How Lean Manufacturing Can Improve the Efficiency of Your Manufacturing Process  

How Lean Manufacturing Can Improve the Efficiency of Your Manufacturing Process  

Manufacturing is typically a very competitive field. Competitors are looking for any means necessary to cut costs or scale up production in order to increase profits. One strategy that companies are using to improve the operations at their shop is to shift towards lean manufacturing.

What is lean manufacturing?

The theory behind lean manufacturing is pretty straight forward. You simply want to eliminate waste from the manufacturing process. The trick is identifying waste and learning how to eliminate it. In definition, waste is any activity that adds no value from the customers perspective. One example of this is keeping inventory levels as low as possible. Customers don’t actually care how much excess inventory you have, just that you’re able to deliver their specified orders on time.  

With studies showing that 60% of production activities in a typical manufacturing process are waste, it means there are plenty of opportunity areas. You just need to be able to identify them.

What are the benefits of lean manufacturing?

The reason many manufacturers are taking advantage of lean manufacturing is that there are many benefits. Lean manufacturing can improve overall efficiency, increase productivity and reduce waste. More specifically, the benefits of lean manufacturing are:

  • Increased product quality: With increased efficiency, more employees and funds are freed up for quality control and innovation measures.
  •  Sustainability: With less waste and better adaptability, lean manufacturing facilities are primed to thrive in an unpredictable future.
  • Employee Satisfaction: Employees no longer have a workday packed with unnecessary work, which boosts morale and satisfaction.
  • Faster Lead Times: Streamlined manufacturing processes means that you can respond more quickly to demand and other shifting market variables.
  • Higher Profits: If done correctly, with less waste, better quality products, and more productivity, those using lean manufacturing are likely to become more profitable.

What are some examples of waste that can be eliminated?

Removing waste is essential for lean manufacturing, but what does that actually mean? A few examples of removing waste are:

  • Matching production to the rate of customer demand
  • Create processes with continual flow instead of stoppage
  • Avoid continually changing job priorities or roles
  • Matching manufacturing specifications to customer requirements to avoid over-processing
  • Bringing in raw materials only as needed
  • Design quality control processes to detect and correct abnormalities right away
  • Going paperless  

How can Shop Floor Automations help me shift to lean manufacturing?

If you are interested in shifting towards lean manufacturing, it is important to have a knowledgeable partner like Shop Floor Automations on your side. While much of lean manufacturing centers on reducing waste, improving productivity is another important aspect. This can be done by looking at the human potential of your team. Your employees are the ones running the equipment to keep your operation running smoothly and it’s important to give them the right tools to do their job well. A machine monitoring system like Scytec DataXchange or Predator Machine Data Collection Software is great for giving your employees the information they need to maximize shop floor efficiencies. Contact Shop Floor Automatics at (619) 461-4000 to learn more!

Check Out Shop Floor Automations at the 2019 FABTECH Conference!

Check Out Shop Floor Automations at the 2019 FABTECH Conference!

Founded in 1998, Shop Floor Automations has the knowledge, experience, and connections necessary to successfully automate your plant and improve your shop floor processes. With over 20 years in the business, we can offer insight on MTConnect, data-driven decision making, lean manufacturing, and other essential MFG topics. One area that we specialize in is machine monitoring using Scytec DataXchange and helping others take advantages of the benefits it provides.

Shop Floor Automations Will Be at the 2019 FABTECH Conference

If you want to see Shop Floor Automations in action, check us out at the 2019 FABTECH Conference. Held from November 11th to 14th in Chicago, the FABTECH conference is North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing event. Every year, FABTECH brings a wealth of innovation and technology solutions where more than 48,000 attendees can view the offerings and presentations of over 1,700 exhibiting companies. Plus, admission to FABTECH is free if you register by November 82019. After that, it’s just $50, which is a small price to pay to learn from the experts in the industry.

Where can you find us at the conference?

FABTECH is held at McCormick Place, located at 2301 S. Martin Luther King drive in Chicago, IL. In McCormick Place, you can find Shop Floor Automations at Booth A5174. We will be there from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Monday, November 11th, and from 9 am to 5 pm November 12th and 13th. On Thursday, we will be there from 9 am to 3 pm, so be sure to check us out!

What will Shop Floor Automations be demonstrating at the FABTECH Conference in Chicago?

At the 2019 FABTECH conference, Shop Floor Automations will be demonstrating one of our specialties, Scytec DataXchange Machine Monitoring. Scytec DataXchange can actually collect OEE metric data like utilization, part count times, and downtimes. In addition, it is capable of collecting data automatically from older and fabrication machines using SRC, which is our low-cost hardware module. DataXchange offers unlimited users, charts, reports, and dashboards that allow you to collect and analyze the data necessary to monitor OEE and reduce downtime. This Cloud or On-Premise analytic manufacturing machine monitoring system is what you need to help increase shop floor productivity, and Shop Floor Automations will be happy to show you how it works at FABTECH.

Interested in Learning More About Scytec DataXchange Machine Monitoring?

If you are interested in learning more about Scytec DataXchange Machine Monitoring, but cannot make it to FABTECH or you can’t wait until November for answers, feel free to contact us today at 1-877-611-5825. Our knowledgeable staff has over 20 years of experience and will be happy to discuss how Scytec DataXchange Machine Monitoring works and how it might be of use to you and your business.

For more information, check us out at Shop Floor Automation.

Paperless Manufacturing

Many machinists, production managers, and other shop floor workers wish they had paperless manufacturing. It feels like an impossible pipe dream to them.

It may be trendy to do so, but we wish to quote organizational expert Marie Kondo. Her insight is wonderful when thinking of taking on the daunting task of going paperless.

“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking,” Marie says in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. “Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away – not the effort needed to get them out.”

Other than the need to be organized, there are far more important reasons to go paperless. Digital revision control, being prepared for audits and keeping track of crucial documentation also weigh heavy on our daily processes.

Yes, the task of going paperless can take time. But it is not an impossible task. Shop Floor Automations has even successfully gone paperless!

There is also a terrific article written by Eli Plaskett of Modern Machine Shop on this topic. His December 2018 piece “Turning the Page on the Paper Workplace” details a few steps to achieve this goal.

First, analyze how to give your workforce digital access to files as appropriate.
Invest in a scanner – for existing paperwork and whatever paperwork comes in the hereafter, scan immediately. Train employees to get into the habit of scanning.

Then, install tablets, network computers or digital station work devices. The next step is to train the workers fully on how to use the system. Show them the ways the system works for their benefit to save time.

Set up simple instructions such as photographing a setup. If you use ERP Software (which integrates with quite a few of our solutions), it can often have tools to enable photos attached with set up instructions or photos via an ERP smartphone app.

SFA has many solutions to help you cut your dependency on paper. We have USB hardware that can store programs in flash drives, and we highly recommend investing in PDM.

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

Connect CNC Machine to Computer

Machinists looking to connect CNC machines to computers have different needs. Perhaps they want to monitor OEE, or they want to send programs remotely.

Here are the top three solutions for connecting equipment to your shop floor computer or laptop:

DNC Software – Making sure programs are sent to the machine, as well as revision control and complete CNC networking can be accomplished with one system. DNC (or drip-feeding) is done via parallel, RS232, RS422 Ethernet, or wireless Ethernet for thousands of your machines. Control programs from the shop floor PC.

Machine monitoring – Manufacturers want their machine data, and they have a need to see it beyond standing at the machine. Seeing OEE on computers in back offices, or on real-time viewers, or even on the go via laptops or smart phones, are all possibilities.

Hardware – You want to make sure your software interacts with the shop floor environment. Wireless and wired hardware will help with PC to CNC transfers. Modified PLCs will help to grab data off of old machines. Older laptops can be connected to CNCs with the USB to Serial plus an RS232 cable. There are so many possibilities!

Want to convert your RS232 port into USB? Need to replace floppy disks? Want to go paperless? We can help with that, too!

Fill out our online contact form or call (877) 611-5825. We can’t wait to start the conversation!

Manufacturing News

A long standing publication with a classic newspaper vibe – we are proud to have been featured in Manufacturing News many times. The issues focus on different regions and their varying Made in America goals.

Here are some recent pieces that Manufacturing News have featured us in:

Our case study with R & D Manco in Arizona appears in the December 2018 issue. This manufacturer previously had experience with our CNC Editor software and our hardware. However, they implemented an on-premise machine monitoring system after a pilot program. Because of this, they boosted their productivity in a short period of time.

Proving return on investment for automation solutions can be complicated. Because of this, we created an article for decision makers on how to lay these details out. Some pieces of valuable information in this process are equipment compatibility, evaluating processes and having alternative options available. This article appears in the November 2018 issue.

The medical manufacturing industry is a very high-volume business. We constantly work with these shops to find the best automation solutions for them. Specifically, we always recommend OEE (overall equipment efficiency) monitoring. The top four benefits to this software appear in the April 2018 issue.

Check out our other articles on similar manufacturing solutions. Ready to start the conversation about shop floor automation? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out an online contact form

Modern Machine Shop

Shop Floor Automations (SFA) is a big fan of Modern Machine Shop Magazine. We always appreciate when our pieces make the cut for this prestigious publication.

Here are our top four favorite recent issues:

March 2019 – Rise Up Industries, an organization in San Diego County near our corporate office, made the pages of this publication. SFA worked closely on this collaboration. You can see the original length article on the MMS blog.

June 2018 – We made the 90th-anniversary issue. Fun fact – this was the same year as our 20th anniversary! Our full-page spread on our LAN-USB Hardware device discussed adding Ethernet and USB to CNCs. Because the issue featured a retrospective look at shop floor technology, we were humbled to be included.

January 2018 – A crucial productivity tool for our customers at R&D Manco is machine monitoring. “Gathering basic data on machine status, and studying the data to diagnose and remedy the causes of non-cutting time, has been the shop’s most powerful resource for realizing machining capacity improvements.”

October 2017 – SFA Customers at Stollen Machine were dropping programs because of old cabling. So in order to increase productivity, they invested in wireless RS232 units. This gave them back 15% more time daily, according to this case study.

Check out our other published pieces for more product insight. Ready to get started? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form

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.

What equipment is compatible with MTConnect? We have a detailed compatibility guide.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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