CASE STUDY | Machine Shop Increases Productivity By 69% In One Year

Learn How FreePoint’s ShiftWorx™ MES Successfully Helped a Machine Shop Save $325/day by Increasing Productivity 69% in One Year!

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 ShiftWorx™ MES solution.

The image below (the before scenario) shows pertinent productivity information from these 4 machines from a typical day before the integration.  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) and set-up 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.  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 before snapshot.  The result from integrating ShiftWorx™ MES 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 productivity before in one month, to the same month one year later.  As illustrated in the graph, every day of the month before had machine activity, meaning that employees were in the shop running the machines.  The year after, 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 the year previous, to 56% on a typical 17 hour day 12 months later 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™ MES SaaS subscription is recovered in the first day of every month.  It’s hard to beat that kind of ROI!

For More Information on How ShiftWorx™ MES SaaS Can Benefit Your Manufacturing Operation, Please Contact Us to Schedule Your Consultation and Live Demo Specific to Your Industry!

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FreePoint Joins BC FOOD & BEVERAGE

FreePoint has the right ingredients for Food & Beverage Manufacturers to GROW, and we’re proud to bring the ShiftWorx™ MES solution to the members of the BC FOOD & BEVERAGE Association.

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How Shimco North America is Using ShiftWorx Plus

We recently had a discussion with Sandeep Oberoi from Shimco North America where he explained how ShiftWorx is bringing transparency to their data through remote monitoring, real time information, dashboards with KPI’s, and automated reporting.

Over their 30 years in business, Shimco has provided custom shims and small parts to global aerospace, defense, medical and industrial supply chains.

Listen to more of what Sandeep’s goals are for Shimco and implementing machine monitoring within the organization.

ShiftWorx Plus allows you to maintain your operations from a distance by logging and reporting on metrics ranging from job, operator and scrap, to parts, SKUs and more. You can also create custom, role-specific dashboards for your managers and supervisors; so everybody stays in the know, even from home. To find out how ShiftWorx Plus can help your shop drive improvement and help guide data driven decisions, book your demo today.

How Trillium Metal Stampings is Using ShiftWorx Plus

We recently had the chance to sit down with Sarah Tebbutt, the Plant Manager at Trillium Metal Stampings in Kitchener Ontario, Canada and discuss how ShiftWorx can benefit manufacturers in the metal stamping, weld assembly, and electro/mechanical assembly industries through eliminating paper processes and gaining transparency in the data for machine operators.

Over their 30 years in business, Trillium Metal Stampings has supplied the automotive, appliance, construction, electrical, healthcare, locomotive and material handling industries with high-quality parts.

When we met Sarah at a GTA networking event hosted by EMC,  the team at Trillium Metal Stampings was looking to roll out their current ERP system to the plant floor but the licensing costs and the technical barriers didn’t make it the best option.  After seeing the capabilities of ShiftWorx Plus and speaking with our representative, she knew that the information shared through ShiftWorx was exactly what they wanted their operators to see.

Listen to more of what Sarah’s goals are for Trillium and implementing machine monitoring within the organization.

ShiftWorx Plus allows you to maintain your operations from a distance by logging and reporting on metrics ranging from job, operator and scrap, to parts, SKUs and more. You can also create custom, role-specific dashboards for your managers and supervisors; so everybody stays in the know, even from home. To find out how ShiftWorx Plus can help your shop drive improvement and help guide data driven decisions, book your demo today.

2019 Canadian Tooling and Machining Association’s Annual General Meeting

As a proud member of the Canadian Tool and Machining Association (CTMA), FreePoint is excited to again be attending the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in London, Ontario. The Annual General Meeting is always a great opportunity to learn about the association’s accomplishments over the past year, while also setting the stage for the years to come. We’re looking forward to hearing what is sure to be an insightful and inspiring Keynote Address by Scott Kress and can’t wait to congratulate this year’s Apprentice Award Recipients.

The CTMA represents Canadian tooling manufacturers at various levels of government and works together with other associations to promote and protect the interests of the overall manufacturing industry.

If you’re a tooling and machining manufacturer within Canada, you should consider reaching out to the CTMA to become a part of this rewarding community.

Why Employee Engagement Matters in Manufacturing

The term “employee engagement” might sound like just one more inaccessible management consultant’s buzzword but, in actuality, the importance of positive employee engagement certainly can’t be overstated. Companies that fail to take employee engagement seriously often suffer from poor productivity, worrying staff retention, and weak profit margins due to fast staff turnaround and disenfranchized people functioning at minimum velocity in under-valued jobs.

What do we mean by “engagement”?
Engagement is about focus, presence, enthusiasm, and, perhaps, most importantly, purpose. If you can provide reward in ways additional to the obvious financial, some surprising things will happen.

Job satisfaction is that intangible product of a positive environment that might surprise and enthuse when present, but certainly dishearten when absent.

Engaged people naturally go above and beyond what is required of them because they feel a part of something important; they want to contribute to the bigger picture; and they can see how the end product benefits society in some way (perhaps by just making everyone else’s lives a little easier, or more pleasant). Engaged workers feel included, and they feel valued, so they repay you in dedication, loyalty; all with the unifying power of the positive person.

Some facts
It’s estimated that over 25% of all workforces are subject to reduced staff retention, and a third of those are amongst the most talented, motivated employees (under the right conditions). It’s a commonly recognized belief that nurtured talent thrives, while ignored talent and enthusiasm diminishes.

A piece of research carried out by recruitment website, Glassdoor, concluded that 54% of currently employed individuals felt confident that if they were to quit or lose their job, they’d be successful in finding a comparable job within six months.

If employees know that there’s something equivalent or alternative just around the corner, then we have to make the manufacturing industry an engaging employer who trains, invests, and retains their most valuable resource – their people. In short, if you don’t make the workplace a satisfying, rewarding, and engaging place to work, you’re going to lose your staff. Or continue to achieve low or mediocre productivity.

So, how do you keep hold of your most talented employees? And how do you nurture the dedication and enthusiasm of the rest of the workforce? Everyone deserves to feel valued, so here are some tips on methods to keep your workers happy and engaged.

So, how do you engage your staff?

A bit of civility doesn’t cost a penny, but it could surprise you. Words of encouragement and appreciation go a long way in nurturing a positive working environment. It’s said that “a thank you is worth its weight in gold” and it’s undoubtedly true that verbal recognition for a job well done is a great morale booster.

A “thank you” card might feel a little “soft-skill” but who wouldn’t appreciate a personal note from their boss recognizing their contribution? A team night out can help amalgamate a disparate workforce, as long as it remains optional and there is no sense of social rejection for those that choose not to attend.

There is very little in life guaranteed to stultify more than repetition and the prospect of eternal, monotonous servitude. Engage your workforce by listening to them and involving them in change. Workers who operate machinery, for example, are most likely to have lucid, valid perceptions of how to improve productivity, so invite and listen to their suggestions. But listening isn’t enough – make efforts to implement the improvements that they have instigated and credit them for their input.

Enthusiastic individuals who have proven their mettle on the work floor should be offered opportunities to develop, and training them in new roles (or offering secondments to other departments) is a great way to reward dedication. Of course, not everyone wants to progress, and this should certainly be respected if they’re performing well in their current role.


Likewise, forcing the workforce to carry out training courses that feel irrelevant or counter-intuitive to their current role can be disenfranchizing.

Everyone has a life outside of work and accommodating people’s family lives goes a long way to garnering a positive working environment. Flexibility goes both ways, of course, so if you can help your workers when they need time off to attend something important, they’re going to be much more likely to go out of their way to help you out when you most need them.

Employee engagement tools
Machine monitoring is an employee engagement tool that doubles as an efficiency monitor. Machine monitoring hardware is compatible with most analog and digital machines, so adopting this technology costs much less than you might think.

metal machining industry. Worker or service engineer operating cnc milling machine at factory

In essence, machine monitoring software collects efficiency data that can help improve productivity and increase employee engagement by putting the individual in control of their daily activity. Data collated from machine monitoring can be used to justify incentives and reward the most hard-working, while giving those who might naturally sit in the background to recognize that greater contribution brings better rewards.

Machine monitoring introduces gamification into the workplace as a means of incorporating data into productivity. You can encourage a little friendly competition into daily production by recognizing the best performers and the best improvers; all backed up with a transparent, irrefutable data stream.

Running contests on the shop floor is an excellent way of engaging your workers; encouraging a sense of healthy competition and camaraderie if the contest requires teamwork.

There are lots of ways of helping promote a positive working environment with engaged employees who are likely to go the extra mile for you. Most require a just change in culture as opposed to a financial investment, so can you really afford to deny your workforce the opportunity to fully engage with your workplace?

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7 Keys To Boost Your Workplace Culture

According to a recent survey of workplace culture carried out by Gallup, manufacturing has the lowest percentage of positive employee engagement in the US; falling well-short of the national average. There’s a reason why our employees are bored, disengaged and unmotivated, so it would be remiss of us to dismiss the importance of excellent management in turning those frowns upside down.

Engagement is the key word, here. And we can’t expect our employees to engage more if we aren’t prepared to make some changes ourselves. Engagement is a two-way street – so how do we cross that road together?

How do we improve workplace culture to ensure that the front line is at its most productive?

Employee engagement

A disengaged workforce is an unmotivated, unproductive one. Disengagement spreads quickly, but, thankfully, we can steer the workforce back onto the rails of engagement.

A good manager is a great observer – looking out for motivation killers and addressing them. Negative colleagues; lack of organization; lack of opportunity poor communication; the feeling of unimportance – all classic downers that can be successfully addressed and balanced to remedy a struggling workplace culture.

FreePoint’s black-box technology offers an excellent method of engagement by gauging productivity, but it won’t boost productivity unless your people managers encourage joint ownership of productivity data. Information made available for all to assess their own productivity is empowering.


Almost 80% of the learners/workers say that they would be more productive if their university/institution or work was more game-like.

FreePoint has an array of gamification packages that motivate the workforce by placing them in control of their productivity. Giving employee’s ownership over their own assessment, reinforced by positive management, is a great way to engage a worker.

Gamification involves reward-systems, making quantifiable tasks more engaging by focusing an employee’s productivity against norms of their performance, and the performance of their peers. This helps people to recognize where they can improve, giving them a gauge of their progress in the context of the workplace, focusing on progression rather than stagnation.

Create accountability

By putting the worker in control of their productivity, we encourage accountability. Great managers help their teams to homogenize, with the recognition of how each role contributes to collective success. By identifying underperforming employees (and, indeed, managers) and enabling them to take ownership of their development with your support, you can fix broken cogs that prevent the entire factory from turning.


Forty-six percent of employees rarely or never leave a meeting knowing what they’re supposed to do next.

There is nothing more disempowering than expecting everyone on the shop-floor to just get on with it, without providing context. Motivated employees are conscious of the role they play in the bigger picture, and it’s essential that each cog in the wheel is given equal importance and reward – even if that reward is just recognition of a valuable job well done. Without effective communication, the workforce will struggle to meet goals or even function. Employees should understand the hierarchy and expertise within the company, and who they can contact to voice concerns.

FreePoint’s Shiftworx Standard package provides a central focus for sharing and disseminating business-crucial information in real-time, via a variety of communication strategies including through apps and smart devices.

Make People Feel Important

A motivated workforce is one that recognizes the value of an individual’s contribution. In manufacturing, this is often overlooked, resulting in a culture of disenfranchisement and indifference. We can change this by helping employees recognize that their role is an invaluable part of the complex infrastructure that completes the manufacturing process.

Bring customers to the plant so that they can meet your employees. Share how your product helps the client. And let the client express their appreciation to the people who make things possible. Night shift employees can feel separated from the core of the working community, so try hosting breakfasts, so that the two shifts can meet, amalgamating the work-force along the way.

Making your employees feel valued doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – it’s often down to good management practice, recognizing that everyone counts.

Set standards by having diligent management practicing what they preach – nobody wants to see a lazy manager reaping the benefits of a hard-working team.

Set clear goals and provide feedback

2 employees displaying a collaborative workplace culture

All businesses share a primary goal: Success. Goal settings, aligning and tracking those goals through actions and results are critical to greater business execution…and, as a result, greater success.

Setting reasonable and achievable goals is a great way to focus an employee’s energy on succeeding. But make sure it’s achievable – otherwise, you achieve the adverse, and they’ll feel like they’re failing.

Positive feedback is an essential factor in humanizing your management team – if the focus is on negative feedback, your employees will come to resent your input.

Reward with praise and use gamification so that employees can gauge their progress.

Use technology responsibly

The use of tech doesn’t just mean having computers and an internet connection in the office. It’s about enabling employees with solutions to improve their productivity. You can automate communications to trigger once a milestone has been reached, and collaborate with your staff through discussion forums, such as Asana and Yammer.

Consider whether home-working is appropriate, or teleconferencing can bring down costs where travel is too expensive and time-consuming.

Getting your task-force to respond to their mobile phones, however, isn’t just an excuse to invade their personal time, remember. Other industries are guilty of this, and we should try to avoid it in manufacturing. Respecting each other’s work/life balance is important.

So, there you go – 7 ways in which you can turn a negative workplace culture into an environment of sharing, rewarding and, most importantly, productivity! If you are interested in learning more about how you can engage and motivate your employees on the shop floor, read more on our blog, or reach out to us today. We love chatting with manufacturers about how they can improve the productivity of their people and their process!

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.


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.


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.


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!

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