Category Archives: canada

Looking For Production Improvements – Then Do A Gemba Walk!

I recently went for a Gemba Walk with Ann Machan,  General Manager of Pentair. Instead of doing normal daily production meetings, their walk does everything you can do in a boardroom, plus so much more.

What is a Gemba Walk?
http://www.gembawalk.com/the-gemba-walk/

We met in her office and were explained the KPI (Key Performance Indicators) for the operation of the plant.  Each of these KPI’s are posted at each department where the work happens and are on a large white board.

The walk each morning starts at the shipping office with the rest of the staff. The operator in shipping  discusses how their department has done in the last 24 hours in relation to the KPI. Questions are raised about the next 24 hours and possible issues. Before we leave this department Ann asks a few personal questions to the shipper. He answers and they start to laugh. It is obvious that they have a good relationship in which information can flow freely.

Splitting up the group into three different teams to cover the entire plant, the walk continues. We went to three additional departments where again we were shown the KPIs and how they related to the department. Notes were taken and questions asked about possible issues and current problems. Information was exchanged from the previous days problem with the solution for one that was to be implemented that afternoon.

We assembled back all together in a central location in the plant. A large board with people’s names (Responsible for Department) was listed on the left side and twenty one numbers were written on the top representing three weeks. The current week that they were on, followed by the next two weeks. This grid pattern was where they then discussed the walk and the issues raised. To the right of the board a chart was placed. This chart contained the total number of problems/issues solved for each department and total company. A graph was also displayed showing the growing trend. Underneath this chart were the KPI charts that all showed either sustained or improved performance.

We started with the previous days issues under yesterdays date. A status update was given and the posted note was moved to either the completion clip at the side or put under a future date. When this was complete, a representative of each of the three groups when through their list of issues. These were then assigned and placed on the board. Problems that required additional investigation were discussed briefly and then the 5 why process was assigned to the person who had the greatest knowledge.

This whole process took about one hour. The Gemba walk accomplished the following:

  • Everyone’s understanding on the current company situation based upon the KPIs
  • Everyone knowing exactly what is expected
  • Everyone taking pride and knowing they are doing a good job
  • Everyone knowing someone is there to help

I found the whole experience of the Gemba walk fascinating. It is the only way that I see that you can have clear lines of communication to all staff. The way in which to grow as a company is to learn from our workers and in turn we will teach them.  It was an opportunity to:

  • See the work being done
  • Experiment with ideas
  • Learn from all parties involved
  • Explain why things are this / that way
  • Watch what is being done

Take your own Gemba walk on your production floor. Let me know how it turns out.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

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Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Lubrication basics

I recently went to a seminar on lubrication basics. This was presented by Mike Deckert of Flo Components Ltd.

So why talk about lubrication on a industrial automation website? Lubrication is vital in maintaining uptime on equipment. It is often thought of near the end of most automation projects, but it should be a principle component of all projects. If a piece of equipment moves, it will probably need lubrication. We often talk about MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) on equipment. MTBF will be very low if lubrication is neglected.

In a study conducted by a major component manufacturer, over 50% of failures are the result of improper lubrication.  (Pins and Bushing)

  • Lubrication Related Failures: 54%
    • Inadequate Lubrication – 34.4%
    • Contamination – 19.6%
  • Installation Errors – 17.7%
  • Overload – 6.9%
  • Storage and Handling Errors – 2.8%
  • Other 18.6 %

Bearings fail in a plant for many reasons. Manual lubrication is still the dominant method of lubrication for grease bearings. 95% of all bearings are manually lubed. With plant production increasing the scheduled service time between has lengthened. Maintenance staff have generally been reduced resulting in fewer people carrying out the lubrication requirements.

Lubrication has the following functions:

  • Reduce Friction
  • Reduce Wear
  • Helps Dampen Shock or Absorb Shock
  • Reduce Temperature
  • Minimize Corrosion
  • Seal out Contaminants

Lubrication interval depends on the following:

  • Metal to metal contact area of bearing
  • Environment (Application)
  • Machine Speed
  • Operating Temperature
  • Type of Grease

Not all grease is the same. Grease is a solid or semi-solid formed when a thickening agent is dispersed in the oil base. Additives give grease their final special properties. The National Lubrication Grading Index  (NLGI) will grade the grease from 000 to 6, but this is not the whole story. Always look at the manufactures specification. Base oil viscosity can be completely different but still have the same NLGI.

Why are automatic lubrication systems better?

  • Grease evenly distributed
    • The best time to grease is when the object is in motion. This spreads the grease evenly.
  • Will not over lubricate
    • Grease is delivered by measured injection. This prevents seals from blowing out.
  • Correct amount of grease is applied
    • This will ensure the maximum life of the equipment.
  • Environmentally safe

Lubrication is a vital component to automation. MTBF can be increase if we plan on ensuring that our moving parts are well maintained.

Flo Components Ltd. is an excellent company to help you understand and maintain your systems. They have a library full of information on their website.

www.flocomponents.com/Library.htm

I encourage you to check this out and make lubrication part of your automation projects. If you have any questions, or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

… and I also do PLC programming.

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) programming is often thought as something everyone can do easily. We often design the system, install the hardware and then start to think about the PLC program and programmers. This approach can be improved. The landscape of PLC programming is changing and we must also change.

Computer Programming / PLC Programming
I believe that with all of the new functions of the PLC processor, you would be better served by someone that can do additional computer programming. Ladder logic has been taught in our schools for about 20 years or more. The basic bit programming in ladder is easily understood. Connecting to the manufacturers dedicated software  shows the power flow from left to right and shows the logic solved from top to bottom.

Some applications are fine if you are just replacing a few relays, however today’s manufacturing floor must be integrated. The existing hardware in the plant must also be connected to the PLC system. This will allow connection of data logging, email, vision system, motion control, HMI, computer servers, etc.

Ladder logic and the standardization of PLC’s on the plant floor has long been a topic for discussion and debate. The benefits were that anyone can look and understand the PLC logic to troubleshoot the system. Today the PLC can do allot more. Visually it can indicate /display its own troubleshooting and diagnostics to the engineer, electrician and/or operator in a variety of ways. You no longer need the skills on the plant floor all of the time. Using HMI (Human Machine Interface), computer screens, indication lights and email, just to name a few, information can be passed for troubleshooting and diagnostics. The investment in the program and integration of the system in your plant will pay for itself time and time again.

I believe that PLC programmers need more than just this programming language. They must have network and high level language skills to be capable of integrating the entire plant floor.

Let me know what you think? Are we teaching the new generation the right way?
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Is Manufacturing Dead In Canada? Not so!

Everywhere you look there are signs of doom for Canadian Manufacturing. Unemployment rate, companies moving or going out of business seems to be a common theme. However we have is an increase in manufacturing output.

How is manufacturing jobs disappearing and output increasing?


Investment in the business

Take a look around. Businesses that are investing in themselves will have the staying power. Those that do not are going to be left behind, wither and die.
How is your company doing?

People
We often hear that people are the greatest asset for the business. What is the game plan? When asked to see or inquire about how they are advancing there employees; you get blank faces. A constant learning environment must be established.
The learning environment includes:

  • How individuals interact with and treat one another.
  • How information is conveyed
    • Internet
    • Intranet
    • Meetings
    • Teams
    • Postings
  • Knowledge of individual contributions
    • Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Recognize how individuals learn (Example: Millennials do not get information from an authority figure.)
    • Customize leaning for individuals

Process
Look at your process from a new born perspective. Inquire and explore why things have to happen in a certain way. Break every step down.
Kipling wrote:
I keep six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew. Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who.
Query your people with questions and listen.

  • If they had more time, what would they work on?
  • What is there biggest challenge?
  • What is bugging them?
  • Are you happy?

Machine
Keep up on the latest machine innovations for your industry as well as others. Know the limitations of each machine. Table new concepts to your learning environment.
If you are to fix the machine then ask

  • Is this the first time this has happened? Will it happen again?
  • How long did it take to troubleshoot the problem?
  • Is there something we can improve upon?
  • How can this knowledge be shared with operators, maintenance, management?

Automation
There is a reason that this is last on the list. Automation can stand by itself, but it really requires an understanding of each of the items mentioned above before it is successful.
You must understand your people, process and machine before automation can prove to be an asset.

Automation, people, process and machine innovation can happen. It is up to you.

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry

Reference:
Statistics Canada for Manufacturing
http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a33?lang=eng&spMode=mainTables&themeID=4005&RT=TABLE




If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.