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Implementing condition-based maintenance (CBM) can help reduce equipment downtime, improve data collection, and improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Manufacturing companies have numerous challenges in operations management like operating below production capacity, low margins, and the lack of visibility in plant operations, to name a few. Implementing a predictive maintenance strategy such as condition-based maintenance (CBM) is a more proactive way to prevent equipment breakdowns and to solve these challenges in operations. Maintenance practices followed by the manufacturer are crucial in addressing these issues. Typically, 40% of the manufacturers' ...
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Aon’s Chad Pinson talks about how manufacturing must react to growing threats. In many ways, cyber-security is like the weather: everyone talks about it, but no one is doing anything about it. That has to change, suggested Chad Pinson of insurance giant, Aon’s cyber solutions practice. In a recent report, Aon officials suggested that as cyber-attacks increase, there will be increased attention—and increased liabilities. Pinson discusses some of those issue with Plant Engineering. Plant Engineering (PE) : What do you see as the cyber-security vulnerabilities in the manufacturing sector? Is there any particular segment in that sector that might be more ...
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  The Federal Reserve reported that   manufacturing production   rose 0.5% in April, bouncing back from being unchanged in March. Overall, the data continues to show healthy growth for manufacturers. Along those lines, the manufacturing production index has risen from 102.2 in April 2017 to 104.1 in the latest data. Likewise, capacity utilization in the sector has grown from 75.1% one year ago to 75.8%, the highest rate since August 2015. The year-over-year pace also remains encouraging, even with some easing in the most recent month, down from 2.5% growth over the past 12 months in March to 1.8% in April. Yet, that deceleration could say more about the ...
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Companies that know manufacturing know Lean is the way to go, but even Lean operations might have some work to do if they’re not using the right tools. As far as advanced technology goes in the manufacturing sector, RFID is actually pretty simple. For just pennies each, radio frequency identification tags, or chips, can enhance your top-down understanding of everything happening in your manufacturing outfit, and make your Lean operation even leaner still. RFID Facilitates an Organization-Wide Culture of Improvement We shouldn’t have to explain the benefits of Lean manufacturing. Suffice it to say, reducing waste and redundancy benefits profitability ...
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NAM Economic Update

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The global economy continues to show signs of strength, even as much of the recent data reflect some slowing in many markets, helping to boost international demand. In updated figures on   TradeStats Express , U.S.-manufactured goods exports have risen 6.81% year-to-date through the first quarter of 2018 relative to the same time frame in 2017. This extended the 4.65% gain last year as a whole, and more importantly, so far this year, exports have risen in nine of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods, with a decline to Hong Kong being the lone exception. In addition, the U.S.   trade deficit   fell back to earth in March after soaring to the highest ...
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There may not be many plants and warehouses operating in the dark these days. However, many facilities are clearly on the path to lights out, balancing automation and labor to find the right mix of lower costs and better customer service.   Neither the concept nor the existence of a lights-out plant or warehouse is new, but let’s face it, these facilities are still few and far between. That doesn’t mean lights out is not a good idea. It is. But rather than focusing on dark facilities, the story now is about the path to lights out, and that path goes right through the world of automation. Industry experts say that few companies start out asking for ...
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Automating the movement of materials within manufacturing operations is nothing new. Indeed, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), conveyors, sorters, and shuttles have been moving and handling materials, parts, and product for decades. But now, thanks to advancements in sensor technology, 3D camera systems, software, and artificial intelligence, these machines are increasingly capable of seeing their environments and, more importantly, learning to identify what they’re seeing. More and more, factories are becoming home to “free-range” robots capable of working beside humans wherever they’re needed. Increasingly, semi-autonomous and even autonomous vehicles ...
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Public acknowledgement and rewards for engaging in cybersecurity best practices will result in greater workforce buy-in and participation, according to a security author and expert.     "You don't just make it a negative thing," said Jayson Street, Vice President of Infosec for Manhattan-based consultancy SphereNY. "Usually when they do carrot and stick, we've got more stick than carrot." Every employee that forwards a phishing email to the IT department should get entered into a quarterly drawing for a reward like a $100 Amazon gift card, Street said. Street delivered a keynote address Wednesday at XChange University: IT Security, hosted by CRN parent The ...
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MTI’s 2018 Spring Meeting, held in conjunction with the Industrial Heating Equipment Association, April 23-25 was a huge success.  Over 200 people from both associations convened in Scottsdale, Arizona for two days of energetic social connection and informative educational sessions. During the event, the MTI Educational Foundation was very active with some big action items including: Foundation Top Golf Experience Fundraiser 12 company sponsors and 84 members participated in this event that raised over $10,000 in net proceeds for the Foundation. Foundation Recognizes Two Longtime Leaders MTI President, Pete Hushek, recognized outgoing Foundation ...
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The cyber threat to industrial control systems has never been greater, according to a report analyzing malicious activity aimed at such systems. Cyber security risks to the safe and reliable operation of industrial control systems have never been greater, the report said, but although numerous incidental infections regularly occur in industrial networks, ICS-specific or ICS-tailored malware is rarer. Overall, the scope and extent of malicious activity either directly targeting, or gathering information on, ICS networks increased significantly throughout 2017, according to Dragos researchers. Wormable ransomware such as WannaCry and NotPetya gave notice ...
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As remote access to plants grows, so too should your knowledge of mobile device cybersecurity. Fortunately, newer mobile networks, such as 4G LTE, inherently manage many of the risks. Industrial control system (ICS) security has been a major topic for more than a decade now. Over the past few years, the focus on ICS cybersecurity has become so predominant that  numerous companies have been launched to address it . Concurrent with this growth of the ICS cybersecurity market has been the growth in interest in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). One could say that the two topics—ICS cybersecurity and IIoT—are inextricably linked, since the IIoT concept ...
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IIoT is transforming the way manufacturers identify problems on the plant floor as the latest wireless solutions address integration challenges. A flashing red light on the plant floor often signals a problem on a production line or in a work cell. It’s a familiar scene in Lean manufacturing environments, where these Andon signals help plant workers quickly identify problems before they lead to excessive downtime. Beyond the plant floor, traditional Andon alerts don’t provide much information about the cause of disruptions or maintenance trends, but manufacturers can now leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to expand the capabilities of existing ...
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Having adequate training in any heat treating operation is a must in today’s low labor pool and fast-paced environment.  Having production line staff that have a “full understanding” of heat treating operations, technical knowledge, and how each element of production is connected, is important to minimize micromanagement, error rates, and maximize productivity. The Metal Treating Institute (MTI) is pleased to announce it has launched nine (9) new technical courses, along with its Heat Treat P.E.A.K. Performance Certificate program.  The P.E.A.K. program is an 80+ hour, online, apprenticeship style program, that will take 4 to 6 months for learners to complete.  ...
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The 20th century produced incredible advances in technology, beginning with the moving assembly line installed by Henry Ford in 1913, reducing the time it took to build a car from 12 hours to under three. One hundred years later, car manufacturers can produce over 500 cars in one hour. As companies strive to be more productive, and more profitable, it is increasingly important that the assets driving the process operate at peak efficiency. Fundamentally, maintenance has been around as long as humans have existed. From the routine sharpening of man’s earliest spears and tools, to the repair work needed for modern technologies, our tools and machines have needed ...
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In the latest  Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey , 93.5% of respondents feel positive about their own company’s outlook, the second-highest reading in the survey’s 20-year history following the all-time high of 94.6 % in December. Optimism has been at historically high levels over the past five quarters, averaging 92.1%. Sentiment is sharply higher than two years ago, with an average of 64.3% in 2016. Manufacturers continue to be upbeat following Washington’s passage of the comprehensive tax cuts package and its less burdensome approach toward regulatory policy—pro-growth stances that will help manufacturers compete in the global marketplace. (For more ...
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Suzanne Gill  reports on the issues surrounding industrial digitalization and finds out why it is vital to put in the groundwork now to ensure a smarter factory in the future.   Digitalization is becoming increasingly common in the industrial sector as automation vendors develop ways to make their offerings more intelligent. The potential benefits of this, in terms of increased efficiency and responsiveness in a production environment are already clear. However, there is still many questions to be answered and hurdles to be overcome before it become commonplace.  Thoughts differ around the globe, as Ivo Maltir, Vice President of Desoutter, explains: ...
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Every manufacturing leader would love to know about a looming problem minutes, hours, and even days before it occurs to prevent or minimize the negative effects of the issue. Yet, too often operations leaders still simply adopt the scheduled maintenance intervals recommended by equipment builders. Generally, this is a safe policy, but generalized recommendations based on assumptions baked into equipment builders’ maintenance schedules can be wasteful or insufficient. One manufacturer may push equipment speed, load, or duty cycle to meet its delivery commitments while another part maker may use a machine less strenuously. Predictive maintenance (PdM) has ...
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When the new ISO 9001:2015 certification standard was announced in late 2015, it made waves in manufacturing due to its heavy emphasis on risk management. In our experience, in helping companies become ISO 9001:2015 certified, we’ve seen firsthand how the value of embracing a risk-averse culture and the other core aspects of ISO 9001:2015 extends to all aspects of operations. ISO 9001:2015 requires that organizations proactively consider potential hazards in their operating environment and quality management systems—and then take steps to minimize identified risks. This is perhaps the most significant change from the prior edition of ISO 9001 because many ...
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Greater connectivity raises cyber security and other important issues. Industry 4.0 aims to facilitate the interaction between humans and technology by providing information at all industrial plant levels. Persons or tools can access process sensors or final element information (such as measured value or configuration settings, etc.) from any part of the world if authorized to do so. Among other things, this allows device and system performance optimization though delivery of remote services for maintenance and upgrades or repair from a remote location via the “cloud.” Another part of this concept assumes that “smart devices” will communicate with neighboring ...
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Customers are demanding higher quality and more innovative products at shorter delivery times. To stay relevant in the global marketplace, those wanting a competitive advantage today are switching to new and emerging technologies. Today’s plant floors are increasingly high-tech, from automated sensors performing condition monitoring to the Internet of Things (IoT) programs that many are adopting — all at a high cost. A comprehensive asset or maintenance management strategy is crucial for manufacturers to protect the investment in these machines. It is not enough to simply upgrade machines without maintenance plans to support them. In order to fully protect ...
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