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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