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.

CNC Revision Control

A crucial element to manufacturing productivity, CNC Revision Control is an often overlooked element on the shop floor. Having no control over shop programs can lead to old programs running at machines, or inaccuracies causing imperfections, which leads to wasted raw material, wasted man time, and a waste of your customer’s time.

CNC Revision Control“An important aspect in software configuration management, revision control is the management of modifications done to software applications, sites, documents or any set of information,” says Techopedia, a long-trusted online tech dictionary. The benefits Techopedia lists for revision control include record keeping, performance analysis, streamlined collaboration, better organization, and conserved disk space.

“It is hard to know if a process needs to be fixed if it is not being followed as intended,” says Wayne Chaneski, Modern Machine Shop columnist. “Valid processes that have veered off course may require additional employee training or better communication of expectations.”

“For example, most companies can find instances of different computer numerical control (CNC) programs for the same part with the same revision code,” Wayne continues. CNC Revision Control is important to our customers, too!

Before he retired from Buck Knives, customer Lee said revision control was one of his day-to-day battles. “We had programs pretty much stored everywhere,” Lee said. “So what we needed to do was lock down the programs…now, we are grabbing programs from the right directories, we are able to send to the machines, and when we are done with them, we can either delete them at the machines, or we can send them back to programming to make corrections.”

“We were trying to control over 8000 programs, revision levels, and updates – the Predator system was recommended to help minimize the man hours and mistakes of doing this manually,”  said Wayne from Carroll Machine. “DNC…manages approximately 8000 part programs. The system seems to be indestructible – we have had no problems.”

GMI Group (formerly Gulf Manufacturing) in Texas finds that being able to control REV levels of programs helps ensure that “employees are using the most current program available” which helps to save time. They also said it leads to “better throughput, cost savings, better margins on our profits and most importantly, better and more accurate delivery times to our customers.”

Ready to start the conversation about revision control for your manufacturing equipment? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form today

 

May 2018 Shop Floor Automations Newsletter

The following is an archived copy of our May 2018 newsletter sent May 22nd. Want to subscribe? Subscribed, but not receiving newsletters? Get more info on this page!

shop floor automations NewsletterDoes getting your shop floor paperless, organized, ready for an audit, and functioning sound impossible? Trust us. It’s not.

The Predator Software Suite contains a solution called PDM, or Production Data Management. You can use PDM to organize programs, safety procedures (such as lockout/tagout and other OSHA standards), setup sheets, quality documents, and more. Use PDM to help obtain revision control, as well as to finally go paperless.

Every department can find a benefit from PDM. Whether they work in engineering, programming, or quality – everyone on the shop floor has a reason for document control. Especially when auditors will be checking if you have management and sign-offs for your processes and files, this solution is especially crucial.

PDM will integrate with other pieces of the Predator Software Suite, such as DNC (CNC networking software), CNC Editor, MDC (Machine Data Collection), and Tool Tracker. It will also integrate with ERP and MES software systems.

Seeking out CAD/CAM software for your growing manufacturing operation? Especially one that can integrate with our solutions?

BOBCAD is a CAD/CAM company we have been working with for quite a few years. Especially since it integrates with some of our most popular solutions, such as DNC software, machine monitoring software, and our USB Connect hardware. Yes, it will even integrate with the PDM software mentioned above!

Shop Floor Automations is the number one reseller/integrator of Predator Software. Call (877) 611-5825 for a quote and more information. Link to original newsletter

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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Manufacturing ROI & Manufacturing Integrators

Manufacturing ROI - shop floor automationsAs a manufacturer, you have a lot of daily concerns, such as downtime and productivity. Is your manufacturing ROI an issue that is falling to the wayside?

With a new year coming up fast, your ROI (or return on investment) should be bumped up to one of your largest concerns, if it is not already. You may remember when we did a previous blog explaining different types of costs for a manufacturer. For this blog post, we wanted to take the time to explain the top 3 ways that working with a manufacturing integrator like Shop Floor Automations will help you with ROI!

#1 Reduce procurement costs:

The only time you ever want the amount of money you are spending on raw materials to go up is because your productivity is at sky-high levels. Unfortunately, you may be spending a lot on raw materials due to downtime on the machine interfering with the quality of products. You may even be spending a lot on paper for spreadsheets and other shop floor documents. Using tools such as machine monitoring software can help you increase utilization of machines, and combining products like job scheduling software and PDM software can help you go paperless. Do you still use floppy disks or constantly invest in CAT-5 cable that needs to be replaced and restrung once a year? Invest in new hardware that will replace these processes and old media sources. These solutions should help bring down some significant procurement costs.

#2 Time-sensitive efficiencies:

Manufacturing is one of the most time-sensitive processes in the world. Certain quantities need to be done perfectly and they need to be on time. What happens when downtime takes down one of your machines? Or you have to spend time manually updating spreadsheets for your production schedule? Or your CNC’s have communication failures on a regular basis? Using the tools of DNC software for CNC communications, machine monitoring for combatting downtime, and graphical job scheduling to be able to see production changes in real time, all make for the perfect trinity to help jobs get out to customers on time.

#3 Marketplace advantage:

American manufacturing is coming back to a place of significant prominence. While the industry deals with a skills gap combined with reshoring, you need to make sure you can take on as many jobs as possible to stay ahead of the competition. If you spent less time updating spreadsheets, invested in less overtime to fix human error and were able to prevent more downtime on your shop floor, imagine how many more jobs you can take on. Implementing any of the tools mentioned above can help with productivity and cement your place in this industry as a top manufacturer.

If you are interested in these solutions, please fill out a contact form or call us at (877) 611-5825 

Summer 2017 Predator Software Updates

Predator SoftwareSummer 2017 Predator Software Updates

Shop Floor Automations is excited to share with you these Summer 2017 Predator Software Updates:

  • In August, July & June, there have been the following updates to MDC:
    • v11.0.248 (August 10, 2017) Improvements for Favorite Reports. Improved New Events Touch manual collection of user logins, machine downtime, good parts, scrap parts, and more. Machine Events Reports improved. Bugs fixed for Machine Downtime and Cost chart legends, and overall load on the database instance has been reduced. Many more improvements made.
    • v11.0.246 (July 14, 2017). Improved MDC APIs and bug fixed with running reports from View Components.
    • v11.0.245 (July 7, 2017). Duration of Chart has been added to header.  Automatic and manual refresh logic improved. Multiple display elements improved. Overall chart performance, use of arrow keys, part serial number permissions, and similar features improved. More updates, as well as some bug fixes, included in this version.
    • v11.0.241 (June 8, 2017). Chinese, Japanese, and Korean style reports added. Improvements made to MDC Service Manager, View Machine Status, View OEE Status, Chinese language resources, Production Trend Analysis Chart display, and more features. Bugs fixed and more improvements made.
    • Android compatibility was also improved for MDC in late June 2017.
  • On July 16, 2017 – Predator Tracker v11.0.55 was released. Same as PDM – FIPS compatibility with FLM v11.0.0.2. improved. New imports and API abilities added. Improved process for Check-in/Check-out to Departments, Locations and Groups. Bugs fixed with View Components reports, editing tool rework operation definitions, and more.
  • On July 15, 2017 – Predator PDM v11.0.174 was released. FIPS compatibility with FLM v11.0.0.2. improved. Part serial number permissions, importing manufacturing/quality requirements, online help, and PDM APIs have been improved. Bugs fixed with assigning icons to custom commands, and more.

There have also been updates for Predator CNC Service, Predator Travelers, and Predator FLM over the summer.

If you would like more information, please contact SFA by calling (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form at this link

New Manufacturing Techniques

People try out new technologies each day. The manufacturing industry is no exception.

They buy new phones, lease new cars, upgrade the software on their phones and computers, or add implements to their homes to improve their quality of life. Embracing new technology is a move that would benefit the manufacturing shop floor industry most.

new manufacturing technologyHere are the Top 3 ways that new manufacturing technology adopted on the shop floor can benefit your company:

1 – You can keep up with the competition. According to recent results from the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, the National Association of Manufacturers states that in 2017, there is a record-high level of optimism in the manufacturing industry. 91.4 percent of manufacturers said they would increase investments, hire more workers, and that they generally feel good about our industry’s growth. Do you fit in this category?

Are pieces of old tech, like floppy disk drives and handheld terminals holding you back? Are you experiencing communication failures due to lack of CNC memory for your programs? These are all problems that new technology can fix, so that you can get in on this wave of prosperity.

2 – Increase profit. When implementing new hardware and software into older machines, this can help drastically decrease downtime. When there is no downtime to deal with, or less of it, machinists are free to perfect their craft. According to SME, there have been proven studies that show on average, time will decrease 5 percent every time the number of completed pieces doubles.

Therefore, if a machinist has more time to actually do their job than deal with machines going down, that will ultimately make the company more productive. Implementing machine monitoring to track machine trends increases OEE and DNC software can help with CNC communication failure, which are two sure fire ways to combat downtime.

3 – More freedom. When there is less worry of machines going down, this can create a better work/life balance for those who work on the shop floor, and in the front office. Machine monitoring, which is a powerful IIoT (industrial internet of things) tool, is an amazing way to get notifications of what is going on with machines not only on the shop floor, but via email or text notifications.

When this proven solution to deal with downtime is combined with more accountability through the means of graphical job scheduling, PDM, and other resources on the shop floor, there is more trust in the workplace. More people can use their PTO to go on vacation, or workers who are home sick can help give guidance when a machine goes down via a notes section through machine monitoring.

If you are interested in new technology for your shop floor and experiencing the benefits listed above, contact us by filling out a sales form here, or call (877) 611-5825.

 

Predator PDM v10.0.191 is released

pdmPredator PDM Enterprise has enhanced the shop floor dialogs with New Machine Events and Tracker style Check-In and Check-Out dialogs. In addition, the following improvements have been made:

January 17th 2013 – Predator PDM v10.0.191 is released

  • Added -UNRELEASED to change manufacturing and quality status workflow
  • Improved online help
  • Improved -viewvaultitem command line to support wildcards
  • Improved -viewvaultitemdialog command line to support wildcards
  • Improved machine wizards
  • Improved the Oracle database login screen
  • Improved displaying the database name and host within the status bar
  • Improved check-out warning message
  • Improved display of LF only style CNC files within the shop floor windows
  • Fixed a bug with editing a list item
Customers on software maintenance can download v10.0.191 of Predator PDM from our downloads at any time. Customers running v9 or older of Predator PDM should contact Shop Floor Automations for upgrade details and pricing. Read more below.

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Predator PDM Version 10 Release

pdm

Predator PDM Version 10 Release

La Mesa, CA – April 4, 2012 –Shop Floor Automations (SFA) has announced the release of the newest version of its shop floor PDM solution, Predator PDM version 10.
Version 10 of Predator PDM offers the most extensive expansion of features of any version yet, according to the company. Features include: direct integration with Predator DNC systems, including systems utilizing Remote Request; improved integration with Predator MDC (Manufacturing Data Collection) systems; expanded workflow, approval control and history options; new and improved bar code and RFID integration options and unlimited flexibility in definition and naming of PDM vault elements.
“All previous PDM systems have been designed and built with CAD & CAM files and design departments in mind and as such, have rarely been a good fit for controlling access to files on the shop floor,” said a company spokesperson. “Predator PDM is designed to be much more flexible than traditional PDM systems while still retaining the ability to provide absolute control over what files are being used on the floor and capturing a history of those files’ use as well.
“Our basic PDM systems can be utilized to simply control and track access to NC files, but they can easily be expanded to include almost any type of file used on the shop floor, including drawings, tool lists, setup sheets, videos, manuals, etc. While designed to be as simple as possible to implement and use, Predator PDM still has the power to be the single solution for file access control, file viewing, file use history, quality and manufacturing status history, initiation of DNC file transfers (when combined with our DNC software solution) and updating of machine status (both to our data collection solutions, as well as existing data collection systems).”

For more information: fill out a contact form here 

Tel: 619-461-4000, fax: 619-461-5918, toll free: 877-611-5825.