WESTEC 2017 is a Wrap

westec 2017 WESTEC 2017 was another successful show for Shop Floor Automations. While the show started slow on opening day, the crowds eventually filled the Los Angeles Convention Center, with a great number of people making their way over to see us at Booth 1935.

There were some worthwhile happenings to mention. Other than the great people who visited our booth during the show, there were fun networking events that happened at the end of the night for Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, we had a painter doing an original piece reflecting on manufacturing influence in Los Angeles, while Wednesday night treated us to stilt walkers and a walking/talking dessert table. Yes, it was odd, but a fun way to keep attendees involved during longer show hours.

WESTEC 2017We gave out some of our G-code shirts and lots of G-code mousepads. We also after the show raffled off some hardware to give away and a prize pack to give away on Instagram. Congrats to those winners!

We were also intrigued to find out that the next WESTEC show will be taking place in Long Beach. A change of venue for this show and this industry should prove refreshing and either way, we appreciate everyone who came by to see us during this year’s show!

See our photos from the show in our Facebook photo album by clicking this link. We will soon be uploading a video from WESTEC 2017, so be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube here to see it when it is uploaded.

Want more information on the solutions we had on display at WESTEC 2017? Click here so we can get in touch with you, or call (877) 611-5825

July/August 2017 Shop Floor Automations Newsletter

Shop Floor Automations NewsletterThe following is an archived copy of the July/August 2017 Shop Floor Automations newsletter:

Communication Issues You Can’t Ignore

You may have heard about DNC Software recently, but what exactly does it do? What benefits does it have that you need?

Here are three quick reasons DNC Software is a necessity on the shop floor:

  1. End CNC communication failures and stop manually managing your programs. One network for thousands of your CNC programs. Drip-feed, download and upload programs that are too big for the CNC memory. Make sure these crucial jobs are actually getting done at the machines on the shop floor.
  2. Hardware just won’t cut it. If you have a small shop with one or two machines, then using a Portable USB Connect may be enough for you, for now. But once your shop grows, you will get more machinery and more employees. You might already be a large company experiencing growing pains, coupled with CNC communication failures or wondering where on the shop floor your programs are floating around. Buying hardware or adding a USB port, though both actions are a great first step, won’t control your programs or get you the latest version of a file.
  3. The value is unmatched. When you invest in Predator DNC, it can be integrated with Predator MDC for machine data collection, or linked up with Predator PDM to help with paperless document control, or used with Touch HMI to make working at the machine easier. There are many integration possibilities – collecting machine trends can help improve OEE, while going paperless saves you time, and Touch HMI can replace old proprietary hardware like bar code readers.

SFA & The MFG Community

Shop Floor Automations loves being involved in the manufacturing community. We see the community is quickly growing as an influx of younger generation workers enters. This is especially true for the manufacturing community’s social media presence.

SFA has been involved with the manufacturing community in a multitude of ways over the last few years. We have given away hardware prizes at events, we have toured Workshops for Warriors, we have visited Open Source Maker Labs, and our Marketing Coordinator participated in (and won) a talent contest from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

Coming to WESTEC 2017?

SFA is heading out of the San Diego area and up to Los Angeles to exhibit at WESTEC in September. Come and see us at the show!
Visit Booth 1935, where our hardware and software will be on display, as well as some of our talented staff, who can answer your questions about shop floor productivity.  We will also be giving out free shop floor swag.

If you would like to be reminded about WESTEC coming up in September, please shoot us an email and we can add you to our WESTEC emailing list.

Call (877) 611-5825 for more info. Link to the original newsletter here.

Must Sees at WESTEC 2017

WESTEC 2017With WESTEC 2017 coming up fast, there will be a lot to see. To help out our fellow manufacturing peer members, here are the top 3 list of things at WESTEC 2017 in Los Angeles that we hope to see and feel you would enjoy:

1) Key note speech from Titan Gilroy – WESTEC Theater, Tuesday from 1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Titan and his company are the focus of the show “Titans of CNC” on the MAVTV Motorsports Network. It is building interest in American manufacturing in regards to the theme of global competition. Their YouTube channel is also full of inspiring videos, including the latest video of Titan helping out a high school aged inventor to create mass quantities of his product to keep up with the demand he is experiencing.

2) Resources for OEE & the MFG skills gap. There are many free information resources to check out at WESTEC. First, check out the MFG apprenticeship panel on Thursday (more info here), info on getting California training funds on Tuesday (more info here), and on Thursday, there will be a presentation on how to balance OEE, utilization, quality, and cost (more info here).

3) You. WESTEC is an amazing place for the West Coast manufacturing community to network and learn from each other, whether in a panel, a workshop, or the halls of the convention center. We want you to come visit us at Booth 1935 – we love getting insight from the people who are the backbone of this industry. If you have any issues with OEE, experience downtime frequently, you have issues with CNC communication or are looking to replace old processes/media, we especially would love to see you. We will also have giveaways and promo codes, so come on over to meet Team SFA!

Coming to WESTEC? Or can’t make it, but want more info? Get in touch with us by calling (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form by clicking here.

Hurricane Harvey Impacts Houston MFG

Americans have watched in horror this past week seeing the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Texas area was hit the hardest, which includes the Houston TX manufacturing community.

The exact monetary amount of damage is debated heavily. A risk modeler for Bloomberg states the storm will cause up to $75 Billion in economic loss, while CNN also gave a figure of $75 Billion, with Accuweather estimating that Harvey will have caused a $160 Billion dent in the economy. For perspective, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 cost the economy $160 Billion.

The manufacturing community of Houston Texas, which is currently the most populated city in Texas, was no doubt impacted by this horrendous storm. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) states that manufacturers in Texas account for 15.22 percent of the State’s output and employs 7.33 percent of the Texas workforce.

These percentages may sound small, but as of 2013, manufacturing in Texas accounted for $233 Billion+ of output. In 2014, the industry employed 890,200 Texans and as of 2012, there were over 17,000 manufacturing companies in the state. As the past four years have gone by since these figures were recorded, these numbers have more than likely grown, since in 2013, manufacturing only accounted for 871,700 jobs in Texas, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

How can we help, in this time of need?

In terms of general services, you can donate money or blood to the Red Cross or offer shelter for free to impacted families through the AirBNB Disaster Response Program.

As far as helping the manufacturing community of Houston, which is no doubt already impacted by an existing skills gap and having to pick up the pieces from Harvey’s wake, there are a few ways to help. Students who are taking STEM or machinist course work in local schools or colleges can volunteer to help, as well as those who have retired recently from the manufacturing field can temporarily help.

Shop Floor Automations wants to assist manufacturing companies in the Houston TX area by offering heavily discounted services. To help assess the damage done to your productivity and tools, please visit this page or call (877) 611-5825 

Made in America Strong

American ManufacturingThe state of the economy is always a concern with any company in any line of business. With the American manufacturing industry experiencing growth in the past couple of years, there have also been some shaky areas in its foundation.

While there is growth, there is still a significant skills gap to fill. There are also still concerns about reshoring jobs AKA bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. Growth in the manufacturing industry can be a double-edged sword.

As a citizen of America and someone who is passionate about this industry, you may be wondering how you can help American manufacturing sustain itself. Here are the three top ways you can get involved:

1 – Volunteer for organizations helping with the skills gap. There is always extra work that needs to be done for non-profits. Even if you don’t have manufacturing-specific technical skills, or if you have peers who do not work in this field who want to help, any number of skills are needed to fulfill different tasks. A good example is Workshops for Warriors, who always needs volunteers with Marketing experience and for specific office work to be done. You may even be able to volunteer for some of these organizations remotely if you do not live in the area.

2 – Donate to schools or programs teaching STEM or manufacturing-specific courses. Students interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are sometimes lucky enough to find programs provided by their schools, such as Cardinal Manufacturing at Eleva-Strum School District. Otherwise, some kids may need to partake in these activities outside of school with places like Open Source Maker Labs (OSML). This fabrication lab is always seeking donated equipment to help their students create more. Another source of assistance would be to contact local Community Colleges who have manufacturing-related courses. See if they need any materials for the students of those programs – they could need anything from welding masks to extra pads of paper.

3 – Contact politicians. It can be easy to forget that the people who run this country work for us. We can remind politicians that the best ways to enrich our industry are to increase competition against global manufacturing by fixing our taxes/regulations, as well as building a national strategy to help our infrastructure, and increasing R&D (research and development) tax credits or funding possibilities. Even creating more grants, scholarships, and national skills certification programs in the areas of STEM would help our industry greatly.

There are many other areas in which the government has a level of influence to help. On a lower level, you can speak to your city council about locally making more manufacturing opportunities available. You can even try to contact your State Representative(s) or the Governor of your state. The highest levels of influence for manufacturing in politics would be through Cabinet officials in the Departments of Energy, Commerce, Transportation, Defense, Labor, and Education. Agencies that affect our industry are NIST, ARPA-E, NSF, OSTP, SBA, DARPA, AMNPO, the Economic Development Administration, and the US Commercial Service.

If you are looking to help your shop floor be more productive before you can help on a larger level, please contact us. We can help with OEE, productivity issues, and help you stop wasting money on downtime. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form here

 

Summer 2017 Predator Software Updates

Predator SoftwareShop Floor Automations is excited to share with you these Summer 2017 Predator Software Updates:

  • In August, July & June, there have been the following updates to MDC:
    • v11.0.248 (August 10, 2017) Improvements for Favorite Reports. Improved New Events Touch manual collection of user logins, machine downtime, good parts, scrap parts, and more. Machine Events Reports improved. Bugs fixed for Machine Downtime and Cost chart legends, and overall load on the database instance has been reduced. Many more improvements made.
    • v11.0.246 (July 14, 2017). Improved MDC APIs and bug fixed with running reports from View Components.
    • v11.0.245 (July 7, 2017). Duration of Chart has been added to header.  Automatic and manual refresh logic improved. Multiple display elements improved. Overall chart performance, use of arrow keys, part serial number permissions, and similar features improved. More updates, as well as some bug fixes, included in this version.
    • v11.0.241 (June 8, 2017). Chinese, Japanese, and Korean style reports added. Improvements made to MDC Service Manager, View Machine Status, View OEE Status, Chinese language resources, Production Trend Analysis Chart display, and more features. Bugs fixed and more improvements made.
    • Android compatibility was also improved for MDC in late June 2017.
  • On July 16, 2017 – Predator Tracker v11.0.55 was released. Same as PDM – FIPS compatibility with FLM v11.0.0.2. improved. New imports and API abilities added. Improved process for Check in/Check out to Departments, Locations and Groups. Bugs fixed with View Components reports, editing tool rework operation definitions, and more.
  • On July 15, 2017 – Predator PDM v11.0.174 was released. FIPS compatibility with FLM v11.0.0.2. improved. Part serial number permissions, importing manufacturing/quality requirements, online help, and PDM APIs have been improved. Bugs fixed with assigning icons to custom commands, and more.

There have also been updates for Predator CNC Service, Predator Travelers, and Predator FLM over the summer.

If you would like more information, please contact SFA by calling (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form at this link

DNC Software & Hardware – Peas in a Pod

dnc software hardwareIf you have recently made the decision to add DNC software to your shop floor to help with productivity and CNC communications, you are off to a great start.

Did you also know that adding hardware to DNC software solutions is the best way to leverage this business decision? Here are three pieces of hardware that best compliment DNC software:

Option 1: Wired CNC Connect. This device supports 100’s of CNC’s per each Server PC that has a seat of DNC software on it. Simply run Ethernet cable to each machine and place the device on the control for drip-feeding. The IP address converts into a comm port with drivers. By using the network backbone, you are sending the serial signal five feet wth the supplied cable, giving you the most reliable and strongest serial signal. Available in 1 to 16 ports.

Option 2: Wireless CNC Connect. The best option for those who like to move machines around and change the layout of their shop floor often. No cabling required. The device comes with an assigned IP – just to add your network, properly mount the device and it’s ready.

Option 3: Multi Connect. While this device is not available for purchase yet, it is anticipated to be a ground-breaking piece of hardware for manufacturing shop floors. The unit connects to machines via MTConnect, PLC, Wireless, Ethernet, and RS232 Serial. This solution can also be used with DNC Software and Machine Monitoring products, which makes it very versatile.

What are the best DNC software options available? Check out Predator DNC, Predator Touch HMI, Predator EditLock, and ExtremeDNC by clicking here!

Not sure what DNC Software is or why it would benefit you? Click here to learn more. You may also call (877) 611-5825 for more information about any products in this post.  

Top MFG Learning Stories

manufacturing education

James McCanless, an Air Force machinist, shows metal cut products to visiting students

Let’s give our kids the chance to discover manufacturing-related jobs.

Fall is coming, and with it, the entrance of students into their high school senior year, as well as those entering college and postsecondary programs. With students on our minds, especially in regards to the future of manufacturing and upcoming MFG Day, here are the top 5 manufacturing education stories we think you should hear about lately:

  1. SME-EF & NASA helps Wheeling High School – The SME Education Foundation has teamed up with HUNCH (High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware) to give these gifted STEM students a chance to make hardware for the International Space Station. Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math are all areas more students need to get interested in, and with amazing organizations like NASA stepping in to help, it is creating an interest for kids to get into manufacturing.
  2. A Quick Spotlight on Jim Filipek – With MFG Day coming up quick, it is so crucial for those in the manufacturing industry to share their insight and their passion with the younger generation for working in this industry. Jim Filipek and his family have been part of the manufacturing industry for years, and after 11 years working in it, he taught in a high school machine shop for two decades, and since 2009, has been a full-time coordinator/instructor for the College of DuPage’s Manufacturing Technology and Welding programs. Great job, Jim!
  3. The 3D Experience Center at Wichita State University – The National Institute of Aviation Research has teamed up with Dassault Systems and Wichita State University to provide the venues for future products and technologies to be developed while being part of a network of companies and experts. What is called the Innovation Campus spreads across 120 acres and over 25 buildings, where students can work on robotics, virtual/augmented reality, reverse engineering, additive manufacturing, and more.
  4. The North Carolina Triangle Apprenticeship Program – The NCTAP is an incredibly successful apprentice program to get young people in the manufacturing industry. Especially since they have programs that start as early as the 11th Grade in high school, this is a very important and valuable program that shows these students there is financial prosperity to be had in these careers – even while learning on the job!
  5. Check out Edge Factor – Do you have NetFlix and Hulu? Who doesn’t? Imagine a video platform similar to these two programs specifically geared towards the manufacturing community. It exists! Check out our interview with Edge Factor’s founder and what inspired this multi media platform to be created. With more and more students connected to streaming sources for entertainment, this could be a great venue to cultivate interest.

Already working in manufacturing and want some resources for better OEE or productivity? Call us at (877) 611-5825 or fill out a form here to contact us. 

MFG Costs, Budgets & Integration ROI

mfg costs mfg budget mfg integratorManufacturing costs are a pain.

When you are thinking of investments to help with production, you have to keep in mind your MFG costs and your budget. While it would be great if all of your costs were predictable, they are not.

There are four variables of expenses when running a manufacturing company, and we have done our best to break it down for you with a driving analogy:

Fixed Costs: You get in your car, you set up your GPS and map out the trip. You know how much time it will take to get there and how many miles. You set the path to avoid toll roads, so you know it will take a little extra time, but you’ve accounted for it. Fixed costs are part of the routine in manufacturing. These cover your utility bills, taxes, property costs, salaries for executives or administrative workers, and general facility maintenance. You can even account for a budget of office supplies and basic salaries for sales people and machinists in this category, too.

Variable Costs: When you plan to take your trip, you account for normal traffic patterns that will add a likely delay to get to your destination. It’s an annoyance we have come to both accept and expect for road trips. Variable costs can best be described as costs directly in relation with production. For example – when you produce more, you ultimately need more raw materials. These patterns are predictable and prescribe to the old saying “you gotta spend money to make money.”

Semi-Variable & Step-Variable Costs: When you’re on your trip, let’s say a horrific accident happens, or you hit an unexpected detour. These unforeseen but likely scenarios can add time to your trip, and let’s face it, most people don’t plan for these events to happen. Semi-variable costs account for costs that can vary, such as commissions for sales people or production-based bonuses. Step-variable costs are costs that remain fixed for a period of time, and can suddenly spike up. Let’s say a machine is producing consistently for a long period of time, but then, it goes down – this downtime is not only costly to production, but hiring a specialist to come out and look at it, or replacing it with another machine, will be expensive.

What is the common factor in all of these examples, though?

If you invested in the GPS, it will reroute you, or add time to your route when you hit traffic or unexpected snags in the road. It is monitoring conditions for you to give you expectations and suggestions on how to improve your route.

How does this relate to manufacturing integration solutions & ROI?

Investing in manufacturing integration solutions is the best ROI when taking into account situations that lead to step-variable costs in your production. It’s essentially giving yourself a GPS to help meet and exceed production goals.

If your machines are consistently having communication errors that cause thousands of dollars in stopped production time, then DNC software or hardware is a drop in the bucket to help prevent this from happening. If there are other issues with machines causing downtime that are not relative to CNC communication failures, then machine monitoring can help for better OEE and for machinists to better communicate issues for proper solutions.

If you are interested in Shop Floor Automations helping you combat production issues head on, we invite you to contact us! You can fill out a form here, or call us at (877) 611-5825 to utilize our decades of experience. 

 

New Manufacturing Techniques

People try out new technologies each day.

They buy new phones, lease new cars, upgrade the software on their phones and computers, or add implements to their homes to improve their quality of life. Embracing new technology is a move that would benefit the manufacturing shop floor industry most.

new manufacturing technologyHere are the Top 3 ways that new manufacturing technology adopted on the shop floor can benefit your company:

1 – You can keep up with the competition. According to recent results from the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, the National Association of Manufacturers states that in 2017, there is a record-high level of optimism in the manufacturing industry. 91.4 percent of manufacturers said they would increase investments, hire more workers, and that they generally feel good about our industry’s growth. Do you fit in this category?

Are pieces of old tech, like floppy disk drives and handheld terminals holding you back? Are you experiencing communication failures due to lack of CNC memory for your programs? These are all problems that new technology can fix, so that you can get in on this wave of prosperity.

2 – Increase profit. When implementing new hardware and software into older machines, this can help drastically decrease downtime. When there is no downtime to deal with, or less of it, machinists are free to perfect their craft. According to SME, there have been proven studies that show on average, time will decrease 5 percent every time the number of completed pieces doubles.

Therefore, if a machinist has more time to actually do their job than deal with machines going down, that will ultimately make the company more productive. Implementing machine monitoring to track machine trends increases OEE and DNC software can help with CNC communication failure, which are two sure fire ways to combat downtime.

3 – More freedom. When there is less worry of machines going down, this can create a better work/life balance for those who work on the shop floor, and in the front office. Machine monitoring, which is a powerful IIoT (industrial internet of things) tool, is an amazing way to get notifications of what is going on with machines not only on the shop floor, but via email or text notifications.

When this proven solution to deal with downtime is combined with more accountability through the means of graphical job scheduling, PDM, and other resources on the shop floor, there is more trust in the workplace. More people can use their PTO to go on vacation, or workers who are home sick can help give guidance when a machine goes down via a notes section through machine monitoring.

If you are interested in new technology for your shop floor and experiencing the benefits listed above, contact us by filling out a sales form here, or call (877) 611-5825.