Cheaper robots with more functions, along with more ﬂexible work cells and installations that facilitate robotics, are accelerating the growth of automated manufacturing facilities in the non-automotive sector. Ideas on whether robotics and automation lead to lights-out manufacturing on the shop floor, though, are mixed.
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The U.S. auto industry has been automated for decades. Production of cars and trucks is associated with large, hulking robots fenced off from human employees. Inside those fenced off areas, tasks such as welding are performed. The industry, though, is advancing on the automation front.
Most anyone who’s worked in a machine shop for any length of time has at some point attended a trade show or machine tool distributor’s open house. There they see canned demonstrations of CNC machines busily carving up chunks of brass, mild steel, or aluminum into business card holders and tic-tac-toe games.
Structured light systems measure surfaces by projecting a pattern of fringes, then using cameras and sophisticated software to convert them into point clouds of metrology data. Accuracy can reach the single-digit microns over millions of points.
Digital manufacturing solutions with product lifecycle management (PLM) tools hold great potential for manufacturers to eventually fully unlock the promise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
At a grand opening ceremony on Nov. 5, Fives DyAG Corp. (Smart Automation Solutions Division) celebrated the inauguration of its new center of competency for controls engineering in Greenville, South Carolina.
Engineering information is both pervasive and essential within manufacturing plants. And, it changes constantly as a result of maintenance-related adjustments, alterations in plant processes, or the swap-out of components.
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The automation debate is a captivating one, but for some it conjures up images of a world where their roles become obsolete, superseded by the ruthless efficiency and unwavering energy of machines.