Manufacturing Machine Maintenance the Smart Way

Question: What is “the world’s most common and safest mode of transportation?”

Wait for it…

elevator maintenance freepoint technologies

Elevators have long been the most common and safest form of transportation.

Answer: Elevators. Those ubiquitous mobile cubicles found in office buildings all over the planet. Elevators are big business, and the manufacturing and servicing these machines is no easy venture. German-based Thyssen Krupp, one of the world’s leading elevator companies, has turned to a disruptive approach to machine maintenance to keep the trains—i.e. elevators–running on time.

As Thyssen Krupp tells it, “Worldwide, more than 12 million elevators make seven billion trips and move over one billion people every day. Yet every year, maintenance needs render elevators unavailable for a total of 190 million hours.”

The deck is stacked against efficiently maintaining that kind of fleet; or at least it used to be.

With the advent of IoT (Internet of Things) machine sensor technology, machine learning, and cloud-based asset maintenance software, digital prescriptive maintenance can be conducted as easily as the touch of a button.

Thyssen Krupp employs predictive machine maintenance to dramatically increase elevator availability by reducing out-of-service situations through real-time diagnostics. They are able to predict maintenance issues before they occur, and alert elevator engineers by flagging the need to replace components and systems before the end of their lifecycle.

Thyssen Krupp believes that the growing requirement of high-speed and energy-efficient elevators in hotels, hospitals, parking buildings, commercial, residential, and industrial sector will be boosting demand for IoT in elevators market.

Other manufacturers are taking to predictive maintenance to manage the machines running their factory floors and the machines their customers rely on. Sensing end-user demand, manufacturers are focusing on the development of smart products with interactive touch screen panels, intuitive technology, and cloud-predictive maintenance. Customers are looking for manufactured products that are highly efficient, effective, and engaging. The demand is going up for smart products.

machine maintenance freepoint technologies

Historically, manufacturers have practiced preventative maintenance.

First, it’s important to distinguish between predictive and preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance, a.k.a reactive maintenance, breakdown maintenance or run-to-failure, is a maintenance practice that seeks to decrease the likelihood of a machine’s failure through the performance of regular maintenance. However, predictive maintenance relies on data to determine a machine’s likelihood of failure before that failure occurs. This allows manufacturers to move from a repair and replace model to a predict and fix maintenance model using predictive analysis.

The good news is, machine monitoring costs less than you think (see our June blog). Rather than having to alter or rebuild existing infrastructures, bolt-on monitoring solutions like our ShiftWorx Platform are bolt-on, making them extremely simple to incorporate on the shop-floor. Machine monitoring solutions can help manufacturers save on production costs, helping pay off the system in days rather than months and years. Once switched on, machine monitoring solutions instantly start paying themselves off. Learn more.

The Rewards

The main objectives or rewards for manufacturers to move to a predictive maintenance model are about improving production efficiency and improving maintenance efficiency. The cost savings can be enormous.

A recent McKinsey Global Institute report as one of the most valuable applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) on the factory floor. The report, The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype, calculated that predictive maintenance manufacturers’ savings would total $240 to $630 billion in 2025.

Predictive maintenance in factories could reduce maintenance cost by 10 to 40 percent by fostering better maintenance, according to McKinsey. It also reduces downtime by 50 percent and lowers equipment and capital investment by 3 to 5 percent by extending machine life.

A report by Deloitte University Press, Industry 4.0 and manufacturing ecosystems provides examples in which, for companies like Schneider Electric and Caterpillar, predictive maintenance and understanding root cause of failures can offer millions of dollars in potential savings along with far fewer days of equipment downtime.

The McKinsey study calculated that predictive maintenance manufacturers’ savings would total $240 to $630 billion in 2025. Predictive maintenance in factories could reduce maintenance cost by 10 to 40 percent by fostering better maintenance, according to McKinsey.

GE Transportation is moving toward self-aware locomotives and digitalization of the entire rail operation system. Sensors mounted on railcars enable operators to receive real-time notifications about the condition of key railcar components, as well as broader risk events related to broken wheels, hot bearings, and handbrake application. Using predictive maintenance, GE Transportation is applying the technology to help extend the life of locomotives, reduce fuel consumption, decrease emissions, boost velocity and improve operations.

locomotive freepoint technologies

Locomotive technology has come a long way since the invention of the steam engine.

And we come full circle…

Thyssen Krupp competitor, Otis Elevators, “the world’s largest manufacturer and maintainer of people-moving products”–elevators, escalators and moving walkways—is using smart sensor technology in its “Otis ONE” digital platform that monitors and gathers data from more than 300,000 connected units to create predictive insights and a more proactive service solution for their customers. This allows Otis teams to stay ahead of potential issues – keeping equipment running and passengers moving safely and reliably. In the event when service is required, OTISLINE customer care can proactively contact the customer and service professionals to arrive on site with the information and parts needed to enable a faster return to service.

Predictive maintenance in manufacturing is becoming the norm, not the exception

Autonomous operations in manufacturing may be futuristic in the eyes of some but your business can start moving towards operational intelligence. For example, ask yourself, how do factory analytics impact your business and what software will work with your current manufacturing execution system (MES) to give you the data that is critical to your business. Do you have intelligent software solutions in place to help manage your maintenance and service operations to make them more efficient?

For more on how technology can help you improve your own maintenance needs and open services-based offerings for your customers while enabling cost savings and productivity gains throughout your organization, get in touch with us.

FreePoint Founder Redefines Success in Manufacturing Automation Magazine

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Paul Hogendoorn – FreePoint Founder

Earlier last week, FreePoint Founder and Chair, Paul Hogendoorn was featured in Manufacturing Automation Magazine for his article titled “Redefining Success in Manufacturing”. Throughout his article, Paul explains the importance for manufacturers to not only measure their success, but to properly define what it means for them, and what it looks like in their shop.

Depending on who you ask in a manufacturing environment, success could look like a lot of things. Is it profitability and growth, or stability and job security? The challenge with having one catch-all definition is that success looks different depending on your manufacturing environment.

Many manufacturers like to use OEE as their metric for and definition of success, but as Paul outlines in his article, that may not always be the best indicator, as OEE does not easily apply to operations where each job is different. Instead, for some shops, machine utilization and average set up times may be far better metrics to use.

Despite our tendencies to aim for objectives others suggest as valuable, we must first define success in a way that is relevant to everyone on the plant floor. At the end of the day, it all has to do with what factors directly lead to success in your shop, and how those factors can be made quantifiable.

Don’t struggle to get the most out of your IIoT solution. Make sure you are collecting the right metrics to determine your success so that you can focus on the most important factors of your production process.

Get all the expert insights by reading the full article here.

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Ontario’s Automotive Modernization Program: Why You Should Care

Ontario’s automotive sector has always played a crucial role in the Canadian economy. With over 100,000 auto-related jobs across the province, investing in the sustainability and advancement of the auto industry is vitally important – which is why we are excited to hear about Ontario’s new Automotive Modernization Program.

Aimed at helping Manufacturers adopt new technologies quickly, the new program provides eligible manufacturers with a grant up to $100,000 to support purchases and projects that fall under one or both of these two categories:

  • Technology Adoption
  • Lean Manufacturing

This program has made emerging technologies significantly more attainable for manufacturers considering a digital transformation. You can now reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 for a fraction of the cost by implementing any of our advanced manufacturing solutions. Whether you are looking to use machine monitoring, downtime tracking, or a customizable API – you could be eligible for a grant up to $100,000 . With our state-of-the-art data visualization software and extensive suite of machine monitoring solutions, you can begin your digital transformation while maintaining eligibility for government funding.

What gets measured gets improved”. Our IIoT solutions help you measure everything you need to measure to improve, including establishing an empirical baseline for where you are today. Our visualization tools will drive productivity improvements right away, and our reporting tools will help you identify the things that need to be done to get even better. If you have been considering a FreePoint system in your plant, there has never been a better time, so reach out to us today!

 

Check out the following links for additional information:

www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-automotive-modernization-program#section-2

www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/vic-fedeli-announces-10-million-automotive-sector-modernization-program-1.5277165

www.ontario.ca/page/driving-prosperity-future-ontarios-automotive-sector

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.

The Manufacturing Trifecta

Just in case you don’t know the term, “hitting the Trifecta” is an expression used to describe the ultimate winning bet on a horse race. It refers to picking the top 3 finishers of the race, in the correct order. Since the odds against doing so are extremely low, the winning payouts are often extremely high. If you picked the right horses in the right order, a two-dollar bet could return a 4-digit payout.

Wouldn’t it be great to know which 3 horses to bet on, and in which order?

In many manufacturing companies in North America today, there are many competing ideas and priorities being considered by companies:

  • What is the most important improvement to make first?
  • What investment will yield the biggest return?
  • Which improvements will prove critical, and which ones will result in minimal, if any, gain?

There is an approach that your manufacturing company can follow to “hit the trifecta”. It’s a simple 3 step process. The first step is easy, and relatively low cost. The second step requires a bit more effort but is risk mitigated because it is based on the results delivered in step 1. The third step requires the most investment, but since it is based on the results delivered in the first 2 steps, it is not only risk mitigated, but the cost of the investment may have already been paid for by the results of the first 2 steps. Picking the order is just as important as picking the horses.

I want to show you how you can hit the trifecta in your plant.

Pulling off the Manufacturing Trifecta

Step 1 Icon that is a circleStep 1: Establish an empirical baseline to truly understand the critical “value-adding” activities on your plant floor. This is done simply by connecting your machines to FreePoint’s ShiftWorx system. It is remarkably inexpensive and can be typically be done in less than an hour without modifying the machine or your current infrastructure. Within 30 days of placing this small bet, you will not only have established an empirical baseline of your plant, but you will also have given real-time visibility to the plant that puts everyone on the same page, aiming for the same thing you are: productivity and profit improvement.

Step 2 Icon that is a circleStep 2: Engage your people in the process of improvement by using FreePoint’s Narrative software. You will now be collecting all the information you need to determine all the reasons your equipment and processes aren’t running as effectively as they should be. And more importantly than that, you will have made your people a part of the solution and improvement process, every hour of every day. They will be engaged. FreePoint’s Narrative software is embraced by workers when they conclude that management is not monitoring them, but rather listening to them. This is a powerful game-changer for many companies, especially those companies where people are their biggest input cost. Those same people can also be their biggest asset.

Step 3 Icon that is a circleStep 3: Connect your live, empirical machine data, and your fully engaged people, to your schedule and workflow plan dynamically – in real-time. Most plants use a combination of accounting systems, whiteboards, even excel spreadsheets, to plan and then report on the performance of their productivity. Some may have an ERP system deployed and some may even be considering an MES system. The problem with most ERP and MES system deployments is that it represents a single, very large bet, that will take a very long time to pay out if it pays out at all. FreePoint’s approach is to use what was gained (knowledge, insight, plus early financial payback) from the first 2 stages, tying them together in a process using visualization tools that line up with your plant’s current effective processes. Placing a bet on a system that takes years to fully implement and requires your manufacturing processes to be modified for the system to work is not just a bad bet, it’s often a losing bet.

The Outcome

factory clip art freepoint technologiesIf you are still reading, you are probably wondering how long it should take to hit this trifecta. The first step should take 30 days and should result in a payback 30 days later. The second step should take 30 days, and it too should result in a payback in 30 days. The third step should take about 120 days, but it can take as long as you like, because at that point, you will already have great empirical data, engaged and motivated people, and your system can be built to match your improved, and continually improving, manufacturing processes.

What is the expected payback on hitting this trifecta? From our experience, our customers typically see a 10% to 15% improvement at step 1, a further 10% to 15% improvement after step 2, and a 20% to 30% improvement after step 3. Doing the math, that would work out to productivity improvement, or capacity increase, of between 45% and 79%.

There it is, now you have the knowledge on which horses to bet on! Our suggestion: bet on achieving empirical data first, engaging your people second, and digitizing your plan third.

Call FreePoint to get started today.

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Machine Downtime Narration is About Listening to Operators, Not Watching Them

FreePoint’s Narrative – it’s not management watching operators, it’s management listening to operators!

As the Co-Founder and Chairman of FreePoint Technologies, I often find myself speaking with curious prospects who ask a few similar questions:

  1. how does it work?” (how does it increase productivity)
  2. how do the operators feel about being monitored?

The Narrative Application works because it encourages management to listen to their operators, not watch them.

The machine data collected from the ShiftWorx system tells management everything it needs to know about the performance of a machine when it is producing parts. However, the best source of information regarding periods of time when the machine is not producing parts is the operator. Before Narrative was connected to a machine, there were no effective, operator-friendly ways of collecting that valuable operator sourced information.

FreePoint Technologies Narrative Application

Narrative Showing Downtime Periods Explained With Reason Codes

Our Narrative solution allows every customer to easily create their own down time categories and conditions unique to their process and company. Many customers often have a list of events they want to track, but since they track them manually, the events are not captured or reported accurately, nor in real-time. Narrative automatically sets the time boundaries of the event and requires only a simple click on the downtime period to associate the condition to the event. Simple. Quick. Accurate. The result is empirical and actionable information on demand, at the click of a mouse or touch of a finger.

FreePoint Technologies Narrative Reporting

Sample Downtime Report Summary Showing Downtime Codes/Events by Minutes and Frequency

The important part: putting these insights into action in a way that ensures management is listening to its operators, and not simply monitoring machines.

Operators will have their own list of things they believe prevent them from doing a good job. “Looking for tools” is an example I hear often from operators and is a great example of an opportunity to put insight into action right away. A small investment in tools, toolboxes, or tool boards will deliver a quick return on investment right away with saved downtime and will demonstrate that you not only value employee input, but listen to it.

Reason codes entered in Narrative provides a real-time explanation for bottlenecks in your process. Quick response changes have a huge impact; you no longer have to wait 2-3 days to discover what is actually happening on your plant floor and more importantly, the changes that need to be made.

Our studies have shown that simply measuring and displaying up-time in a meaningful and relevant way results in immediate productivity improvements of 10% – 15%, and fully engaging your operators can result in an additional 10% – 15% improvement. (not sure how to do that? Just ask us!)

If you are using FreePoint’s ShiftWorx system to monitor machine up-time, take the next step to understand why your machines are down and to shine the light on the bottlenecks preventing improvements to your production.

If you don’t monitor your machines with ShiftWorx, what are you waiting for?

Check out the following videos if you are interested in knowing more about Narrative or the ShiftWorx Platform.   

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

 

Machine Monitoring Costs Less Than You Think

For any business, the process of implementing any new technology can often seem like a costly and time-consuming task. Industry 4.0 and machine monitoring is no exception.

Emerging technologies and existing technological advancements are paving the way for a revolution in the manufacturing industry; but how much does being a part of this revolution cost? Well, that depends on the technology.

Why Bolt-on Solutions Are Less Expensive

Unlike robotics, AI and fully automated factories, machine monitoring is relatively inexpensive. Instead of the intensive and often costly installation of AI and robotics, machine monitoring can be installed with minimal cost and disruption to machine operations. Rather than having to alter or rebuild existing infrastructures, bolt-on monitoring solutions like our ShiftWorx Platform are bolt-on, making them extremely simple to incorporate on the shop-floor.

By installing our hardware without disrupting machine production, we can provide a cost-efficient solution that saves you money and never contributes to machine downtime. By maintaining a low overhead cost, our solutions also experience impressively quick ROI. In fact, one of our clients managed to achieve an additional +160 hours of machine output per month—both saving and making them a lot more money in the process.

Employee Looking at a ScreenWhen manufacturers are asked what their plant utilization rate is, most plant managers give an answer anywhere between 65-75%. In most cases after machine monitoring is implemented, the actual percentage is revealed to be closer to 25-32%. That massive variance illustrates how quickly machine monitoring solutions can help manufacturers save on production costs, helping payoff the system in days rather than months and years. Once switched on, machine monitoring solutions instantly start paying themselves off.

Overall, transitioning to IIoT doesn’t have to break the bank. By piggy-backing off existing infrastructures as opposed to rebuilding them, machine monitoring can be an attainable and inexpensive means of innovating your production process and enhancing your plant’s productivity.

Get a free quote today and find out for yourself how attainable IIoT can be for your organization.

USMCA Insights Gained on my Visit to Queretaro

On a recent trip to Mexico, I found myself assessing the new United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USCMA), and how it will affect the manufacturing industry—particularly automotive. I wanted to illustrate what changes USMCA brings to the table by examining the agreement objectively and independent of political notions about the leaders or the parties it belongs to.

Flags

Replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which was established in 1994, USMCA’s two biggest changes are to the country of origin rules and labour provisions. Under USMCA, 75% of automobile parts must be manufactured in Mexico, the U.S., or Canada to qualify for zero tariffs –  a 12.5% increase from NAFTA. Further, 40-45% of the parts must be made by employees earning at least $16/hour by 2023.

Over the past 100 or so years, the auto industry has created and sustained a healthy middle class in many countries. In Canada and the US for example, the average auto factory employee’s annual income is roughly 2x the cost of the product they produce – a 2:1 ratio. To this point, this has not been the case in Mexico, but the new USMCA is a move in the right direction.

As Asian and European automakers are scrambling to open plants in North America, the higher costs of manufacturing in Canada due to the new carbon tax and the already-high cost of energy could pose significant challenges to opening these plants in Canada.

It is apparent that the Queretaro region of Mexico has been rewarded with significant investments from major automobile producers from every part of the world due in part to its attractive economic conditions and consistently responsible government administrations over recent decades. Depending on the region, the impacts of USMCA may differ. For Canada, the best outcome may be just to maintain our current manufacturing industry.

From a global environment perspective however, I believe the USMCA is a net positive. Keeping plants open in the U.S. and Canada is better for the global environment, as environmental regulations are tougher and more enforceable in those countries. Improving wages, worker’s rights and protecting human rights is also net positive globally.

As investments continue to flow into the manufacturing sector because of the USMCA, we can expect a greater push for innovation and technological adoption. With manufacturers witnessing the powerful benefits made possible through IIoT, more and more companies will be looking to make the transition to industry 4.0. Though some will approach the transition with a level of uncertainty, we at FreePoint are optimistic and ready to help organizations navigate the changing industrial landscape.

Reach out to us today if you are interested in learning more about Industry 4.0, or you are ready to make the transition. It can start today, in the plants, with the equipment and the people you already have.

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

FreePoint is Attending Microsoft’s Vox ISM Event

FreePoint is excited to be taking part in this year’s Best Manufacturing Apps Conference (BMAC). Hosted by Microsoft Canada partner, VOX ISM, BMAC unites Canadian manufacturers and industry experts, educating them on the latest in digital transformation technologies.

In addition, our President, Paul Hogendoorn is taking part in a panel of technology suppliers addressing industry leaders and manufacturing professionals. As always, FreePoint is excited to be displaying our non-invasive machine monitoring software and hardware solutions.

According to Vox ISM, there are 3 main reasons you should be attending the 2019 BMAC conference:

  1. Interact with BMAC exhibitors showcasing their latest technologies.
  2. The BMAC is recognized as the best platform for Canadian Manufacturers to interactions with the latest trends in the manufacturing industry.
  3. Experience and envision the business relationships being made and developed with prospective exhibitors of your interest.

If you would like to attend this years conference, you can register here.

BMAC VOX ISM Conference