Editor’s Note: This is Part Two of a two-part series on the upgrade of Team 1 Plastics’ ProMon system. Part One was published on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.
Implementing a major upgrade to a company’s production monitoring system takes intensive planning and coordination. When Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the mobility industry, was ready to roll out the hardware and software upgrade to its proprietary production monitoring system, ProMon, it had to consider how to continue to meet the needs of production while planning for an interruption to each injection molding press.
Josh Nye, Information Technology (IT) Manager, for Team 1 Plastics said that since this was the first major upgrade to ProMon since it was originally installed in 2006, he didn’t have a lot to compare it to. “We were trying to keep things as stable and as undisruptive as possible while making major changes to underlying software and hardware.”
“We identified a press that had fewer run hours of production and hooked our test unit up to it. At that moment, we were committed.” Nye explained that each computer is hard wired into an injection molding press and receives signals from the press. “The Maintenance Department had to change over all the wiring from the old hardware to the new.” Once the new hardware was installed on the first press, beta testing began.
“Once we felt we had something solid,” Nye said, “we rolled it out to two more presses.” The company now had three presses with the upgraded hardware – one press in each of its three zones on the production floor. Nye said that the company continued to run these three presses for around a month, discovering bugs and making tweaks.
He noted that during the testing of the hardware, the ProMon software continued to have the same look and feel that the Team Members were accustomed to – it had only been modified to run correctly with the operating system on the new computers and was using a newer version of Microsoft Access.
When the company felt confident that the hardware was stable, it began the mass rollout to the rest of the injection molding presses. Nye said, “It took a few months to get all the presses done. Each press required a few hours of downtime for the wiring. To squeeze that in around production needs took some time.”
When all the presses had been connected to the new computers, it was time to begin the implementation of the updated ProMon software with its new features. As before, the company started with one press, installed the new software, and began testing.
The next step was to install ProMon 2018 on a press in each of the other two zones on the production floor and test it for a few weeks.
Nye said that the timing of the mass rollout of ProMon 2018 was ideal because it happened the day after the annual meeting which all Team Members are required to attend. “Everyone in the company was present. ProMon’s new items and features were introduced and explained during the meeting, and a short training was given.”
Nye said that overall the upgrade has been positively received. “An upgrade like this is never going to be without a few bumps and bruises, but once we got over those hurdles, people could really see the benefits to them personally.”