PCMCIA card and card readers on aged CNC machines can, inevitably, fail. The reasons can run the gamut: excessive and prolonged exposure to heat, moisture or poor air quality, power surges, improper handling, wear and tear over time, and other factors. Add in the scarcity of viable replacements and, regardless of the cause, the malfunction of PCMCIA cards and card readers can be highly disruptive to your shop floor operations, affecting efficiency, productivity and profitability. There’s two main ways how:

  1. Delays and Downtime. Your cards store critical CNC data like essential programs, instructions and configurations to and from your machinery. If you can’t retrieve or transfer this vital data, at a minimum, you impede the ability to operate efficiently as technicians, engineers and programmers are forced to seek temporary, yet often time-consuming and less reliable, workarounds – thus increasing their workloads and postponing other tasks. You could face essential data loss as historical records and important backups are affected. More significant consequences could impose downtime costs and jeopardize meeting lead times, delivery schedules and customer satisfaction.
  2. Security, Performance and Reliability Risks. If you’re also utilizing PCMCIA cards for software updates, patches or machine maintenance, a reader failure can obstruct your ability to implement necessary improvements or fixes, potentially impacting the overall security, performance and reliability of your equipment.
CNC Programmer Transferring Files

If you can’t retrieve or transfer this vital data, at a minimum, you impede the ability to operate efficiently as programmers are forced to seek temporary, yet often time-consuming and less reliable, workarounds – thus increasing their workload and postponing other tasks.



From PCMCIA Card Failures to USB Program Transfers

A manufacturer with over 30 machines, including Makino, Matsura, Chiron, Okuma and Kitako, reported having issues loading and unloading programs with the different machine controls through their old laptop. The company brought on a rugged USB Connect unit from manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations (SFA) and “the problems have disappeared.” They subsequently purchased another unit for their tooling shop. But for companies changing programs more frequently, the USB Connect series may not be the best alternative option.

PCMCIA cards for CNC program transfers

DNC software, such as Predator DNC, can help manufacturers streamline the CNC program management and transfer process for consistent and efficient results, particularly when involving higher transfer rates and tens of machines. “I’m responsible for helping to design high-quality parts and manage all the planning for manufacturing,” says Flowco Manufacturing Engineer Robert Jackson. “Predator DNC gives me the ability to spend my day doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Compliancy Demands DNC Software

For highly-regulated manufacturers adhering to Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, or CMMC, DNC software often becomes a necessary option to ensure compliance and reduce cybersecurity risk associated with USB program transfers. But sorting through the best options for your shop floor begins with a consultation with a dedicated manufacturing integrator. To start exploring a modern solution to your PCMCIA card failures, contact SFA today.

Ethernet CNC connectivity

Over the years, Windows-based CNC machines, robots, CMMs, test stands and other manufacturing equipment have proven popular, largely due to their Ethernet-based networking using the corporate network. But as Windows operating systems (OS) reach the end of their lifecycle, Microsoft technical assistance, software updates or security fixes no longer become available. The options, then, for manufacturers needing Ethernet CNC file transfers and running CNCs with Windows 2000, 2003 or older OS are limited: upgrading to a newer Windows OS can be cost prohibitive and involve a lack of support from the equipment manufacturer; or there’s no upgrade path available, thereby necessitating that the whole machine be replaced. 

The IT Imperative

To protect manufacturers from security risks associated with OS lifecycle completions, IT departments have led the initiative to remove older Windows OSs from corporate domains and discontinue support, while eliminating the use of FTP or Windows shares on untrusted VLANs altogether. This movement often relegates manufacturing operations to isolate a PC from the corporate network and go back to manually loading files through portable media – which presents its own set of security risks. TechAdvisory.org reports that 25 percent of malware is spread today through USB devices. Even the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recommends banning portable media devices from the workplace. And for manufacturers subject to CMMC 2.0, the continued use of removeable media devices may involve severe restrictions or nonacceptance altogether.

Manufacturers needing Ethernet CNC file transfers and running CNCs on older Windows operating systems have limited, cost-efficient options. 

All of this leads to a collision course of lost productivity for the shop floor and some major challenges for IT, as programmers struggle to minimize time spent physically transferring files to equipment and maintain accurate version control and IT strives to minimize risk. The good news is that there are other Ethernet CNC file transfer options available than the common scenario above.

Ethernet CNC file transfers

CNC machines running on outdated operating systems lead to a collision course of lost productivity for the shop floor, as programmers struggle to minimize time spent physically transferring files to equipment and maintain accurate version control, and some major challenges for IT as it strives to minimize risk.

Fortified Ethernet Connectivity

A modern DNC networking system, for one, allows manufacturers to still take advantage of Windows 95 and newer OS, Ethernet as well as your existing network infrastructure, all while removing them from your corporate domain and eliminating the use of FTP, unsecure USB, Windows Administrator access and more. This secure version of DNC software, like Predator Secure DNC software, still enables you to transfer your CNC programs, CNC variables, offsets, parameters, PLC registers and other production data to and from your manufacturing equipment – but adds a layer of security with automatic authentication, encryption and data compression.

Machine tools with an RS232 connection, or those with an option for it, can be connected to Predator Secure DNC to avoid connectivity risks. You’ll need knowledge of your CNC machine’s communication parameters, including baud rate, data bits, stop bits and parity settings or the network connection, such as FTP, FileShare, etc. Consult with an expert manufacturing integrator to explore any other prerequisites to connect your CNC machines through a next-generation DNC networking system.

One manufacturer with a 20-year-old CNC machine started having issues with its floppy drive corrupting and random file saves not working (and then later working). At the same time, they watched as the supply of floppy drive replacements available through eBay steadily decreased. Another manufacturer couldn’t determine how much time machines were broken down or when certain machines should be replaced over others. “At the same time,” explained their machine process engineer, “we wanted to get a full sense of our capacity.” Yet another manufacturer had problems connecting its HAAS machines to its programming computer with R232 serial cables.

Manufacturing integrator is your link from machinery to operators, IT and engineering

What do all of these manufacturers have in common? They all possessed equipment challenges. And all of those challenges were resolved through their partnership with a connectivity expert: their manufacturing integrator.

The Link Between Your Machinery and Operations

A manufacturing integrator serves as the link between your machinery on the shop floor, internal IT as well as Managed Services IT support and your operators, engineers and programmers. An ideal integrator provides the extensive hardware, software, support and project management options to help keep aging and modern equipment productive, effective and profitable. They’re your single source to troubleshoot issues and roadmap new improvement initiatives.

There are distinctions that make a manufacturing integrator so valuable to today’s shop floors, of course. Here’s four of them:

  1. They’re experts in manufacturing equipment. The team at Shop Floor Automations (SFA), for example, has amassed a combined 100 years in CNC machinery experience. They have deep knowledge across a wide range of machines, which has been collected over 25 years. “The troubleshooting page on HAAS’s website wasn’t even as detailed as these guys [SFA] were,” reported the manufacturer with the R232 serial cabling issues.
  2. They have a wide range of available resources. Whether your existing IT infrastructure requires a LAN Connect device or you want to start capturing machine data to optimize Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), a go-to manufacturing integrator should have the broad portfolio of solutions and support to put you on the right path forward.
  3. They’re time and cost-efficiency focused. Manufacturing integrators are skilled in identifying cost-saving opportunities, whether it’s related to how to phase a machine monitoring or DNC software implementation or the optimal set up time and steps involved with adding USB to CNC machines. And because of their technical expertise, they’re best suited to steer – or troubleshoot directly – issues to the most appropriate team. A manufacturing engineer in the oil and gas industry recalled their IT making changes that caused their DNC software to stop working on 20 machines. After calling SFA support, he was able to have the issue resolved remotely within three hours.
  4. They’re dialed into technological developments. They work closely with software publishers, hardware manufacturers and equipment manufacturers to keep ahead of the latest technological advancements in the industry. These relationships influence the documentation, training, recommendations and best practices that a manufacturing integrator designs to keep your machines profitable.
Manufacturing Integrator partnership

Manufacturing integrators are your single source to troubleshoot issues and roadmap new improvement initiatives.


Challenges Resolved

As a result of its collaboration with a professional manufacturing integrator, the manufacturer with floppy drive corruptions was able to swap its floppy drive for a Floppy Drive Emulator to eliminate its data failure and loss risk altogether. The other manufacturer seeking downtime visibility now reveals that, “We no longer rely on anecdotal evidence to understand the effects of machine downtime,” due to its implementation of the Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring solution. The manufacturer with HAAS machine connection troubles? Today its machines are running on the same network as its programming computer – wirelessly.

Learn how you can maximize your partnership with a trusted manufacturing integrator by contacting SFA today.

Comparing your legacy, aging equipment – your die-hard lathe or CNC milling machine – to new machinery options is easy to do. In fact, there’s a term for it: “appeal to novelty.” Equating newness to superior quality, writes educator Academy 4SC, is a logical fallacy in which something is claimed to be better simply because it is modern. “This is because we assume that people will try to improve upon what came before them. Thus, when we hear about something that’s ‘revolutionary’ or ‘cutting edge,’ it can be tempting to think that this new product is better.”

Centralizing Control

But seasoned maintenance and operations professionals know that aging equipment can perform just as well, running the same hours per day and days per year if maintained properly. And that can translate into exceptional return on investment: one paper mill in Canada had the highest maintenance costs, but was the most profitable, reported Reliable Plant.

DNC for Manual Machines

Retrofitting your legacy equipment with the help of a DNC manufacturing integrator can keep manual machines profitable, longer.

The challenge then, can lie in centralizing control of your CNC program and legacy machines, largely due to the vast differences in communication protocols and technology. They may not have built-in networking capabilities or support for modern communications, for example. They will have different data formats and serial communication protocols. And there’s specific troubleshooting and debugging processes associated with older equipment that may require log file analysis, network traffic monitoring, diagnostic tool usage that could vary from machine to machine.

There are options, of course. An ideal Distributed Numerical Control (DNC) software, like Predator DNC, can support over 80 different equipment brands and hundreds of CNC control models to send and receive large NC programs. But software alone won’t be enough to drip feed your CNC programs, control file delivery to the proper CNC machine and monitor the activity of the file transfers to the equipment on the shop floor. There’s still the need to add additional hardware, like serial-to-Ethernet converters, to enable network connectivity.

Your Guide to DNC Manufacturing Integration

That’s where the value of a manufacturing integrator comes in. More than a reseller, a manufacturing integrator has extensive experience using protocols or networking experience that can translate between the protocols used by serial ports on legacy machines. They can provide the DNC software as well as the hardware needed to retrofit or upgrade equipment with newer control systems that interface with the DNC more easily. They have the technical support assistance and large knowledge base of resources, including documentation, FAQs and articles, for instant, on-demand access.

Essentially, a full-service manufacturing integrator has the comprehensive understanding of aging equipment, systems and their respective configurations to design an effective, industrial automation and system integration solution to keep your legacy machines adhering to current processes to keep them profitable longer. To start planning your DNC networking project with an expert DNC manufacturing integrator, contact Shop Floor Automations today.

Manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations (SFA) will showcase the AWS GovCloud-secure Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring solution for highly-regulated industries, including aerospace, defense and pharmaceutical, at FABTECH 2023. FABTECH is North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event and will be held September 11-14 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

For manufacturers adhering to regulations like International Traffic in Arms (ITAR), Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) and other security and compliance requirements, the ability to monitor disparate machines, each with a unique control system and communication protocol with varying ages, can make continuous improvement initiatives challenging in the cloud. There is often limited capability to protect and restrict access to sensitive data, such as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII), while also granting the visibility needed to make timely, data-driven decisions that can impact every aspect of a manufacturer.

The DataXchange solution, available through SFA, resolves these issues by leveraging AWS GovCloud to capture real-time, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) data from a variety of equipment – from lasers and press brakes, to saws and robots – through universal machine connections. Leveraging automated data collection, DataXchange exposes and synthesizes equipment data to give teams full transparency on the shop floor through an architected secure cloud solution for a total smart factory transformation.

DataXchange leverages AWS GovCloud to monitor machine data in aerospace, defense and pharmaceutical manufacturing environments.

DataXchange leverages AWS GovCloud to capture real-time IIoT data from a variety of equipment – from lasers and press brakes, to saws and robots – through universal machine connections.

Results include a 62.5% decrease in machine time as a result of time-saving alerts, reported user MOGAS. The severe service ball valve manufacturer anticipates a full Return on Investment (ROI) within a year of implementing DataXchange.

Manufacturers are invited to stop by the SFA Booth, A3255, at FABTECH 2023 for a complimentary demonstration of the secure DataXchange solution and to explore the entire SFA product portfolio to help resolve the challenges of the modern shop floor.

For sales inquiries, call 619-461-4000 or visit www.shopfloorautomations.com.


ABOUT Shop Floor Automations

Founded in 1998, Shop Floor Automations (SFA) is a manufacturing integrator specializing in digitally transformative hardware, software and support solutions to increase the productivity, efficiency and profitability of plant facilities throughout North America. To add intelligent automation to your shop floor for better communication, control and improvement, contact Shop Floor Automations at www.shopfloorautomations.com.


North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event heads to Chicago’s McCormick Place in September 2023. FABTECH provides a convenient “one stop shop” venue where you can meet with world-class suppliers, see the latest industry products and developments, and find the tools to improve productivity, increase profits and discover new solutions to all of your metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing needs. For more information, visit fabtechexpo.com.

When optimal productivity and efficiency are attained on the shop floor, why carry on equipment monitoring efforts indefinitely?

When MOGAS, the leading manufacturer of severe service ball valves, began monitoring their equipment on the shop floor, they started realizing real value within the first two weeks.

“I was receiving frequent machine alerts with operator notes indicating ‘part move’ during tooling downtime for a part that was taking 8 hours to make,” says MOGAS Machine Shop Leadman Hector Reyes, who is a 9-year veteran of the company and handles router workflows to the machines. “After talking with the operator, I learned that the existing fixture was forcing numerous adjustments. By designing a new fixture to better hold the part, we were able to shave off about 5 hours of machine time.”

Monitoring Plateaus

Within a year of implementing the equipment monitoring solution, DataXchange, MOGAS saw a 62.5% decrease in machine time as a result of time-saving alerts and a 10% increase in efficiency. Tech Manufacturing, an ADDMAN company that specializes in medium-to-large, complex parts with tight tolerances, reported reaching an efficiency of 65 percent after bringing on its machine monitoring program. The goal was to achieve 70 percent, recounted Modern Machine Shop, but diminishing returns had started to set in and efficiency improvements were linked “to increasingly minor or increasingly rare events.”

Machine optimization

Within a year of implementing its equipment monitoring solution, MOGAS saw a 62.5% decrease in machine time as a result of time-saving alerts and a 10% increase in efficiency.

For manufacturers looking ahead – or currently experiencing high optimization with their machine monitoring system – how do you continue to justify the expense of such a solution once this state of near perfection is reached?

The answer is simple, says Greg Mercurio, president of manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations (SFA). “The optimization of your equipment is not a one-time process,” he says. “The condition of machines change over time: they’re impacted by fluctuating and extreme temperatures; wear and tear; the breakdown of their components; poor preventive maintenance and other factors.” While it can be tempting to think you’ve taken things as far as you can, there’s always the potential for deviation on the horizon. Mercurio explains, “Add in the changing workforce, new hires and a labor pool with mixed technical abilities, and you’ll still face the potential for errors and other issues.” Without consistent machine monitoring in place, those issues can go unnoticed over great lengths of time and threaten optimized states, potentially significantly.

Early Detection for Best Prevention

Justify equipment monitoring Mercurio likens machine monitoring to a wearable fitness tracking device. “Even if you achieved your ideal weight, if you’re not monitoring your heart rate, fitness levels and sleep quality, you’re going to have a harder time detecting the signs of a heart condition or other potential health problem,” he says. “The same thing applies to machine monitoring. If you maximized your Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and stopped monitoring your equipment, it’ll be that much more difficult to proactively identify abnormalities or anomalies before they become major concerns.”

To learn how you can maximize your machine monitoring program for the long-term, contact Shop Floor Automations today.

The Writing on the Wall

The indicators to diversify your customer base can present themselves in many ways to a company. Value Prop, a B2B strategy consultancy, defines “customer concentration” as when companies have more than 10% of revenue reliant on a single client – or if revenue portions greater than 10% rely on multiple single clients. For Senior Aerospace AMT, a leading manufacturer of commercial and aerospace parts, its single customer of the company – albeit, one of the largest aerospace companies in the world – made up approximately 90 percent of AMT’s business. The company spun this indicator into an opportunity to fine-tune its machining operations.

Aviation machine monitoring

While piloting the DataXchange machine monitoring solution, the AMT team decided to leverage the existing PCs at each work center so there wasn’t a need to train operators on new hardware in addition to new software.

Tom Anderson, AMT Machine Process Engineer, explained, “We wanted to know, how much time are machines broken down? Which machines need to be replaced over others, and when? At the same time, we wanted to get a full sense of our capacity.” Once this visibility was gained, he figured, there would be a better chance to determine potential improvements to cost effectiveness and quality in an effort to retain current business and attract new prospects.

“It was really easy, out-of-the-box. You can collect infinite types of data.”

AMT partnered with Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a California-based provider of hardware, software and technical expertise, for options. The DataXchange aerospace machine monitoring solution, by Scytec Consulting, was recommended after an evaluation of AMT’s requirements. “We wanted to walk before we run,” he noted, sparking a pilot approach to the implementation of the software. Six machines, some with tablets or bar code scanners, were connected by the IT team at AMT during the first phase of the pilot.

The Team Takes Off

“It was really easy, out-of-the-box,” he says. The tools and documentation available through the platform were enough for Anderson and his team to start setting up the program in-house. “You can collect infinite types of data, so we looked to simplify above all else.” For example, machine statuses were set up to indicate the lack of an operator.

Initially the team input 15-20 downtime options to select from; those options were then narrowed to 8-9 with a reason code and the ability to add a note for further information. At the same time, the team decided to leverage the existing PCs at each work center so there wasn’t a need to train operators on new hardware in addition to the DataXchange software.

Learn more about the approach AMT took with its aerospace machine monitoring software by accessing the full success story now.

“Show me the money!” Those iconic words from the 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, may have been once uttered to prove client-agent commitment, but they also serve as a reminder that products should continually prove value to earn your business. Cloud machine monitoring software, which utilizes Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors to collect real-time data from your equipment on the shop floor, is no different.

The Value of Machine Monitoring

For manufacturers with a variety of aging and newer machines that span manual as well as advanced, 5-axis machining, such a software solution can be a valuable tool to help optimize operations and increase your return on investment (ROI) – particularly as workforce challenges remain pervasive and inflationary pressures weigh on your bottom line. Here are five ways that machine monitoring software can show you the money:

  1. Identify inefficiencies. With the help of a robust machine monitoring solution, you can identify inefficiencies in your production processes to make improvements and cut costs. One manufacturer knew that operators deployed overrides, but wasn’t aware of how long they were slowing down the machines as a result. Through the tracking of feed rates and overrides within a configurable dashboard in Scytec DataXchange, teams uncovered that machines were operating at 50% of normal speed for an extended period of time, well beyond the time that it should have taken to complete the part. Color coding and messaging added to the dashboard, as well as e-mail and text notifications, alerted key personnel when a slowdown occurred past five minutes to address the issue as it was occurring, thereby preventing unnecessary waste. By monitoring machine performance, communicating key data points and analyzing data, you can identify bottlenecks, downtime and other issues, like lengthy overrides, that are slowing down your operations.
  2. Predictive maintenance (PdM). You can also identify when maintenance is needed before a breakdown occurs through constant machine monitoring. The tracking of vibration analysis, hours run, oil analysis, thermal imaging and other data inputs can help you determine patterns in machine performance to, ultimately, avoid costly repairs and downtime, while also prolonging the lifespan of your equipment.
  3. Increase productivity. The visibility gained from machine monitoring software can assist with optimizing your production processes and increasing productivity. You can detect more efficient settings and processes to further reduce cycle times, increase output and maximize your Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).
  4. Quality control. Machine monitoring software can also help you to improve the quality of your parts. The continuous capture of equipment execution can present real-time warnings as deviations occur to immediately correct the quality issue before the part moves onto the next operation.
  5. Energy efficiency. As shops continue to seek greener opportunities, equipment monitoring solutions serve to decrease energy costs. High-offending machines and energy usage trends can be pinpointed to implement energy-saving measures and reduce utility bills.

While there’s a number of ways to earn ROI from machine monitoring software, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your goals and exactly how machine monitoring can enable your teams to achieve them. It’s just as important to have the right manufacturing integrator, infrastructure and tools in place to collect and analyze the data, and to have a plan to address how your operations will apply the insights gleaned from monitoring – so your software solution can keep on showing you the money.

Whether you have seven machines or 70 pieces of equipment on your floor, there are best practices that manufacturers across industries can apply to get the most out of your machine monitoring journey. As a top implementer and supporter of equipment monitoring software, Shop Floor Automations (SFA) has helped hundreds of manufacturers throughout North America benefit from increased shop floor data visibility. Here’s our top three recommendations to follow:

  1. Begin with the end in mind. How will you gauge success for your team using machine monitoring, e.g. less downtime, decreased cycle time, greater productivity? While you may uncover more wins throughout your machine monitoring journey, setting 1-2 initial goals you aim to achieve with your new equipment monitoring software will increase your chances of realistically accomplishing them within your target time frame.
  2. Start small. As a relatively simple software to install, machine monitoring can be tempting to roll out to all your equipment immediately. Resist the urge. Large volumes of data can quickly overwhelm your resources, particularly as you’re just learning and configuring the application. Instead, establish a pilot program among a few key pieces of machinery over a particular time frame. You can install the DataXchange equipment monitoring service, for example, on one computer, like a desktop or server operating system, to collect and transmit your machine data to the cloud securely. Then the application can be installed on the PC of each user. All of the equipment in your pilot program will need to be connected to the network and DataXchange, and you’ll need to do the same for the Operator Data Interface (ODI) of the machine monitoring solution if you’re looking to have operators enter downtime reason codes, scrap part counts or send an e-mail. Once you’ve fine-tuned the program for the pilot group, you can easily expand it to the rest of your floor and other locations.
  3. Involve all. Machine operators, maintenance, engineering, quality, all the way through management and executive leadership should take part in the machine monitoring undertaking. The engineers at one aerospace company leveraged machine monitoring to track probing adjustments made to work offsets to begin building a historical reference. This way they can check what change to the offset may have had on a nonconforming part.
    CNC connect in the factory - Scytec DataXchange

    Once you’ve fine-tuned your machine monitoring program, like DataXchange, for a pilot group of equipment, you can easily expand it to the rest of your floor and other locations.

    By pulling in tool numbers, tool life, maximum tool life, the maximum load, average load and average and maximum vibration – and applying custom variables to know how far and how long that tool is running – the team better understands the result if something was changed to see if it made the output better, or if the machine is running less or more. Today the manufacturer continues to expand its usage of the system, including setting a monthly cadence to verify part standards in ERP to actual cycle times, to meet the needs of its C-suite. By involving each stakeholder, you widen the chance of adoption success as well as new potential opportunities for improvement.

These three best practices are just the beginning of your machine monitoring voyage toward improved profitability. To determine the best approach to implement machine monitoring for your business, contact an automation expert at SFA today.

As manufacturers across North America spend time reflecting, strategizing, planning and budgeting for the year ahead, leaders are debating how to defend against disruption and strengthen their offense. It’s a great time to ask yourself: How did my department stay on track with its goals? In what ways was my team successful? Where did we go astray, and why? Did we “make bold investments in talent, technology, and innovation?” Forbes stresses that those manufacturers who made the right decisions post-crisis can be on the road to major rewards.

Leverage the Present for Future Success

The good news is that you don’t need to limit your action to these responses to just 2023. There are three strategic ways you can reallocate excess budget now to get a head start on your future goals and positive economic indicators, while minimizing what Deloitte refers to as “historic labor and supply challenges.”

  1. Invest in your team. What opportunities have your shop floor teams identified for efficiency gains? Are you looking to reduce the amount of NC program transfer time and effort to CNCs? Is the ongoing maintenance and changing of RS232 serial cabling consuming already-limited resources? By factoring in valuable team input into your automation strategy early and leaning on your preferred manufacturing integrator for execution, you can invigorate crews while making inroads to continuous improvement initiatives.
  2. Lock in your support and services. Workforce limitations can impede project timelines, particularly as more and more companies are turning toward automation to complement skilled labor. By securing manufacturing integration support and services prior to year end, you can rest assured that your priorities will stay the course – and faster than your competition.
  3. Map out a phased approach. If you’re looking to increase communication on the shop floor or reduce programming waste in the new year, there are tasks that can be completed prior to year end for an efficient and effective start. The piloting of a few machines or setting up of a network connection can be relatively smaller undertakings that can position your organization for success in the year to come. Robert Jackson, a manufacturing engineer at artificial lift manufacturer Flowco, decided on a phased approach to bring on Predator DNC with Shop Floor Automations. “We didn’t have a network at the time, so we chose to start with four machines for the first phase of our implementation,” explained Jackson. It took two days to set up the network wirelessly. Flowco then added 12 machines. Six months later, the company had hooked up 11 more machines to the Predator DNC network and are expecting to do the same to five more in the near future as a result of significant growth.

While next year can hold a lot of promise for companies making the right moves, Deloitte predicts that “supply chain issues including sourcing bottlenecks, global logistics backlogs, cost pressures, and cyberattacks will likely remain critical challenges in 2023.” The remaining part of 2022 can set the stage for success if planned out strategically. Contact SFA for help designing a budget to fit your strategic automation plans for 2023 today.