Case Study: Machine Shop Increases Efficiency By 69% In One Year

The following case study demonstrates how FreePoint Technologies has successfully helped a customer increase efficiency by 69% over a one-year time span and saved them $325/day.

The customer is a modern machine shop located in the border region in Mexico. The shop has 4 Electrical Discharge Machines (EDM) that are critical to the company’s production. The following figures demonstrate the impact of FreePoint Technologies’ system.   

The image below (the before scenario) shows pertinent productivity information from these 4 machines from a typical day in October 2015. The blue bars illustrate the EDM machines’ run times for a 24 hour period and the white gaps indicate the setup time between each run. Both the run (blue bar) & setup times (white bar) vary depending on the job. The shop, in the before scenario, required 24 hours of scheduled production time to produce a total of 43.5 hours of “value adding” activity using the 4 machines on that day.

 

The screenshot below illustrates the exact same 4 EDM machines shown one year later (October 2016). Similar to the previous scenario, the blue bars still vary in accordance with the jobs being run on each machine, however, the setup times (the white gaps between the blue bars) are now consistently smaller than the 2015 snapshot. The result from integrating FreePoint Technologies’ system is that less time is being lost between productive “value adding” periods. For the customer, this means that more value adding activity (specifically 57 hours on this day) occurred in less scheduled production time (two 8.5 hour shifts vs. three 8 hour shifts). All of the recovered lost machine time was then aggregated, and the machines were freed up for an entire shift. Not only does this decrease production cost for parts being produced, but it increases the plant’s capacity and ability to take on more work.

 

The image below compares the month of October 2015 to the same month, one year later in 2016. As illustrated in the graph, every day of the month in October 2015 had machine activity, meaning that employees were in the shop running the machines. In 2016, the machine activity occurred only on weekdays, freeing up most weekend shifts as well. This allowed the customer to increase their capacity and take on more business. The machine’s efficiency went up from 33% on a typical 24 hour day in 2015 to 56% on a typical 17 hour day in 2016 representing an increase of 69%.

At that rate of productivity improvement, the system as implemented paid for itself in 20 days, and the cost of the ShiftWorx subscription is recovered in the first day of every month. It’s hard to beat that kind of ROI!

For more information on how a FreePoint system can benefit your plant, please contact paulh@getfreepoint.com

Smart Manufacturing: What You Need To Know

In the 80s & 90s, “Smart Manufacturing didn’t exist. Industries streamlined their limited automation processes led by PLCs & controllers through practices such as Lean Manufacturing. While these “practices” were termed as game-changers, their value only diminished at the turn of the century, and today account for minor incremental returns. Fast forward to 2017, and these practices are now being replaced by “smart technologies” that promise a more holistic approach towards increasing efficiency and innovation.

Advanced manufacturing technologies spearheaded by concepts such as Smart Manufacturing, IoT and Digital Factory are already making headlines and rapidly transforming the global industrial landscape. The word “smart” is simply an objective that has found profound use in today’s devices, phones, houses, grids and industries alike. Smart Manufacturing is a term reserved for industrial automation and includes the:

  1. Design
  2. Deployment
  3. Management

of the entire manufacturing lifecycle, enabling preemptive management of industrial assets through real-time information & execution.

The road towards Smart Manufacturing started in 2014 when the US Department of Energy released its Notice of Intent for Smart Manufacturing. From thereon, the US Government has promoted this concept through its renewed, cross-sector public-private partnership called Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

smart manufacturing graphic freepoint technologies

Systems based on Smart Manufacturing principles are designed with advanced information processing capabilities, deep-rooted communication and synergistic integration of all available resources. The final goal is to automate the processes of monitoring & control, and in turn, increase productivity and efficiency.
The technology particularly works on some specific areas of interest, which include:

  • Advanced Sensors
  • Control Systems & Data Analytics
  • Predictive modeling
  • Interoperable Communication Platforms
  • Application Toolkits
  • Testbeds

Smart Manufacturing, IoT and Digital Factory are already making headlines and rapidly transforming the global industrial landscape. Smart Manufacturing Technologies plan on driving the industrial revolution through three progressive phases:

Phase 1:

Integration of all assets whether they are located at individual plants or enterprise headquarters to instill immediate improvements in costs through coordination.

Phase 2:

The data collected from these assets will be fed into real-time simulation models to develop manufacturing intelligence to allow decisions to be taken based on facts and not predictions. Furthermore, this will allow industrial assets to respond flexibly to changing market requirements.

Phase 3:

As the manufacturing intelligence grows through the accumulation of Big Data, productivity, efficiency and safety of the entire chain of operations will increase.

How Smart Manufacturing Links to Other Automation Technologies Like IoT

It’s simple, Smart Manufacturing is a comprehensive upgrade to all outdated industrial systems. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are components necessary for the success of Smart Manufacturing, as its very core is dependent upon reliable networking between industrial assets.

Examples of Smart Manufacturing

Smart Manufacturing upgrades existing concepts so that a better response can be issued in the face of any problem. These include:

Machine Monitoring, which gives manufacturers the ability to monitor their machines in real-time, and accumulate data which can then be analyzed.

Advanced Robotics or smart machines operate autonomously and require little human interventions, communicating directly with manufacturing systems.

Integration with Supply-chain, real-time communication between supply-chain assets and manufacturing assets allow not only flexible outputs but provide a competitive edge through the use of Big Data Analysis.

In a nutshell, Smart Manufacturing is an integration of industrial automation technologies and is bigger than any single concept whether its IoT, Smart Machines or Digital Factory. The final goal is a more coordinated approach towards manufacturing during normal operation or crises.

While “Smart Manufacturing”, may seem like a thing of the future for most companies, manufacturers (big or small) don’t have to wait for implementation of new equipment to start seeing positive results. At FreePoint Technologies, our simple and noninvasive machine monitoring software connects with each of your current machines; regardless of brand, type, complexity or age. Going beyond the machine, we also focus on engaging and empowering your employees, equipping them with real-time data to see tangible progress, and allowing them to make informed decisions.

book a demonstration freepoint technologies

References

http://www.mesa.org/en/resources/MESAWhitePaper52-SmartManufacturing-LandscapeExplainedShortVersion.pdf
https://www.rockwellautomation.com/resources/downloads/rockwellautomation/pdf/about-us/company-overview/TIMEMagazineSPMcoverstory.pdf
https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/02/f20/smart_mfg_industry_day_chan.pdf
http://www.us-tech.com/RelId/1707353/ISvars/default/From_Machine_Monitoring_to_Smart_Manufacturing.htm

Fanshawe Industry Day

Featured Article in the London Free Press

We are featured in today’s (March 27, 2017) London Free Press!

The article, titled Closing the knowledge Gap, explains how companies like FreePoint Technologies is growing London’s tech sector and putting the muscle into the region’s all-important manufacturing base.

Read the full article here.

BDC Study: Industry 4.0 – The New Industrial Revolution

Often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0 will have a profound impact on all manufacturing sectors across the world. But are Canadian entrepreneurs ready? In the first study of its kind, BDC takes an in-depth look at how Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are adapting to this new revolution, offering valuable insights and recommendations to help make your digital transformation a successful one.

The BDC report on Industry 4.0 includes:

  • Why it’s important to start investing in this area right now
  • 3 ways to introduce Industry 4.0 into your manufacturing business
  • How 3 companies are using new digital technology to transform their business
  • 4 tips for getting your business started with digital technologies
  • How digital technology is dramatically improving productivity, growth and product quality for Canadian manufacturers

Click here to view:

Fact Sheet

Complete Study 

Industry 4.0 – The Modern Industrial Revolution

The world underwent a massive technological change with the discovery of solid state technology. The 1960s & ’70s saw a major technological upheave, which later on came to be known as the 3rd Industrial Revolution. Through the application of electronics and use of computer technology, conventional assembly lines were given the first stint of automation.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the world had transformed into a global village, with all the credit going to one entity, i.e. Internet. This very entity is the majority contributor & motivator behind the modern industrial revolution, Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 involves a series of groundbreaking innovations in production and leaps the industrial processes towards higher productivity. It shifts the handling of all production processes to a chain of autonomous devices, interlinked with each other along the entire value chain.

Here’s a better way to look at it. Imagine a model of a “smart factory”, where all physical processes from maintaining heat to checking assembly lines are monitored by an array of sensors. These sensors, in turn, are connected to computer units that monitor & control their output based on the sensory inputs. Furthermore, the bulk of all this data is fed into a business-centric computer system that receives inputs regarding customers’ requirement & market conditions.

Finally, a decision is taken by the Control System to scale up/down manufacturing based on real-world parameters in real-time.

The major features of Industry 4.0 can be summed up as:

  • Interoperability: Cyber-physical systems allow the use of multi-platform hardware/software.
  • Virtualization: Control programs are able to simulate manufacturers’ requirements based on real-world data.
  • Decentralization: Ability of control systems to work independently.
  • Real-time capability: Removes the uncertainty factors within the supply-chain.
  • Modularity: Industry 4.0 flexibility allows for quick customization & upgrades.

Industry 4.0 isn’t waiting to be implemented, rather it has already started gaining acceptance in several industries. The following companies have already changed their course to suit the canons of Industry 4.0:

  • Bosch Rexroth, a German Engineering Firm that develops mobile applications, machinery applications and factory automation services
  • Siemens, a well-known name in the world of industrial automation, Siemens has begun to integrate its solutions in a more streamlined manner in line with Industry 4.0
  • SAP, an Enterprise Software company that has started a collaboration with various clients on producing implementable Industry 4.0 models

 

Industry 4.0 hard at work at SIEMENS 

Other companies like Wittenstein, General Electric, Festo, Rockwell Automation, etc. are also in line and are gradually leading the Industrial Revolution.

But how does implementing Industry 4.0 and its associated concepts affect you and your plant?

Intelligence

In addition to monitoring your machines & equipment, Industry 4.0 solutions will safely control these systems and intelligently predict upcoming faults based on the measurements taken. The deep interconnectivity of each unit will ensure that its tracking & assignment is carried out automatically, irrespective of the complex user requirements.

Greater Productivity

Industry 4.0 will greatly increase the productivity of any manufacturing division. Through meticulous use of resources, control systems would be able to perform a wide variety of tasks in the most efficient manner possible. Not only will wastage of raw materials and energy be curtailed, but the productivity will increase as well as each product will have precision & refinement.

Shorten Time to Market

No matter how efficiently or accurately a product is made, it’s worthless without considering the actual market requirements. An Industry 4.0 solution would encompass the entire lifecycle, from production to consumption, so that manufacturers get real-time requirements regarding the market.

Increased Flexibility

Products can be manufactured based on user requirements, and not on a single design, all the while maintaining the economic efficiency of the plant. Minimum manual interaction would result in maximum plant efficiency, resulting in greater profits, a diverse market share, and tougher competition.

While “Industry 4.0 – The Next Industrial Revolution”, may seem like a thing of the future for most companies, manufacturers (big or small) don’t have to wait for implementation of new equipment to start seeing positive results. At FreePoint Technologies, our simple and noninvasive machine monitoring software connects with each of your current machines; regardless of brand, type, complexity or age. Going beyond the machine, we also focus on engaging and empowering your employees, equipping them with real-time data to see tangible progress, and allowing them to make informed decisions.

book a demonstration freepoint technologies

Receive a Grant up to $100,000 for Installing Machine Monitoring

A partnership between the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA) and the Ontario Centre of Excellence (OCE) created the Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Program (ASCIP) program to fuel productivity enhancements among automotive suppliers in Ontario. This pilot program provides grant funding towards installing machine monitoring equipment and software to make the applicant more productive, innovative, or competitive.

Manufacturers who receive the grant are eligible to put the money towards FreePoint’s Machine Monitoring Software.

Funding Snapshot: ASCIP Technology Adoption Stream

Amount

  • Up to 50% funding coverage up to $100,000 in grant funding for a $200,000 project.
  • Reimbursement is based on completing project milestones and submitting proof of expenses.

Eligible Applicants:

  • Ontario automotive supplier (at least 50% of total revenues must be generated from the auto sector).
    SME ( Only one application per company.

Eligible Projects:

  • Projects must increase suppliers’ capabilities to deliver shorter design cycle times, be more productive and more responsive to changes, and take advantage of new business opportunities.
  • Projects are assessed on their ability to improve product lifecycle management through IT and/or productivity enhancements to manage the entire lifecycle of a product efficiently and cost-effectively.
  • Projects cannot start before being approved for funding and cannot exceed 2 years.

Eligible Expenses:

  • Labour – Capped at 25% of the project budget.
  • Contractors – Two alternative quotes will need to be submitted with the application. Consulting costs are capped at 25% of the project budget.
  • Software (ex. Machine Monitoring)
  • Implementation costs
  • Equipment – May be eligible if it directly relates to a software implementation and leverages benefits of that software.

Timelines:

Intakes for 2017 applications close on November 7 at 2:00pm (Application review meeting: December 11, 2017).

Key Information:

Find out more information on the Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Program

Is your business eligible for the Automotive Supplier Competitiveness Improvement Program?

Grant Deadlines

Next Steps:

For more information on how to take advantage of these savings by installing machine monitoring with FreePoint Technologies, get in touch with Paul Hogendoorn at paulh@getfreepoint.com.

Information sourced from Mentor Works. 

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.”