A Smart Factory Excels at Continuous Improvement

Asked to identify continuous-improvement projects spurred by its recent data-gathering and analysis efforts, Enright points to a plague common to many metalforming shops: maintenance-related downtime.

“By using the flurry of data we can now collect from the plant floor using ShopFloorConnect,” he shares, “we’ve been able to identify common, recurring issues and conduct detailed root-cause analysis in each case. As a result, in many cases we’ve signed service contracts with vendors to perform monthly, quarterly or annual inspections. And, we fine-tuned our preventive-maintenance activities—all to ensure that we keep the equipment running at optimum performance levels at all times. The improvement in OEE has been critical to allowing us to grow—both in new customers, and in the work we’re doing for existing customers—without adding new presses.”

One more example: tracking cycle time through the robotic-welding cells, and identifying inconsistencies that can be tracked back to flawed procedures.

“By knowing immediately if a cell’s throughput is slipping,” Enright says, “we can troubleshoot before things spiral out of control. For example, we’ve identified wear parts on the robots that can inhibit performance, so that we can replace them in a timely manner. And, we’ve identified processes where the robotic welder works more quickly than the operator tasked with loading and unloading the weld fixtures, causing robot idle time. Again, we assign a dollar value to downtime. In these cases, we might redesign the fixture or provide the operator with special tools to allow him to load/unload more quickly, or look to make his process more ergonomic.

“We’re fine-tuning and reacting,” he summarizes, “rather than fixing big issues late in production runs.” MF

Industry-Related Terms: Case, Die, Fixture, Functionality, Run
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Wintriss Controls Group LLC, ODM Tool & Manufacturing Co., Inc.

Technologies: Sensing/Electronics/IOT


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