Modern Machine Shop

Shop Floor Automations (SFA) is a big fan of Modern Machine Shop Magazine. We always appreciate when our pieces make the cut for this prestigious publication.

Here are our top four favorite recent issues:

March 2019 – Rise Up Industries, an organization in San Diego County near our corporate office, made the pages of this publication. SFA worked closely on this collaboration. You can see the original length article on the MMS blog.

June 2018 – We made the 90th-anniversary issue. Fun fact – this was the same year as our 20th anniversary! Our full-page spread on our LAN-USB Hardware device discussed adding Ethernet and USB to CNCs. Because the issue featured a retrospective look at shop floor technology, we were humbled to be included.

January 2018 – A crucial productivity tool for our customers at R&D Manco is machine monitoring. “Gathering basic data on machine status, and studying the data to diagnose and remedy the causes of non-cutting time, has been the shop’s most powerful resource for realizing machining capacity improvements.”

October 2017 – SFA Customers at Stollen Machine were dropping programs because of old cabling. So in order to increase productivity, they invested in wireless RS232 units. This gave them back 15% more time daily, according to this case study.

Check out our other published pieces for more product insight. Ready to get started? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form

3 Reasons for CNC Machine Monitoring

There has been a lot of buzz about CNC machine monitoring the past few years. There are also issues manufacturers bring up for reasons why they won’t start such a project.

Here are three barriers shop floors state as to why they won’t take on machine monitoring. We provide some counters to these points:

#1 – We have been told we would need to invest a lot of money, including needing to buy proprietary hardware – Cloud-based machine monitoring can be done monthly, per machine and with no long term contracts. Prices start at $50 per machine.

#2 – My equipment is older, so it will not be able to be monitored – Many manufacturers are surprised at the age, makes and models of machines that can be monitored. Hardware adapters help to capture data from older equipment. Also, more than CNC machines can have data collected. We encourage you to get in touch with your equipment list!

#3 – I just do basic monitoring via MTConnect and that is good enough for me – While it is important to monitor when machines are down, more data is needed for productivity increases. With full-on machine monitoring – you can evaluate how long processes like material needed keep machines down. Evaluate how long the lockout tagout process is taking. Or if machines are down a lot, how much time and profit is it eating to constantly tend to machines.

Have more concerns? We are happy to address them! Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form to schedule a demo, trial or consultation.

How to Monitor Manufacturing Progress

The need to monitor manufacturing OEE is a big concern for 2019. Because the cost and commitment can be daunting, it may have previously been avoided.

The productivity improvement industry is transforming to meet these concerns. Measuring KPIs on the shop floor and making decisions based on data is easier than ever.

Cloud-based machine monitoring customers are often surprised by the benefits they experience. They love the quick productivity increases, better communication, smaller investments, and no on-premise implementation needed.

Here are the Top 3 Reasons that OEE monitoring via the Cloud is the best investment in 2019:

  • ODI (Operator Data Input) makes data entry for machine activity simpler than ever. The device running ODI does not need internet access for data entry actions. Enter downtime reasons, work orders, active part numbers, scrap part counts, and more.
    • A Windows, Android or iOS tablet can also be installed at the machine to use the ODI right at the control. This save operators time.
  • Mobile ODI monitoring allows for more freedom. Don’t miss out on life events or emergencies. View the ODI via the Apple app store, Google Play, and the Windows app store.
    • You can also opt for text and email OEE notifications.
  • The existing Custom Commands are still included, but the display for tracking data is now easier to read. Other than lists, graphs or the shop floor layout, users can enjoy stacked color boxes that display the limited info needed.
    • Try defined colors to symbolize equipment status. This will make displays via tablets, phones or even real-time viewer dashboards on the shop floor easier to understand.

Shop Floor Automations offers DataXchange monthly Cloud-based machine monitoring. Starting $50 per month, you can evaluate the productivity of your equipment.  Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form for more information!

Fanuc CNC Automation Resources

Manufacturers with Fanuc CNC machines have specific needs. Especially when it comes to the subject of shop floor automation.

Here are some quick resources:

Can you do machine monitoring with Fanuc equipment? Yes! DataXchange machine monitoring supports Fanuc FOCAS. You can monitor this equipment on-premise or via the Cloud.

Is Fanuc FOCAS similar to MTConnect? MTConnect enables equipment to provide data in structured XML versus proprietary formats. FOCAS is either Ethernet-based or sourced via the Fanuc FOCAS HSSB driver. Library files (.dll) are accessed by applications that retrieve the data.

Controls with Fanuc FOCAS: Fanuc FOCAS has two types: FOCAS 1 and FOCAS 2. Controls with Fanuc FOCAS include series Oi, 15, 15i, 16, 16i, 18, 18i, 21, 21i, 30i, 31i, 32i and power mate i.

Fanuc specific solutions:

Fanuc Alarm Codes: Common FANUC alarm codes are 086 – no hardware handshaking occurring. Also, look for DR Signal Off, which means your cable connection is bad. Another common code is 073, where the program number has already been used.

Need Fanuc Parameters? Have more specific questions? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form so we can get back to you

CNC Software for MFG Productivity

Many manufacturers seek out CNC software to increase their productivity. Whether they have older machines and small shops, or the latest technology and many employees.

Manufacturers also want software that can be used via wireless, wired, Ethernet, RS232, USB, and more connections. Here are some solutions manufacturers ask for that you may find useful:

OEE Monitoring: Some manufacturers have basic set ups that tells them when machines are down. While this is a great first step, a truly productive manufacturer wants more info. Why were machines down? How long are processes taking? Machine monitoring software helps to evaluate and improve these issues.

One shop floor network: Making sure programs make it to the machine is a crucial issue on the shop floor. Related issues such as revision control and saving the machinist time are also important. DNC software assists in managing programs and communications for thousands of machines.

Protocols: While not technically software, people want new methods of shop floor communication. Protocols such as MTConnect make this task non-proprietary and less cost prohibitive. As far as compatible software, machine monitoring is the most popular solution in this category.

Other software for the shop floor: PDM helps shop floors go paperless and prepare if an audit occurs. There is also CNC Editor to make sure programs on the shop floor are good to go. Tool Crib software is also helpful in your quest for productivity.

Ready to get more information on these solutions? 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.

CNC Monitoring Case Study

We know that results from a machine data collection case study are imperative before making such an investment. We are pleased to announce a new one from Manufacturing News

Our customers at R&D Manco have been featured on all regional issues of the publication. The article focuses on results from using Predator MDC from Shop Floor Automations. 

Kevin Beach, the General Manager, is responsible for machine productivity and tasked with optimizing utilization. He decided to look for ways to implement an OEE solution with his existing equipment. The buzz about IIoT and OEE was definitely an attractive direction for him to proceed with.

R & D Manco

R & D Manco of Phoenix Arizona began in 1964 with owner Virgil Manion. It was then purchased by Chuck and Patricia Wyckoff in 1972. They started a sister company, R & D Specialty, in 1984.

After a series of events where the main company was sold, ownership shifting back and forth, the two shops merged. Chuck and Patricia named the combined shops R & D Specialty/Manco in the 1980’s. The company name would be shortened to R & D Manco in 2016.

In late 2017, the shop began a pilot program of Predator Machine Data Collection (MDC) on three machines. SFA, a Predator Software reseller and manufacturing integrator, implemented the machine monitoring system and was able to shed light on their current utilization rates.

Check out the rest of the piece, and call R & D Manco at (602) 278-7700. If you need improved shop floor productivity, call SFA at (877) 611-5825. We also can answer inquiries by filling 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!

Read more

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