If the operators weren’t thinking about improvements, even just a 2-second improvement here or
there, they’d throw up their hands and think that,
well, of course the electric brake operator has
greater throughput, considering the machine he’s
But what if the hydraulic brake operator thought
of a new way to stage blanks, so he wouldn’t have to
move as far to retrieve them? That’s like thinking of
a new way to transport the dishes between the dishwasher and cabinet. That’s one 2-second improvement that operators could implement immediately.
Sure, some improvements require a little investment in tooling or other equipment, perhaps broad
coordination between departments or the entire
company, and Akers’ method doesn’t ignore these
big changes. He also doesn’t ignore the importance
of reading books about improvement, visiting plants,
attending seminars, and continually learning.
But to get people to buy in to lean concepts and
to foster the “lean culture,” he focuses first on those
small changes—little improvements that occur every day—that can be made immediately. People
meet in the morning, talk about ideas, and make
“In two years we’ve made over 3,000 improvements in the plant,” IMS’s Rutkowski said. “The faster you get a job done, the faster we ship, the more
money we make. The slower you go, the less stu;
we get out, and the less money we make. It’s a good
way to utilize the data we have.”
Getting the Data
The data Rutkowski referred to includes direct
monitoring of certain machines. ISM served as a pilot program for a company called Data Inventions,
which has o;ices near ISM in Erie as well as in Nor-wood, Ohio.
Duane Clement, Data Inventions’ CEO, knew
Rutkowski through a few local economic development councils. That relationship eventually led to
ISM becoming a beta test site for Data Inventions’
cloud-based so;ware. Today ISM collects data from
certain machining centers automatically, and plans
are to expand to robotic welding soon.
In front of the machining center, the operator views his iPad® to see scheduled jobs, performance targets, and clock-in/clock-out activities.
According to Clement, at IMS and other plants, he
has found that operator e;iciency can improve by
as much as 40 percent while uptime increases on
average by 10 percent.
Clement explained that, generally speaking (and
not specific to the ISM application), the cloud-based
Data Inventions system can connect to machines
via standard interfaces like OPC and MTConnect.
It also uses special adapters, like those available
through eNETDNC ( www.enetdnc.com), which help
draw data out of certain, usually older machines.
“We really started by walking around ISM’s shop
floor. We saw everything: high-end lasers, press
brakes, CNC machining centers,” Clement recalled.
“The shop is running all di;erent kinds of equip-
ment, di;erent jobs. This was the type of manufac-
turer we wanted to build our company around.”
The goal was to overcome connectivity issues—
that is, connect shop floor data such as uptime and
part count data with the ERP system—ultimately to
link machine performance data with a specific job.
That link, Clement explained, allows for apples-to-
apples comparisons and benchmarking. A;er all, a
machine’s performance can vary depending on the
job it’s processing.
“The system synchronizes job-specific information
and targets from Epicor [and other ERP systems] with
real-time machine performance, quality, labor, and
part counts from the shop floor,” Clement said.
As a beta site for Data Inventions, IMS set up machine
monitoring of its CNC machining centers. Photo courtesy of IMS.
Because the shop collects, interprets, and shares
data in real time, people no longer need to wait
until the next production meeting to find out what
went right and what went wrong (at least for those
machines that are connected). They can instead
take corrective action immediately. The data is also
available to draw upon for future quoting activity.
Keeping It Simple
ISM is in the early phases of this project, but Rutkowski said that eventually the company hopes to
connect all 165 machines on the floor.
“All the information is out on the floor in pockets,”
Clement explained, adding that this is why open
architecture in so;ware is becoming more impor-
tant. “[Internet of things] systems are specifically
designed to gather data from various platforms,
including di;erent sensor platforms. The system
brings in all the data from di;erent places, normal-
izes it, and then starts to do analytics.”
Are ISM managers worried about front-line em-
ployees thinking Big Brother is looking over their
shoulder? Not really, Rutkowski said, adding that it
goes back to culture. “It’s real simple. Customers are
going to give us only X amount to do a job.” If the com-
pany doesn’t measure, doesn’t scrutinize, doesn’t
improve, it will fall behind and eventually fail.
In this sense, connecting machines and the company’s 2-second approach to lean go hand in hand.
The morning scrums get people thinking about how
to make their days easier. At the same time, as more
machines and operations become connected, people can track their progress and, perhaps in some
cases, open their eyes to waste they didn’t even
know was there.
Senior Editor Tim Heston can be reached at
Data Inventions, 513-952-8020,
Industrial Sales & Manufacturing Inc., 814-833-9876,