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 

Legacy Blog – Edition XVI

shop floor automations blogIn this Legacy Blogs edition, Shop Floor Automations shares news of exclusives we will have at IMTS, product news, and coverage in regards to MFG Day.

Shop Floor Automations is once again headed to IMTS (Booth 133240), where our booth will be shared with Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring. New features of DataXchange will be displayed, as well as their E-Learning program. Thanks to MFG Talk Radio for covering both pieces of news!

For product news, we thank Manufacturing Tomorrow for covering the news of our latest hardware release, the LAN-USB Connect, which adds USB and ethernet abilities to your machine. MFG Talk Radio also published this piece from us – a top 3 reasons list of why moldmakers need to embrace the IIoT. Moldmaking Technology also published an article talking about how machine data collection software helps combat downtime.

Finally, it’s never too early to start talking about MFG Day (also known as “manufacturing day”). Fabricating and Metalworking shared our piece last year on shaping the Made in America movement, where we highlighted three organizations helping to make manufacturing great again.  Our newest article from Manufacturing Tomorrow on this holiday highlights three manufacturing companies SFA has worked with and how they are helping to close the skills gap.

SFA has been helping manufacturing companies increase productivity for 20 years now. Ready to start the conversation about upgrading your shop floor without replacing machines? Call us at (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form!

 

The Benefits of a Wireless Shop Floor

Wireless cnc machineWith manufacturing technology changing each day, companies are finding more innovative ways to increase productivity through machine automation. Many customers want to know the benefits of a transferring over to a wireless shop floor.

Customers who have issues with outdated media, such as floppy disks or inferior cabling, are a big demographic for going wireless. This was what brought Stollen Machine of New Jersey to Shop Floor Automations.

Investing in six wireless hardware devices from SFA helped to replace an old cabling system that wreaked havoc on Stollen Machine’s manufacturing productivity. A case study done with the customers found that they were able to get back 15% more time daily, which is invaluable in the manufacturing process.

Sometimes, innovation is not the reason for the switch, but rather from an unexpected event that turns customers to industrial automation. In an article from Modern Machine Shop, editor Stephanie Hendrixson shares the story of a manufacturer in 2005 that went wireless after a lightning strike destroyed their CNC machine circuit boards, which lead to an upsetting amount of downtime and lost profit.

“At the time of print, [the manufacturer] reported no problems with downloading numerical control (NC) programs wirelessly thanks to an error-checking protocol, and download speeds were adequate for its needs,” Hendrixson writes. “Data encryption and other security measures kept NC programs safe from interception and [the] corporate network safe from attack.”

Here are some reviews from SFA customers who have gone wireless:

“We got to work with Shawn Dunne in person to install wireless networking and adapters. My favorite features from the changes implemented are Process control, process security, and enhanced availability of knowledge base information. Total cost was also very affordable.” – James, Amarillo Gear

“We have been a customer of yours for over 12 years now, and it’s been great with the support. The Wireless DNC has been fantastic for our production. We went from losing the wired system to [choosing] a wireless system, and it actually works very well. It’s been very easy and we keep continuing with a product that works great for us.” – George at Gyford Production Standoff Systems

Whether an emergency prompts it, or a shop floor has the liberty to try new means to improve their manufacturing process, going wireless is an amazing investment. Want to know more? Call (877) 611-5825, or send us a message

Legacy Blog – Edition XV

shop floor automations blogIn this Legacy Blog, Shop Floor Automations thanks these digital publications for sharing our recent news about DNC software, machine monitoring, hardware, and more:

Manufacturing Tomorrow posted a piece we wrote about return on investment (ROI) for shop floor automation solutions. “A great example of actually showing your ROI comes from one of our customers who had an ROI sheet showing that their company had 30 machines, they ran two programs per day, and they loaded 300 programs per week…they then showed how expensive this older process was where they were using outdated shop floor media to transfer programs and estimated how much time/money would be saved by upgrading to DNC.”

MFG Talk Radio published quite a few of our pieces lately. They shared news of our new technology, the LAN-USB Connect. They also shared a piece where we shared with manufacturers how to approach decision makers with ways to prove automation ROI.

FabShop Magazine hosted SFA in the MFG ETC section once again. OSHA’s Top 10 safety violations in 2017 that apply to the shop floor were explored and how some automation solutions can help address some of these issues for 2018 onward.

Moldmaking Technology covered our appearance at Mazak West recently. “The company says that hardware implementation for machines that handle Mazatrol CMT files is easily accessible and affordable,” for example. “Mazak machines operators can add USB ports to machines with the USB Connect Mazak pendant model.”

In a throwback, Manufacturing Engineering published a blog about managing and collecting shop floor machine data. Within this piece, SFA owner Greg Mercurio was interviewed.

For our latest appearances in manufacturing trade magazines, check out our press page. Otherwise, we would love to start the conversation with you about automation! Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form.  

 

Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – March/April 2018

shop floor automations newsletterThis archived issue of the Shop Floor Automations newsletter was first sent to subscribers April 24th of 2018.

A Place to Belong

There are quite a few organizations out there who are working to close the manufacturing skills gap. They are also teaching a trade to those who not only need the guidance but the steady career path that manufacturing provides.

Shop Floor Automations (SFA) wanted to share with our audience a local organization called Rise Up Industries.

Trainees of the program become machine operators by trade. They are also taught to overcome obstacles from their past to become productive members of society through various life skills classes.

Their motto is “a place to belong” and we were very touched by our visit to their shop recently. We invite you to check out what they are doing over in Santee, CA!

LAN-USB Connect

You have heard it from us before – you can add USB to your CNC of any make, model, and age. You may have also heard we can add Ethernet to your machines. Why not both?

We present to you the LAN-USB Connect. This hardware packs a one-two punch. It’s easy to install, as it connects to your machine’s RS232 port. You can drag and drop files from, and to, your CNC machine memory. Use the Ethernet connection via FTP, and best of all, no special software is required to install and use the device!

Mazak West Event

SFA will be at Mazak West from June 5th to the 8th, 2018. We will be exhibiting Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring software, showing attendees how to collect real-time data from their Mazak machines.

Ask the MTConnect experts in attendance at Mazak West how the protocol benefits you, how to integrate your legacy machines, and how information collected from your machines can help improve both capacity and productivity. Implementing machine monitoring has many benefits – we can’t wait to show you!

Hardware solutions for new and legacy machines will also be on display. Using wireless, wired and USB solutions will increase your shop floor productivity.

For more information, please call (877) 611-5825 or fill out our contact form.

Haas Demo Day 2018

Haas CNC machine Haas Automation is celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Haas VF-1 vertical machining center with Haas Demo Day 2018!

Via your local Haas factory outlet on Wednesday, May 9th, there will be a celebration of the release of this groundbreaking CNC machine.

There will be machine demonstrations and a chance to network with others in the industry. Better yet, you will get some delicious food and refreshments, as well as an opportunity to win a Race Weekend Giveaway! You will also walk away with a limited edition shirt just for attending the event (that we are sure would look great in your closet next to our G-code shirt).

Register for Haas Demo Day 2018 and celebrate how far manufacturing equipment has come! 

We certainly know the significance that Haas machines have on our industry and we carry multiple solutions for Haas users. Let’s see if you have any of the following concerns:

Don’t see your concern listed above? No problem! Call (877) 611-5825 or zip us over a message. We have worked with thousands of customers over the past two decades and can point you in the right direction for improved productivity. 

 

The CNC Floppy Emulator – What It Can & Can’t Do

shop floor floppy diskWe get many calls to our office asking questions about CNC floppy emulator hardware. While we invite you to contact us for more detailed information, we want to answer the most asked question: Does your Floppy Connect hardware add memory to my machine?

The answer is no, but don’t let this deter you! The benefit of floppy drive replacement hardware is not adding memory to your machine, but we will also touch on the subject of file sizes later.

There are three main benefits to this CNC upgrade:

  1. Refreshing, not replacing, legacy machines: Just because your machine still has a floppy drive does not mean it’s time to put it out to pasture, in terms of productivity! Using one of our floppy drive emulators will upgrade your machine and prevent you from spending thousands of dollars on a new CNC machine.
  2. No longer hunting for obsolete storage media: Floppy disks have been extinct technology for several years now. Finding them new is hard to do and will cost you. Meanwhile, getting a 2GB USB stick is as easy as making a run down to a pharmacy, a big box technology store, ordering from Amazon, or buying one from Target and Walmart! Remember, a 2GB stick is the standard with our Floppy Connect, and it must be FAT formatted.
  3. Eliminate proprietary upgrades: Having a tech from the machine tool builder come down to evaluate your machines is expensive. It is also cost prohibitive to have them install their specific hardware to upgrade your machine. Our Floppy Connect is a small investment in comparison and works on a large number of controls, with the list growing daily.

replace floppy with usbHow many programs you can store on the USB stick is another big question we get. Since the customer is going from a disk that was once 720k or 1.4MB to a 2GB USB stick, the assumption is that they can store and send big programs from it. This is incorrect.

A USB stick will hold no more than the floppy you would have used in the machine would dictate.  The machine still thinks it’s a floppy reader, so it is going to work within those restrictions. You are essentially fooling the machine into thinking the floppy drive still works, with the benefit of no longer needing those floppy disks. Let’s explore further:

Program sizes for customers typically range from 1kb to 25MB. On floppies, program sizes can range from 1kb to 1.4MB.

Let’s say your machine manufacturer made a floppy disk drive that could only handle DD (double density) floppy disks. This means it could only hold 720kb worth of storage, and could typically hold 110 machine program files on it.

What if your machine could handle 1.4MB floppy disks? This means you used HD (high density) floppy disks, which could hold up to 220 machine program files on it.

Case in point – your machine could only handle the size of those files that could fit on those floppy disks. So even though you are using a 2GB USB stick, it will only hold whatever your machine could handle. Remember though – the goal is not to increase memory. It is to save time and money on the shop floor by ditching old technology!

Want more insight on our hardware? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form so we can get back to you when it is most convenient!

Legacy Blog – Edition XIV

shop floor automations blogIn this Legacy Blog, we share media coverage that Shop Floor Automations has been lucky to receive recently.

MFG News published a piece from us that lists 4 reasons medical manufacturers can benefit from machine monitoring software. Moldmaking Technology also published a piece touching on how DNC software is crucial to moldmakers. MFG Talk Radio published a piece on our new hardware product, the LAN-USB Connect.

Our 20th anniversary of being in business has been graciously covered by many publications in our industry. We thank these publications for helping us continue our success: Modern Machine ShopCNC WestModern Metals, Cutting Tool Engineering, Fabricating & Metalworking, FabShop, FFJournal, and many others!

In need of a laugh? Check out our latest Shop Floor Man comic strip, in which his recent absence is explained.

Otherwise, if you need solutions to increase productivity, call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form to get in touch with us! 

Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – JAN/FEB 2018

shop floor automations newsletterThe following is an archived copy of the January/February 2018 issue of the Shop Floor Automations newsletter.

Estimated OEE vs Real OEE

A good number of our customers were able to contribute to the phenomenal growth in the manufacturing industry last year because of OEE information gathered by machine monitoring software.

Often the first overlooked step in improved production is not properly tracking utilization and OEE. Our customers at R&D Manco in Phoenix definitely agree with this statement.

We spoke to them recently and discovered that before implementing Predator MDC software, it was assumed that their machines were running at 50 percent utilization. Within a short period of time using the software, they found utilization was more around 30 percent. Uptime is critical to their operations, especially with lead times of 8 months to 1 year for the parts they run.

In a recent issue of Modern Machine Shop (MMS), the company credits machine monitoring from SFA (via Predator MDC) as an essential resource for increasing capacity.

MFG 2017 Review & 2018 Outlook

There is no doubt that 2017 was a fruitful year for manufacturing in America. Confidence in our industry, as well as positivity in future prosperity, is at an all-time high.

There are some concerns going forward to keep the momentum going in 2018. Industry 4.0, IIoT and automation are some of the concerns that we address.

Check out our 2017 Review for USA manufacturing & an optimistic outlook on 2018!

Okuma Floppy Drive Replacement

If you have an Okuma machine with a floppy drive that is about to bite the dust, the time to upgrade is now.

Even if your floppy drive is still functioning, floppy disk technology has been outdated for about a decade and it is best to adapt to new technology now before the worst happens. Best to be prepared than be stuck with a dead floppy drive on your machine.

The best part is that when you send back your old floppy disk drive core from the Okuma within 15 days, we will give you a $695 credit!

Get more information on Okuma Floppy Drive Core Replacements

Get in touch with our sales department by calling (877) 611-5825 or fill out a request for information

3 Dead Pieces of Shop Floor Technology

shop floor technology

There are likely pieces of old technology on your shop floor that are limiting your productivity. They are robbing you of your time, your profits, and your resources in order to keep replacing them.

Who are the biggest offenders? Here is our top three list of dead technologies you should be replacing on your shop floor immediately:

Suspect 1: Floppy disks, or as kids these days know it, the “save” symbol on a computer word processing program. Assuming you rightly do not trust used/refurbished floppy disks, you will have to hunt down packages of new floppy disks and hope that they work. At about 1.44MB of space on each disk, the question is, why would you want to hang onto this old media source?

Answer: Using the Floppy Connect, otherwise known as a floppy drive emulator, will replace this process. The hardware acts as if the floppy drive were never removed. You only need a 2GB USB flash drive for it and you can keep using the same stick.

Suspect 2: Switch boxes are best described as manual distribution boxes. They can vary from two to 16 switches, or two to 16 connections to one serial port. You manually have to flick a switch to tell the box which of those you want to send the program to. Reminds us of when we used to have to get up out of our chairs to change a channel on the TV set!

Answer: The USB Connect Switch Box model automatically does the switching for you, controlling data flow into the CNC from the PC. The hardware also has built-in DNC Firmware for CNC flexibility and is easy to use. There is also the Ethernet Connect, which creates virtual serial ports – this means no more manually switching and better yet, it helps you leverage your existing corporate network infrastructure.

Suspect 3: PCMCIA cards are memory cards that have been used in the past on shop floors to get programs uploaded and downloaded to CNC machines. These credit-card-sized antiquities are hard to come by, expensive, and can be damaged by constantly removing them from the controller.

Answer: The USB Connect uses a standard USB drive for program storage and meets the communication needs of a variety of CNC machines, regardless of machine’s age, make, or model. Three models are available – a Switch Box model, a standard model, and a Mazak model for sending/receiving Mazatrol CMT files. Another replacement solution is DNC software for networking your machines to a PC in order to upload and download programs.

If you are still using any of these old pieces of technology, we urge you to contact us at (877) 611-5825. You would be surprised how easy and affordable it is to modernize your shop floor production.