Magellan Aerospace Ltd. has over 60 years of knowledge and experience in the aerospace industry. The organization officially adopted the name “Magellan Aerospace Corporation” in 1996; deriving it from the intrepid explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whose global exploits at the turn of the 15th century established a number of firsts. Magellan hoped that their vision of establishing a number of firsts into the future of the aerospace industry could carry on same legacy as their namesake. Magellan develops and produces components for some of the most sophisticated supersonic jet fighter aircraft in the world. These days, the Kitchener, ON, plant manufactures major components for the futuristic F-35 Lightning II fighter, as well as landing gear and other key components for all major aerospace OEM platforms.
Magellan Aerospace implements development and production systematically; generating corporate-wide quality and efficiency. Alignment and automation are key success factors in their growth and development. With each project, they integrate the capabilities of their global resources, delivering the value of the whole company to their customers. The 135-employee, 100,000 sq. ft. plant’s longevity is partly due to its expertise in high-velocity, hard-metal machining with materials including titanium, Inconel and stainless steel. In order to remain in fighter-jet trim for more than 60 years, its executives traverse the world in search of advanced technologies that will offer a competitive edge for contract wins like the F-35.
A challenge for Magellan was that their stand-alone machines were not reaching production targets. There were far too many downtime events happening on the shop floor, so much so, that they were at the point of considering buying another machine to make up for the missed targets. Shop floor supervisors would manually record information regarding the start and end times, quantity produced during the shift, but the information didn’t provide the detail that was needed. Thanks to Magellan’s relentless pursuit of excellence, it led them straight to MERLIN, a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Machine to Machine (M2M) communications platform by Memex Automation. MERLIN (Manufacturing Execution Real-time Lean Information Network) can use MTConnect and other protocols to connect the shop floor to the top floor, so that anyone with a need to know can use its information to increase production and income from operations, all the while raising Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) to world-class levels.
Magellan met with Memex Automation’s executive team in 2011 and proceeded to install the MERLIN hardware and software on various machines at the Kitchener plant. Jonathan Ung, the Continuous Improvement Coordinator in charge of tracking the plant’s progress with MERLIN, gathered some very promising ROI results. “We deployed MERLIN on our FMS/Makino cell,” said Ung. “There are four robot-controlled CNC machines in the cell and we also outfitted three stand-alone CNC machines configured in a cell-like environment. The stand-alone machines utilize the MERLIN Ax9150 hardware board along with the G55 handheld scanner, giving us visibility of the machines that we previously did not have. The Makino cell has the MERLIN Operating Portal deployed on it which gives us detailed machine information right on the shop floor. We feed MERLIN with work order and product standard data directly from our CINCOM ERP system.”
The MERLIN data indicated that there were far too many M01s and other downtime events occurring. Magellan shared this information with their team and with the help of the MERLIN software, was able to reduce those downtime events from 400 hours per month to 100 hours – a net increase in machining capacity of 100 hours per month per machine. “Multiply that by the hourly machining cost and Magellan was able to capture real savings of over $30,000 per month against an initial price of $20,000 for MERLIN,” said Ung. “That’s a very satisfying payback on the technology.”
One of Magellan’s machines was able to more than double its machining time for a 100%-plus efficiency gain, so much so, that it was surreal and many experienced operators were very surprised to see the results.
Memex applied its “Roadmap to Success” methodology, a valuable tool to use in analyzing and interpreting all the information MERLIN makes available. After completing the corrective actions that the Roadmap suggested, Magellan was able to show that MERLIN brought their OEE up from 36% to a sustained 85%. The time spent previously gathering data was now decreased dramatically because the data was now available to management and operators. “85% or more of OEE is considered world class, and again, there was surprise among our team and customers that we reached that number so quickly. It also swayed everyone to believe that MERLIN provided a very effective solution” said Ung.
Some of the changes they made in managing the shop floor:
- Initiating a lean Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) methodology with corrective actions.
- Putting the information in front of the operators so that they can see the chance in performance as changes are made in operating procedures.
Magellan now sees that there is more possibility for MERLIN on the shop floor. They believe that they are just scratching the surface of MERLIN’s capabilities and are looking forward to seeing what else they can accomplish with the new system.
This effective deployment of real-time OEE automated data collection has resulted in the following benefits:
- Instantaneous and timed email alerts to keep downtimes minimal.
- MERLIN dashboards displayed on video screens in highly visible locations on the shop floor, communicating the real-time status of machines.
- Tracking close to 150 data elements which get summarized into specific KPI’s.
- Automatic report distribution facility with unlimited number of reports.
- Daily MERLIN reports and Pareto charts are posted to keep everyone informed of production achievements.
- A complete picture of what is happening – quickly focus on the 20% of issues that result in 80% of the problems.
Products and Services Deployed
- MERLIN Ax9150 hardware board
- Ax9150 Universal Machine Interface
- MERLIN Operating Portal
- G55 handheld scanner
- Memex is considered the “Go To” supplier for OEE and connectivity