Category Archives: communication

Now You Can Have Data Logging Free

A data logger is also known as a data recorder or  data acquisition. It is a method to record data over a period of time and/or events.

The recorded information can come from sensors in the field. They can be digital or analog. With analog (voltage or current) we can measure temperature, pressure, sound, weight, length, etc. Digital data can be used for counts, times, events (motor overload), etc.

Data collecting can be time or event driven. Time based would be like collecting data every minute, shift, day etc. An event based collection would be from an error in the field such as an overload of a motor or a fault with a temperature controller.

Data mining / analysis is the most important part of the data logging.

Data mining / analysis is the way in which we look at the data and determine  what to do. Clustering is a method to look at the data in similar groups for comparison. An example of this would be the amount of material made on individual shifts in the plant.  Setting up the data logging in a way to examine the output over time is very helpful in determining methods to increase productivity in the manufacturing environment.

Time studies or observations are vital in the lean manufacturing world. Data logging can be useful in assisting with these studies. However, unlike the usual manual approach, this time study can be continuous.

Doing Time Observations

Data logging does not have to be expensive. It is also not as intimidating as it may sound.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is available in a free download. Just subscribe to ACC Automation to get the link for the free download.
 
This eBook will walk you though step by step on getting information into a database so you can start analysing the data. With traditional loggers, software will read the memory of the PLC and store in a local computer. If the network stops or the PLC communication fails then the logging will stop.
Creating a robust PLC data logger allows the communication to be stopped for a period of time without losing any of the data for collection. This is accomplished by storing the data locally on the PLC until communication is restored. All of the data is then read without loss. The amount of time that the connection can be lost will be dependent on the memory size of the PLC and the frequency of the data collected.
This series will walk you through the steps to create and implement a robust PLC data logger using the following equipment and hardware.
  • Automation Direct – Do-More – H2-DM1E PLC (Ethernet Modbus TCP)
  • Do-more Designer 1.3 (Simulator instead of PLC mentioned above)
  • Windows based computer running IIS
  • Visual Basic 6

Additional information on Omron Host Link Protocol and Indirect Addressing can be found in the eBook.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is available for a free download. Just subscribe to ACC Automation on the left side menu of the website to get the link for the free download.

Watch on YouTube : Now You Can Have Robust Data Logging For Free
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.

How to Send Email to SMTP Server

Simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) is the email protocol for sending information. We can take advantage of this ability to email from our data logged from the PLC. Shift reports on productivity can be automatically emailed to recipients. Faults or errors detected by the PLC can be emailed directly to individuals for correction.

We will use visual basic 6 (VB6) to send an email message to the SMTP Google Gmail server. Using this method we can use HTML code to format our messages. Attachments can also be added to the email message. In this example I have added the ACC icon file.

The first step is to add a reference to Microsoft CDO for Windows 2000 Library.  Project -> References

Make a simple form:

This will have one command button on it labeled “Send Mail”

The code for the command button will be as follows:
Private Sub Command1_Click()

Call SendEmail
End Sub

Add the following Sub SendEmail code to the project :
‘Sample code that is used to send emails from any SMPT server using CDO in Visual Basic 6.0.

‘Added a reference to the project by navigating to Project -> references and adding Microsoft CDO for windows 2000 Library.
Sub SendEmail()
On Error Resume Next ‘ Set up error checking
Set cdoMsg = CreateObject(“CDO.Message”)
Set cdoConf = CreateObject(“CDO.Configuration”)
Set cdoFields = cdoConf.Fields
‘ Send one copy with Google SMTP server (with autentication)
schema = “http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/”
cdoFields.Item(schema & “sendusing”) = 2
cdoFields.Item(schema & “smtpserver”) = “smtp.gmail.com”
cdoFields.Item(schema & “smtpserverport”) = 465
cdoFields.Item(schema & “smtpauthenticate”) = 1
cdoFields.Item(schema & “sendusername”) = “gclshortt@gmail.com”
cdoFields.Item(schema & “sendpassword”) = “password”
cdoFields.Item(schema & “smtpusessl”) = 1
cdoFields.Update
With cdoMsg
    .To = “gshortt@domtech.net”
    .From = “gclshortt@gmail.com”
    .Subject = “Send email to gmail”
    ‘ Body of message can be any HTML code
    .HTMLBody = “Test message using CDO in vb6 to Gmail smtp”
    ‘ Add any attachments to the message
    .AddAttachment “c:\AccDo.ico”
    Set .Configuration = cdoConf
    ‘ Send the message
    .Send
End With
‘Check for errors and display message
If Err.Number = 0 Then
      MsgBox “Email Send Successfully”, , “Email”
Else
      MsgBox “Email Error” & Err.Number, , “Email”
End If
Set cdoMsg = Nothing
Set cdoConf = Nothing
Set cdoFields = Nothing
End Sub

When you run the program you will get one of the following messages depending if the email was correctly sent or not.

Here is the message that arrives to the recipient:

Simple mail transfer protocol is an easy way to share information from the PLC data collected.
You can download the following VB6 sample code here.

Watch on YouTube : How to Send Email to SMTP Server
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.

How you can learn PLC Programming without spending a dime!

I have been writing PLC programs for over 20 years. I often get asked what is the best way to lean PLC programming. Programming in the way I was taught in college was with the Motorola 6809. (Yes, I know that I am dating myself) This was microprocessor programming, but it was the best way to sometimes explain the methods behind PLC programming. Manufacturers of PLCs had allot of proprietary software that were not even related in their appearance and methods of programming. Today we have a few standards that have changed the look and feel of the programming software packages so each manufacturer is similar. The following is the best recommendation that I have for beginners to start to learn PLC programming today.

The first place to start in order to learn PLC programming is the free publication by Kevin Collins. This PDF will teach you PLC programming without just telling you what a PLC is and how it functions. He also includes some test questions along the way in order for you to retain and understand the important points that he is making.

PLC Programming for Industrial Automation
by Kevin Collins
(Note: This book is now for sale on Amazon.)
https://www.amazon.com/Programming-Industrial-Automation-Kevin-Collins/dp/1846855985
Topics covered include:

  • PLC Basics
  • Ladder Programming
  • Conditional Logic
  • Ladder Diagrams
  • Normally closed contacts
  • Outputs and latches
  • Internal relays
  • Timers
  • The Pulse Generator
  • Counters
  • Sequential Programming Introduction
  • Evolution of the Sequential Function Chart
  • Programming using the Sequential Function Chart
  • Entering the SFC program into the PLC
  • Modifying an SFC Program
  • Selective Branching
  • Parallel Branching

After learning the basics from the above manual, practice. Create programs yourself and test what you have learned. You can accomplish this by using simulators. Allot of the programming software will have simulators. The simulator will mimic the PLC hardware so you can test your programs before installing in the field. Traditionally I have not been a fan of simulators, but recently Automation Direct has introduced a simulator with their Do-More PLC. It is the Do-More Designer Software. This software simulator includes the entire instruction set (Not Just Bit Logic) as well as communication protocols. It can be downloaded and installed for free from the above link.

The next step I recommend is then to advance into some of the advanced instructions. An understanding of the numbering systems in the PLC will be a benefit. Math, PID, register manipulation and conversion instructions are just a few of the advanced programming you can learn. All of these and more instruction information can be obtained from reviewing the documentation from the PLC manual that you are programming. Once again all of these instructions are included in the Do-More Designer Software.

Program structure is the next topic. Allot of programmers would stop here and can do well with developing software, however there is much more that you can lean.  Sequencers give programmers the methods to change logic on the fly and allow troubleshooting the system easier. This method of programming can benefit you greatly and reduce the development time of your logic.

The last step that I recommend learning is the sharing of information. I am meaning the information that you program through an HMI and/or SCADA package. This refers to understanding of the ways in which information can be gathered from the PLC and displayed in different ways. Here are a couple of previous articles that have been written on this subject:

How to Implement the Omron PLC Host Link Protocol 

Robust PLC Data Logger

As you can see, there is allot of information available to you to begin and lean PLC programming without spending a dime!  Remember that PLCs are similar to computers, (Moore’s Law) they increase in size and ability. Systems are expanding and changing everyday. Happy programming.

Do you know of additional tips or methods to share?

Watch on YouTube : How you can learn PLC Programming without spending a dime!

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.

How to Troubleshoot a PLC

Your control system does not work. Where do you start? Lets walk through a series of questions in order to determine where the problem lies.

Is this a new installation or previous installation that was running fine? Determine if system has been running well in the past and has currently stop working correctly. This is the indication that the problem relies inside the system.

Is there anything that has happened outside of the system? Has there been a lightening strike, blown drives on other systems, etc.  This can point to the original cause of the malfunction.

What is the system doing now and what should it be doing? Gather all of the information you can from every resource you can.

  • Supervisors  – machine, location, time of error, other happenings in the plant, etc
  • Operators – What is it currently doing? What should it be doing? What do you think is wrong?
Operators of the equipment are your key resource in finding, correcting and ensuring the error does not happen again. They know the equipment from an operational point of view which can assist you greatly in troubleshooting.

PLC fatal and non-fatal errors:
If the machine is still running partially then this is an indication of a non-fatal error. Cannot run at all is usually a fatal error.

Take a look at the PLC indicator lights on the CPU. Refer to the operation manual for the PLC for troubleshooting specific lights on the CPU. The following are general tips:

If no lights are on then the possible cause is a power supply. This is usually the most common of errors on a PLC system. Mean time before failure (MTBF) is rated on the lowest rating of components which is usually the power supply.

If the run light is on and an error light flashing this usually indicates internal errors such as batteries, scan time, etc. It is usually not the reason for the lack of operation.

If the run light is on and no other errors are seen on the CPU we can put the PLC program on the bottom of the list of items that could be the cause.

Check the input cards of the PLC. You should see the individual sensors lighting up the inputs. If not then check the power supply to the input card / cards.

Ask the operator what is happening and what is suppose to happen. Try to follow the sequence of events in the PLC to determine either and input or output device not working.
Some items to watch:

If this is a new PLC program that you are doing start with a logic flow diagram. This will determine the procedure to start programming.
Every program can be done in several ways. The best method is the most documented one.

Documentation is the mark of a good program.

Some trouble with new programs can be racing conditions. This is usually a case of not understanding how the PLC scans logic. In general the PLC will scan from left to right, top to bottom. The output bits / words are available to the inputs of the next rung of logic. (Modicon PLC’s will scan differently.) Actual outputs and inputs are not read until the end of the scan of the PLC. Racing conditions happen when the output is set on multiple rungs, but will not get actually set until the end of the scan. Think of it as the last action will always win. So if this happens move the logic to the end of the program and see if it works. Then go back and see where the output was also set.  Cross reference guides are ideal for this purpose. (Refer to your programming software on how to get cross references.)

We have discussed just a few troubleshooting techniques. Hopefully now you know how to start looking for the errors on your  system. Let me know how you make  out.

Watch on YouTube : How to Troubleshoot a PLC

Do you know of additional tips or methods to share?

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.

How to Implement the Omron PLC Host Link Protocol

Hostlink communication protocol is a method developed by Omron for communication to PLC’s and other equipment. This ASCII based protocol is used over RS232 or RS422/RS485. It is a many to one implementation which means that you can communicate with up to 32 devices back to a master. (1:N) This communication on the industrial floor can control PLC’s, Temperature Controllers, Panel Meters, etc.

Our look at this protocol will include the wiring, setting of RS232 port settings, protocol format and  writing a VB6 program to read information from the PLC. I will also point you links to then store this information into a database and share over an intranet/internet. Lets get started.

Wiring of the communication ports will depend on the equipment purchased. If communicating over 15 meters, it is recommended to switch to RS422 or RS485 connection. However I have seen RS232 runs of 50 meters without an issue. It will depend on your implementation and electrical noise in the plant.

The above diagram is the basic communication needed for RS232C. Note that the shield of the communication wire is connected only to one side. This ensures that any noise induced in the communication is filtered to one end.

Settings for RS232C communications are set in a number of ways. Older Omron C**K PLC were set through a series of dip switches. Current Omron SMR1/CPM1 PLC’s are set though data memory locations.
Note: Most of the time, you need to cycle the power or switch to program / run mode for the setting to be activated.

I generally tend to leave everything at the default settings: 9600 bps, Even parity, 7 data bits, 1 stop bit. The default host link unit number is 00. (32 max. – 00 – 31)

Protocol Format
Each piece of equipment will have a list of parameters that can be read and written using the HostLink protocol. This can be found in the programming manual of the device. Here are the areas in the CPM1/CPM1A/CPM2A/CPM2C/SRM1(-V2) from the programming manual.

Lets take a look at the command to read the DM area. All of the commands and responses will be in an ASCII format.

The command format begins with a ‘@‘ sign followed by the Node / Unit number that you wish to communicate. Header code is the command in which you with to execute. (RD) This header code will determine the next series of information. In our case the next four digits will be the beginning word followed by the next four digits to indicate the number of words. The next part of the command is the FCS (checksum) calculation. The comparison to this at each end will ensure that the command/response is correct. FCS is a 8 bit data converted into two ASCII characters. The 8 bits are a result of an Exclusive OR performed on the data from the beginning to the end of the text in the frame. In our case this would be performed on the following:

"@00RD00000010"

The last part of the command is the terminator. This is an ‘*’ followed by the character for the carriage return. (CHR$(13))

The response format begins with a ‘@’ sign followed by the Node / Unit number that you are communicating to. The header code is next (RD) followed by the End Code. The end code is a two digit ASCII code that indicates the message response / errors when executing the action. A normal code of ’00’ indicates that everything is fine. See the operation manual for the entire list of end codes for your equipment. The next part of the response depends on the header code executed. In our case it would contain the data requested. The last two parts of the response is the FCS and terminator just like the command format.

The above shows the timing of the command and responses.

Visual Basic VB6 (Example)
Now lets look at an example of reading the first 10 words from the DM area  of an Omron PLC.

The first step is the design the form. You can see that we have our ten DM area words set out to populate with values. We also have a T$ for transmit. This will show what we are sending to the PLC. The RXD$ will show what the response will be from the PLC.

The MSComm is used to communicate through the serial ports of the computer. The following is the settings for the communication port.

Here is the VB6 code for the program:
When the form loads the Date/Time will get updated and Timer1 is enabled. This timer controls the interval in which the commands get executed. (Set to 1 second)

Private Sub Form_Load()
 Label2.Caption = Format(Date, "YYYY/MM/DD") + "    " + Format(Time, "HH:MM:SS")
 Timer1.Enabled = True
 End Sub

The following code will open the communication port, set the command format, send the command through the port, receive the response through the port and display the information. It will then close the communication port.

Private Sub Timer1_Timer()
 Timer1.Enabled = False
 MSComm1.PortOpen = True
 Label2.Caption = Format(Date, "YYYY/MM/DD") + "    " + Format(Time, "HH:MM:SS")
'Check DM AREA DM0000 to DM0009 data update
 T$ = "@00RD00000010"
 charreturn = 51
 GoSub FCS
 GoSub communicate
'Show Transmit information
 Label24.Caption = Buffer
 'Show Returned information
 Label26.Caption = rxd$
If Mid(rxd$, 6, 2) = "00" And (Len(rxd$)) >= charreturn Then
 Label4.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 8, 4)
 Label6.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 12, 4)
 Label8.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 16, 4)
 Label10.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 20, 4)
 Label12.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 24, 4)
 Label14.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 28, 4)
 Label16.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 32, 4)
 Label18.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 36, 4)
 Label20.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 40, 4)
 Label22.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 44, 4)
 End If
 Timer1.Enabled = True
 MSComm1.PortOpen = False
 Exit Sub

The following is the subroutine to communicate. Timer2 is the amount of time to wait before expecting an answer on the communication port. Once the command has been sent a maximum of two seconds is waited for an response. If no response nothing is returned. When the response is obtained, the FCS is checked and if correct the information is returned.

communicate:
 rxd$ = ""
 Buffer = T$ + FCS$ + "*" + Chr$(13)
 MSComm1.Output = Buffer
 Timer2.Enabled = True
 Do
 DoEvents
 Loop Until Timer2.Enabled = False
 If Time > #11:59:50 PM# Then
 timeout = #12:00:02 AM#
 Else
 timeout = DateAdd("s", 2, Time)
 End If
 MSComm1.InputLen = 0
 Do
 If timeout <= Time Then GoTo timeoutcom
 DoEvents
 Loop Until MSComm1.InBufferCount >= charreturn
 rxd$ = MSComm1.Input
 fcs_rxd$ = Left((Right(rxd$, 4)), 2)
 If Left(rxd$, 1) = "@" Then
 T$ = Mid(rxd$, 1, (Len(rxd$) - 4))
 ElseIf Mid(rxd$, 2, 1) = "@" Then
 T$ = Mid(rxd$, 2, (Len(rxd$) - 5))
 rxd$ = Mid(rxd$, 2, (Len(rxd$) - 1))
 End If
 GoSub FCS
 If FCS <> fcs_rxd$ Then
 rxd$ = ""
 End If
 clearbuffer$ = MSComm1.Input
 Return

This is the FCS (checksum) calculation routine.

FCS:
 L = Len(T$)
 A = 0
 For J = 1 To L
 TJ$ = Mid$(T$, J, 1)
 A = Asc(TJ$) Xor A
 Next J
 FCS$ = Hex$(A)
 If Len(FCS$) = 1 Then FCS$ = "0" + FCS$
 Return

This is the routine that will execute if the response is not received within the time period expected.

timeoutcom:
 clearbuffer$ = MSComm1.Input
 rxd$ = ""
 Return
End Sub

Timer2 was used as a delay before looking for a response after sending the command.

Private Sub Timer2_Timer()
 Timer2.Enabled = False
 End Sub

Here is the code running:

Helpful Tips/Links:
– When troubleshooting serial communications it is sometimes helpful to use HyperTerminal. This program will send and receive information in/out of the serial ports.
HostLink Command Generator
HostLink Command Format

Watch on YouTube : How to Implement the Omron PLC Host Link Protocol

If you have any questions, need further information or would like a copy of this program 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.

What Everybody Ought to Know About Speaking to Individual People

Talking to individuals is a complex thing. Everyone is unique and has something to contribute. It is up to use to find out what that is through the way we conduct ourselves. It boils down to our ability to modify our behaviour to allow our audience to feel safe so true communications and be done. We will go through some of the things that I have learned over the years. Some items I am still working. Lets get started.

Julian Treasure in this  June 2013 TED talk gives us some of the basic rules and sins to stay away from in speaking. He also lists some ideas in the toolbox that we can all learn to use. We as individuals need to change in order to speak more effectively.

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen

Listen
Listening is a skill. I was always told ‘We have Two ears and One mouth… Listen twice the amount we speak’. Active listening involves understanding what the other is trying to communicate. Do not interrupt the other person. Listen with an open mind. That is to think about what they are saying. Understand their point of view and opinions. Do not sympathise, empathise with the other person.

Communicate in the way in which the listener wants to communicate
There are several personality profiles that people can use to label individuals.  Assessments like Meyers -Briggs and DISC profiling are good to establish and understand your own profile. These should be use only for your reference. Communication to other people involve speaking to them in the manner that they want. This is where your own personal judgement comes into play. You can divide everyone that you communicate with into four categories.  They can be either more or less emotional than you, and more or less dominant than you. We can plot this out like this: We communicate to the individual based upon how they are on this plot in our opinion only. If I was personally strong in dominant and less in emotional then everyone would that I would talk to would seem to me like the other 3 areas.  I would adjust the way I communicate to them so it matches the way I perceive them.
So how do we communicate:
More Dominant / Less Emotional (Dominant)
We would speak direct and decisive. They are problem solvers, risk takers and self starters. Keep in mind that they have a high ego. There is only one way to get from Point A to Point B: That is a straight line.

More Dominant / More Emotional (Influencing)
We would speak enthusiastically and optimistic. They are trusting, persuasive, talkative and impulsive.  Keep in mind that they want to be entertained. When asked how to get from Point A to Point B: They will ask ‘Who else is going?’, but will come up with an answer.

Less Dominant / More Emotional (Steady)
We would speak possessively and predictable. They are good listeners, team players, steady and friendly. Keep in mind that they are reliable, dependable, patient and good at reconciling conflicts. When asked how to get from Point A to Point B: They will ask what is the plan?

Less Dominant / Less Emotional (Correct)
We would speak accurate and precise. They are conscientious, careful, analytical and systematic. Keep in mind that they want to know everything about the issue before making a decision. When asked how to get from Point A to Point B: They would need more information.

Remember that people change all of the time. We need to adjust the way we speak to them based upon our current observations.

Watch on YouTube : Communicate in the way in which the listener wants to communiate

Observe the conversation on their side
We mentioned that we should empathise with the other person. This means that we put ourselves in the mind of the other person to determine the next step that they will take.  Everyone has a picture of what they are thinking. We need to ensure that we understand their picture and possibly help them paint a masterpiece with our information.

Make people feel safe. You can do this by making every one that you communicate with feel important. Think of it as a big, blinking neon sign on everyone’s forehead saying ‘Make me feel important’. Simon Sinek explains in this March 2014 TED Talk this same message.

Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe

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.

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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