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Discussing Project Launches in Manufacturing Automation Magazine

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Paul Hogendoorn – FreePoint Founder

Paul’s latest publication featuring in Manufacturing Automation Magazine discusses the challenge of project launches, stating:

“The hardest thing to do is often just to get started. Stepping into the unknown, or perhaps looking forward into a big, indeterminate and not fully defined project, is easy to avoid doing.”

Throughout the article, Paul explains the best approach to tackling a big, new endeavor like IIoT and Industry 4.0 – break it into more manageable chunks:

  • Zero to One
  • One to Ten
  • Ten to One Hundred

Zero to one, also known as project launch, is often the most difficult (and most critical) stage. This is primarily because it requires a significant leap of faith few are willing, or even able to take. As you move past the launch stage, more people begin to get on-board, adding momentum, and mitigating some resistance. Manufacturers will find the same amount of energy they applied in the beginning will get them a lot farther and a lot faster in the final stages of the project.

The mistake some companies make is trying to map out and enact the plan from start to finish in one fell swoop, making project launches more overwhelming than they need to be. Learn how to better tackle your next manufacturing project by reading the full article here.

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

The Secret Behind Monitoring Manual Processes

From a machine monitoring standpoint, the wide range of equipment and tactics used by manufacturers pose a challenge. For instance, Some equipment is newer and digitally compatible, whereas others are older and analog. Also, some processes are done manually by an employee instead of a machine. Manufacturers may find themselves wondering: is it possible to monitor manual processes? Luckily, at FreePoint, the answer is yes.

As the global supply of computing power and storage capacity continues to grow rapidly, the cost to access these resources continues to drop. The same is true for IIoT technologies. Sensory devices and the technology needed to interpret them have become more compact and affordable in recent years. Because of these advancements, we can monitor more than just machines, but the manual processes of factory workers as well.

Cyber physical systems freepoint technologies

By leveraging different sensors, you can create cyber-physical systems to monitor tasks ranging from welding and brazing to painting and sanding. These sensors include:

  1. Electrical Current Sensors
  2. Switch/Button Recognition Sensors
  3. Pressure Plate Sensors

Electrical Current Sensors

FreePoint Technologies Electrical Symbol

One of the easiest manual processes to monitor are those which produce an electrical current. For example, if you are performing a task involving a MIG Welder, an electrical current will pass through the tool whenever it is in use. By installing an electrical current sensor, you can monitor the use of the welder and its efficiency based on the amount of time the tool spent having an electrical current run through it. If there is no current running through the tool, that would be considered downtime. Obviously, the more time the tool spends with current running through it, the more value-added time it contributes.

Switch/Button Recognition Sensors

Another straight-forward means of monitoring a manual process is with switch/button recognition sensors. When using a tool that is button or switch activated, a switch recognition sensor will be able to determine when a switch has been flipped on or off. Like electrical current sensors, by tracking whether the switch/button is on or off – you can identify when a machine is experiencing uptime or downtime. Using downtime narration, you can attribute reasons to justify downtime, some of which may be preventable moving forward.

Pressure Plate SensorsFreePoint Technologies Pressure Plate Sensor

Pressure plates are useful to monitor any piece of equipment that exerts pressure—like a drill press. Using this in tandem with an electrical current sensor will give you valuable insight into the efficiency of certain manual processes. In addition, using a pressure plate sensor alongside an electrical current sensor allows you to tell when a machine is running, as well as performing a value-adding task. In the case of a drill press, the value-adding task would be drilling. Just because electricity is running through the machine does not mean the machine is being productive. With both sensors, you will be able to more accurately assess your processes productivity.

With our IIoT software, FreePoint can connect any machine on your shop floor and start collecting data within 24 hours. You can literally monitor any machine with an electrical current. The oldest machine we are currently monitoring is from 1914! Reach out today and let us walk you through how to monitor your manual processes!

FreePoint Named One of Manufacturing Technology Insights Top Industrial IoT Solution Providers of 2019

Manufacturing Technology Insights IIOT Top Logo

FreePoint Technologies is excited to announce that we have been named one of Manufacturing Technology Insights Top 10 Industrial IoT Solution Providers of 2019.

Manufacturing Technology Insights discussed how FreePoint is helping manufacturing organizations discover and achieve their true operational potential through IoT.

Referencing our ShiftWorx Platform, our CEO John Traynor explained how the “Visualization of real-time data triggers the Hawthorne Effect and supports collaboration among management and workers to use equipment for maximum efficiency.” As the article outlines, many manufacturers aren’t sure where to start with IoT, especially as they consider connecting new and old equipment. It’s better to start simple, by building a foundation to collect leverage data.

Using non-invasive sensors, FreePoint is able to connect to new and legacy machines to give greater visibility into shop floor performance and help contextualize that data to identify and improve performance issues and engage operators and management.

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

FreePoint Founder Hits the Trifecta in Manufacturing Automation Magazine

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

Paul Hogendoorn – FreePoint Founder

FreePoint Founder and Chair, Paul Hogendoorn has featured in Manufacturing Automation Magazine’s October issue with his article titled “Hitting the Trifecta”. In his article, Paul outlines a simple three-step approach that will enable manufacturers to take full advantage of IIoT and industry 4.0 technologies:

  1. Establish Empirical Baseline Metrics
  2. Engage Your People in the Process of Improvement
  3. Connect Your Data to Your People in Real-Time

By properly implementing these steps, manufacturers can typically expect to see anywhere from 45-79% increases in capacity and/or productivity. With such a significant opportunity for ROI, Paul strongly encourages manufacturers to not only leverage new and emerging technologies on the shop floor, but to engage with their operators – making them part of the continuous improvement process.

Throughout his article, Paul stresses the importance of the order in which these steps are performed – likening the approach to horse-racing wagers:

“If you had the knowledge of which horses to bet on and which order to bet on them, would you?”

Manufacturers can do more to ensure their success by taking a systematic approach to industry 4.0 and digitization in their shop. By focusing on just one of the three points Paul discusses in his article, manufacturers may limit the success of their digitization efforts. But by properly combining people and technology, manufacturers will be much better positioned to take full advantage of their industry 4.0 technologies.

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.

Learn more about how you can hit the manufacturing trifecta by reading Paul’s full article here.

FreePoint Technologies CEO Paul Hogendoorn

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