PM Blog

How to Collect and Use Machine Data

Manufacturers have begun to shift how they view machine monitoring. They no longer want machine monitoring—they feel like they need it. But before diving in, shops should have an understanding of what types of data they can collect, and how to use this data to help drive decision making.

With so many potential data points to collect, manufacturers may think the first step is to decide what to monitor. However, according to machine monitoring software provider MachineMetrics, this is not the case. Because the architecture for gathering data is relatively inexpensive, shops don’t need to limit what they collect. Data can be collected in an efficient and cost-effective way directly from the machine, from outside systems (like CAM or ERP programs) and via sensors.

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When a shop is created to serve a specific market, it can focus on this core competency from the start, encouraging all efforts to strive for the main goal. This shop in Lake Zurich, Illinois, did just that, opening its doors only a few years ago with the sole objective of becoming a full firearms manufacturer.

DRG Manufacturing began its operations in 2016 with only five employees working a single shift. In only a few short years, the company has grown to 38 employees running two manned shifts, along with a third shift of automated cells and lathes with bar feeders running unattended.

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Production Machining’s July Digital Edition is now available. This issue features emphasis topics of Multitasking and Automation and Robots, with special Aerospace coverage. For the cover story we visit an industrial pump manufacturer that is leveraging its multitasking capabilities with other resources to promote internal efficiency.

We also go into a shop that specializes in producing aircraft parts, highlighting the process it went through to become a direct supplier to Boeing, including expanding its five-axis machining capabilities along with new software implementation.

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By: Paul Huber 7/16/2019

Developing STEM's Future Workforce

It’s a slow ride with many obstacles yet to overcome. Unfortunately, while most industrialized countries have improved their educational systems, the skill level of the average American student has not risen during the past 15 years. Our K-12 education must be improved in every state before we lose our competitive world market edge. This major roadblock is slowing down the creation of our future workforce to meet Industry 4.0 needs.

Thanks to a few private citizens, we now have alternate routes to reach our destination. Charles Vela used his STEM Institute to create a summer program for talented local youth in Washington, D.C. during the late 1950s. His science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum was quickly adopted by our nation’s educators and schools. One of his many awards was the Presidential Award of Excellence in science, mathematics and engineering mentoring presented at a White House ceremony in March 2004. Unfortunately, to date, only 17 states have implemented middle and high school STEM curriculum. Most others do not budget funds needed for hiring qualified STEM teachers.

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A bar feeder seems like a relatively simple device. The most common automation accessory in our world of high volume turning, it provides a reliable way of delivering material to the machine tool for extended periods of time, saving an operator from continually loading blanks into a chuck.

In reality, bar feeders have many nuances from one to another to make them more suitable to certain shop environments. Length and capacity are only the beginning. Other factors should be considered during the purchasing process as well.

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