J&W Swiss Machine has embraced the future of using production intelligence to dramatically increase performance on the factory floor, gain awareness of activity, and have access to critical data that unlocks efficiency, and more importantly, growth opportunities.
When we first met with Jim and Wayne, we realized they are a great example of a leading shop because they think differently when it comes to data. They lead their company focused on how to leverage data to improve every single part of their business and to think strategically about the company’s expansion. It has resulted in a partnership with us and the deployment of the Datanomix Platform across their North Grosvenordale, CT facility.
J&W Swiss Machine was established in 2013, providing a wide range of precision-machined parts serving the aerospace, medical and commercial manufacturing markets. Owners Jim and Wayne have over four decades of experience with Swiss style turning machines, and are well known for their ability to produce high quality difficult to machine parts.
They pride themselves on innovation in manufacturing and always taking in and solving the tougher machining problems. Consistency and efficiency are the key to winning – being able to hit a dimension or tolerance over thousands of parts is about controlling the fine details of the process.
We had a chance to interview Jim and Wayne at their shop and we now have a better understanding of what makes them a top tier manufacturing company in Northeast Connecticut.
What are your biggest challenges and opportunities in terms of both the production floor and your business in general?
As a 24-hour Swiss turning shop, it is all about efficiency for us. That means everything from how we procure our materials, set-up our jobs, run our machines, and prepare our shipments. If we are able to be very efficient in every aspect of our business, it helps us win more work more consistently.
How does technology factor into your plans for growing your business?
Technology is very important to us, again, because we are focused on efficiency. Not every piece of technology out there delivers on the promise to increase efficiency, but many do. In the last year alone we’ve invested in production monitoring, record keeping, and better Internet/wifi in our shop to support the use of new technologies.
By coupling our efficiency goals to what the machine data is telling us about the performance of running jobs, the KPI’s become highly directed. We needed our machines to give us real-time and accurate information on dozens of different dimensions of production, allowing us to be predictable to our customers and prescriptive on how and where we direct our staff.
What drew you to the Datanomix product?
I’ve been in the industry over 25 years and have always been a believer in using data to improve our processes. When we saw this product and how much it knew about our jobs down to specifics, We knew this was a tool that could really help us out. I’ve had systems in the past that could tell efficiency, things like utilization, when the machine is on/off, but this system is much more intelligent than that— it has benchmarks for each job around cycle time, utilization, parts/hr— it knows our jobs as well as we do. I also really liked the fact that the Datanomix system does not require anything from our operators. The data we are getting helps our operators focus more on running their machines, rather than taking them away from running their machines. The Datanomix scoring system for production is a laser guidance system for where we spend our time improving outcomes.
What were your biggest takeaways and improvements in the first few months of using Datanomix?
Consistency and predictability in performance. We know exactly where each job stands and why. The scores motivate the team to hit our production targets, and we use the data to do morning reviews of performance as well as troubleshoot jobs that aren’t performing where they should be.
How does Datanomix fit into your daily routine now?
The morning starts with the daily digest e-mails that make me aware of what happened overnight and what jobs might need special attention today. In the shop, we have two giant TV’s that are always running Datanomix’s TV Mode. One is on the production floor, and the other is in the shipping area. It lets us see from anywhere in the building exactly how jobs are doing. We are very focused on making sure we produce to our target cycle times so we hit our part counts at the end of the day. The production scores and the additional metrics let me see where we’re running ahead or behind and where to focus attention in the here and now. We don’t wait for counting parts at the end of the day anymore to know if it’s been a good or bad day.
What advice would you give to other shop owners evaluating the idea of pulling data from the production floor to help run their business?
We have had owners of other shops come in and see what we have up on the TV’s and they want to know what it is and how it knows so much about our jobs. I would tell people they should be embracing data, there’s no harm in understanding your data better, and with that data you are on the road to making improvements. There is no doubt this is the way of the future, and if you don’t understand the data as well as another shop, you’re going to have a hard time competing.
Since installing Datanomix, J&W Swiss has seen a 13% increase in conformance to target cycle times, which it estimates has improved its on-time delivery by 1.5 days on average, and its overall factory throughput has increased by 15%. According to the company, it has increased customer satisfaction and unlocked available capacity to bring in more business on its existing equipment.