Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty recently spoke at a luncheon in London about his new "five-point plan for recovery" for the province of Ontario. Like many present, I wanted to hear a message that would offer legitimate hope for an economic recovery – and a plan that I could really believe in.A simple litmus test for any economic plan is to look at two things: where is the money coming from and where is the money going to? Many plans fail the first test by either borrowing from the future or increasing the tax burden today. This plan likely fails the first test and clearly fails the second.
On a spur of the moment whim, I invited a long term employee out for lunch – my treat, no reason in particular.This individual has worked for me for nearly 20 years. He started with the company shortly after escaping from an Eastern European country with his young family. In a casual conversation earlier in the week, I told him I discovered a great little breakfast and lunch diner that specialized in preparing and serving meals with recipes from his homeland. That discussion resulted in the impromptu invitation to take him out to lunch. I thought I was doing something nice for him, but it ended up being something really important and special to me.
Over the past few years, the metal forming industry in Canada has had to deal with the expense of increased safety standards, while at the same time suffering increased competition from offshore manufacturers. This has made the industry sit back and look at the overall profitability of continuing to manufacture in Canada.Many presses in Canada have older control systems that use outdated technology, limiting their ability to run the sophisticated automation needed to stay current within the modern manufacturing environment. At the same time, these presses often have reliability problems due to the age of the controls and worn out wiring. Since the equipment must be upgraded for safety, it’s also the perfect opportunity to upgrade the overall performance of the pressroom. There are many things to consider when upgrading presses. Of primary importance is determining how to eliminate the risk to the worker when dealing with this type of equipment. If you keep the machinery running with reliable control systems and compliant guarding systems, the worker will rarely become exposed to the hazards presented by the stamping presses and auxiliary feed equipment. Finding a control solution that works with a variety of equipment is a must; standardization of the press controls will allow all the operators to go from one machine to another with minimal training. For example, one of our customers asked us to help modernize an older 1000 ton big-bed press. This particular press was installed in the mid 1970s, and at the time, it was set-up to do a hand transfer operation. The press required six operators and was producing 1200 pieces per shift. It needed a controls upgrade to deal with safety issues, along with the added ability to decrease set-up time and improve the operator interface After looking at the existing control system, we made the decision to start over with a completely new control package, similar to others currently operating in their facility. We designed the press control with die protection, PLS controls, tonnage monitoring and the ability to interface with the existing feed equipment. This interface allows the press control to pass down feed information directly to the servo feeder, reducing overall set-up time. The physical wiring of the press was greatly reduced by using remote Input/Output modules located in areas that contained most of the existing electrical devices. These remote Input/Output modules connect to the main PLC via Ethernet. We then added data collection software to the press control that allowed the company managers to monitor the uptime of the press, giving them a better understanding of what was happening on the shop floor. At the time the electrical system was replaced, the plant also took the time to do a mechanical upgrade on the press, which resulted in the press being able to operate effectively at 20 strokes per minute, up from 12. The plant is now able to produce 9600 pieces per shift compared to the 1200 per shift before the improvements. At the same time, they were able to reduce the number of operators to one. The lesson to be learned here is that manufacturers should not look at safety as a burden, but rather as an opportunity to update older equipment.Walter Veugen is the owner of Veugen Integrated Technologies (VIT), based in New Dundee, Ont. VIT manufactures stamping press controls and peripheral machine guarding systems.
It seems increasingly difficult to be successful in the manufacturing world today. But much of that may depend on how you define and measure success. Simple answers to that question could include one word answers like "profitable" or "growth." Others might expand on those answers using phrases like "responsible growth" or "sustainable profitability." One of my customers has adopted a simple slogan that I really like: "Do good, and do well." It’s an apt slogan for a high tech company operating in the environmental marketplace - every time they sell a system, they make the world a better place. When I first heard it, I wondered if my company, and all manufacturing companies, could adopt a slogan like that.
Much has been said of late about the need for a national manufacturing strategy, including a great article in the September 2007 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION ("WANTED: Manufacturing Strategy"). Leadership is certainly central to this topic and has been a favorite subject of mine over the past the years. We need our leaders to do more than simply develop strategies for survival. We need leaders with a better vision of the future; leaders who can find ways to prosper and grow, not just in changing and challenging times, but also in response to the opportunities that arise from those changes and challenges. We need all our leaders to be engaged, not just the company leaders; we need our government leaders, labour leaders, as well as our company and management leaders, to be engaged.
Product Safety & Liability Prevention Seminar
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EMO Hannover 2019
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