The Effects of Big Data & Being a Data Driven Company

You could say that the business world, from the perspective of those who run it, is about facts and figures, or in other words, big data. Perhaps more specifically, efficient businesses gather information from many sources to provide an overview of process and manufacturer health.

When you collate data from your customers, from your staff, from your machinery, from your supervisors etc.— all to gather a lucid perspective of how things are – you gather lots of information. Also, your data might be more than text documentation – it could also include video and audio.

Welcome to big data.

 According to Watford Technologies 2.7 Zetabytes of data exist in the digital universe today.

Huge data sets are useless unless there’s a way of analyzing it for trends, patterns and associations – most importantly, in relation to human interactions and behaviors that affect your business efficacy for the positive and for the negative.

Storing all of this information is one problem, but making sense of it requires a dedicated solution.

The Future of Big Data

The fact of the matter is that the data mass is growing exponentially. The volume, variety, and velocity of data stored globally is literally inconceivable.

Big Data FreePoint Technologies

In 2008, Google was processing 20,000 terabytes of data (20 petabytes) a day.

This seemingly insurmountable problem, however, offers up a wealth of opportunity. If logically organized, analyzed and managed, big data provides invaluable insight into our customers and our business operations. The bottom line is that it’s not how much data you collate – it’s about what you do with it.

With the savvy application of your data, you can identify where cost savings are possible and how you can organize your employee resource more effectively. You can even identify which data sources are the most valuable and relevant to your practice.

Data collated can be used to help develop new products, optimize your existing ones and help you make business-critical decisions that are right for your business need and based on real-time revelation.

What is a Data-Driven Company?

A data-driven company doesn’t just collate data – they refine it into actionable insights that drive business-critical decisions. A CEO may make a decision based on gut instinct and that, of course, is a valuable resource if the decision turns out to be correct. In the past, they may have made decisions and looked for evidence to support it afterward – that’s a risky strategy.

Facebook big data applications freepoint technologies

Facebook stores, accesses and analyzes 30+ Petabytes of user-generated information.

Data analytic engines can help reinforce that gut-instinct with immediate access to the facts so that decisions can be fortified by evidence before changes are implemented.

A data-driven company makes summative information available to everyone who makes value-added decisions – not by inundating with confusing and potentially contradictory information; or by providing canned reports that are out-of-date as soon as they’ve slipped out of the printer – but by providing access to analytics that are relevant now; monitoring the pulse of the business and nursing it back to health.

How Machine Monitoring Can Help

Machine monitoring is just more data, of course. However, FreePoint Technologies don’t just create the data – they offer solutions that make sense of it, in a meaningful way that helps organizations improve productivity and employee engagement.

Industry 4.0 (or the “smart factory”) is all about machine-to-machine communication, producing data that provides fact-based real-time clarity of your bottom line, whilst allowing employees to measure their own activity.

In 2015, there were about 15.4 billion connected devices

Our Shiftworx service translates actionable information from the data that our machine monitoring hardware provides. It shares it with the people that can make a difference, right there and then. It allows you to store and organize your data, making it easily accessible via real-time reports that can even be used to create your own apps; engaging your people by sharing meaningful and actionable real-time information about the things that affect them.

If information means something  – we can help you make it do something.

How Manufacturers Can Recruit Millennials

The key to engage with and recruit Millennials is to consciously create and acknowledge value. The widely recognized trait of the Millennial generation is optimism, but with a fairly healthy sprinkling of cynicism.

They want to feel that they’re making a difference – they are keen to give, but they want to be able to see the fruits of their labour. So, in terms of the manufacturing trade, where skills are employed to create truly tangible “things”, there’s actually a really natural affinity.

We Need a Perspective Shift

But, it’s equally clear that manufacturing in North America suffers from an unfashionable, tainted reputation, associated with the dirty and dangerous workplaces, the injuries and the short life expectancies of employees of the past.

Millennials don’t want to work in dingy, badly lit workshops with no Health & Safety precautions – they want to feel that they can do a great day’s work in a safe, clean environment, where they are part of a process that benefits them and the world around them.

Manufacturing is Not Low-Skill

There’s also the incorrect perception that manufacturing is low-skill and low-prestige. Education over the past twenty years has largely valued educational aspiration toward continued education and into white-collar roles.

But that simply doesn’t fit everyone. Many youngsters are more kinesthetic than cognitive – they work with their hands, rather than numbers. And these kinesthetic youths are the ones we should aim our recruitment campaigns towards.

Factory image freepoint technologies

Long Term Careers

But how do we change the deep-set perceptions that manufacturing isn’t a great trade? Manufacturing offers a great, long-term career.

When the average lifespan of employment for a Millennial stops at 3 years, it presents us with an opportunity to reflect. Why is that?

Perhaps employees of all ages just want to feel that their contribution is valuable. And this opens up a massive opportunity for us to attract new workers by offering a trade that can help a person thrive, rather than chew them up and spit them out.

FreePoint

And this is where FreePoint can come into the equation.

Our technology can help an individual directly observe the impact that their contribution is making to the workplace. By collating statistics, our black box technology can show how much of the day is productive. And how, by using their skills, they are using their time to produce something positive for themselves and for the wider community.

Gamification

FreePoint has clear gamification and incentive possibilities. Millennials, as we all know, are tech-savvy. They spend a huge amount of their time in front of screens, playing games. They monitor the number of steps they walk in a day, they log their health statistics, they share their day using social networks and they find new ways of meeting each other.

Parents often say that this tech obsession is unhealthy, but it actually makes them great employees – they enjoy monitoring themselves and seeing positive outcomes.

FreePoint Technologies Gamification Recruits Millennials

Quality and Production

The data collated through FreePoint can be used to incentivize quality and productivity. But be realistic with your expectations. One of the most unattractive traits of modern employment (and likely the reason for the short lifespan of most employment) is the squeeze on the human resource – the unrealistic targets and the resultant penalizing if targets are not met.

So, if you can create an environment where an employee values quality AND productivity, then you’re heading in the right direction to attract the new generation into manufacturing.

Quality, Value and Contribution

Why should we change? We’re the ones offering the opportunities? They should change to meet what we need of them? Well, that isn’t really working, is it?

If we genuinely want to attract the next generation and recruit millennials, replacing the roles made vacant by the retiring Baby Boomers, we need to move to a more holistic outlook on how we run our workplaces. 

The keywords, here, are quality, value, and contribution. Everyone wants to feel that they can contribute – young or old. But if a contribution is gone unrecognized, then the value is lost.

FreePoint can help to physically represent an employee’s actual contribution to the workplace and, as long as that contribution is shown appropriate appreciation, you’re onto a winner.

Change How the World Views Manufacturing

Have open days at your workshops and factories. Invite communities in to witness the amazing skills of the talent pool that you already have. Show people that manufacturing is high-tech, high-skill and totally worthwhile. 

Show them where your products started – as a pile of things – and how the talents of your workforce forged those into items that add self-esteem to the manufacturing task force and positive contribution to the community.   

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5 Ways to Increase Productivity on the Manufacturing Floor

An on-going concern for plant managers and production floor supervisors is productivity. Regardless of the size of your business, determining how to increase productivity is essential to enhancing gross profits and maintaining competitiveness. Productivity on the manufacturing floor depends on a combination of efficient employees, equipment and processes.

Here are five ways to increase productivity and stay successful on the manufacturing floor:

Manage Expectations

It is not always employees fault if they are not performing at their highest. At times, managers or supervisors have set expectations unrealistically. Maybe they have been given unachievable deadlines and impossible production targets. When there is not enough motivation and too much work, a worker’s natural response is dissatisfaction. A dissatisfied employee can never deliver his/her hundred percent.

Communicate

A worker’s relationship with his/her supervisor or manage does affect performance. It’s not that bad relations cause bad results from workers. The fact is that when there is lack of communication, there is lack of trust. Always communicate with your workers and give them a sense of being a valuable part of the company.

communication icons freepoint technologies

Invest in a Monitoring Software’

ShitfWorx black box

One of the best ways to keep production high is by installing machine monitoring software on the floor. Monitoring software collects real-time data from the floor machines and workers and displays them to on a dashboard and in reports. With modern software tools like FreePoint’s machine monitoring software, even the employees can have a look at their performance indicators in real-time. This gives the machine operators a sense of competition and enables them to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

Stay Organized

FreePoint Technologies Calendar SchedulingWhen there is clutter, there is confusion. The distraction that arises from clutter can be detrimental for a manufacturing floor. Sometimes, the plant floor requires nothing more than a proper organization to give its best. Put the required materials and tools in their places, so they can be found instantly when needed. Furthermore, have the important documents available in an organized manner. These documents could be anything from a manual to help workers fix an issue with the machine to policies that have to be followed on the floor.

Invest in Continued Education

The modern world has made it quite easy to obtain education for skillful workers and add more to their repertoires. Just like IT professionals, the workers on your floor can also obtain education while on work to become even more valuable assets for your company. Rather than hiring new people and risking the learning period, let your existing workers be a part of the training to get the hang of the ever-changing modern manufacturing technologies.

Are you interested in exploring how you can increase productivity on your shop floor? Reach out to us today, one of our representatives would love to walk you through how machine monitoring can supercharge your factory!

Gamification: What is it & How is it Used in the Workplace

Do you have a strategy to motivate your workers? Are you worried about your production floor’s productivity? Do you find it difficult to stimulate your workers and ignite their passion to get the best from them? The best way to overcome these challenges may be to incorporate gamification within your workplace environment.

The best thing about gamification is that it is more about psychology and less about technology – it mentally convinces your workers to be at their best. It achieves those results through real-time monitoring and data reporting, rewarding employees for their work, developing a strong sense of competition etc. The result of gamification of the workplace results in behavior change—something most plant managers and corporate executives find impossible to accomplish.

What Is Gamification?

FreePoint Technologies GamificationSimply put, gamification is the introduction and integration of gaming mechanics in the existing system of a business to keep its employees engaged and performing at their peak performance. In most cases, businesses don’t have systems in place to motivate their workers to be at their best at all times. Even if they do, most of the old methods have become futile due to their outdatedness and redundancy. The thrill, fun, engagement and competitive elements of games are infused into the existing workplace in the process of gamification. The motive behind doing so is increased efficiency, productivity and worker engagement.

Examples of Gamification in the Workplace

Gamification is becoming a more acceptable concept as more and more businesses understand and find value in it. There are several examples of how some of the biggest businesses in the world are incorporating gamification into their system. For example, Google makes use of a travel expense game which is designed specifically for employees who have to do a lot of traveling. As they continue to keep track of their expenses on a business trip, they are encouraged to spend less than the amount that has been allocated for the trip. Every penny they save on the trip is then given back to them in their salaries or given out to charity if they choose to do so.

Salesforce is another great example of how to use gamification perfectly to reach the desired results for your business. Introduce Nitro to the Salesforce platform, and you have prepared the perfect place for your sales team to find motivation and perform at their best. They get real-time data about their progress and are rewarded for their performance while also appearing on a leaderboard just similar to what happens in the games.

With FreePoint’s machine monitoring software, many different elements of gamification are involved such as real-time data on worker’s progress, scores, and achievements. With uptime, downtime and error codes being reported constantly and consistently, and accountability being a part of the process, workers naturally become more engaged in their work and operate at a higher level.

Benefits of Gamification

One of the main benefits of gamification is that it provides workers with real-time data—an element of all addictive games. Furthermore, it introduces accountability to workers and brings a healthy sense of competition. Gamification also makes it fun for workers to perform at their peak abilities. Not to mention, if rewards are tied to great performance, gamification can be the “game changer” for small and large enterprises.

Speak with one of our representatives today to learn more about how machine monitoring can help incentivize your workforce.

What Makes FreePoint Technologies Unique?

Just like any other product or service, there are multiple companies that provide machine monitoring solutions which provide a way for manufacturers to track machine outputs. However, just like with any other product or service, not all solutions are created equal. FreePoint Technologies has been able to consistently beat out competitors by providing technology that can connect to any machine, deploy in a single day, and costs less.

In this blog, we are taking the opportunity to highlight the areas that make FreePoint Technologies unique and why we are continually being selected as manufacturers’ preferred machine monitoring solution.metal case freepoint solutions getfreepoint.com phillips screw heads mounting holes grey and white gradient background i/o freepoint technologies

1. The Ability to Connect to Any Machine

Our patent-pending technology allows us to connect simply and non-invasively with all machines, regardless of brand, type, complexity or age. Along with the 1914 Vertical mill we have connected to the internet, here is a sample of several of the machines we’ve connected so far:

  • CNC Routers
  • Sands
  • Grinders
  • Clampers
  • Lathes
  • Mills
  • Saws

The simple notion of connecting to any machine gives us a huge advantage over competitors that are limited to only being able to connect to new/specific machines. What does this mean for our customers? They don’t have to wait to purchase the newest machinery in order to start monitoring and improving their machining processes.

2. On-Premise or Cloud Stored Data

storage in the cloud freepoint technologiesWhen it comes to storing the data collected from the various machines, we give our clients two options; storing the data locally on their premise or storing it in the cloud. While both ways have different advantages, we make sure you are able to store and view the data the way you prefer.

Users can then access the information from various devices including their phones, tablets and computers. This makes it extremely easy to access your machines’ output information wherever you are.

3. Deploys in One Day

FreePoint Technologies is the only machine monitoring software that can be deployed in a single day. Installation of ShiftWorx takes around 3 hours per machine and immediately after it is installed, it starts collecting data. This provides tremendous value to our clients as the sooner they have key information from their machines, the sooner they can make better decisions based on that data.

4. Advanced Reporting

The reporting available from our machine monitoring software is simple to read, yet contains all the key information a machine operator would require. It features various reports on OEE, part count, downtime, job reports & more. All the information can be seen in real-time so operators and managers can quickly identify any issues that may arise.

5. Dedicated Team of Developers & Support 

Customer Support FreePoint TechnologiesWe have a team of 10 developers that continually work on creating new features for our software that better service our customers. We constantly take the feedback given from our clients and integrate their ideas into our updates. Our large development team also means that should support be required, we have the resources and manpower to fix the issue in an extremely timely manner.

6. 90-Day Trial Period

If all of the previously mentioned features didn’t convince you to use our machine monitoring software, our 90 day trial period should do the trick. For all new clients, we offer a risk-free trial period to try our software. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, we will refund your investment. As a testimony to our machine monitoring solution and the service we provide, as of this date, we have not issued a single refund.

To learn more about FreePoint Technologies or to schedule a call, email info@getfreepoint.com.

5 Reasons Your Operator’s Performance is Slipping & How To Fix it

If you have a manufacturing business, you have to put in extra efforts to increase the performance and productivity of your workers and machines.

You need to look for ways to gauge and monitor the performance of your team. In addition to motivating them to work more productively, you also have to find out the reasons they are not giving their maximum performance. Here are the 5 signs/reasons your machine operators are not giving their best.

1. They Aren’t Properly Trained

When you hire workers, you have to ensure they know how to operate the machinery they will be working behind. If they don’t have the knowledge, you will have to provide them the training for operating a particular piece of equipment. If you see that your operator is taking too much time doing simple things, this is a clear sign he/she is not fully trained to operate the machine.

2. Your Machine Software Is Not Advanced

When you see that your operators are giving their best, but your productivity is still low, this could be a sign that the technology and software on the machine is outdated. For example, it might be missing the profile feature where it creates profiles to load certain settings with the tap of a button. Invest in better machinery.

3. Your Machines Aren’t Properly Maintained

If you have just installed advanced software on your machines, but the productivity hasn’t seen any boost, it could mean that your machine isn’t adequately maintained. Machines that are used frequently need to be thoroughly maintained, they need to have a change in parts and components. An inadequately lubricated machine can also have performance issues.

4. Your Operator Is Just Not Paying Attention

Sometimes, it is just the operator who is not interested in working. Maybe the operator is not happy with his work or he may be going through a difficult time in his life, it could be something personal. Repeated and prolonged downtimes are signs that your operator is deliberately delaying everything to find excuses for not working. Have a heart to heart with your employees.

5. You Don’t Have Any Accountability Mechanism

Do you have some software or tool to know the cause of unnecessarily long downtimes and low performance? When there is no accountability or a mechanism to hold people accountable, you can expect performances to be low naturally.

The point is, there could be a plethora of factors hampering your productivity. Your job is to find out what the problem is and fix it without delay. That’s where our Machine Monitoring Software comes into the picture. With this software installed on your machines, you will be able to collect detailed performance data of your machines. This data will be revealing enough to tell you who or what is causing any sort of downtime. You will get detailed reports on your machine’s runtime, downtime and part count.

In addition to giving you a detailed insight of your floor’s performance, it also helps your employees stay productive and efficient. With this software, they are able to monitor the performance of their machines in real-time and fix the issues that come up. Once there is proper check, monitoring, and accountability, you will see your manufacturing business flourish.

When you combine FreePoint Technologies machine monitoring hardware with our visualization software, you can exponentially increase both productivity and employee engagement.

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How to Know if you are Ready to Implement Machine Monitoring

The simple and straight answer is that, if you are a manufacturer and haven’t yet implemented machine monitoring, then you are ready. Machine monitoring offers a wide range of benefits including increased efficiency, engaged employees and an improved bottom-line. Machine monitoring solutions, such as FreePoint Technologies, can be set-up and running the very same day. However, if you aren’t convinced, and are looking for a few more reasons to implement machine monitoring, here are 3 signs you are ready to make the transition:

Machine Operators Aren’t Engaged 

A clear sign that something needs to change at your manufacturing facility is that your employees do not appear to be engaged in their work. When a machine operator is not engaged several things can result, such as loss of job enjoyment, more frequent sick days and less drive/commitment. Productivity can take a negative downturn as the employee simply stops delivering at a high or efficient rate.

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A Machine Operator Engaged With His Task

At FreePoint, we believe in the importance of empowering and engaging employees with modern technology. Manufacturing processes need to be re-humanized and provide an environment for workers to play a larger role in identifying productivity improvements using factual, real-time process information. Machine monitoring enables that. When our customers share their machine data with their employees, the machinists begin to feel engaged and have a sense of accountability. When management invests in a machine monitoring system, it demonstrates to their employees that they are committed to increasing productivity and continuous improvement.

Lack of Information

Not having enough information on the performance of your operators and machines when making important decisions such as hiring new employees, purchasing new machines or quoting your next job can have a negative impact on the outcome.

With machine monitoring installed, you now have access to real-time and historical data of your machine’s performance. The monitoring system can measure data such as downtime, uptime, part count, OEE and more. This information gives you the ability to make better, more informed decisions with confidence.

Downtime is Consuming too Many Resources

Every manufacturing plant strives to run its operations as lean and efficiently as possible, and one of the largest obstacles that stand in the way is machine downtime. Downtime consumes valuable resources that could have been used for productivity.

With machine monitoring, the data collected can tell you when a machine is down and what type of fault may have caused the issue. Email and text alerts can also be set up to send alerts to supervisors. Knowing this valuable information can help to shed light on what is causing the issue and help to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Are you experiencing any or all of the above challenges in your facility? If so, you may be ready to implement machine monitoring. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help engage your employees, provide you with meaningful data and limit the downtown of your machines.  

Image Processing Now Available

We are excited to announce the completion of our image processing system project!

We can now incorporate “image capture” and “image analysis” in our ShiftWorx platform. The first system we installed has successfully processed over 1 million images in the first 3 days and continues to process around 300,000 images per 12 hour period.

With this new module, we can offer image data to help our customers determine quality, productivity and in some applications, empirically quantify “value adding” actions in ways they have never been able to before.

The next phase we have planned for this project is to include a locally-hosted web interface (hosted from the Xi) for custom data entry to be included with the daily log files.

Product Specifications

Computer vision (CV) system consists of up to 4 industrial USB cameras with moisture‐resistant lenses interfaced with a single FreePoint Xi Image Processing System. Cameras support compressed and RAW pixel formats with hardware triggering for instant image acquisition and download. The system is offered as a “bolt‐on” product that runs independently and in parallel with the customer’s existing industrial process. The FreePoint system supports colour and greyscale cameras with global shutter (no electronic/rolling shutter image distortion) at resolutions from 64×64 up to 1280×960 pixels. This CV system implementation operates continuously at 9 frames/second with real‐time image processing and data logging and was tested at up to 20 frames / second (hardware trigger mode).

FreePoint Xi Image Processing Module

FreePoint image processing module supports custom image analysis including (but not limited to) image segmentation, feature and shape detection / recognition, optical measurement (dimensions, surface area, etc.), colour and feature binning, noise rejection, format conversion, image and data logging and local/cloud‐based file hosting and data analytics.

Camera installation is as simple as a 1⁄4”‐20 bolt with appropriate straight or right‐angle mounting bracket. All systems come with trigger and data cables with support for 24VDC and 120/220VAC 60/50Hz power. Image processing system configuration and setup to be performed by a FreePoint technician same‐day.

For more information on our image processing capability or to request a demonstration, email info@getfreepoint.com

Hacker Studios Presentation

Machine Monitoring & Employee Engagement: How We Connect The Two

There is little doubt that machine monitoring software appeals to forward-thinking plant managers, shop supervisors and CEO’s for its ability to track machine production and increase operator efficiency, saving companies thousands of dollars a month. However, a key benefit (potentially one of the most important features) of machine monitoring that is often overlooked is the impact it has on machine operators and employee engagement.

When machinists are engaged in the task at hand, they are known to work more efficiently and with more focus. Machine monitoring, when set up properly, can provide that type engagement.

Machine monitoring being used to enhance employee engagement

Having a screen at each machine that displays and tracks the employee’s production statistics  empowers the operators in the following ways:

Accountability

When an employee’s production is being tracked and recorded, there is a clear sense of accountability for their work. Creating accountable employees delivers numerous benefits to the company; superior execution, lower employee turnover, and more creativity and innovation.

Gamification

Gamification is the process of applying and integrating elements of game mechanics in order to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty. Gamification takes the data-driven techniques that game designers use to engage players and applies them to non-game experiences to motivate actions which add value to your business. FreePoint’s software enables that type of engagement with its ability to keep scores, track progress and display user-statistics.

Consistent Measurement Of Performance

Machine Operator Displays his Machine Monitoring Dashboard

In one of our recent blogs, Top 3 Questions We Get Asked (With Answers), we highlight that one of the questions asked most frequently is, “What do operators on the floor think of machine monitoring?” The feedback we received the most is that machinists are in favour of having the monitoring implemented as it gives them a consistent measurement of their performance that they are able to see every day. With a machine monitoring system such as FreePoint, operators are empowered and engaged when they are able to view and understand their performance metrics in a real-time feed.

At FreePoint, we are dedicated to helping manufacturing companies improve their bottom line, improve employee engagement, and bring modern technology to the plant floor. Through the power of the internet and our patent-pending technology, we are able to connect to any machine, giving you the tools you need to keep your manufacturing facility going strong.

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