When we last published the Energy Manufacturing Yearbook, the overall outlook for the industry was a mixture of good and bad news, with oil prices at their lowest in six years and the oil province of Alberta, Canada, experiencing its highest unemployment rate since 1996. Fast-forward to 2017; US crude stocks continue to rise and fall, along with our gas prices. Natural gas, once thought to be the bridge between coal and emissions-free renewables, is now in question because global demand for power generation is only expected to rise 1% over the next six years (theenergytimes.com).
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), “Renewable energy sources are set to represent almost three quarters of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generating technology until 2040, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including electric vehicle batteries, in balancing supply and demand.”
While global energy itself continues to be in a state of flux, advancements in manufacturing technology and how they’re being used in the energy industry are on the rise. Noteworthy features in this Energy Manufacturing Yearbook include:
A case study about HYDRO Exploitation SA, a Swiss company that specializes in the operation of electrical installations and hydroelectric facilities. Using laser tracker technology and inspection software to measure the geometry of machine shafts, it can acquire highly accurate, remote 3D measurements over long distances, which enables relevant analysis of the geometry of power-generation machinery.
ArcelorMittal offers its perspective on a new “energy system of the future” and how it will be developed in Northern Germany as part of the large-scale project NEW 4.0. By 2035, around 4.5 million residents in the federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein will be provided with power by renewable energy sources alone. Applying Industry 4.0 systems, the project will demonstrate how imbalances in production and consumption can be offset based on renewable energies.
Our friction stir welding feature article provides a glimpse at how the solid-state joining process is being used for energy applications. Unlike other welding processes, friction stir welding retains the workpieces’ base metal properties. The process can join metals unweldable by other means; it’s also controllable and repeatable.
In our workforce feature, we’ll share how technology is meshing with manufacturing workforce needs. There’s a tremendous disruption in the manufacturing base across the country, but this is not just a US phenomenon, thanks to technology advancements. Those advancements are creating opportunities to develop the manufacturing workforce. In contrast, we’ll also look at the workforce challenges, particularly the stereotypes surrounding manufacturing.
Once you’ve read and absorbed the content in this year’s Energy Manufacturing Yearbook, I encourage you to visit advancedmanufacturing.org, which offers information on a variety of technical topics, including 3D/additive manufacturing, materials, automation, alternative machining, lean manufacturing, machine tools and more.
SME’s Advanced Manufacturing Media group also regularly records podcasts that you can listen to whenever it’s convenient for you. In addition, you can also access our monthly magazine, Manufacturing Engineering, and our quarterly magazine, Smart Manufacturing, as well as subscribe/view our weekly enewsletter, Advanced Manufacturing Now, and monthly enewsletter, Tooling & Workholding for Today’s Shop Floor.
If you’re in search of high-level, cutting-edge research, our peer-reviewed journals — Journal of Manufacturing Systems, Journal of Manufacturing Processes, Manufacturing Letters and the proceedings from our annual North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC) — are available for download. Visit sme.org/journals to learn more.
Regardless of how you choose to broaden your manufacturing knowledge, we’re here to help. Thank you for being part of SME.