Lean Production

Lean ProductionWhat is lean production? One can view it as an alternative term for lean manufacturing, but we wanted to take a deeper look.

“Lean production is centered on determining what activities or processes add value by reducing other aspects,” this Techopedia article explains.

So there is our concept: instead of focusing purely on the bad (what processes to get rid of), we choose to focus on what is working. What can we magnify in order to increase production?

The first part of the equation is always your talent on the shop floor. Without people at the equipment doing the work, nothing happens. So how can we help?

“In lean-production systems, a manufacturer’s employees are organized in teams,” this Economist article explains. The article goes on to explain how the team structure works.

“These tasks are less narrowly specialized than those demanded of the worker in a mass-production system,” they describe. “This variety enables the worker to escape from the soul-destroying repetition of the pure assembly line.”

What kind of teams can you form on the shop floor to help with productivity? We suggest taking on these projects with Shop Floor Automations’ help towards the overall goal of lean production:

  1. Lights Out Manufacturing – This will require a specialized team to evaluate where there are snags in the process in order to do 24/7 machining. Especially if you have team members who work different shifts, this helps them to compare data and see what is happening.
  2. CNC Revision Management – Assign a team to investigate if programs are floating around the shop floor that needs to be better controlled. This team will help make sure old revisions aren’t running at machines.
  3. Going Paperless – Have a team designated to help the shop floor go paperless. Take on a system of real-time dashboards versus spreadsheets or whiteboards. This team can even help the front office out for a real sense of teamwork.

For solutions that will help with these team goals, contact SFA. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form today.

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 

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! 

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

 

CNC Revision Control

CNC Revision Control is overlooked in terms of manufacturing productivity. No control over shop programs leads to old ones running at machines. This means wasted raw material, man time, and customer time.

CNC Revision Control“Revision control is the management of modifications done to software applications, sites, documents or any set of information,” says Techopedia.

Techopedia lists benefits including record keeping and performance analysis. There’s also streamlined collaboration and conserved disk space.

Modern Machine Shop columnist Wayne Chaneski says – “It is hard to know if a process needs to be fixed if it is not being followed as intended.”

He continues that “valid processes that have veered off course may require additional employee training or better communication of expectations.”

Read more below!

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The Benefits of a Wireless Shop Floor

Wireless cnc machineManufacturing technology changes each day. Companies want more innovative ways to increase productivity through machine automation. A wireless shop floor is one avenue to pursue.

Customers who have issues with floppy disks or inferior cabling are a big wireless demographic. This was what brought Stollen Machine of New Jersey to SFA.

Stollen invested in six wireless hardware devices from SFA to help to replace an old cabling system. A case study done with the customers found that they were able to get back 15% more time daily.

Sometimes, innovation is not the reason for the switch. Unexpected events can turn customers to industrial automation.

In Modern Machine Shop, editor Stephanie Hendrixson shares the story of a manufacturer in 2005 that went wireless. A lightning strike destroyed their CNC machine circuit boards. This 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,” the article states.

“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:

“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

“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.” – 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.  

 

Funny CNC Control Photos

cnc control

Click the photo to see the full detail of these hilarious CNC control operator buttons!

Everyone works differently on the shop floor. Some machinists use sticky notes, or custom stickers on machines, other use full sheets of paper to leave notes, and there are others who embed reminders in their coding. That being said, here are some funny CNC control photos we have seen over the years!

SFA has serviced all manner of manufacturers over the years. We have helped increase productivity for CNC machinists, fabricators, moldmakers – you name it! We are also fascinated with the #instamachinist movement on Instagram. Read more below!

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Machinists Are Not The Problem

cnc machinistsWhen working production on a manufacturing shop floor, productivity issues happen. Nothing is perfect – this includes your employees and equipment.

Some leaders may automatically assume that machinists are to blame for productivity decreases. They think they are not doing their job since they are directly handling the machines.

Before we jump to this conclusion, we need to ask if we are being fair. Especially to skilled workers who are the backbone of the manufacturing industry.

According to a study shared by Harvard Business Review, “when leaders are fair to the members of their team, the team members display more citizenship behavior and are more productive, both individually and as a team.”

With this in mind, here are three productivity problems and the tools you can use to combat each of them. Read on for more! 

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