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Remote monitoring allows fabricator to reach new heights in productivity and efficiency

In the fabrication world, fast response times are essential for superior productivity and profitability. While laser machine reliability is extremely high, problems do occur. This requires fast action to get the machine back on track. Access to data and making a timely response are key, and remote monitoring technology helps achieve them.

For example, it takes Clyde Braviere, a mechanical engineer at CGI Automated Manufacturing Inc., who has 18 years of experience with lasers, maybe five seconds to find out his laser machines’ status. This is because he has MC Machinery System Inc.’s remote monitoring system, MC Remote 360, running on his computer and mobile devices.

The MC Remote 360 software allows real-time access to data such as machine state, including run, stop and idle time. Production performance graphing and a view of the program header are also available. Plus, the system includes access to machine backup files through the cloud, user alerts and notifications, and maintenance monitoring. All of this means the various aspects of a machine are tracked and trended to provide insight on where a process can be improved.

CGI Automated Mfg. owns a 92-shelf Mitsubishi River Navigation system for automated material handling. It’s the first of its kind to be paired with two Mitsubishi NX Series lasers in North America.

On the river

It’s not just any laser cell Braviere is using the software to monitor. CGI owns a 92-shelf Mitsubishi River Navigation system for automated material handling – the first of its kind to be paired with two Mitsubishi NX Series lasers in North America. The cell includes a 4-kW 3015NX-F fiber optic laser and a 4-kW 3015NX CO2 laser. The maximum sheet size is 60 in. by 120 in.

Flexibility is a key feature of the River system. It’s easy to automate the setup of small lots and to plan multiple product runs in a single shift. The system makes just about any kind of job, no matter the size, doable at the drop of a hat.

It’s also the perfect setup for a shop that aims to provide an alternative to foreign fabricators that may be cheap but deliver inconsistent quality on long lead times. CGI specializes in short lead times for high-volume production. The company works with stainless steel, aluminum, galvanized, and cold-rolled or hot-rolled material from 24 gauge to 0.5 in. thick. Products include enclosures, mounting equipment, frames, brackets, welded assemblies and various other precision metal components.

As the River system shows, CGI routinely invests in the newest technology and automation innovations to help it stay ahead. When the Romeoville, Ill., fabricator swapped out one of its NX Series CO2 lasers for the fiber laser, the opportunity arose to add remote monitoring to its already-impressive laser cell and the company jumped at the chance.

The MC Remote 360 software allows real-time access to data such as machine state, including run, stop and idle time. Production performance graphing and a view of the program header are also available.

A clear view

CGI delivers on a staggering variety of job types and sizes. So while having live uptime statistics at his fingertips is nice, Braviere turns to the remote monitoring system for much more.

Remote monitoring enables shops to increase productivity and efficiency while at the same time preventing disruptions and even service issues.

“No two days are the same,” Braviere says of the CGI workload. “The ability to see everything such as consumable usage, gas usage, power output or alarms as they’re happening, whether at the office or on a mobile device during unattended work, is invaluable. We can see what is happening and dial in and troubleshoot from anywhere, anytime. It’s a major upgrade over the way things used to be — coming in the next morning and seeing what happened after the fact.”

The monitoring system connects what is happening on the shop floor to the computers, tablets and phones of operators and management. Notifications and access to data are customized for each of the different positions throughout the company. Programmers, operators, shop foremen, even the owners each have their own set of alerts and select whether they want to receive them via e-mail or text.

Braviere explains that this gives his team more flexibility. Laser cutting jobs can take a long time. Real-time viewing of machine status makes it easier for operators to move around the facility and multitask and reply to alerts quickly.

“Guys don’t have to stand around the machines all day anymore,” he says. “Instead of babysitting, they can set up a job, go do something else and then plan to be at the lasers only when they need to.”

MC Machinery Systems also offers Remote Support Service, which CGI uses for software updates and troubleshooting when needed. Issues are diagnosed and resolved directly by MC Machinery’s support team while utilizing the remote support module, potentially eliminating the need for an onsite visit. MC Machinery is notified if the machine is having issues and can help fix the problem using feedback direct from the machine and customer staff or schedule a service visit.

 

CGI Automated Mfg. owns a 92-shelf Mitsubishi River Navigation system for automated material handling. It’s the first of its kind to be paired with two Mitsubishi NX Series lasers in North America.

Benefits across the floor

A precision fabricator dedicated to high efficiency and technology since its founding, CGI has reached new heights in the year it has been using the MC Remote 360.

“We are getting jobs through the cell a lot faster,” Braviere says. “Say a customer is in a pinch and needs a favor; we can predict better what capacities are going to be and where we can fit in that job. It has helped us adapt to different situations more easily and helped us predict ship dates much better.”

Watch how CGI Automated Mfg. Inc. provides sheet metal fabrication and contract manufacturing services to its customers who have a variety of needs – from simple to complex designs, large to small runs and in virtually every type of sheet metal material. 

Although MC Remote 360 only monitors laser operations, the efficiencies and predictability have benefited downstream operations as well.

“We are able to spend more time looking at value-add operations, such as forming, welding, hardware insertion and how fast we can get things to finishing,” Braviere says. “Being able to plan those parts of a job further in advance and with more detail makes maintaining our near-perfect on-time delivery record that much easier.”

CGI Automated Mfg. Inc.

MC Machinery Systems Inc.