Every Millisecond Counts

Every Millisecond Counts

Filter manufacturer says computers need maintenance, too.

Baldwin Filters, a manufacturer of air, oil, fuel and hydraulic filters primarily for industrial vehicles, recently took the step of tying the principle of computer efficiency into its OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) program in an effort to streamline crucial computer control operations.

"Computing systems are instrumental in the manufacturing process," says Eric Carel, network systems supervisor for Baldwin Filters. "We support a large amount of equipment on the shop floor directly in our network environment. This includes a lot of automated production control equipment, inspection equipment and supporting systems such as wireless RF systems, which support our distribution and receiving operations."

According to Carel, file fragmentation -- the splitting of files into tens, hundreds or even thousands of fragments in order to fully utilize disk space -- has a downside, in that accessing a file broken into multiple fragments multiple times per day slows down both employee work and automated processes.

Baldwin Filters combines both its line equipment -- like this polywrap machine -- and the PCs and servers that run them into the same OEE program.
To counter this continuous incremental efficiency loss, Baldwin initially installed a scheduled defragmentation system to schedule defragmentation procedures during periods of relative downtime and low user presence. However, even that step didn't go far enough, Carel says. "Scheduled defragmentation was a headache to manage; on-demand defragmentation interrupted users until completed; and those left with fragmented hard drives had to deal with sub-par system performance."

So in another process update, Baldwin has switched to a process from Diskeeper Corp. that now uses only idle system resources to run, which means defragmentation is occurring on the fly when system usage is low, and performance remains consistent.

Carel, who has other issues like staffing and department expansion to worry about, is glad to have defrag off his plate. "Given the sheer number of computers and operations that must be managed with limited staff, having an automated low-maintenance environment is key," he says.

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