Cutting Tool Engineering
July 2012 / Volume 64 / Issue 7

How are your assets doing?

By Michael Deren

The company I work for recently decided to make one of our machining cells “world class,” which is defined as an overall equipment effectiveness of 85 percent or more. From observation, our OEE is probably 45 to 50 percent, but we don’t know for certain.

Fortunately, software is available to help determine machine capacity. It is called machine data collection, machine event monitoring, machine performance monitoring or asset monitoring, depending on the developer. These software packages tell—in real time—whether a machine is running, waiting or cutting. Other information includes whether a machine has its spindle, emergency stop or feed hold on, or if there is an alarm.

You can analyze production by year, month, week, day and shift, identifying good and bad trends. Problems can be detected and corrected before they get out of hand.

Many of these packages have a so-called production dashboard. One software package, Multi-MDC (Machine Data Collection/Monitoring) from Spectrum CNC Technologies, Corona, Calif., lists groups or cells of machines in a spreadsheet. The list of information includes machine description, operator, part being run, time started, part count, cycle uptime, spindle uptime, time waiting, alarms, amount of idle time, current run time and total time. The spreadsheet rows are color-coded by status: green for running, yellow for waiting, red for alarm, blue for idling and dark red for power off. Quite a bit of information at your fingertips!

Another package, Asset Monitor from Langlais Computer Consultants LLC, Bristol, Conn., uses a slightly different format. It has a control panel for portal machine asset number, machine model, control type, machine description and status (yellow for stopped and green for active). By clicking a particular asset, you go one level deeper to access charts and other data for that asset. The software provides a cutting performance graph, which can be viewed by shift or 24-hour period. It even provides a chart for total parts vs. bad parts. You can get data by machine, cell or group, and by entire shop.

Another offering, FactoryWiz by Refresh Your Memory Inc., San Jose, Calif., is accessed online and doesn’t require purchasing software. Instead, a factory specialist installs a piece of hardware for five to 512 CNCs. It also provides real-time status of the machines. A shop map is offered as a separate app on the terminal, which can be used as a wall-mounted shop display.

All of these packages send an e-mail and text message when there’s an alarm. By having the reports available anytime, you’re able to better keep track of production.

The cost of a package seems reasonable, ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 per machine. Once we decide which package to get, we are going to try it out on one unit for a month. If it provides the data needed to make better production decisions, we plan on adding it to our other CNCs. CTE

About the Author: Mike Deren is a manufacturing engineer/project manager and a regular CTE contributor. He can be e-mailed at
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