Memex Automation supports SME and Takes Back Manufacturing

(OPENPRESS) October 25, 2011 — Take Back Manufacturing (TBM) was a theme at the recent CMTS event in Toronto. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) presented a roadmap to take Back Manufacturing. It was shared that North America is rapidly losing prosperity via the decline in this important part of the economy. During the event it was advocated that much more must be done to improve the business environment, improve the focus and approach to better position success within the manufacturing sectors.

In a recent SME press announcement the tone was clear: “Everyone knows the issues and the situation, but little is being actively done to fix it, and this forum has a fresh and much broader representation across many parts of industry, and once the forum has formulated its common view it will be the turn of government and others that set policy to listen…Stay tuned.”  More on the TBM journey at http://sme-tbm.org.

According to John Rattray of Memex Automation who supports the initiative, “The goal of TBM is to get Government, Educators and Industry leadership to work closer together to plan the recovery of our declining manufacturing sectors.” Rattray’s firm totally support the active TBM forum of a broad range of technical societies, management associations, and trade union organizations.

One of the ways in which Memex Automation is actively demonstrating the TBM philosophy is to service on the MTConnect Shop Floor Connectivity Committee. Thought leaders from sixteen companies representing a diverse cross-section of the discrete parts manufacturing industry collaborated in the development of the guide. The committee addressed the most fundamental question shop owners and plant managers when deciding to implement MTConnect.

The guide addresses connectivity issues associated with both new and legacy manufacturing equipment; it provides a structured framework to guide companies through the assessment of equipment and the early planning stages of a project.

The foundation for improving manufacturing productivity starts with easy access to data. MTConnect provides manufacturers with a simple and extensible mechanism to connect manufacturing equipment to software applications used to run the businesses.

Memex Automation Inc., was created to leverage the research and development of Memex Electronics, which was founded in 1992. Memex continues its tradition of serving the discrete manufacturing sector, supplying component hardware, memory upgrades, and visionary shop floor communication technology. Memex products allow a manufacturer to realize the impact of OEE Profitability.

No Machine Left Behind

Modern Machine Shop – December 22, 2011 – The article Understanding MTConnect Agents and Adapters looks under the covers at how MTConnect, a manufacturing communication standard, helps shops use a digital, Web-based network to gather and analyze data generated by machine tools and other shopfloor equipment in real-time. But what about older machines and devices that generate little or no digital data on their own? Many shops would find it handy to get that old manual knee mill, band saw, coolant chiller or legacy CNC on, say, a shop-wide monitoring system—if only to capture whether it was in cycle or not.

As the article mentions, one way to do this is to attach a “connection unit” designed to tap into the digital signals (inputs and outputs) existing on each factory device. Granted, the technology to capture these signals has been around for awhile, but the open language to communicate to them has not. The emergence of an open, network-based communications standard, such as MTConnect, is attracting renewed interest in the feasibility of networking “legacy” equipment.
Suppliers have responded to this opportunity with what I am calling internal or external solutions.
One example of the internal approach is from Memex Automation, a company that is an old hand at supplying manufacturing connectivity solutions. It offers electronic adapter boards that are installed inside a control cabinet. These solutions tap into the digital signals from existing input/output connection points. Once the hookup is complete, the internal processor can take the raw signals and further process, combine and name them with a remote software utility for use in machine monitoring or overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) applications.
Another example of the internal approach is the ORiON Machine Gateway Interface, from Nexas America, that provides machine connectivity, embedded DNC, a local file server and the MTConnect agent/adapter on one board. It supports various wired and wireless networking systems, plus it features dual serial ports to meet a range of automated machine communication and control needs. It also provides for barcode reader input, a feedback loop for adaptive control, and sensor interfacing.
An example of the external approach is from Real Time Development Corp., a longtime controls integrator. Its Quick Start Platform is mounted externally in its own bolt-on electrical enclosure, which houses an embedded PC, PLC and an I/O pickup. The software logic engine enables real-time control, sensing and MTConnect data processing. One option is to use a Hall Effect current sensor that simply clips on to the exterior of the machine tool’s power line. The system continuously measures power usage during cutting and can tell when the machine is idling, in cycle, experiencing tool wear and so on. The resulting data and sensor values are then available for the firm’s engineering and management (OEE) software and other MTConnect applications.
Two points are clear here: MTConnect makes the benefits of connectivity available to shops relying on legacy machines; and having enhanced connectivity available for legacy machines protects and extends their value as production assets.
To see the full article, please click here.

Manufacturing journalist TR Cutler profiles the OEE Calculator

Manufacturing journalist, TR Cutler, recently profiled the OEE Calculator by Memex Automation for Industrial Electronics Today.

The leading OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) Calculator, quantifies the increase in Income From Operations (IFO or EBITDA) for Same Sales Volume and Sell Everything scenarios for various improvement criteria. The OEE ROI calculator is a very preliminary ‘rough cut’ analysis tool for developing a business case (to engage real-time manufacturing performance data for shop floor machines in manufacturing plants). Part of the reason Calculator is ‘rough’ is because a Plant average is used for several important parameters such as OEE, shift output, and quality rate.

Much greater precision can be developed by using actual OEE data differentiated by product run and by work station. Future monitoring and proactive use of the information provided by an installed system significantly improves accuracy of alternatives; these data assists leadership teams in setting direction and focus to maximize results quickly. Rattray noted that, “First Look results are generated using Small, Medium and Large preselected productivity improvements to show the range of possible results.”

The current input values in the OEE Calculator, use hypothetical but realistic values for a machine tool plant. It is estimated that for most manufacturing plants, the Calculator results have a confidence level of eighty-five percent (85%), plus or minus three percent (3%.)

The OEE Calculator does not apply the Theory of Constraints (TOC) therefore, if the proper application of tools and OEE improvement is not achieved at the constraint, then the increase to IFO is also limited. The quality factor usually has more impact than Availability or Speed Factor for bottom line improvement. When waste or scrap is improved, OEE improves; the result, less material needed. It is important to apply Lean Six Sigma techniques to your manufacturing operations, so as to achieve significant results. Memex offers services in this area, as documented in our website.

Memex suggests that users of the OEE Calculator, “Closely account for the change in material since it determines the new amount of total units made and applies the base case unit material cost to the total number of new units required to make the good units for the associated scenario.” The Calculator zeroes all of the improvement parameters and individually examines what one (1) OEE point improvement is worth for Availability, Speed Rate, and Quality. This data provides the user an approximation of financial impact on IFO for types of improvement activities.