Manufacturing competitiveness depends on working faster, smarter, and better, with the convergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices and smart sensors, software and data analytics.
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The employee owned companies of Fastener Industries Inc. (Berea, OH) produce some of the most basic products in manufacturing: nuts, bolts, screws, levelers and pins. Today, the family of companies demonstrates how smaller manufacturers are considering how to add advanced technology and lean manufacturing ideas to become more efficient.
Keeping products clean is becoming a more significant part of manufacturing as standards for cleanliness, deburring, and finish grow more stringent.
Robotic machining technology has advanced to where it poses a serious alternative to metalcutting applications on more traditional machining centers. With the latest robotics equipment and related software, automation suppliers and robotic system integrators are gaining some traction using robots in many material-removal applications previously done only with machine tools.
One of the most cost-effective ways to obtain the benefits of automation is by adding a bar feeder to a CNC lathe or other bar machine. Costing anywhere from about $10,000 to $40,000 depending on configuration, the devices can add hours of untended operating time for part volumes of a few hundred to tens of thousands.
Shop efficiencies start with the machine tool controller, as today’s CNC equipment offers machine operators myriad tools for improving part surface finishes, allocating machine time, and cutting job cycle times.
For years, the manufacturing industry has debated the pros and cons of opening up manufacturing networks, but concerns over virus vulnerabilities and the stability of PCs on the network largely limited open-architecture PC controls’ progress and kept entrenched proprietary systems in place.
Workholding techniques using a magnetic field, a vacuum, or an adhesive can be effective alternatives to clamps. When these techniques are used, more part area is available for the cutting tools, thin parts can be held, and initial setup can be fast and simple. Plus, there is a potential for smoother surfaces and a shorter overall production cycle.
From Boeing 787s to new Navy destroyers, fiber-reinforced composites are gaining in use. As production scales up, more-efficient manufacturing remains a focus. One key to that efficiency is tooling for composites. These molds and forms give the final shape to a part, and are often integral to their final curing.
Automation in manufacturing is more important than ever, reducing costs and improving quality. While it is important in assembling cars, machining engines, or drilling holes in airframes, is it important to metrology operations as well? “Absolutely,” explained Michael Kleemann, engineering manager VRSI (Plymouth, MI).