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Automating Communication for a Better-Performing Plant Floor

When it comes to process improvements on the shop floor, communication can be a known issue – but not necessarily one that is high on the short-term corrective action priority list. Why is that?

The simple answer is that addressing communication issues can be uncomfortable and hard to rectify in some situations, and downright explosive in others. One HR manager reported that a warehouse supervisor and maintenance manager tangled over company policies so much so that “fights worsened until the two departments didn’t want to work together.” Emotions aside, communication issues can also be costly to manufacturing operations.

The Costs of Poor Communication

Morgan Consulting cites communication as one of the biggest “four job skills when predicting both employer and employee satisfaction.” If you’re not working to improve communication on the floor, resulting employee turnover can cost up to a third of an employee’s annual salary, if not more in the current labor market. The search for manufacturing employees can be a time-consuming process as well.

Breakdowns in communication can also be responsible for increased injuries in the workplace. The findings of one study, “Fostering Safety Communication Among Construction Workers: Role of Safety Climate and Crew-Level Cohesion,” proposed “that a positive relationship exists between safety climate and safety communication levels.” And if you’re not safely producing quality product on time, you’ll see the impact in wasted materials, excessive downtime and your bottom line. According to the National Safety Council, the cost of workplace injuries in 2019 alone was $171 billion.

 

One tactic to enhance shop floor communication is through improved manufacturing integration. By seamlessly connecting your personnel to your equipment, your company can open up the possibilities for greater visibility, productivity and, ultimately, profitability. Let’s visit a few examples that can apply to your own manufacturing operations.

Multiple Means of Automated Communication

While your machines are running, they’re emitting useful data to indicate setup time changes, cycle time improvements per operator or per operation, maintenance indicators like temperature fluctuations and more. But what if you could make this data available to a wide swath of shop personnel, supervisors, managers and directors via a number of channels in an automated fashion? Equipment monitoring software, such as the Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring solution, helps manufacturers do just that.

A close up of a lathe, one of many machines that are compatible with machine monitoring software.

Equipment events can trigger machine monitoring notifications via Microsoft Teams for greater visibility to tackle challenges and improve processes quicker.

By expanding the reach of alarm alerts, threshold violations and underperforming utilization data from your FANUC, Mazak, Okuma and other equipment, the more familiar your teams become with the data – and the more potential there is to tackle challenges and improve processes.

  • Shop floor flat-screen monitors. By installing flat-screen monitors throughout your floor with real-time data from your lathes, lasers and other machinery, you are communicating corporate KPI priorities and unlocking key data for all your shop floor personnel. “When production teams own the results and have control over their work, analytics and metrics provide the feedback that keeps them motivated to do their best,” says Louis Columbus in Forbes. The exposure of data through flat-screen monitors ensures operators, machinists and other workers are in sync with the expectations of management, and gives them a position to identify ways to make progress with weak areas.
  • Automated e-mails and text messaging. When operators must wait upwards of an hour for material after they finish a job, their valuable time is wasted, morale is depleted and shipments risk being delayed. The downstream costs can be significant. Proper communication to the materials manager via automated e-mails and text messaging, for instance, can ensure s/he is notified precisely when a specified percentage of parts remain. A modern machine monitoring system like DataXchange matches work/shop orders and part counts to the established threshold and facilitates the notification so managers are prepared for the next material delivery before material levels are exhausted. This makes instant messaging, in combination with dashboards that are accessible through mobile or desktop devices or monitors on the shop floor, a vital way to reduce downtime hours each week.
  • Automated Microsoft Teams messaging. For many manufacturers, lengthy inspection processes can lead to frustration on the floor. This frustration can swell as managers dedicate even more time and resources to determine where the process is breaking down and what improvements may be made. By tracking ODI and machine statuses, a robust machine monitoring solution can detail out the inspection process and notify team member(s) via Microsoft Teams regarding specific events. To start, ODI data collection shares when a machine is ready for inspections, when a part is actively being inspected and how long it’s taking the operator to start running the machine again. The availability of a machine for inspection can be signaled to the Quality team through a Teams notification, thereby removing any speculation or manual calls, e-mails or texts. The completion of the inspection then can be displayed on a dashboard as well as trigger an alert to the operator to run the job. Should a defined period of time lapse before the job begins, a supervisor can receive a Teams message regarding the delay.

With feature-rich machine monitoring, manufacturers have the opportunity to remove communication issues from their corrective action priority list altogether. The display of equipment dashboards through flat-screen monitors and the automation of e-mail, text and Microsoft Teams messaging based on machine events can go a long way toward diminishing material waste, unnecessary downtime and potentially missed sales. See how your manufacturing environment can improve its communication on the floor simply and effectively by attending a demonstration of the Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring software today.

Meet Manufacturing Demand at FABTECH 2021

Shop Floor Automations to Offer Manufacturing Machine Monitoring and Hardware Solutions to Increase Visibility, Productivity

With its recent announcement that it will be the first large-scale manufacturing trade show to return to McCormick Place in Chicago from September 13-16, FABTECH will once again make Chicago the epicenter of the North American metal fabrication industry. The event brings all aspects of the metal fabricating, forming, welding, and finishing industries together to showcase the technology, innovation, and solutions they provide.

Manufacturing machine monitoring solutions - FABTECH Booth #A3441

Schedule your demonstration of manufacturing machine monitoring solutions at the Shop Floor Automations Booth, #A3441, at FABTECH 2021

Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a manufacturing integrator offering hardware and software solutions to manufacturers and job shops throughout the United States, will be exhibiting the Scytec DataXchange machine monitoring solution at Booth #A3441 at FABTECH this year. This solution allows production environments to capture automated, real-time machine data for increased visibility of accurate cycle times, setup times, idle times, machine downtime and more. For manufacturers struggling to keep pace with demand as the United States recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, machine monitoring solutions, like DataXchange, can be the difference between a company’s ability to take on new work versus not.

In the May 2021 Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®, Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, stated, “Demand expanded, with the (1) New Orders Index growing at a strong level, supported by the New Export Orders Index continuing to expand, (2) Customers’ Inventories Index hitting another all-time low and (3) Backlog of Orders Index continuing at a record-high level.”

“Now, and well into 2022, manufacturers need to be able to make demonstrable impacts to machine uptime automatically to generate greater efficiencies to support existing work while increasing productivity for growth opportunities knocking on the doors of so many,” says Greg Mercurio, SFA President.

FABTECH facilitates connections between exhibitors and attendees in order to conduct business, share knowledge, and showcase the most advanced manufacturing equipment and technology in an unparalleled environment. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore three halls filled with cutting-edge technology, new product debuts, and firsthand product demonstrations from over 1,000 exhibitors.

Attendee and media registration for FABTECH 2021 is open now. Visit fabtechexpo.com to register and obtain additional show details. To schedule a DataXchange demonstration with SFA in advance of the show, contact us at www.shopfloorautomations.com.

Smarter Shop Floor With Cloud-Based Monitoring

Cloud-Based Monitoring Project Introduction:

Tech Manufacturing, a long-time manufacturer of machined metal parts for aerospace clients such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Bombardier, needed to raise production capacity and reduce lead times for their clients’ largest and most urgent orders. With their 5-axis CNC machines already running 24 hours a day up to 7 days a week, Jerry Halley, Chief Engineer at Tech Manufacturing, looked towards smarter operation and real-time performance data to increase the productivity and useful life of their existing machines.

“We needed a better understanding of how our machines were actually performing for us in real-time,” said Halley. “Live and historical machine performance data would also help us identify technical or process issues that were detrimental to productivity.” With a combination of hardware and software, a CNC monitoring system would collect, analyze, and visualize the necessary performance metrics. However, Halley needed to weigh the productivity gains of such a system against the cost and effort of deployment, especially if it involved a new and unfamiliar server-based IT infrastructure. The ideal system would be easily deployed without specialized IT equipment, knowledge, or effort, and would not require repeated software installation, updates, or configuration.

manufacturing technology trends Application Requirements:
-Live dashboard with alerts based on historical and target performance metrics
-Easy to use with existing CNC machines that may not have built-in Ethernet interface
-Does not require investment or expertise in specialized IT infrastructure, servers, or software
-Knowledgeable and experienced integration and vendor support team

Solution:
Tech Manufacturing selected Shop Floor Automations, one of the most prominent systems integrators in North America specializing in CNC monitoring systems, to assist with cloud-based monitoring. Each CNC machine was connected to the existing local area network, so no additional IT infrastructure was required. For legacy machines that did not have a readily available Ethernet port, Shop Floor Automations provided an easy-to-deploy solution that was developed with Moxa. “The industrial networking units from Moxa make it easy for us to get our clients’ legacy machines connected to the cloud,” said Greg Mercurio, President of Shop Floor Automations.

“For industrial users like Tech Manufacturing, these solutions are invaluable in extending the capabilities and useful life of their still-functional but older CNC machines.” With the local network connected to the Internet, machine performance data was easily viewed and analyzed by cloud-based software such as Scytec DataXchange or Predator Machine Data Collection. Key performance metrics were organized on a visual dashboard so owners and machine operators were able to see exactly how productive each cell was, down to the machine level. Read more below.

Read more

Scytec DataXchange Silver Released

DataXchange Scytec DataXchange Silver Released

Collect user defined Planned and Unplanned Downtimes with bar code scanners. More Details

More about machine monitoring through Scytec:

  • Choose from On-Premise or Cloud Based
  • As low as $45 monthly per machine for Cloud option
  • Real-time data collection from any age CNC controls & equipment
  • Unlimited reporting, charting licenses & users
  • View & report on data results from anywhere
  • Track multiple cycle time types

OEE and IIoT reports and charts from Scytec DataXchange help improve machine utilization and minimize downtime.  “Collecting data from the machines is one thing, but utilizing the data for actionable results is critical in order to convert manufacturing data into manufacturing intelligence,” Scytec proclaims to customers.

Timelines, equipment status summaries, OEE summaries, trends, downtime Pareto, scrap Pareto, histograms, plots, comparisons, and more can be charted. These charts can be displayed in the real-time dashboard of the program, which includes being able to saving group or personalized chart templates and ability to export this data to CSV or Excel.

“DataXchange is a Cloud and On-Premise manufacturing machine monitoring system,” Scytec says of their services. With over 15 years of experience in manufacturing, they were able to create this program from scratch. “Increasing utilization by roughly 30 minutes per machine will cover the cost of the software. How about the gains of knowing when machines are running at a lower feedrate, a program stop, or sitting in feed hold?  The software typically pays for itself within the first few days of each month.”

Call (877) 611-5825 for more information!