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.
If “automation” is the constant drone you hear from practically everyone in metalworking these days, job shop owners might be the only people yelling “No!” Or at least “Wait!” How, they ask, can you cost-effectively automate low-volume, high-mix parts? Yet it’s not only doable but probably necessary.
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.
Connected manufacturing and digitization technologies are spurring many of the major innovations in CNC machine controls that help machine shops cut metal and create parts as quickly and efficiently as possible.
By Patrick WaurzyniakContributing Editor,SME Media
The fastest road from an engineering classroom to a manufacturing career may be a race track that engineering students from colleges across the U.S. and around the world take when they participate in Formula SAE competition.
Metalworking is a great industry that makes a major contribution to the U.S. economy, but it doesn’t typically attract movie idols or sports stars. That changed when NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski joined the ranks of metalworking entrepreneurs.
Alan Rooks - Editor in Chief, Manufacturing Engineering
As a provider of automation equipment and software, our company is immersed in this ongoing, revolutionary, data-driven ride, and we’re anticipating a new trend: our customers are not just automating their traditional subtractive methods.
Today’s virtual technology enables faster and better product development. Planes, trains and automobiles are defined in CAD, subjected to virtual tests to see how they might fail, re-designed, virtually manufactured and virtually shown to customers to confirm market acceptance.
Bruce Morey - Senior Technical Editor, SME Media
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.
Gene Granata - VERICUT Product Manager, CGTech Inc.
Manufacturing got smart when companies figured out how to make products in one market and sell them in another. Today, we call this supply chain logistics. But somewhere along the way, the innovation chain connecting supply (manufacturing) and logistics (the supporting infrastructure) started to diverge.
Technology is improving at a rapid pace, and these developments are being incorporated into the manufacturing industry. According to Deloitte’s “2018 Skills Gap in Manufacturing Study,” the industry could have a shortage of 2.4 million skilled workers by 2028.
Hai Doan - Mechanical Engineering Research Assistant, University of Alberta, SME Member Since 2018
SkillsUSA wields a large shovel, but we have a big hole to fill. That hole is in the American economy and it is called the skills gap—the widening gap between the jobs available and the skilled workers ready to fill them.