The September 2018 edition of Manufacturing Engineering is available as a digital magazine. Links to individual articles are below:
In Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, there’s a structure that symbolizes both the promise and the peril of a new automotive era—the 105-year-old Michigan Central Station. The train station has been empty and decaying for 30 years. In Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, there’s a structure that symbolizes both the promise and the peril of a new automotive era—the 105-year-old Michigan Central Station. The train station has been empty and decaying for 30 years.
Speculation grows over how the automotive supply chain will evolve for future mobility. The hype around electric vehicles and self-driving cars seems to grow louder by the day. The potential environmental and social benefits are trumpeted generally without reservation.
Are cobots the answer to the manufacturing industry’s shortage of qualified workers? Ask the owner of any machine shop or sheet-metal house to name the biggest obstacle to company growth and you’re likely to receive the same answer—it’s not a lack of working capital that’s slowing them down, nor a shortage of advanced technology, but something far more basic: the need for someone to push a green button or pack boxes. “We can’t find enough people,” you’ll hear.
Software advances focus on toolpath improvements, reducing job setup time, integrating with digital tool libraries and improving machine simulation, verification and analysis tools. Ask almost any CAD/CAM vendor what they’re focused on and they’ll tell you it’s the same today as it was five years ago, and it’ll be the same in five years: Get the part onto the machine as fast as possible and get it off the machine as fast as possible.
For CMMs, the good times continue to roll. “One of the surprising things that has happened in just the last three to four years is the sheer volume of CMMs that we are shipping,” said Angus Taylor, president of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, North America (North Kingstown, RI). “The market seems to be really exploding.” The question is why now?
Although drivers may not know it, cable connections for the airbags and seatbelt buckle systems in their vehicle simply would not work without components manufactured by ODW-Elektrik. A development partner and supplier for high-quality cabling, solenoids and mechatronic systems used in vehicles around the world, ODW-Elektrik supplies most of its products to Bosch, Autoliv, Brose, VW, and ZF.
Step inside Pride Solutions LLC’s bustling shop floor in Hutchinson, MN, and you’ll see a shiny new CNC lathe turning out tube after tube of aluminum. While Pride’s machinists do more important things, a Universal Robot model UR10 collaborative robot (cobot) does the grunt work, loading and unloading the machine to keep up with high-volume orders.
Increases in size and quantity of its orders led Wisconsin-based auto parts manufacturer Felss RotaformLLC, New Berlin, WI, to expand operations through a new dual-robot machine-tending cell.
The U.S. auto industry is a good indicator of a lot of current trends. Like many industries, it has to continually reinvent itself to keep up with consumer and manufacturing trends. It is also being buffeted by political trends, as negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the U.S., Canada and Mexico may—or may not—upend a very complex supply chain.
ADVANCED MANUFACTURING NOW
It’s not just automakers and suppliers that are being shaken by a new automotive era. The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) also is feeling the impact of self-driving and electric cars as well as ride-sharing services. Under a new CEO, Carla Bailo, the organization has revamped its operations and focus.
In this day and age, products are infinitely more complex; customers demand exceptional quality; mechanical tolerances are tighter; and shapes are more complex. As factories are getting smarter, integrating a complex product design into them smartly is equally complex.
SME’s North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC), held jointly with ASME’s International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC), is an international forum for applied research and industrial applications in manufacturing. MSEC/NAMRC 46 was held at Texas A&M University (College Station, TX) June 18-22. This marked the first time NAMRC was hosted in the state of Texas. We were also pleased that the conference brought together more than 700 attendees from 28 countries, with participants from academia, industry, and government.
SME is publishing a series of Smart Manufacturing Industry Reports, with the third being released at IMTS this month. The reports detail the advantages of smart manufacturing, the challenges to implementing digital solutions, and, finally, keys to implementing the technologies and tools.
Visitors to the Valley of the Sun saw a dizzying display of software technology at Arizona’s Phoenix Convention Center June 4-7 at the Siemens PLM Connection—Americas 2018 user conference. The event drew thousands of visitors from hundreds of manufacturing companies.
Randolph Community College is fortunate to have an advisory board for its advanced manufacturing program comprised of several active representatives from the local manufacturing community. Their guidance and advice have provided a strong program foundation regarding the courses and equipment deemed most appropriate for our students as they pursue an associate degree leading to a great career in manufacturing.
Designing and manufacturing a new part or product, such as a car engine or wind turbine, can be time-consuming and costly. To combat process limitations, the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory (Lemont, IL) is using cutting-edge machine learning techniques to help organizations reduce design time from months to days and slash development costs.