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Case Study: Machine Monitoring Boosts Output on Vertical and Horizontal Machines

Case Study: Machine Monitoring Boosts Output on Vertical and Horizontal Machines

Increased Utilization leads to Increased Profits at LeClaire Manufacturing

Aluminum Casting and Machining

LeClaire Manufacturing is a sand and permanent mold aluminum casting supplier serving agriculture, marine and recreational vehicles as well as numerous other industries. The family-owned business was incorporated in 1966 but has its roots dating back to the 1890’s. LeClaire also offers a number of value-added services including design and engineering, tool building, heat treating, core making, real-time x-raying, impregnating, anodizing, and machining. And it’s the machining part where recent technology has proven invaluable to operational efficiency and the company’s bottom line.

Large Operations Leave Room for Hidden Problems

Kind of like the bigger they are . . ., the operations at LeClaire have done just that over the years to become one of the largest suppliers of aluminum casting in North America. In addition to the growing foundry operations, the company’s CNC machining areas have also increased to keep pace with the increased flow of castings. The two primary machining departments include– vertical and horizontal machining – which are integral in delivering the finished part to the customer. Between the two departments there are now thirty machines, growing by six total in the three-year period 2021, 2022, and 2023. The problem LeClaire was facing was low machine utilization rates, which at first were pretty much unknown. As with so many companies in manufacturing, when production is working and customers are happy, it isn’t always apparent that there’s room for improvement – you don’t know what you don’t know. “We weren’t fully aware of how many resources were underutilized and how much more we could achieve”, said Ralph Zimmerman, LeClaire Manufacturing Co-President. “So, we made the decision to integrate a machine monitoring platform to provide us with more visibility and help us better analyze runtime and downtime data”, continued Zimmerman.

Heavy Industrial Environment

Adding to challenge is the wide variety of machines that LeClaire was utilizing in both the horizontal and vertical departments. They needed a machine monitoring solution that not only would integrate with a Doosan but also with Haas, Makino, Okuma and others. “The solution had to work for all of our machines, or we would not be able to establish a clear dataset to evaluate each department as a whole and identify areas of improvement”, said Zimmerman.

Enter CADDIS Systems

After looking at numerous machine monitoring options, the best solution came in the form of a durable sealed piece of hardware that enclosed the necessary digital circuitry, which could then seamlessly integrate onto any type of machine and provide all the necessary runtime data needed. These Caddis devices also had the ability to not only capture the utilization data but also trigger alarms via text, email or machine based when the machine was down for an excessive amount of time. These shop floor devices offer three types of connectivity to the LeClaire machining networks – Wi-Fi, Cellular or ethernet. The installations LeClaire chose were combinations of wired-in (to machine controls) and simple stack light connections. With those came a constant stream of machining data, multiplied by the growing number of machines in use. All that information had to be analyzed and presented in a form that operators and managers could understand, interpret, and act upon. “That’s where the part b of the solution came into play, the dashboard”, said Zimmerman of the companion software program. The software, which comes with the purchase of each device, is user-definable and provides common metrics regardless of machine type or brand. Each user can view the data captured by Caddis in several ways such as utilization based on location, department or machine level.

What did we learn?

A lot. “We looked at several things over three years. The number of machines, utilization rates, increases in those rates, what that meant in terms of production hours gained, and then ultimately what that meant to the business on the whole”, said Zimmerman. Here’s what they learned, acted on, and the results (based on a $150 per hour machine rate):

Vertical Machining Department


# Of Machines

Utilization Rate

Production Hours

Production Dollar Equiv.


















+ 17,011

+ $2,551,650

From a utilization standpoint, we saw continuous improvement over the 3 years. In the first year, we had a 10% utilization rate for all our machines. In 2022, we had a 44% utilization rate with only adding two machines to our process. In just one year of using the Caddis platform we had increased utilization by 34%. 2023 our utilization increased to 48% with zero machines added to this department. Still, a 4% increase in utilization percentage.

As far as production hours and dollar amounts are concerned the results speak for themselves. Overall, from 2021 through the end of year 2023, we saw an increase of 17,011 hours of production. We simply take that number, multiply it by $150, which is our per hour dollar amount per machine, we are left with a $2,551,650 increase in production dollars.

Horizontal Machining Department


# Of Machines

Utilization Rate

Production Hours

Production Dollar Equiv.



















+ $3,186,450

Just like the Verticals, we also saw a significant increase in machine utilization after the Caddis integration over the entire three-year study. In the first year, we had a 33% utilization rate for all our machines. In 2022, we jumped up to a 50% utilization rate with only adding one machine to our Horizontals. This was a 17% increase in machine utilization. In 2023 our utilization was 52% with 3 more machines added in the mix. Still, an increase in overall machine utilization percentage. As far as production hours and dollar amounts are concerned the results speak for themselves. Overall, from 2021 through end of year 2023, we saw an increase of 21,243 hours of production, or a $3,186,450 increase in production dollars.

What it means for the business

As we consider all the data, we saw an overall increase in production hours of 38,245. That’s an increase of production dollars in the amount of $5,765,100.

Industrial Furnace Monitoring

Case Study: Caddis Machine Monitoring Triggers Immediate Intervention to Avoid Massive Repair and Downtime

No Need For A Meltdown

Or a ‘freeze up’, as the case would have been for LeClaire Manufacturing – a single-source sand and permanent mold casting and machining company – when a critical furnace failed within its aluminum die casting operations. These workhorse furnaces run almost continuously in foundry operations providing performance, energy savings and reliability . . . until they don’t. Sometimes those reliable pieces of equipment develop mechanical or electrical problems that go unnoticed, but a failure alarm did not.

“At that moment a text message was sent by the CADDIS System to our foreman and action was taken immediately that saved our bacon”, said Ralph Zimmerman, LeClaire Manufacturing Co-President. “We were able to intervene in literally a matter of seconds after the unit overheated and shutoff”, continued Zimmerman.

Adding Up The Damage

If not addressed, what would have happened next is nothing short of a disaster. After a furnace failure, the unit shuts off and the front of furnace bath freezes, causing a cascading effect of failures. Tallying this up is daunting. It starts a lot of specialized labor to unfreeze the front of the furnace, estimated at $8,000 – $10,000. Next is to save the metal pump, which itself is a $20,000 unit. Then to inspect the lining of the furnace to determine whether it had been damaged, a process that is very difficult to accomplish, and can be hard to fully know. Even fuel costs – for example to melt the metal – are part of the equation. But perhaps the biggest cost is downtime and resulting missed customer orders.

Industrial Furnace Monitoring

LeClaire uses state-of-the-art furnaces for near constant production within its aluminum die casting production facility.

There’s An Upside

It didn’t happen. All these subsequent catastrophic failures were avoided thanks to the continuous and reliable CADDIS System. There was also no delay with the subsequent processes that LeClaire does for its customers. After the parts have been cast, they are heat treated, machined to customer specification, and delivered. LeClaire has CADDIS installed on numerous presses where they track uptime, downtime, maintenance tasks as well as shifts and other key metrics.

Industrial Furnace Monitoring

Operating environments of the CADDIS Machine Monitoring System include all manner of heat and chemistry encountered in today’s manufacturing.

So, What Is CADDIS?

CADDIS is a two-pronged Industry 4.0 solution that uses a shop floor device and an intuitive software platform. The device is housed in a durable and sealed aluminum casting and is designed to work without interruption in even the harshest environments. It connects to any type or vintage of machine relaying user specified data to a central dashboard. That dashboard is the brain of the operation, providing real-time monitoring for continuous observation, improvement, and intervention. The results are increases in uptime, improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), predictive maintenance intervals, and most notably in this case avoiding downtime, repair, scrap and missed customer deliveries.

“It’s pretty impressive when you stop and think about it. We were in the middle of our shift thinking all was running perfectly, and then we got a text from the (CADDIS) system, very cool”, said Zimmerman. “We were really able to contain the failure right away and avoid what would have very rapidly become a next-level costly issue”, he continued.

To learn how CADDIS Systems machine monitoring can prevent machine downtime by booking a demo with our team. To start using CADDIS immediately, request a free trial on up to five of your machines.

CADDIS Case Study – Jim Cole – Production Manager

Jim Cole is a Production Manager with LeClaire Manufacturing and has been utilizing the CADDIS device for the past two years. Jim currently has CADDIS monitoring  Permanent Mold, Sinto, CNC’s and Shot Blasting machines throughout his department.  CADDIS has helped Jim increase overall productivity and better manage  start times, cycle times, up-time and overall machine utilization.

CADDIS Machine Monitoring

Monitoring machines in aluminum casting foundry.