Monitor Your Machines
If you manage or work on a shop floor, then you have likely heard about machine monitoring.
If you manage or work on a shop floor, then you have likely heard about machine monitoring. In basic terms, it is a way to measure shopfloor productivity that allows manufacturers and executives to make informed decisions based on what processes are happening. This way, you can streamline the process, reduce downtime and much more.
For mold manufacturing, these processes may take some time, maybe hours, to produce a single part. Mold shops need to know how long it is going to take to get that mold out the door and what may be preventing that from happening. Knowing that something is wrong hours later may affect the total job and output. So if the operator can inform a higher-up quickly that there are issues with the tooling or fixturing, for example, he can communicate why the machine is stopping. Now, armed with this new information, the shop can streamline this process and improve throughput and productivity.
Machine monitoring allows shop floors to make informed decisions as a team. Plus, adding software that is designed to network CNC machines, robots, programmable logic controllers and part markers, while also managing CNC programs, offsets and parameters, will allow moldmakers to drip-feed, or spoon-feed, the typical large programs. This also allows mid-tape restart, which means that if something such as a tool breaks, the operator can simply restart and continue from that point in the process or start from the beginning. These solutions work hand in hand. You get a reliable communication system and a method for effectively monitoring machine efficiency and productivity.
Then there is pairing the MTConnect protocol with machine monitoring tools. The MTConnect protocol is an open-source, royalty-free communication method for delivering analytics to an off-the-shelf product. Ideally, MTConnect is going to speak English, if you will, to all the different types of equipment that are in the shop versus having proprietary islands that are each different and have to work with multiple vendors to obtain the varied subsets of data off the machines. With a single solution, you save time and money because everyone is looking at the same data. As shops continue to streamline productivity and integration, machine monitoring with a push behind MTConnect has become a common topic. Previously, MTConnect was believed to be cost-prohibitive, with vendors selling proprietary software, making it expensive and restrictive. Today, it continues to change the game as far as pricing, so more people will be asking about it.
With traditional software models requiring the customer to purchase the software outright, a new cloud-based subscription model concept is on the rise. Removing network requirements, as well as expensive database licensing and servers, makes these previous barriers to entry a thing of the past. Seeking monitoring solutions from companies with experience and a breadth of products will help moldmakers take the leap into machine monitoring.
Software suppliers are working diligently to provide moldmakers with relevant but easy-to-use solutions that speed processes and lower costs.
Even the smallest mold shop can afford an integrated shop floor management system that allows for the management of every business transaction—from quote to cash—and is an invaluable tool for ensuring efficiency.
It has become more essential to know exactly what is going on in your business—not last year, not even last month—but at this very moment.