Knowledge system of the hottest TFT company

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TFT's knowledge system

when a company is young and small, it rarely needs formal information sharing. Everyone in the company has easy access to all the knowledge they need. In the workshop, a small group of production employees work side by side. In the process of work, they can create and improve the production process

however, with the expansion of the company, the workpiece manufacturing function has become more and more professional. As employees share more, novices do not have to know the background of the assigned work or the steps that make up the process. If these employees lack clear guidance, the productivity or product quality may vary greatly depending on the employees who complete the work on the same day. If there is no formal structure that enables the company to respond quickly in a small scale, it is possible that the process will appear clumsy and unpredictable after the company expands. In other words, manufacturers may be choked by their own success

one manufacturer that has decided to avoid this danger is task force tips, located in Valparaiso, Indiana. Stewart McMillan, President of the company, envisions that when the company reaches 130 people, its response, innovation and efficiency will be the same as that of a small company. However, he realized that in order for this vision to become a reality, some basic changes must be made. Knowledge that is valuable but only exists in the minds, computers and filing cabinets of key employees must be shared among the entire workforce and among employees who cannot guarantee daily communication. In order to share this information, a new infrastructure must be established, and new processes should be adopted to integrate knowledge collection and knowledge transfer into the daily functions of the company's operations

the connected PC system placed next to all machine tools is the only most visible part of the TFT information system. The more important

is the way to collect, organize and format information so that it can be used on these PCs. If knowledge is power

quantity, workshop employees such as Roger hoefflicker (the person in the photo) have more power than ever before

the changes in the production workshop are particularly dramatic. The personnel in the machining workshop now find all the information they need to set up, run, test and track any part directly from the PC next to the machine tool. More importantly, the company directly uses engineering resources to create these procedures and make them as clear and effective as possible for operators. Many changes of TFT in the whole company are still in progress, but the system of sharing knowledge in the workshop has been put in place and has produced benefits. Not only has the production process become faster and more reliable due to this system, but also the adaptability of the company itself is becoming stronger and stronger, because the design of new parts can now be more simply introduced into production. This last advantage is especially important for TFT, because the company's reforms are so frequent that new part numbers are added to the process every week

company profile

tft production equipment for fire protection. Processing and assembly are done at two Valparaiso plants. About 10000 common parts are machined on different Mazak machining centers and multi task lathes

the company's first product is a fire hose with a nozzle, which can maintain a constant water pressure regardless of pressure fluctuations in the hose. This product was launched by Clyde McMillan, Mr. McMillan's father. Today, the company can provide a series of products for the fire protection field, including not only nozzles and hose appliances, but also foam application systems and hand tools specially designed for fire protection and rescue work

new product development - that is, the new product development currently under way - is the cornerstone of the company's continuous success strategy. TFT can never eat the "old capital" of its current production line, because doing so will make the company vulnerable to the exclusion of competitors - they can produce low-quality copies of TFT products at a much lower cost


readers of this article may also come from a manufacturing company with 100 or more employees. If so, the challenges that TFT is going to tackle will sound very familiar to them. These challenges include:

fixed turnover rate

clean working environment and optimistic culture ensure a stable workforce of TFT. However, even so, there are employee turnover from time to time in a certain scale of workforce. In TFT workshop, new faces always appear

new employees with low skills companies no longer expect to fill their gaps with employees with (well-developed) manufacturing skills. Companies usually have to rely on inexperienced but willing to learn. Therefore, we began to consider combining graphene produced by liquid phase stripping (a method that can produce a large amount of graphene at a lower price) into polyurethane - the sole used for shoes made of polyurethane is a candidate who can learn at work

inefficiency caused by paper

with the growth of the scale of machining workshop, hard copy part drawings and operation procedures become more and more difficult to use. An employee may lose a lot of time searching for a part drawing that other employees are using. If the employee processes a part with the old version of the drawing that has been updated, the time loss caused by the cancellation of the processed part may be more

low setting efficiency

in TFT, the previous productivity usually varied greatly, because the operator was skilled in setting different workpieces. Some operators only know how to set up certain specific parts. If all operators know the best way to set up each part, the productivity of the whole process will be improved


nowadays, all the information required by TFT operators to process a workpiece is stored on a PC close to the machine controller. In addition, all information that the operator needs to share to realize the value of the whole process can be input or collected on the same PC

the operator selects a part number at the beginning. This selection activates the clock. Using the production time data collected in this way under visible conditions, TFT can evaluate the performance of its machine tool and its processing strategy. The data collected today is far more accurate than the data used to record production time manually

once the operator selects a part number, a tree menu will provide a separate branch for each step in the machining sequence related to the part. Click any of these steps to find sub branches of all electronic documents related to this step, including setting procedures, measurement procedures, part drawings and even internal communication history related to this part. For all part numbers in the workshop, a specific part may have 5~10 related processing steps, and each step may have 5~10 related documents

this is an example of the interface that the operator sees today

for each part, each processing step is attached with various documents related to it and specially prepared for the operator

two software tools make it possible to share and organize so much information. One is a set of workshop management applications, collectively referred to as "folders", developed by Cimnet. The "folder" system provides a specially designed structure that makes it easier for workshop personnel to access manufacturing documents - especially when a large number and multiple documents are involved

another software tool that the workshop relies on is Microsoft Word

word has powerful features for creating files to be browsed and shared electronically. For example, the workshop word file of TFT contains digital photos to supplement the setting procedures. In addition, the reference to a tool in these documents can be represented by a hyperlink (linked to the information about the tool) that a Chinese biomedical material is mainly used as a medical device in clinical use. In addition, in order to ensure that each tool is referred to by a standard naming rule in each document, a customer menu is used in word, so that users can simply click on the tool name to insert these names in the text (hyperlinks are also inserted at the same time). Two employees of TFT production engineering group have played an important role in these documents. One is 21-year-old Jim walker. Mr. Walker developed a prototype process for all new parts of the company. After getting the machining process of a new part, Dave Lewis joined in. Mr. Lewis is a young man in his early 20s. He came to the company at the age of 17. He is very adaptable to the machining workshop and the advantages of word. For example, he created a customer menu for inserting tool names. For each process developed by Mr. walker, Mr. Lewis will document it, take digital photos, and create all necessary documents to be included in the Cimnet system

creating an effective setting procedure is an important engineering function

these procedures are browsed electronically and usually contain digital photographs

the customer menu using Microsoft Word ensures that each file refers to each tool using standard naming rules

to insert the correct reference name of a tool in a file, the user can simply find the tool in the menu


tool reference appears as a hyperlink with more information about the tool

the new system not only provides silent terminals for browsing files. The ability of workshop personnel to share information directly on the machine tool is an equally important feature. Wal Jinfa also laid out multi sector businesses such as 3C, led, pipeline, highway facilities and building materials. Mr. Ker and Lewis pointed out other features of the system:

workshop personnel can provide documents related to workpieces as needed. The revision will be automatically routed to Mr. walker, who will review the revision before formal revision

through the "on duty report" feature, the operator can leave a message for the next shift operator who processes a specific workpiece. TFT works two shifts a day, each shift is 10 hours, and this electronic report feature is now the main way for different shifts to communicate with each other

the program can be started outside the Cimnet system. For example, each time a program is sent to a Mazak machine tool, the TFT system will automatically start the griffo brothers software for managing mazatrol NC files

common facilities and data sheets are now stored in the system. For example, TFT adopts a small number of standard tool holders, and each standard tool holder has a specific set of compensation for each machine tool. In the past, such data were usually found on the paper pasted on each machine tool. Today, such information can be provided electronically

lessons learned

tft's achievements in new systems go beyond the transformation from paper to digital information. Designed procedure sheets, information organization based on operations, access to part history, and even clear communication channels between shifts all represent changes in the quality of information available to employees. The transition and changes in the whole TFT can be seen as the transition from tribal knowledge to system knowledge. In the past, information was stored in different "warehouses". When an employee needs information, he must personally visit one of these "warehouses" and understand what he is looking for

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