We all know the buzzwords circulating around digital data and the factory. You have heard them—Industry 4.0, smart factories, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI). The question we all have is how will this impact workers in the long term? What do these terms really mean? Nevertheless, both traditional software suppliers and makers of advanced manufacturing equipment are offering digital solutions.
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For machine shops in a competitive global marketplace, keeping spindles running and making product is the only way to stay in business. Still, adding a new piece of equipment, even with the promise of improving the efficiency of your existing ones, may be a difficult sell to management.
The bane of modern engineering is complexity. One promise of artificial intelligence and machine learning is helping engineers to use complex tools and harness vast data sets effectively.
A Michigan company that displays instructions for manual manufacturing processes on work stations via augmented reality (AR) is adding wearables to provide similar guidance.
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.
Manufacturers are facing shrinking product lifecycles with frequently changing customer demands. As a result, they need agile production and flexible factory layouts that can easily be modified whenever needed.
As with any digital transformation process, the devil is in the details, and there are many potential pitfalls that can derail projects.
There is no shortage of competition in a global market. As a manufacturer trying to get ahead of the pack, automation can help with problems like a limited skilled labor force, quality control issues and suboptimal throughput. But the high initial cost and extended implementation time can be deterrents.
Cyber criminals are increasingly setting their sights on today’s digitized manufacturing industry as an entry point into government and commercial supply chains.
As additive manufacturing (AM) moves from prototypes to mass production, manufacturers are setting their sights on the holy grails—the products and processes that will be game-changers. Many game-changers are already in play.