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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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.

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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

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. 

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!

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!