MoldMaking Technology

SEP 2018

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Software 20 MoldMaking Technology —— SEPTEMBER 2018 By Sanjay Thakore Images courtesy of Autodesk. One approach to smart manufacturing is using a single, cloud-based tool for production scheduling, job tracking and CNC machine monitoring. Using Real-Time Production Data S mart manufacturing, also known as Industry 4.0, refers to a wide range of practices that use advanced technolo- gies in a variety of combinations, from robotics and automation to additive manufacturing and cloud computing to big data and analytics. For mold builders, some of these practices are common- place, while others have yet to be adopted. However, one approach that virtually all mold manufacturers can benefit from is using real-time production data to make informed decisions and to improve performance. In theory, this means gaining a unified view of every job across production, which makes it much easier to plan work, adapt to changes and find ways to run the shop floor more efficiently. In the context of smart manufacturing, it is more appropri- ate to imagine smart manufacturing's potential impact on the everyday challenges of producing high-quality molds on time and on a budget, rather than a far-away future state that may or may not be feasible for your shop to achieve. Assessing the Everyday Challenges Every shop is familiar with the difficulty of managing the fol- lowing processes throughout each work day. Scheduling. Planning and tracking jobs through production can be a challenge because it often involves multiple busi- nesses working on different phases of a mold at different times or in different time zones. In other cases, shops rely on time- consuming, manual processes, such as custom spreadsheets or the more traditional paper-and-pencil method. These elements make it difficult for you to see what is happening at any given moment with any given job. When you cannot see what jobs are in the process, it becomes that much more difficult for you to predict work- loads relative to available capacity. Mismatches can lead to poor scheduling, lower throughput and missed opportunities. Many shops work around this by having someone run from machine to machine checking job status, but that is inefficient and imprecise. Managing changes. In the real world, manufacturing is rarely a smooth and uninterrupted process that always moves forward as planned. Customers change their orders. Suppliers miss deadlines. Parties do no communicate critical informa- tion. Data is inaccurate. CNC machines and tools break. You must deal with these variables quickly, or a waterfall of conse- quences can turn a small issue into a delay that compromises your shop's profitability or even your reputation. Improving performance. Reliable data is the foundation of process improvement. Today, it is a constant struggle to find the data that you need on things like downtime durations for Real-time dashboards of CNC equipment provide instant updates on in- cycle status, helping identify immediate issues.

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