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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.

 

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.

 

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.

FreePoint is Attending Microsoft’s VOX ISM FPAC Conference

FreePoint is excited to be taking part in this year’s Financial Process Automation Conference (FPAC). Hosted by Microsoft Canada partner, VOX ISM, FPAC strategically outlines how Canadian accounting departments, manufacturers and distributors can cut their workload in half.

This year, our Director of Sales, Al MacKinnon will be hosting a presentation geared towards manufacturers looking to get measurable ROI out of their IIoT investments.

Titled: Leveraging IIoT For Productivity Gain & Quick ROI, the presentation will focus on the benefits manufacturers can experience by integrating the various systems throughout their shop floor, and how quickly IIoT investments can pay themselves off. With benefits such as enhanced production performance, increased throughput and improved process quality, we’re excited to show manufacturers how they can cut costs while increasing the amount of value-adding work their machines perform – without necessarily hiring more people or acquiring additional resources.

As Al dives into topics ranging from ERP integration to machine monitoring, we hope to give manufacturers a better understanding of how they can take full advantage of new technologies throughout their production process. Most importantly, we will be illustrating to manufacturers how they can leverage their IIoT investments into engines of growth with quick ROI.

In addition to attending our presentation, there are a laundry list of reasons you should be attending the 2020 FPAC conference:

  1. Explore how accounting a finance departments can optimize their processes in preparation for automation
  2. Discuss strategies to enhance your organization’s understanding of emerging technologies
  3. Learn about potential applications and limitations of emerging technologies
  4. Discover how to build and validate AI, BI, and machine learning models in your accounting department
  5. Examine techniques to institutionalize automation for everyone at your company

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

Why Manufacturers Need to Automate Data Collection

The speed and volume of data collection is rapidly increasing. This makes it overwhelming for manufacturers to determine how best to leverage the metrics at their disposal.

mac computers and ipad with freepoint technologies and shiftworx freepoint technologies

A recent study found just under half (48%) of manufacturers still use spreadsheets or other manual entry documents to keep track of their data, which explains why less than 40% of manufacturers use data analysis to solve production issues. If data was being collected automatically as opposed to manually, it would be easier to collect, analyze, and act on.

The study also found that 76% of respondents said in order to immediately act on collected data, they require “software solutions that analyze data in real-time”. By leveraging automation and industry 4.0 solutions, manufacturers can reap benefits ranging from increased efficiency to lowered costs and lower risk of error.

Enhancing Efficiency

Machine monitoring allows you to obtain real-time automated data that will not only improve your collection process, but also increase response time to any issues that may arise. Don’t wait for the weekly or daily data report to find out days after-the-fact that something went wrong. Automatic alerts can be set up to let you know the second a machine goes down, and in some cases, before it happens.

Data Accuracy

By automating your data-collection with industry 4.0 technologies, you also greatly increase the accuracy of your data. Multi-tasking workers, managers putting out fires, or an inexperienced employee don’t impact the quality of the data being recorded if the data is being recorded automatically – greatly mitigating the potential for human error.

Cutting Costs

Real-time data collection doesn’t just impact efficiency and production, it also impacts profitability and costs. Though it may seem like a small change, eliminating manual data-entry significantly decreases the paper-trail that comes along with printing excel spreadsheets or filling out data-tracking forms.

In our experience, the transparency gained through automation and real-time visibility has a significant impact on manufacturing costs. By leveraging the insights gained from their real-time data, a client of ours was able to save roughly $325 a day without hiring more employees or buying new equipment—a powerful incentive for those considering automation and industry 4.0.

Unlock Your Factory’s Potential Today with Real-Time Data

Overall, real-time data collection gives you a level of transparency and control over your process that would be impossible to achieve without automation. You will be able to improve performance, production and profitability just by implementing one vital, but very attainable change to your process.

If you are ready to enhance the efficiency of your factory, reach out today to book your free demonstration and get yourself started on the path of Industry 4.0!

Top 3 Reasons Manufacturers Aren’t Connecting to the Cloud

The Internet and cloud computing movements are gaining momentum and in full swing in many sectors in our society, including banking, healthcare, education, government, the services industry in general, and almost all areas of our personal life. Yet, despite the advent of IIoT technologies and Industry 4.0, and all the glitter and spectacular promise it appears to offer, many manufacturers are reluctant to connect their machines, assembly lines or processes to the internet. Why is that?

I have spent many hours in many plants in recent years, and this conversation has come up often. Here’s what I believe are the top 3 reasons manufacturers aren’t connecting their machines to the internet, starting with #3.

#3: Older ‘Legacy’ Equipment is Expensive to Upgrade

Many manufacturers have a wide variety of machine types, especially job shops and companies with many discrete manufacturing processes. The cost to upgrade them all with newer control systems is high, not to mention difficult, and the cost to replace them even higher. Since the machine continues to produce an acceptable quantity and quality of parts in its current state, the cost of the upgrade would have a long ROI.

#2: Security Concerns

This is a concern I hear about most often. Yes, all the other sectors above have the same concerns but have counted on the security systems built into the technology as well their own IT people, firewalls and strict policies, but many manufacturers I speak with remain unconvinced. Manufacturers are ‘tactile’ people, and their processes are equally ‘tactile’; its not numbers in an account, or an electronic transaction, or a video or a document, it’s a physical action, movement and part being produced. The thought of a machine being taken control of by an outside source is a scary proposition. Equally disconcerting is the thought that all their critical and sensitive production and product information is not securely locked down in their internal IT system, but it would be stored somewhere “out there”, outside of their four walls, and potentially available to others through hacking. The larger the manufacturing company is, the more serious the concern for this kind data.

#1: Little or No Perceived Benefit to Connect Their Machine to the Internet

For most manufacturers I speak with, this is true for them. The information they need access to is information needed in the plant, by people in the plant. By the time a machine is commissioned for production in a plant, there is little benefit to collect ‘lakes’ of data on all sorts of granular process information. At this point, the company is just looking for what I refer to as “fit bit” information: is the machine or process healthy? What’s its rate? How many parts did it produce? And, if it’s not running, why not? All this information is pretty simple to extract even from legacy machines at a very low cost, but there’s little or no benefit to pushing it up to the cloud – certainly not enough benefit to offset their security concerns. So why bother?

There are good reasons to make more information more accessible to more people in real time, most notable being productivity and efficiency, but it can be accomplished without connecting the machine directly to the internet. The biggest advantage of cloud-based software is the low cost of powerful and flexible software available that is easily adaptable and accessible from anywhere. Manufacturing companies need these kinds of IT solutions to remain competitive, and indeed to stay ahead, but they can do so by leveraging cloud-based solutions that help their people be more productive, without connecting their machines to the internet.

Final Thoughts

At FreePoint, the focus has always been on making the people smarter, because its people that make the machines run better and the processes run smoother. They are the ones that can most benefit from a connection to the cloud, not the machines. The connection to the machine can be indirect and ‘non-invasive’ (i.e. impossible to control externally). There are still some security risks to allowing use of cloud-based software, but those should be managed the same as all other personal cloud-based applications need to be.

For more information on FreePoint’s risk mitigated cloud-based machine monitoring and productivity improvement solutions, please visit www.getfreepoint.com or contact paul.hogendoorn@getfreepoint.com

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

What is IoT & What Role Does it Play in Manufacturing

Scientific innovation continually finds a home within manufacturing. From the very invention of the machine, to the introduction of 3D printing, manufacturing has taken on-board new ways of doing things that increase productivity, improve efficiencies, and increase employee engagement.

Manufacturing’s adoption of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is, therefore, a natural progression; set to transform the way we monitor, exchange, collect, and analyze – providing fresh insight into the production process that was previously utterly impossible.

What is IoT?

There was a time when the internet was an unknown quantity. Nobody thought it would catch-on; and very few of us expected it to deliver a revolution in the way that we shop, socialize, and meet each other.

But the internet has become so integrated into our lives that we often cease to recognize the technological magic that drives it.

Breaking it down to its most simplistic form, the internet is a network of computers. Those computers share data, translated into information that bespoke applications use to provide services for us. The Internet of Things embraces that communication protocol to spring functionality away from cyberspace and into the real world.

The Internet of Things (IoT) embraces the ability for machines to intercommunicate; applying that machine-to-machine (M2M) protocol to everyday objects, such as light bulbs, heating systems, refrigerators, and smart TVs.

A smart fridge, for example, can recognize that you’re running low on milk. It can connect to your local supermarket via their online shop and order more milk; entirely independently of you. That milk gets delivered. You never run out of milk. The Internet of Things.

You could be on your way home, and you want to arrive to a warm house. You use your smartphone to connect to your heating system, and you switch it on remotely. The Internet of Things.

The IIoT is an extension of that concept. Machines communicating independently of human interaction.

How Does it Apply to Manufacturing?

To create a product we might have hundreds of processes. Some of those processes are completed by hand, but many of those operations are executed by machine. Most machines require some human interaction, even if it’s just to monitor consistency of output.

Through those hundreds of processes, you create a product. That product goes through a checking system, a packing department, and is finally shipped off to suppliers. The end-to-end process is a symbiotic system of dependent operations.

The Problem With Processes

But the problem with processes, however, is that they’re disparate. Each operation is an individual cog in a much larger engine, and so simultaneously overseeing all of those processes is literally impossible.

Any system that incorporates lots of machines has the potential to collapse the entire function if a single cog in the wheel fails. And this accounts for missed deadlines, over-production, and the infamous seven wastes.

This is a little over-simplistic, surely?

Perhaps; but that’s the point. The IIoT is simply a way of networking our existing machinery together to gain an infinitely deeper understanding of efficiencies and potential failures; before they happen.

 

For 2020, the installed base of Internet of Things devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide. (Statista)

If your factory floor has eight principal machines, overseeing production means physically monitoring each device – all you can create is a disjointed picture of production. As soon as you’ve walked away from that machine, your up-to-date snapshot is history. It’s literally impossible to gain full oversight over procedures as they happen.

Machine Monitoring

Machine monitoring systems facilitate M2M communication and are compatible with legacy machinery, so you don’t require brand new, digital machinery to gain a universal, real-time oversight of your entire production operations.

Once installed, machine monitoring provides a central hub, monitoring the productivity of all machines and operations across the factory floor, providing a real-time portal into the health of the production lines.

FreePoint has over 1,000 machines and 80 plants connected serving 1 billion data rows

And, thanks to the IIoT, the portal to your machine monitoring hub is available over smart technologies, such as mobile phones and tablets. You could be on the other side of the planet and (providing you have access to the internet) you can see exactly what is happening on your factory floor, and interact with those processes for afar.

So, the IIoT is Just a Network of Machines?

Exactly. But that’s just the start.

By combining M2M communication protocols, big data analytics, cybersecurity, and universal portal products compatible with a variety of smart technologies, the IIoT provides unprecedented efficiencies, performance, and productivity.

The IIoT uses its own communication transfer protocol, known as Message Queueing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), favored for its lightning speed, lightweight publish/subscribe model, as well as its bidirectional capabilities, enabling almost instantaneous two-way communication between all machines made ready for MQTT.

Other Advantages

Incorporating GPS technologies, inventory can be tracked around the factory, providing a real-time image of your stock as it’s needed. Over-ordering of inventory items requires costly storage space, while under-ordering can slow down production. Having exact locational details of finished products in storage means more flexible use of space and easier access to those products when they’re ready to be shipped.

Predictive maintenance is a new protocol emerging from interconnected machine systems that allow managers to use the operational data produced by machine monitoring systems to predict the risk of failure assets, allowing them to reduce outage and maintenance costs.

The IIoT is here, and it can make colossal improvements in the way we work, increasing productivity, efficiency, and employee engagement in a way previously thought impossible.