Investing in factory automation for the first time is a big decision for many CNC machine shops. For Loveridge Machine (Salt Lake City, UT), owner Dennis Loveridge thoroughly researched his options before making a decision for his high tech job shop.
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What are companies looking for in manufacturing execution systems [MES] software?
You have heard it before, today’s manufactured products are becoming ever more complicated. As computers and microcontrollers get ever cheaper and more powerful they have become more enticing for product engineers to use and incorporate. This means the intellectual property in the embedded software has grown increasingly in value – possibly exponentially.
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.
As the automotive industry’s reawakening continues, less-expensive high-payload robots are gaining traction over more conventional fixed tooling among automakers focused on cutting costs while improving manufacturing productivity and processes.
A self-described “river rat” during his teenage years, Herbert B. Voelcker grew up in the small town of Tonawanda, NY, just north of Buffalo, where as a young man he grew to love the water, boats, and steam engines. His early fascination with how things worked eventually led him to study mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA), and to embark later on a greatly varied technical career highlighted by his research into the mathematical foundations for 3-D solid modeling.
M. Eugene Merchant began his career in 1936 at the Cincinnati Milling Machine Co. (later Cincinnati Milacron), where he went to work analyzing the nature of friction between the cutting tool and the chip. The young engineer eventually developed a mathematical model of the metalcutting process that is still taught and used today.
With more factory assets getting connected to the Web, particularly with the coming explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, today’s manufacturing management must look for rock-solid technologies for securing their factory-floor machinery and the mission-critical intellectual property assets that now often reside in cloud-based software.
The appeal of multitasking machining isn’t difficult to understand. Multitasking machines overcome some limitations of conventional machines and work their own special brand of magic in subtractively processing parts. From the earliest mill-turn machines to today’s most advanced multifunction machines featuring simultaneous processing, manufacturers have recognized that productivity-enhancing multitasking machining and quality go hand in hand.
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.