Improving Equipment Utilization with vimana | Automation.com

Improving Equipment Utilization with vimana

June 102013
Improving Equipment Utilization with vimana

By Thomas R. Cutler

Curtiss Wright Controls in Shelby, NC used vimana to improve equipment utilization by over 20% in just ten weeks.  Danny Cooper, Sr. Manufacturing Manager at the company noted, “vimana allowed us to measure and understand machine tool utilization for the first time, and helped us improve our production planning and job scheduling.”

Curtiss-Wright Corporation is an innovative engineering company that provides highly engineered, critical function products, systems and services in the areas of flow control, motion control and surface treatment technologies to the defense, energy, and commercial industrial markets. The company employs approximately 10,000 people worldwide. Like other leading manufacturers, many are seeking a solution for manufacturing data collection and analysis with centralized data collection, automatic determination of machine tool utilization, and support for interfacing with different types of manufacturing equipment.

According to Will Sobel, CEO of System Insights, the firm that developed this new technology, “vimana is a standards-based software solution to monitor and manage machine tool productivity. It identifies periods of production losses using a sophisticated classification engine, and provides users with the information and insight needed to improve utilization. It includes real-time dashboards as well as historical reports and analysis; integrates with a wide range of modern and legacy factory equipment using the MTConnect open standard for machine tool data interoperability.”

Average Utilization Improvement in 4 Machine Tools in 10 Weeks of Using vimana
Graphic provided by System Insights

The 20% improvement realized by Curtiss Wright Controls was on a production cell with 4 high-end CNC-based Horizontal Milling machine tools. The firm was able to monitor production efficiency and machine utilization without manual intervention or data collection. The plant team was able to easily compare the performance across different machine tools and use this information in process planning. Use of the MTConnect standard for data collection from the machine tools greatly reduced the cost of integration and enabled support of a variety of machine tools and controller types.

Curtiss Wright Controls Flight Systems’ is the USA facility and OEM Manufacturing Center of Excellence for flight control and utility actuation product lines. The Shelby facility has ISO9001 and AS9100 certifications, and operates with an emphasis on cost-efficient production of small and medium-sized production runs of both OEM and customer designed specialized equipment. Mature program management methodologies and the effective implementation of Advanced Quality System (AQS) practices enabled the Shelby Flight Systems facility to achieve a 100% production delivery rating to customers for many years while maintaining external quality ratings typically in excess of 99.9%. The Shelby facility manufactures both military and commercial aerospace systems.

vimana: Realtime dashboards showing Device Summary
Graphic provided by System Insights

Device Details with Utilization History
Graphic provided by System Insights

This forward thinking lean operation team wanted to improve the overall utilization of machine tools at the facility; challenges still had to be addressed.  There was a lack of understanding regarding the actual production efficiency of critical shopfloor assets and manually driven data collection and reporting was cumbersome.  There was a lack of visibility and data consistency – different groups (engineering, maintenance, production) had different sets of data being used in decision-making.  There were diverse types of production equipment – difficulty in interfacing with controllers and machine tools from different builders.

Sobel suggested, “Based on these challenges, they required a manufacturing data collection and analysis system that met several requirements including centralized data collection used by all stakeholders in decision-making.  They needed an automatic determination of machine tool’s utilization and productivity without the need for any manual intervention…as wells as support for interfacing with different types of manufacturing equipment, including support for different machine tools and controllers.”

A standards-based software solution to monitor and manage machine tool productivity allowed the company to identify periods of production losses using a sophisticated classification engine, and provide users with the information and insight needed to improve utilization. By automatically keeping track of the time spent by machine tools in production and non-production, and applying advanced auto-classification techniques to assign reasons for the production losses, a real-time snapshot of shopfloor performance is achieved.  Using interactive real-time dashboards and detailed historical system performance data, presented in a variety of reports, the plant team is alerted to machine tool downtimes, failures, and other events of interest.  vimana integrates with a wide range of modern and legacy factory equipment using the MTConnect open standard for machine tool data interoperability.

Author Profile:

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com).  Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 4000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, and Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler is the most published freelance industrial journalist worldwide and can be contacted at [email protected]

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