SFA Legacy Blog Edition XVII

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

At IMTS recently, we loved getting to touch basis with colleagues and partners in our industry. Thanks to MasterCam for coming to our booth to interview us about DNC software and how it integrates with their CAD/CAM software.

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

MMT also published a few more pieces from us recently. Whether it’s convincing decision makers of ROI or about our solutions at IMTS 2018, thanks MMT!

Thanks to MFG Talk Radio for publishing our piece about automation ROI.  We also thank FFJournal for posting our article on Top 3 CNC Networking tips.

Finally, thanks to Manufacturing Tomorrow for posting our piece on new DataXchange features we had on display at IMTS.

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

Lean Manufacturing

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

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

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

Question is, how can you achieve this goal?

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

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Fall 2018 Newsletter

shop floor automations newsletterThe following is an archived copy of our Fall 2018 newsletter.

Decisions to make for Q4

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMTS 2018 is a wrap!

We were completely floored by the number of people who visited us in Chicago! Many of whom were prospects who have quickly become customers, as well as our valued existing customers coming to pay us a visit.

Did you make it into one of our photos on our photo album from the show?

Didn’t get to go? Watch our video from IMTS 2018 on YouTube!

Check out our post-show report

What is your OEE?

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

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

Request info on a DataXchange Machine Monitoring trial

Call (877) 611-5825 for more info! 

Link to original newsletter 

Happy Accident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MFG Day 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Migration for Windows 10

Windows 10 migrationWe often encounter customers who are running old versions of Microsoft on their shop floors. We strongly advise that customers read this quick blog on Windows 10 migration for your manufacturing operation.

Countdown to January 2020

Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. This means people will be upgrading their PCs to Windows 10 in the next 18 months. While this sounds like a long window of time, it’s best to take care of it sooner rather than later.

Virtualizing

Customers are virtualizing their servers. This means they take a physical PC/computer and move it to a much larger server that can host many computers virtually. This eliminates the hardware for that PC but generally requires a migration.

Now > Later

We strongly suggest customers take care of this Windows 10 migration now, as a lot can go wrong with a migration. Some issues can be improperly entered codes, incorrect driver configuration, or forgetting to backup critical files. There will also be customers who will be waiting to upgrade at the last moment due to multiple factors, which can be a frustrating feeling.

Need Help?

SFA has a procedure that our technicians follow when doing a migration. Testing and tweaks are typical after a migration due to changes in the operating system. SFA knows what these changes are based on experience.

Call (877) 611-5825 so we can help with your Windows 10 migration process. We also recommend you fill out our contact form if you’re reaching out for the first time. If you are on a current Support contract, fill out a form today

IMTS 2018

IMTS 2018We had a great time at IMTS 2018!

Did you come to the manufacturing technology show in Chicago this year? It’s not hard to believe – attendance was up. There were 129,415 IMTS 2018 visitors versus 115,612 from 2016!

Solutions we had on display:

Machine monitoring – DataXchange real-time OEE utilization monitoring software. Cloud-based and on-premise.

Hardware – Floppy drive replacements, add USB to any CNC & more solutions.

DNC software – CNC networking and program revision control needs for the shop floor.

Shop Floor Automations We got a chance to take some photos of visitors to our booth and we put up a gallery over on Facebook! We also shot this short video from the trip.

What did you go to IMTS for this year? What does your manufacturing operation do? Are you a moldmaker? Do you work in fabrication? Or tried-and-true CNC machining?

Call us for manufacturing productivity info at (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form so we can get back to you ASAP! 

SME 30 Under 30

sme 30 under 30Sam Wilkins, Technical Operations Manager at Shop Floor Automations, has earned a spot in the SME 30 Under 30 List.

We are very proud that Sam made the Honorable Mentions list from this distinctive Society of Manufacturing Engineers lineup for 2018.

Sam’s love of technology began at age 16, when he took up computer systems as a hobby. He first entered the world of manufacturing by machining medical devices in a small shop. He then moved on to facilitating production of several medical product lines while implementing quality control systems. He was responsible for research and development from initial design to final products.

He then moved on to the field of manufacturing integration, where he works with SFA today. Here, he uses his past experiences in manufacturing and his technical skills to find better productivity solutions for manufacturers. He is very familiar with protocols such as MTConnect, Fanuc Focas, and more. Thanks for all of your hard work, Sam!

Other honors bestowed to employees of Shop Floor Automations: Marketing Coordinator Amanda Rosenblatt won the first ever SME manufacturing talent contest in 2017. We are also consistently the #1 Reseller of Predator Software and Scytec DataXchange each year.

Ask us for our insight on integrating manufacturing solutions for your shop floor! Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form today

CNC Remote Request

cnc to pcAs American manufacturing grows, efficient machining is key. SFA is often asked about secure and quick CNC to PC communication. Here, we take a look at CNC remote request procedures.

Otherwise known as a CNC remote call, remote request operations provide the following benefits:

  • Keeping operators at machines allows for better productivity
  • Eliminates walking back forth from PC to CNC
  • Machinists can send, receive & drip-feed programs at machines
  • They have directory listings of CNC programs via every machine tool

Remote requests take place through DNC software. It often comes with additional features, including remote error messages, remote auto name, and the ability to send notifications to higher-ups. These messages usually target maintenance, quality or programming issues.

A followup question we get in relation to this subject is this: Can these secure, remote transfers only be done via a serial machine?

DNC software can be used wired and wirelessly. If wired is the route customers want to go, we always recommend cabling specifically made for shop floor environments for effective RS232 communications. The bottom line is that remote calls do not take place at exclusively serial-based machines.

For older Windows-based machines wishing to achieve successful PC to CNC transfers, we recommend a feature called Secure DNC. This allows secure file transfers to CNC machines through firewalls. For example, you can send directly to the hard drive of the machine without interfering with the network.

Secure DNC is great for shops with heightened security measures. It is especially useful for shop floors that still utilize older Windows operating systems because they currently can’t afford to upgrade machine tools.

A great alternative to DNC software for small shops is USB Connect hardware. Devices store programs at machines via a USB thumb drive. It is worth noting, however, that hardware will not have the same plentiful features that software does.

Want more info on PC to CNC program transfer solutions? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out our contact form

 

IMTS 2018 Newsletter

The following is an archived copy of the Shop Floor Automations IMTS 2018 newsletter. Add us to your IMTS schedule!

IMTS 2018 NewsletterWant improved productivity and increased profits? Stop by Booth 133240 at IMTS! 

Shop Floor Automations has software solutions that help improve CNC communications and increase machine utilization by delivering OEE metrics using machine monitoring software. Our hardware solutions include wireless, ethernet, and USB technology to replace floppy disks, PCMCIA cards, and serial ports on your machine tools.

Solutions we will have on-hand at IMTS 2018:

  • Scytec DataXchange – Machine monitoring has become a crucial element for manufacturing productivity. Evaluate your machine tool performance and give your machinists an easy method to communicate shop floor issues. See the latest features, such as the addition of work orders and the new operator data interface. Ask how we can add the MTConnect protocol to your equipment!
  • Go wireless – Tired of serial cables and slow baud rates to your equipment? Use our Wireless CNC Connect to interface to any age, brand or type of connection on your shop floor. See this hardware in action with Predator DNC software!
  • Replace floppy disk drives – Floppy disks are obsolete. Replace them with a USB thumb drive. We have specific models for Haas, Mazak, and Okuma machines, as well as a universal model to eliminate any floppy drive on any equipment. Just provide your machine’s make and model of the current floppy drive info, and we will have you up and running.
  • Add USB ports to any machine – If you want an economical way to add memory to the machine control and to modernize all of your CNC machines, ask us how we can transform your RS232 port into a USB port!
  • Standardize on Ethernet – Do you still have legacy CNC’s with serial ports and you’re looking to standardize on a network connection similar to your new machine tools? Stop by and check out our LAN Connect device. Simplify your file transfers and modernize your shop floor!

Shop Floor Automations has been in business helping manufacturers since 1998. Call (877) 611-5825 for more information.

Link to the original newsletter