Manufacturing Management

According to SME’s ToolingU Manufacturing Management Supervisor Essentials Course, just because you’re a manager doesn’t automatically make you a leader. Leaders cope with change and complexity.

Have you taken the time to lead your shop floor recently? Do you know things needs to change?

Typically, those who need automation tools are the machinists, production workers and shift supervisors on the shop floor. Production managers also find these solutions, but often, those who are directly making parts bring their requests to the production manager.

The best approach for the production manager or anyone wanting change would be to present these solutions to decision makers at the company. Usually, the Quality, Engineering and Maintenance departments above Production Management won’t have this authority, so let’s go further.

The first step is proving the value of automation solutions to Departments such as Purchasing, Finance/Accounting or even as high up as the President/Owner. You can check this article from MFG Talk Radio on proving manufacturing ROI to help in this mission.

Other than showing how manufacturing automation can help your organization, here are other steps you can take to improve production:

  1. Situational Analysis – Identify the shop’s areas of success and where improvement is needed within the organization initially.
  2. Correct Project Planning – The best process for planning projects is to define objectives, determine the realistic scope/budget, create a work breakdown structure, then delegate approved tasks out. If you’re not in management, draft a plan to present to a higher-up.
  3. Forecasting – Can you predict or measure demand and control costs? Looking at production for the next three to five years may seem like a long time frame, but this is the most common strategic plan used.
  4. Organization & Planning Tools – The correct resources will help your company’s longevity. They range from budgeting, charts, and scope, to your staff and staffing choices.
  5. Monitor & Control – Yes, we always recommend machine monitoring, but there are other observations to make. Once a month, curate productivity reports. Do operations research and evaluate your schedules based on historical data.

Ready to move forward? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out an online contact form.

Need An “Automate CNC Machines” Game Plan?

Planning to automate CNC machines or other manufacturing equipment? Here are three steps before starting:

First, Create a Healthy Technology Relationship: “These tools have been developed not for nefarious reasons, but to improve the way we do business or the way we live.” Production Machining Senior Editor Chris Felix explains this topic in their April 2018 issue.

Monitoring equipment and implementing other automation tools is not meant to penalize or micromanage operators. “The implementation of data-driven manufacturing…collects data about and reports on the effectiveness of the manufacturing process. Data from tooling can help to refine cutting parameters to improve accuracy and reduce scrap.”

Basically, any shop floor automation solutions will involve an investment. You want to make sure that those using machines and equipment will take advantage of these tools.

Next, Consider Demand-Driven Manufacturing: “This has become the new market norm because of advancements in real-time analytics and IIoT,” says Stefan Krauss in January/February 2017 Today’s Medical Developments issue. “Manufacturing companies will need to integrate real-time demand information into their operation or risk losing…to the digital leaders that do.”

“Start with an internal audit of end-to-end operations to identify weak spots and insertion points where new features can be introduced.” Doing this will allow you to evaluate what goals are obtainable on your shop floor.

Then, Integrate IIoT: “An IIoT platform is a set of hardware and software facilities that assist and support [an] application for industrial companies using the internet to connect devices and equipment,” says Mark Albert in the Modern Machine Shop November 2017 issue.

“The use of the internet is now commonly called the industrial internet of things. Such platforms may provide an operation environment, computer processing capability, data storage structure, and program building blocks for application developers.”

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

How to do USB to RS232 Transfers

USB to RS232

Modernizing your manufacturing equipment is easier and more affordable than you may otherwise assume. Operators love USB to RS232 transfers of machine programs for many reasons.

This CNC upgrade hardware helps machinists save time, it assists with basic program revision control and the devices that perform these actions help increase memory. Also, since these devices are positioned close to the control, it allows the machine to run at its maximum baud rate.

Here are quick videos with easy steps in which to perform USB machine transfers:

The devices come in pendant models that are dedicated to one machine. There is also the popular portable model, which saves machine operators even more time.

Our list of CNC machines that USB Connect hardware is compatible with includes Siemens, Anilam, Bridgeport, Cincinnati, Fadal, FANUC, Haas, Yasnac, Brother machines, Mitsubishi, and others. Special models also perform Mazak and Switchbox functions.

Ready to learn more? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form

CNC Automation for 2019

cnc automation

What are your CNC automation plans for this new year? If you are drawing a blank, never fear – here are three quick ideas!

1 – CNC Data Collection – Do you know often your machines are running? Or worse – how often your machines are down? Set up a machine monitoring trial to see what is actually happening during production!

OEE monitoring software will help you track planned and unplanned downtime. Know how long a broken tool or lockout tagout takes so the process can be improved. Evaluate how to increase manufacturing machine capacity.

2 – CNC Program Revision Control – Do incorrect programs run at your machine frequently? Are programs floating around the shop floor stressing you out? Set up a DNC Software webinar or ask for a demo!

DNC software will assist for controlling correct programs running at machines. The software also ensures that programs are making it to the CNC without communication failures.

3 – RS232 to USB – Legacy equipment can be refreshed for optimized productivity. Turning an RS232 port into a USB port will help in order to utilize modern media and increase memory at the machine. There are many hardware options to help freshen up your equipment!

Other hardware for CNC machines helps to convert floppy drives in order to use USB sticks. You can also go wireless in order to eliminate shop floor cables.

Shop Floor Automations is ready to assist in your mission to increase manufacturing productivity! Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out our contact form.

Manufacturing Tax Benefits 2019

The 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) brought about many changes that have set the pace for 2019. There are important manufacturing tax questions we are asking ourselves or should be. Shop Floor Automations has some tips you should check out!

What kind of benefits can manufacturers seek out? Section 179 is a big resource for our industry we should all be utilizing. Especially if there are upgrades crucial to your productivity you want to write off.

“If you purchase or lease qualifying equipment, like CAD CAM software, you can fully deduct the total purchase price from your gross income,” a representative at BobCAD CAM says. “The price limit is set at $500k, but businesses that exceed that limit can take a one-time, bonus depreciation of 50 percent the amount that exceeds the limit.”

Another benefit that has been significant for manufacturers has touched on equipment depreciation. When pursuing equipment financing via loans, nontax leases or tax leases, owners have been able to deduct depreciation expenses. The TCJA will still allow this to be done.

“The centerpiece of the TJCA – a reduction in the maximum corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent – drastically reduces tax liability for many manufacturers,” says Toni Larson, who wrote a piece on Tax Reform in January’s issue of MetalForming Magazine.

Other benefits Larson suggests looking into for 2019:

  • 100 percent expensing for equipment placed in service after 9/27/17 and before 1/1/23
  • Investment Tax Credit (ITC) as well as the aforementioned Section 179
  • Find an expert in equipment leasing who can provide specific knowledge based on your equipment needs and business goals

Get in touch with us about investments you can make for your 2019 manufacturing operation! Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form

CAD CAM Software Resources

Gcode cad cam

Photo credit to DixiePrecision on Instagram

CAD CAM software is a powerful shop floor tool. There is a long-term problem most users don’t consider. What happens to the programs that the software produces?

“CAD CAM makes these beautiful models, then it produces G-code. What’s going to happen to it?” This question was posed by a Shop Floor Automations (SFA) spokesperson on the Manufacturing Engineering podcast.

“It’s going to go onto these USB sticks. You have all of these portable media going around the shop floor, or it’s sitting on someone’s computer.”

Read more below!

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What is IIoT?

IIoT ManufacturingWhat is IIoT? Here are the basics about the Industrial Internet of Things.

IIoT and Industry 4.0 are very similar topics. Both topics, however, are widely accepted as a key part of the future of manufacturing.

Alan Rooks of the Advanced Manufacturing Podcast recently interviewed SFA. The interview touched on what exactly Industry 4.0 is.

First, manufacturing was purely done via mechanical systems. We moved forward with mass production (assembly lines). Then we reached computers and automation. Now, we arrive at Industry 4, which is the Cloud.

Here are some IIoT resources used to improve manufacturing productivity:

  • Devices/sensors on shop floor equipment communicate via the Internet
  • Data from devices/sensors on machines is stored in the Cloud, so there is no need to house data servers on site
  • Real-time historical analytics are fed into charts and reports for machine monitoring systems, ERP software, and much more
  • MTConnect and similar protocols allow for data to be collected in a non-proprietary manner – more cost-effective overall
  • Hardware such as modified PLCs can help to make legacy machines IIoT-ready

Want more info on IIoT and Industry 4.0 solutions? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form!

Lean Manufacturing Newsletter

Shop Floor Automations NewsletterThe November/December 2018 SFA email blast was a lean manufacturing newsletter. It was sent to subscribers November 19th, 2018.

Lean Manufacturing for 2019

Heard of it? Thinking about it? Make 2019 the year to pursue lean manufacturing!
How can you get started? A few of our solutions help towards the goals of shedding excess, managing things outside of your control, and balancing the uneven:
  • Eliminate Floppy Disks: We offer plug and play solutions to replace CNC machine disk drives. We are a leading supplier for Haas, Mazak, Okuma, and Mitsubishi machine tools.
  • Go Wireless: Increase baud rates and reliability by linking your machine tools wirelessly to your network. Any machine connection can be enabled via Ethernet or RS232 serial ports on your controller.
  • Improve Machine Performance: Your ERP system is tracking job status and operator actions, but what is tracking the machine? Get real-time performance metrics on your equipment from anywhere you have internet access. Meet customer delivery dates and reduce unknown downtime.

Portable Drip Feed HardwareBlack Friday Deal

Looking for a great deal on a backup device to load NC programs into your machine?

Tired of using a laptop and cables to load files?

Purchase any USB Connect Pendant model, the USB Connect Portable unit, or any model of the LAN Connect at list price, and get a second unit for $100 Off!

NOTE: Previous orders do not qualify and this deal expires 11/30/18.

Eligible only for the products listed above.

Give Thanks by Helping Others

Thanksgiving Hours of 2018

We will be closed the 22nd and 23rd for the Thanksgiving holiday.
We hope you all have a great Thanksgiving with your friends and family. We are grateful to all of you.
After-hours Support is available via our web call back form, 24 hours via our site.
Need us? Leave us a message or call (877) 611-5825

USB Connect Portable Hardware Case Study

RS232 to USB Want RS232 to USB hardware results before purchasing? Check out this case study with Fredon Corporation!

Today’s Medical Developments published this study in Winter 2018. USB Connect hardware bridged a technological skills gap for this Ohio manufacturing company.

A constant goal at Fredon is to remain at the front of the manufacturing world. They seek to provide customers with high-quality parts, to manufacture with innovation, and keep close relationships with customers.

Randy Glover Jr. at Fredon says operators are “skilled enough to surpass the expectations of a facility many times larger [than ours].” But there was a big productivity problem to address.

Read more below!

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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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