Speeding the flow of jobs through the shop, while maintaining top quality, ranks among the hallmarks of any successful manufacturing operation’s goals.
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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.
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.
At Jaktool LLC (Cranbury, NJ), a team of young inquisitive engineers is investing the time to explore the full potential of its manufacturing software and machines to take on the complex jobs no one else wants. Using Mastercam CAD/CAM programming software from CNC Software Inc. (Tolland, CT), Jaktool is able to save setup times and tooling costs, and reduce cycle times, while delivering exceptional customer service to a diverse cross section of industries.
High QA, Inc., the developer of Inspection Manager Quality Management Software, has established a headquarters operation in Sevenum, Netherlands, to directly serve its customers on the European continent.
Smarter, faster nesting software programs with better automation and other major improvements are helping fabricators and metalcutters at job shops and other builders inject a jolt of productivity into their factory operations.
ECi services a multitude of industries, but we presently have four products that service manufacturing and what FABTECH attendees would be focused on: these include Macola, Max, JobBoss, and M1, which is the product I represent.
Intelligent factories have existed since manufacturing’s historical inception, but intelligence—defined as the acquisition and application of manufacturing knowledge—resided only with the factory’s staff.
Have collaborative, six-axis robots reached a tipping point in establishing their niche in manufacturing? And could they be opening doors for manufacturers to adopt automation overall?
I’ve had quite a month, again, covering clever software and gadgets that continue to inch their way into performing tasks once reserved for humans. These tasks range from mundane material handling to highly skilled engineering design. It has made me think quite a bit about how our world of manufacturing and engineering will be affected by all this artificial cleverness.