Machine Monitoring Proves Its Worth

Implementing a manufacturing execution system to monitor machine performance helped Magellan Aerospace improve OEE on  critical production cell.

The experiences of these three machining companies document the value of implementing a manufacturing execution system for machine monitoring. In each case, MERLIN (Manufacturing Enterprise Real-time Lean Information Network) hardware and software modules from Memex Automation led to productivity gains and improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

  1. Rose Integration of Carlton Place, Ontario, was able to make fact-based improvements to shopfloor systems and reorganize workflows and resources to generate an increase in OEE of 105 percent in one year.
  2. Magellan Aerospace of Kitchener, Ontario, went from a 36.9 percent OEE rating to a 85 percent OEE rating, and determined that a cell of three machines need not be expanded to a fourth machine.
  3. Innovative Mechanical Solutions Inc. (iMech) of Edmonton, Alberta, has made several advantageous changes to their tooling systems and can readily test the real cost of benefits of suggested new machining procedures.

For the complete case histories on each of the above machining companies, please click here.

To see the full article, please click here.

M2M Rollout Article on Rose Integration and Memex Automation in IT Business Canada

Brian Jackson writes an excellent article in IT Business Canada, that discusses how Memex Automation helped Rose Integration and is titled:

How M2M rollout led to a big productivity boost for one Ontario manufacturer

As the article starts of, “When Ryan Bishop took on his new job as operations manager at Carleton Place, Ont.-based Rose Integration in the summer of 2010 he had a plan on how to keep tabs on the manufacturer’s shop floor productivity – every hour the machine operators would write the number of parts they made on a white board and the foreman would photograph the numbers and type them into a spreadsheet.”

David McPhail was quoted in the article, ““I take every signal I can get off that machine that tells me if it’s running and if it’s not, why it’s not,” says David McPhail, CEO of Memex Automation. “We walk into a plant full of equipment and we don’t care about the vintage, the type, the model, we can connect to it.”

Brian Jackson ends his article with, “In fact, Memex has become Bishop’s new night supervisor. He has alerts sent to his phone if a machine is seeing too much down time. Then he can call in to inquire about why that’s happening and get his workers back on track.”

That’s a great way to think about what we do at Memex – we watch your systems so you don’t have to.

Below is a video of Rose Integration:

To see the full blog post, please click here.

Control Costs with Shop Floor Monitoring

Taken from the Okuma Blog, Jeff Estes digs deeper into why machine monitoring is the key to finding where the productivity problems are so you can find and resolve them.

Profits can sneak out your door silently, unseen. But today we have tools that can help you determine where your productivity problems are, so you find and resolve them. The key is to perform shop floor monitoring and operations monitoring in addition to machine monitoring. By doing this you can view key performance indicators like parts output and quality – factors that are critical to measure so you can control your costs.

Dig Into Dashboard Data

When a job takes longer than planned, you can spend a lot of time chasing people down to try and unravel the mystery about why this is happening. Or you can quickly find out where the problem is coming from in real time, from one centralized dashboard right at your desk. Check out this video to see how to use a shop floor monitoring dashboard to pinpoint issues that may be reducing your productivity. In our example, we see:

• An Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of 22%. (Yes, this is bad!)
• Performance is only 67%. (Why?)

By digging deeper into the dashboard data, clues emerge about these problem areas. Perhaps there’s an operator that needs more training, or there’s a problem with the material or process. Having a view of where the problem comes from allows you to solve it or prevent it. Shop floor monitoring tools like those available from Memex and dataZen (members of Partners in THINC) allow you to focus your energy in the right place, so you can increase your productivity.

How are you monitoring your shop floor? Feel free to comment below, or contact us, or your local distributor, to find out how you can use shop floor monitoring. And send us your ideas for future video blogs – we’re here to help!

Jeff Estes is Director of Partners in THINC, Okuma America Corporation.

To see the full blog entry, please click here.

The Last Meter

Written by Dave Edstrom

What is the last metre?

The last metre, or last meter if you live in the United States, is the combination of technical, and sometimes business, challenges involved to make the final connection of a device to the Internet.   A device would be any device from a multi-million dollar machine tool to an inexpensive sensor.

Many have heard of “the last mile problem” as it relates to the challenge of connecting a house to the Internet.  Solving “the last mile problem” can be quite complicated and costly with legal right of ways, homeowner associations, and local politics and of course homeowner concerns.   Solving the last metre is exponentially more complex because of the number and types of machines and devices on the manufacturing floor.  At Memex, we know how to solve the last metre on the manufacturing floor and we know our methodologies and toolkits can provide the platform to solve the last metre problem in a variety of non-manufacturing industries.

Why is the last metre important?

As the old saying goes, the great thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from, and there are more standards coming every day. It is widely believed that only 2 to 3 percent of all shops or plants monitor their manufacturing floor.  The reason for this very low number is the complexity and cost of connecting to the wide range of machine tools and manufacturing equipment. Without the ability to connect and get data from these devices, the ability to improve plant operations is completely stymied.  When shops or plants are asked what their current utilization percent are, the number is typically 65 to 70 percent.  When these plants are actually measured, the real number is 30 to 35 percent.

As Lord Kelvin so simply, yet elegantly stated, “you cannot manage what you cannot measure.”

Where and how is the last metre being solved?

With a wide range of protocols and expensive proprietary options, it has only been the largest of companies that have attempted to solve the last metre problem.  Even then, these companies typically find out that it is much more costly and expensive than they initially planned.  Too many companies end up with one-off solutions where they are forever locked into a very specific and usually expensive solution.

Memex Automation is solving the last metre problem in an open way that leaves the customer with choices today and choices tomorrow.

How does Memex Automation solve the last metre?

For 22 years, Memex Automation has been building a robust portfolio of products with the clear understanding of the last metre challenges.  In order to address the plethora of machine tools and manufacturing devices on the plant floor, we created a sophisticated platform independent toolkit, made of software and hardware, with decades of experience in manufacturing that could be utilized to connect the millions of legacy machine tools around the globe.

The ability to connect to machine tools depends on how they are configured.  With an MTConnect enabled machine tool, it is basically plug-n-play.  For most companies, the most challenging connection is with a legacy machine tool.  With a legacy machine tool, there likely is no MTConnect or OPC option, making connection a complicated task.  However, at Memex, it’s a simple three-step process with the platform of software and hardware tools:

  1. We connect your machine tool to your network using a Universal Machine Interface (UMI).
  2. We connect the UMI to our “Signal Conditioner” software to interpret your machine’s information.
  3. We convert this information to the format you need, such as MTConnect, to make it easily readable and available on the network.

How does Memex Automation solve the last metre with devices that are not machine tools?

With our deep expertise with manufacturing and MTConnect, we know what needs to be done to convert other devices, protocols and systems using an adapter that will then send it to an MTConnect agent.

Does Memex Automation ONLY address the last metre?

Absolutely not!

Memex provides a complete set of connectivity solutions for addressing the last metre challenge as well as a complete Manufacturing Execution System (MES) called MERLIN, as well as other hardware and software products to help manufacturing from the shop floor to the top floor.  Memex has a communications platform to connect any manufacturing machine.

About Dave Edstrom

Dave Edstrom, CTO, was President and Chairman of the Board of the MTConnect Institute for the last three and a half years and prior to that, the Chief Technologist for Global Software at Sun Microsystems.  In October 2006, while working at Sun Microsystems, Edstrom and Dr. David Patterson of the University of California at Berkeley, laid out the MTConnect vision at The Association For Manufacturing Technology’s Annual Meeting.  Mr. Edstrom is the author of the book “MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know.”

The MTConnect standard is an open source royalty-free standard that is intended to foster greater interoperability between devices and software applications.  By establishing an open and extensible channel of communication for plug-and-play interconnectivity between devices, equipment and systems, MTConnect allows sources to exchange and understand each other’s data.  MERLIN incorporates the MTConnect standard in its universal machine interface, enabling all machines to communicate XML in real-time.  MERLIN contextualizes the data to measure plant-wide capacity utilization in real-time.

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. 

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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: www.pem-mag.com.

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: www.memex.ca