Memex Automation Wins 2013 PEM Award for Best Company Under 50 Employees

This is extremely impressive!

I am very, very fortunate to have joined the Memex Automation team!

In presenting the award the judging panel focused on Memex Automation’s outstanding ability to serve customers. Judges are also this year’s award sponsors: FLIR Canada, Siemens Canada Ltd., Fluke Electronics Canada LP as well as PEM Magazine staff.

Memex Automation’s latest award also recognizes its ability to provide rapid customer Return On Investment (ROI) for its flagship product MERLIN. MERLIN boosts productivity, profits and efficiency for manufacturers by monitoring the performance of machine tools. 

Rehana Begg, Editor, PEM Plant Engineering & Maintenance Magazine, and John Rattray, VP Sales and Marketing, Memex Automation.

Press Release:

Memex Automation receives PEM Plant Engineering & Maintenance Magazine Award

Burlington, ON, Canada – April 15, 2014 – Astrix Networks Inc. (TSX-V: OEE) operating under the trade name Memex Automation Inc., the global leader of manufacturing Machine to Machine (M2M) productivity solutions, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded the 2013 PEM Plant Engineering & Maintenance Award for Best Company Under 50 Employees. Sponsored this year by FLIR Canada, Siemens Canada Ltd., and Fluke Electronics Canada LP, the PEM Maintenance Awards were first introduced in 1999 with the mandate of acknowledging and rewarding excellence in industrial technology.

Memex Automation’s latest award is based on its ability to prove customer Return On Investment (ROI) for its flagship product MERLIN. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is the measurement of plant-wide capacity utilization, and MERLIN generates OEE in real-time, enterprise-wide, machine by machine. In one instance, MERLIN increased OEE from 40% to 82% across 30 machines in a custom manufacturing company. In another example, MERLIN’s productivity boost cut a major aerospace manufacturer’s work order completion time from 35 days to just 5 days – a 700% improvement.

“The MERLIN product team is extremely proud of our 2013 PEM award,” said David McPhail, Memex Automation’s CEO. “Plant Engineering & Maintenance Magazine is well-read and well-respected by industrial engineers, plant operations and maintenance professionals and this endorsement of our technology will further fuel our sales growth and customer success.”

MERLIN lets customers know exactly where they can improve manufacturing operations in order to operate faster, and more efficiently.  When manufacturing shop floor team members address production bottlenecks with MERLIN, they can improve throughput, and increase overall profitability.

About PEM Plant Engineering and Maintenance Magazine

During the past 30 years, PEM Plant Engineering and Maintenance Magazine has evolved and kept pace with industry growth. Today PEM is Canada’s total reliability magazine for industrial engineers, plant operations and maintenance professionals. Its mission is to provide readers on the shop floor with the information they need to increase manufacturing production and equipment uptime, integrate new technology, reduce operating costs, manage groups of skilled professionals in an industrial setting and encourage career development. For more information, please visit:

About Memex Automation Inc.

Memex Automation (TSX-V:OEE) is the global leader of manufacturing Machine to Machine (M2M) productivity solutions and the measurement of Overall Equipment Effectiveness in real-time (“OEE”). In 2013, Frost & Sullivan awarded MERLIN (Manufacturing Enterprise Real-time Lean Information Network) its Technology Innovation Leadership Award, and Microsoft picked MERLIN to be its mid-market ERP machine connectivity solution. Mazak, North America’s largest original equipment manufacturer of machine tools purchased MERLIN to manage its Florence, KY, plant and offers MERLIN on its price list. For more information, please visit:

Memex Automation Joins Partners in THINC

This is a BIG deal.  Okuma are great partners. For Immediate ReleaseContact: Julie Murphy, Marketing Manager Okuma America Corporation 704-504-6324 or 704-547-4930

Memex Automation Joins Partners in THINC 

Okuma America Corporation announces that Memex Automation has joined Partners in THINC. Memex Automation joins 40+ other members that provide solutions to end-users and enhance productivity while maintaining lean operations.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 1, 2014) – Okuma America Corporation, a world leader in CNC machine tools, is pleased to announce that Memex Automation, the operating company of Astrix Automation Inc. (TSX-V: OEE) and maker of the MERLIN Manufacturing Execution System, an innovative shop floor productivity solution, has joined Partners in THINC.

Memex Automation, headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, specializes in networking machine tools to management information systems. This communication allows for productivity, plant- wide visibility and other statistics to be sent digitally anywhere in the world. Memex Automation solutions are used by a variety of Okuma customers throughout a variety of industries. Their applications are designed to interface with a wide range of controllers and data including the open-architecture Okuma THINC®-OSP control.

Benefits of Memex Automation solutions include:

  • Manufacturing Execution System which improves profitability, reduces waste and
    ensures compliance with regulations
  • MERLIN machine monitoring typically increases shop floor efficiency by 10% or more
  • Direct Numerical Control allows for simultaneous upload and download of multiple CNC
  • MERLIN offers an M2M communications platform for enabling information from
    machines to be utilized for improving machining operations
    “We are excited to announce our new partnership with Memex Automation. Their expertise and dedication to helping manufacturers obtain the highest level of profitability possible through real time productivity information tools, makes them a great addition to Partners in THINC.” says Jeff Estes, Director of Partners in THINC.
    For more information on Memex Automation and other members of Partners in THINC, visit
Okuma America Corporation
11900 Westhall Drive • Charlotte, North Carolina 28278 • Phone: (704) 588-7000 • Fax: (704) 588-6503 • ISO 9001:2008 Registered Quality System
About Okuma America Corporation:

Okuma America Corporation is the U.S.-based sales and service affiliate of Okuma Corporation, a world leader in CNC (computer numeric control) machine tools, founded in 1898 in Nagoya, Japan. The company is the industry’s only single-source provider, with the CNC machine, drive, motors, encoders, spindle and CNC control all manufactured by Okuma. Okuma’s innovative and reliable technology, paired with comprehensive, localized service protection, allows users to run continuously with confidence – maximizing profitability. Along with its industry- leading distribution network (largest in the Americas), and Partners in THINC®, Okuma facilitates quality, productivity and efficiency, empowering the customer and enabling competitive advantage in today’s demanding manufacturing environment. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter @OkumaAmerica.

About Partners in THINC:

Partners in THINC is a collaboration network of more than 40 industry leaders who come together to solve problems and explore new productivity ideas for real-world manufacturers. With the open architecture, PC-based THINC®- OSP control as its nucleus, Partners in THINC brings specialized equipment, expertise and a commitment to provide the best possible integrated solutions to the end-user. For more information, visit thinc.

About Memex Automation:

Memex Automation (TSX-V:OEE) is the leader of the measurement of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (“OEE”) in
real-time. OEE is the measurement of plant-wide capacity utilization. MERLIN (Manufacturing Enterprise Real-time Lean Information Network) generates OEE enterprise-wide, machine by machine. Frost & Sullivan awarded MERLIN its 2013 Technology Innovation Leadership Award. In 2013, Microsoft picked MERLIN to be its mid-market ERP machine connectivity solution. MERLIN incorporates the MTConnect standard, an open source royalty free XML protocol, and it solves the last meter connectivity problem faced by 97% of manufacturers. For more information, please visit:

To go to Dave’s blog, please click here.

Memex Automation Engages Investor Relations Firms

We, at Memex Automation, engaged a couple of companies to help us with investor relations and shareholder communications.  These are exciting times with a world of opportunities in front of us!
The full press release is below:

Memex Automation Engages Investor Relations Firms

BURLINGTON, ON- (Marketwired – Mar 26, 2014) – Astrix Networks Inc. (TSX VENTURE: OEE) operating under the trade name Memex Automation Inc. (“Memex” or the “Company”), the global leader of manufacturing M2M productivity solutions, is pleased to announce that it has engaged Investor Cubed Inc. (“Investor Cubed”) and Proactive Investors (“Proactive”), to provide investor relations and shareholder communications services effective immediately. Both Investor Cubed and Proactive will focus on increasing investor awareness in their respective verticals, introducing Memex to its network of investment advisors, investment dealers, institutions and other financial professionals.

In connection with these engagements, Investor Cubed has been awarded a consulting contract for a term of fifteen months on a fee for services basis, $5,000 per month, and granted options to purchase 250,000 shares of Memex at a price of twenty cents per share. Proactive subscribed for $24,500 of the previously announced private placement at 14 cents per share and has been engaged for a term of one year on a contract of the same total value. The Investor Cubed options will vest quarterly in four batches of 62,500 each during the term of the contract starting September 19, 2014. The contract may be cancelled at the end of a quarter under certain conditions. Any options not vested will terminate upon the cancellation of the contract. The options are governed by the provisions of the Company’s stock option plan and the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange.

“As a new public company, we’re committed to building both our core business and our public company profile at the same time,” said David McPhail, CEO. “The simultaneous appointment of Investor Cubed and Proactive enables us to reach investors, brokers, dealers and institutional investors succinctly, globally. Whereas Investor Cubed is well positioned in Canada, Proactive gets us into New York, London and Frankfurt, Sydney and SE Asia. Our product, MERLIN, sells and markets globally. Now we are marketing our stock globally,” he said.

“We are very pleased to be working with ‘OEE’ as they represent the best of manufacturing productivity in the machine to management (M2M) industrial Internet space,” said Neil Simon, Investor Cubed’s CEO. “This company is a unique opportunity for investors in the small cap sector who are interested in the Industrial Internet and its application within manufacturing. I see the company becoming the RedHat of the Industrial Internet,” he said.

“I find OEE to be an interesting company,” said Ian McLelland, President, Proactive Investors. “It’s interesting because they use the Internet securely to show manufacturers how to make more production and profit with the same labor and equipment. For example, Mazak, North America’s largest machine tool builder based in Florence, KY, within an 800,000 square foot plant, published in the March online edition of Modern Machine Shop a 17% improvement in production equipment utilization after installing the company’s solution, MERLIN. That’s impressive. I believe my following in New York, London, Sydney and SE Asia will understand that value,” he said.

About Investor Cubed Inc.

Investor Cubed provides specialized consulting services to a select group of leading emerging and mid-capitalization companies, with an objective of taking our clients to the next level. Investor Cubed assists these companies in gaining exposure to an established national network of financial industry professionals. This broad network includes investment advisors, bank owned investment dealers and leading independent financial firms. In addition, Investor Cubed provides traditional investor relations services including tailored national marketing and communications strategies. For more information, please visit:

About Proactive Investor Service

Proactive Investors is a leading multi-media news organization, investor portal and events management business with offices in New York, Sydney, Toronto, Frankfurt and London.

Proactive Investors operates five financial websites in four languages providing breaking news, comment and analysis on hundreds of listed companies across the globe daily. Proactive is one of the fastest growing financial media portals in the world. The group also operates hugely successful “investor forums” where three or four companies present to an audience of high net worth sophisticated investors, fund managers, hedge funds, private client brokers and analysts.

Globally, Proactive traffic continues to race ahead as private and professional investors continue to rank the group as one of the leading free sources of breaking news, in-depth comment and analysis and CEO interviews on companies listed on stock exchanges across the globe. In March 2010, total visitors to Proactive Investors websites eclipsed 1 million. Proactive provides content to many of the world’s largest news amalgamators, financial websites, and news tracking services, and also provides commentary to dozens of other leading specialist investor focused websites. For more information, please visit:

About Memex Automation Inc.

Memex Automation (TSX VENTURE: OEE) is the leader of the measurement of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (“OEE”) in real-time. OEE is the measurement of plant-wide capacity utilization. MERLIN (Manufacturing Enterprise Real-time Lean Information Network) generates OEE enterprise-wide, machine by machine. Frost & Sullivan awarded MERLIN its 2013 Technology Innovation Leadership Award. In 2013, Microsoft picked MERLIN to be its mid-market ERP machine connectivity solution. Mazak, North America’s largest original equipment manufacturer of machine tools, purchased MERLIN to manage its plant and now offers it on its price list.
For more information, please visit:

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.

Contact Information

For further information please contact:

Memex Automation Inc.
Thomas Smeenk
Telephone: 905-536-3138

Investor Cubed Inc.
Neil Simon
Telephone: 647-258-3311

Proactive Investors
Sam Kiri
Telephone: 647-342-2932

To see the full press release, please click here.

To go to Dave Edstrom’s blog, please click here.

Mazak and Memex Data Driven Manufacturing Article in Modern Machine Shop

March 22, 2014 – There is no better writer in manufacturing than Mark Albert of Modern Machine Shop and certainly no better MTConnect advocate.

Modern Machine Shop has an excellent article titled, Data-Driven Manufacturing Moves Ahead at Mazak”that discusses Mazak utilizing MTConnect at Mazak’s North American Headquarters and Technology Center in Florence, Ky.

This is a great quote in the article by Brian Papke, President of Mazak USA:  “This total embrace of MTConnect was intended to make a statement,” Mr. Papke says. “We wanted to be a leader in both promoting and implementing MTConnect. We wanted our example to show the country the importance of moving toward data-driven manufacturing. MTConnect is an essential part of what makes data-driven manufacturing possible.”

Every machine tool monitoring company went after this business that I can think of and Memex Automation ended up winning by a landslide.  Below is a snippet of the article that discusses our solutions at Memex, called MERLIN:

Since November, all of these machines have been connected to the machine monitoring system, which uses MERLIN MES monitoring software developed by Memex Automation (Burlington, Ontario). MERLIN (Manufacturing Execution Real-time Lean Information Network) is a manufacturing execution system and machine-to-machine communications platform. Memex has been providing network connectivity, DNC software and machine monitoring systems since 1992 and has offered MTConnect-compatible versions of its MERLIN machine monitoring and manufacturing execution systems since 2010.

Dave McPhail, President and Chairman of the Board for Memex Automation stated the value proposition below:

“Rather than offering an expensive, custom installation for every client, we’ve produced a packaged, machine-to-machine toolkit adaptable by all manufacturers. The technological breakthrough here is that MERLIN is an MTConnect-based hardware and software module that does not require programming or setting up of PLCs. The MES leverages a company’s existing investment in plant, equipment and enterprise software,” says David McPhail, president and CEO of Memex Automation.”

Neil Desrosiers of Mazak stated the history of the task force and why Memex’s MERLIN was selected:

“This supplier was selected after a task force headed by Neil Desrosiers, Mazak’s developer of digital solutions, evaluated numerous commercial monitoring systems. This task force included IT personnel, machine operators, shopfloor supervisors and managers from the machining department. Two factors tipped the choice to MERLIN. The most important of these was the apparent ease with which reports could be configured for various users within the company. The other was the ability to store collected data and archived reports locally on a dedicated network server rather than on remote storage accessible on the Internet (the “cloud”), a concession to security concerns raised by the IT team.”

Ben Schwawe, VP of Manufacturing at the Florence, KY Mazak facility stated:

“The machine monitoring system appears to be a good example of this sort of technology. In operation since November, the system has yielded significant benefits, initially by uncovering some easily fixed inefficiencies and practices. Mr. Schawe says that these fixes have increased uptime by 6.2 percent across the 15 machines that are fully integrated into the system. “This was that low-hanging fruit, so to speak,” he says. “We’ve also recognized some opportunities to make additional gains from efforts such as putting greater emphasis on having replacements for worn tools ready to go.” Taken together, these efforts have yielded a 17 percent improvement in utilization for the monitored machines so far.

But over and above these benefits is the advantage of having a system that takes the guesswork out of tracking machine utilization. “We can tell at a glance how we are doing, and the basis is in real-time data,” Mr. Schawe explains.”

This is a true inflection point in not only MTConnect, but in Mazak’s and Memex Automation’s history.

Thanks to Mark Albert for writing this fantastic article!

– Dave Edstrom

To go directly to Dave Edstrom’s blog, please click here.

Photons and Electrons

Photons and Electrons is Dave Edstrom’s personal blog about technology and some of his personal interests.

Dave is the CEO/CTO of Virtual Photons Electrons, and was most recently the President and Chairman of the Board for the MTConnect Institute from May 2010 to January 2014, as well as co-architect of MTInsight. Dave has now joined the senior management team at Memex Automation as the Chief Technology Officer and we are absolutely thrilled to have him on board.

Check out his blog at:


Improving Your Manufacturing Capacity

Imagine improving your manufacturing capacity by 10 to 50 percent. Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? A lot of manufacturing companies think they’ve eked out every last ounce of capacity from their shop floor. Truth is, most have little or no understanding of how the equipment on the floor is truly functioning.

For a manufacturing business to be truly effective, they must be integrated “from the shop floor to the top floor.” In other words, they need to know as much about what is going on at the machine level as they do at the financial level.

If I were to take you on a tour of the business systems of a manufacturer who is fully integrated, here are a few of the things you’d see:

  • The transfer of production orders from the ERP system to the machine is streamlined and automated via an “electronic traveler” that sends results, including part counts, run times, down times with reason codes, and quality information, back to the ERP system.
  • Automated data collection directly from any and all types of machines via machine to machine connectivity tools, including emails, reporting and alerts.
  • Dashboard metrics provide instant visibility and machine alerts for the entire shop floor to see so that problems such as machine breakdown or parts rejection can be dealt with immediately.
  • Executives and shop floor managers can monitor and benchmark productivity KPIs in real-time.
  • Production orders flow seamlessly from the ERP system through to the machine or work center on the shop floor, and results are sent back to ERP in real-time.
  • Operations running smoothly with vertical and horizontal integration; vertically shop floor to top floor and horizontally throughout the complete plant so all production teams are informed.

The bottom line benefits are impressive. Rose Integration, a precision machining operation with 30 machines, increased overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) across the shop floor from 40 percent to 82 percent in just 18 months. Magellan, an aerospace manufacturer, increased their machining time by 100 hours per month per machine.

Memex believes so strongly in the benefits of shop floor to top floor integration that we’ve partnered with Microsoft to bring you the Dynamics AX Connector. This utility supports a bi-synchronous import and export of work orders and respective operational information between Microsoft’s Dynamic AX 2012 and the shop floor.

John Rattray, V.P., Memex Automation Inc.

Memex Automation, partners with Microsoft, were invited to be a guest blogger on their site Dynamics Cafe. Visit their site to see the guest blog.

Top 10 Reasons to Select an MES

In my last post, I talked about how a Manufacturing Execution System, or MES, can improve manufacturing capacity by 10 to 50 percent. That’s because most manufacturers, even those who think they run a pretty tight ship, don’t really know what is happening on the shop floor. An MES system provides them with objective, automated, evidence-based data collection that gives them real-time insight into shop floor metrics.

If you’re looking to add MES to your business systems, you need to do your homework. While a vendor may call their application MES or claim it has MES capabilities, not all applications are created equal. Here are the 10 questions to consider when evaluating MES applications.

1.  Does the MES system provide the right information in real-time to all key manufacturing stakeholders?

2.  Does the MES show the manufacturing decision-maker how the current conditions on the plant floor can be optimized to improve production output?

3.  Does the MES track a true Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metric, or is it just reporting a machine-level utilization metric?

4.  Does the MES provide real-time feedback of requirement changes, helping to reduce process error and improve uptime?

5.  Can the vendor explain how their MES system can reduce waste, re-work and scrap, and how it will allow faster setup times?

6.  Will the MES system help to capture more accurate cost information, such as costs related to labor, scrap, downtime, and tooling?

7.  Can the MES access information and data across all types of machines and workstations on the shop floor, not just those that are PLC-controlled?

8.  Does the MES system link seamlessly to the business system? Does it provide for two-way bi-synchronous communication using an electronic traveler?

9.  Is the MES system scalable, and does it use advanced database tools for business intelligence reporting?

10.  Can the MES vendor demonstrate a direct benefit in ROI by improving manufacturing efficiency?

Increasing capacity utilization in a manufacturing plant is all about effective communications between the shop floor and the top floor, and this is where the MES system shines.  By monitoring all of a plant’s machines, not only will productivity and profitability be boosted, but the payback to the bottom line can be realized in just a matter of months.  In the long run, MES is a time-saving, money-generating solution that starts with an understanding of what is happening at the machine level.  Memex connects its MES package, MERLIN, directly from the shop floor to Microsoft’s Dynamic AX 2012 in a bi-synchronous communication of work orders and respective operational information.  To learn more, visit us at

John Rattray, V.P., Memex Automation Inc.,

From Shop Floor to Top Floor – Success is within reach

Imagine connecting real-time information about any machine on your shop floor to your management team so that you can improve your manufacturing capacity by 10% to 50%.  Truth is, you can do this now.  Many manufacturing companies today think that their businesses are doing just fine and that they have no worries.  However, in reality, they have little or no data about how the inner workings of their machines are truly functioning.  Once an objective, automated, evidence-based data collection system is used to assess the nuts and bolts of the manufacturing process, it is often found that efficiency in many areas can be greatly improved.

Memex Automation’s MERLIN OEE system is an automated MES solution with the mantra “Shop Floor to Top Floor”, and delivers exactly that.  Its combination of hardware and software integrates everything from any machine (including work centers) on the manufacturing floor all the way up to the head office, both vertically and horizontally.  Horizontal integration means that shop floor operations are linked and communicate with each other, optimizing production.  Vertical integration means that shop floor information is effortlessly transferred to head office and vice versa.  The transfer of production orders from the ERP system to the machine is streamlined and automated via an “electronic traveler” that sends results, including part counts, run times, down times with reason codes, and quality information, back to the ERP system.  Everyone from the machine operator to the company president has totally accurate data at their fingertips.

A key feature of MERLIN is that it allows companies to monitor their productivity in real-time.  Dashboard metrics provide instant visibility and machine alerts for the entire shop floor to see, so that problems such as machine breakdown or parts rejection can be dealt with immediately.  By accelerating response time, MERLIN increases a manufacturing plant’s productivity and thus profitability.  For example, implementation of MERLIN on 30 machines at Rose Integration, a precision machining company, increased OEE across the shop floor from 40% to 82% in 18 months.  Similarly, aerospace company Magellan increased their machining time by 100 hours per month per machine once MERLIN was implemented.

MERLIN contains an integrated Microsoft Dynamics AX Connector module and advanced functionality that allows production order information to flow seamlessly from Microsoft Dynamics AX through to the machine on the shop floor, and then sends results back to Dynamics AX in real-time.  The system automatically prioritizes transactions by date and time stamp, minimizing errors associated with manual input.  Accuracy of inventory, parts counts, and job costing data are all improved.

Success in a manufacturing plant is all about effective communications between the shop floor and the top floor, and this is where MERLIN outclasses any other manufacturing solution currently available.  By monitoring all of a plant’s machines, no matter what age or make, MERLIN boosts productivity and profitability.  Even better, MERLIN is affordable, so that a payback to the bottom line is achieved in just a few months.  In short, MERLIN is a time-saving, money-saving solution that starts with an understanding of what is happening at the machine level, and ends with efficient transfer of that information to Microsoft Dynamics AX.

John Rattray, V.P., Memex Automation Inc.,

Affordable MES for the mid-market

Gil Garcia, from Microsoft Dynamics AX, has hands-on experience with most manufacturing ecosystem products.  Most shops strive to be connected shop floor to top floor, but with the major obstacle in connecting these two being cost of equipment, Gil never thought that it was possible for a solution to become available to the mid-market.  Read about how Memex MERLIN, along with MTConnect and Dynamics AX, can in fact make this possible.

The full blog entry is listed below.

Click here to visit his site, Dynamics Cafe, where this blog and many more are posted.

Affordable MES for the mid-market

By Gil Garcia

I have been preaching the Shop Floor to Top Floor mantra for many years now but deep inside I knew it would never happen in the mid-market in my lifetime.  Companies that are successful in connecting the shop floor to their ERP system can achieve productivity increases in the range of 10%-50%. So why did I think this way? Costs!

The solutions available out there to the mid-market have always been super expensive. It’s not the software mind you.  I have seen license costs in the range of $50,000 – $100,000 which is pretty reasonable if the ERP system is costing around $350,000 (average mid-market deal). The real costs lie in the services costs connecting the machines to the historian. A typical shop floor can have a dozen different types of machines, with different PLCs, and an MES service project has to ‘translate” a dozen machine languages into language that the multitude of business applications can understand. So this many to many problem (known as the “(N-1)squared- N”) has been around forever, until an organization called MT Connect came along.

MT Connect has developed a connected manufacturing model which really translates into Universal Machine Connectivity. Now, MES application can use this “protocol pipeline” to seamlessly and inexpensively connect the multitude of machines to the shop floor to Dynamics AX. Obviously it’s not as simple as that. You still need a good MES application to translate the data into information, and provide the software and hardware to connect the PLCs to the system server. But the major cost obstacle in connecting the shop floor seems to have been overcome in my lifetime. Make sure to go out to the MTConnect website and download their Connectivity Guide as it provides invaluable information if you are considering an MES project.

As we all know there are several MES options available to the Dynamics AX user community. All are strong and very powerful when connected to the Dynamics AX ERP backbone. One of the ones I really like is an offering from MEMEX Automation called MERLIN. What really impresses me is their sales model. They will quote you an all in price per machine (hardware, software, services). The prices I have heard quoted are extremely reasonable and affordable for the mid-market, something I’d never thought I would see for mid-market companies.

So why do an MES project? Well for one, the return on investment from MES systems is similar to what you get from good advanced scheduling tools, around 3 months! Compare that to a typical 23 month ROI on an ERP project and its pretty simple to justify. What are the typical benefits? The MEMEX guys quote numbers like: 10% operational improvement, 20%-60% profit improvements, real time machine visibility and OEE statistics, reduction in unplanned downtime, scrap rates reductions, better labor productivity, and so on. On the shop floor operators will be able to see productivity numbers on large flat panels (much like the “lean” concepts of visual clues), and all this is real time data. So if processes start to edge out of productive ranges the operator or supervisors can react immediately, and not wait until the end of the shift or a week to address. The operators can also seamlessly report on downtime issues (bottlenecks, material shortage’s, scrap, operator error (yeah right!).

Now once you actually integrate the MES system to the ERP backbone (assuming its AX), the Role Centers in Ax will carry all the KPIs and OEE statistics to middle and upper management. These Role Centers will carry the company standards when it comes to productivity, efficiency, waste allowances, costs, quality non Conformances, and all the KPIs necessary to improve the business process. I say improve because in our world what cannot be measured cannot be improved. The information is real time so no need to wait until month end close to see how the plant is doing with respect to production on the shop floor. I never thought I would see it happen but the reality is finally here: Affordable MES for the Mid-Market. Fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you!

Check out our upcoming MES live meetings and podcasts on the Dynamics Cafe soon!

The 3 Levels of OEE Wisdom

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is often misunderstood and miss-used to a fault.  “For the past five years, manufacturing plant managers and supervisors have adopted lean manufacturing principles, eliminated waste, and have still seen total production efficiency elude them. Monitoring and OEE solutions in the shop have extracted very little value because most ‘OEE monitoring’ technology uses tools that generate data, but unfortunately, none of them help us make sense of it.”[1]

The Top Shop performers have connected all the dots in a fundamental way by providing key information in terms of profit dollars, which changes existing paradigms of “current” state manufacturing, into real value “future” state manufacturing. They have advanced OEE understanding and have applied improvement projects strategically, optimizing the use of discretionary resources (people, time, and money). Everyone is “on the same page” of promoting organization success.

Yet, some manufacturers and part makers make the jump from “Good to Great” and become the Top 10% in their respective areas and demonstrate accomplishments significantly higher and more profitable than the “rest of the crowd”.[2]  (Note that the “Top Shops” reported the same number of machines, people and pay, as the “Other” Group.  Therefore, one can conclude that Top Shop capability already exists inside your current assets.)

Advanced OEE understanding can be envisioned as 3 levels:

  • Level 1: Mastering Individual Work Station OEE understanding – identifying Gap to World Class.
  • Level 2: Mastering Flow-line OEE performance by product – integrating the results relative to your product mix and applying the Theory of Constraints to prioritize the use of resources.
  • Level 3: Linking the Line of Business (LOB) financial information by product into the Flow-line diagrams and validating current state results – the resulting Financial OEE model becomes a ‘Crystal Ball’ to guide the profitable transition of “Other” performance into “Top Shop” performance.  Level 3 synergizes the physical side and business side of OEE.

Level 1 – The introduction of basic OEE at the individual work station.  This includes product run data collection, loss analysis, and improvement using work station resources.  At this level, production effectiveness is focused on the physics of improving throughput at the work station.  Effectiveness gain opens up time for more learning, establishing ‘One Best Way’ and a reliability/quality focus in the work station.

Level 2 – The application of OEE value stream mapping of product Flow-lines using actual OEE product data generated from the Current state results and actual product mix.  A validated Flow-line analysis would reflect “how the shared work stations were used” to generate the product volumes and waste amounts for the time period investigated.  Correctly combining the work station usage for the spectrum of LOB product volumes produced automatically identifies the Overall Constraint as well as the next constraint(s), etc.  (Note that the Flow-line OEE is the OEE of the constraint minus all downstream quality losses).  At this level, application of the Theory Of Constraints is used to begin managing the Flow-line bottlenecks.  This is like tuning up the manufacturing engine where each work station represents an individual cylinder that needs to be harmonized with the rest in order to get the best effectiveness out of the production engine.

Level 3 – The Financial OEE which links actual product financial information into the Flow-line diagrams, and validating the overall results with the LOB actual results, for expenses and profits.  Upon completion, the actual “contribution by constraint hour” can be computed to assist the entire organization with better business decisions for product mix.[3]  More importantly, the LOB Financial OEE Model can be used to investigate the “bottom line” impact for any change to an input parameter.  This is a powerful Intelligence tool for the Leadership Team to use to prioritize improvement alternatives in terms of actual profit dollars.  By having the total organization “on the same page” and understanding exactly when, where, why and what to apply to key resources, it not only moves the organization toward Top Shop performance quickly, but it also gives the road map of profit dollars along the way.  Being able to leverage the “Hidden Factory” completely gives the Top Shops a competitive advantage as demonstrated in their survey results.  Their results showed a 16% more profit per machine and double the business growth rate while supplying customers with lower prices and faster delivery.[2]

Are you interested in learning more about all three levels of OEE Wisdom?  Narrated Financial OEE training modules and consulting services are available at

– Robert Hansen

Author OEE: A Powerful Production/Maintenance Tool for Increased Profits

R.C. Hansen Consulting, LLC.

[1] Cutler, Thomas. “Listen to the Machine.” Business Excellence Magazine (2013).  Web. <>

[2] “Top Shops – Benchmarking Your Machining Business.” Modern Machine Shop (2013).  Web. <>

[3] Hansen, Robert. “20% More Profit – For Free.” Web log post. Memex Automation. 25 Apr. 2013. Web. <>.