Homeyer purchases manufacturing analytics software from MEMEX Inc.

Article from Metalforming Magazine

 

Homeyer Precision Manufacturing Co., Marthasville, MO, has purchased Merlin Enterprise Edition, an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) company-wide communications platform that provides manufacturing analytics in real time, from Memex Inc. The sale includes 23 licenses of Merlin for overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and direct numerical control, as well as nine MTConnect hardware adapters for legacy CNC-manufacturing machines.
“IIoT is a powerful trend, and Merlin makes IIoT real by equipping industrial machines with the necessary interfaces for connecting, collecting and analyzing manufacturing data in real time,” says Homeyer, who also is chairman of the board for the National Tooling and Machining Association. “One of the things that most impressed us is how no machine is left behind regardless of make or vintage, and the software’s ability to implement quickly on our factory floor without costly integration services or associated time lags. With this real-time visibility, we look forward to a significant boost in OEE.”
Homeyer Precision Manufacturing produces precision metal parts for many industries, including aerospace, defense, oil and gas, and energy production. Memex provides manufacturing-productivity analytics. For more on Merlin, the company’s flagship product, visit www.memexoee.com.

 

 

MEMEX Inc. in Canadian Metalworking Magazine

Machine Tool Controls

Reducing cycle times and increasing productivity.

January 4, 2016

by Nate Hendley

A series of new or newly updated machine tool controls promise to make machining more productive and easier for operators in firms large and small.

“Shops of all sizes are continuously looking for ways to monitor their shops more effectively…because, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” notes Mike Cope, senior product technical specialist at Hurco Companies, Inc., of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Cope offers a forecast of where machine controls might go in the years ahead.

“I think we will see new products becoming available in the future that will allow shop owners to monitor everything from something like a ‘master console’. We already see this beginning with third-party software like MT Connect, and even from machine tool builders like Hurco, with UltiMonitor. Both of these are examples of software that can allow the user to log on, via the Internet, and monitor what is going on in his shop ‘real-time’,” he says.

Ray Buxton, general manager at Mazak Corporation Canada in Cambridge, Ontario, cites “digital integration” as the wave of the future.

“Mazak is working with companies like Cisco and MEMEX develop complete digital integration in factories. I don’t think this will be limited to just big plants. This emerging technology—some call it “The Internet of Everything”—will link machines, ERP systems, scheduled and predictive maintenance and customers directly with each other for real time sharing of information,” says Buxton.

Small cap discoveries for 2016- report from Sophic Capital in Cantech Letter

BY 0 COMMENTS

Sophic2016
This report was adapted by Cantech Letter from a piece prepared by Sophic Capital. For the original report, and more in-depth research, please visit Sophic Capital’s website, here.

The stock markets are recovering from summer’s ugly sell-off. Small-cap stocks got slaughtered, and when small-cap stocks get slaughtered, a lot of Canadian small-cap technology stocks are crushed. Summer was no exception and combined with tax-loss selling we think some names are set up well for 2016. Thankfully, at least from a stock-market perspective, summer is over, and investors are starting to get interested in good stocks again. If you’re an optimist, you know the summer slaughter was a temporary blip over the long-term, and small-cap tech stocks are ripe hunting grounds to find multi-baggers, even after the Fall rally.

More excerpts from the report…

“I know exactly what is happening on my plant floor” – don’t believe it.This is the perception of many people who work within manufacturing facilities. However, many have no basis to reach this conclusion. It’s a problem prevalent in the manufacturing industry. Machines and robots manufacture almost everything we use. And although these machines are reliable, few are monitored for efficiency. And if something isn’t monitored, it cannot be optimized. We believe that industrial IoT will have a big impact that will likely reward investors handsomely. Major machine manufacturers are modifying their machines to accommodate monitoring, but the majority of machines in use today aren’t exploiting this ability. Later on in this report, we highlight MEMEX Inc. (TSXV:OEE), a company disrupting manufacturing facilities by helping machines to “talk.”

For the manufacturing industry, IoT has the potential to grow from $42.2 billion in 2013 to $98.8 billion in 2018 (18.6% CAGR). IDC, the research firm that created the forecast, believes that efforts to increase efficiency and link islands of automation on the factory floor will be the drivers behind this growth.* Exhibit 23 details some of the reasons why manufacturers are considering IoT solutions. So how can investors participate in the enormous Industrial Internet of Things market?

 

MEMEX Inc.’s flagship product MERLIN is an industrial-strength shop-floor-to-top-floor communications platform that massively boosts productivity in highly competitive, data-driven manufacturing companies like Mazak, Magellan Aerospace, and Milwaukee Tool. MERLIN software allows factories to monitor productivity and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metrics anywhere in real-time. Proven in single and multi-plant installations on three continents, MERLIN delivers a 10% to 50% average productivity increase, earns 20%-plus profit improvement based on just a 10% increase in OEE, consistently achieves payback in less than 4 months with an Internal Rate of Return greater than 300%, and connects to any machine, old or new. With MERLIN, the productivity promise of Industrial IoT isn’t a theoretical construct – it’s a real-time reality.

 

For the original piece in Cantech letter  click here 

Fabricating and Metalworking.com Record Financial Results for Memex

Revenue increased to $2.1 million, or 115 percent higher than the prior year.

  • The company generated record revenue of $2.1 million, $1.1 million or 115 percent higher than the prior year.
  • The company achieved record gross margin of $1.3 million, 200 percent higher than the prior year.
  • Unearned revenue of $582 thousand closed the year at a record high, $129 thousand or 28.5 percent higher than the previous high at September 30, 2014.

The company showed a $2.4 million net and comprehensive loss for the year equating to a $0.030 loss per share. This compares with a $2.1 million net and comprehensive loss and a $0.040 loss per share in 2014. Memex qualified for up to $800 thousand in Government of Canada funding through FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Business Innovation (“IBI”) initiative. Financial Highlights for the quarter ended September 30, 2015:

  • The company generated quarterly revenue of $575 thousand, a $373 thousand or 179 percent increase when compared to Q4-2014, and $124 thousand more than Q3-2015.
  • The quarterly loss from operations of $600 thousand was down $153 thousand from $753 thousand for the same period a year ago, and $266 thousand less than the $866 thousand reported Q3-2015.

Operational highlights for the year inlude:

  • The company sold its flagship software product, MERLIN, to 32 new manufacturing enterprise customers in Canada, Mexico, the United States and Australia including Lynch Fluid Controls Inc., Koss Aerospace Ltd., Industrial B&S de Mexico SA de CV, FM Industries Inc., ANCA Pty Ltd., The Oilgear Company and Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation.
  • In August 2015 the company was invited by Mazak Corporation, a global machine tool leader, to join its exclusive Value Inspired Partner (VIP) program. Memex is the only such partner offering software in its category.
  • The company acquired the intellectual property and other related assets of Dostek Incorporated and engaged its president, Doug Struthers, in the role of Merlin Direct Numerical Control (DNC) Architect to bolster Merlin’s DNC product capabilities.
  • Commencing January 2015, the company focused its own Partner Channel program on relationships and future business potential with three of its largest partners: Mazak, Okuma, and Mazak Optonics.

“We are very proud of our accomplishments during fiscal 2015, and our team is focused on achieving even greater growth,” stated Memex president and chief exective officer David McPhail. “More than 90 percent of manufacturers today run their factories without IIoT software and our job is to turn them on to MERLIN’s well-documented return on investment. I commend each and every one of our employees for their contributions to this record year. And all of us want to thank our new and existing manufacturing customers for placing their trust in us as they take advantage of our software’s productivity promise.”

“We have expanded MERLIN’s global customer footprint, continued investment in the development of our direct sales and partner channels, and achieved success with key partners,” noted the company’s vice president of sales, John Rattray. “As well as customer expansion, we have immense potential within our existing install base. All of this progress is reflected in the numbers reported. The Industrial Internet of Things is a desirable concept to many advanced manufacturing firms. To our customers however, it’s an achievable, real-time reality with fast payback.”

To see the full article click here 

The deMetallo metalworking supplier discovery platform promotes MEMEX’s MERLIN sale to Aero Pacific.

Aero Pacific initiates plant-wide purchase of MERLIN enterprise edition software from MEMEX

23 December
MEMEX Inc. has announced that Aero Pacific Corporation, a U.S. manufacturer of aircraft parts and equipment, has purchased MERLIN Enterprise Edition for a plant-wide implementation in Placentia, CA. 30 licenses of MERLIN Enterprise Edition for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and Direct Numerical Control (DNC), plus 28 MERLIN MTConnect hardware adapters for CNC manufacturing machines will be deployed.”MERLIN’s ability to connect every CNC machine on our factory floor despite make or origin utilizing the MTConnect communications standard for industrial equipment is integral to our efforts to further improve our quality and productivity,” said Mark Heasley, President at Aero Pacific. “Direct, real-time communication from our production equipment will give us a strategic advantage with our customers. We are deploying MERLIN in all three of our plant facilities and look forward to seeing its impact.”MEMEX’s flagship software product, MERLIN, is an industrial-strength shop-floor-to-top-floor communications platform that provides efficiency metrics in real time. Specifically, MERLIN delivers a 10%-50% average productivity increase, and earns 20%-plus profit improvement based on just a 10% increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). It consistently achieves payback in less than four months with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) greater than 300%, and connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing native MTConnect or hardware adapters for older machines.”After more than 50 years in business, Aero Pacific is a legendary name in California’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing industry,” said John Rattray, MEMEX’s Vice President of Sales. “We are proud to see them join more than 100 leading manufacturers like Mazak, Magellan Aerospace and Milwaukee Tool in recognizing MERLIN’s unique ability to realize the promise of the Industrial Internet of Things by connecting the shop floor to the top floor.”Memex is a leading Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology platform provider that connects to any machine and delivers real-time manufacturing productivity metrics. Industrial strength MERLIN software provides Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) efficiency metrics in real time, from shop-floor-to-top-floor. Specifically, MERLIN delivers a 10%-50% average productivity increase, and earns 20%-plus profit improvement based on just a 10% increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). It consistently achieves payback in less than four months with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) greater than 300%, and connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing native MTConnect or hardware adapters for older machines.

To see the article please click here

MEMEX appears in Machine Tools Online

 Aero Pacific Initiates Plant-Wide Purchase Of MERLIN Enterprise Edition Software From MEMEX

 Burlington, ON (Marketwired) – MEMEX Inc. (TSX VENTURE: OEE) is pleased to announce that Aero Pacific Corporation, a U.S. manufacturer of aircraft parts and equipment, has purchased MERLIN Enterprise Edition for a plant-wide implementation in Placentia, CA. 30 licenses of MERLIN Enterprise Edition for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and Direct Numerical Control (DNC), plus 28 MERLIN MTConnect hardware adapters for CNC manufacturing machines will be deployed.

“MERLIN’s ability to connect every CNC machine on our factory floor despite make or origin utilizing the MTConnect communications standard for industrial equipment is integral to our efforts to further improve our quality and productivity,” said Mark Heasley, President at Aero Pacific. “Direct, real-time communication from our production equipment will give us a strategic advantage with our customers. We are deploying MERLIN in all three of our plant facilities and look forward to seeing its impact.”

MEMEX’s flagship software product, MERLIN, is an industrial-strength shop-floor-to-top-floor communications platform that provides efficiency metrics in real time. Specifically, MERLIN delivers a 10%-50% average productivity increase, and earns 20%-plus profit improvement based on just a 10% increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). It consistently achieves payback in less than four months with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) greater than 300%, and connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing native MTConnect or hardware adapters for older machines.

“After more than 50 years in business, Aero Pacific is a legendary name in California’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing industry,” said John Rattray, MEMEX’s Vice President of Sales. “We are proud to see them join more than 100 leading manufacturers like Mazak, Magellan Aerospace and Milwaukee Tool in recognizing MERLIN’s unique ability to realize the promise of the Industrial Internet of Things by connecting the shop floor to the top floor.”

About MEMEX Inc.
Memex is a leading Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology platform provider that connects to any machine and delivers real-time manufacturing productivity metrics. Industrial strength MERLIN software provides Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) efficiency metrics in real time, from shop-floor-to-top-floor. Specifically, MERLIN delivers a 10%-50% average productivity increase, and earns 20%-plus profit improvement based on just a 10% increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). It consistently achieves payback in less than four months with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) greater than 300%, and connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing native MTConnect or hardware adapters for older machines. For more information, please visit: www.memex.ca.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation services provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

SOURCE: Memex Inc.

For the full article please click here 

 

 

MEMEX Inc. in MRO Magazine

Aero Pacific Initiates Plant-Wide Purchase of MERLIN Enterprise Edition Software From MEMEX

BURLINGTON, ON–(Marketwired – December 22, 2015) – MEMEX Inc. (TSX VENTURE:OEE) is pleased to announce that Aero Pacific Corporation, a U.S. manufacturer of aircraft parts and equipment, has purchased MERLIN Enterprise Edition for a plant-wide implementation in Placentia, CA. 30 licenses of MERLIN Enterprise Edition for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and Direct Numerical Control (DNC), plus 28 MERLIN MTConnect hardware adapters for CNC manufacturing machines will be deployed.

“MERLIN’s ability to connect every CNC machine on our factory floor despite make or origin utilizing the MTConnect communications standard for industrial equipment is integral to our efforts to further improve our quality and productivity,” said Mark Heasley, President at Aero Pacific. “Direct, real-time communication from our production equipment will give us a strategic advantage with our customers. We are deploying MERLIN in all three of our plant facilities and look forward to seeing its impact.”

MEMEX’s flagship software product, MERLIN, is an industrial-strength shop-floor-to-top-floor communications platform that provides efficiency metrics in real time. Specifically, MERLIN delivers a 10%-50% average productivity increase, and earns 20%-plus profit improvement based on just a 10% increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). It consistently achieves payback in less than four months with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) greater than 300%, and connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing native MTConnect or hardware adapters for older machines.

“After more than 50 years in business, Aero Pacific is a legendary name in California’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing industry,” said John Rattray, MEMEX’s Vice President of Sales. “We are proud to see them join more than 100 leading manufacturers like Mazak, Magellan Aerospace and Milwaukee Tool in recognizing MERLIN’s unique ability to realize the promise of the Industrial Internet of Things by connecting the shop floor to the top floor.”

About MEMEX Inc.

Memex is a leading Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology platform provider that connects to any machine and delivers real-time manufacturing productivity metrics. Industrial strength MERLIN software provides Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) efficiency metrics in real time, from shop-floor-to-top-floor. Specifically, MERLIN delivers a 10%-50% average productivity increase, and earns 20%-plus profit improvement based on just a 10% increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). It consistently achieves payback in less than four months with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) greater than 300%, and connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing native MTConnect or hardware adapters for older machines. For more information, please visit: www.memex.ca.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation services provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Media Contact

MEMEX Inc.
John Rattray
VP Sales
Phone: 905-635-1540 ext. 201
Email: john.rattray@MemexOEE.com

MEMEX Inc.
Nathan Rudyk
VP Marketing
Phone: 905-635-1540 ext. 216
Email: nathan.rudyk@MemexOEE.com

 

MEMEX part of Manufacturer’s Outlook 2016

“The 365 responses to the 2016 edition of the PLANT Manufacturers’ Outlook survey show that owners and senior executives of companies across Canada, most of them with less than 100 employees, are looking forward to the year ahead. Almost a third (32%) of senior executives are flat-out optimistic about their prospects, but 57% are cautiously so. ”

It’s an honour reflecting our industry leadership position that PLANT invites MEMEX to contribute to its Annual Manufacturing Outlook 2016.

MEMEX VP Sales John Rattray is quoted on companies adopting to changing technology.  “There has been a huge change that we’ve seen and it’s been literally in the last year and a half,” he said. “We still believe we’re dealing mostly with early adopters. ” The vast majority of people are still trying to figure things out. Certainly our business is growing. We’re over 100% growth per year.” But he sees knowledge-based strategic planning and thinking, and how to apply technology to be a big issue. Most manufacturers, he said, are preoccupied with issues of the day and can’t think outside the box. “Companies need help.” “there is help available, but companies must also be prepared to change the way they do things.”

You’ll find the entire article here

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CONNECTING THE SHOP FLOOR

From FABSHOP Magazine Direct

 Interconnectivity was a dominating theme at Fabtech, and it is evolving into a new concept with a new buzzword, ‘Industry 4.0.’ Its meaning is broad and it will take some time to tame it into something useful, but it’s coming fast and it will affect us all.

By Larry Adams, Senior Editor

The Internet of Things (IOT). The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT). Big data, the Cloud, Industry 4.0. These and other buzzwords have been flying around the last few years, but the buzz for the most part seemed to only briefly and intermittently touch the fabricating industry. You likely know that if you’ve been reading the pages of Fab Shop this year.

That flight plan altered perceptively as this interconnectivity concept landed at Fabtech; not with a thud or with a tentative toe, but with a resounding splash as equipment manufacturers of all sorts, from welding companies to waterjet manufacturers, laser suppliers to robotics developers, all made it clear that their machines could communicate with each other—as well as upstream and downstream vendors and end users—and that a shop floor could now be connected in this way whether via Industry 4.0, IIOT or some other nomenclature.

Just what is Industry 4.0, or its other related names, mean? That is the question that Editor Ed Huntress posed in his Editor’s Letter (see page xx), and while individual distinctions could probably be seen, the concept involves smart machines utilizing dedicated sensors and other information gathering devices, with some networking functionality that allows machines and planning systems within and outside of the workplace to better coordinate and optimize productivity.

According to Tobias Reuther, automation manager at Trumpf Inc., today’s interconnectivity technology allows manufacturers to “look at more than just a single machine, and look to the entire shop and the entire network of manufacturing.” One important goal, he added, is to use this data to add value to a job and remove as much of the non-value added activities as possible.

(These systems are also, in a sense, an homage to tomorrow’s workforce, that Matthew Fowles, global marketing manager for LVD Strippit, said is “far more IT knowledgeable than they are about cutting and welding. So, we are building that intelligence into the software.”)

ESAB WeldCloud

LVD Strippit showcased its interconnective capabilities both in the real world with a laser system and a panel bender operating using in situ data to create parts, and a virtual factory that they used for showing interested attendees how this concept can work in a fast paced, oft-changing factory floor in which customers are ordering smaller batches of parts that are often more complex than ever before.

“The company’s (LVD) philosophy over the years has always been what we call ‘integrated sheet metalworking’,” said Fowles. “Fifteen years ago, what that meant was being able to take an electronic part, take it through the CAM process and be able to make an accurate part, the first time. Now it is a lot more.”

But, LVD’s concept is a lot more than just 4.0, Fowles said showing a process map drawn on a wall of the booth depicting how a typical fab shop layout works.

At the show, they ran a live network of machines working with LVD’s centralized CADMAN database, said Fowles. “All of our machines are now social machines. All of our controllers are telling the central databases what they are doing at any given time.”

LVD CADMAN Job Part Manufacturing

The company’s CADMAN suite is LVD’s answer to full process integration between software and bending, laser cutting, and punching machines. It comprises a core database and works on different levels: interacting with ERP, efficiently classifying jobs with its CADMAN-JOB module and performs offline work preparation with its touch controls for bending and laser cutting, and interacts with the machines and the company’s Touch-i4 tablet to quickly view and analyze data.

Jamie Forsyth, LVD’s product specialist for offline software, said that CADMAN job can be set up on any PC for any user and gives an overview of what is going on in the entire workplace. In terms of a company ERP system, she said that orders that are sent into ERP are automatically flowed into the CADMAN software and everything that goes into that job is known. The system automatically determines such necessities as the required tooling and finds programming solutions to machining that part.

This could mean taking orders from multiple customers and nesting the parts to better optimize production or getting a rush job to replace bad parts.

LVD Cadman-L Machining 

While terminology is different, Trumpf also showcased multiple ways to better optimize production. Its TruTops Boost software integrates all design and programming capabilities, and eliminates the need to have different programs for different technologies.

In addition, Trumpf announced it had created a spin-off company calledAXOOM that Reuther says supports the entire production value chain using Industry 4.0. Like LVD, the goal is to capture data—“anything, anywhere at anytime in real time,” Reuther said. This is true for better organizing jobs and how to run them, but it is also true for predictive maintenance and other quality related requirements.

“It used to be the industry would run a machine for a week and then we would go back and see how it went and then try to optimize the process. Now, with this method, it can tell you where to improve the process in real-time.”

LVD Strippit Cadman Chart

For instance, Reuther, pointing at a laser system, said that if that nozzle were starting to go bad, sensors on the machine would alert the operator, and perhaps even automatically order the required part. In all, he said that approximately 20 parameters on a laser cutter can be tracked and information on the machine or machine activity can be tracked.

The AXOOM system features an order management module, resource management module, and a logistics module. The foundation for the production planning module and the shop floor is a dynamic planning algorithm that responds instantly to rush orders or malfunctions and recommends solutions. After the production manager has signed off on the incoming order, suggestions for optimal production scheduling are automatically generated. The complex tasks of material provisioning and scheduling of machines and personnel – along with determining the sequence of processing steps – are optimized independently by the AXOOM platform, acting as a manufacturing advisor. On the shop floor, the operator can decline the advice.

LVD’s Jamie Forsyth operates tablet 

Another company promoting its interconnectivity capabilities was Mazak Optronics, but in a slightly different way. In addition to its fabricating machines, Mazak has a substantial presence in the traditional chip making side of the metal working industry and as such has a lot of experience using MTConnect, an open protocol developed the AMT- The Association For Manufacturing Technology, that has been successfully tested by NIST and other groups to show how even very dissimilar machines and machine types can communicate with each other, said Dave Edstrom, chief technology officer for MEMEX Inc., the company that has partnered with Mazak to help analyze data collected by Mazak machines.

MEMEX’s “shop-floor-to-top-floor communications platform” is called Merlin and will work with Mazak’s new iSMART Factory concept that it says will harnesses the power of connectivity to optimize manufacturing operations at every level.

According to David Widlund, regional sales manager for Mazak, all the Mazak fabricating and metalworking machines come standard with MTConnect. “Now, we can take all the data out of the machine and go to the company that we have partnered with, Memex, and get a full dashboard on each machine, just like you would on the chip side.”

Another company utilizing Industry 4.0 is ESAB Welding & Cutting Products.In its huge, compound of a “booth” ESAB showcased a variety of welding technologies, and set among the mammoth space was an area dedicated to its new WeldCloud online data management platform. Weld Cloud integrates with other customer systems such as ERP, MRP, and QA to generate and analyze data.

Using any device with a web browser, users access applications and dashboards with functionality tailored for the job needs of different personnel: operations managers, quality managers, engineers, welders, maintenance staff, training supervisors, and others.

With WeldCloud, customers can facilitate traceability from single welds to the complete product utilizing a database that contains key information of every weld seam. It can develop weld schedules on a single machine, move them into the Cloud, and then push them out to other welding systems and remotely manage welding parameters, set limits, and set alarms for deviations.

It can also ensure complete documentation of filler metals, consumables, operator qualifications, and parameters, which is critical for companies that are required to keep this information for their customers or for standards certification agencies.

“While faster welding speeds and increased deposition rates reduce cycle time, automating activities that surround the welding processes enables users to make quantum leaps in productivity, quality and machine efficiency possible,” says Roul Kierkels, acting product manager for WeldCloud.

To see the full article please click here 

The future of optimization and automation in sawmilling

Mill managers optimize in Montreal

 December 07, 2015

December 7, 2015 – Sawmillers from across North America headed to the Marriott Airport Hotel in Montreal on Dec. 2 to attend the inaugural OptiSaw Mill Optimization & Automation Forum, a one-day workshop focused on the future of optimization and automation in sawmilling.

Nearly 70 sawmill managers and owners showed up to hear about the top scanning, optimization and automation technology being used in mills today, as well as learn about the future technologies coming to the sector.

The day’s agenda covered a wide variety of sawmill-related topics by seven expert speakers.

HewSaw’s Kenneth Westermark kicked off the day with a presentation on European efficiency, which offered a close look at the upgrading of Metsä Wood’s Vilppula sawmill in Finland, which was done to manage high labour costs, improve overall recovery and improve safety throughout all the operations in the mill.

Westermark

“It was a very labour intensive operation,” Westermark told the crowd. “The price for labour in Finland is not cheap, it’s $75,000 per operator so they really needed to do something.”

The presentation then reviewed the recent rebuilding of Idaho Forest Group’s (IFG) sawmill in Lewiston, Idaho. IFG recently spent more than US$60 million upgrading the mill, which included some of the top technologies available for sawmills today, including the first-ever HewSaw SL250 3.4 sawline to be installed in North America. The mill is expected to produce about 340 million bdft in 2016 and eventually surpass the 400 million bdft. mark.

Grade optimization
Norvin Laudon, chief technology officer for Springer Microtec, discussed revolutionary grade optimization in the bucking and sawing process using real-time CT scanning.

“One of our customers told us his dream is to saw from the inside out,” said Laudon. “What he meant by that was being able to look inside of a saw log and see all the internal defects and then optimize his saw wood based on the grade or the real value of the board rather than the volume. This is accomplished with a CT scanner.”

Norvin
His company’s CT log scanners allow operators to look inside logs when making their decisions to fully optimize the use of each log. The technology allows operators to obtain detailed information on both sawn and peeled wood products.

“3D scanners traditionally have given you the outer shape of the log,” said Laudon. “What a volume image basically does is the scanner produces 2D slices of the inside of a log and measures every centimetre. We put together all of the slices together and we get a 3D volume image.”

The 3D image is then used for virtual sawing.

“I can take a virtual saw and slice through my log in any plane possible and see exactly what the sawing surface is going to look like,” he said. “The reason you’re doing these virtual cuts is to evaluate the quality of the end product before you touch it with a saw.”

Springer Microtec recently installed one if its CT scanners running at a North American bucking line.

Robotics and automation
Automation and robotics expert David McPhail, president and CEO of Memex Inc., wrapped up the morning’s sessions by discussing how the use of data collection, automation and robotics could potentially be applied to lumber manufacturing operations. McPhail’s presentation focused on the benefits of data driven manufacturing and how it can be applied to the sector.

David McPhail
“What we’re talking about here is taking data from the plant floor equipment and presenting it in a way that the operational management team can use to affect change, and ultimately, increase the sustainability and profitability of your organizations,” he told the crowd.

McPhail discussed how there are manufacturing companies that are able to connect every single asset in their factories to a dashboard, database or a piece of visualization software and are able to take action based on that data.

“Like being able to predict when something is going to fail, or dispatch resources to fix something before there’s a significant amount of downtime,” he explained. “The concepts are here today with manufacturers in different verticals but it’s available to all of you today as well.”

Drying techniques
The next two sessions focused on optimizing the drying process and looked at two different techniques.

The first technique was radio frequency (RF) continuous re-drying, which was explained by FPInnovations wood drying scientist Vincent Lavoie.

DSC 0260
Lavoie offered the crowd a brief history of RF continuous drying and discussed his organization’s trials combining RF technology with a streamlined process to identify and re-dry planer wets.

The concept is designed to avoid over-drying in the main kilns and prevent excess handling of wets.

“It is not a technology that would supplement the conventional dryers, it would become an addition to traditional dryers,” he explained. “The main innovation in our approach is that we measure the moisture content piece by piece and can make a decision if the moisture content is correct or not.”

Lavoie presented an animated presentation showing a potential mill layout using the RF drying process, which was created through a partnership with Laval University.

In the presentation, the wet boards are sent to an RF continuous kiln and travel on a merry-go-round-styled model until they reach their appropriate moisture content. At which point the wets return to the line and are sent to the planer.

“There’s an advantage in productivity and quality,” Lavoie said.

Bob Pope, senior account manager with USNR, presented a second option for optimizing the drying process in counter-flow continuous drying. Pope discussed the benefits of the technology, which is operational in several mills throughout North America, and the new options for cold climate installs.

Bob Pope
Pope said that by having pre-treatment and post-treatment sessions on lumber drying, the exposure to high temperatures is reduced, which can prevent lumber from hitting lower moisture content levels then required.

“This gets you less splits and less warp, which means it will run a little better through the planer mill,” he said. “If it runs better through the planer mill, it’s not going to break up on you. If it doesn’t break up on you, your production is a little bit better.”

Optimizing wood flow
The next presentation focused on new tools for determining value in a given stand of timber based on real world results.

Since 2012, Francis Charette, a researcher in the modeling and decision support division of FPInnovations, has been developing models for value chain optimization with expertise in assigning value to wood supply for the lumber market; value chain management software (FPInterface), which gives costing for many value chain scenarios from stump to market; and a wood net value model (WoodValue) to calculate the net value of a forest or a pile of wood without specialized skills.

Francis Charette
The big advantage to these models do not require employees to have a degree in linear programming to use them, reducing the need for additional specialized staff.

DSC 0274

Two optimizers in one
Eric Michaud, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Comact and the BID Group of Companies, wrapped up the day of sessions with a case study that looked at how JD Irving optimized its recently rebuilt mill in Ashland, Maine by feeding the flow of both green and dressed lumber through a single trimmer optimizer and sort line.

The optimization and automation forum also featured exhibitor booths from sponsors HewSaw, USNR, Comact, Cowper and Autolog and several networking sessions.

For more information and photos from OptiSaw 2015, check out the January/February 2016 edition of Canadian Forest Industries.

– See more at: http://www.woodbusiness.ca/sawmilling/mills/mill-managers-optimize-in-montreal-2900#sthash.XfRpRC0u.dpuf

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