Archive for the ‘Manufacturing’ Category

1/2 Year Review: Summertime Temperature Mapping

Posted on: July 5th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

Summer Temperature Mapping Facility Review

For facility supervisors, managers, and employees, every day in the workplace brings up questions about the day-to-day efficiency, quality, and safety of one’s facility. Whether that workplace facility is a hospital, egg producer, or steel manufacturer, conscious and subconscious thoughts wiz around one’s mind constantly. Small problems, like ”That pallet-jack needs to be replaced,” and ”Throw out that batch, it is spoiled,” probably ignite some thought about the facility at large, but for the most part, the overall structure and organization of a facility remains the same.

Rarely do facility personnel get the chance to take a step back, and look at large scale, sweeping changes that could affect a facility not only day-to-day, but week-to-week, and month-to-month.
Which is why 1/2 year reviews of your facility are so great and important! In the hot/humid or hot/dry weather of summer, a 1/2 year review of your processes can help change the course of the year for a company or organization.
So what should you be on the lookout for when performing your review? We’ve listed a few things below:

Product Quality

Try to gather as much information on the quality of the products and services that your company provides. Check out data on how much money is thrown out via waste, storage failures, and inventory mismanagement.

Facility Efficiency

Where are you wasting time, resources, and thus money? Figure it out.

Facility Safety

Had any employee accidents this year? What about product recalls? If so, review why they happened, and make sure to implement the necessary changes to ensure that the accidents don’t happen again.

Summertime Temperature Mapping

While Nelly’s 2002 smash hit ”Hot in Herre,” doesn’t include the lyrics ”It’s getting hot in here, so temperature map your warehouse,” it is August, which means for most of the United States, it is somewhere between warm and excruciatingly hot outside. That 1/2 year review of your facility shouldn’t stop at Quality, Safety, and Efficiency: warmer weather puts more stress on the cold chain, and increases the number items that accidentally fall out of the cold chain.

That couldn’t be truer than in the warehouse link of the cold chain. If that is your sector, and you house goods that must be kept within particular temperature parameters, then we have a few pieces of advice for you during these hot months.

The first: temperature map your facility! We have a temperature mapping service of our own (give us a call at 630-543-3747 for more information), and for our clients who go through seasonal changes, we recommend mapping at least twice a year. Once in the summer, and once in the winter. Facilities and HVAC systems handle each season uniquely, and sometimes the cold spots in your facility in the winter aren’t necessarily the cold (or hot) spots in your facility during the summer. Temperature mapping in the summer is the only true way to get a good thermal overview of your facility.

Next up, consider your roofing material. Talk to the original building owners, and be sure to take notes on the different materials that make up your roof as you prepare for a temperature mapping study. This specifically concerns those facilities that stack temperature sensitive products to the ceiling.

Along with roofing materials, comes windows. If your facility has windows that face direct sunlight, and are not equipped with a UV screen, our experts have found that while cats like sleeping in the sun, temperature sensitive products should avoid it. Huge temperature spikes can result from sunlight getting in to your facility during the summer.

Finally, is the understanding that the ”high point” should be a much bigger concern during the summer than the ”low point.” While you should pay attention to products getting too cold during the summer, if your power goes out, or your HVAC system fails, temperatures will begin to rise, and rise quickly during the dog days of summer. You should have a good idea of the susceptible areas of your facility before a disaster strikes.

By doing a temperature mapping study, and then analyzing your data, you can see which areas of your facility fluctuate the most, and which areas tend to stay warmer than others.

Armed with that information, you can begin to look for solutions to those target areas: better air circulation, new HVAC outputs, and upgraded temperature monitoring.

 


 

 

The 7 Best Twitter Accounts for Manufacturing News

Posted on: June 15th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

Where should you get your manufacturing information? Breaking news? Opinions on manufacturing policy? In the past few years, one social media platform has outperformed the rest for quick, breaking, and (sometimes) insightful opinions: Twitter. With almost every general news outlet and journalist opening up the Twitter App and typing 140 characters or less with updates, Twitter has surpassed general news outlets for the amount of (sometimes) newsworthy information that can be gained on the internet.

And the manufacturing industry is no different. Where you get your manufacturing news can be a result of the accounts and people you follow. Below are our top 7 accounts you should be following.

1. Cerasis

@Cerasis

A Third Party Logistics Company, Cerasis isn’t a huge consumer-based corporation, but their twitter game is on point. If we had to categorize them, we would put them in the conversational-news sharing link building-content distributing class. In other words, they do it all.

2. Design World

@DesignWorld

Design World is a power-player in the world of design and manufacturing. They provide engineering news, information on engineering products, and host webinars on their website. To top it all off, their twitter feed does a good job mixing in fun photos with important issues and news.

3. Food Manufacturing

@FoodMfg 

Had to get the foodies in here! While it may not be the first thing you think of when the abbreviation ”MFG” is put in front of you, food is a huge part of the manufacturing world. And there is no better place to get your news than @FoodMfg.

4. MFG.com

@MFGcom

MFG.com is a place for buyers to meet suppliers in the Manufacturing Industry. Communication is their strength, evident through their twitter feed. Follow these guys for a string of tweets on the nitty-gritty of the manufacturing industry.

5. MAKE

@make

Simple name, simple twitter handle, fantastic magazine. We subscribe to Make magazine, and if you like to learn how to make an “Awesome Death Star Pinata” you should too. Or at least visit their website.

6. The Real Mike Rowe

@mikeroweworks

The former host of the popular Discovery Channel Series “Dirty Jobs,” and current host of CNN’s ”Somebody’s Go To Do It,” Mike Rowe is a fun follow for Manufacturers, and 240,000 tweeps agree with us. Rowe is an advocate for the MFG industry through his funny pictures and funnier videos.

7. National Association of Manufacturers

@ShopfloorNam

The advocate and political follow, @ShopfloorNam is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, and thus a twitter follow almost out of necessity to be in the know. NAM tweets about why manufacturing is “good,” and what is happening in our nation’s capitol that will either create or eliminate manufacturing jobs.

 


 

Why Clean Room Humidity Standards Matter

Posted on: March 27th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

humidity standards, clean rooms, environmental monitoring

Formerly reserved for the medical, pharmaceutical, and micro-electronics industries, clean rooms have become more widespread and prevalent across the world as the tech industry has continued to boom, and regulations have constricted their grasp on more quality control departments.

Clean rooms are monitored and controlled for seemingly every environmental condition, but one that is very, very relevant, to both the micro-electronic tech corporations and the medical and pharmaceutical industries is . . .

Humidity.

Controlling the humidity of a clean room is important to companies not because of a single problem that extreme high or low humidity causes, but rather because of its influence on many factors that could degrade a clean room’s environment, and thus its certification on the ISO class scale.

Those factors include the following:

1. Static Charge

You’d think that low levels of humidity would be the preferred option every time, but static electricity shows that a happy medium is ideal. When humidity levels in an environment get to low, static electricity builds up.

2. Metal Corrosion

While some metals (like aluminum) form a protective oxide on their surface, blocking degrading corrosion caused by high humidity, other metals (like copper oxides) do not. If your clean room is dealing with metals, be sure to keep your humidity under that 60% threshold.

3. Condensation

The conversion of water from a gas state to a liquid state is bad news for your clean room. The effect of Kelvin condensation specifically, becomes very problematic when humidity reaches the 70% threshold.

4. Personnel Comfort

The last thing your personnel, with their E.T. like contamination suits and astronaut-looking helmets on want to be is hot and sticky. Keep humidity levels low enough as to not make them uncomfortable.

5. Bacterial Growth

Bacteria and mold like moisture. Once your clean room climbs above the 60% Relative Humidity threshold, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and more will start to multiply. Very literally, your clean room will cease being clean.

 


 

How Server Room Temperature Monitoring Prevents Data Loss

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

Temperature Monitoring Computers

Ivy League Failures

Back in October of 2014, Larry Milsten of the Yale Daily News reported on a data server failure that brought down an entire university’s website and email accounts, during the wonderfully inopportune time of midterms.

That University of course, was Yale. In that October 9th article, Milsten interviewed multiple sources directly involved in Yale’s ITS division, from students and library workers to the current University CIO, Len Peters.

The article walks through the different ways a data server shutdown influenced the campus, while also trying to find the root cause of the issue. In the article, Peters describes how rare the occasion was for Yale, as the server experienced a multi-point power failure. The data center failure left students without their university emails, without access to online courses; the failure even took down the Yale library.

The piece of Milsten’s article that sticks out the most to us was the “Why?” of it all. Specifically, two instances in which a librarian and a student working for Yale ITS each named “overheating” as the reason for the data center issues. Both Rowillie Ross and Lizza Rodler believed that the failure was because of an air conditioning mishap.

The October 9th article was not the end of the investigation. After the weekend, on October 13, 2014, Milsten reported that Yale ITS was still investigating the Thursday server failure. While the article eventually divulges into asking Yale students how they dealt with the power outage, the opening line of the article sticks out:

Three days after the largest computer system failure in recent memory at Yale, the root cause has yet to be fully determined.

To make matters worse . . . the Yale servers crashed again only a few weeks later.

The data server failing for a few hours at Yale is one thing. What happens when a data center, serving more than a University, fails and all its data is lost?

While it was simply word-of-mouth reporting from those two individuals, it did peak our interest back in 2014, as temperatures adverse influence on data center security is a problem that we’ve stumbled across before. While the cause of Yale’s server failures was found to be to to electrical and power failures, the question remains: can server rooms overheat? If so, is it common? How big of a problem is it?

It’s a big one. Servers room with racks upon racks of data storage and humming servers generate a lot of heat. And they have to be kept cool, because overheating leads to disaster for data.

Server Room Temperature Monitoring

The world’s data is stored in server rooms across the country. There really is no “magic cloud.” The cloud is a data center or server room, that allows you to access your Facebook, Gmail, and Bank of America data by logging onto a website. Small businesses and large corporations have their data in server rooms. I know we do here at Dickson. For all the media coverage of hackers and viruses, one of the scariest threats to our data is hardly talked about: temperature.

Because server and data centers use so much power, if the HVAC or cooling system in a data center fails, the temperature of those rooms rises very quickly. Many times, those failures are the result of a power failure. When the power goes out, data centers will continue to run on back-up generators. While the HVAC and Cooling Systems (which sometimes take up as much if not more power than the data centers themselves) cease operation. Because server and data centers use so much power, they generate a lot of heat. So much so, that a simple Google Search for “server room temperature” returns results like: “Germans get free heating from the cloud” and “Heating a skyscraper with a data center.

As temperatures rise, computers fry. This leads to extremely high energy costs for data centers, so much so that there has been a call from tech giants like Google to “Raise Your Data Center Heat.” All this contention and information comes before the many data-center hacks that outline the solution to your heating problem hinges on the exact number of perforated tiles your data needs per square foot of space.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. While we will leave the control of your data center’s temperature up to you, we can offer some advice in the monitoring department.

Monitoring the temperature of your data center gives you a few tools that can be essential to the security of the data you are storing:

-Mapping

-Alarms

Alarms are pretty straight forward. When the temperature of your data center gets too high (or much less commonly, too low) data loggers and data monitoring systems can alert you via text, email, or a phone call.

A data logger can be your best friend and saving grace.

At Dickson, we offer devices that use cloud storage, to keep your cloud safe! Specifically, our line of DicksonOne temperature monitoring data loggers can alert you when your server room gets too hot: via text, email, or phone call. 

Mapping? That’s a little more nuanced. We sell data loggers to a lot of warehouses, and those warehouses place loggers across their entire floor plan to account for temperature differences and stratification that they may not be accounting for with their current monitoring system. Mapping is also extremely useful for data centers. Data centers have racking just like warehouses. So, they also have temperature stratification, a concern with air flow, and problem spots. Using data loggers (like these!) to map your data center floor will help you find those problem spots, and also help you find inefficiencies in your cooling system.

However you handle the temperature of your data center, do it completely and thoroughly. We believe part of that is using a data logger to monitor the temperature of your servers.

 


 

Trends in Manufacturing: Using Tablets To Increase Your Efficiency

Posted on: March 2nd, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

Tablets in Manufacturing: How To Increase Efficiency


Take a scroll through the Google results for “Tablets in Manufacturing,” and you will come across a plethora of articles posted between 2010-2012, claiming that “Tablets are going to save Manufacturing,” and “The tablet revolution is here!”

Did they save Manufacturing? Did a revolution occur?

For an answer, we’ll look back at what the manufacturing world predicted would happen when tablets first came on the scene, what the perceived pros and cons of a tablet were, and then we’ll head to the current state of things, to see where adoption really occurred.

The Tablet Revolution in MFG was poised to begin right around the time the iPad came to consumer households across the world. The iPad and its imitators proved themselves to consumers first, and then to manufacturers. The tablet craze in manufacturing that came from the advent of tablets in the business world can be attributed two-fold: the continued improvements to lean manufacturing theory and practice, and the world’s obsession with tech adoption, and Silicon Valley.

Manufacturers want to be more efficient. Do tablets make them more efficient? Well we all sure thought they would. Functionally, there was a belief that ERP systems, tracking systems, and communication systems would catch up with tablet technology, to create a synchronized system perfect for the freight tracker and the production manager alike.

The pros and cons list of tablets for manufacturers is as follows:

Pros:

  • Communication
  • Material movement
  • Quality reports
  • Inventory control
  • Process control
  • Shipment and logistic tracking
  • Remote monitoring
  • Alerts and alarms
  • Performance tracking

Cons:

  • Security
  • Integration
  • Durability

It’s obvious that there are a lot of pros for the use of tablets in manufacturing, so much so, that if one was just glancing at the size of those lists, they may opt to outfit their entire floor in iPads tomorrow. But, this isn’t an exercise in how many more ”pros” there are for tablets than ”cons.” There are a lot of reasons to adopt tablets in your process, but there are a few key reasons on why it may be a bad idea. Security is a HUGE issue for the research/development and accounting teams, but it should also keep the manufacturing supervisor up at night. Tablets need connectivity, the easiest way malevolent hackers can get into your company data.

Durability is simple enough. Tablets continually have to prove they won’t need to be replaced every year because the manufacturing floor is too hard on them. Integration is a key question, if not a negative side of tablets, because they aren’t large computer systems, but ancillary devices that store data much differently than a typical hard drive on a computer. Your ERP system may have to have an app, and you may have to shift your internal system to use WiFi communication instead of Radio Frequency. A $300 purchase can turn into an entire process overload.

Today we stand at on the cusp of tablet adoption in many industries. The companies adopting tablets were able to overhaul their logistics and processing applications to meet the particular tablet specifications that they wanted to purchase. Or, they actually had tablets made for their specific company.