SME 30 Under 30

sme 30 under 30Sam Wilkins, Technical Operations Manager at Shop Floor Automations, has earned a spot in the SME 30 Under 30 List.

We are very proud that Sam made the Honorable Mentions list from this distinctive Society of Manufacturing Engineers lineup for 2018.

Sam’s love of technology began at age 16, when he took up computer systems as a hobby. He first entered the world of manufacturing by machining medical devices in a small shop. He then moved on to facilitating production of several medical product lines while implementing quality control systems. He was responsible for research and development from initial design to final products.

He then moved on to the field of manufacturing integration, where he works with SFA today. Here, he uses his past experiences in manufacturing and his technical skills to find better productivity solutions for manufacturers. He is very familiar with protocols such as MTConnect, Fanuc Focas, and more. Thanks for all of your hard work, Sam!

Other honors bestowed to employees of Shop Floor Automations: Marketing Coordinator Amanda Rosenblatt won the first ever SME manufacturing talent contest in 2017. We are also consistently the #1 Reseller of Predator Software and Scytec DataXchange each year.

Ask us for our insight on integrating manufacturing solutions for your shop floor! Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form today

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

 

IMTS 2018 Newsletter

The following is an archived copy of the Shop Floor Automations IMTS 2018 newsletter. Add us to your IMTS schedule!

IMTS 2018 NewsletterWant improved productivity and increased profits? Stop by Booth 133240 at IMTS! 

Shop Floor Automations has software solutions that help improve CNC communications and increase machine utilization by delivering OEE metrics using machine monitoring software. Our hardware solutions include wireless, ethernet, and USB technology to replace floppy disks, PCMCIA cards, and serial ports on your machine tools.

Solutions we will have on-hand at IMTS 2018:

  • Scytec DataXchange – Machine monitoring has become a crucial element for manufacturing productivity. Evaluate your machine tool performance and give your machinists an easy method to communicate shop floor issues. See the latest features, such as the addition of work orders and the new operator data interface. Ask how we can add the MTConnect protocol to your equipment!
  • Go wireless – Tired of serial cables and slow baud rates to your equipment? Use our Wireless CNC Connect to interface to any age, brand or type of connection on your shop floor. See this hardware in action with Predator DNC software!
  • Replace floppy disk drives – Floppy disks are obsolete. Replace them with a USB thumb drive. We have specific models for Haas, Mazak, and Okuma machines, as well as a universal model to eliminate any floppy drive on any equipment. Just provide your machine’s make and model of the current floppy drive info, and we will have you up and running.
  • Add USB ports to any machine – If you want an economical way to add memory to the machine control and to modernize all of your CNC machines, ask us how we can transform your RS232 port into a USB port!
  • Standardize on Ethernet – Do you still have legacy CNC’s with serial ports and you’re looking to standardize on a network connection similar to your new machine tools? Stop by and check out our LAN Connect device. Simplify your file transfers and modernize your shop floor!

Shop Floor Automations has been in business helping manufacturers since 1998. Call (877) 611-5825 for more information.

Link to the original newsletter 

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!

 

OEE Monitoring Trial

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