Companies find faster, easier ways to manage information
As the technologies to collect machine and business data expand and improve, companies that turn all those ones and zeros into business insights are in demand. Information technology companies, including InTouch Monitoring and CyFrame, brought their software solutions to NPE2018, where they touted selling points such as ease of use and cost-effectiveness.
InTouch Monitoring, which makes production-tracking software, has expanded its portfolio with its business intelligence software. The add-on software, known as MESi — which stands for Manufacturing Execution System intelligence — provides both real-time and historical analytics and reporting about production, energy consumption, labor and material usage and other variables.
It works with sensors supplied by InTouch and other vendors that can collect data in numerous ways via digital or analog outputs, OPC-UA and direct-to-PLC interfaces. Applicable machines include thermoformers, injection and blow molding machines, extruders, and downstream and auxiliary equipment.
Regional sales manager Andy Jewell said the customizable software can be used to track operations, such as assembly and parts production, at an unlimited number of machines at any number of plants, either on site or remotely. To him, the company’s strongest selling point is the simplicity of its products. Some plants fail to fully benefit from competing software, simply because it’s too hard to use.
“If you don’t get it right from the first few weeks of implementation, you can lose a lot of enthusiasm,” Jewell said.
To make sure plants get the most out of their InTouch products, he said the company provides a lot of “hand-holding and TLC.”
With the data, the company says users can achieve higher productivity; improve throughputs and quality; and reduce costs, downtime, scrap and energy consumption.
In addition to launching new software, the company also has rolled out new high-resolution, feature-rich interfaces offering Wi-Fi and the ability to view centrally controlled videos and documentation. With the interfaces, users can more easily tie all types of key manufacturing data together to integrate the shop floor with the front office.
CyFrame, which already offers a fully integrated enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) package, has rolled out its Core ERP-MES, targeting companies with between 20 and 75 employees. The option is appropriate for plants that previously could not justify investing in a full ERP or MES package.
“This solution is a toned-down version that excludes the financial accounting suite and advanced features like warehouse management inventory by location,” said Rick Dunne, director of sales for CyFrame, who demonstrated the product at NPE2018. While it doesn’t offer all the modules of a complete ERP solution, Core ERP-MES has something to offer smaller shops — it’s attainable.
“This Core ERP-MES is intended as an entry level into the main ERP so that molders/extruders can quickly attain these critical business benefits much faster and at less cost,” Dunne said.
Like CyFrame’s complete ERP package, Core ERP-MES uses information pulled from primary machines and equipment used to tag parts, scrap and rejects. Such equipment can include label printers and scanners used to track parts and materials. It uses a master PLC controller from Siemens.
“It’s really a universal solution that we provide,” Dunne said.
Though designed for smaller shops, Core ERP-MES can pull data from across multiple sites. Based on the data it collects, it can calculate key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide analysis regarding production scheduling, material usage, tracking, production efficiency and profitability.
Even processors with older machines that do not employ PLCs can take advantage of the information collected by devices such as bar-code guns to track and compare actual vs. intended production.
And, unlike many ERP solutions, Core ERP-MES offers real-time metrics, he said.
“We’re talking about bringing the results a lot faster with a lot less complexity at easily half the cost,” he said.
Typically, Dunne said, new users need about two or three months to set up an ERP system. CyFrame takes that burden off its customers; it sends experts to its customers to handle setup — a process that takes about a week.
“We’re really bringing a much more streamlined, more aggressive approach.”
In addition to releasing Core ERP-MES, the company also recently updated its ERP offerings with a new app that allows users to view KPIs with their cell phones. As people walked past the booth at NPE2018, Dunne remarked that the new app seemed to be catching on — he’d seen a person checking up on operations back home even while browsing the show.
Karen Hanna, copy editor
InTouch Monitoring Ltd.,
Northamptonshire, England, 231-903-0119,