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Eptam Precision Expands Use of Digital Technology

Eptam Precision can now more effectively manage customer demand, factory expansion, and operator support.

Eptam Precision was established in 1981, providing a wide range of precision-machined parts serving the aerospace, medical, semiconductor, and other commercial manufacturing markets. Eptam Precision Plastics (div) is renowned for making critical components for medical, aerospace, and process equipment industries at very precise tolerances. They have expertise in molding (NJ) and CNC machining, both plastics (NH) and metal parts (CO).

Jesse Bunnell reviews live production scores in one of Eptam’s manufacturing cells.

When we first met with the Eptam team, they realized that they needed to visualize their factory better to meet the growing demand on their people by customers and suppliers. Nearly every industry segment they serve increased its forecast for the foreseeable future. The company runs three production shifts and has a sign permanently fixed on the road in front of the building, “Machinists Wanted.”  Finding experienced and qualified people is hard, so augmenting the staff with technology became a key initiative for the company to meet this growth head-on. 

After a demonstration of the Datanomix software, the Eptam team decided to begin deployment in their medical components value stream. Demand for these parts increased, and the leadership team wanted to increase production flexibility from the existing equipment base. After installing on the 15 machines in that cell, Jesse Bunnell, Plant Operations Manager, received training on using Datanomix and quickly became a power user of the software and associated reporting functions. It didn’t take long for Jesse to see the vast array of critical information Datanomix produced without any requirements for data input from him or his team. Regularly, Jesse would forward summary reports to the management team in support of planning and operations meetings. These reports provided vital information about all aspects of the production environment and supported numerous critical decisions. Gone were the days when operators required daily interrogation to get answers. Jesse and his team were now getting the story directly from their production machines. 

In addition to monitoring the production score (Fusion Factor), Jesse utilized several powerful tools automatically and regularly produced by the Datanomix software: 

  • Shift reports – A productivity summary of the entire work cell with detailed shift comparisons of the job scores achieved at each station. Jesse uses this report to see the variances between shifts and workstations, readily identifying training gaps and performance differences that are rolled into a continuous improvement and communication process. 
  • Coffee Cup Reports – A simple scorecard of end-of-day and end-of-shift performance by job, which has become a critical communication vehicle to upper management on the previous day’s work output. The Datanomix system emails these scorecard summaries each morning to a configurable distribution list. Rather than walking the floor before each morning’s production meeting, all of the information on part counts, cycle times, alarm frequency, and general Datanomix factor (production score) by job is waiting in their inboxes at 6 AM. It was enough information for a complete production meeting and the list of work items to resolve for the upcoming workday. 
  • Quote Calibration – A popular report that provides true machining cost data based on Datanomix’s production benchmarks. Jesse uses this information to understand how current performance benchmarks map to his cell’s profitability goals on a per part # basis. Engineering and continuous improvement effort is applied when benchmarks are higher than desired. Training efforts are applied when benchmarks are good, but performance is variable. Most importantly, management can use this data to foster a clear connection between business performance goals, part performance, and shop floor improvement initiatives.
The morning always starts with the Coffee Cup Report—a full review in simple scorecard format of the prior day’s production.

More recently, the semiconductor industrial components value stream for Eptam saw massive increases in demand from their OEMs. Having experienced the benefits of true performance benchmarks, better job predictability, and increased collaboration in their medical components cell from Datanomix, Eptam knew exactly how to grapple with the growth and pressure demands placed on this cell.  Many of the parts in this work cell are large format parts with cycle times measured in hours, not minutes, so utilization of machine time and conformance to cycle time standards to meet demand is of paramount importance. In addition, Datanomix was connected to all of the Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs) because Eptam has a rigorous sample inspection process for the various parts they manufacture. Keeping these CMMs fully utilized directly correlates to green lighting production to continue making parts and meeting demand. 

With the Eptam Northfield facility now connected and able to visualize data, the production staff has complete clarity on the performance of the day in progress, on obstacles standing in the way of greater output, on where to dispatch key personnel to keep the day trending positively, and how to turn threats to productivity into training and continuous improvement actions.  Datanomix has become ingrained into morning production meetings, and daily Gemba walks.   Every feature of Datanomix is turnkey, delivering value right out of the box. For a fraction of the cost of a new employee, Eptam has a system that understands every job on every machine, answers critical production questions in seconds, delivers reports automatically, and provides deeper insights and trends in a few simple clicks. Eptam has a remarkable facility, impressive people, and a culture of serious commitment to quality and improvement.

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