Injection Molding

There are a lot of sectors out there doing stuff that can be called “complex” and “diverse”. But not many can boast that both in machines and mats. You guys work with all kinds of materials like plastic, silicone, and rubber – while using all kinds, makes, and ages of machinery.

And we haven’t even mentioned how much stuff you make, 24 pieces or more per cycle is nothing to scoff at. Now, this is really nice and all but all those diverse materials and high amounts produced can lead to errors and micro stops. This is kind of a big deal when you paid so much for the machinery, and this is where we came in. We provided access to monitoring data for speed/speed loss measurements for micro stops, and a complete affordable system suite that could be used for all the different types and makes of machines.

Proper monitoring was very well received by the shops we set up at as our data digging found some interesting tidbits that helped increase OEE significantly. Like the one time where after some trial and error they saw the error of not cleaning machinery more regularly.

Small thing after you know about it, kind of huge when you find how much it cost you that far.
Way we saw, the sector has already started a bit on Industry 4.0 so it is pretty usual to have good engineers on hand who can set up our own stuff if left alone for a minute.

Thankfully we met some of these really cool people in Injection Molding and immediately started to R&D some sector-specific features with them, like developing ways to follow waste materials, or target and product code management.

CASE STUDY

Results

  • Reduced paperwork at operator side (~50%)
  • Clear view about process bottlenecks
  • Better response time for machine problems
  • Accurate follow-up of production plan
  • INCREASED OEE

Weekly OEE of machine A470E

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We recognized significant speed losses in the form of micro stops and fluctuating cycle times

#OEE #cycletime #microstops #speedloss

A bigshot publicly listed multinational company asked us to help them overcome some challenging production hurdles, which came as a welcome surprise. Sadly they have refrained from letting us name them due to long-standing company policy, but we still wanted to talk about our experience. Nameless or not. 
These guys have operations in Europe, Asia, and North America as well, churning out massive amounts of products molded from all kinds of polymers like plastic silicone and TPE. They often supply global companies, and their 50k/week/machine isn’t a joke either.

ISSUE

One of their quality system engineers – an amazing analytically minded fellow – saw our sensors working at another setup and dropped us a call, so in we went asking about their needs and wants. They wanted us to digitize their semi-automatic, offline machinery to basically reduce paperwork for the operators and potentially catch some problems that they might not otherwise. See, the OEE targets were not met, and the reasons were vague, so a little proactivity was in order. They wanted an easily integrated way of fast and proper data collection for a low-level investment.

Soulution

After we let everything run for a while and asked back about their experience, it turned out we did reduce paperwork by about 50%. But that wasn’t all by a long shot. When checking machine availability reports, they “recognized significant speed losses in the form of micro stops and fluctuating cycle times (and thus in pcs produced) on certain machines.” So they obviously got curious about the root causes. Using the data provided by our system, they could make a detailed analysis on how the manual and technical parts of the cycle time were changing and found something interesting. Turns out, “a recurring increase in the manual part was caused by improper machine parameter settings, resulted in micro stops for removing parts with airflow.” So now that they identified the problem, they can react to these changes in short order by monitoring machine speed. In the end the OEE increased, we’ve got a new insight for our data collection and gained a new friend to boot.

If you are on this page you probably already know more than enough about the ins and outs of CNC. What you might be interested in though is what we learned trying our darndest to digitize the sector, and what your fellow manufacturers got out of it.

While visiting shops, making proper market research, we found that CNC has as diverse a lineup of machinery as you can get. Whether it’s make, type, or age we can digitize no problem but it was good to keep in mind.

It’s not even just that the shops have machine variety, processes also vary greatly from short few minute runs to products needing hours and lots of tools. So obviously low optimization can mean pretty big chunks of time value gone. We can proudly say we had some successes in answering such questions as to why does something take an hour when last time it was done in 30?!

So having established the fact we can deal with diversity in the “workforce” we found the key area we are most needed. It’s having a fast and simple to install data-gathering device that can easily combine machines into one system, (unlike certain things called PLC-s if you know what we mean.)

The other main takeaway was the existence of like-minded technicians and engineers, as most CNC shops have already started down digital avenue, so they really didn’t need us to explain anything twice. Sometimes we only needed to hand off the gear and they went to town with it. We are sure uncle ROI liked that, as he generally hates having to hire new people for new things.

CASE STUDY

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I have to know who to call when something stops

#24/7 #stopsbad #30machines #happycustomer

A well-established local CNC company reached out to us. Regrettably, they elected to retain their right to anonymity because of confidential orders, – as is their prerogative – but we felt their case is interesting enough to mention here. They are making injection molding tools, and run an admirably tight ship. They started with a 25 man crew and worked their way up over 20 years to 150. They have also become part of an international group some years ago and export half their production now.
As we mentioned they DO run a tight ship, which is insanely important when you do 24/7 production on – hopefully – all machines. Using five-axis machining tools combined with 2×2 meters max machinability ranges, these guys mean serious business.

ISSUE

They’ve been searching for a while to find ways to digitize and monitor their processes a bit because, paraphrasing a very down-to-earth production engineer, “I have to know who to call when something stops”. According to him “not cutting metal is a waste, best to be avoided for obvious reasons” which we can readily agree with considering that for a 24/7 production shop, all stops are bad stops. They also needed a quick fix to get some much-needed transparency on their daily meetings so everyone could get on the same page quickly and without disputes, so they contacted us.

Soulution

After we set them up for a few weeks of free trial run on three machines, they found there was a positive shift in the operators’ attitude. They kept a closer watch on the processes and made more haste to fix longer stops, which obviously led to more efficiency overall. Not ones to look a gift OEE increase in the mouth, they were quick to ask for a full setup of sensors on all 30+ machines they use. After a while, we checked back to ask our usual R&D questions about the best features, needs, and wants.

We found, they spent some time with all our sensory gear and “systematically eliminated availability losses”, which was a very welcome chunk of optimization, and they also use our data in every meeting. Monitoring, daily reports, reason codes, they use it all. But “what’s really kind of a blessing,” they said is “more info, fewer calls”, as continuous phone calls were the norm before, whenever something out of kilter decided to happen. “Everybody’s eyes are on the same dashboard” and that made real-time action a lot more effective. And since increasing production efficiency is what we are all about, we couldn’t be happier about their experience.

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