Uptime Consultant associate meeting yesterday at The MTC in Coventry
Interesting day yesterday attending the Manufacturing Technology Centre to meet with fellow associates to learn more about the scheme that The Business Launch Centre (BLC) at mtc operates with projects for SMEs and other clients.
This offers a way for fledgling or smaller businesses to access the expertise of the mtcand it's selected associates to assist with productivity improvements, new product launches and the cutting edge technology the centre can provide.
"The MTC Mission is: to inspire Great British Manufacturing, on the global stage. We are about de-risking and accelerating a client's return on investment in technology, new product introduction, productivity improvement and people"
The visit started at 12.00 with half an hour of light lunch and networking for the delegates arriving. This was followed by a brief introduction from each (60 seconds!) about who you were, what you do, an example of a recent productivity improvement and what the ideal client looks like.
There is always a great cross section of Consultants attending ranging from finance, automotive, aerospace, executive coaching, Lean, business strategy, then there was Uptime Consultant with reliability, productivity and pragmatic solutions in processes.
Nigel our host gave us an outline of the afternoon, at a previous meeting we asked to visit the mtc Electronics Laboratory. We split into two groups to witness the cutting edge laboratory and PCB production line that can be used for optimising a clients' product.
First we passed through security as this is a very sensitive area, all phones and cameras are locked in personal safety deposit boxes before entry. Then we were issued with anti-static overalls and shoe covers before electrically discharging ourselves on entry.
The lab was fascinating for a Mechanical Production Engineer like me; it was like visiting the dark side!
The pick and place machinery that could operate at speeds and accuracies that were mind boggling, along with the minute size of the components that were assembled and adhered or soldered to boards was amazing.
Whilst the second group took their tour we went through a presentation from mtcs Rick Shouler, one of their Business Development Managers. Rick took us through the Associates Guide that sets out the relationship details and governance between the mtc and the associate, also how the Reach funding works for clients to gain the maximum advantage from the projects undertaken.
After the Electronics Laboratory tours were finished two associates gave ten minute presentations of a case study and project they had worked on, or were part way through with the assistance of the mtc Business Launch Centre.
We then had a short presentation from Rob who walked us through a recent Factory Simulation project for a client. This is a great service at mtc and one that is most cost effective especially for this client who was relocating because of an increased order book to a new factory space.
This meant phased shutdowns of lines to move the existing operations to the new facility with short lead times to maximise their production. They had an existing 2D layout of what they thought was correct until they worked with the mtc with 3D and the Virtual Cave.
The mtc were able to load the clients data files into their simulator and then invite them to come and walk around the virtual factory layout, this highlighted many issues for process optimisation, after three iterations and two virtual cave visits they had altered the layout by about 70%.
The project was completed within a very short time frame before any equipment was moved and possibly sited in inefficient locations, something that's very hard to put right once you have committed.
I have taken a tour of the Virtual Cave a couple of times now and could see the benefit straight away, one of the simulations allowed me to walk inside a transfer line and inspect the access for tooling and human interaction.
Great technology. If you ever get to visit the Manufacturing Technology Centre make sure you take the Virtual Cave tour.
Visits to the mtc including the above tour are available on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month by prior arrangement. If you are a client of mine or prospective one I could meet you and accompany you if required, just let me know.
It was a very productive afternoon, we all made a few new business connections along the way with associates where there may be opportunities for future collaboration.
Thanks for reading my blog, and if you are thinking of a productivity improvement project then give me a call and we may be able to utilise the Manufacturing Technology Centre in conjunction with the Business Launch Centre.
One of the more popular requests I get at Uptime Consultant is from clients wanting to explore Predictive techniques for their processes and equipment. Many companies still live in a world of reactive pain where one failed machine follows another with technical staff fire fighting an ongoing battle.
It doesn't have to be this way, you do have a choice.
Starting to break the cycle requires a step change and shift in thinking from reactive to proactive and predictive. It's a journey that from my experience is not an overnight fix, it will take months and years to get in control and eradicate those unplanned downtime events. It will be worth it though.
I had a call the other week from EMS Cognito who had a client who had come a long way with the EMS Lean RCM program, they had asked to find out more about the dark arts of Condition Monitoring. They needed a pragmatic practitioner who could not only talk about the technology but demonstrate some entry level tools aimed at front line staff.
The scope was fine for me although the time frame was a little tight, trying to cover five technologies from zero to hands on tools in the plant room, but we did it and highlighted some issues along the way; those low hanging fruit they always talk about!
The top five I cover are: Vibration, Thermography, Ultrasound, Acoustic Emission and Tribology. There are many others but these will cover most industrial plant. My experience is mainly the Food Industry which has a large variety of equipment and conditions that are applicable in other industries.
If they decide they want to invest in training and tooling I can advise on that. When they take delivery of their instruments, I can deliver a one or two day course to get them started quickly with their preventative inspections. If they decide to contract it out I can step in and assist with that, monitoring and reporting back on their critical assets and recommend improvements if required. I can also help them out with RCAs and TPM training.
This industry was new for me, it was a major re-cycling operation in the south east that re-cycles thousands of tonnes a week as part of the Viridor group. It certainly was eye opening when I visited the plant and witnessed the shear scale of our rubbish!
I will always be careful with what I re-cycle from now on and certainly will not throw umbrellas in; this I found out can cause major blockages if they spring open in the conveyor systems.
The good news is that EMS and the Viridor engineers were impressed that they learnt so much in just four hours and they could now consider starting a Predictive program. The Viridor engineers were also happy that I confirmed some suspect drives, discounted others and add to a RCA investigation on another piece of equipment.
The SEW drive shown below was captured with a FLIR Imager and then edited in FLIR Tools App whilst at the machine; I added the Line to highlight the centreline readings and the area box on the gearbox for comparison. The image was then added to a pdf report and sent to the client with a description of findings.
This unit had a blinded fan cowling that if cleaned out would increase the cooling and extend the life of the SEW drive, simple but effective fix.
If you would like to talk about Predictive techniques, RCAs or other related reliability methods then please get in touch; talking costs nothing.