IMTS 2016 is Complete

imts 2016

IMTS 2016 is Complete

Shop Floor Automations enjoyed a very successful IMTS 2016 tradeshow in Chicago IL. We loved running into so many of our customers in the Windy City, as well as meeting potential new customers that we look forward to serving for years to come. We encourage you to click the photo to your left to see in better detail a collage of some of our favorite moments of the show.

One highlight of the show was the unveiling of the Multi Connect to the public. With its sleek look in a beautiful acrylic case, a shiny black footing, and its beckoning stack light, it was definitely eye-catching. Many of our leads from the show want to know more about this fascinating piece of technology, which is specifically compatible with the MTConnect protocol, as news becomes available.

A great number of our visitors were definitely interested in Machine Monitoring, as well as Wireless DNC and our other solutions. We enjoyed educating machinists on how to make their shop floors and CNC machines run more efficiently and eliminate downtime, even with legacy machines.

imts 12016 During our time at IMTS, we were letting guests know that by getting their badges scanned, they were also entered into our drawing for various Shop Floor Automations prizes. We were giving away some of our Hardware solutions, as well as our very popular G-code T-Shirt.  The list of winners, who have been notified, is in the image to the right, which you can click on to magnify.

Other than the business we conducted, we also found rare free time to do some things of a tourist’s nature. Four of our employees went on a nighttime field trip to the top of the Sears Tower AKA the Willis Tower to take in the 103rd story views. We also ate at many great restaurants, such as the exclusive Frontera, and interacted with many interesting local Chicagoans. The architecture of this grand city during our many back-and-forth drives from downtown to McCormick Place made our commute worthwhile.

UPDATE, as of 9-27-16: We pulled three new winners for this contest since three previous winners did not get back to us in a timely manner. See the list HERE.

If you would like to see what we got to do in Chicago:

  • Check out our Marketing video from the event on YouTube HERE
  • Look at our Facebook photo album (and Like our page) HERE
  • We also posted a few shots on our Instagram page HERE
  • If you visited our Booth and grabbed a USB drive, or did not have time to stop and chat, call us at (877) 611-5825
  • Fill out our contact form


SFA & MTConnect at IMTS 2016

imts 2016 mtconnect

MTConnect – IMTS 2016

The MTConnect Institute, whose goal is to “enable the ease of access to manufacturing device data,” will be on deck at IMTS 2016. They will be touring IMTS to help spread the message of their three big goals:

1) Reduce the complexity of interfacing equipment, devices, and software applications.

2) Facilitate the adoption, implementation, and expansion of this standard.

3) Create a sustainable funding strategy.

As part of their tour, they will be visiting booths that exemplify their message. Shop Floor Automations is proud to be part of that tour, and part of their Members Roster.

Visit us at Booth E-3240, where we are happy to discuss with you these possibilities for your shop floor! We will also have the Multi Connect on display at our booth, which specifically is MTConnect compatible! For more info, call 877-611-5825.

Fill out our contact form, so we can get in touch with you! More from our resource page:

MTConnect is an open, royalty-free, universal factory floor communication standard that is designed specifically for the shop floor environment to enable the efficient transfer of data between devices (such as CNCs) & software applications similar to Predator MDC & Scytec DataXchange. Some users have referenced this as the “Bluetooth” technology we currently experience with our smartphones & daily electronic devices. By establishing an open & extensible channel of communication for plug-and-play interconnectivity between devices, equipment, & systems, it allows sources to exchange & understand each other’s data.  It’s like speaking a common language!

If you want propriety software & solutions, this is not for you! This new standard will bridge your factory shop floor & link you to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).  Think of the equipment on your shop floor now that has limits on how they connect, can they connect, can you get real-time data from them, & what if you could make them all speak to each other?  While some equipment would be limited on what can come from it, the information can quickly be displayed on dashboards,smartphoness, ERP/MRP systems, & other equipment.

As a member for on MT Connect Technology Advisory Board (TAG), we have been part of the development and review of the standards of the solution. Many machine tool builders, such as Mazak, Okuma, DMG Mori Seki, and more, are part of the on-going development and support for this standard. We strongly recommend you purchase machines with this standard for future support of automation.This standardized solution has the capability to work with many MTConnect-enabled machine—even monitoring multiple factories in real-time! Call 877-611-5825 for more information about this standard.


Manufacturing News – August 2016

mfg news

Click for a larger view

Manufacturing News – August 2016

SFA is proudly featured in the August 2016 issue of Manufacturing News! We not only have an ad in it, but we also have an article on the Multi Connect unveiling at IMTS 2016.

From our press release in this issue: “The Multi Connect is a turnkey device, able to continuously monitor the machine’s operating state and other necessary dat while making this information readily available over a network connection using the industry standard MTConnect protocol. The Multi Connect is compatible with a wide range of machine monitoring software packages, including Scytec’s DataXchange, Predator’s Machine Data Collection, and more!”

We again must publish a brief retraction: We will be unable to take Multi Connect pre-orders at IMTS, but we will be happy to scan badges to keep people in touch with more info on the product, as it becomes available. The tech specs and the price will definitely be worth the wait!

Other than hardware solutions, we also have many customizable software solutions to help automate your shop floor. We especially love to help shops realize the possibilities of machine monitoring! Call 877-611-5825 or chat with our sales team today to see how we can increase uptime and help diminish downtime on your shop floor. 

Scytec DataXchange Updates

August 2016 Scytec DataXchange Updates

There are some great changes on the horizon for DataXchange from Scytec. Shop Floor Automations, an authorized reseller of the program, would like to take the time to quickly highlight previews of changes to come.


Enjoy OEE machine monitoring with a real-time shop floor layout. New OEE charts, views from a real-time dashboard, plus multiple part-time analysis reports, a shop floor layout view in the dashboard, and various equipment status comparison charts that will analyze equipment utilization across a span of different days will be included in new updates.

dataxchange updates

For a quick window into what you get from Scytec’s DataXchange, via the product page:

  • Pay $45 monthly per machine – no long-term contract
  • We house the servers for an unlimited number of users
  • Real-time data collection from CNC controllers & equipment
  • Unlimited reporting & charting licenses
  • View & report on data results from anywhere
  • Track multiple cycle time types
  • System is supported under Windows 10

Shop Floor Automations will be previewing these updates at IMTS 2016. Check out our main page for what we will be up to at IMTS 2016, and call (877) 611-5825 for machine monitoring, and other shop floor solutions.

Closing the MFG Skills Gap

manufacturing skills gapClosing the MFG Skills Gap

To quote Bob Dylan – “the times, they are a-changin‘”. This also applies to the manufacturing industry and a serious demand for skilled workers in this field.

With today’s generation of youth, it seems as if they all want to be YouTube stars, singers, actors, artists – anything creative to get fame and to make a lot of money is the appeal. Many organizations are working hard to peak the interest of today’s youth into the manufacturing industry, which falls into the realm of more technological or scientific trades (AKA: STEM). They are trying to convey to this upcoming generation of workers that they can find creativity, the possibility of prominence, and good pay with jobs in the manufacturing sector. 

There are notable efforts from multiple organizations to combat the very near future’s need for skilled manufacturing workers. One example is the SME Education Foundation, who in a genius move also own the domain

You may remember a piece we did on Workshops for Warriors, which focuses on getting well-deserved military veterans into manufacturing jobs. We also tip our hats to NIMS (the National Institute for Metalworking Skills), the ML Council, The Manufacturing Institute, NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers), AMT (the Association for Manufacturing Technology), and NTMA (the National Tooling and Machining Association) for helping to close the skills gap in this area.

What more can be done? Recently, the Haas Technical Education Center has been encouraging those in any aspect of the manufacturing industry to let Congress know that the need currently ranges from moderate to serious for these skilled positions. With the help of NAM and the Manufacturing Institute, they are looking for help in passing H.R. 5587 AKA the Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.

More information about H.R. 5587 can be found via the National Skills Coalition site. If you are in need of technical solutions to help your shop floor thrive, please call us at 877-611-5825. You may also fill out our contact form

Machine Monitoring is a Must

Machine Monitoring

Machine Monitoring is a Must

You can see your machine manufacture something in real time. What about monitoring the data of what your machines are doing in real time? It’s possible! 

Software can be utilized to collect and analyze machine activity data such as MTConnect, Fanuc FOCAS, plus custom macros, and the aid of certain hardware devices. An easy-to-view dashboard, as well as charts and historical reports, can help your shop floor monitor downtime, runtime, and OEE data.

As discussed in a previous blog, you can get email notifications when there are any production delays due to your machines. You can also get text messages.

These different messages can also be targeted to specific operators who work different shifts, which means one employee who is off for certain shift doesn’t have to hear about a machine that is down when employee two can handle it.

Options for machine monitoring you can take advantage of range from a convenient application, a permanent license you own, or a month-to-month license that does not require on-site servers. Be sure to call us if you want more information at (877) 611-5825, or ask us questions on social media


CA MFG Tax Exemptions

CA MFG Tax Exemptions

California MFG Tax Exemptions

Did you know that certain manufacturing companies in California may have tax exemption rules? Here are some basic facts that we’d love to share in this blog:

Industry: Look into exemptions if your company is involved more than 50 percent of the time in the areas of manufacturing, biotech research, biotech development, plus research or development for physical, engineering, and life sciences. Also, any company that uses most of their time and resources for manufacturing and fabricating, which is applicable to this industry, could be viewed as a “qualified use.”

Money: Is more than 50 percent of your profit in a fiscal year allocated to salaries for employees, production costs, or based on the amount of full-time equivalency workers in your company?

Equipment: Your machines, equipment, component parts (IE: moving parts, belts, operating structures, shafts, etc.)  may be considered “qualified tangible personal property.”

Here’s the part that we like – Your computers, as well as software you use to operate, regulate, maintain, and control your machines, and data processing equipment, may also be considered “qualified tangible personal property.” Buying our hardware and software solutions to make your shop floor more efficient may be part of this exemption!

We recommend you speak to a tax advice expert further if you want to take advantage of these exemptions by contacting the CA Board of Equalization. More info can be found via a list of regulations and this special notice

Otherwise, give us a call at 877-611-5825 or fill out our contact form to take advantage of our solutions!


IMTS 2016 Contest

imts 2016

IMTS 2016 Contest

Our G-code T-Shirt is a hit at trade shows. That’s why we want to give away some of them in a contest at IMTS 2016 in Chicago!

We will be giving away 3 shirts per day in a raffle – enter just by coming to our booth and getting your badge scanned. We will make sure if you win that we contact you for the proper size and where to ship it to, once IMTS is over.

It would be a great 2016 souvenir from visiting IMTS, AKA the International Manufacturing Technology Show. It sure beats a cheesy “I Love Chicago” T-Shirt, but if you don’t win our shirt, you can always buy it in our store, as well!

We will also be giving away:

We will be at Booth E3240 at IMTS, so be sure to swing by! We will also be premiering our brand new Multi Connect product. When posting about your visit to our booth during IMTS on social media, use the hashtags #shopfloorautomations or #theMultiConnect so we can thank you for sharing what you saw from us. Add us to your show planner by visiting this page, too! Check out other tradeshows will be attending in the future, as well.

SFA Examines TouchHMI

what is touch hmi Predator Touch HMI

Predator Touch HMI, a relatively new application, is a favorite here at Shop Floor Automations. With Touch HMI being one of the products that will be featured at our IMTS 2016 booth, we wanted to take the time to do an in-depth piece on its benefits.

What can best be described as a big button interface, Touch HMI is an application that operators to use to simplify sending and receiving programs to and from machines. For shops employing machine data collection, they can put in downtime codes that the operators can choose, such as setup or preventative maintenance, for example.

Touch HMI can be accessed from any Windows-based platform, such as a compatible tablet or cell phone, as well as a network PC. Touch HMI can communicate over a network, wired and wirelessly, as well as via a serial connection.

This time-saving interface consolidates multiple automation platforms with features like data collection, DNC, plus other types of document control platforms. You can automate processes on the machine, and really any third party software can be integrated with it. It acts as one common place for the operator to interact with that looks visually pleasing and is easy to understand.

Predator DNC is one tool used to communicate with and network CNC machines. Touch HMI makes communicating easier than all the different alternatives currently available. You can use it with a bar code reader, but it can also replace what a bar code does, too! Custom color coding is also an option SFA has for customers to make the system easier to read.

Another great feature of TouchHMI that you may not have thought about? Because the Internet of Things is such an influence in the manufacturing industry, a button can be customized on an individual client’s interface that is a supplement to their daily schedule.

Want a button that goes to a web browser, so your operator can order lunch and have it be ready for pick up when they go on break? Or a button where a tech can request time off? A button on the interface that can report work hazards is also a possibility. Anything you can think of to put on that extra button is likely a can-do by our creative technical team, so call us to learn more at 877-611-5825!

CNC Email Notifications

Machine Monitoring NotificationsCNC Machine Email Notifications

You rely on emails heavily in today’s technological world. Imagine being able to receive an email when your CNC machine goes down. 

DataXchange from Scytec is a machine monitoring solution we highly recommend if this sounds appealing to you. DataXchange connects to your newer CNC equipment through an ethernet port, or for legacy machines and non-CNC equipment, SFA adds a hardware solution to compliment DataXChange that can monitor your machines.

Configure downtimes you want to be notified about, and an email automatically sends to anyone on your specified distribution list. Set custom parameters for timing or hierarchy of the emails, too.

Picture this: if a machine alarm goes off, you can set the system up to wait for a set period of time before it emails you – this eliminates an email being sent out for every small event.  Or you can set it to send an email to John Smith at the company if the alarm happens during first shift, while if the alarm happens during second shift, the email is sent to Jane Doe. This eliminates unnecessary emails to people that might be at home asleep!

Instant access to shop floor data and productivity is a valuable tool.  Correct problems faster and increase up-time with solutions like these. Call us at 877-611-5825, send a message to our Sales team, or come find us on one of our social media channels.