Team 1 Plastics Completes Major Upgrade to ProMon System
Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a two-part series on the upgrade of Team 1 Plastics’ ProMon system. Part Two is scheduled to be published on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.
Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the mobility industry, recently completed a major overhaul to its proprietary production monitoring system, ProMon. Developed originally in 2006, the paperless production and quality system combines production information tracking, electronic document control and distribution, scrap recording, lot control, and other key functions at a central control panel at each injection molding machine. The upgrade, named ProMon 2018, involved both hardware and software.
According to Josh Nye, Team 1’s Information Technology (IT) Manager, this is the first major revision to ProMon and was very much needed. “ProMon has had the same overall look and feel since its inception with only minor tweaks and limited upgrades. We have been using the same hardware and software this whole time. It was very dated, and it was difficult to find the same hardware” when replacements were needed. Nye explained that the original ProMon was built with Windows XPe and an old version of Microsoft Access.
The upgrade on the hardware was to purchase new computers. The company is still using networked hard-wired thin clients, but has changed to models that are built for manufacturing environments. Nye said, “The old units were not built for the environment they were in. The new ones are built for this. They are fanless (as in no moving parts and no dust collection in the device), and are rated for temperatures much higher than any temperature that will occur in our plant.”
When it came to what changes would be made to the software, Nye said that he solicited input from many Team Members. “We sat down with just about everyone that regularly uses the ProMon system or the information produced by it to get a wish list.”
Nye said that the biggest change to the software is the ability to now view the status of every press in the plant on each monitor. Previously, the monitors only displayed the status of the press to which it was connected. Now, every press in the plant is prominently displayed on every screen.
“We dedicated half the screen to be a dashboard that shows the current status of each press. Rather than needing to walk across the plant to check on an individual press, Production Assistants, Captains, and other Team Members on the production floor can look at the nearest monitor and instantly see which presses are running, which are down, and which are scheduled down. Other information available includes the current yields, the amount of downtimes, and what presses are scheduled for a tool change.”
This new feature has been well received. Nye said, “I have had good feedback from the Captains. They can avoid trips across the plant by having more information at their fingertips.”
Another new feature available on ProMon 2018 is a real-time calculation of how much material an injection molding press is using per hour and per shift. This information, along with the dryer temperature required and drying time needed for the specific material being used by the press, allows the Material Handlers to quickly know whether there is enough material to finish the current job, and if not, how long it will take to get the material ready. This information helps to prevent downtimes due to a lack of prepared material.
As with most computer upgrade projects, there were some bumps in the road, but Nye believes they were at a minimum. “This was a big project, bigger than it looks to the average user. Many hours were spent on it before it even saw the light of day, and many trials and errors were worked through. There are always bugs and things to fix, which can be frustrating to users. We tried to keep this to a minimum. I think we were able to accomplish this, and overall, people seem to really like the system.”