Driving Production Performance With Machine Monitoring and Real Time Data

FreePoint ShiftWorx™ brings Industry 4.0 benefits to manufacturing equipment regardless of age or function. FreePoint’s industrial IoT system connects to any age or type of machine or equipment, gathering valuable data and providing immediate visibility to everyone, engaging employees to use “human intelligence” to improve operations in real time. Manufacturers gain immediate and lasting benefits through increased operational efficiency and capacity throughput, improved employee performance and job satisfaction, and deferred capital expenditures on new equipment.

machine monitoring reporting dashboard

Machine Monitoring Reporting ShiftWorx Plus

FreePoint’s patented algorithm determines when a machine is doing value added work and presents real time information to the people who can make an immediate difference at all levels of the organization. This real time visibility provides a 360-degree view of your plant and allows you to:

 

  • View correlations between job, operator, scrap & machine activity
  • See the average run time of jobs on a specific machine
  • Determine yields on your part
  • View the amount of times you run a specific work order per year
  • Easily identify bottlenecks
  • Significantly reduce unscheduled downtime
  • Proactively manage machines
  • Benchmark against your current state
  • Increase the accuracy of their estimates
  • And more!

Take your data to the next level by integrating your machine data with your Business Central or Dynamics and Microsoft Power BI. If you are a manufacturer looking for simple and quick way to connect both new and legacy machines to visualize machine utilization, engage machine operators, and drive production performance with real time data, then we need to talk. FreePoint will help you set your data benchmark, understand the context of your data, improve accountability, make better decisions on the plant floor, and drive meaningful improvement. When fully implemented our customers can increase production performance by up to 50%!

 

FreePoint Returns to Microsoft’s Vox ISM Event

FreePoint is excited and honored to be taking part in another online Best Manufacturing Apps Conference (BMAC). Hosted by Microsoft Canada partner, VOX ISM. BMAC is the one-stop experience that brings together Canadian manufacturers, industry experts, and Microsoft’s top APPs, helping to keep them on the forefront of manufacturing’s digital transformation. Microsoft & VOX ISM have assembled the top 10 Manufacturing Apps in one place. All products are industry leaders & certified by Microsoft.  ShiftWorx PlusThis iteration of the conference will be an online experience with sessions and virtual vendor booths. FreePoint’s Director of Sales and Partnerships, Alan MacKinnon will be demonstrating How to Drive Efficiency, Meaningful Insight, and Financial Performance Through Integrating Real Time Machine Data and Business Systems, in addition to displaying our non-invasive machine monitoring software and hardware solutions.

According to Vox ISM, there are 4 reasons you should be attending the 2020 BMAC conference:

  1. You are looking for new ideas, trends and applications to help support your growing manufacturing company
  2. Your business has changed since COVID, but your ERP system hasn’t. You now need mobile access, better security, better reporting, and a system that can keep up with continuous improvements
  3. You are looking to invest in automation to reduce costs and labor in Finance, Manufacturing, Quality or Supply Chain departments
  4. You want to learn how to get funding and grants to accelerate the adoption of new technology

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

 

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 about Ontario’s next round of applications for the  Automotive Modernization Program (O-AMP) open until October 7th, 2020.

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

APMA – Applications open for the Ontario Automotive Modernization Program (O-AMP)

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

FreePoint Founder Outlines Why Industry 4.0 is Not as Scary or Costly as You Might Think

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Paul Hogendoorn – FreePoint Founder

FreePoint Founder and Chair, Paul Hogendoorn has featured in CIO Application magazine’s Vendor Viewpoint and Manufacturing issue of their most recent publication with his most recent article “Why Industry 4.0 Is Not As Scary or Costly as You Might Think”

In this featured article, Paul outlines:

  1. While industry 4.0 represents the future of manufacturing, you can (and should) get started today and how to begin
  2. How it’s possible to connect to any machine – regardless of age and function.
  3. How to establish your baseline and drive production capacity improvements of up to 50+%

Throughout this article, Paul stresses why getting started today is important. Accounting for the new challenges COVID-19 has created, understanding when your machines are driving value-added work along with remote monitoring and reshoring supply chains; industry 4.0 is the catalyst to help you emerge from this pandemic ahead.

Manufacturers can do more to ensure their success by taking a systematic approach to industry 4.0 and digitization in their shop. By properly combining people and technology, manufacturers will be much better positioned to take full advantage of their industry 4.0 technologies and drive future growth. Industry 4.0 isn’t just the future state of manufacturing, it’s available and driving meaningful improvement in large and small manufacturing environments now. FreePoint makes this technology accessible today, to any manufacturer.

Read the full article here.

Don’t struggle to get the most out of your IIoT solution. Make sure you are leveraging both your people and your technology in order to ensure the highest levels of success in your organization.

 

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Kanban & Lean Manufacturing: Are They Relevant Today: Part 2

In Part 1 of our blog series, we defined Lean manufacturing and Kanban’s association. Today, we take a look at Toyota, the company that pioneered the concept and we answer whether Lean and Kanban are still relevant.

PUSH and PULL Manufacturing

The main focus of JIT is to pull production through the process as the customer actually takes what they want. The ideal flow being a single part manufactured as required; although this is not always possible with many processes without significant redesign or investment. This is very different from what most companies have traditionally done.

Traditionally production processes are scheduled, raw materials ordered and then manufactured to create stock based on a forecast of what the customer is expected to order. This is push production and is driven very much by the materials being fed into the start of the process and all processes being controlled through a schedule or MRP. This typically produces products in large quantities or batches and ties up a huge amount of your capital in stock and Work in Progress (WIP).

Pull production however works in reverse, when a customer takes a product from the end of your production process a signal is then sent back down the line to trigger the production of the next part. Just as a supermarket will fill the empty shelf each preceding process in the flow will request the parts that it needs from its preceding process. This process is controlled through the use of a Kanban.

push and pull manufacturing freepoint technologies

from https://www.industryweek.com/cloud-computing/push-vs-pull-manufacturing-kanban-pull-system-right-your-company

Kanban at Toyota

Cards of the Kanban methodology are used throughout the Toyota plants to keep inventory management lean — no cluttered warehouses, and workshops with sufficient access to parts.

Imagine that your workshop installs Toyota RAV4 doors and there is a pack of 10 doors in a bin near your workspace to be installed one after another, onto new cars. When there are only 5 doors in the pack, you know that it is time to order new doors. But you don’t have to do anything. An inventory replenishment manager, who we’ll call “Mary” whose job it is to check inventory levels of all bins in your shop area, notices that there are only 5 doors remaining in your bin. This is a “signal” that lets Mary know to replenish your RAV4 doors bin. Now, you have the peace of mind that new doors will be manufactured by the time you have used the remaining 5 doors. By the time you are installing the last door, another pack of 10 doors arrives. The result: Doors are only ordered when needed.

Toyota Woodstock, Ontario Plant.

This is how the Kanban system works all over Toyota production floors. There are no warehouses with spare parts laying around for weeks or months. All the employees work upon requests and manufacture only the necessary amount of parts. If orders increase or decrease, production is modified accordingly. The main idea of Kanban methodology cards is to scale down the amount of work-in-progress (WIP). Use only what is needed.

The Problems With Kanban

Kanban systems are excellent for consistent production levels of consistent parts, but can be challenging when inconsistency is the rule. Such inconsistency can mean heavier than normal demand caused by a large order or an unusual rush of many orders for specific parts. A Kanban system cannot typically see heavy demand coming down the pipe, thus causing out-of-stock conditions. Even with companies that use Lean manufacturing techniques, a Kanban system typically requires a constant, complex reassessment of Kanban stocking levels for components because of inconsistency, seasonality and other factors.

“Inventory buffers are also useful when uncertainty is high and disruptions in the transportation network are frequent.”

For the sake of quality, inventory levels are driven to as close to zero as possible in the Kanban system. However, sometimes inventory buffers are needed to guard against not only poor quality items from suppliers but also poor quality from internal processes. Inventory buffers are also useful when uncertainty is high and disruptions in the transportation network are frequent.

Even though lean processes are still at the heart of most manufacturing operations worldwide and are increasingly important in other industry sectors, including distribution and financial services today, it pays to ask the questions, “Is lean still relevant?” and “How does a lean enterprise also embrace investment in new technologies like 3D printing and the Internet of Things?”

Fred Thomas writes in, It’s Time for a Lean Manufacturing Makeover, “While the concept and best practices of the Lean production system remain intact, the implementation on the plant floor faces a major facelift. That’s simply because the entire manufacturing dynamic has transformed to include new technology, new global competition, new government regulations, and a hyper-connected world of intelligent devices and social networks that enable seamless communication between companies and their customers.”

Thomas argues that in order for manufacturers to remain agile, Lean methodologies must adapt and change, otherwise organizations will remain stuck in the 1950s and competitors will vault ahead.

Lean-Here to Stay

So, are Lean and Kanban still relevant? In a word, yes.

Kanban is just one of the methods a manufacturer can utilize to create a lean facility operation. It is, however, a step towards the right direction and a step worth taking. Lean has proven to be a very powerful tool for improving manufacturing performance: higher throughput, lower costs, faster response and increased agility. Lean can be applied to direct production, supporting services, administrative and engineering activities, and just about anything else.

Lean is a singular focus on improvement, and making the most of all resources—from materials, equipment, and technology to the skills and experience of employees. Kanban has branched out of the manufacturing world and has been used as another method for applying agility to an organization. It’s commonly used for customer service teams, business teams and even in people’s personal lives to manage their small business or home life.

lean manufacturing freepoint technologies

Lean manufacturing has a proven track record in improving manufacturing performance.

Lean Manufacturing is as relevant today as it was nearly 70 years ago. And Continuous Improvement is achievable through the repetition of these principles. Lean Manufacturing even impacts Six Sigma, as Lean Six Sigma has evolved into an approach taken to reduce waste, improve efficiency and drive profitability. Worldwide, companies today are looking to their supply chains to find cost savings. Those cost savings can be found by negotiating purchase prices with suppliers, but they can also be found in process optimization. If through the Lean process of waste reduction, you can drive manufacturing cycle times down or reduce scrap — you’re saving your company money beyond the basic cost of goods reduction.

Today’s manufacturers need to be up-to-date on practices like Lean Manufacturing, IIoT, Predictive Maintenance, Machine Learning and so much more. Have questions? We have answers. Contact us today.

 

Kanban & Lean Manufacturing: Are They Relevant Today: Part 1

While there is no such thing as “the perfect production system”, Kanban is an uncomplicated yet effective system for creating products.

What is Kanban and Lean?

The word “Kanban” is of Japanese origin and literally translates to “signal card.” Its literal meaning is that of a flag or sign, when you see that flag you know that it is time to manufacture the next part. Kanbans can take many forms, but in most production facilities, they will use Kanban cards or bins to control the process.

Kanban is a visual manufacturing production scheduling system for lean manufacturing and just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing. As part of a pull system, it controls what is produced, in what quantity, and when. The goal of Kanban is to identify potential bottlenecks in your process and fix them so work can flow through it cost-effectively at an optimal speed or throughput. With Kanban, you only produce what the customer is asking for and nothing more. It is a system of signals that are used through the value stream to pull product from customer demand back to raw materials. A Kanban system ideally controls the entire value chain from the supplier to the end consumer. In this way, it helps avoid supply disruption and overstocking of goods at various stages of the manufacturing process.

Lean manufacturing or lean production involves the minimization of waste within a manufacturing system without sacrificing productivity. So Kanban is a method of lean manufacturing. 83% of teams practicing Lean use Kanban to visualize and actively manage their work.

The Origins of Kanban

In the past, shopkeepers had to retrieve each customer’s items

Interestingly, Lean Manufacturing and the Kanban concept all have their origins starting with the American grocery store chain, Piggly Wiggly in Memphis Tennessee, back in the 1940s.

If you were to travel back in time to the early 1900’s, you would see products stacked on high wall-shelves behind the main counter. Products were retrieved for you buy a man standing behind the counter who was known as the “store clerk.” Women, who did all of the shopping, would bring in their grocery lists, and the Clerk would gather and assemble all of their items.

But it was Piggly Wiggly, the first true self-service grocery store, that changed the way people shopped for food. Instead of putting the burden on the shopkeeper to retrieve each customer’s items, the customers were given the opportunity to peruse the aisles and pick out whichever goods they wished.

The Piggly Wiggly at 79 Jefferson Avenue, in Memphis Tennessee opened the first supermarket, changing the grocery retail business forever

And the shopkeepers’ new responsibilities? Instead of dealing with each individual customer’s needs, they now monitored the shelves, restocking items when the “signal card” or the signal—an empty shelf—appeared. Once they saw the signal, they’d simply go to the storeroom to refill the shelf. It’s basically still the same method you see in grocery stores today. Where they might have had a few hundred items in the 1930’s, your average supermarket these days keeps over 42,000 items in stock. Each item has a place. When one is removed and its barcode scanned, an electronic record is kept, inventory levels monitored, and items are reordered and restocked based on a maximum amount of space available. So if a shelf holds ten gallons of milk, you stock to the maximum quantity stockable.

From Tennessee Grocery Stores to Japanese Factory Floors

Kanban and lean manufacturing freepoint technologies

Taiichi Ohno, Industrial Engineer, and Father of the Toyota Production System

During the 1950’s, Toyota engineers and executives paid a visit to Dearborn, Michigan to Ford’s River Rouge Factory. At the time Ford and GM were the largest automakers in the world and Toyota was not even a blip on the radar. After the visit, Toyota concluded that while Ford was massive in size and impressive, Toyota didn’t have the resources to match Ford’s production. So Toyota sought out another manufacturing method.

Just-in-Time (JIT) was implemented and designed at Toyota by Taiichi Ohno who took over 15 years to perfect their system. During the 1970’s many western visitors would bring back Kanban cards and want to implement the systems within their own manufacturing facilities, often with little real understanding of how they worked. It was not until the 1980’s that Kanban control really started to be understood in the West. In American supermarkets like the Piggly Wiggly, that Toyota managers discovered a different set of tools to govern their manufacturing processes: tight control over inventory quantities and storage space, and a better way to get service to the end-user (the milk rack). This was the origin of the material pull system. When you wander into any modern grocery store today, you are seeing the Kanban system in action.

When implementing factory floor solutions, choose a technology partner who understands lean manufacturing and knows how to enhance your technology solutions. At FreePoint Technologies, our team will ensure your plant has everything it needs to meet your demands and more. Contact us to learn more today.

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Join us in Part 2 of this blog series where we answer the question, “Are Lean Manufacturing and Kanban still relevant?”

ShiftWorx Custom Reporting Through BI Tools

When discussing the release of ShiftWorx Plus, we often touch on how we put more data at your fingertips than ever before. We talk about the enhanced customization capabilities for custom views and dashboard and today I wanted to discuss another similar critical element – How coupling the capability to capture Job and Operator data with the vast offerings available in the Business and Artificial Intelligence field creates a wealth of new insight extracted from ShiftWorx machine monitoring.

machine monitoring reporting dashboard

Machine Monitoring Reporting ShiftWorx Plus

As is the case with many Enterprise software products, we continue to evolve our reporting tools, though we will always be challenged to provide all of the reports in the exact format that a customer wants. There are simply too many ways in which each manufacturer wants to see data customized to their shop and process. This can be considered a challenge, but also creates an incredible opportunity.

Within ShiftWorx, many of our built-in reports and KPIs provide information across 2 or 3 dimensions – typically by DataSource, a TimeFrame and one element (Uptime/Downtime/Status/Job).  With the release of ShiftWorx Plus, we have many more combinations of dimensions on which we can report including Day, Shift, Status, Operator, Job (where multiple Status/Operator/Jobs can be active concurrently). More reporting options provide a wealth of great actionable insight, yet can also make reporting more complex when reporting on elements like Operator Uptime/Downtime/Production by Job/Product by Shift for a 6 month period – especially where multiple jobs may have been managed by multiple operators.

To address this, we have developed a process to normalize ShiftWorx data for consumption by business intelligence and reporting tools, providing the opportunity to extend the data in a way that is valuable for manufacturers, consultants, and other value added partners who can mine this information for insight into areas that can improve the performance and quality of manufacturing process.

Below are a few sample dynamic dashboards that we created using Microsoft Power BI as an example of our management reporting capabilities. By allowing and filtering multi-dimensional data, you can drill down to the metrics that matter and have the biggest impact in your shop.

At present, this is still in Beta and we are fine tuning the capability and will be rolling out a production version over the next few weeks. So you can see this in action, we have created the video below where we move the levers and slice the data. If you would like a live demo of this solution to understand the power of these tools, reach out to us.

 

FreePoint is Back At Microsoft’s Vox ISM Event

FreePoint is once again excited to be taking part in this year’s Best Manufacturing Apps Conference (BMAC). Hosted by Microsoft Canada partner, VOX ISM. BMAC is the one-stop experience that brings together Canadian manufacturers, industry experts, and Microsoft’s top APPs, helping to keep them on the forefront of manufacturing’s digital transformation. ShiftWorx PlusThis year’s iteration of the conference will be an online experience with sessions and virtual vendor booths. Paul Hogendoorn will be presenting about machine integration and 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 2020 BMAC conference:

  1. Find the right app for your business needs and get solutions tailored to your industry that works with the products you already use.
  2. The BMAC is recognized as the best platform for Canadian Manufacturers to interactions with the latest trends in the manufacturing industry.
  3. Attendees can interact with BMAC 2020 presenters showcasing their latest technologies “Live”.

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

 

Getting Ready for the Restart

Industry is getting ready to restart. Prior to the Covid crisis, you may have been contemplating things like connecting your machines to a system that gave you better visibility into production activity remotely and eliminating paperwork on the plant floor. If these things seemed like a good idea then, they most certainly must have moved up to near the top of the priority list now.

If you have been hesitating or were too busy to get started on this before but want to get a good jump on it now – before the full restart – give us a call right away. We can get your machines (or more machines) connected right away and have programs to defer the costs to later. Or, if eliminating the paperwork passed around on the plant floor is your concern and you want to start simple by digitizing some forms and checklists, reach out to us and we will connect with you promptly.

The new ShiftWorx Plus machine view tracking job, operator, and scrap.

I believe it’s now our time to be proactive. We have endured a long period with little choice but to follow and wait. Now is the time to act and to lead.

Looking forward to the restart with all of you.
FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn
Paul Hogendoorn
Founder and Chairman
FreePoint Technologies Inc.

Top 4 Reasons You Need Custom Dashboards

A few weeks ago, we released a massive update to our ShiftWorx platform. Alongside the update, we added enhanced customization capabilities for manufacturers to create their own custom views and dashboards.

Cut through the noise by drilling down to the metrics that matter most to your shop, and to your people. Regardless of title, anybody within your organization can have role-specific views that quickly communicate the data needed to drive continuous process improvement throughout your operation.

Custom dashboards offer various benefits, but for simplicity sake, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 4:

  1. Showing the Right Data to The Right People
  2. Viewing Data from Across Your Organization
  3. Improving Decision Making
  4. Quickly Identifying Issues

1. Showing the Right Data to the Right People

Dashboards provide an easy way of visualizing actionable, impactful insights into your process. Rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, custom dashboards empower you to:

  • Create role-specific views for managers, supervisors, operators, team leads, etc.
  • Display the data that’s most important to your users
  • Customize your solution in a way that best suits your organization and your role

machine monitoring and downtime narration

ShiftWorx Machine Monitoring, KPI & Downtime Tracking Dashboard

By displaying metrics relevant to specific roles, employees within those roles can quickly and easily drill down to the data they need. Without the unnecessary complexity, manufacturers can react faster to issues on the shop floor while identifying areas of improvement within their control.

2. Viewing Data from Across Your Organization

You can also leverage custom dashboards to enhance operational visibility. Integrating your ShiftWorx solution with other systems, such as ERP, gives you all the metrics that matter most to you in one convenient location. In addition, by displaying ERP, MES, QEP or CRM data alongside production data, you get the full picture of what’s happening in your shop – with no blind spots!

3. Improving Decision Making

With intuitive, role-specific views providing real-time insight into your operation, managers and operators alike gain a 360° view of the processes that matter most in their organization. Deeper insight facilitates more informed and educated operational decisions while displaying relevant, actionable data to the individuals who can make a difference right away.

Custom Dashboard

Shop Supervisor Using a ShiftWorx Custom Dashboard

4. Quickly Identifying Issues

Every manufacturer is different, so it makes sense that their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) would be as well. As opposed to their off-the-shelf counterparts, customizable dashboards give you the power to view the information you need to quickly identify production issues.

Create & display your own KPI’s that reflect:

  • Machine Uptime/Downtime
  • Scrap/Waste
  • Production Performance

Experience the Benefits of Customization

In manufacturing, a few minutes of downtime can result in massive revenue losses for the shop. By giving the right people the right information as they need it, staff can respond faster and with more accuracy when addressing production issues on the floor.

To explore what customization options are available in the new ShiftWorx platform, schedule a demo with us today.