Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Fabricator's "Why Machine Monitoring Matters" by Tim Heston

I had the privilege of speaking with Tim Heston of The Fabricator in his excellent article titled: "Why Machine Monitoring Matters".

Mr. Heston describes the importance of machine monitoring, discusses the beginnings of MTConnect and brings out numerous examples to help the reader appreciate why the time is now with machine monitoring with MTConnect in the world of fabrication makes absolute sense.

Mr. Heston writes:

"When Dave Edstrom speaks at manufacturing events, he likes to challenge his audience. He asks if anyone’s company is practicing lean manufacturing or other improvement techniques. A lot of hands go up. Next he asks how many are monitoring the uptime and performance of their equipment with overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) metrics.

“I then ask, ‘If you are doing either lean or OEE, please raise your right hand and keep it up.’ Then I say the following, ‘Please also raise your left hand if you are monitoring your shop floor. By shop floor monitoring, I do not mean simply counting good and bad parts, nor do I mean simply knowing what color is on the stack light. By shop floor monitoring, I mean the ability to know anywhere and anytime exactly what a given piece of equipment is doing in your plant or shop.’”

Not many raise their hand. He then makes a bold statement. “Unless you have both hands in the air, you might think you are doing lean or OEE, but you are not.”

Edstrom told this story in his book MTConnect: To Measure Is to Know. His point is simple, and it’s nothing new to manufacturing: If you don’t measure something, how can you improve it?"

Mr. Heston brings up numerous examples with monitoring and metal fabrication that are well worth reading and understanding. It is an extremely well written article that I would strongly encourage anyone in fabrication to read!

In the article, Mr. Heston discusses parts of my book, MTConnect: To Measure Is to Know.

"Standardization and Market Dynamics

In his book, MTConnect: To Measure Is to Know, Dave Edstrom recounts the story of William Sellers, a tool builder who back in the 1860s came up with a uniform system of screw threads. Sellers’ screw threads could be easily measured (the 60-degree threads are one-third of an equilateral triangle). The struggle wasn’t over the technical merits of the screw’s design, but whether there should be a standard at all.

Ultimately, a few large machine shops recognized the merits of Sellers’ design, and its popularity ultimately pushed industry to adopt one uniform standard.

As Edstrom wrote, “While the idea of standards was very controversial, it proved to be brilliant, because something as simple as a standard screw created many, many industries.”

As Edstrom said in an interview, “Customers [of machine tool vendors] ultimately will drive this. “They’ll say, ‘I need to know what’s happening on the shop floor, and I don’t want to spend a lot of money per device to get information off the machines in a standard format.’”

Edstrom added that an open standard like MTConnect introduces a kind of Bluetooth functionality to the machine tool world. If you don’t like your Bluetooth-enabled phone headset, you can just buy another one. Similarly, if a shop isn’t happy with its machine monitoring system, it’s free to switch to another MTConnect-enabled monitoring software."