3 Reasons for CNC Machine Monitoring

There has been a lot of buzz about CNC machine monitoring the past few years. There are also issues manufacturers bring up for reasons why they won’t start such a project.

Here are three barriers shop floors state as to why they won’t take on machine monitoring. We provide some counters to these points:

#1 – We have been told we would need to invest a lot of money, including needing to buy proprietary hardware – Cloud-based machine monitoring can be done monthly, per machine and with no long term contracts. Prices start at $50 per machine.

#2 – My equipment is older, so it will not be able to be monitored – Many manufacturers are surprised at the age, makes and models of machines that can be monitored. Hardware adapters help to capture data from older equipment. Also, more than CNC machines can have data collected. We encourage you to get in touch with your equipment list!

#3 – I just do basic monitoring via MTConnect and that is good enough for me – While it is important to monitor when machines are down, more data is needed for productivity increases. With full-on machine monitoring – you can evaluate how long processes like material needed keep machines down. Evaluate how long the lockout tagout process is taking. Or if machines are down a lot, how much time and profit is it eating to constantly tend to machines.

Have more concerns? We are happy to address them! Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form to schedule a demo, trial or consultation.

Industrial Automation for Manufacturers

Wondering what the best industrial automation solutions are for your shop floor? The biggest factors to focus on are your budget, needs, and the equipment you want to improve performance for.

Check out our guide for popular brands of manufacturing equipment and what you can do with them! We also recommend contacting us with your make/model information, as well as checking out our YouTube channel.

HAAS MACHINES:

  • Software for CNC networking, OEE monitoring and more
  • Replace Haas floppy drives with plug and play ability
  • Transform RS232 ports to USB

FANUC MACHINES:

  • Compatible with MTConnect for machine monitoring
  • Drip-feeding software and hardware
  • USB hardware & special cables

DOOSAN MACHINES:

  • Software to track OEE or control/send programs
  • Replace floppy drives or upgrade to USB
  • Go from Serial to Ethernet for data transfer

MAZAK MACHINES:

  • DNC software and machine monitoring
  • USB & LAN hardware for Mazatrol (CMT)
  • Replace floppy drives

OKUMA MACHINES:

  • Monitor uptime/downtime
  • Drip-feed hardware and software options
  • Floppy core replacement with rebates available

FADAL MACHINES:

  • USB hardware – portable and pendant
  • Add Ethernet functionality
  • Ask about software for this equipment

FAGOR CNC MACHINES:

Have equipment not listed here that you want solutions for? Get in touch with us! Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form

How to Monitor Manufacturing Progress

The need to monitor manufacturing OEE is a big concern for 2019. Because the cost and commitment can be daunting, it may have previously been avoided.

The productivity improvement industry is transforming to meet these concerns. Measuring KPIs on the shop floor and making decisions based on data is easier than ever.

Cloud-based machine monitoring customers are often surprised by the benefits they experience. They love the quick productivity increases, better communication, smaller investments, and no on-premise implementation needed.

Here are the Top 3 Reasons that OEE monitoring via the Cloud is the best investment in 2019:

  • ODI (Operator Data Input) makes data entry for machine activity simpler than ever. The device running ODI does not need internet access for data entry actions. Enter downtime reasons, work orders, active part numbers, scrap part counts, and more.
    • A Windows, Android or iOS tablet can also be installed at the machine to use the ODI right at the control. This save operators time.
  • Mobile ODI monitoring allows for more freedom. Don’t miss out on life events or emergencies. View the ODI via the Apple app store, Google Play, and the Windows app store.
    • You can also opt for text and email OEE notifications.
  • The existing Custom Commands are still included, but the display for tracking data is now easier to read. Other than lists, graphs or the shop floor layout, users can enjoy stacked color boxes that display the limited info needed.
    • Try defined colors to symbolize equipment status. This will make displays via tablets, phones or even real-time viewer dashboards on the shop floor easier to understand.

Shop Floor Automations offers DataXchange monthly Cloud-based machine monitoring. Starting $50 per month, you can evaluate the productivity of your equipment.  Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form for more information!

The Plastic Manufacturing Industry

Plastic Manufacturing
Credit to Gardner Business Media

Moldmaking is a rewarding area in our industry to work within. Plastic manufacturing touches many facets of our daily lives. Just ask those who work in the field!

“Moldmaking and injection molding is at the very heart of the plastics industry,” says Nishit Shah, Mold Design Engineer at Nypromold.

Moldmaking Technology released an in-depth piece where they interviewed plastic manufacturers. Nypromold was the highlighted company in the article.

“What brought me to manufacturing was the ability to use advanced technology,” says Keene Huntoon, a CNC Machinist at the company. “What keeps me here…is my job is a crucial step in making properly-working medical devices.”

“We take plastic pellets, melt them in the machine, and inject them into the mold,” says Amber Zapatka, Plastics Engineer. Holding both a Bachelors and Masters in Plastics Engineering, she states her work is like a puzzle.

“What’s the best way and fastest way to make good parts each time?” Amber and other employees in her field are constantly looking for ways to improve their processes.

What are the best ways for plastic manufacturers to increase their productivity? Check out these resources below:

  • Three Reasons Moldmakers need IIoT ARTICLE
  • Reducing Moldmaking Downtime ARTICLE
  • Why DNC Software is Crucial for Moldmakers ARTICLE

Ready to increase productivity? We service moldmakers, CNC machine shops, metal fabricators, and more manufacturers within our industry. Call (877) 611-5825 or have us contact you

Manufacturing Productivity Tips

Manufacturing productivity does not happen or improve from luck. It comes from preparation, research and implementation.

What kind of manufacturing plan should you make for 2019, and for the foreseeable future? Whether you are an independent shop or a large production operation, you need to think about the bigger picture.

This is definitely a topic that manufacturers are thinking about lately. A whitepaper from SME ToolingU states:

  • 80% say that machine availability (OEE) is a priority
  • 60% of manufacturers say continuous improvement is a priority
  • 56% state that production planning is priority

We felt particularly inspired by a Modern Machine Shop article in their December 2018 issue. Mark Albert wrote about IIoT road maps, and while solutions vary for shops, the basic steps of the plan work for anyone.

“The roadmap shows where a manufacturing company is starting out,” Mark states. “Then defines how to proceed along a continuous series of implementations.”

Here are the manufacturing productivity steps you should be taking:

  • 1) DISCOVER – Look at your current productivity state, trends in technology and the initial idea of what you want to implement.
  • 2) DEFINE – Think of the problem at hand deeply. Will the solutions you were initially thinking of investing in fix these issues? Will it integrate with any existing tools you have on hand, such as CAD-CAM or ERP?
  • 3) ANALYZE – Evaluate the digital maturity of the solution. Who will this come naturally to, who will adapt to it and who will reject it?
  • 4) VALUE – Look at the scope of the project, map out ROI, see if you can take place in a pilot or trial, and read case studies. Have proof of why it is beneficial!
  • 5) EVOLVE – Once you have invested in and adapted to the solution, go further. For example, in machine monitoring – expand to different machines, learn more features past basic functions, or upgrade to different versions to gain more benefits.
  • 6) IMPROVE – Aim for continuous improvement in manufacturing. Even if you get your OEE to a specified goal in a certain amount of time, why not aim higher?

Ready to get started? Call (877) 611-5825 or have us contact you

Manufacturing Management

According to SME’s ToolingU Manufacturing Management Supervisor Essentials Course, just because you’re a manager doesn’t automatically make you a leader. Leaders cope with change and complexity.

Have you taken the time to lead your shop floor recently? Do you know things needs to change?

Typically, those who need automation tools are the machinists, production workers and shift supervisors on the shop floor. Production managers also find these solutions, but often, those who are directly making parts bring their requests to the production manager.

The best approach for the production manager or anyone wanting change would be to present these solutions to decision makers at the company. Usually, the Quality, Engineering and Maintenance departments above Production Management won’t have this authority, so let’s go further.

The first step is proving the value of automation solutions to Departments such as Purchasing, Finance/Accounting or even as high up as the President/Owner. You can check this article from MFG Talk Radio on proving manufacturing ROI to help in this mission.

Other than showing how manufacturing automation can help your organization, here are other steps you can take to improve production:

  1. Situational Analysis – Identify the shop’s areas of success and where improvement is needed within the organization initially.
  2. Correct Project Planning – The best process for planning projects is to define objectives, determine the realistic scope/budget, create a work breakdown structure, then delegate approved tasks out. If you’re not in management, draft a plan to present to a higher-up.
  3. Forecasting – Can you predict or measure demand and control costs? Looking at production for the next three to five years may seem like a long time frame, but this is the most common strategic plan used.
  4. Organization & Planning Tools – The correct resources will help your company’s longevity. They range from budgeting, charts, and scope, to your staff and staffing choices.
  5. Monitor & Control – Yes, we always recommend machine monitoring, but there are other observations to make. Once a month, curate productivity reports. Do operations research and evaluate your schedules based on historical data.

Ready to move forward? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out an online contact form.

Fanuc CNC Automation Resources

Manufacturers with Fanuc CNC machines have specific needs. Especially when it comes to the subject of shop floor automation.

Here are some quick resources:

Can you do machine monitoring with Fanuc equipment? Yes! DataXchange machine monitoring supports Fanuc FOCAS. You can monitor this equipment on-premise or via the Cloud.

Is Fanuc FOCAS similar to MTConnect? MTConnect enables equipment to provide data in structured XML versus proprietary formats. FOCAS is either Ethernet-based or sourced via the Fanuc FOCAS HSSB driver. Library files (.dll) are accessed by applications that retrieve the data.

Controls with Fanuc FOCAS: Fanuc FOCAS has two types: FOCAS 1 and FOCAS 2. Controls with Fanuc FOCAS include series Oi, 15, 15i, 16, 16i, 18, 18i, 21, 21i, 30i, 31i, 32i and power mate i.

Fanuc specific solutions:

Fanuc Alarm Codes: Common FANUC alarm codes are 086 – no hardware handshaking occurring. Also, look for DR Signal Off, which means your cable connection is bad. Another common code is 073, where the program number has already been used.

Need Fanuc Parameters? Have more specific questions? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form so we can get back to you

CNC Software for MFG Productivity

Many manufacturers seek out CNC software to increase their productivity. Whether they have older machines and small shops, or the latest technology and many employees.

Manufacturers also want software that can be used via wireless, wired, Ethernet, RS232, USB, and more connections. Here are some solutions manufacturers ask for that you may find useful:

OEE Monitoring: Some manufacturers have basic set ups that tells them when machines are down. While this is a great first step, a truly productive manufacturer wants more info. Why were machines down? How long are processes taking? Machine monitoring software helps to evaluate and improve these issues.

One shop floor network: Making sure programs make it to the machine is a crucial issue on the shop floor. Related issues such as revision control and saving the machinist time are also important. DNC software assists in managing programs and communications for thousands of machines.

Protocols: While not technically software, people want new methods of shop floor communication. Protocols such as MTConnect make this task non-proprietary and less cost prohibitive. As far as compatible software, machine monitoring is the most popular solution in this category.

Other software for the shop floor: PDM helps shop floors go paperless and prepare if an audit occurs. There is also CNC Editor to make sure programs on the shop floor are good to go. Tool Crib software is also helpful in your quest for productivity.

Ready to get more information on these solutions? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form

Need An “Automate CNC Machines” Game Plan?

Planning to automate CNC machines or other manufacturing equipment? Here are three steps before starting:

First, Create a Healthy Technology Relationship: “These tools have been developed not for nefarious reasons, but to improve the way we do business or the way we live.” Production Machining Senior Editor Chris Felix explains this topic in their April 2018 issue.

Monitoring equipment and implementing other automation tools is not meant to penalize or micromanage operators. “The implementation of data-driven manufacturing…collects data about and reports on the effectiveness of the manufacturing process. Data from tooling can help to refine cutting parameters to improve accuracy and reduce scrap.”

Basically, any shop floor automation solutions will involve an investment. You want to make sure that those using machines and equipment will take advantage of these tools.

Next, Consider Demand-Driven Manufacturing: “This has become the new market norm because of advancements in real-time analytics and IIoT,” says Stefan Krauss in January/February 2017 Today’s Medical Developments issue. “Manufacturing companies will need to integrate real-time demand information into their operation or risk losing…to the digital leaders that do.”

“Start with an internal audit of end-to-end operations to identify weak spots and insertion points where new features can be introduced.” Doing this will allow you to evaluate what goals are obtainable on your shop floor.

Then, Integrate IIoT: “An IIoT platform is a set of hardware and software facilities that assist and support [an] application for industrial companies using the internet to connect devices and equipment,” says Mark Albert in the Modern Machine Shop November 2017 issue.

“The use of the internet is now commonly called the industrial internet of things. Such platforms may provide an operation environment, computer processing capability, data storage structure, and program building blocks for application developers.”

Ready to start the conversation? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out our contact form

How to do USB to RS232 Transfers

USB to RS232

Modernizing your manufacturing equipment is easier and more affordable than you may otherwise assume. Operators love USB to RS232 transfers of machine programs for many reasons.

This CNC upgrade hardware helps machinists save time, it assists with basic program revision control and the devices that perform these actions help increase memory. Also, since these devices are positioned close to the control, it allows the machine to run at its maximum baud rate.

Here are quick videos with easy steps in which to perform USB machine transfers:

The devices come in pendant models that are dedicated to one machine. There is also the popular portable model, which saves machine operators even more time.

Our list of CNC machines that USB Connect hardware is compatible with includes Siemens, Anilam, Bridgeport, Cincinnati, Fadal, FANUC, Haas, Yasnac, Brother machines, Mitsubishi, and others. Special models also perform Mazak and Switchbox functions.

Ready to learn more? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form