Manufacturers of all sizes see an uptick in productivity after adding a factory within a factory via an automated machining cell. The cells are small-scale, clearly defined production units, often for a family of similar parts or a product, and they typically include a robotic arm and one or more machine tools. These can include horizontal and vertical lathes, machining centers and grinders. The cell may also include a conveyor component.
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Interesting changes have been happening at Haas Automation, one of the few American machine tool builders left standing after scores have been displaced over the decades by Japanese, German and Korean builders.
Design for manufacturing has been around for decades, but industry insiders say the next few years will be critical as technologies like additive manufacturing (AM) and virtual reality (VR) shape the future of the industry.
Digitization of industry has become an established global trend. Despite all the enthusiasm of visionaries, the machine tool is, was and will remain the core element in production.
Getting fast, accurate data delivered to the palm of your hand is helping drive demand for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, manufacturers are capitalizing on the ability to get critical factory operational data from ERP, manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) applications into the hands of the right decision-makers in a timely manner.
Alpha Laser, based in Puchheim, near Munich, Germany, specializes in laser-based processing technology, and Schneider Electric, headquartered in Andover, MA., is Alpha Laser’s automation partner for its semiautomatic and fully automatic machines, including a CNC-controlled universal machine for manufacturing sensors.
Hurco Companies Inc. has partnered with BMO Automation to provide customers a tested automation solution that requires minimal integration, according to the companies.
Enpress LLC (Eastlake, OH) selected ERP software from Epicor Software (Austin, TX) in March 2014 to gain real-time access to data to improve operational efficiencies internally and communications with its customers.
Mention automation and most people think high-volume production environments in which millions of parts are pumped out on a regular basis. While that may be true in many instances, it is definitely not the case at Choice Precision Inc. (Whitehall, PA).
With a shortage of young workers willing and able to do today’s factory jobs, manufacturers are taking steps to retain the older workforce already punching in.