General Grind and Machine has served customers across industries such as heavy equipment, mining, precision components, and agriculture for over forty years.
The company’s recent continuous improvement initiatives focused on increasing OEE and throughput to continue its growth trajectory and boost customer service levels. Its goal was to gain complete control over machine and operational data to reduce downtime, identify production bottlenecks, and improve reaction time.
General Grind partnered with MachineMetrics to capture machine data and gain complete control over its actual machine capacity. This journey provided the foundation for driving continuous improvement initiatives, unlocking capacity, and improving machine utilization across the organization.
Before working with MachineMetrics, General Grind didn't have a way to automatically collect, track, and analyze data. For example, alarms and stops would often result in a machine restart with little or no ability to determine the root cause and implement effective solutions.
This lack of capability reduced available capacity and overall equipment effectiveness. The result was a lack of visibility into the operational data behind these problems and an inability to implement effective improvement procedures.
In one month, General Grind deployed 42 edge devices and 25 tablets across the operation. This pilot was then increased to 78 machines running tablets. For the first 25, the company selected specific work centers they believed could gather the richest insights.
MachineMetrics assisted with installation and worked closely with the General Grind team to get up and running quickly. General Grind then appointed an internal team responsible for collecting, managing, and formatting data. The resulting analysis helped them determine how many tablets to add.
Operators quickly got on board once they learned how MachineMetrics could help them improve performance. They recognized its potential to help them communicate better and faster while eliminating many of their frustrations.
With MachineMetrics in place, General Grind uses a high level of data-driven insight to benefit customers and suppliers.
Before MachineMetrics, General Grind’s average setup time was 101 minutes. The standard expected time was 66 minutes. With a difference between the expected and actual time of 35 minutes, each setup exceeding the expected time was costing production time and constraining capacity. The MachineMetrics Utilization Report helped management determine an accurate utilization baseline and identify hidden capacity.
At the time of implementation, the company’s in-cycle utilization time for edge and front-end tablets was around 12%. One month of data later, this increased to 21% for machines with MachineMetrics edge devices and 24% for machines with a tablet out front. The data from these devices doubled utilization in a very short period and has continued to increase. Approximately 6,900 hours of capacity were gained across the operation.
General Grind now reviews team member utilization weekly, and this process has revealed many improvement opportunities for items that weren’t previously seen as problems. In one example, team members were doing cleanups throughout their shifts, resulting in lower machine utilization. A standard operating procedure wasn’t in place for cleanups, and decisions were made based on what each person thought was the correct amount of cleanup.
The company developed standards for the type and degree of cleanup required on each machine and outlined when those cleanups should be done. Now, employees know precisely what and when something is expected of them. Management believes that optimizing this process resulted in a significant increase in machine utilization.
General Grind has continued to realize utilization gains using MachineMetrics, now focusing on cold start procedures and utilizing “pit crew" style changeover teams for setup optimization.
General Grind & Machine
Blake Bieri, Chief Operations Officer
Agriculture, marine, construction, heavy equipment, mining, firearms, precision components, rail, oil and gas, automotive, aerospace
Grinders, Lathes, Mills, Heat Treating
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