About Forging

Forging manufacturers shape metal by using calculated force and extreme temperatures. Typically using a power hammer or die, the metal is shaped for its intended purpose. Forged parts vary in size and can be customized to fit any shape or purpose.

A typical forging workflow starts at the saw, followed by moving the metal through to the induction furnace, into the forge and onto the trim press.

Types of machines typically monitored:

  • Induction furnace
  • Forge hammer
  • Trim press
  • Cutting saws

The Challenge

Forges are a difficult environment for most electronics. Due to the nature of the work, the plants are dirty and the equipment is often old and not equipped to connect with new information technologies. Plus, devices that rely on RF (radio frequency) communication are often affected by the induction furnaces. Devices such as:

  • Cellphones and walkie-talkies
  • Bluetooth and WiFi
  • IoT and industrial sensors

Induction furnaces radiate not only heat but RF energy which can interfere with nearby RF communication devices.  Though frequencies emitted by induction furnaces are below the 2.4Ghz range, 2 or more induction ovens operating in proximity may still interfere with nearby RF equipment operating at higher frequencies.

Legacy machines can also pose a challenge, as they may still be productive and effective, but their outdated controls make them hard to connect to data collection systems. Their size also makes them challenging to replace, whereas upgrading the control systems would be expensive.

“A forging operation tested bluetooth technology for monitoring their energy consumption on induction furnaces. However, the technology was unable to reliably monitor and transmit information due to interference.”

The Solution

The ShiftWorx solution is proven to work successfully in this harsh IIoT environment. ShiftWorx can cost-effectively and non-invasively monitor forging operations without modifications to machines or their control systems. Our hardware utilizes the 802.15.4 (IEEE standard) as the physical connection layer and have developed a proprietary application layer that solves the interference problem.

Most forge related machinery has sealed control cabinets.  By placing ShiftWorx included wireless IoT transmitting device inside the control box and extending an external antenna, the device is protected from the environment and radio frequencies. The external antenna can also be placed in an optimum position for communicating to the ShiftWorx IoT data master receiver.

With the IoT transmitting device connected to the machine (or any equipment or process) you can track data such as:

  • Machine uptime and downtime
  • Part counts
  • Hammer counts

The Outcome

Using the inputs gathered from the ShiftWorx IoT device, additional information can be calculated and measured empirically, such as:

  • Strokes per part
  • Scrap
  • Downtime reasons and duration
  • Available capacity

Reports can also be generated for:

  • Uptime by period by machine or machine groups
  • Downtime by period by machine or machine groups
  • Available capacity per machine (bottlenecks)

This information can then be leveraged to identify and reduce reasons for downtime, optimize machine scheduling, improve shift by shift performance, increase overall capacity and further optimize processes.

Forging KPI’s

ShiftWorx software’s Narrative feature also allows all the downtime periods to be empirically captured and ‘narrated’ for cause, giving management critical insights into the reasons for downtime.

Machine Activity

What percent of time the equipment has been running (uptime) by hour, day or shift?

Part Count

How many finished parts have been produced by hour, day or shift?

Hammer Count

How many times has the hammer impacted the part in process by hour, day or shift?