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Lean Automation

Lean manufacturing principles and automation systems can coexist, although many lean purists contend that lean goals conflict with using automation. Smart applications of automation, however, can result in deployment of systems that are both automated and lean, with flexible manufacturing systems that can be easily reconfigured as factory operations change.

Automation in Lean Manufacturing

Common misperceptions about lean manufacturing and automation systems lead many manufacturing managers to dismiss the use of automation in a lean setting.

Minimizing Tool Breakage Cost

When a tool breaks during a machining operation, the part being processed is often destroyed, and sometimes the machine is damaged. Aerospace parts are often complex shapes, manufactured from exotic materials that require prolonged machining cycle times. Therefore, a scrapped part is a significant loss in raw materials and value-added machining.

Lasers Grow Manufacturing

Today, laser technology in manufacturing touches all of our lives on a daily basis; lasers cut air bag material and weld air bag detonators for our in-car safety; lasers weld the batteries in many of our mobile devices; lasers drill aero-engine components for planes; lasers cut the glass for our smart phones and tablets screens; lasers weld the drivetrains in our cars and trucks; lasers cut medical stents that increase and enhance our lives, just to name a few.

Oilfield Shop Gets into Small Parts Watchmaking

When work in the oil field dried up due to poor economic conditions, Knust-Godwin LLC, a Texas oil & gas supplier, faced new challenges following transitioning into small parts machining. Rather than hunker down and wait out the cyclical downturn as many shops would do, David Prickett, sales manager, and Knust-Godwin management agreed they should work to diversify the company’s customer base.

Laser Welding Applications Expand

Solid-state laser technology has matured, leading to development of new, cost-effective welding applications, such as hybrid welding

The Increasingly Perfected Science of Machining Composites

A 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 shown at the Detroit Auto Show was additively manufactured on a Cincinnati BAAMCI machine by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), one of seven founding members of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation. The Detroit IACMI branch will get $70 million to develop a robust supply chain to improve materials, handling, and machining properties for automotive composites.

When Clamps Aren’t the Answer

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.

Chrysler Implements Flexible Manufacturing

Challenged by an increasingly niche-oriented automotive market, The Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI) must increase the number of models it offers while decreasing its capital investment. The company plans to offer 50% more models in 2009 compared to 2004, according to John Felice, VP of manufacturing, technology and global enterprise for Chrysler.