Get More Out Of Your Manufacturing Software

Think. Plan. Do. Then, measure what gets done.

When it comes to manufacturing, most shop supervisors and plant manager consider this as a statement they can relate to: Think about what you are going to do. Plan for it. Do it. Then, measure what gets done.

While there is plenty of technology readily available for the “doing” and the “measuring”, what about the “thinking” and “planning”? What are the opportunities that exist to improve these two important components of manufacturing? Every year manufacturers make significant investments into “doing”. They replace machines, upgrade parts, and hire more employees. For “measuring”, they make investments in ERP systems and machine monitoring technology. These purchases make sense because manufacturers realize the importance of making data-driven decisions and they can’t improve what they don’t measure.

With all these different types of investments, many systems are still failing to deliver on the benefits and advantages they offer, resulting, in many cases, in a limited return on investment. How can this be?

We have discovered that it is often caused by one of two beliefs:

  1. The thinking and planning has already been done
  2. It is someone else’s responsibility to do the actual thinking and planning

Many manufacturers have modeling and planning tools in place, but they are limited to select processes or select individuals. Efficiency and effectiveness are not the same things, however, and to run a plant effectively, you need everyone to think and plan. If you run a part on the wrong machine while running that machine efficiently, you are really just wasting time efficiently. And, if one final assembly requires 20 individual pieces to be machined and 19 of them are done in time, you are not 95% on time, you are 100% late.

Manufacturers may be sensitive to these kinds of conditions, but yet they continue to experience them routinely. Why? Because they make it only one or two peoples’ responsibility to think and plan, when in fact it should be a responsibility shared by many more.

Plant level software solutions need to do more than schedule production or monitor machines; it needs to engage everyone involved in the “Think. Plan. Do. Measure what gets done.” process.

Are you ready to get more out of your manufacturing software? Reach out to us today, we would be happy to speak with you about how to enhance your processes.   

Manufacturing A Smooth Digital Transformation

Sometimes you come across an article you just have to share.

Manufacturing a smooth digital transformation is one of those articles.

You can read it here. 

This is a great read for all of the manufacturing facilities going through massive changes with the arrival of new digital technology.

One of the sections in the article that particularly caught our eye is the point about empowering your people. The article reads,

“Empower your people – As more people start to align their work with their passions (and of course market demand), they will not need micro-management. They should be given the latitude to be curious, to experiment, to fail, and to thus learn both personally and on behalf of the organisation.”

Employee empowerment and engagement is something we at FreePoint strive to deliver through our machine monitoring technology.

Always nice to see other sharing similar values.

 

How Manufacturers Are Recruiting Millennials

Engaging workers through technology, connecting meaning to work, and sharing information are 3 core beliefs we have at FreePoint Technologies.

In an article posted by The Wall Street Journal, General Electric confirms that they share similar values.

Have a read here – “How Manufacturers Are Recruiting Millennials.”

 

Top 3 Benefits of Machine Monitoring

In our previous blog post, “How Machine Monitoring Works”, we explored the 6 steps involved in connecting your machines, storing and displaying information, and using the data to increase productivity.

Today, we are going to continue with this theme and look at the top 3 benefits of machine monitoring.

Benefit #1 – Reduce Downtime

Every manufacturing plant wants to run their operations as lean and efficiently as possible and one of the biggest obstacles that stands in the way is downtime. Downtime consumes valuable resources that could have been used for productivity. When a FreePoint’s monitoring system is integrated with your machines, managers and supervisors are notified as soon as the machine goes down. They can than investigate the issue, find out what the problem is and prevent it from happening again.  

When speaking with Vic Kinesella, plant supervisor of AutoTube, he mentioned that before their company implemented FreePoint, they had no idea how long machines were down for. Now that they have machine monitoring implemented, Vic can respond quicker to the issue and find the root of the problem. This has saved Vic’s company thousands of dollars in reduced down time.

Benefit #2 – Empower employees

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 bigger 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 start to feel engaged and a have 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.

Benefit #3 – Make informed decisions

With the data you receive from your machines, it will help to make more informed decisions on a daily basis. Here are just a few items where the information will be used:

  • More accurate quoting for jobs
  • Better decision making on purchasing more machines
  • More informed decision making on hiring employees
  • Useful information that can be used for training employees

At FreePoint, we are dedicated to helping manufacturing companies improve their bottom line, engage their employees 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. Reach out today to start experiencing the benefits of machine monitoring!

Leveling the Playing Field for the Millennial Generation

No one likes an unfair game or an unfair system. With access to new technology such as the internet and social platforms, the new generation is keenly aware of and particularly sensitive to the injustices of the past and the present. The challenge with traditional employee measurement and incentive programs on the plant floor is that there is no common denominator. No way to truly compare the drill press operation to the CNC machine to the cutting of steel. FreePoint Technologies patent pending Shiftworx platform is the world’s first true application that completely flattens the factory floor and levels the playing field for everyone – even millennials. By effectively adopting the core concepts of lean manufacturing and applying technology solutions, FreePoint measures actual value added work vs waste in the exact same way in every process.

cartoon bubble level with soccer field on top transparent background freepoint technologies

While powerful, but becoming increasingly common in machine monitoring, this new cloud connecting technology platform enables the development of deep gamification and engagement tools for any process, cell, plant or group of plants that wish to be at the forefront of attracting and retaining the future workforce. There are no barriers due to language or location. All people and all process are measured in the same common sense and fair manner. Easy to understand and universal in its application, FreePoint equips manufacturers today with the tools and technologies to leverage their existing assets into millennial ready and smart manufacturing powerhouses of tomorrow.

 

For more information on how FreePoint can help level the playing field for your employees, millennial or not, please contact engage@getfreepoint.com.

How Machine Monitoring Works

If you are checking out this blog, chances are you’ve heard of the term machine monitoring. If not, here is a simple definition:

Machine monitoring is the process of connecting your machine to the internet to collect and interpret data.

But have you ever wondered how exactly it works and what steps are involved? How companies, such as FreePoint, can connect to machines and gather valuable data that can be shared, analyzed and reported on? In this article we are going to explore how the process of machine monitoring works and when done properly, can deliver an instant production boost.

Step #1 – Integration

The first step in machine monitoring is to connect your machine or equipment to the internet. With FreePoint, our black box technology allows companies to connect easily through WIFI, ethernet, USB and/or cellular.

Fun Fact!
At FreePoint, we are able to do something many other companies cannot – connect to both new and legacy machines. With our patent-pending technology, we can connect non-invasively to any machine. Non-invasive meaning that neither the machine nor its control system needs to be modified for the FreePoint system. A typical machine can be connected to the FreePoint system in less than an hour. The oldest machine we have connected thus far is a vertical machine built in 1914!

Step #2 – Data Transferred and Stored

Now that we are connected to the internet, it is time to transfer some data. Through the power of the net, data flows seamlessly from each connected machine to our secure remote server. By sending the data to our server, we are able to give you access to analytic tools, dashboards, report generators, and information distribution tools.

Step #3 – Data Displayed

The data from the machines can now be displayed throughout the plant on computers and TV monitors, cell phones and tablets. With FreePoint’s software, pre-made dashboards are readily available to use, but the customer also has the option to create custom dashboards to display a large range of information.

Step #4 – Production Increase

By displaying real-time data to your employees about the machines they are working on, you can expect efficiency to increase and production to go up.

Step #5 – Analyze

With the ability to see both real-time data as well as view historical reporting, plant managers and supervisors can analyze the data and make informed, profitable decisions.

Step #6 – More Production Increase!

With the ability to analyze machine performances and make data-driven decisions, production can be expected to increase again. Improved cycle times, accurate quoting, limited downtime and maintenance will all help your bottom line.

There you have it, that is how machine monitoring works in a nutshell. At FreePoint, we are dedicated to helping manufacturing companies improve their bottom line, engage their employees 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.

Are you interested in implementing machine monitoring? Whether you just want to learn more, or are ready to begin the transition to industry 4.0 – reach out to us today!

FreePoint Helps A Customer Increase Their Productivity By 42%

The following case study demonstrates how FreePoint’s technologies were successfully used by their customer to help increase the productivity of a critical machine by 42%.

The customer is a leading international manufacturer and distributor of high quality die sets, components, steel plates, and metal fabrications used in the production of tools, dies, and molds. The following figures demonstrate the impact of FreePoint Technologies’ system.   

During FreePoint’s ShiftWorx training in November 2015 with the client, ShiftWorx tools were used to assess the impact of the company’s recent continuous improvement project with a critical vertical machining centre. In September 2015 the customer implemented a change in their process, and FreePoint decided to use that situation as a training example.

The first chart below shows the active machining time for the machine from October 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016. FreePoint used this period to establish a “baseline” from which to compare the future improvements against. The period was selected for the following reasons:

  • The machine was operated by the same operator for the same shift in a steady fashion for a long period of time
  • The period did not include the traditional vacation period (July and August)
  • Workload varied from week to week and month to month, but a 9 month period leveled out the peaks and valleys.
  • “Zero days” show up on the chart but are excluded from the average calculation.
  • The percentage are based on a 24 hour (or 1440 minute) “day”. They can easily be converted to a shift by multiplying the percentage by 1440 (total for a 24 hour day) and then dividing by the minutes in that shift. (For instance, 11.72% of a 480-minute shift would be 35%)

The chart below shows that on average, the machine operated 11.72% of a 24 hour day, or 169 minutes of “value adding” time on a single 8-hour shift, which equates to 34.2%.

 

For comparison purposes, the following chart shows the summer months – June 2015 and July 2015. There are 3 weeks of inactivity, likely due to holidays or lack of work for the machine. The daily average is down a bit, to 10% of a 24 hour period, or 144 minutes or 30% for the 8-hour shift.

The month of September shows a slight increase over the pre-summer numbers, at 12.75% of a 24 hour period, or 183 minutes of value adding time per day or 38% for the 8-hour shift.

The month of October comes in at 13.46% of 24 hours, or 194 minutes or 40.4% of an 8-hour shift.

And finally, November 2016 (up to November 25th) comes in at 16.76%, or 241 minutes of value adding activity, equal to 50.2% of the 8-hour shift.

This represents a 42.6% increase in value adding machining time when compared to the baseline established for the 9 month period from October 2015 through June 2016.

We had the opportunity to ask the customer some clarifying questions to gain an insight into the effect FreePoint Technologies had on their business.

Q: What problem were you trying to solve?

A: The problem we were trying to solve was to reduce setup times on the machine and to increase the time the machine was working.

Q: What change or changes made the biggest impact?

A: The two biggest changes were that we added setup vises for clamping material, and made changes to our programming. Parts are put in vice and clamped square, reducing setup time on the first side. We also made changes to the program so that the face head was in contact with the material making chips more often. We did this by reducing air passes and reducing program editing by the operator.

Q: How long did it take to implement the change?

A: It took about 2 weeks to implement the changes and we saw results immediately.

For more information on how FreePoint can help your continuous improvement efforts, please contact engage@getfreepoint.comRemember, you can’t improve what you don’t measure!

 

FreePoint adds to its Board of Directors

FreePoint is thrilled to announce that Richard Kostoff and Tom O’Brien have joined our Board of Directors, effective immediately.

Richard (Rick) Kostoff is the founder and Chair of Temple Rock Holdings Inc., and principal of Templar Investments Ltd. A former Deputy Chair of TD Securities Inc., Richard is a past board member of the Ontario Financing Authority and former Chair of the OCADU Foundation. He currently serves as a member of the Independent Review Committee for Fidelity Investments Canada Ltd.  Additional appointments include Chair of Smooth Commerce Inc., and the boards of Healthcare 365, Novari Health Inc., and Freepoint Technologies.

Tom O’Brien is a retired partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. After starting with the firm in 1973, he worked in both in the Windsor and Toronto offices. In 1998, Tom was asked to start the Canadian Automotive Industry Group in 1998, a role he held until 2009. He is currently President of Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards, Chairman of the South West Ontario Tourism Corporation, and Board member of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation. He was also a Director and Acting Chair of the Yves Landry Foundation, a national foundation that was established after the death of Yves Landry, Chairman, President and CEO of Chrysler Canada Ltd.  The directors of the group are from some of the largest automotive companies in Canada, such as Magna International, The Woodbridge Group, Daimler Chrysler Canada, etc.

Rick and Tom bring a tremendous amount of industry and investment experience to our organization, as well as a great wealth of knowledge and critical relationships.  We are very excited to have them involved at the Board level as together we plan our course for the future!