The Value of Machine Monitoring

“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.

Best practices to implement machine monitoring

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.

2023 manufacturing integration planning

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.

Three stacks of blocks: the shortest stack says "Cost", the middle stack says "Price", and the tallest stack says "Value". A person in the background is holding the "Value" block with two fingers.

As manufacturers continue to seek alternatives to overcome the labor shortage, automation remains at the core of corporate strategy. Automation priorities can take the form of cobot programming, networking CNC machines for NC program transfers and machine monitoring to capture and improve upon Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), among others.

Machine monitoring can be a particularly attractive priority due to its low investment options, both in terms of pricing and connectivity, as well as rate of return. But, with so many choices available today, how do you decide what is the best machine monitoring solution for your manufacturing operations? You’ve come to the right place. As one of the leading manufacturing integrators in North America, Shop Floor Automations has over 24 years of experience in sourcing, installing and supporting shop floor technologies to keep your production lines moving optimally.

Three stacks of blocks: the shortest stack says "Cost", the middle stack says "Price", and the tallest stack says "Value". A person in the background is holding the "Value" block with two fingers.

After reading this blog posting, you’ll have a better sense of the significant differences between solutions and how to weigh those differences against your own key criteria to properly compare machine monitoring software.

Vetting Equipment Monitoring Software for Your Manufacturing Operations

In essence, machine monitoring software helps your manufacturing company to increase efficiency, productivity and profitability by automatically tracking the data your shop floor equipment produces when it’s running – and especially when it’s not. Not all machine monitoring is created equal, however. The list below shares some common distinctions related to equipment monitoring software and questions that should be a part of your vetting process as you compare machine monitoring software solutions.

  1. How can your software support legacy and manual machines? Modern equipment often comes equipped with “plug and play” connectivity, which can make the equipment monitoring installation a relatively simple process. Manual machines, like saws and grinders, and older CNC equipment, however, tends to lack these capabilities. Some machine monitoring solutions are not able to natively support this type of equipment at all. Other systems can but require extensive hardware and consulting to get the machine online. Even so, issues may prevail well after initial installation. These issues can necessitate further technical troubleshooting to consume valuable time and effort, and potentially delay your company’s ability to realize a favorable Return on Investment (ROI). By identifying the machine monitoring software that cannot support all of your existing equipment upfront, you lessen the likelihood of purchasing “shelfware,” that is, software that goes unused, a reference to the age when software came packaged in disks and was stored on physical shelves in offices.
  2. What are my licensing options? Software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription models are ubiquitous these days, but that doesn’t mean they’re a fit for every manufacturing environment. An ideal machine monitoring system should offer transparent options – whether you need an on-premise deployment, multi-term pricing, various combinations of flexible user levels or user license scalability to accommodate demand peaks and valleys – to suit your unique needs. Most of all, your ongoing satisfaction should be guaranteed. If the machine monitoring solution isn’t meeting your requirements, you should have the freedom to end your usage within a 30-day period.
  3. Who connects, installs and supports my equipment monitoring solution? Your manufacturing operations can be complex; the implementation and support of your monitoring software shouldn’t be. The process of connecting equipment, particularly legacy or manual equipment, can take effort, time and personnel to initially set up – especially if the responsible parties lack expertise. There are also ongoing adjustments necessary, such as new equipment connections, the troubleshooting of any issues that arise, integration assistance and tweaks to processes to take advantage of software feature enhancements, that warrant the need for a manufacturing integrator to minimize disruption and keep your equipment data flowing.
A machinist stands tall in his machine shop after a hard day of work.

The process of connecting equipment, particularly legacy or manual equipment, can take effort, time and personnel to initially set up – especially if the responsible parties lack expertise. An experienced manufacturing integrator that can source, implement and support a scalable machine monitoring solution can serve as an effective resource to set up new equipment connections, troubleshoot issues that may arise and help integrate machine data with ERP, for example.

For these three reasons and more, you should see that a comparison of machine monitoring software ought to go well beyond functionality assessments. Both your equipment monitoring solution and manufacturing integrator should be able to adapt to the many changes your organization will undergo in the months and years to come – and be an essential part of that change. Learn more about how Shop Floor Automations is the entrusted integrator for manufacturers with 5 to 75-plus pieces of equipment by contacting a representative today.

Equipment monitoring ERP - Scytec DataXchange

Maintenance, particularly on the shop floor, involves expensive machinery – which translates into high costs for actions like repair work. These costs can represent anywhere from 15-70% of expenses, says IEEE. But maintenance costs may not even be the biggest liability.

 

Equipment monitoring ERP - Scytec DataXchange

Inefficient maintenance processes, like manual data collection, contribute to unplanned downtime and costs, according to Forbes.

For companies with strict quality standards and challenging customer expectations, the cost of a nonconformance, rework or even rejection can be enough to draw the attention of executives due to the shipping, additional labor, materials and reallocated machine time required to correct the defective product. This says nothing of the damage to the customer relationship and the impact on their own tight schedule. It behooves manufacturers, then, to ensure shop floor equipment is always performing optimally with minimal downtime.

The Move Past Manual Downtime Tracking

To do so effectively, manufacturing machinery must be continuously monitored. Today’s smart factory showcases plants with modern machine monitoring software, like Scytec DataXchange, which replaces previous steps of manually tracking, handwriting or physically keying in cycle times, set up times, downtimes, costs and reason codes, and then piecing this data together to understand trends, performance and opportunities for improved efficiency. While these manual processes were time- and labor-intensive to compile, report and analyze, they were also often riddled with inaccuracies, in addition to the time delays that further hinder a company’s ability to react quickly. In fact, Forbes specifically cites these types of inefficient maintenance processes as bad attributes that contribute to unplanned downtime and costs.

Bigger Business Benefits

The utilization of equipment monitoring software becomes crucial, therefore, for businesses working towards the goal “to prolong production performance until it reaches a point that the machine requires complete replacement due to wear and tear or technology change, if justified,” writes Salman Taghizadegan in Essentials of Lean Six Sigma. But the benefits of equipment monitoring systems extend past precise predictive maintenance. Through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integration, ideal machine monitoring software can capture and populate data, like these, for an even bigger business-wide impact:

  • Actual set-up and run times. By comparing your estimates to your actuals, you’ll increase the accuracy of your job costing to give you a better handle on your margins and overall profitability. The visibility afforded by these actual times will allow for easier and more reliable planning and scheduling, as staffing requirements become predictable.
  • Machine statuses. Uptime and downtime records and notifications to maintenance, production and management can ensure service is planned for and executed when – and exactly – as needed.
  • Completed quantity. Inventory of raw materials, intermediates and finished goods can be affected in real-time by machine processing, as it occurs.
  • Scrap quantity. Material requirements may be altered based on the volume of actual scrap produced, adding to the dependability of planning and scheduling.
  • Scrap codes. Opportunities to reduce waste may be presented through reason code analysis.

Integrate Machine Monitoring with ERP

While machine monitoring software offers a lot towards optimal maintenance management, its integration with ERP is the lift that expands the effect of equipment data across the enterprise to grant clearer visibility into production, inventory, accounting, lean, planning, scheduling – and yes, maintenance – to help drive greater consistency into each process for more effective decision-making. Learn more about connecting your ERP with machine monitoring software by contacting a Shop Floor Automations representative today.

A screenshot of DataXchange with VERICUT software integration, which servers to provide a simulation of a machine's workflow to catch errors before they happen.

The concept of an effective digital twin, or exact replica of your equipment or process on the shop floor, gained notoriety in 2002 despite its early roots in NASA’s space program in the 1960s. Today digital twin creation is happening across manufacturing floors around the world in an effort to speed up and optimize traditional processes. Rather than perform process steps in a particular sequence, manufacturers with digital twins may carry out processes simultaneously for faster results. And there’s plenty of applications for digital twins as well. Manufacturers with a digital twin of a prototype can be tested across multiple simulations or designs to reduce the number of physical iterations needed before production, says the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or they can be used to analyze product performance, distribution and end-user experience for product design improvements.

Simulating Success

CNC machine simulation software provider CGTech, the makers of VERICUT®, and Scytec, producer of the DataXchange machine monitoring solution, identified another such application for CNC digital twins: quality management. By identifying the presence of variances before production begins on the floor, the partnering companies found that non-conformances and rework can be minimized, if not wholly eliminated. It works like this: CNC machines with modern FANUC oi and 30i series controls are monitored by the DataXchange solution, sending set up information, like main NC programs, subprograms, axis locations, work offsets, and tooling, to compare with VERICUT’s Machine Configuration (VMC) for accuracy verification. Any differences between machine values and simulation values are then updated in the VERICUT simulation to ensure only the intended result. By rerunning the simulation with values from the machine, it’s possible to check that there are no new problems or unexpected errors related to the machine setup.

A screenshot of DataXchange with VERICUT software integration, which servers to provide a simulation of a machine's workflow to catch errors before they happen.

With this latest DataXchange integration with VERICUT, any differences between actual machine values and simulation values can be updated in the VERICUT simulation to ensure only the intended result.

VERICUT shows material removal at the workpiece level, but it can also simulate entire machine tools as they appear on the shop floor. Its Machine Simulation detects collisions and near-misses between all machine tool components, such as axis slides, heads, turrets, rotary tables, spindles, tool changers, fixtures, work pieces, cutting tools and other user-defined objects. A user can set up near-miss zones around the components to check for close calls, and detect over-travel errors.

Honing Predictive Accuracy

In future releases, the VERICUT integration with DataXchange for CNC Digital Twins is expected to introduce these capabilities:

  • Glean post-machining insights to investigate differences between how the part ran on the machine and simulation
  • Investigate potential issues that may have caused parts to be out of specification, review any modifications to the NC program subroutines, or feed rates and spindle speeds
  • Identify and review any errors or problems that resulted in overrides or emergency stops in real-time
  • Compare live cycle times to VERICUT’s predicted run times
A screenshot of VERICUT software, showing the project tree and programs that can be simulated within the software.

Collisions and near-misses between all machine tool components may be recorded in the VERICUT Machine Simulation for refinement opportunities.

The digital twin concept has come a long way since Dr. Michael Grieves first applied it to manufacturing in the early 2000s. But its benefits hold promise, particularly for manufacturers saddled with costly materials, a limited and extended workforce and high customer demands for exceptional quality. To learn more about the VERICUT integration with DataXchange for your manufacturing business, contact a Shop Floor Automations expert today.

 

Work Offset Monitoring with DataXchange Machine Monitoring Software

For many companies, monitoring machines can be limited to simply tracking planned and unplanned downtime for maintenance operations. The real-time capture of downtime data can produce valuable trends to help prioritize and implement corrective action to prevent additional equipment failures, as an example shared by Reliable Plant magazine.

Others may include monitoring for production purposes, such as tracking cycle times. There is plenty of intelligence to be gleaned in these areas from equipment monitoring solutions, such as Scytec DataXchange, like machine utilization to determine if there is greater capacity available to take advantage of increased demand. But one manufacturer took its usage of DataXchange a step further to impact process.

The QC impact from equipment monitoring

One manufacturer of structural parts for jet OEMs sought to take their machine monitoring instance beyond downtime and production purposes to better understand what work offset was delivering low-quality parts.

A Use Case For Work Offset Monitoring

With FANUC CNCs, the external work offset (work coordinate system number zero) lets you shift the point of reference for fixture offset entries from the machine’s home position to a more logical position, writes Modern Machine Shop. Senior Aerospace AMT, a manufacturer of structural parts for jet Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), sought to understand what work offset was delivering low-quality parts. Leveraging the power of DataXchange, the company started tracking probing adjustments made to work offsets to begin building a historical reference. This way, they reasoned, engineers can check what change to the offset may have had on a nonconforming part.

The Quality Effect

Even more so, 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 can better understand the result if something was changed to see if it made the output better, or if the machine is running less or more. The company even integrates manufacturing data from machinery that provides load percentage of spindle monitoring data from DataXchange. And 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. “When it comes to responding to customer feedback for feature enhancements and fixes, I’ve not worked with a software company that is easier to work with than Scytec,” says Tom Anderson, Senior Process Engineer at Senior Aerospace AMT.

Free SFA Needs Assessment

Find out how you can monitor downtime, production and work offsets for maximum impact on your manufacturing operations with DataXchange and Shop Floor Automations (SFA). Reach out to an SFA equipment monitoring expert today for a free needs assessment to compare your current state to what Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and other KPIs you’d like your organization to achieve in the near term.

A close up of a CNC machine tool head at work carving metal. There is text overlaid, showing various machine stats such as speed and blocktype.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

La Mesa, CA – June 1, 2022 – Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a manufacturing integrator serving a variety of industries, will be demonstrating the Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring solution at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2022, one of the world’s preeminent stages for introducing and selling manufacturing equipment and technology as well as connecting the industry’s supply chain.

The DataXchange solution leverages Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology to capture and communicate real-time equipment data to a mobile or desktop user interface.

Manufacturing Integrator SFA at IMTS 2022

Manufacturers are encouraged to visit SFA at Booth 133240 at this year’s IMTS for a free demonstration of the DataXchange machine monitoring software solution.

“By gleaning accurate cycle, setup, idle and down times in an automated fashion, manufacturers are better equipped to facilitate more intelligent decision making across the enterprise,” says Greg Mercurio, President of SFA. “The latest software updates of Microsoft Teams integration and robotic/PLC monitoring capabilities to DataXchange further strengthen the value of this solution for companies already struggling with capacity, labor and integration constraints.”

Manufacturers are encouraged to visit SFA at Booth 133240 at IMTS 2022, McCormick Center, Chicago, IL, September 12-17, 2022 for a free demonstration of the DataXchange solution and to explore the entire SFA product portfolio to help resolve the challenges of the modern shop floor.

From preparing CNC equipment for CMMC 2.0 compliance through DNC networking software to increasing CNC program storage with its USB Connect series, SFA delivers real results to boost the bottom line of manufacturers across a number of industries, including defense, pharmaceutical, aerospace, plastic, and industrial products.

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.

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Two shop floor machinists working closely and adjusting a machine through proper communication.

When it comes to process improvements on the shop floor, communication can be a known issue.  But not necessarily one that is high on the short-term corrective action priority list. Or as simple as machine monitoring notifications. Why is that?

The simple answer is that addressing communication issues can be uncomfortable and hard to rectify in some situations and downright explosive in others. One HR manager reported that a warehouse supervisor and maintenance manager tangled over company policies so much so that “fights worsened until the two departments didn’t want to work together.” Emotions aside, communication issues can also be costly to manufacturing operations.

The Costs of Poor Communication

Morgan Consulting cites communication as one of the biggest “four job skills when predicting both employer and employee satisfaction.” If you’re not working to improve communication on the floor, resulting employee turnover can cost up to a third of an employee’s annual salary, if not more in the current labor market. The search for manufacturing employees can be a time-consuming process as well.

Breakdowns in communication can also be responsible for increased injuries in the workplace. The findings of one study, “Fostering Safety Communication Among Construction Workers: Role of Safety Climate and Crew-Level Cohesion,” proposed “that a positive relationship exists between safety climate and safety communication levels.” And if you’re not safely producing quality product on time, you’ll see the impact in wasted materials, excessive downtime, and your bottom line. According to the National Safety Council, the cost of workplace injuries in 2019 alone was $171 billion.

 

One tactic to enhance shop floor communication is through improved manufacturing integration. By seamlessly connecting your personnel to your equipment, your company can open up the possibilities for greater visibility, productivity, and, ultimately, profitability. Let’s visit a few examples that can apply to your own manufacturing operations.

Multiple Means of Automated Communication

While your machines are running, they’re emitting useful data to indicate setup time changes, cycle time improvements per operator or per operation, maintenance indicators like temperature fluctuations and more. But what if you could make this data available to a wide swath of shop personnel, supervisors, managers, and directors via a number of channels in an automated fashion? Equipment monitoring software, such as the Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring solution, helps manufacturers do just that.

A close up of a lathe, one of many machines that are compatible with machine monitoring software.

Equipment events can trigger machine monitoring notifications via Microsoft Teams for greater visibility to tackle challenges and improve processes quicker.

By expanding the reach of alarm alerts, threshold violations, and underperforming utilization data from your FANUC, Mazak, Okuma and other equipment, the more familiar your teams become with the data – and the more potential there is to tackle challenges and improve processes.

Shop floor flat-screen monitors

By installing flat-screen monitors throughout your floor with real-time data from your lathes, lasers, and other machinery, you are communicating corporate KPI priorities and unlocking key data for all your shop floor personnel. “When production teams own the results and have control over their work, analytics and metrics provide the feedback that keeps them motivated to do their best,” says Louis Columbus in Forbes. The exposure of data through flat-screen monitors ensures operators, machinists, and other workers are in sync with the expectations of management and gives them a position to identify ways to make progress with weak areas.

Automated e-mails and text messaging

When operators must wait upwards of an hour for material after they finish a job, their valuable time is wasted, morale is depleted, and shipments risk being delayed. The downstream costs can be significant. Proper communication to the materials manager via automated e-mails and text messaging, for instance, can ensure s/he is notified precisely when a specified percentage of parts remain. A modern machine monitoring system like DataXchange matches work/shop orders and part counts to the established threshold and facilitates the notification so managers are prepared for the next material delivery before material levels are exhausted. This makes instant messaging, in combination with dashboards that are accessible through mobile or desktop devices or monitors on the shop floor, a vital way to reduce downtime hours each week.

Automated Microsoft Teams messaging

For many manufacturers, lengthy inspection processes can lead to frustration on the floor. This frustration can swell as managers dedicate even more time and resources to determine where the process is breaking down. And more so, what improvements to make. By tracking ODI and machine statuses, a robust machine monitoring solution can detail out the inspection process and notify team member(s) via Microsoft Teams regarding specific events.

To start, ODI data collection shares when a machine is ready for inspections, when a part is actively being inspected and how long it’s taking the operator to start running the machine again. The availability of a machine for inspection can be signaled to the Quality team through a Teams notification, thereby removing any speculation or manual calls, e-mails or texts. Upon completion of the inspection a dashboard shows the results andtriggers an alert to the operator to run the job.  Should a defined period of time lapse before the job begins, a supervisor can receive a Teams message regarding the delay.

With feature-rich machine monitoring notifications, manufacturers have the opportunity to remove communication issues from their corrective action priority list altogether. The display of equipment dashboards through flat-screen monitors and the automation of e-mail, text, and Microsoft Teams messaging based on machine events can go a long way toward diminishing material waste, unnecessary downtime and potentially missed sales. See how your manufacturing environment can improve its communication on the floor simply and effectively by attending a demonstration of the Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring software today.

An aerial view of the United States Pentagon.

Companies within the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), like machine, pharmaceutical and aerospace product manufacturers, are increasingly the subject of frequent attacks in pursuit of the billions of dollars tied up in Department of Defense (DoD) projects. The SolarWinds breach, the REvil cybergang hit on a defense contractor and others incidents making headline news are the overt evidence of these escalating targets – but it’s estimated by Black Kite that “twenty percent of America’s largest 100 defense contractors are highly susceptible to a ransomware attack.”

An aerial view of the United States Pentagon.

For manufacturers with FCI, compliance with the DoD’s CMMC 2.0 involves the control of removable media, such as PCMCIA memory cards and USB drives, and impacts the use of such media in conjunction with your CNC machinery.

The DoD is naturally taking action. The safeguard of defense-related information has been named a major priority, says the DoD, leading the agency to unveil its “enhanced” CMMC 2.0 program in November of last year. With three different levels of compliance (“Foundational,” “Advanced” and “Expert”), CMMC 2.0 will undergo implementation through the rulemaking process, which can span from nine months to two years, and then ultimately fold the program into a contractual requirement. This means that any company that processes, stores or handles Federal Contract Information (FCI) must perform a CMMC Level 1 self-assessment.

Proper Protection of CUI

For manufacturers with FCI, CMMC 2.0 compliance involves the control of removable media, such as PCMCIA memory cards and USB drives, and encrypting this media to properly protect Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The process of storing and transferring machine programs is already a time- and labor-consuming task: often companies set up a kiosk for programmers to peruse programs, copy the selected machine code onto a USB, trek back to the machinery and copy the program to the machine. One manufacturer estimated that it took them 10 minutes of set-up time to upload a program and get the routers – per part. The total time devoted to this process amounted to around 83 hours a month.

CNC machine programs with PCMCIA media cards and USB drives also make revision control virtually impossible. Programs that were never proven can be exported to machines, machined “not to spec” and lead to the scrapping of parts, rework, or worse, customer rejections. Companies can then find themselves scrambling to repair customer concerns and spending additional time and labor sourcing the correct program, and ultimately going through the machine program transfer process over again.

Now, with CMMC 2.0, machinery using removable storage devices can also lead to noncompliance. Solutions to achieve compliance, however, may hold even greater possible benefits for manufacturers.

DNC for Compliancy, Reliability, and Greater Productivity

A modern DNC networking solution, like Predator DNC as available through Shop Floor Automations, can work towards helping companies eliminate removable drives from CNC manufacturing equipment altogether. Serving as one industrial network for all your CNC machines, robots, CMMs, PLCs, 3D printers and other equipment, a well-designed DNC networking system ensures that only your latest files are tapped from their central location and, when changes occur, the edits are stored back on your file server.

A machinist working with a machine that is running DNC software, removing the need for physical drives and saving time between jobs.

A well-designed DNC networking solution can connect all your CNC machines, robots, CMMs, PLCs, 3D printers and other equipment on one industrial network, thereby removing or reducing the need for removable storage media, like PCMCIA media cards or USB drives.

Even more so, CNC program revisions can be controlled through a bar code or QR code reader to eliminate errors and transfer the proven/released part program every time into the CNC for complete traceability. Securing greater control of your CNC program revisions can lead to a reduction in the amount of rework and scrap that plagues companies utilizing untested programs. All in all, the implementation of a proper DNC networking solution can equate to a more productive team and a more consistent and reliable manufacturing process.

Set up your organization for CMMC 2.0 compliance while realizing significant gains in productivity and reliability – contact a DNC networking specialist at Shop Floor Automations to discuss your unique defense environment today.