The challenges to manufacturing as it evolves into the 21st century are now familiar, and impact how metrology must contribute. Manufacturers face uncertain production volumes with roller-coaster demand, shorter production runs and faster product development cycles. Automation, while alluring as a way to reduce cost, needs to adjust.
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A subsidiary of HNI Corp. (Mustacine, IA), the second-largest manufacturer of office furniture in North America, Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT; Mt. Pleasant, IA) manufactures sheetmetal fireplaces (both wood and gas-burning), vent pipe, and fireplace accessories. The company has four manufacturing facilities.
Earlier this year, at the 21st annual Shingo Prize conference awards ceremony, Autoliv Americas’ airbag module facility in Ogden, UT, was awarded The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence. This was the second Shingo Prize won by the Autoliv Ogden Airbag Assembly (AOA) plant.
Off-line programming software tools for CMMs allow manufacturers to increase measurement capacity and throughput by programming CMMs, probes, and fixtures before parts are made.
To remain competitive in the fiercely contested North American automotive industry, the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI, Fremont, CA) assembly plant, a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corp. (Aichi Prefecture, Japan) and General Motors Corp. (Detroit), has rededicated its efforts in lean manufacturing during the past few years by applying key tenets of the Toyota Production System (TPS).
If you have never heard the term Yokoten, prepare yourself. It has been added to the Lean Operations lexicon as an important activity. Yokoten is being used by lean firms to help them become leaner. Yokoten is a Japanese term that can be roughly translated as “across everywhere.”
Keeping products clean is becoming a more significant part of manufacturing as standards for cleanliness, deburring, and finish grow more stringent.
When a contract manufacturer sees an opportunity in the competitive aerospace market, it sets priorities aimed at providing the right combination of processes required to meet the industry’s exacting demands. Precision machining and finishing, parts inspection, and, of course, certifications from OEMs and industry alliances are at the top of the list. Increasingly, aerospace suppliers like Volvo Aero Connecticut (Newington, CT) are benefiting from five-axis machining, advanced CNC controls, motors and drives, robotic deburring, and on-machine inspection for a competitive advantage.
Manufacturing job expansion resumed in September after pausing in August. The sector added 18,000 jobs last month, with 17,000 of the gain taking place in durable goods, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Metrology for medical devices needs to become more capable as those devices get more varied and complex. Manufacturers must inspect dental implants, coronary stents, orthopedic joints, and implanted electronic devices. Surgeons are increasingly using intricate, sometimes one-off, surgical tools. There is also a growing number of consumable items, such as hypodermic needles, made on rapid production lines. They all need ever more precise quality control.