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Making Your Factory Smarter Pays Fast Dividends

 Mohamed Abuali








 Mohamed Abuali
Forcam Inc. (Cincinnati)

Manufacturing Engineering: How critical is monitoring the factory floor for today’s manufacturers?

Mohamed Abuali: Manufacturers today are under significant pressures to increase quality part production and reduce costs to become more competitive. Without real-time actionable intelligence from the factory floor, factories are running in the dark. Smart factory is all about ‘connectivity’ to the shop floor [machines and assets] and to IT systems on the top floor [ERP work orders and operation for part data]. Connectivity leads to visibility and transparency on the shop floor, and allows the shop floor Continuous Improvement Process [CIP] organization to use objectively measured ‘smart’ data to drive improvements on the shop floor. A smart factory is a proactive and predictive factory, and not a reactive factory.

ME: How can shop-floor data management leverage Big Data to make the Digital Factory a reality today?

Abuali: Shop-floor management combines advanced technology with the lean manufacturing philosophy to deliver ‘smart’ data—sustainable, measurable, attainable, realistic, and tangible results in shop-floor productivity. There are global movements such as Industry 4.0/Manufacturing 4.0/Industrial Internet of Things [IIoT], as well as corporate initiatives such as GE Brilliant Factory and others, that are continuously on the hunt for new technologies to drive Big Data on the shop floor. At Forcam, we don’t believe in Big Data, we believe in Smart Data that drives actionable intelligence to every role within the CIP organization, plant management, operations directors, VPs, operators, machine supervisors. We believe in ‘less is more,’ to assist every role within the organization with the right actionable data to help them drive productivity gains in no time.

ME: Why aren’t more shops using monitoring?

Abuali: Manufacturers are looking for low-cost, rapidly deployable, and fast-ROI solutions to capture real-time data and for the right training to use the data to prove significant productivity gains. Factory managers are reluctant to invest in upgrading their IT infrastructure, retrofitting legacy machinery, and spending countless hours with technology vendors performing long and costly specifications to deploy shop floor systems. At Forcam, we listened aggressively to the market and we introduced an innovative concept, called the Smart Factory Starter Kit, that exactly meets the needs of the client. The client is asked to select any three machines on the shop floor of any type and any age and real-time data can be at their fingertips within days if not hours, via the cloud, and on their smartphones. The Forcam Academy then trains the Starter-Kit users to make meaning of the data and to achieve at least a 5-10% gains in productivity within a three-month pilot, with 100% ROI of the starter kit investment. Our unique value promise to our customers realized: we deliver you results in productivity.

ME: How can your company’s software and manufacturing expertise help improve shops’ productivity?

Abuali: Forcam spun off from SAP in the early 2000s as our founder, Franz Gruber, realized a big gap and critical disconnect between what happens in ERP systems on the IT top floor and what the machines and assets are performing on the shop floor. For that reason, Forcam grew our technology significantly to meet the needs of discrete manufacturers, both enterprise and SMB clients alike, in automotive, aerospace and defense, medical devices, and many other sectors. Clients in automotive like Audi utilized Forcam’s technology to improve productivity by more than 20% within 12 months and their stamping plants went to the top of the Harbour Report rankings. Clients in aerospace like GKN Aerospace used Forcam’s technology to reduce operational cycle time on parts by more than 20% within six months and to win a large contract with an aerospace OEM with whom they supply the parts.

ME: Describe Forcam’s latest Force software offering. What can it do to help improve shop efficiency?With Forcam’s new Force shop-floor management software, users get fast factory-floor productivity improvements.

Abuali: Forcam Force is an award-winning shop-floor system recognized by analyst firms like Frost & Sullivan as well as Gartner in the recent 2015 MES Market Guide, and it recently has been given the Plant Engineering 2015 Product of the Year Award. Forcam Force offers a unique single instance [multi-tenant] platform and an In-Memory computing architecture for fast Big Data crunching. The technology is fully Web-based with the latest HTML5 and it offers a rule-engine configurator based on Complex Event Processing (CEP) for business modelling of factory connectivity through the Forcam Force Bridge. Bridge is a single unified IT platform of software drivers and plug-ins for any CNC/PLC type and age, as well as IT systems like SAP and other ERPs, quality systems, maintenance systems, and tool data management. Forcam deploys advanced technology in a modular phased approach to meet and exceed the needs of our clients, starting with a Smart Factory Starter Kit, for a low-cost, quick deployment, and a guaranteed ROI of at least 5-10% within a 60-day trial run.

ME: What customers today, or what industries, are doing best in implementing digital manufacturing technology?

Abuali: Forcam delivers technology and training to discrete manufacturers in automotive, aerospace, medical devices and many others. In some industry sectors, like life sciences and med devices, there is a push for regulatory compliance and standardization that mandates implementing digital manufacturing technology. Other industries like aerospace are under extreme pressure to meet the almost nine-year order backlog of aircraft to be delivered by OEMs. Such backlogs force both aerospace OEMs and tier suppliers alike to look for ways to cut waste and drive improvements on the shop floor. Automotive OEMs are spearheading the use of digital technology on the shop floor, especially for product traceability, but many are now looking to upgrade their outdated systems that are mostly homegrown.



Metrology giant Hexagon AB (Nacka Strand, Sweden) announced on March 23 that it has acquired Forming Technologies Inc. (FIT; Burlington, ON, Canada), developer of forming applications software that reduces development time and material costs of sheetmetal components.

Founded in 1989, FIT serves OEMs and suppliers in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, and appliance industries with sheetmetal design, simulation, feasibility, and costing solutions. Its technology portfolio enables customers to validate designs before they go into production and immediately reduce labor and material costs.

“Closing the manufacturing feedback loop to enhance quality and productivity is an integral part of our solutions strategy,” said Hexagon President and CEO Ola Rollén in a statement. “Combining FTI’s CAE [computer-aided engineering] technologies and knowledge of automotive sheetmetal applications with our CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) and metrology solutions will enable us to deliver substantial productivity gains to our automotive customers.”

The deal is fully consolidated, and Hexagon said it would have no significant impact on the company’s earnings.



Siemens AG (Munich and Berlin) announced March 17 that it has opened Cyber Security Operation Centers (CSOC) for the protection of industrial facilities, with a joint location in Lisbon and Munich and one in Milford, OH. Siemens industrial security specialists based at these sites monitor industrial facilities all around the world for cyber threats, warn companies in the event of security incidents and coordinate proactive countermeasures.

These protective measures are part of Siemens’ extensive Plant Security Services with which the enterprise supports companies in the manufacturing and processing industry in encountering constantly changing security threats and increasing plant availability. The increased networking of industrial infrastructures, with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0, calls for appropriate protective action for the automation environment, the company said.

Siemens Plant Security Services will offer services ranging from Security Assessments and the installation of protective measures, such as firewalls and virus protection (Security Implementation), through to the continuous surveillance of plants with the Managed Security Services, which is now offered by the CSOCs themselves. If the Siemens experts detect an increased risk, they give the customer an early warning, issue recommendations for proactive countermeasures and coordinate their implementation. Countermeasures are based on the criticality of the incident and the likely impact on the customer’s business. They include modifying firewall rules or providing updates for closing gaps in security.


New Releases

NASA spin-off Collier Research Corp. (Newport News, VA) has released a new version of its HyperSizer CAE software with its new HyperSizer Express for composite engineering applications.

HyperSizer Express delivers key capabilities of Collier’s high-end HyperSizer tool in a user-friendly package aimed at the composite engineer. The easy-to-use HyperSizer Express allows 95% of users to, without a manual or instruction, import finite element models (FEM) into Express and produce optimum composite laminates that satisfy all analyses to all load cases within 30 minutes. The automatically updated model will arrive at the minimum weight with global plies identified, layer by layer, producing fully manufacturable laminate designs.HyperSizer Express software used in optimization and analysis of a bike frame’s FEA stresses and other factors.

Express is tightly coupled to FEA programs, such as NASTRAN and Abaqus. Applications can include automotive doors, trunks, hoods, body panels, floor panels, body in white; aerospace, for seats, doors, winglets, and flaps; sporting goods including bike frames, snowboards, tennis racquets; medical orthopedic prostheses; industrial robotic end effectors; marine; wind energy turbine blades.

CAM software developer DP Technology Corp. (Camarillo, CA) has released its new Esprit 2016 CAM software that adds new ProfitTurning high-speed lathe roughing strategies.

The Esprit 2016 software features ProfitTurning strategies that implements DP Technology’s new Physics-Based Cutting Engine. While traditional cutting strategies only consider the geometry of the part, ProfitTurning creates the toolpath considering multiple cutting factors and machine characteristics that impact machining performance.

Simulation speed also plays a pivotal role in CAM software and Esprit continues to be at the forefront of accelerating simulation without compromising accuracy or stability. The updated CAM software includes increased simulation speed and higher quality surface finishing saving the user valuable time.

Software Update is edited by Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak;

This article was first published in the May 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read “Making Your Factory Smarter Pays Fast Dividends” as a PDF.

Published Date : 5/1/2016

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