Manufacturing News – August 2016

mfg news

Click for a larger view

SFA is proudly featured in the August 2016 issue of Manufacturing News! We not only have an ad in it, but we also have an article on the Multi Connect unveiling at IMTS 2016.

From our press release in this issue: “The Multi Connect is a turnkey device, able to continuously monitor the machine’s operating state and other necessary data, while making this information readily available over a network connection using the industry standard MTConnect protocol. The Multi Connect is compatible with a wide range of machine monitoring software packages, including Scytec’s DataXchange, Predator’s Machine Data Collection, and more!”

We again must publish a brief retraction: We will be unable to take Multi Connect pre-orders at IMTS, but we will be happy to scan badges to keep people in touch with more info on the product, as it becomes available. The tech specs and the price will definitely be worth the wait!

Other than hardware solutions, we also have many customizable software solutions to help automate your shop floor. We especially love to help shops realize the possibilities of machine monitoring! Call 877-611-5825 or chat with our sales team today to see how we can increase uptime and help diminish downtime on your shop floor. 

Scytec DataXchange Updates

There are some great changes on the horizon for DataXchange from Scytec. Shop Floor Automations, an authorized reseller of the program, would like to take the time to quickly highlight previews of changes to come.


Enjoy OEE machine monitoring with a real-time shop floor layout. New OEE charts, views from a real-time dashboard, plus multiple part time analysis reports, a shop floor layout view in the dashboard, and various equipment status comparison charts that will analyze equipment utilization across a span of different days will be included in new updates.

dataxchange updates

For a quick window into what you get from Scytec’s DataXchange, via the product page:

  • Pay $45 monthly per machine – no long-term contract
  • We house the servers for an unlimited number of users
  • Real-time data collection from CNC controllers & equipment
  • Unlimited reporting & charting licenses
  • View & report on data results from anywhere
  • Track multiple cycle time types
  • System is supported under Windows 10

Shop Floor Automations will be previewing these updates at IMTS 2016. Check out our main page for what we will be up to at IMTS 2016 by clicking here, and call (877) 611-5825 for machine monitoring, and other shop floor solutions.

Closing the MFG Skills Gap

manufacturing skills gap To quote Bob Dylan – “the times, they are a-changin'”. This also applies to the manufacturing industry and a serious demand for skilled workers in this field.

With today’s generation of youth, it seems as if they all want to be YouTube stars, singers, actors, artists – anything creative to get fame and to make a lot of money is the appeal. Many organizations are working hard to peak the interest of today’s youth into the manufacturing industry, which falls into the realm of more technological or scientific trades (AKA: STEM). They are trying to convey to this upcoming generation of workers that they can find creativity, the possibility of prominence, and good pay with jobs in the manufacturing sector. 

There are notable efforts from multiple organizations to combat the very near future’s need for skilled manufacturing workers. One example is the SME Education Foundation, who in a genius move also own the domain

You may remember a piece we did on Workshops for Warriors, which focuses on getting well-deserved military veterans into manufacturing jobs. We also tip our hats to NIMS (the National Institute for Metalworking Skills), the ML Council, The Manufacturing Institute, NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers), AMT (the Association for Manufacturing Technology), and NTMA (the National Tooling and Machining Association) for helping to close the skills gap in this area.

What more can be done? Recently, the Haas Technical Education Center has been encouraging those in any aspect of the manufacturing industry to let Congress know that the need currently ranges from moderate to serious for these skilled positions. With the help of NAM and the Manufacturing Institute, they are looking for help in passing H.R. 5587 AKA the Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.

More information about H.R. 5587 can be found by clicking here. If you are in need of technical solutions to help your shop floor thrive, please call us at 877-611-5825. We would also love to hear your thoughts on this topic on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Machine Monitoring is a Must

Machine MonitoringYou can see your machine manufacture something in real time. What about monitoring the data of what your machines are doing in real time? It’s possible! 

Software can be utilized to collect and analyze machine activity data such as MTConnect, Fanuc FOCAS, plus custom macros, and the aid of certain hardware devices. An easy-to-view dashboard, as well as charts and historical reports, can help your shop floor monitor downtime, run time, and OEE data.

As discussed in a previous blog, you can get email notifications when there are any production delays due to your machines. You can also get text messages.

These different messages can also be targeted to specific operators who work different shifts, which means one employee who is off for certain shift doesn’t have to hear about a machine that is down when employee two can handle it.

Options for machine monitoring you can take advantage of range from a convenient application, a permanent license you own, or a month-to-month license that does not require on-site servers. Be sure to call us if you want more information at (877) 611-5825, or ask us questions on social media


CA MFG Tax Exemptions

CA MFG Tax ExemptionsDid you know that certain manufacturing companies in California may have tax exemption rules? Here are some basic facts that we’d love to share in this blog:

Industry: Look into exemptions if your company is involved more than 50 percent of the time in the areas of manufacturing, biotech research, biotech development, plus research or development for physical, engineering, and life sciences. Also, any company that uses most of their time and resources for manufacturing and fabricating, which is applicable to this industry, could be viewed as a “qualified use.”

Money: Is more than 50 percent of your profit in a fiscal year allocated to salaries for employees, production costs, or based on the amount of full-time equivalency workers in your company?

Equipment: Your machines, equipment, component parts (IE: moving parts, belts, operating structures, shafts, etc.)  may be considered “qualified tangible personal property.”

Here’s the part that we like – Your computers, as well as software you use to operate, regulate, maintain, and control your machines, and data processing equipment, may also be considered “qualified tangible personal property.” Buying our hardware and software solutions to make your shop floor more efficient may be part of this exemption!

We recommend you speak to a tax advice expert further if you want to take advantage of these exemptions by visiting the CA Board of Equalization site here. Otherwise, give us a call at 877-611-5825 or contact us on one of our social media channels to take advantage of our solutions!


IMTS 2016 Contest

imts 2016Our G-code T-Shirt is a hit at trade shows. That’s why we want to give away some of them in a contest at IMTS 2016 in Chicago!

We will be giving away 3 shirts per day in a raffle – enter just by coming to our booth and getting your badge scanned. We will make sure if you win that we contact you for the proper size and where to ship it to, once IMTS is over.

It would be a great 2016 souvenir from visiting IMTS, AKA the International Manufacturing Technology Show. It sure beats a cheesy “I Love Chicago” T-Shirt, but if you don’t win our shirt, you can always buy it in our store, as well!

We will also be giving away:

We will be at Booth E3240 at IMTS, so be sure to swing by! We will also be premiering our brand new Multi Connect product. When posting about your visit to our booth during IMTS on social media, use the hashtags #shopfloorautomations or #theMultiConnect so we can thank you for sharing what you saw from us. Add us to your show planner by visiting this page, too! Check out other tradeshows will be attending in the future, as well.

SFA Examines TouchHMI

what is touch hmi Predator Touch HMI, a relatively new application, is a favorite here at Shop Floor Automations. With Touch HMI being one of the products that will be featured at our IMTS 2016 booth, we wanted to take the time to do an in-depth piece on its benefits.

What can best be described as a big button interface, Touch HMI is an application operators to use to simplify sending and receiving programs to and from machines. For shops employing machine data collection, they can put in downtime codes that the operators can choose, such as set up or preventative maintenance, for example.

Touch HMI can be accessed from any Windows-based platform, such as a compatible tablet or cell phone, as well as a network PC. Touch HMI can communicate over a network, wired and wirelessly, as well as via a serial connection.

This time-saving interface consolidates multiple automation platforms with features like data collection, DNC, plus other types of document control platforms. You can automate processes on the machine, and really any third party software can be integrated with it. It acts as one common place for the operator to interact with that looks visually pleasing and is easy to understand.

Predator DNC is one tool used to communicate with and network CNC machines. Touch HMI makes communicating easier than all the different alternatives currently available. You can use it with a bar code reader, but it can also replace what a bar code does, too! Custom color coding is also an option SFA has for customers to make the system easier to read.

Another great feature of TouchHMI that you may not have thought about? Because the Internet of Things is such an influence in the manufacturing industry, a button can be customized on an individual client’s interface that is a supplement to their daily schedule.

Want a button that goes to a web browser, so your operator can order lunch and have it be ready for pick up when they go on break? Or a button where a tech can request time off? A button on the interface that can report work hazards is also a possibility. Anything you can think of to put on that extra button is likely a can-do by our creative technical team, so call us to learn more at 877-611-5825!

CNC Email Notifications

Machine Monitoring NotificationsYou rely on emails heavily in today’s technological world. Imagine being able to receive an email when your CNC machine goes down. 

DataXchange from Scytec is a machine monitoring solution we highly recommend, if this sounds appealing to you. DataXchange connects to your newer CNC equipment through an ethernet port, or for legacy machines and non-CNC equipment, SFA adds a hardware solution to compliment DataXChange that can monitor your machines.

Configure downtimes you want to be notified about, and an email automatically sends to anyone on your specified distribution list. Set custom parameters for timing or hierarchy of the emails, too.

Picture this: if a machine alarm goes off, you can set the system up to wait for a set period of time before it emails you – this eliminates an email being sent out for every small event.  Or you can set it to send an email to John Smith at the company if the alarm happens during first shift, while if the alarm happens during second shift, the email is sent to Jane Doe. This eliminates unnecessary emails to people that might be at home asleep!

Instant access to shop floor data and productivity is a valuable tool.  Correct problems faster and increase up-time with solutions like these. Call us at 877-611-5825, send a message to our Sales team, or come find us on one of our social media channels.

West Manufacturing News August 2016

shop floor automations Thanks to West Manufacturing News West for publishing our Shop Floor Automations press release for their August 2016 issue! We were very excited to see we even hit the front page news for this publication regarding our Multi Connect.

We do wish to publish a slight retraction, in hindsight – we will not be able to take preorders at IMTS 2016 for the Multi Connect. We do apologize for the inconvenience, but we look forward to discussing the new product and previewing it to tradeshow attendees from September 12th through the 17th in Chicago at Booth E-3240.

To keep up with news on the Multi Connect, as well as to see what Shop Floor Automations is up to, we encourage you to come along for the ride with us via our social media channels! We will be most active that week on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

About Shop Floor Automations (SFA): Founded back in 1998, SFA started as a small company focused on distributing the Predator Software product line to the San Diego and Los Angeles markets of California.  Within 6 months, the company expanded to cover the entire West Coast as a reseller with the goal to be the #1 reseller in a year.

The goal was met in 1999 when SFA was awarded the status of largest distributor of Predator Software in North America. SFA has been ranked #1 in Predator Software Sales, Service and Support for the past 19 years running.

First Hawaii SFA Customer

hawaiiHere at Shop Floor Automations, we love all of our customers and we are excited that the number grows every day. An order we got today was particularly thrilling, as it’s our first ever client based out of Hawaii!

The order we saw come in was for our Portable USB Connect. Turns out, they need it to communicate with their Milltronics control. They are currently using SD cards and they no longer want to deal with the 2GB restriction. Who can blame them?! The cards are also hard to find for them, so they opted for our Portable USB Connect.

While our Wireless Connect was not the best option for them, we respect and will anticipate how to cater to every need for every one of our customers. As we say “aloha” to this unit and ship it off to Hawaii, we sure hope our new client will say “aloha” back and let us know how the unit is working for them!

If you want to become our newest customer, or have purchased from us in the past and want some new solutions, contact us here. Did you know that if you once had a maintenance agreement with us, that it may be time to renew? Call us to find out at 877-611-5825. We can’t wait to chat with you!