The Benefits of a Wireless Shop Floor

Wireless cnc machineWith manufacturing technology changing each day, companies are finding more innovative ways to increase productivity through machine automation. Many customers want to know the benefits of a transferring over to a wireless shop floor.

Customers who have issues with outdated media, such as floppy disks or inferior cabling, are a big demographic for going wireless. This was what brought Stollen Machine of New Jersey to Shop Floor Automations.

Investing in six wireless hardware devices from SFA helped to replace an old cabling system that wreaked havoc on Stollen Machine’s manufacturing productivity. A case study done with the customers found that they were able to get back 15% more time daily, which is invaluable in the manufacturing process.

Sometimes, innovation is not the reason for the switch, but rather from an unexpected event that turns customers to industrial automation. In an article from Modern Machine Shop, editor Stephanie Hendrixson shares the story of a manufacturer in 2005 that went wireless after a lightning strike destroyed their CNC machine circuit boards, which 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, and 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:

“We got to work with Shawn Dunne in person to install wireless networking and adapters. 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

“We have been a customer of yours for over 12 years now, and it’s been great with the support. The 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. It’s been very easy and we keep continuing with a product that works great for us.” – 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

SFA Newsletter – June/July 2018

Shop Floor Automations Newsletter The following is an archived copy of the SFA newsletter from June/July of 2018. We focused on a machine monitoring trial, IMTS, and the Portable USB Connect for this issue:

Machine Monitoring Trial

Do you know your machine utilization rate? Most manufacturers have an idea, but knowing your true OEE can help to supercharge your productivity!

Shop Floor Automations (SFA) and DataXchange are working together to offer a machine monitoring trial. Trials are 30 days long and will help you capture, understand and analyze machine data.

If you want to increase OEE and make more profits, the first step is knowing where to improve your manufacturing process. Get in touch today!

IMTS is Coming!

It’s never too early to start planning for IMTS. If you’ve never been, we recommend checking it out this year!

Held in Chicago IL, the International Manufacturing Technology Show is held every two years for manufacturers, machinists, developers, and tech enthusiasts. We will once again be displaying DataXchange machine monitoring and our hardware solutions.

Mark Twain once said – “It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago. She outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them.” That was back in 1883, so the city has become even busier, even without IMTS going on!

More info on SFA and DataXchange at IMTS – Booth 133240 

Portable USB Connect Sale

Having problems drip-feeding to your machines? Tired of carrying a laptop around your shop to transfer programs? Had enough of outdated technology such as PCMCIA cards?

Check out our Portable USB Connect! Compatible with hundreds of CNC controls out on the market today, it’s a time saver and helps machinists be more productive. This device adds a USB port without putting in hours of drilling and setup time. Use it on multiple machines throughout the shop floor!

Normally $700, our newsletter readers have an exclusive Summer discount on this device. Use promo code “portableusb” to get $50 off! Quantities are limited – the sale begins Monday, July 16th and ends Friday, August 31st.

Link to original newsletter or call (877) 611-5825 

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.  

 

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

How to use DataXchange

how to use dataxchangePicking up on a new software system can be challenging. Learning how to use DataXchange, however, is an easy process with lots of resources.

DataXchange machine monitoring software is a solution for manufacturing companies that want to decrease downtime, increase machine capacity, and get real-time notifications of machine issues. Machinists can enter notes if material is needed or lockout/tagout occurs, or shop floor managers can be notified of unplanned downtime.

Here are the top resources on how to learn to use this machine monitoring software system:

1) Videos & FAQs – If you are relatively well versed in using DataXchange, use quick videos on how to use specific parts of the software system. Look at how to use the data entry screen or how to use the modified time stamp. If you have specific questions, it has also likely be answered in our FAQ section focused on DataXchange.

2) DataXchange E-Learning – Get 12 months of access to video courses on every aspect of DataXchange. This is the best option for beginners, or if you want to train someone else to use it. The courses cover the topics of installation, understanding equipment/reporting groups, creating schedule reports, understanding shifts/shift assignments, modifying machine data, an overview of MTConnect, Fanuc FOCAS, specific troubleshooting, configuration, and more. Each section has a quiz and the courses can be revisited for a refresher. Request info on DataXchange E-Learning

3) Schedule a Webinar/Demo – Be part of a DataXchange webinar, or request a software demo. This is the best way to ask specific product questions and get a taste if this software is correct for you.

We encourage you to get in touch with us by calling (877) 611-5825 or schedule a demo/webinar above. Shop Floor Automations is the #1 reseller of DataXchange and we are always happy to have a conversation about the machine monitoring system!

Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – March/April 2018

shop floor automations newsletterThis archived issue of the Shop Floor Automations newsletter was first sent to subscribers April 24th of 2018.

A Place to Belong

There are quite a few organizations out there who are working to close the manufacturing skills gap. They are also teaching a trade to those who not only need the guidance but the steady career path that manufacturing provides.

Shop Floor Automations (SFA) wanted to share with our audience a local organization called Rise Up Industries.

Trainees of the program become machine operators by trade. They are also taught to overcome obstacles from their past to become productive members of society through various life skills classes.

Their motto is “a place to belong” and we were very touched by our visit to their shop recently. We invite you to check out what they are doing over in Santee, CA!

LAN-USB Connect

You have heard it from us before – you can add USB to your CNC of any make, model, and age. You may have also heard we can add Ethernet to your machines. Why not both?

We present to you the LAN-USB Connect. This hardware packs a one-two punch. It’s easy to install, as it connects to your machine’s RS232 port. You can drag and drop files from, and to, your CNC machine memory. Use the Ethernet connection via FTP, and best of all, no special software is required to install and use the device!

Mazak West Event

SFA will be at Mazak West from June 5th to the 8th, 2018. We will be exhibiting Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring software, showing attendees how to collect real-time data from their Mazak machines.

Ask the MTConnect experts in attendance at Mazak West how the protocol benefits you, how to integrate your legacy machines, and how information collected from your machines can help improve both capacity and productivity. Implementing machine monitoring has many benefits – we can’t wait to show you!

Hardware solutions for new and legacy machines will also be on display. Using wireless, wired and USB solutions will increase your shop floor productivity.

For more information, please call (877) 611-5825 or fill out our 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!

Read more

Titans of CNC

titan gilroy“Titan”: a person or figure of great importance or power, with the word rooting from Greek mythology. It is fitting that a man named Titan would start a free CNC learning program called Titans of CNC, to hand back power to countless people wanting to thrive in the manufacturing field.

Titan Gilroy grew up with a sordid past, complete with a large dose of adversity to overcome. He experienced highs in his life, such as being a Top Ranking boxer, and lows such as spending years in prison with six months of that sentence served in solitary confinement.

“Let’s make the parts faster. Something made in eight minutes is now made in two minutes. So that six minutes, times that by whatever – that’s money you’re saving.”

After prison, he started his machinist career as a saw operator in a machine shop. He eventually moved up the ladder from a CNC operator, to a programmer, eventually making it to being a shop supervisor. When he eventually had to move from shop to shop, the establishments would not fully adapt to his unique ideas about making CNC machines more productive. He then pursued his own machine shop business so he could build his own success.

titans of cnc“In this trade, I have that same tenacity. that same grit. To put the work in…Look into those machines and push those limits.”

These days, Titan has many things to be proud of. He is the owner of a Northern California machine shop called Titans of CNC, which is an elite aerospace CNC shop. He also stars in, and is the executive producer, for the TV show Titans of CNC (once known as TITAN American Built). He is also the focus of their popular YouTube channel, which is nearing 45k subscribers.

The TITANS of CNC: Academy is the latest pursuit that Titan is highlighting in his career. The program is a free educational platform that teaches students to harness the power of CNC machines and how to be a better CNC machinist.

“We can touch all the lives. We can impact the entire industry, right? Instead of hitting this many who could afford it.”

shop floor automationsAs you can see, we are big fans of this manufacturing maven. Everything he does is a unique solution to closing a skills gap in this industry. He always boasts the goal of fighting for America’s future in the manufacturing industry, which means a better bottom line for all companies that have anything to do with the manufacturing process.

Quotes in this blog come from this video on the Titans of CNC YouTube channel. Help endorse the Titans of CNC: Academy today! Get more info on the Titans of CNC machine shop or the free courses from their academy.

If your machinists are top notch and you are looking for more ways to make your CNC machines productive, contact us! We have software and hardware to help you meet your goals, which can integrate with other software such as ERP, MRP, MES, CMMS, CAD/CAM, and works with protocols such as MTConnect. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out our contact form.

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. 

 

The CNC Floppy Emulator – What It Can & Can’t Do

shop floor floppy diskWe get many calls to our office asking questions about CNC floppy emulator hardware. While we invite you to contact us for more detailed information, we want to answer the most asked question: Does your Floppy Connect hardware add memory to my machine?

The answer is no, but don’t let this deter you! The benefit of floppy drive replacement hardware is not adding memory to your machine, but we will also touch on the subject of file sizes later.

There are three main benefits to this CNC upgrade:

  1. Refreshing, not replacing, legacy machines: Just because your machine still has a floppy drive does not mean it’s time to put it out to pasture, in terms of productivity! Using one of our floppy drive emulators will upgrade your machine and prevent you from spending thousands of dollars on a new CNC machine.
  2. No longer hunting for obsolete storage media: Floppy disks have been extinct technology for several years now. Finding them new is hard to do and will cost you. Meanwhile, getting a 2GB USB stick is as easy as making a run down to a pharmacy, a big box technology store, ordering from Amazon, or buying one from Target and Walmart! Remember, a 2GB stick is the standard with our Floppy Connect, and it must be FAT formatted.
  3. Eliminate proprietary upgrades: Having a tech from the machine tool builder come down to evaluate your machines is expensive. It is also cost prohibitive to have them install their specific hardware to upgrade your machine. Our Floppy Connect is a small investment in comparison and works on a large number of controls, with the list growing daily.

replace floppy with usbHow many programs you can store on the USB stick is another big question we get. Since the customer is going from a disk that was once 720k or 1.4MB to a 2GB USB stick, the assumption is that they can store and send big programs from it. This is incorrect.

A USB stick will hold no more than the floppy you would have used in the machine would dictate.  The machine still thinks it’s a floppy reader, so it is going to work within those restrictions. You are essentially fooling the machine into thinking the floppy drive still works, with the benefit of no longer needing those floppy disks. Let’s explore further:

Program sizes for customers typically range from 1kb to 25MB. On floppies, program sizes can range from 1kb to 1.4MB.

Let’s say your machine manufacturer made a floppy disk drive that could only handle DD (double density) floppy disks. This means it could only hold 720kb worth of storage, and could typically hold 110 machine program files on it.

What if your machine could handle 1.4MB floppy disks? This means you used HD (high density) floppy disks, which could hold up to 220 machine program files on it.

Case in point – your machine could only handle the size of those files that could fit on those floppy disks. So even though you are using a 2GB USB stick, it will only hold whatever your machine could handle. Remember though – the goal is not to increase memory. It is to save time and money on the shop floor by ditching old technology!

Want more insight on our hardware? Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form so we can get back to you when it is most convenient!