How Smart, Connected Products are Transforming Competition

Information technology is revolutionizing products. Once composed solely of mechanical and electrical parts, products have become complex systems that combine hardware, sensors, data storage, microprocessors, software, and connectivity in myriad ways.

These “smart, connected products” – made possible by vast improvements in processing power and device miniaturization and by the network benefits of ubiquitous wireless connectivity – have unleashed a new era of competition.

Please see the attached article from Harvard Business Review: How Smart Connected Products Are Transforming Competition

To go to the homepage of Harvard Business Review, please click here.

OEE Interview with Robert Hansen

If you are looking to improve the efficiency of your manufacturing operation, this interview by Ryan Hildebrandt of Plant Clarity and OEE author and consultant Robert Hansen, will highlight the financial link to OEE data and help you avoid common pitfalls when starting to monitor OEE. Robert is the author of “Overall Equipment Effectiveness: A Powerful Production/Maintenance Tool for Increased Profits” and has helped numerous factories implement an OEE monitoring and continuous improvement strategy.

In the interview, Robert and Ryan cover:

  • A quick back-of-the-napkin calculation to show you whether your operation is right for OEE monitoring
  • How to ensure there is buy-in and excitement for monitoring OEE at each level of your organisation
  • Why collecting OEE data manually (rather than with an automatic link to the machines) may be a waste of time
  • If you’re already monitoring OEE but haven’t seen any results, what you may be doing wrong
  • What profit increases you should be seeing as a result of monitoring OEE (and what to do if you’re not)

The interview is broken down into 10 questions, and therefore 10 short video segments, in the playlist below.

Boosting Machine Tool Productivity

Canadian Metalworking Magazine – November 2014

From cutting edge to common sense. This article explains how monitoring machines can solve a lot of issues on the plant floor and increase productivity.

To see the full article, please click here, and flip to page 34.

Mazak Unveils Next Generation iSMART Factory Concept

Modern Machine Tools – November 24, 2014

Yamazaki Mazak headquarters in Aichi, Japan, has recently announced its new forward-thinking Mazak iSMART Factory concept. A dynamic, ongoing and limitless concept, the next-generation iSMART Factory represents Mazak’s all-encompassing manufacturing vision. Mazak will eventually designate all ten of its manufacturing operations as iSMART Factories, the first being the Oguchi factory in Japan and now the North American factory in Florence, Kentucky.

The Mazak iSMART Factory uses advanced manufacturing cells and systems together with full digital integration to achieve free-flow data sharing in terms of process control and operation monitoring. In the iSMART Factory, the MTConnect® open communications protocol works with process support software and provides connectivity and the capability to monitor then harvest data from all the different production floor machines, cells, devices and processes.

Through PCs and portable electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, both management and manufacturing easily access the same real-time manufacturing data to improve overall productivity efficiency and responsiveness to customer/market changes.

“For Mazak, iSMART Factory is a vision – the complete digital integration of the factory with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, automation and advanced manufacturing practices. The name establishes a philosophy – a credo of sorts for Mazak that is unique to our operations but symbolizes our commitment toward the ultimate smart factory,” said Brian Papke, president of Mazak Corporation. “While the name is new, our U.S. factory has long demonstrated a commitment to growth and technological advancement, with a critical part of that strategy being such factors as plant-wide connectivity, automation and optimized production flow. At Mazak, benefits have and continue to be significant increases in machine utilization, shorter throughput times, elimination of non-value added operations, Production-On-Demand capability and more efficient part machining.”

In Kentucky, full simultaneous 5-axis, Multi-Tasking and DONE IN ONE® machining technologies, advanced automation that allows for different machines within the same cell and innovative machining systems highlight Mazak’s North American iSMART Factory operations. Also under the iSMART Factory umbrella in Kentucky, a fully automated paint line provides the versatility to completely change over from one color to the next very quickly and will be digitally monitored through the same technology.

Additionally, all the various manufacturing systems in the plant are designed for fast changeovers and allow for producing in small lot sizes and with a higher mix of components. The systems are also all integrated to the MTConnect standard, and further advances in 2015 will incorporate the factory floor data with Mazak’s ERP system.

To see the full article, please click here.