Increases in size and quantity of its orders led Wisconsin-based auto parts manufacturer Felss Rotaform LLC (New Berlin, WI) to expand operations through a new dual-robot machine-tending cell. The company is a supplier of precision parts using its rotary swaging, axial forming and tube end-forming processes.
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Speeding the flow of jobs through the shop, while maintaining top quality, ranks among the hallmarks of any successful manufacturing operation’s goals.
The next “dynamic duo” may not involve humans at all. “Machine vision and robots make for a perfect marriage,” stated Klas Bengtsson, global product manager, vision systems for ABB Robotics (Auburn Hills, MI). This is not new. Vision and robotics have gone hand in hand for years.
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.
Traditionally, industrial robots have been deployed for manufacturing tasks that required brute strength, such as the heavy-payload robots used in the automotive industry, or they were of the speedy pick-and-place variety, the type of robots often deployed in medical or semiconductor applications. In most instances, safety requirements mandated that robots be entirely sealed off in fence-guarded cells to protect human workers from injury.
There are plenty of manufacturing catchphrases: the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industry 4.0 and the Digital Factory. “Sometimes it’s a lot of buzzwords. Sometimes there’s a lot of reality behind it,” said Roger Hart, research and development manager of Siemens (Berlin and Munich, Germany).
Taking stock of a surprising and challenging 2016, a number of trends may point to a future where manufacturing output increases while continuing to decentralize.
A huge confidence gap exists between the number of companies that try digital manufacturing strategies and those that successfully apply them, a new McKinsey & Co. survey found.
Buffalo, NY – Niagara Gear, a division of Gear Motions, Inc., recently completed the installation of its first machining cell. The in-house machining capabilities were added to reduce lead-time and provide more flexibility and control to meet customer delivery requirements.
Methods Machine Tools Inc. (Sudbury, MA) announced two key management appointments: President Jerry Rex was named president and chief executive officer, and Dale Hedberg was promoted to vice president of operations.