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See FreePoint & CIMx Software at the AME Show August 26 & 27

Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show

See CIMx Software and FreePoint Technologies at the Advanced Manufacturing Expo (AME) Show this Thursday, August 26 and 27, 2021.

Thank you to the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) for hosting us in their new “Smart Technology Zone” area highlighting Industry 4.0 applications.

https://www.the-center.org/
https://www.advancedmanufacturingexpo.com/
https://www.cimx.com/

#Manufacturing #Industry40 #IoT #CNCMachineMonitoringSystem #ManufacturingExecutionSystem #MES

Microsoft Best Apps Conference – FreePoint is Delivering IIoT Results Now!

FreePoint Technologies is featured at this weeks Microsoft Best Apps Conference, taking place live Thursday, May 20, 2021 from 1:30 – 3:00pm EST.  Manufacturers will be participating virtually and listening to various industry leaders presenting on the Top 10 software / apps essential to help Canadian businesses achieve their Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) goals in the current economic environment.

FreePoint Technologies Microsoft Best Apps Conference

FreePoint Technologies’ ShiftWorx software delivers IIoT results now!  Presentation by Paul Hogendoorn at Microsoft’s Best Apps Conference is at 2:15pm on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

Paul Hogendoorn the founder of FreePoint will be presenting on how our SaaS solution affords manufacturers the means to connect their machines, to visualize and report data, and motivate their workforce to improve.

ShiftWorx - FreePoint Technologies Inc.

The barrier to entry has never been so low – ShiftWorx provides manufacturers of any size, with any number of machines regardless of age or type the ability to connect those assets in the cloud, improve productivity, understand data, and engage their people.

ShiftWorx manufacturing KPI dashboards provide visualized data in an easy-to-understand layout that empowers the user with integral knowledge needed to improve; including productivity data such as machine status (is the machine operating and adding-value, or not?), uptime and downtime tracking, quality and waste tracking, and more with powerful Business Intelligence (BI) reports accessible at the press of a button.

Ultimately, ShiftWorx connects every machine, and reports accordingly so that all involved are on the same page and equipped to always make informed decisions.  We live by the credo that one cannot improve what is not measured, and we have proven the information ShiftWorx provides is pivotal to achieve that goal.

As a leader in Industry 4.0 innovation, we have developed a machine connectivity and reporting solution any manufacturer can benefit from; and we have truly reduced the obstacles to entry with a software product that is not expensive, and not difficult to integrate or use – so we ask, what are you waiting for?  Contact us today to get started!

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Three Reasons for Manufacturing’s Resilience

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Paul Hogendoorn – FreePoint Founder

Earlier this month, FreePoint Founder and CRO, Paul Hogendoorn was featured in Manufacturing Automation Magazine for his article titled “Three Reasons for Manufacturing’s Resilience During the Pandemic”. Throughout his article, Paul explains that demand remains strong for the “higher value” products where North American manufacturers primarily focus, as consumers spend their discretionary income on “durables” instead “consumables” like entertainment, vacations, and services.

As value-adding activity has retuned to pre-COVID-19 levels, technology allows a lot of the administration and management to be done remotely. While COVID-19 has been tumultuous for life outside of the factory, for some, life in the factory has provided a period of near normalcy as PPE was already part of many jobs and breaks and interactions were largely structured.

Paul goes on to explain that manufacturing’s resilience can directly be attributed to the efforts of our great people – from operators, to management, to the c-suite. Our people are dedicated, dependable and deliver tangible results every day. Employees are buying what they are making and manufacturers are creating both the product and the market for the product.

As Paul says in the culmination of the article “The companies that have come through this stronger have done so by sharpening their focus on their value adding activities, getting more done in less time, and by unleashing the adaptive, dedicated and innovative potential of their people. ”

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

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

FreePoint Connect Unlocks New Connection Options (Kepware, OPC-UA)

We have taken another huge leap forward with our release of FreePoint Connect, which fundamentally cloud-connects machines of any age, type or brand; although, it now opens up even greater flexibility via Kepware and direct machine controller connections. Machine connection is step one, and with FreePoint Connect it is easily managed in a web browser using ShiftWorx Plus MES software!

Option One – Connecting Through Kepware
Kepware is an industry leading industrial connectivity platform that can aggregate data from your machine controllers and PLC’s and send that data to FreePoint Connect.

Option Two – Connecting Directly Through the Machine Controller or PLC
FreePoint Connect allows your machine to directly communicate with ShiftWorx through OPC-UA. This machine-to-machine communication protocol removes the need for additional hardware to connect.

Option Three – Connecting Through our FreePoint Remote Module
Our “Black Boxes” will continue to provide non-invasive, secure, and reliable connections to any type, age or brand of machine independent of machine PLC’s.

 

How FreePoint Connect Works Graphic (Click to Expand)

Contact Us today to learn more and see a demo.

ShiftWorx Brings You A Digital Call Box/Andon Functionality at a Fraction of the Cost of a Traditional System

Call Box Screen

Did you know that in our commitment to driving operational excellence and continuous improvement through your shop, we have several additional ShiftWorx Modules that can drive your industry 4.0 and lean manufacturing initiatives? We have touched on enhanced customization capabilities for custom views and dashboard and how coupling Job and Operator data with Business and AI tools can create a wealth of new insight, but today we want to discuss a Digital Call Box Module that not only brings transparency into your process and improves your maintenance response but can be configured to function as a Digital Andon system.

Call Station Example

Our Digital Call Box/ANDON functionality enables operators to send messages (email and text messages) to immediately address issues involving machines (e.g. broken down, safety) with the push of a button. This enhances the clarity of your production process and flows of information on the plant floor by tracking the number of calls, mean time to respond, start time, and completion time of a call. Problems are visually identified so corrective action can be taken immediately.

Best of all, our easy-to-use and the customizable system can be configured with many of the benefits of an Andon solution without the additional costs. With a traditional Andon system costing thousands of dollars to set up and install, The ShiftWorx Digital Call Box/Andon system is even better because:

  • No Wiring
  • No Installation
  • No Labor
  • Immediate Notifications
  • Full Tracking and Reporting Capability

You get advanced reporting and all the advantages of an Andon system, at a fraction of the cost.

To See our Digital Call Box/ANDON system in action, reach out to us today. 

Andon Dashboard

Advantages of Andon Systems

Andon has a crucial place in any lean manufacturing operation or connected industry and provides numerous benefits through:

  • Transparency: – Employees are encouraged to react to problems so that quality, safety, and down time improve. Process owners are notified in real time.
  • Productivity: Problems are quickly noticed and resolved to ensure minimal production interruptions.
  • Empowering Employees: Operators are given the freedom and flexibility to categorize issues when they arise depending on their priority and take action,  instead of waiting on leadership. This increases accountability overproduction issues.
  • Reduce downtime: Operators and supervisors are better able to resolve manufacturing issues and keep the assembly line moving.
  • Cost and time: The Andon board allows for greater communication on the floor so that time is saved and labor is cut.

Ultimately, the goal of any Andon system is about removing anything that inhibits production flow. It is about responding to issues immediately, finding the root cause of the issue, and putting a permanent corrective action in place so that the issue never occurs again. By utilizing the ShiftWorx Digital Call Box/Andon Module, you will quickly be able to document routine production challenges and provide Shift Supervisors and Engineering Departments the knowledge of the frequency and severity of problems that interrupt workflow.

Contact us today to get a demonstration. 

Bridging the IIoT Technology Gap

One of the largest Industry 4.0 roadblocks we often observe rests in addressing the gap in knowledge and objectives that exists between the different levels in manufacturing organizations.

CEOs are usually well intended in adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, but they are not comfortable with the technology conversation, so they delegate down the chain to someone who is. The people deeply involved in IT, or considering advanced technologies, are usually far more technology focused than they are day-to-day manufacturing focused and sit several levels away from the CEO with different responsibilities and objectives that don’t necessarily tie directly to the organizational vision or overall performance.

FreePoint has spent the last few months analyzing this challenge we have developed a Value-To-Vision process and Self Assessment Tool with the help of some industry partners that can address ways to close the gap and assess your IoT readiness. Part of that process was to discuss with manufacturers and understand the roles and objectives of each organization and we have boiled those conversations into the persona chart (Pictured above). There are a few key take aways:

  • Individuals on the left side of the persona chart have very short term objectives – this hour, this shift, etc. They are more tactile, non-financial and have very specific measurements – how many strokes, how many parts, how many minutes…
  • The right side have long term and ‘fuzzy’ objectives (sustainability, keeping work in one plant or another, improving overall competitive position), which are usually financial.
  • In the middle, you have the people tasked with developing and deploying a technology adoption project. They are often disconnected from the vision (CEO) by several layers, and equally disconnected from the people doing the actual work.
  • Sometimes there may be a CTO in the picture, but they are generally not in the value-to-vision stream. Some companies have CIO’s (Chief Information Officers), and because their output (data, information) is consumed by the CFO and CEO, they are more likely to be in the value-to-vision stream.
  • The right side of the chart is the vision side. The left side is where value is actually created day-to-day.

Over the next few months, we will be sharing more information in conjunction with our industry partners. If you would like to have a preliminary conversation on closing the technology gap or review our self assessment tool, please reach out to us. 

Top 5 Ways Manufacturers Should be Using Their Data

If you’re already collecting data in your organization, great! However, if you’re collecting data, and dropping it into a repository where it’s never seen again, what’s the point?

There are many great articles written on how companies should use their data, but manufacturers are quite different than retailers, or service providers, of any business that deal directly with the end user customer of their product. According to a recent article in Forbes, the common Top 5 ways to leverage data for those kinds of companies is:

  1. Make more informed decisions
  2. Understand customers, and market trends
  3. Provide smarter products and services
  4. Improve internal operations
  5. Create additional revenue opportunities

For many manufacturing plants however – those that don’t design the products they build or sell to the end customer as those functions and responsibilities belong to their customers – some of the above don’t apply ‘directly’. In the case of point 2, “Understand customers and market trends”, for many factories it would be more important to understand their workforce and the trends within the work force. Most companies in this category would not get a chance to create additional revenue opportunities, but they could use data to drive operator engagement on the plant floor, by modifying behavior, and thus creating more production capacity (i.e. revenue), or decreased cost, which creates additional earning, or improves competitiveness, which may lead to more business.

Our Top 5 list for Manufacturers would be:

  1. Make more informed decisions
  2. Understand your current workforce, and future trends to attract the best
  3. Make quicker decisions to prevent adding value to waste
  4. Improve internal operations (Lean, CI, digitization of documents etc.)
  5. Put data into action in real time to modify behavior engage workers

Arguably the most important of these 5 however, is making more informed, data-driven decisionsRandy Bean, and Thomas Davenport of the Harvard Business Review state:

“Analytical decisions and actions continue to be generally superior to those based on intuition and experience.”

There are many business cases that support this assertion, and manufacturers serve as an excellent example. Since the advent of industry 4.0, it’s become easier than ever to obtain performance metrics from manufacturing equipment. However, simply generating data in a manufacturing environment does not improve efficiency or productivity. Rather, it’s how manufacturers use their data that enables improvement. By monitoring their machine data, communicating more effectively with their operators, and scheduling dynamically, manufacturers can identify and address process bottlenecks, eliminate wasted time, material or energy, and greatly improving their overall production. This this allows manufacturers to produce more with the same amount of resources – directly benefiting the bottom line.

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Paul Hogendoorn
Founder
FreePoint Technologies Inc.

MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION | Industry Watch: Technology Adoption Has to Start at the Top

freepoint technologies

“…manufacturing CEOs are usually well intended when adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, but they are not comfortable with the whole technology conversation.” ~Paul Hogendoorn, Founder, FreePoint Technologies

Read Paul Hogendoorn’s full article in this month’s MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION Industry Watch:

https://www.automationmag.com/technology-adoption-has-to-start-at-the-top/

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