Modern Machine Shop – January 2018

modern machine shop

Our customers at R & D Manco were highlighted in a feature piece from Modern Machine Shop (MMS) in their January issue. A big focus of the piece was about machine monitoring software from us, here at Shop Floor Automations.

“Machine monitoring has been another important factor in R&D Manco’s success,” states MMS editor Peter Zelinski. “Gathering basic data on machine status, and studying the data to diagnose and remedy the causes of non-cutting time, has been the shop’s most powerful resource for realizing machining capacity improvements.”

“For older machines or for machines from builders not providing this openness [of Windows-based control], the company has retrofitted the controls with MTConnect adapters from Shop Floor Automations in order to also get these machines into the shop-wide machine monitoring system.”

We encourage you to read more about how machine monitoring is allowing R&D Manco to increase productivity.

For more information on machine monitoring, please get in touch with us! We are the #1 reseller of Predator Software. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form.

3 Dead Pieces of Shop Floor Technology

shop floor technology

There are likely pieces of old technology on your shop floor that are limiting your productivity. They are robbing you of your time, your profits, and your resources in order to keep replacing them.

Who are the biggest offenders? Here is our top three list of dead technologies you should be replacing on your shop floor immediately:

Suspect 1: Floppy disks, or as kids these days know it, the “save” symbol on a computer word processing program. Assuming you rightly do not trust used/refurbished floppy disks, you will have to hunt down packages of new floppy disks and hope that they work. At about 1.44MB of space on each disk, the question is, why would you want to hang onto this old media source?

Answer: Using the Floppy Connect, otherwise known as a floppy drive emulator, will replace this process. The hardware acts as if the floppy drive were never removed. You only need a 2GB USB flash drive for it and you can keep using the same stick.

Suspect 2: Switch boxes are best described as manual distribution boxes. They can vary from two to 16 switches, or two to 16 connections to one serial port. You manually have to flick a switch to tell the box which of those you want to send the program to. Reminds us of when we used to have to get up out of our chairs to change a channel on the TV set!

Answer: The USB Connect Switch Box model automatically does the switching for you, controlling data flow into the CNC from the PC. The hardware also has built-in DNC Firmware for CNC flexibility and is easy to use. There is also the Ethernet Connect, which creates virtual serial ports – this means no more manually switching and better yet, it helps you leverage your existing corporate network infrastructure.

Suspect 3: PCMCIA cards are memory cards that have been used in the past on shop floors to get programs uploaded and downloaded to CNC machines. These credit-card-sized antiquities are hard to come by, expensive, and can be damaged by constantly removing them from the controller.

Answer: The USB Connect uses a standard USB drive for program storage and meets the communication needs of a variety of CNC machines, regardless of machine’s age, make, or model. Three models are available – a Switch Box model, a standard model, and a Mazak model for sending/receiving Mazatrol CMT files. Another replacement solution is DNC software for networking your machines to a PC in order to upload and download programs.

If you are still using any of these old pieces of technology, we urge you to contact us at (877) 611-5825. You would be surprised how easy and affordable it is to modernize your shop floor production.

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Machinists Are Not The Problem

cnc machinistsIf you are in charge of production on a manufacturing shop floor, there is no doubt that you have likely come across productivity issues. Nothing is perfect, and this includes your employees and your equipment.

When there is a decrease in productivity, some leaders may automatically assume that machinists 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 to these 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 more

Software for Less MFG Stress in 2018

manufacturing softwareThe stress of unplanned downtime and how it will impact production is a common factor for those who work in manufacturing. What if bringing in new manufacturing software to your shop floor in 2018 could help with this stress?

Unplanned downtime occurs due to machine issues, which means unless there is a similar machine to pick up the slack, production is halted. An avalanche of consequences follows, which includes having to update manual spread sheets to track jobs needing to be updated.

According to a press release from the August 2017 issue of MetalForming Magazine, District President for Robert Half’s Accountemps program Bill Driscoll states 52% of workers are stressed on a day-to-day basis.

Three of the attributes to this stress are heavy workloads, hovering deadlines, and what they feel to be unrealistic expectations from management. All three of these worker stresses can be quelled by making a move towards smart manufacturing.

Read more

Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – NOV/DEC 2017

The following is an archived copy of the Shop Floor Automations Newsletter – the NOV/DEC 2017 issue.

shop floor automations NewsletterMachine Monitoring Webinar in January

Do you want to improve your shop floor efficiencies? Would you like to get text messages or email notifications if there is a problem on your shop floor? Our machine monitoring solutions empower managers to identify issues and resolve them quickly.

We will be holding a DataXchange machine monitoring webinar on January 10th, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Pacific time.

You will see popular features of the data collection system in action, as well as get a chance to ask us questions.

If you can’t make the webinar, please feel free to contact us and ask about other opportunities to see DataXchange software. We also have quite a few videos on our YouTube channel to check out.

Holiday Discount Code

It is not too late to spend end-of-the-year funds on solutions to help your shop floor. Get a head start on combating productivity issues and eliminating downtime with some of our best-selling solutions:

  • Portable USB Connect – backup for your DNC system
  • Pendant USB Connect – adds USB to any CNC machine
  • Floppy Emulators – replaces the floppy drive on your machine (ask about our Haas Floppy emulator!)
  • Wireless Connect – go wireless with any CNC machine

Use discount code “HappyNewYear” for a discount in our online store. Code expires 1/2/18

DNC Software – The Heart Beat of the Shop Floor

If there was one new piece of technology we would recommend for your shop floor, it would be DNC software. Within weeks or a few months, you will see ROI when you implement this system to streamline your management of CNC programs.

If you want to control which file is delivered to the CNC, you need DNC. If you are still carrying USB sticks or PCMCIA cards out to your CNCs to load programs, you need DNC. If you want a better system to manage your CNC programs while saving time, you need DNC.

Link to newsletter

Call (877) 611-5825 for more info!


Manufacturing Job Safety

manufacturing job safetyAccidents in the workplace happen. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1,122,960 non-fatal workplace accidents happened in the manufacturing sector. OSHA also commonly states the statistic of 4,500 workers per year dying on the job.

What is particularly disturbing about the number above is that of these 1 million+ workers who were hurt, the number of workers out of commission for more than a month (I.E. took more than 31 days to recover) was 314,530. With such a significant skills gap in the manufacturing field, we need as many skilled workers on deck as possible, so over 310k people off the job is scary.

Shop Floor Automations spoke to Phil Mendelowitz, who is a workplace safety, compliance, and leadership advisor with over 25 years of manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution experience. Phil is part of WarehouseFlow Advisors and runs a popular safety blog called WitzShared. He shared further insight on keeping safe in a manufacturing environment. Check out the rest of this story!

Read more

Shop Floor Newsletter – November 2017 – Lights Out Manufacturing

lights out manufacturingThe following is an archived copy of our Shop Floor Automations newsletter from November 2017 focusing on lights-out manufacturing:

2018 is coming up fast. What are your main concerns with your manufacturing production? If productivity is a major focus, then getting started with lights out manufacturing is a good goal to reach for.

We previously focused on lights-out manufacturing (AKA lights out manufacturing) in regards to battling rising electricity costs for 2016. However, the power bill for your shop floor is only one of many concerns.

Does the manufacturing skills gap limit what you can manufacture and get out the door to customers? Do you perhaps want to aim for fewer injuries in the workplace, or want better quality of products? Taking advantage of lights-out manufacturing can help with all of these issues.

One crucial part of adopting lights-out manufacturing in your shop helps to minimize labor costs for each part you make, which in turn helps you compete on a global level. This helps the Made in America movement grow stronger while increasing your profits and customer base.

How can Shop Floor Automations help you begin the path to lights-out manufacturing? Production Machining states that machine monitoring is a pivotal part of the process, since “there is always the possibility of machine failure, cutting tool breakage, power outages, and other unexpected issues.”

Put in a request for more info on lights-out manufacturing by calling (877) 611-5825! You can also fill out a request for info form here. Link to original newsletter here

MFG Skills Gap & Veterans

Preparing military veterans for manufacturing jobs is an amazing way to give back, but are we preparing them for the MFG skills gap? One school is making sure of it.

mfg skills gapWhen military veterans return home, they will face a series of challenges. Among the most important of these items to tend to – finding a career once their time in the military is over. To coordinate with the MFG industry needing to fill a skills gap, Workshops for Warriors aims to help with this important issue and support veterans at the same time.

Some of you may remember when we visited Workshops for Warriors (WFW) last summer and also when we got to interview WFW Founder & CEO Hernán Luis y Prado. Hernán served in the Navy for 15 years, so this topic hits close to home for him. His message has always been clear – that veterans are the perfect group of people to learn how to use manufacturing equipment to fill these jobs.

One big concern with the manufacturing industry, as well as many industries these days, is the skills gap. While much of the problem in manufacturing is attributed to lack of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) learning resources for students, there is another looming problem.

Read more

Lights Out Manufacturing

Have you considered lights out manufacturing for 2018?

lights out manufacturing You may remember our blog last year where we focused on the economic benefits of lights out manufacturing (AKA lights-out manufacturing). The main focus was on how adopting this manufacturing process could help combat rising electricity prices. There are other benefits to lights out manufacturing to discuss.

Goals vary: Whether the aim of  lights out manufacturing is to get better quality and throughput rates, to reduce workplace injuries, or to help increase production during a skills gap, shop floors all across America have the incentive to begin this initiative.

Enhancing, Not Replacing, Labor: While it is enticing that lights out manufacturing can lower production costs by replacing manual labor, there can be a stigma across the shop floor that this form of automation could aim to completely replace workers. This is far from the truth.

“By minimizing the labor cost for each part made, manufacturers can compete with the low costs encountered from foreign manufacturers, as well as gain a larger market share among domestic competition,” Aerospace Manufacturing and Design says. “At the minimum, automation is necessary just to stay in business.”

“Shops do not realize how much they rely on operators,” Peter Zelinski writes for Modern Machine Shop. He explains that in order for a shop to successfully put lights out manufacturing into play for their shops, they must first intensely work with the machinists to eliminate glitches that can shut down overnight production.

Machine Monitoring is Crucial to Lights Out Manufacturing:  “There is always the possibility of machine failure, cutting tool breakage, power outages and other unexpected issues,” Mark Eddy writes for Production Machining. “That’s when having a remote monitoring system is invaluable.”

“A number of manufacturers use MTConnect for universal connectivity,” Mark continues. “It is, essentially, a common translator based on Internet standards that enables CNC and non-CNC machine tools and other shopfloor equipment to communicate with each other and with a central production monitoring system.”

If you are ready to take on lights out manufacturing, get in touch with Shop Floor Automations today! Our solutions of Scytec DataXchange or Predator MDC will be the best products to get you started, and they are MTConnect compatible. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a sales contact form.