Too good to be true, you say?
Believe it: the latest production monitoring systems are increasingly internet-based (usually wi-fi) and can be installed by even the most non-techie executive. The goal? Saving money, of course, by utilizing real-time data from the plastic injection molding process, then turning around and making that process more efficient. And that, my friend, saves moolah.
The proof for this comes from metal-working machine shops, where currently, industry-wide, over 80% of manufacturing data is often lost or not used, costing manufacturers thousands of dollars a month. This leads directly to machine inefficiencies which are either not noticed or not promptly diagnosed for lack of data. Manual (human-produced) data reporting systems are time-consuming and notoriously unreliable.
Many experienced injection molders would love an automated system, but consider the available options too costly and too time-consuming, requiring weeks of personnel training and expensive installation. One injection molder decided to do something about it so he built his own. After putting the system through development for more than two years, he christened it Smart Attend, and launched it commercially last June by a company of the same name, based in Aurora, Ontario.
Smart Attend acquires data produced by extruders, injection presses or other equipment and connects it to the plant’s secure cloud server via a small, WiFi-enabled box called a Smart Device. From there, the data is sent to the password-protected PCs of company decision-makers or to mobile devices via the Smart Attend app for iOS or Android. A 2 GB memory card guarantees that data can always be recovered if the network crashes. A proprietary “tower light” with 150 LEDs that flash a wide variety of colors communicate the health of the machine and production to operators.
Initial setup can be completed on a PC through a micro USB cable. Additional Smart Attend settings can be configured directly over the network via the app. With its “plug-and-play” functionality, the whole system can be completed in approximately 20 min without requiring IT or specially trained personnel.
Looks like plastic injection molding machinery has finally entered the “Big Data” age!