New Smart Attend software tracks factory operations
Smart Attend, which makes production-monitoring software, unveiled its new Prism ERP (enterprise resource planning) system at NPE2018.
“This is a complete turnkey operation to turn a factory into a completely paperless digital operation,” said Max Preston, director of sales and marketing. “We are able to completely track everything from material coming in to processing that material to part production to the completed quality-control checks.”
The software currently is in beta testing at Axiom Group Inc. injection molding plants, and it will be available to additional customers early next year, Preston said. The plants and Smart Attend share the same owner.
Tablets beside each machine record operator hours, including the amount of time the worker has been at the station, machine run time and information about stoppage conditions. Workers can scan information about parts and scrap into the system, so that it can track both production and waste. Supervisors on the floor, as well as upper management, can view machine metrics from their computers, tablets or smartphones.
“From this production aspect, we can see what the expected part counts are, what the actual part counts have been, and this is our scrap information that gets updated live via several sensors on the machine itself,” Preston said. “If the machine is currently in an alarm scenario, we can see right here what the alarm is going to be.”
Though it can be used as a stand-alone product, Prism normally is integrated with Smart Attend production-monitoring software. This improves the accuracy of the data it collects because machine run times and production cycles are imported from the Smart Attend software, reducing the input errors that sometimes arise with human interaction. Additionally, since Smart Attend is connected directly to the machines, it can provide notifications of equipment issues to the personnel on the floor who can resolve those issues. Together, the software can identify how each operator is performing, and track scrap rates for each machine, post-production quality checks and how much raw material is going into each machine.
As a full ERP system, Prism controls all aspects of the company’s operation, including shipping and receiving, inventory, production, accounting, quality control, traceability and asset management.
“Essentially, we’ve completely automated assigning parts to machines and also assigning the expectations of how many parts we have to make, what our part quantity is and what our cycle times are,” Preston said. “There is no more assigning things manually. Prism does everything automatically from front to back.”
One of the benefits of Prism is helping plant operators find gaps between the number of parts that they anticipated producing on a particular machine versus the number of parts that actually were produced. The software keeps track of how many times an injection molding machine opens and how many finished parts are scanned into the system after they are boxed.
Using this information, Prism calculates expected production and compares that to actual production to generate efficiency percentages for each machine.
“That deviation is very important information for a factory to know,” Preston said. “It allows us to control our production tighter. It allows us to understand where our gaps are, if we have high scrap rates or if our operators aren’t scanning parts in properly.”
Plant operators and employees also can use Prism as a platform to view documents and videos relevant to their work. For example, they can upload videos about the machines they use to the platform.
“They can view documents pertinent to the job they are running now or in the future, health and safety documents, human resources documents, and, of course, training videos,” Preston said. “If they want some extra training on the machine itself or on how to properly trim a part or look for defects in a part coming off the machine, this is all on Prism.”
Smart Attend’s relationship with Axiom manufacturing facilities has helped it develop the software.
“We have 200 beta testers [machine operators], who come back and say this works, and this doesn’t work,” said Ed Fischer, application developer at Axiom Group, who has been working with a team on developing the software. “It has been tremendous for us.”
Bruce Geiselman, senior staff reporter
Smart Attend Inc.
Aurora, Ontario, 866-210-9630,