Sunday, August 18, 2019 Useful Resources for Industrial Technology Enthusiasts!

Holiday Warehouse Automation
B2C (Business to Consumer) changing market dynamics, increased technical complexity, and the unyielding pressure to do more with less, requires that warehouse and DC managers look to innovative solutions to make the most of the space they have (especially since adding square footage, if available, is prohibitively expensive). [see more]
Accessing Existing Business Intelligence Automates Industrial Profitability
Too often manufacturing firms, even top-tier operations managers, use company analyses or reports which neglect to ask why outcomes failed. There is attention paid to all variables evenly and equally rather than discerning which area of an industrial business needs most attention to improve profit. [see more]
Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Smart Glasses
WMS (Warehouse Management Systems) solutions are good at managing information, but not truly intuitive for the floor worker. This is primarily because lines of text are not the best way to tell someone how to do work; humans respond best to visual instructions. For that reason, most companies discuss on-boarding and training in terms of days, or worse yet, weeks. Visual Input Enabled Wearable (VIEW) technology rethinks workforce ... [see more]
Automatic Truck Loading Systems Increase Efficiency by 400 Percent
Automatic Truck Loading Systems (ATLS) increase efficiency by 400% compared to traditional forklift truck loading. This automation is particularly important as 3PLs (third party logistics) companies, distribution centers (DCs), and warehouses all get ready for the all-important holiday picking, packing, and shipping season. There is a fundamental flaw in [see more]

Automated Optimization Generates 77 Percent Reduction in Barcode Scans
A typical process to move parts from a warehouse to a field technician generates a 77% reduction in barcode scans using automated optimization [see more]
Two Functions at Manufacturing Organizations Prime for Process Improvement
Two functions at manufacturing organizations are prime for process improvement: selling and pricing. A closer look at the selling function reveals that despite reducing labor costs via transformational automation solutions, sales teams still manage large, antiquated portfolios. They are expected to increase their book of business while retaining current customers. Measuring sales reps, the way plant floor machinery is measured, with an overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) score, organizations quickly discover they are doomed to inefficient output. Sales teams are simply asked to handle too many accounts while being overloaded with information that lacks actionable direction. [see more]
Capturing Improved Productivity: Tugger Train Automation
Ultimately the reason for automation is to capture improved productivity. [see more]
Lean Manufacturing Automation 2019: Digital Visual Management
For more than a quarter century, Lean Manufacturing consultants have walked into manufacturing plants with butcher block paper (or a whiteboard) and multi-colors of Post-its to perform Value Stream Mapping (VSM). Over the course of months, even years, teams within the four walls of an industrial facility negotiated the elements of migrating from a problematic "current state" to an optimized "future state." Paper was the only tool to engage entire lean teams to view "what is" and "what could be." [see more]
Industry 4.0 and Fork Truck Free
Ryan Brown and Ed Brown of Topper Industrial explains how paradigm shift in intralogistics, automation, integrating, managing, and optimizing the logistical flow of material goods with the flow of information within the walls of a fulfillment center, distribution center (DC), or warehouse represent the tremendous opportunity for businesses to tap potentials. [see more]
AGV Automation in the Automotive Sector
For decades, automated guided vehicle (AGV) technology has delivered materials handling and logistics solutions to the world's largest and most sophisticated automotive companies. Automotive manufacturers have embraced the lean principles of advanced logistics and manufacturing solutions. Fork truck free (FTF) initiatives and operations are the standard in North America and Europe since 2015. Automotive companies and their Tier 1 suppliers recognize the need for partnership in the AGV industry. The collaborative relationship between the companies' manufacturing engineers and AGV subject matter experts are essential in implementing turnkey systems which increase productivity and flexibility, and safely reduce operating costs. [see more]

Automated Guided Vehicles' Traffic Control Software Advances Value Proposition of Mobile Robots
AGV (Automated Guided Vehicles) systems in some ways follow the evolution of America's transportation system. Railroads represented the first 'automated' transportation for material; people and products. These systems were constrained to run on pre-defined routes with specific schedules. Changing routes, or adding destinations, was a monumental undertaking. The system evolved with the introduction of the interurban rail system (e.g., trolley systems). Routes and destinations were fixed yet easier to change, but scheduling remained inflexible from an individual's perspective. Automobiles were the ultimate solution. Individuals could now control the destination, route, and schedule to meet their demands. This flexibility came with the hidden expense of traffic congestion and lost throughput. [see more]
Lean Manufacturing Finally Arrives at the Sales Process
There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the opportunity for higher manufacturing margins exists in the ETO (engineer-to-order) space; the bad news is that poor job quoting processes often consume that competitive advantage, even generating an unprofitable manufacturing project. [see more]
New Automation Architecture Drives Changes in the Voice Picking Landscape
Server-based voice picking companies have been promoting custom, proprietary systems as superior to existing workflows and businesses processes. Embedded in these claims is a bit of arrogance about what is best for businesses claiming they are the experts of voice picking. While there have been successes utilizing well-known server-based voice-embedded, with big names like Vocollect, many companies have been burned, leaving a sour taste for voice-picking. The promises of integrated software modules integrating to Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) has given way to costly upgrade charges every so many years. [see more]
Cloud-based MES, ETO, and Job Element Monitoring
A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is a system that manufacturers can use to measure and control critical production activities. Some of the benefits of MES solutions are increased traceability, productivity, and quality. [see more]

Lean and Technology: the Rapid Growth of the Demand Driven Institute
Lean advocates often get accused of being anti-technology, but do Lean advocates really want manufacturing companies to abandon the promise of technology? The answer should be yes when that technology is wasteful, confusing, and not reflective of reality, when it force-fits concepts so as to simply permit their use. Unfortunately, this has been the situation for quite some time with regard to traditional MRP and DRP (distribution requirements planning) systems. [see more]
The Problem: Untapping the Value in Extended Enterprise Value Chains
The Solution: Demand Driven Enterprise-wide Supply Chain Solutions

Over the past decade there has been a great need for better technology solutions to address global demand-driven and enterprise-wide supply chains. While lean manufacturing initiatives have instigated certain processes, such as Kanban, the reality for global manufacturers is simple: ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions (from NetSuite to Oracle to SAP and others) have failed to deliver the promises needed. ERP is a critical and important aspect of any manufacturing firm; it is not a panacea. Over the next few months we are going to explore some of the reasons why ERP-based supplier portal solutions struggle to provide the tools required by manufacturers to visualize, collaborate, execute and manage extended enterprise value chains. [see more]
Automation Transforms the Omni-channel while Minimizing the Total Supply Chain Costs
VCO Systems launched a suite of innovative, cloud-enabled light systems for the ecommerce and retail verticals aimed at increasing productivity, and managing seasonal capacity surges that have become a significant challenge for most online retailers. Too many in the picking product space fail to understand the complexities of the fast-changing omni-channel experience and associated total supply chain costs. [see more]
The Problem: ERP Systems Struggle to Synchronize Manufacturing
The Solution: Demand Driven Enterprise-wide Supply Chain Solutions

Over the past decade there has been a great need for better technology solutions to address global demand driven and enterprise-wide supply chains. While lean manufacturing initiatives have instigated certain processes, such as Kanban, the reality for global manufacturers is simple: ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions (from NetSuite to Oracle to SAP and others) have failed to deliver the promises needed. [see more]
The Problem: Complexity of ERP-based Supplier Portal Solutions Make Them Difficult to Deploy and Use
The Solution: Demand Driven Enterprise-wide Supply Chain Solutions

ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions (from NetSuite to Oracle to SAP and others) have failed to deliver the promises needed. ERP is a critical and important aspect of any manufacturing firm; it is not a panacea. [see more]
The Problem: ERP Supplier Portal Designed Around MRP Forecast Management
The Solution: Demand Driven Enterprise-wide Supply Chain Solutions

Over the past decade there has been a great need for better technology solutions to address global demand-driven and enterprise-wide supply chains. [see more]
Less is More: How SKU-Keeper by Voodoo Robotics is Redefining Traceability Technology
There is certainly efficacy for fully exhaustive and comprehensive technological traceability, yet with 90 percent of small food and beverage manufacturers employing fewer than 100 people, rarely is the Rolls Royce affordable and never cost-justified. [see more]
Industry 5.0 Driven by Chief Robotics Officer
For North American manufacturers, robotics and automation is no stranger. They have studied and put into practice the Ford Production System and the Toyota Production System to continuously improve operations, with much of those improvements made by the use and integration of automation. [see more]
Much Higher Labor Rates Driving Automated Conveyor Solutions
Based on rapid changes driven by e-commerce and omnichannel purchasing the supply chain has evolved quickly over the past several years with many companies becoming distributors rather than strictly manufacturers. [see more]
The Need for Effective Communication Regarding Automation
Ben Rossi wrote for Information Age recently that, Automation is already with us. The digitalization of public sector services has already seen many of the processes previously carried out by human hand now scheduled by software. Far from being met with resistance, this digitalization has had an emancipating effect, freeing up staff from the daily grind to focus on other issues and the reduction in red tape has generated efficiency gains. [see more]
Predicted 2017 Cost Savings from Automation and Innovation Significant According to NIST
To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, as well as save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and "proof-of-concept" demonstrations of emerging technologies.... [see more]
Maquiladora Near-shoring will Continue in 2017 and there are Material Handling Winners Set to Benefit
Beyond walls and the political spectrum, the manufacturing industry continues to grow and many companies are looking for economically efficient solutions to manufacture their products. The trend over previous years has been US companies transferring the manufacture of their product overseas. But ..... [see more]
Continuing STEM Education
A new report by the Pew Center shows that American workers ? especially those with college degrees and/or those working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields ..... [see more]
World's Largest Automotive Glass Facility Opens in Ohio
Fuyao Glass America's main customers include GM, Ford, Honda, Isuzu, Toyota, Mazda, Audi, Volkswagen, Citroen and Mercedes. Recently Fuyao Glass America has announced the grand opening of its newest U.S. facility. [see more]
Too Many Metrics Demand-Driven Manufacturing Metrics for Action
Too Many Metrics Demand-Driven Manufacturing Metrics for Action. Read More about it here. [see more]
Automating Finance and Lending Audits Simplified with Optical Character Recognition
Automating Finance and Lending Audits Simplified with Optical Character Recognition. Read more about it here. [see more]
August 17 - 18: Next-Generation Collaborative Robots and Automation Technologies Automotive Manufacturing 2016
Next week, August 17-18, in Detroit, MI, will launch the first-of-its-kind fully OEM led conference. Read More about it here. [see more]
Automating Foodservice Technology Trends and Maximizing Delivery Driver Productivity with Apps
Research and Markets just announced the global foodservice market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 4.48% during the period 2016-2020. [see more]
Improved Productivity and Throughput Jumps With Integrated Conveyor System Combined with Paperless Picking and WMS
Wilton Industries is a company on a steady growth trajectory. Its four main business units ... have all recorded big volume increases over the past few years. Read More. [see more]
Last-Mile Delivery of Food e-Commerce; Safety Delivery Tools Needed for Uber, Lyft, and Deliv Drivers
Wal-Mart will test last-mile delivery using Uber, Lyft and Deliv services for online grocery orders. Read More. [see more]
Best-in-Class Warehouse Control System Transforms Distribution Centers
For twenty years the Pivot WCS solution has been installed in many operations because customers commonly request that the product complement existing information systems without duplicating functions managed by other systems. [see more]
Barcel USA Snack Division of Grupo Bimbo Uses Hytrol Infeed Case Conveyors and Columbia Machine Palletizing System
With experience of over 3,500 palletizers installed in the industry and now the broadest palletizer product line available, Columbia Machine, Inc. is the leading palletizer solutions provider in North America. [see more]
The end of AGCs in favor of VGVs
Lack of Innovation and Limited Payloads Drive Automotive Purchasing Professions to Drop Automated Guided Carts (AGCs) in Favor of Vision-Guided Vehicles [see more]
Hytrol and Integration Partner Advanced Equipment Company
Hytrol is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of advanced conveyor systems, controls and solutions for customers with processing, manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution needs. Since founded in 1947, Hytrol has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to understanding the material handling needs of businesses. [see more]
Warehouses Move to Tablet Technology (#DitchtheRF)
Warehouse Mobile Solutions, makers of WarehouseOS, recently exhibited at MODEX in Atlanta, GA, the largest materials handling show in North America. Coining the Twitter hashtag #ditchtheRF, there is a strong movement to tablets as the preferred mechanism in materials handling. [see more]
viastore systems Leads Automation in Cold Storage
Solving the challenges of cold storage automation is viastore systems, a leading international provider of automated material handling solutions including automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and conveyor systems, warehouse management systems (WMS) software, material flow and process controls, and integrated SAP logistics solutions for new turn-key systems and for modernizing and updating existing systems. [see more]
Fork Truck Free: Driving Safety and Profitability
Approximately every three days, someone in the U.S. is killed in a forklift related accident and almost 80% of forklift accidents involved a pedestrian. One-sixth of all workplace fatalities in the U.S. are forklift related. [see more]
Layered Process Audits: A Guide for Automation Improvement
The notion of continuous process improvement is often hidden, unclear or downright obscured. While the goals of lean manufacturing and reducing waste may seem obvious, the means to achieve them are not. [see more]
Smart Sensor Revolution Has Started
The massive-scale deployment of sensors, already underway or envisioned in a variety of new sectors, represents a highly disruptive technological shift with the potential to significantly reshape the environment and transform many aspects of daily lives. Investigating the origins of leadership in this arena quickly pointed to LeddarTech. [see more]
Automating Safety Management to Third Party Experts
Several years ago looked at how small and mid-sized manufacturers stay in compliance with OSHA and EPA regulations. Concluded, before the current explosion of new rules, that progressive, best-of-class manufacturers were increasingly pro-active and less reactive to safety management. [see more]
Goods to Robot Picking Requirements for E-Commerce Omni-Channel Fulfillment
Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz, making its North American debut at ProMat 2015 (booth #5521) in Chicago, IL in late March, utilizes goods-to-robotic picking with a focus on automating e-commerce fulfillment centers. [see more]
Climatic Wind Tunnel in Decatur Illinois Replicates Extreme Conditions
Predicting the weather and its consequences is not easy. Each year reports a new temperature extreme from bitter cold to brutal heat. The capacity to replicate these extreme conditions in the climatic wind tunnel assures automotive (and other) manufacturers the conditions and consequences have been considered in the design and reliability of the finished good. [see more]
Global Industrial Robots and Material Handling Conveyor Growth in 2015
The use of industrial robots continues to grow, not just in the U.S. but around the world. Implementing an industrial robot drastically improves productivity. Robots are able to work 24/7 if necessary and do not require breaks. They help reduce product cycle times, increase throughput, improve consistency, and lead to greater efficiency. All of this helps improve the overall process and lead to higher profits. [see more]
Automation Success Only Possible through Employee Engagement and Communication
Manufacturing firms managed by expert engineers, frequently lose sight of communications objectives. All the automation technology is futile if employees are disengaged, or worse unsafe. Employee engagement requires manufacturers have a systematic and tested method of reaching employees with important messages. These approaches engage and influence attitudes and behaviors. [see more]
Eliminating the Automation Bias
Representing an AGV vendor is often a conflict of interest. The end-user customer's interests may not align with the AGV vendor's interests. The only way to avoid these conflicts is a vendor agnostic approach to automation. [see more]
Elements of an Automation Conveyor Culture:Tested, Lean, and People Driven
Hytrol Conveyor Company's first conveyor, designed by founder Tom Loberg in 1947, moved bags of seed in preparation for stacking, and folded when not in use. Loberg discovered that the right angle reducer he had designed for a rotary lawn mower was just the right size to make a belt run at the proper speed on a conveyor. [see more]
Ending Confusion About WCS vs. WMS
There is confusion when to apply a WMS software solution versus a WCS which directs real-time data management and interface responsibilities of the material handling system as well as provides common user interface screens for monitoring, control, and diagnostics. [see more]
Automation: Where We Have Been in 2013 and Where We Are Going in 2014
From geographic expansion to sector diversification each of the companies profiled in this year are experiencing dramatic and significant growth as we enter 2014. It has been both an honor and challenge as a journalist to address the past-paced, ever-changing elements of automation impacting manufacturing, material handling, and logistics. Reviewing those features provides a fascinating insight auguring trends for 2014. The growth of the companies profiled by clearly reflects a strong new market demand. [see more]
Automating Food Safety Now Possible for Smaller Food Manufacturers
While required of small food manufacturers, food safety documentation technology was too expensive for 90% of the food industry, which have fewer than 200 employees and annual revenues of less than $20 million dollars. The introduction of cloud-based solutions has changed the food safety and quality conversation for even the very smallest companies. [see more]
Automation Requires More than Automated Customer Service
Holistic is not the first word that comes to mind regarding automation; neither is order-taker. Yet thousands of interviews over the past twenty years have revealed that many system integrators who provide automation services, particularly in material handling, better match the description of order-takers. [see more]
Picking Made Simple : 20% of SKUs Represent 80% of Orders
Identify the characteristics most needed for an effective picking solution may seem obvious. Indeed high visibility, robust order pick displays, flexible mounting method allowing the system to easily adapt/grow with warehousing operation and simple intuitive software must be part of the mix. Obviously highly accurate order assembly, orders handled by barcode scanning or manual selection and picking data interfaced with ERP/WMS for real-time visibility are also must-have requirements. [see more]
Demand Forecasting Drives Accurate Inventory Predictions
The Gartner IT Glossary explains that, "Demand forecasting applications incorporate historical and predictive customer demand information into production line and sales quotas." Sounds simple enough...not really. Matters become more complex when extending the definition to an end-to-end pull process...still trickier when sensing customer demand and synchronizing supply. [see more]
Automation of Big Distribution Centers Drives Robotic Systems Applications
Automation is often referenced only on the manufacturing plant floor. Increasingly, automation occupies large 200,000 square foot distribution centers throughout North America and Europe. The challenges for these large, often three-shift, high volume, rapid-turnaround operations is developing an effective turnkey solution with superior design, increased production, and reduced costs. [see more]
Moving Beyond OEE Limitations Arriving at Total Production Efficiency
For the past five years manufacturing plant managers and supervisors have adopted lean manufacturing principles, eliminated waste, and still seen total production efficiency elude them. Monitoring and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) solutions in the shop extracted little value because most "OEE monitoring" technology use tools that generate data, but none that help them make sense of it. OEE is an effective metric to give an overall sense of how effectively manufacturing equipment is performing; it is not particularly useful in improving shopfloor productivity. [see more]
Small Manufacturers Grow by Opening the Door to Automation
Seventy-four percent of manufacturing and distribution professionals are considering automation for their operations according to a new report evaluating attitudes towards automation. From cost savings to improved efficiencies and accuracy automation investments for manufacturing and distribution facilities is on the rise. [see more]
Automation for Retailer Expands Rapidly in 2013
The world's largest retail trade association, National Retail Federation (NRF) represents retailers of all types and sizes from the United States and more than forty-five countries abroad including department stores, specialty, apparel, discount, online, independent, grocery and chain restaurants, among others. Retailers operate more than 3.5 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs - 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation's economy. Keeping these retail employees safe is vital; learning the lesson from manufacturing and distribution essential. The lessons of ergonomics in plants and distribution centers are now growing rapidly at retail operations. [see more]
Actionable Manufacturing Intelligence
Customer demands continue to escalate and competitors become more aggressive. As expressed in Darwinian Theory, manufacturing operational management has adapted to meet the competition, lay the foundations for continued performance improvement, and accomplished these simultaneous efforts to prevent extinction. [see more]
Supplier Document Management at the Heart of Automation
Suppliers must be ranked. Which suppliers are best is a matter of profitability, efficiency, and risk management. Automation must include the ability to identify riskiest suppliers via a supplier scorecard. Using technologies to determine risk trends for key problems as well as comparing risks across alternate suppliers allows for lean best-practices among all manufacturing operations, especially food and beverage. [see more]
Safety Solutions Drive Automation and Increased Sales
According to OSHA (Occupations Safety and Health Administration), Employees repeatedly move beverages from a delivery truck to a hand truck or stack. Product to be moved can be stacked to shoulder height and may need to be lowered to ground level. These lifting tasks pose an increased risk of pain and injury and should be considered hazardous unless appropriate solutions are implemented. [see more]
Small Manufacturers Look to Justify Automation Technology ROI
Tight budgets, limited resources, and too few hours in the day plague most small manufacturers. Growth is uncomfortable and these small businesses need extra rigor when buying any software solution for the business. Ultimately the challenge is to determine if the benefits of new technology are greater than the cost. Most commonly this is done by calculating an ROI (Return on Investment). There are several ways to calculate this, but the most common and practical is calculating the payback period on the purchase price, which often includes software and training, or the software alone. [see more]
Pinpointing the Real Source of Project Management Snafus
Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, noted, "It is always easier to talk about change than to make it." "Success, itself, rests on effective project management, so it's hard to understand why more businesses don't do a better job of it," pondered Mark Woeppel, President and CEO of Pinnacle Strategies. Companies have a habit of dealing with the fallout of project management disasters after they happen, rather than identifying and implementing a workable solution before problems arise. [see more]
Manufacturing Skill Shortage Challenge Solved by Scientific Management Techniques
Paul Tate, Executive Editor of Manufacturing Executive & Manufacturing Leadership Council, shared a revealing new report on the growing skills gap in US manufacturing; data revealed that American companies cannot fill an estimated 600,000 skilled positions across the nation. [see more]
Thin Margins Drive Warehouse Automation Solutions
High volume electronics and industrial parts distributors are facing thinner margins. Globally these companies and other warehouse distribution center operations are seeking automation solutions to offset razor-thin profits. Premier Farnell serves 1.2 million customers worldwide as a marketer and distributor of electronic, electrical and industrial component products for maintenance, repair and operations. When escalating costs of business threatened margins on UK sales to Europe [see more]
Future Trends in Control and Process Automation in the MET Industry
The Media, Entertainment and Telecom (MET) industry utilises control and process automation equipment and services mainly at amusement parks and theme parks. Control automation equipment such as motion and ride control systems, emergency shutdown systems, show/audio controls and continuous regulatory control are used in roller coasters, motion theatres, snow worlds etc. The growth of control and process automation in the MET industry is driven by three main factors which contribute to its future development, on which automation suppliers' mainly focus. [see more]
The Overlooked Kaizen Event: Communications and Marketing
The best manufacturing organizations become catalysts for improvement. These roadmaps for change must go beyond the plant floor. Thinking beyond strict lean principles of continuous process improvement, requires a constant examination of all areas within the manufacturing operation. [see more]
OEE and Utilization Pilot Programs Obsolete: Cloud Game Changer Introduced
Collecting data is one thing; making data useful is another. There is clearly value to having historical data, but having the data in a meaningful format as the activities are happening greatly increases the value of any data collection system. Josh Davids, President of Scytec was recently interviewed about the role of DataXchange, providing user configurable real-time viewer for feedback as the data is collected. [see more]
Distribution 2012: Hand Truck Efficiency Drives Supply Chain Solutions
The North American distribution and logistics industry is valued at more than $300 billion and will experience even more growth in 2012. The value chain for the production, distribution, and sale of food, beverage and other merchandise indicate that production and warehouse facilities still handle products in bulk on pallets; pallets are moved using forklifts and pallet jacks. [see more]
The Changing Requirements of Labor in U.S. Manufacturing
The next national election is exactly one year away. Regardless of political points of view or efforts to re-shore manufacturing to the United States, the role of manufacturing labor in this country has changed significantly during the past year. Keith Wisner is Operations Vice-President with ResourceMFG, a staffing firm which specifically provides manufacturing workers, reflected on these dramatic changes in a turbulent 2011 and looks ahead to an unpredictable 2012. [see more]
The Obvious Benefit: Automated Lifting Hand Trucks
Automation might be, best measured by the reduced lifting required to perform a task. When heavy lifting is required, more personnel are often required for enhanced safety and pragmatic lifting requirements. A two-hundred pound piece of equipment may require two workers to perform the lifting, repairing, and moving task. When electric hand trucks do the lifting, the task can be performed by one person. These productivity cost-savings, are achieved through simple and effective automation. [see more]
Vision-Guided Pallet Trucks Provide Big Savings
Seegrid CEO, Dr. Scott Friedman sees factories and warehouses dominated by robots. Unlike expensive AGV solutions requiring massive capitalization, Robotic Industrial Trucks offers operational flexibility, whether a single truck or multiple units, and according to Friedman, "These complete and scalable vision-guided systems result in maximum savings, optimal safety, and unparalleled productivity." [see more]
Perkins Paper Finds QC Audit and Voice Picking Ideal
"Like other companies, we're always trying to improve service to our customers," noted Walter Harrigan, Senior Vice President of Perkins Paper. "So our main goal for voice automation was to reduce shorts and wrongs, which improves customer service and also reduces our costs. If you don't send the right item to a customer, you have to taxi it out to them, and that costs a lot, probably $50-$60 per error." At Perkins Paper, the number one priority is shipping the right product, on time, every time. This commitment to service [see more]
The Reason for Hiring a Project Manager:Automation Solution Selection Objectivity
The cost of the wrong automation solution in material handling is often upwards of ten million dollars. Material handling professionals are selecting capital equipment with the intent of improving margins and customer satisfaction. Sales of automation and material handling equipment, is dramatically improving. MHIA (Material Handling Industry of America, the leading trade association for the material handling and logistics industry) reports a 22.4% growth in material handling equipment sales in 2010 with forecasted growth in 2011/12 sales increasing another 12%. With this type of increase in [see more]
Top 5 Reasons Why ERP Implementations Fail
When listening to fears and concerns about ERP solutions, implementation is usually on the top of most lists. Yes, it can be daunting, but it is the cornerstone of the overall project. So why do implementations fail? Below is our countdown of the most common ERP implementation errors and how to avoid them. [see more]
5 Cost Estimating Myths Busted
"Cost Estimating" manufactured parts for an RFQ is one day-to-day problem that confronts manufacturing shops around the globe, many of which feel like they just have to live with it. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY! Jay debunks 5 myths surrounding cost estimating for manufacturing. [see more]
One Microsoft Gold Partner Captures Automation Niche
The decision to use Microsoft is often lead by familiarity. Within the manufacturing sector, particularly those involved in Engineer-to-Order (ETO) manufacturing, there are special issues and challenges. Another ERP implementation is a vast over-simplification of what is required; the automation and process issues are complex. [see more]
Why Make-to-Order Shops Must Go Paperless
Magdic Precision Tooling (MPT) is a nineteen-person tool and die shop in East McKeesport, PA. The company makes compaction dies for carbide cutting tools. Die forms look like drills, end mills, and cutting inserts. Even this small shop recognized they had to go paperless. [see more]
Smart On-Demand Integration
On-Demand Integration means automating business processes by linking enterprise programs, which have operated independently in the past, to provide comprehensive services to the business by increasing productivity and at the same time decreasing operational cost. Despite the trend toward acquiring application portfolios from a single supplier or from a limited number of suppliers, few organizations are able to have all of their application portfolio requirements using a single source. Heterogeneous IT portfolios are norm and will stay like that. [see more]
Material Handling Automation: Forklifts Impacting the Bottom-Line
Discrete manufacturers face increased global competition, market unpredictability, and demands to increase product quality while reducing production costs. These factors are forcing organizations to find ways to streamline operations and adopt lean manufacturing practices in order to become more efficient. One method in accomplishing this is the use of automated guided vehicles. [see more]
Material Handling Automation From Stretch Wrapping Robots to AGV’s at ProMat 2011
Far beyond palletizing robots, the automation and storage handling challenges facing businesses always boils down to the desire to increase storage capabilities and production levels. The drive to improve operational efficiencies is part of lean manufacturing and distribution and operational efficiencies. The need for flexibility to accommodate changes in the production cycles along with the constant requirement to achieve higher safety standards drives the push for plant modernization. [see more]
Equipment Rental Firms Alter Technology Solutions with SalesForce Automation, Opportunity Management, and Campaign Management
Managing the equipment life cycle through its useful life in the new and used fleet as well as the rental fleet is essential when ensuring the dealership receives the maximum financial benefit of every asset. According to Grant Skinner, Vice President of Equip-Soft, suggested, "With automated workflows and easily customized views to access this information the equipment life cycle aids in maximizing profitability." [see more]
Engineering Automation Teams Look at Cloud Computing
The largest steel producer in South America needed to upgrade its automated systems; the challenge was to coordinate people, resources and technology responsible for producing nearly ten million metric tons of steel every year, at a value of over $1 billion dollars. [see more]
97% Successful ERP Requires Industry Sector Expertise
According to the Standish Group, ERP implementations in midsized companies have a high degree of failure. Some ERP vendors have better success rates than others. It begs the question: Why? What are the qualities and characteristics of successful ERP technologies and implementations? The research was not rhetorical; could any ERP vendor point to a nearly perfect implementation record? If so, what is the secret to that success? [see more]
The Common Automation Denominator: Cimquest INGEAR
Finding a commonality among seemingly disparate enterprises is not always easy. This journalist recently interviewed eight distinct companies about technology, efficiency, and automation trends. The numerator was different, the technology solution selected by each company, the denominator, was remarkably consistent. [see more]
Plastic Liners Represent Leaner Automation
Any process that generates labor savings, food savings, operational savings, lower maintenance costs, and improves quality, defines the value, rationale, and denotation of automation. The two phrases, automation and plastic bags, may seem incongruous, or even a non-sequitor. It certainly is true that the typical definition of automation usually includes the control of equipment with advanced technology….involving electronic hardware. Others characterize automation as replacing human workers with machines. The rationale for automation, regardless of the implementation, is to increase productivity. Robotic solutions do not define automation. [see more]
Why ISO 9001 is Still Relevant for Industrial Automation
When a standard becomes as ingrained in the business community as ISO 9001 has during the last two decades, it is important to take stock of its impact and importance. Otherwise, businesses would be striving for certification to the standard for all the wrong reasons. Instead of trying to implement the best possible quality management systems and processes, they would simply be trying for the certificate. Instead of working towards continual improvement, businesses would lose interest and enthusiasm the moment the certificate was in hand. [see more]
Bottom-Line Profitability for Job Shops Found with Cost Estimating Software
Few job shop cost estimating solutions come fully loaded with a library of over 2,000 work centers and materials. Too often there is an attitude among some job shop owners that these technologies are simply too good to be true. Many of the world’s job shops need to identify part cost reduction opportunities throughout the product development lifecycle, leading to millions of dollars [see more]
The Role of Pick-to-Light Benefits in Automation
Although it has been around for more than twenty years, the benefits of Pick-to-Light solutions cannot be overlooked. [see more]
Musical Instrument Companies Automate Distribution Centers
Basic goals are the hallmark of any world-class manufacturer. State-of-the-art production facilities driven by the combined disciplines of Lean and Six Sigma put these three goals at the center of ISG’s process for musical instrument distribution centers as well as all manufacturing and distribution companies. [see more]
Safety Management Systems Requires Automation and Integration
Intelex, a leading web-based Safety Management System, recently revealed the efficacy of enabling organizations to collect and track safety data in a central, organization-wide data portal that facilitates the streamlining of corporate policies, work flow, and reporting processes as well as regulatory compliance. According to Mark Jaine, President and CEO of Intelex, “Technology solutions must organize data into real-time reports that can be displayed on corporate dashboards, with the ability to drill-down into individual reports and scorecards for granular reporting details. [see more]
Automating Infrastructure for Healthcare Organizations
The number one imperative of Healthcare providers is finding ways to reduce costs. Using solid and stable technology to improve business operations is the number one priority of Healthcare Software Vendors. Providing the tools and infrastructure healthcare organizations need to transform the way information is recorded, tracked, and the method [see more]
What is OPC in 2010? It is all about the Tag
The title of this article is an extremely valid question for all readers looking for data connectivity? What is OPC in 2010? OPC is still the connectivity standard for Process Control, for ADI, a part of FDI and FDT and STILL the connectivity standard for manufacturing, and PLCs. OPC is a Unified Architecture, and OPC is an Express Interface. OPC is three letters that are a lot of things to a lot of different people, but what it really boils down to is moving data and the Tag. Yes the Tag. Everything in OPC revolves around the Tag. [see more]
Small Manufacturing Operations Find Cost-Effective Inventory Tracking and Automation Technology Solutions
Whether on the plant floor or warehouse management, the ability to integrate order entry, shipping, purchasing, receiving, production and warehouse management, is critical in every phase of automation. Strong location tracking is also a huge time-saving element. All the emphasis of OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) is great; the basic elimination of waste and errors in these other rudimentary, non-equipment functionality is equally critical to effective operations along with time tracking. [see more]
Progressive Plants Look to On-Machine Probing
Measuring and quality control on the machine tool is gaining increasing importance in progressive manufacturing plants. Much of probe programming is related to accurately defining the probe purpose and objective. While this may sound like a basic statement, there is almost no end to what a relatively simple in-process probing can do. Fortunately, most probe manufacturers have developed a series of canned routines for common probing problems. [see more]
Improving Bottom-Line Productivity : Reducing Manufacturing Workplace Stress
Given the bottom-line impact of stress on the plant floor to the executive suite, more manufacturers are implementing regular massage for workers as a measure to reduce the physical and mental effects of stress; the result is reducing burnout and stress related diseases, and increasing productivity. Nearly three-fourths (74%) of manufacturing workers reported in a national survey that their job is very stressful. Stress is the leading cause of disability in the manufacturing workplace, costing employers billions of dollars a year in lost productivity and healthcare costs. [see more]
Catching the Process Fieldbus : An Interview with James Powell
The world of industrial commutations appears as a multilayered, multidimensional, occasionally confusing mixture of fieldbuses, software packages, and media. James Powell did MORE with LESS in his book. If you are new to this field or simply don’t know where to start, and then this book is for you. He shows in this book that when industrial communications is understood and then installed with forethought and care, network operations are both beneficial and painless. This book is designed to speak to the beginner, to take that interested newbie by the hand and guide them through the bus route to communication success. Book topic include all BUS operations, protocol details, physical layers and networks, network design basics, installation tips and suggestions, commissioning, maintenance, plant asset management and troubleshooting. [see more]
Lean Enterprise Automation: Redefining Waste
Paul Rauseo, managing director at George S. May International, a small business management consulting firm, says 95% of their clients experience some form of inefficiency. While business owners are experts in their particular industry, the reality of the day-to-day operations often overwhelms them. Too often they get caught up in the short-term details and lose sight of the big picture…the real role of a business owner. Manufacturing executives often possess exception manufacturing, engineering, and production expertise, yet lack management knowledge [see more]
Plan B: Senior Manufacturing Executives Ponder Job Loss
In the ten years since the inception of TR Cutler, Inc., the largest manufacturing marketing firm worldwide based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the manufacturing sector has seen many changes. Lean has become normative and a level of technological sophistication has permeated the sector (with many firms on third and fourth generation ERP systems.) Statistical Process Control, Overall Equipment Effectiveness, SaaS delivered solutions, Six Sigma, is all commonplace. Perhaps the most significant changes are cultural. [see more]
OPC UA: An End-User's Perspective
OPC UA (Unified Architecture) represents the OPC Foundation’s most recent set of specifications for Process Control and Automation system interconnectivity. This paper explains OPC UA from the perspective of the organization that will benefit from the connectivity, in other words: the End User. The first form of OPC relied on DCOM for its data transportation [see more]
Beyond Reports: Two Firms Find Ei Dynamics Lean Solution
TRL Systems is a regional provider and installer of security and alarm systems for commercial enterprises. As a component of TRL's business the firm captures and enters a high volume of various types of data such as entering and updating customers, vendors, jobs, contracts, purchase orders, service agreements, invoices, budgets and much more. Much of TRL’s data input was prone to human error and [see more]
Real-Time Data: Same as a Diamonds Clarity, Cut, and Color
In the Shirley Bassey sung James Bond anthem Diamonds are Forever, she muses, "Diamonds never lie to me, for when love’s gone, they'll luster on." The same is true with accurate real-time data. GIA (Gemological Institute of America) revolutionized the diamond industry in 1955 with its Diamond Grading Report. Based on the 4Cs of diamonds and International Diamond Grading System™, both of which GIA created, the grading report provides a comprehensive analysis of quality and authenticity for [see more]
Electronic Kanban for Faster Turns, Reduced Inventory Improves Top Supplier in Commercial Trucking
Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG), one of the world’s top suppliers of cabs and cab-related parts for the commercial trucking industry, needed to automate its implementation of kanban, a demand driven method of inventory replenishment, because the company’s manual approach to the method was complex, time-consuming, and error-prone. CVG implemented Ultriva electronic kanban, a fully automated solution based on Microsoft server and development technologies. Within just a few months of deployment at two of its plants, CVG saw turns increased, inventory reduced, and associates at all levels, within CVG and suppliers, better collaborating and communicating toward company objectives of total quality production, lean manufacturing, and elimination of waste. [see more]
Simultaneous Improvement: Safety and Productivity
Leading businesses know that safety is not incompatible with efficiency; as a best practice safety enhances productivity. Safety is a competitive advantage since the majority of serious accidents involve stability incidents and vehicular collisions with pedestrians. New safety systems integrate technology with intelligent speed control, vehicle tracking, and pedestrian tracking that can provide both improved safety and increased productivity. [see more]
Automation: Salary Survey Results for 2008
Great news! In one year, the average overall salary jumped from $83,623 to $88,252...roughly a 5.5% increase since 2007. I've always said that with the skills shortage in our industry, automation professionals will be in higher demand and, as a result, they will be able to command higher salaries. This is proof of that trend. [see more]
How Real (Floating Point) and 32-bit Data is Encoded in Modbus RTU Messages
The article discusses some of the typical difficulties encountered when handling 32-bit data types via Modbus RTU and offers practical help for solving these problems. The point-to-point Modbus protocol is a popular choice for RTU communications if for no other reason that it’s basic convenience. The protocol itself controls the interactions of each device on a Modbus network, how device establishes a known address, how each device recognizes its messages and how basic information is extracted from the data. In essence, the protocol is the foundation of the entire Modbus network. [see more]
Best Automation Solution for SAP Users: Outsourcing an eCommerce B2B Website
Since outsourced B2B eCommerce firms do only one thing, there are no distractions from ensuring that firms succeed with B2B eCommerce projects. Some organizations have such unique requirements that it may be impossible to outsource B2B (business to business) eCommerce websites. According to Sam Bayer, Founder and CEO of b2b2dot0, "Some control-oriented organizations have the illusion that if you do it yourself, you're more in control. Never entering into their decision making process is the reality that with added control comes additional responsibilities and costs. Like anything else in life there are trade-offs and every situation is unique." [see more]
Warehouse Automation Becomes Essential for Direct Selling Firms
Direct selling is a growing industry. Sales in the U.S. have more than doubled in the last decade to more than $30 billion and are now more than $100 billion worldwide reports the Direct Selling Association (DSA.) People from literally all walks of life, of all ages, are successful in direct sales. Many people start part-time, and later leave other careers when direct selling becomes more lucrative. [see more]
Moving Toward Best-in-Class
Evan Miller, President of SPC (statistical process control) Hertzler Systems, recently sponsored an Aberdeen Group benchmark report titled Event Driven Manufacturing Intelligence – Creating Closed Loop Performance Management. Miller wanted to differentiate Best-in-Class (BIC) performers from Average or Laggard performers. To derive these data the percentage of BIC performers who practiced specific behaviors were divided by the percentage of Average performers using the same behavior; this measurement provided “Impact.” [see more]
The Unsung Hero of Automation
Sure, the Engineer is proud of his HMI, highlighting the realism in his displays, the color coordination of his data and the mastery of his navigation… And then there is the plant manager, gushing over his KPI dashboard and how effectively the plant is running with the implementation of his new MES solution . The historian and analytic solution get all the credit when a plant control crisis is averted. Does anyone ever think to thank the lowly driver? Without data, the HMI is just a pretty picture, and the best analytics in the world are only ideas without any basis in fact. And, you spend tens or hundreds of thousands on that, while the driver budget isn't even a line item on the spec sheet… [see more]
Double Output with Same Staff: Engineer-to-Order Manufacturers Find Productivity Solutions
Increasing capacity by adding new staff should be the last option for a manager, rather than the first. New staff immediately increases operating costs for the firm by utilizing management time dedicated to the hiring process, the employees’ salary as well as substantial hiring fees. New employees also require added resources such as office space, computers, training, and supervision. Not all new employees survive the first year which is also costly. Even a successful new employee, particularly in key technical departments such as Engineering and Manufacturing, require many months of experience before they can be 100% productive. [see more]
Labor Benefits Achieved with Automated Traceability
The labor benefits from traceability are significant. Many food companies use piece rate systems to pay employees. Most of the systems are manual – both for collecting information and calculating the payroll. Often these manual systems require that the employees self-report the number of cartons packed via a form they provide to a supervisor. The supervisor visually reviews the form and then files it with the payroll department, which has a clerk enter the data into a computer system. [see more]
OPC UA Enables Business Intelligence – To Be or Not To Be?
Most people recognize famous quotes, but many people don’t know the play they’re from or the context they fit into. The same can be said for many familiar application terms from industry. Business Intelligence (BI) is a popular term describing the result of in-depth analysis of detailed business data from various systems. CRM, ERP, SCM and other competitive technologies all provide data and analysis, but how can these systems be unified into a complete business-wide decision platform? Just as words and phrases organized together create a classic work of art, [see more]
The Next Phase of Lean: Returnable Packaging
Fortune 500 businesses, particularly automotive Tier 1 manufacturing suppliers, consumer product manufacturers, scrap steel businesses, and distribution and freight companies, are utilizing returnable packaging services as the next phase in a lean manufacturing initiative. Having maximized many of the plant floor operations, it is precisely this type of creative packaging purchase that empowers independent used equipment dealers, used equipment liquidators, and industrial end-users to eliminate another significant element of waste in their business model. [see more]
The Test: Benchmarking the Best Nest
Benchmarking against a current method of producing parts using real world requirements is the only efficacious way to determine if new methods, such as Vision Emulation and Multi-Dimensional-Combinatorial-Nesting technology, are indeed improvements. Always having the highest level of automated productivity and cost cutting technology is quantifiable. Quantify a specific number of parts that are actually used in production; only then can optimized manufacturing metrics be compared and the best nest discovered. [see more]
Regional Manufacturing Expos : Cost-Effective and Hands-On
Conferences, Webinars, and Expos, oh my. Deciding which events are worthwhile for manufacturing engineers and buyers to attend sometimes feels like Dorothy in the woods en route to OZ. Too often tradeshows are for the benefit of exhibition companies, webinars to simply promote a software product, and conferences lack any dynamism or little more than a rehash of last year’s content.. [see more]
Overall Equipment Efficiency from 65% to 75% Shown at Pollak-APD
“In a data driven society, automated data collection is a must,” says John Foley, Network Administrator for Engineering Systems, of Pollak-APD (Actuator Products Division), a Stoneridge, Inc company. “The quicker we get information in hand, the better-off we are.” [see more]
Two Years Later: A Look at the Demand Driven Supply Chain Technology
Materials and Plant Managers improve productivity through automation of repetitive, time-consuming management functions as well as elimination of waste built into manual kanban card process. In a Demand Driven Supply Chain (DDSC) there is instant availability of real-time inventory data as well as an automatic calculation of proper replenishment levels. Much has changed since first writing about Demand Driven Supply Chain issues and technology in the past two years since first authoring a feature for [see more]
Transactional Six Sigma Must Maintain Productivity Gains
Six Sigma projects are often hampered by the high cost of acquiring and managing data. Black Belts often invest significant effort in collecting data for the Define and Measure phases. But they risk losing those hard-won productivity gains during the Control Phase if process owners can not sustain costly and time-consuming data collection tasks over the long-term. [see more]
PLC Training and Education
Recent studies claim that the global demand for automation propels the PLC market and, as we know, tied with any technology comes its training and education. Currently the industry is concerned with minimizing the learning times and cutting down the costs associated with the training and education, however in this competitive environment that the industry is living, now, more then ever, there is the need to come up with fresh and inventive solutions..... [see more]
With or without you?
If the Process Control vendor world was one great big outdoor rock concert, Honeywell would have to be U2. Both are absolutely huge and supremely confident, almost everyone is familiar with their line-up, most people take a liking to them, but not everyone cares for their bold strut or their particular brand of politics. The enduring parallel between the two, however, is that both redefine themselves through constant innovation to stay relevant within rapidly changing industries. [see more]
Automation Proves Paramount in Food Sector Profitability
New food industry dynamics require that sustainability must be a priority; in an era of cost-cutting food automation, food operations professionals, from plant managers to quality managers, must implement innovative technologies and form alliances with outside experts. One of the central distinctions of food automation is developing the right mix of innovative niche food products and line expansions which produce the best bottom line impact. [see more]
OPC and DCOM: 5 Things You Need To Know
OPC technology relies on Microsoft's COM and DCOM to exchange data between automation hardware and software; however it can be frustrating for new users to configure DCOM properly. If you have ever been unable to establish an OPC connection or transfer OPC data successfully, the underlying issue is likely DCOM-related. This whitepaper discusses the steps necessary to get DCOM working properly and securely. [see more]
Exporting To Europe Proves Manufacturing Profit Center for 2008
The dollar, having steadily lost value against major currencies over the past few years, has helped exports; the weak dollar will only continue to make local goods more affordable around the world and give exporters an advantage against otherwise competitive European rivals. From technology manufacturing companies to medical devices manufacturers, all are poised to experience significant international sales benefits in 2008 as long as the marketing support tools are positioned and measurable. [see more]
There’s OPC in Them There Oil Fields
Anyone in the oil industry will have heard of the Canadian Tar Sands. Alberta is the largest producer of conventional crude oil, synthetic crude, natural gas and gas products in Canada. The providence is best known for its oil sands deposits located in the north, which span over 40,000 square kilometers and contains an estimated trillion barrels of bitumen. That represents a lot of equipment, spread over a vast area that require reliable realtime data monitoring and control. Many companies are using OPC connectivity to meet the challenges associated with coaxing this oil out of the ground. [see more]
Continued Process Improvement Cubed
Three years since their initial purchase, Follett Ice continues to demonstrate that replenishment-based supply chain is fundamental to business efficiency. Reduced inventory levels, supply chain integration, and increased turns all eliminate waste and serve as hallmarks for continued process improvement. Follett Ice’s senior purchasing agent, Jeff Craig wisely identified the key variables when selecting a demand driven supply chain three years ago... [see more]
Winds of Change - Using OPC in Guaranteed Data Delivery for Wind Farms
Standardizing access with OPC supplies a better way to manage wind performance and control assets. OPC products that gather high-resolution, real-time data gives the end user far more capability to analyze and affect the operation of the wind farm, than the currently used technology. Using OPC HDA technology guarantees the data is always available, regardless of how hard the wind is blowing. [see more]
Lean Automation Optimization Found in the Mobile Warehouse
While change is often difficult, a change in technology systems, processes, and culture need not difficult for employees. Adoption of new lean solutions must be a central element of strategic planning and operations automation excellence. By minimizing the learning curve on new processes and technologies .. [see more]
Woodworking Automation:Manufacturing Execution System Solutions
According Tony Parkinson, CFO of Hollywood Woodwork, in Hollywood Florida, “We were finding it harder and harder to hire experienced estimators that truly knew our industry and we were spending an inordinate amount of time developing estimators from within the company. We were concerned that ...... [see more]
VRM, Six Sigma, and Automation
Vendor Relationship Management or VRM is the reciprocal of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). VRM provides manufacturing enterprises a wide range of technological tools for efficient vendor interactions that benefit both the manufacturer and the vendor. In Lynne Hambleton’s new Prentice Hall text Treasure Chest of Six Sigma Growth Methods, Tools, and Best Practices, the author quickly defines that, “A method establishes the foundation for how work gets accomplished. It defines the who, what, when, where, by and how of a process; wherein a process describes a series of logically sequenced tasks to complete work.” [see more]
ETO Manufacturers Learn to Track
Brunt Associates is an architectural millwork firm based in Wixom, Michigan. The company experienced significant growth and needed to upgrade its software system yet required a solution that could address the unique issues facing a company in the woodworking industry. “We are a carpentry and millwork company. We manufacture and install our own product,” said Brian Brunt, vice president. “Ours is a second generation, family-owned business. My father, Denis Brunt, founded the company over twenty years ago, originally as a carpenter contractor. I took the company into manufacturing and architectural woodworking, quite simply because the market was there. All of the jobs we were bidding had components of woodworking in them. It just made sense to start manufacturing.” [see more]
Creating Secure OPC Architectures
OPC represents an easy to use, ubiquitous, reliable method of communication. As a result of it being based on DCOM; it is well known by security professionals, but unfortunately is also known by virus writers and hackers. Layers of security mean that should one part of the system be compromised, the rest will remain secure. Typical layers used include: physical business layer security, physical process layer security, exposure to the internet, business to process layer traversal, OPC architecture security, DCOM configuration, login security, firewalls, etc...... [see more]
The Practical Organization of Automated Software Testing
Automation is not an island unto itself. It requires a solid testing infrastructure and a thoughtful software testing life cycle that are both supported and valued by the corporate culture. To begin, there is the automated testing system itself. It must be designed to support reusable module and one point maintenance. It must be very flexible and easy to update. The testing infrastructure includes a dedicated test lab, a good bug tracking system, standard test case format, and comprehensive test plans. [see more]
Automation: Salary Survey Results for 2007
The results of our 2007 salary survey are in with interesting observations and Good news! In two years, the average overall salary jumped from $76,926 to $83,623...roughly a 4% increase per year. It pays to obtain an advanced degree (or even attend some graduate school)...those with an advanced degree have a $9,993 higher annual salary ($93,631) than those with a bachelor's degree ($83,638). An overwhelming percentage (79%) of respondents said they were either very ..... [see more]
ERP for Process Manufacturing is Rare
Process manufacturing is a relatively small market compared to markets such as discrete manufacturing, retail and professional services; the size of the market is commensurate with the few quality software solutions for process manufacturers, whereas discrete manufacturing, retail and professional services have hundreds of software solutions, from entry level through Tier One. [see more]
Reducing Energy Costs: Drying Efficiently
The economic optimization of dryer operations requires improvements in both the routine continuous operation and changeovers. In both operational modes, the real-time visibility of processing provides the key to optimization. The optimization processes during changeovers are complex and nearly impossible to get perfect, however the largest improvements are found when correcting avoidable human mistakes. These errors are best discovered with real-time visibility of operations [see more]
OPC – Paving the Road to Interoperability
When the majority of the top Fortune 500 companies are using a technology, it’s usually safe to say it’s more than just a coincidence. Companies like ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart, Ford, General Electric, Dell and Pfizer span a wide range of industries and businesses who are using OPC to solve the their problems. So what is driving OPC? [see more]
Integrating OPC into Building Automation – The Latest Trend
OPC (OLE for Process Control) is a published connectivity standard that has become the de facto standard embraced by the process control industry because of the tremendous benefits it offers. However, these benefits are not unique to process control; they can be seen within other market segments such as discrete manufacturing, equipment monitoring and control, utilities and, recently, building automation and security. [see more]
A Distributor Turns A Network Disaster into Operational Success
Being able to quickly respond to customer requirements is key to a distributor. Having reliable data that is easily accessible is a vital part of any distributors business. Don Beisswanger, President of Pacific Southwest Sales, faced a very unfortunate situation. His current business software was suddenly inoperable and he needed to find a software solution that would be quick to implement as well as sufficiently robust enough to accommodate the company’s expansion for years to come...... [see more]
Effective Product Development Outsourcing - Factors for Success
Outsourcing is much more than a trend. Companies, in their zeal for a competitive edge, outsource virtually all non-core activities including manufacturing, IT, accounting, sales, human resources and other functions. Engineering and product development are among the last areas affected by this phenomenon. Can new product development (NPD) outsourcing be effective and economical? Why are companies doing it? Is it worth it? What are the issues that prevent businesses from maximizing potential? [see more]
Winning the Battle for Interoperability
Achieving interoperability of some products is more like a running skirmish against hostile opposition -- painful and costly. Getting all sides to comply with the rules and best practices of interoperability can be an uphill battle at times. To combat the problem, the OPC Foundation has created the OPC Enhanced Certification Program... [see more]
Putt's Law and the Successful Technorat:How to Win in the Information Age
Putt's Law: "Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand." Written by an industry leader in R&D management, this title examines the above law by following the (often humorous) business development of both types of individuals in a Research and Development setting. [see more]
Molding and Extrusion Require Skilled Labor
Since much of the molding and extrusion has been sent offshore, the specific skills required have migrated to other process industries and have adapted outside of plastics manufacturing. With fewer production facilities in the US, the pool of prospective recruits has diminished significantly. [see more]
Document Searches Should NOT Defy Lean Operations
Tom sheds some light about the average information worker who spends more than thirteen hours per week creating documents and nearly seven hours per week organizing documents; an additional four hours per week are spent managing document routing and another ten hours per week searching for information. All this time searching for documents is negatively impacting the productivity, bottom-line, and lean operations of most North American manufacturers. [see more]
Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) Algorithm
A lot of papers, articles, and guides have been written over the recent years addressing Continuous Process Improvement (CPI). However very few address methodologies related to the improvement of the process itself, that is, the processing of the metrics used to measure the effectiveness of a process. The methodology proposed in this paper can be applied to any processes i.e. manufacturing, management, software development, financial, etc. [see more]
Compliance for Dairy and Food Processing Leads to Lean Automation Advancements
Tom sheds some light on a need for technology solutions which provide real-time operations intelligence to provide dairy processing plant management and staff with visibility of product loss, wasted energy, or other inefficiencies, allowing them to take timely corrective actions......Tracking of all product flows, all equipment uses, CIP and other non-production as well as production modes, and all possible co-mingling of products or contaminants is core to the functionality of safety and automation in the dairy industry. [see more]
Lean Warehouse Control Systems Transform Distribution Centers
Production losses, increased cost, and inefficient pick and pack methods, can drain capital resources and precious time. Getting the advantage and sustaining that effort, it is essential to streamline the order fulfillment rule process from time of order receipt to the time of shipping. Efficiently organizing order fulfillment rules and procedures can reduce cost, reduce order cycle time, and optimize labor...... [see more]
Quality Welders: Short Supply Drives New Hiring Practices
There is an overall shortage of skilled tradespeople impacting industries worldwide as production of industrial machinery grows at record levels; securing parts to build industrial goods has become a challenge......... [see more]
Moving from “Just in Case” to Just-in-Time
To ensure there were enough raw materials for production, Superior Quality Foods operated “Just in Case”, rather than Just-in-Time. Although the company was growing, poor inventory control was impacting profitability. Albert Barriga, vice-president of operations, explained the problem: “We just didn’t have any confidence in our inventory control systems. We would always double check regardless of what the system said.” [see more]
Choosing the right Process Calculation Solution
Dane examines the various Process Calculation Solutions and pro and cons of different OPC Calculation Engines. Process Calculations can add valuable insight into how a plant, process, or unit is functioning. This can lead to higher efficiency, reduced waste, more effective maintenance, higher quality, reduced emissions, quicker turnarounds, and reduced energy usage…… [see more]
Facing Competitive Global Manufacturing
More than fifty years ago, 1952 to be precise, B&K Corporation (with plants located in Saginaw and Fenton Michigan) began designing and building assembly and test systems for the automotive industry.... [see more]
Overall Equipment Effectiveness: Key to Manufacturing Quality
Manufacturers with aggressive automation process are facing competitive price pressure, shrinking brand loyalty, and increasing costs. Compliance constraints are impacting business efficiencies while quality expenditures continue to increase. [see more]
New Process Changes Automation:Printed Circuit Board Technology Solutions
The Printed Circuit Board (PCB) industry is focused on solutions which bring significant Time-to-Market and Time-to-Volume benefits to the global electronics interconnect industry by allowing manufacturers to access and act on the best, the most accurate and up-to-date information..... [see more]
Industrial CRM: An Area of Neglect
With up to ten years of continued process improvements on the plant floor, back office, and distribution operations, manufacturers have finally arrived at the front door of customer relationship management (CRM). Still engineering and operations focused, many senior manufacturing executives are strongly resistant and visibly uncomfortable..... [see more]
Booming MES - Grand Challenge$ - Grand Opportunitie$
Now as the infrastructure of MMI-Scada widely exists, MES applications are easier to implement, and can easily relay data and information up and down the enterprise. MES can also be used for tracking purposes, as it can produce reports detailing the raw materials that went into an item, as well as each process it went through.... [see more]
ERP Suppliers Focusing Vertically
ERP (enterprise resource planning) software vendors can no longer attempt to be everything to everyone. To better serve their manufacturing clients and survive economically, ERP vendors are employing a variety of vertical marketing segmentation tactics to position themselves as leaders within a specific target market.... [see more]
Secure your Plant Data with SSL or VPN
Industry users are concerned about how to transfer senstive plant data and what are different secure ways. Main stream Web-Based Tools for accessing, analyzing and visualizing Production information with sophisticated trending and reporting capabilities started to work on it and many already offering Secure Sockets Layer.... [see more]
Component Based Rapid OPC Application Development Platform
OPC /3/ has changed the world. It has made it possible to use device and equipment data in PC applications without the need to write vendor specific device drivers, etc. However, this is only the beginning: it will still require a lot of work before the applications are built, because software development is complicated and a typical OPC application needs to do a lot more than just communicate with an OPC Server... [see more]
A NEW Vision - Industrial robots once were blind, but now they see
They possess a human’s ability to see, adjust to changing environments and plan ahead. When combined with a machine’s accuracy and untiring efficiency, significant manufacturing efficiencies are realized.”..............“Manufacturers have been spending billions of dollars each year on custom-made, complex, accurate fixturing devices to present parts to blind robots for processing.... [see more]
A growing Ethernet Challenge on the Plant Floor
There is a growing challenge on the plant floor if you haven’t experienced it yet, I am sure you will soon. A study by ARC predicts that the number of factory floor devices with an IP address is going to TRIPLE in the next four years and those devices are pushing lower and lower into the controls architecture… from systems, to sub-systems down to sensors… so Ethernet equipment with an IP addresses are increasing rapidly.... [see more]
The Lord of the Industrial Ethernet Ring
Ethernet has become nearly as common on the factory floor as PLCs. In many cases, along with this need for Ethernet connectivity is the need for fault-tolerant network redundancy. Automation and control engineers have been forced into this IT domain and really don’t want to get too involved with the idiosyncrasies and maintenance of Ethernet networks, especially redundant networks..... [see more]
Intelligence in a New Age
Evolution took millions of years to progress to the development of primates and then Homo sapiens. Over the past ten thousand years, intrinsic human intelligence has changed very little - Socrates would probably have scored at genius level on the tanford-Binet intelligence test. [see more]
New Coriolis Technology solves traditional flow measurement problems
Coriolis technology offers unprecedented accuracy and reliability in measuring material flow. It may be the most superior flow measurement technology. However, conventional Coriolis meters have had one significant limitation: They haven't performed well in measuring two-phase flow conditions, flow that involves a combination of gas and liquid mass. Two-phase flow can cause process interruptions and measurement inaccuracies that can significantly affect production and profitability. Recent developments in digital Coriolis technology overcome ..... [see more]
Power over Ethernet - The Industrial Opportunity Today
A Position Paper by GarrettCom, Inc. May 2005 The Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard, which was adopted in June of 2003, allows users to power devices over Ethernet cabling. It was originally developed to support wireless technology in areas where the cost of providing – or the physical impossibility of deploying – electrical wiring limited its deployment potential. As such, PoE has contributed to wireless market growth because it simplifies the RF survey task: access points can be easily moved because the requirement of locally-accessible AC power is removed. [see more]
The NEW GE Corporate Culture
Under former CEO Jack Welch (now retired), the skills GE prized most were deal-making, cost-cutting and efficiency. In 2002 CEO Jeff Immelt, then 46, was Jack Welch's anointed successor. Now in a vastly different business environment, Jeff Immelt is turning GE's culture upside down. [see more]
The NEW Honeywell Culture
The "old" Honeywell had developed over the past century as a respectable, though plodding, Minneapolis-based company. It merged with Allied Signal and was almost bought by GE. Now under the leadership of CEO David Cote, Roger Fradin (ACS) and Jack Bolick (Process Systems), how is the NEW Honeywell doing? Weblog on this topic Honeywell Weblog Go visit the Honeywell weblog. Read the comments from many others, giving their own views and feedback. And you may wish to weblog your own comments. [see more]
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