FourJaw’s machine monitoring software has given cast nylon and plastic components manufacturer Westley Plastics greater visibility of its manufacturing process, leading to improved cycle times, and more consistent and efficient 24/7 production.
200-year-old manufacturer turns to smart technology to drive efficiency
Westley Plastics is the UK’s leading manufacturer of cast nylon and plastic components, with over 50 years of experience in delivering engineering plastics for heavy industrial applications in the construction, defence, automotive, rail and steel sectors.
The family-run, Midlands-based manufacturer can trace its roots back more than 200 years, but the company known today has been specialising in taking engineering plastic products from concept and design to final manufacture, utilising its on-site design, casting and CNC machining facilities since 1964.
Westley Plastics has deployed FourJaw’s machine monitoring platform across 14 machines, ranging from cutting-edge HAAS CNCs to manual lathes and large-scale injection moulders.
Lack of visibility in 24/7 operations
When Tom Westley, Operations Director and the latest generation of the Westley family joined and reviewed the business, it became clear that the inconsistent recording of manual shop floor data resulted in a lack of accurate information on which to make business decisions.
The company operates 24 hours a day, but it wasn’t evident whether machine utilisation and productivity were consistent throughout any 24-hour period. It was agreed that greater visibility of the shop floor through machine monitoring would enable them to identify capacity and cycle times and help to focus the workforce on the processes that required and benefited most from their skills.
Machine monitoring software that’s compatible with all machine types
Tom Westley set out to find a solution. Initially, he came across a CNC machine monitoring software but soon discovered it only worked with machines less than two years old and those of a certain brand, in addition, the installation costs were high. Tom explained that he was looking for a solution that worked across any machine, without huge upfront costs and ongoing expenses.
Tom turned to Google for help! After a bit of research, he discovered FourJaw’s machine monitoring software solution. Tom explained he likes it works with machinery of any age and brand, and the fact the solution didn’t require any large upfront costs, so this ticked his box for finding a cost-effective solution.
He said: “When I read what you (FourJaw) did, I couldn’t believe this was going to work on older machines. But wanted to give it a go and I’m glad I did. The way the machine monitoring software is delivered is very clever, the self-install is good and the way the MachineLink plug and play hardware are configured before they get to the site makes it simple to start using from day one.”
“When it came to deploying FourJaw, we were aware that to get strong cultural adoption that good communication and training would be required to ensure people understood why we were doing it and what the benefits to them and the business would be”.
“FourJaw’s customer success team supported me to communicate this effectively and once the team understood how the data was being used, it facilitated conversations which were used to inform and educate operators, which lead to a greater sharing of best practices, changed behaviours and enhanced machine utilisation and productivity”.
Increased cycle times improve Factory efficiency
FourJaw’s manufacturing monitoring software enabled the business to identify machine downtimes and understand the reasons behind the stoppages. One of the downtimes was for cleaning, but it was discovered that the machine was being left on whilst it was being cleaned. This was a health and safety issue that has now been rectified through training and improved communication.
Machine monitoring has also identified and improved cycle times. The team had previously discussed running two machines at the same time but didn’t think it could be done. However, the data from FourJaw revealed which machines could be run together – improving efficiency, productivity and job profitability.
Tom explained: “The information that the FourJaw platform provides has resulted in some very positive changes for the business, including.
- Introduction of new production processes
- Changed some of the factory layout to improve the efficiency of the machines
- Improved cycle times by creating new jigs, reducing on-job operations of big jobs by 50%
- Process changes have enabled them to ‘De-skill’ some of the operator requirements, which allows them to focus their skilled people on the right jobs
- Cell utilisation is much more productive and made the operators more efficient when on jobs
- Identified H&S improvements relating to machine maintenance
Machine Monitoring Software enables A more efficient, productive and informed factory
Westley Plastics now has a clear and informed picture of the factory floor including accurate cycle times and utilisation by shift.
The factory is more efficient and productive with its resources which is evidenced by the increased utilisation of machines running 24 hours during the week, which has improved so much that fewer shifts need to run over the weekend, saving the business money on staffing, energy and other operating costs.
Looking ahead, the business is committed to driving efficiency and productivity across all aspects of its manufacturing operations. In the short term, the next priority is to improve how they communicate the efficiency and productivity data across the shop floor. The plan is to use newly installed screens located throughout the factory to display FourJaw’s Livestream view, putting the machine data at top of mind to help drive best practices.
Furthermore, Westley Plastics’ smart factory strategy will include installing FourJaw machine monitoring to every machine that it adds to its manufacturing operations as it grows.
Tom says: “I’m enjoying working with you guys. You are always proactive if we have any issues, and you are good at providing ideas and feedback which is helpful.”
“If you’d have asked me, before FourJaw, what the cycle times were, I genuinely would not have known. I now have a much better feel for what’s involved, which has allowed us to make changes to our production processes. We can see whether we’ve had a good shift or not.”
“We will likely need a new site to keep up with the demand. We are aiming to secure new contracts as we are seeing growing demand for what we do, especially in the defence industry.”
If you're looking at ways to improve productivity and manufacturing efficiency in your factory without needing to invest large amounts of capital, then FourJaw's machine monitoring software is the ideal smart technology solution. Find out how it can help increase your Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and help you and your team become more productive.