When a machine shop takes the time to evaluate their productivity over a given period of time, the ultimate questions that arise are:
- Do they know their machine utilization rates?
- How long can they keep putting aside necessary shop floor upgrades and remain competitive?
The implementation of machine monitoring software from Shop Floor Automations, Inc. (La Mesa, CA) can help them obtain this crucial information. Machine monitoring applications can integrate with other software to help optimize machine capacity. For example, ERP systems are a great fit with machine monitoring. And pairing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) with the monitoring of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) helps to provide a more realistic preventive maintenance (PM) schedule: Actual run times on machines are monitored and that data feeds into the CMMS to create an accurate PM schedule. For shops that operate without a CMMS, a simple spreadsheet with PMs to complete is sometimes enough. Machine monitoring software also integrates with protocols, such as MTConnect and OPC UA, to make shop floor data more universally available.
Machine monitoring is not just for CNC machine tools. Manufacturers with autoclaves, manual machines, press brakes, PLC-driven machines and other varieties can monitor their productivity. Those in the metal fabrication and moldmaking business can benefit heavily from utilization monitoring. This software is also not limited to looking at shop floor monitors or a desktop PC on location – notifications on the go via text alerts, emails, or viewing dashboards via a mobile device/tablet are all possible. Machine monitoring helps operators working at machines convey important information to those not working on the shop floor. Via data entry screens and tablets at the machines, machinists can enter notes and let back office employees know reasons why the machines are down. Monitoring also helps with machine maintenance because there are notes on what causes downtime for machines, less machine repairs are anticipated, and reasons for planned downtime – such as material needed or coolant change – can allow employees to map out a more streamlined process.
The bottom line is that machine monitoring is not only a method for knowing machine utilization, nor is it only for CNC machinery. Machine issues that need attention can be communicated in an easily understandable manner to make equipment become more productive.
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