July 16, 2015 – By Mike Bacidore, Chief Editor
Earlier this year at ARC Forum, I met Rocky Rowland, machining manager at Mazak, a Japanese-based company with its North American headquarters is in Florence, Kentucky. “We manufacture 114 different models in our facility, and our manufacturing capacity is more than 200 units/month,” said Rowland. The Kentucky campus contained 536,000 sq ft of manufacturing space, with plans to expanding to 800,000 sq ft.
Mazak provides MTConnect solutions for standardizing device data on the manufacturing floor to its customers, said Rowland, who’s been with Mazak about 20 years. “We wanted to really know what was going on with our machines,” he explained. “Our goal was to improve our OEE using the MTConnect technology. We wanted to see what stopped the machines on the production floor. We evaluated six monitoring software packages and selected Memex Automation. We wanted something simple that could monitor all of the NC signals and a reporting feature that was easy to use for the supervisors and operators, too.”
What kind of data can be monitored out of the Mazak CNC? Programs, CNC status, axis loads, spindle rpm, temperature, overrides. What kind of ROI can be expected? “Anywhere between 3% and 15%, depending on how efficient your operation currently is,” explained Rowland. In September 2013, Mazak implemented a test cell with 12 machines.
“We have our own types of software,” said Rowland. “This software was exclusive to this type of machine because of the controller type. We looked at adapters, the interface and monitoring. Since then, it’s expanded into the powder paint and assembly sides in the factory.”
Mazak wanted to understand why its machines would sometimes sit idle. “With this software, you’re able to look at the machine output across a schedule time,” said Rowland. “We’re currently using Memex software. We can look at the reports very easily. We get gauges that show different aspects of the machine and calculates OEE. The biggest thing we were looking at was runtime vs. downtime. We had detailed downtime summaries in a daily report, along with the machine efficiency numbers.”
Idle-time reduction requires operator awareness. “It’s not one operator per machine these days,” explained Rowland. “Most operators have to move about between multiple machines. We added two floor monitors, which allowed operators to see their equipment and how their actions impacted production. It added spare tooling to allow quicker changeover of tooling from shift to shift.”
The data opened Mazak’s eyes. From November to December in the test cell, there was a 26% reduction in downtime hours. Utilization was up 6.1%.
Then, from November 2013 to December 2014, utilization was up 11.4%, which is an average monthly savings of $27,506. Downtime dropped from 604 hours in November 2013 to 182 hours in December 2014.
Benefits of the MTConnect implementation included live, accurate data in real time. “You can see where different pieces of equipment are,” explained Rowland. “The biggest benefit is providing a management tool. You get immediate feedback on changes. Any asset can be utilized. Several software suppliers support the MTConnect standard.”
Mazak is now monitoring more than 30 machines. “In our fabrication department, we’re expanding monitoring to other equipment, such as CNC lasers, CNC punch presses and powder paint lines.”
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Also read: MTConnect Connectivity Guide