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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

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

FreePoint Featured in CIO Applications Top 10 Manufacturing Solution Providers

Top 10 Digital Manufacturing Solution Providers 2019

FreePoint Technologies is proud to announce that we have been featured in CIO Applications’ Top 10 Digital Manufacturing Solution Providers.

Our Senior Vice President, John Traynor, sat down with CIO Applications to discuss how FreePoint differentiates itself while addressing the needs of manufacturers and ensuring the security of their data.

Referencing our ShiftWorx Platform, John explained how we “enable operators to monitor machine performance in real time and document any shortcomings with the click of a button or the tap of a screen”, while maintaining a lower cost than most competitors. As the article outlines, the ShiftWorx platform is installed non-invasively and can take as little as 30 minutes to set up, making it easy to retrofit onto any machine, and keeping implementation costs low.

By avoiding physical connections between ShiftWorx and the machines, FreePoint can mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks:

“FreePoint’s non- invasive solution involves using sensors instead of attaching hardware to a programmable logic controller (PLC). The solution does not interfere with machine operations nor is it a vector for cyber-attacks on the machinery.”

Read the article for yourself to learn more about how FreePoint is helping to revolutionize the manufacturing industry.

4 Ways to Increase Production Capacity (With the Same Headcount)

For many manufacturers, increasing efficiency and production capacity is the primary focus. However, where the challenge really lies is in increasing production capacity without hiring additional staff or purchasing more machines.

Fortunately, manufacturers can leverage industry 4.0 as a driver for growth as well as productivity; with machine monitoring technology, you can unlock the full potential of your factory, and those who operate within it.

Machine monitoring provides a long list of benefits to manufacturers, these benefits result in increased production capacity and increased profitability. For a real world example, a client of ours managed to improve overall efficiency by a 69% in just 1 year – saving roughly $325/day without increasing personnel or machines.

Read below to learn the 4 ways to increase productivity without hiring new employees or procuring new equipment.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement through machine monitoring is focused on inviting collaboration between management and machine operators. It is not a “big-brother” tactic, quite the opposite actually, by showing employees how their contribution affects the big picture, you help unite management and plant employees working towards the same goals.

Using visualized dashboards, employees can easily see their role in the manufacturing process from a data perspective – which helps them fully realize the value of their contribution. This can even evolve into a “gamified” environment, as employees compete to see who can be most productive. This encourages employees to constantly improve, as they can now view their performance in real-time.

Downtime Narration

Machine monitoring allows for real-time narration of downtime, another way a manufacturer can leverage IIoT to increase production capacity, without increasing headcount. Not only is downtime narration critical for plant managers seeking seamless production, it’s also a strong motivator for employees as well. Obtaining insight into what causes delays allows employees to better understand the impact of any delays in their work station.

It’s important to understand all data is good data. Even unexpected downtime or broken machines can give you valuable insight into your process. With proper real-time narration, managers can identify and mitigate root causes of machine downtime, as well as highlight strong points in the production chain.

Bottleneck Identification

Like we mentioned earlier, machine monitoring provides valuable insight into your manufacturing processes, one of those insights is bottleneck identification. When one process is being delayed due to another person or machines performance, you know exactly where along the workflow the delay is occurring – empowering you to address the problem in real-time, and create fixes to prevent it from happening in the future. By proactively identifying holdups in your process, you are better positioned to make actionable changes to your workflow that will increase both efficiency and productivity.

Maintenance Alerts

Machine monitoring also enables a more proactive approach to machine maintenance. Rather than having to wait for someone to notice a machine is broken, then communicate that to management, you can get real-time alerts as issues arise. That means a significantly faster response time when a machine unexpectedly goes down, and a much quicker fix. It all comes down to maximizing machine uptime, the more value-added time that a machine contributes, the more efficient your plant becomes.

Are you ready to Increase your Production Capacity without Adding more People or Machines?

With FreePoint’s globally deployed solution, manufacturers are seeing near-immediate benefits to their processes. Increased efficiency, mitigated machine downtime, and improved employee engagement are accessible benefits to all those willing to shift into the IIoT world.  Machine monitoring not only helps management make more informed decisions, it also provides real-time visibility into individual contributions and the entire production process overall.

If you’re interested in saving time and money, being proactive about your machine maintenance, and gaining total transparency into your entire production process, you should consider making the transition to industry 4.0.

How Reason Codes Help Reduce Machine Downtime

The worst enemy of any manufacturer is machine downtime. How to control and mitigate downtime is a constant battle for manufacturers trying to increase efficiency and maintain peak production. At FreePoint, through machine monitoring and production tracking technologies, we work with manufacturers to minimize downtime as much as possible, while maximizing machine output.

One of the ways we help manufacturers control their machine downtime is with Reason Codes, the backbone of downtime narration in our ShiftWorx platform. When a machine becomes idle, operators can apply a reason code to categorize that downtime period. Rather than seeing a machine offline for 20 minutes with no explanation, plant managers can see in real-time what the cause of the delay is— and address it. Those small increments of time add up, 10 minutes here or there can be worth over 6 figures in a year.

Using Reason Codes, you can:

  • Diagnose Machine Downtime Causes and Apply Solutions
  • Alert Decision Makers in Real-Time to Plant Floor Issues
  • Identify Machine Maintenance Needs
  • Empower Employees to be Part of the Solution

FreePoint’s ShiftWorx dashboard visualizes machine performance with one-click application of downtime reason codes.

Identify Downtime Causes

With reason codes, employees and managers can easily identify factors impacting machine downtime. Whether the reason is “waiting on materials” or “needs repair”, everybody is made aware of what factors are contributing to delays— valuable data for plant managers seeking to increase efficiency and achieve seamless production in real time. If someone has transparency into delay causes, they are more motivated to solve the cause of the delay. This makes the overall process more efficient and engaging.

Keeping Everyone in the Know

Reason codes also help mitigate machine downtime with real-time alerts. When reduced productivity or machine delays are detected, notifications are sent to all devices connected to our ShiftWorx platform, through SMS or email. Real-time alerts increase response time to problems that impact production—meaning solutions are found faster, and the length as well as the frequency of downtime can be decreased.

Identifying Downtime Patterns

By comparing actual performance to projected performance, you can benchmark productivity against past data to identify opportunities for improvement. A recurring reason code could indicate a machine issue in need of maintenance, or another machine consistently causing delays. Identifying these factors better positions plant managers to rectify them and prevent them from happening in the future.

It is important to understand that all data is good data. Even un-anticipated downtime, machine breakdowns or inefficient scheduling can give you crucial insight into your operation. When machine monitoring hardware works in tandem with data visualization, you can see every performance detail from any machine, regardless of industry or age of machine.

Schedule a demo today and learn what ShiftWorx can do for you!

FreePoint and Intellacor Team Up To Reinvigorate US Manufacturing

Using ShiftWorx, Intellacor brings Industry 4.0 to existing factory equipment across the United States

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