. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form today.

SFA Legacy Blog Edition XVII

shop floor automations blogIn the latest round of digital coverage for Shop Floor Automations (SFA), which includes a few MoldMaking Technology pieces:

SFA highlighted two of our customers and one organization we work with for a MFG Day piece. We thank MoldMaking Technology (MMT) for sharing it.

Thanks to MFG Talk Radio for publishing our piece about automation ROI.

We had much more coverage recently and we thank Moldmaking Technology and Manufacturing Tomorrow for these articles.

Want more info? Check out our recent coverage in trade publications, or call (877) 611-5825 

Lean Manufacturing

Lean ManufacturingLean manufacturing is a hot topic these days. It’s more than a buzzword, though. It’s becoming a necessity.

“Lean manufacturing is a system of techniques and activities for running a manufacturing or service operation.” This quotes comes from Lean Enterprise: A Synergistic Approach to Minimizing Waste from ASQ Quality Press.

Basically, do you want to eliminate any activities from your production that do not add value or contribute to waste? Then you want lean manufacturing procedures in place.

Question is, how can you achieve this goal?

The first step is making the jobs of those on the shop floor easier. “Complex processes typically have a lot of waste, so simplifying a process will reduce waste, improving efficiency,” states this piece on the subject of lean manufacturing from The University of Washington. Keep reading below! 

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Fall 2018 Newsletter

Shop Floor Automations NewsletterThe following is an archived copy of our Fall 2018 newsletter.

Decisions to make for Q4

Fall has begun, and before you know it, Winter will be here. Then, surprise, it’s suddenly Q1. Where did all that time go?!

Take a moment to think if you have any of the following issues on your shop floor:

    • CNC communication failures?
    • Old revisions running on machines, with programs floating all over the shop floor?
    • Still using a CNC floppy drive instead of USB?
    • Old cabling causing too much of a hassle?

Check out DNC software combined with shop floor hardware from Shop Floor Automations. These investments are more affordable than you would assume, and the ROI is exceptional!

If excessive downtime is a concern, scroll to the bottom of this newsletter for information about running a machine monitoring trial!

Want even more info on DNC and hardware? Check out articles about our solutions in publications such as Modern Machine Shop, Moldmaking Technology, CNC West, MFG News & more –

What is your OEE?

If you do not know your true rate of utilization, how can you truly be on the path to improved productivity?

Ask us about a machine monitoring trial! It’s affordable, flexible and illuminating on how productive your equipment really is.

Request info on a DataXchange Machine Monitoring trial

Call (877) 611-5825 for more info! 

Link to original newsletter 

Happy Accident

Skateboard ManufacturingAerospace. Medical. Defense. Skateboarding?! Shop Floor Automations loves fulfilling needs for unconventional manufacturers, so when we learned our customer Professor Schmitt (Paul Schmitt of PS Stix Inc) was going to be the focus of the Edge Factor documentary  “Happy Accident”, we were very excited!

“Happy Accident” premiered at in September 2018 with a great response. Jeremy Bout and Larissa Hofman of Edge Factor, alongside Professor Schmitt, screened the film for 1100 students during a private viewing at their school in Lombard, IL.

Professor Schmitt, his career and his colorful personality are focused on in this film. He has manufactured over 15 Million skateboards and still participates in the sport in his 50’s. He works out of two locations – one in Tijuana and one in Costa Mesa. Though he is very spirited, he takes his craft seriously.

The process of making these boards is an art form that is highlighted in the film. First, the board is designed with CAD/CAM. Then we glue, press, drill, shape, router, sand, polish, paint, print, and wrap.

Schmitt crosses paths with competition skater Kelvin Hoefler, where a big component of the story is his career return after a massive leg break. Calibration and performance of the boards is crucial, and without spoiling story points, Hoefler uses his senses as a skateboarder while Schmitt uses his expertise together to combat an unforeseen design issue. It’s a fascinating story!

John MccainAnother documentary to check out from Edge Factor is “Full Circle.” The unexpectedly emotional film focuses on unintentional connections we make in the manufacturing industry and how it helps us all fill the manufacturing skills gap.

The film is dedicated to the memory of John McCain. The late Senator was filmed visiting the Advanced Manufacturing Lab of Westwood High School in Mesa, AZ.

“I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I’m just fascinated. I think it’s incredible. It’s wonderful, so I thank you – everybody who is responsible.” John said, when visiting.

Visit Edge Factor‘s website for more info on how to watch their programming or help with their efforts. If you would like more manufacturing productivity info, call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form today. 

MFG Day 2018

MFG Day 2018MFG Day is here again. A great time to celebrate the growth of American manufacturing. It is also a time to address the issue of bringing a new generation of workers in the doors.

In the upcoming documentary “Full Circle” from Edge Factor, the film addresses the oncoming “silver tsunami” AKA the previous workforce soon retiring out. The message is clear – keep developing an action plan instead of continually discussing this skills gap.

What are our customers doing to promote our industry? There are different methods we see employed by customers, as well as some interesting colleagues we have made in 2018 that we wanted to share.

American Manufacturing“In all the companies I work with, their workforce is in their 50’s,” says Ross Bonacci, Tool & Die Marker at FuelCell Energy in Danbury, Connecticut. “In another ten years, they have no one there to continue the work, so it’s a great opportunity to get a trade.”

“I see these kids leave college and they’re in Starbucks or retail, but I feel like manufacturing is really making a comeback,” Ross said. “It’s a very satisfying career.” Ross also goes above and beyond by working a second job as a CNC machinist course instructor at Henry Abbott Tech in the same town that Fuelcell Energy resides!

Bridging a technological skills gap for older machinery with a solution that can be universally used was one challenge a customer of ours had. “I had to find a quick and easy solution that could be utilized by all team members, regardless of technical ability,” says Randy Glover, Project Manager at Fredon Corporation in Mentor, Ohio. He found our hardware fit the bill, in that it was “very intuitive for some of our more seasoned machinists who are not super tech-savvy.”

One interesting place to mention is Rise Up. The machine shop in Santee CA is an 18-month long program providing reformed ex-prisoners with CNC machine operator training, as well as life skills coaching, work ethics lessons, and other forms of support.

“We tell these guys, they know the stigma that they have attached,” says Machine Shop Manager/Instructor Dustin Greeves at Rise Up. Dustin has been in the manufacturing industry for years and has a lot of insight on the subject. “I tell these guys that they train me as much as I train them.” Keep reading below! 

mfg dayThere are solutions that can be implemented in shops to help ease the skills gap, as well. There is not only hardware from SFA to help replace old media, but there are also many forms of software that can assist. For example. the old-school generation who do hand coding or write out their G-code can use CAD/CAM to transfer their skills to new workers.

“First of all – that’s an art form that we shouldn’t ever lose,” says Ben Mund of MasterCam. “But for the folks who do it, the nice thing about CAD/CAM is you can save off what you have done and the work you have.”

“You can pass that [data] on to future generations,” Ben continues. “So, if you’ve got a specific way you like cutting, you have that as a library you can access and make sure that the people in your shop that you are training up have access to your knowledge and your wisdom as you decide to eventually leave the industry and do something else.”

 How are you helping our industry thrive? Share your stories with SFA on social media. If you need help with productivity, please call (877) 611-5825