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.
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As automotive manufacturers around the world begin to invest in products and components made with a variety of advanced lightweight materials, the ComauFlex body shop solution—developed and refined over the past decade—has been demonstrating how it can accommodate dissimilar materials while incorporating a wide range of processes.
Once considered also-rans behind automated drilling and filling, alternative aerospace automation processes, like painting, coating, sanding and other surface preparation, are starting to catch on with aerospace builders, especially in commercial aviation where immense order backlogs loom large and demand immediate attention.
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.
What are companies looking for in manufacturing execution systems [MES] software?
The prime contractor for supplying automation tools to the Airbus plant in Broughton, UK, which is assembling the wings of what will be the world’s largest commercial aircraft–the A380–is Electroimpact Inc. (Mukilteo, WA).
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.
Last year’s surge in medical machining and firearms manufacturing could well be joined or even eclipsed by this years’ reemergence of production for applications in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, and hydraulics industries, generating increased interest in Swiss-style machining. This isn’t news. But what may be surprising is that the venerable, tried and true Swiss automatic CNC lathe coninues to evolve, adding bells and whistles where needed, or conversely stripping one—like a guide bushing—away to maximize its efficiency in machining parts complete.
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.
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.