Migration for Windows 10

Windows 10 migrationWe often encounter customers who are running old versions of Microsoft on their shop floors. We strongly advise that customers read this quick blog on Windows 10 migration for your manufacturing operation.

Countdown to January 2020

Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. This means people will be upgrading their PCs to Windows 10 in the next 18 months. While this sounds like a long window of time, it’s best to take care of it sooner rather than later.

Virtualizing

Customers are virtualizing their servers. This means they take a physical PC/computer and move it to a much larger server that can host many computers virtually. This eliminates the hardware for that PC but generally requires a migration.

Now > Later

We strongly suggest customers take care of this Windows 10 migration now, as a lot can go wrong with a migration. Some issues can be improperly entered codes, incorrect driver configuration, or forgetting to backup critical files. There will also be customers who will be waiting to upgrade at the last moment due to multiple factors, which can be a frustrating feeling.

Need Help?

SFA has a procedure that our technicians follow when doing a migration. Testing and tweaks are typical after a migration due to changes in the operating system. SFA knows what these changes are based on experience.

Call (877) 611-5825 so we can help with your Windows 10 migration process. We also recommend you fill out our contact form if you’re reaching out for the first time. If you are on a current Support contract, fill out a form today

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

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

 

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!

 

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

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. 

 

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! 

DNC Software Customers Featured on IMTS Site

dnc software

                   Photo from IMTS.com

We are proud to share that our customers over at XL Machine in Michigan have been featured on the IMTS 2018 website! The manufacturing company, who uses DNC software through us, was highlighted for their efforts to help close the manufacturing skills gap.

“On any given day, 86 people at XL Machine work on upwards of 200 different jobs, turning out high-tolerance components for automotive, life sciences and other industries,” the piece from IMTS proclaims. “Boasting 19 horizontal mills, 33 vertical mills, 20 CNC lathes, two mill/turns and a CNC grinder, Modern Machine Shop magazine named XL Machine a 2017 ‘Top Shops’ winner in the category of machining technology.”

Chris Orlowski, the general manager over at XL Machine, insisted that the company aggressively seek out an apprenticeship program. They initially worked very closely with two different committees in Kalamazoo County to help bring talent into the shop.

“The companies within the Burke Porter Group are passionate about educating our young workforce in the STEM fields,” Betsy Grant, Global Marketing Communications Manager, is quoted. “We align with IMTS that way, especially the hands-on activities that are part of Smartforce Student Summit.”

Shop Floor Automations (SFA) began working with XL Machine back in 2014, when we implemented DNC for their machines. Their main concern at the time was running out of paper tape – SFA was able to remove paper tape functions from 14 machines. Now they are able to send CAD/CAM files to and from the machine with DNC software.

For more information on XL Machine, visit their website. For more information on DNC software and other productivity solutions, call (877) 611-5825 or send us a message

Legacy Blogs – Edition XIII

shop floor automations blogDocument control. Gcode editing. Machine utilization. Documentation of any variety is important to us at Shop Floor Automations, and not just for our customers. We welcome you back to our Legacy Blog series, where we archive past press coverage.

We appeared in the October 2017 issue of MFG News, with a piece reviewing the top three benefits to machine monitoring appearing from us. Updates to DataXchange and an overview of Touch HMI features were also in the issue. We were also in the August 2017 issue of MFG News.

The benefits of cloud-based machine monitoring are reviewed in this piece from us, published in Modern Machine Shop this past January, plus we were mentioned in this piece on R&D Manco. Speaking of Modern Machine Shop, we were also in the February issue with an ad and an article. We have photos of our appearances in this issue on Instagram, too, so be sure to network with us and the #instamachinist movement!

Finally, in the January 2018 Production Machining Magazine issue, we were part of the annual product directory. You can find us under Software>CAD/CAM, Software>ERP & Other Shop Management, Software>Data Collection Devices, and the general directory.

For more information, we would love to start a conversation with you for your productivity needs. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form so we can get back to you on your time.