The CTMA View
Memex Automation: M2M Platform Leader
By Paul Adair
Winter 2014 – MEMEX AUTOMATION BEGAN OVER 20 years ago with an approach to better the interconnectivity of automated machine tools on the factory floor. Over the years, this vision evolved to include the intra-networking of all machine tools, enabling communication bi-directionally between each other and with managements’ information systems in real-time.
“If you can measure it, you can manage it to be more efficient,” says David McPhail, President and CEO. “Our offerings enable manufacturers to improve production and income from operations through advanced machine monitoring of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and DNC in real-time.”
The Memex productivity approach within the manufacturing sector uses a backward compatible machine-to-machine hardware and software solution that operates on multiple protocols, including MTConnect standard, OPC, Fanuc, Focas and others. The MERLIN system shows management where bottlenecks are occurring and why, empowering them to react and not lose production time.
“We offer a solution that measures plant-wide capacity utilization as OEE, in real-time,” says McPhail. “It uncovers the hidden plant and shows manufacturers how to make more production and income using the same labour, equipment and time.”
Receiving the 2013 Technology Innovation Leadership Award for Machine Monitoring Systems from Frost & Sullivan, MERLIN has been instrumental in helping companies in the discrete manufacturing sector realize their full profit-potential. In many cases, MERLIN has increased plant-wide efficiency—as measured by OEE—greater than 100 per cent. As an example, at Magellan Aerospace in Kitchener, ON, OEE was increased from 36.9 per cent to 85 per cent in a three-machine cell.
Following review at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (ITMS) 2012, Microsoft chose and endorsed MERLIN as its connectivity solution between the factory floor and its enterprise resource planning suite of business intelligence tools.
“Microsoft completed a thorough review at IMTS. Then, our team did an integration of MERLIN into Microsoft Dynamics management and planning software in two weeks, which blew them away,” says McPhail. “The Microsoft leadership team told us we had done in two weeks what other solution teams hadn’t done in two years.”
Memex’s facilities measure over 4,100 square feet and the company presently employs 21 workers. After raising $1.35 million in cash from its recent public listing (TSXV: OEE), the company has structured itself to address the global market of machine-to-machine and machine-to-management (M2M) manufacturing productivity. Memex also actively supports its employees in the giving of their time, talent and money in various charitable activities.
“Our team is dynamic at work and in their communities, and we fully support them in all endeavors,” says McPhail. “I think by doing so, it leads to more meaningful work and better retention.”
Memex values its membership with the CTMA, crediting the organization with helping the company better educate manufacturers in the use of their products and allowing them to compete within global markets.
“It is our view that Canadian-based technologies, such as MERLIN, explained through organizations like the CTMA, build a more prosperous manufacturing base,” says McPhail. “We view our CTMA membership as pivotal to our broader inclusion in CTMA-like organizations globally, where we can contribute to a better understanding of the power of productivity solutions, the role productivity plays in viable manufacturing, and the role manufacturing plays in a viable economy.”
As manufacturers hunt for new efficiencies to maintain a competitive advantage, Memex’s vision and solution seem prophetic. The company has done its homework, understands its global market niche and has written both strategic and business plans to deliver MERLIN as the M2M communication platform of choice.
“The global market is very large,” says McPhail. “According to best estimates, there are 16 million machine tools installed globally that are islands of technology, cut off from management and their business intelligence tools. Our vision is to be the cell phone equivalent platform of that installed base, and to be the number one bi-directional manufacturing productivity solution.”