In Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, there’s a structure that symbolizes both the promise and the peril of a new automotive era—the 105-year-old Michigan Central Station. The train station has been empty and decaying for 30 years.
Ask the owner of any machine shop or sheet-metal house to name the biggest obstacle to company growth and you’re likely to receive the same answer—it’s not a lack of working capital that’s slowing them down, nor a shortage of advanced technology, but something far more basic: the need for someone to push a green button or pack boxes. “We can’t find enough people,” you’ll hear.
Ask almost any CAD/CAM vendor what they’re focused on and they’ll tell you it’s the same today as it was five years ago, and it’ll be the same in five years: Get the part onto the machine as fast as possible and get it off the machine as fast as possible. Here’s the current state of play in those two main areas.
For CMMs, the good times continue to roll. “One of the surprising things that has happened in just the last three to four years is the sheer volume of CMMs that we are shipping,” said Angus Taylor, president of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, North America (North Kingstown, RI). “The market seems to be really exploding.”
Although drivers may not know it, cable connections for the airbags and seatbelt buckle systems in their vehicle simply would not work without components manufactured by ODW-Elektrik. A development partner and supplier for high-quality cabling, solenoids and mechatronic systems used in vehicles around the world, ODW-Elektrik supplies most of its products to Bosch, Autoliv, Brose, VW, and ZF.
Step inside Pride Solutions LLC’s bustling shop floor in Hutchinson, MN, and you’ll see a shiny new CNC lathe turning out tube after tube of aluminum. While Pride’s machinists do more important things, a Universal Robot model UR10 collaborative robot (cobot) does the grunt work, loading and unloading the machine to keep up with high-volume orders.
Increases in size and quantity of its orders led Wisconsin-based auto parts manufacturer Felss Rotaform LLC (New Berlin, WI) to expand operations through a new dual-robot machine-tending cell. The company is a supplier of precision parts using its rotary swaging, axial forming and tube end-forming processes.
The U.S. auto industry is a good indicator of a lot of current trends. Like many industries, it has to continually reinvent itself to keep up with consumer and manufacturing trends, as our lead feature by Bill Koenig on page 41 explains.
Alan Rooks - Editor in Chief, Manufacturing Engineering
It’s not just automakers and suppliers that are being shaken by a new automotive era. The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) also is feeling the impact of self-driving and electric cars as well as ride-sharing services. Under a new CEO, Carla Bailo, the organization has revamped its operations and focus.
When I graduated with an engineering degree some decades ago, I learned that the organizations I was going to work for had internal communication problems. This was especially true for those that designed and manufactured complex machinery such as engines, aircraft, or automobiles.
Bruce Morey - Senior Technical Editor, SME Media
SME’s North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC), held jointly with ASME’s International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC), is the preeminent international forum for applied research and industrial applications in manufacturing.
Jyhwen Wang - Co-Chair, Organizing Committee, NAMRC 46, SME Member Since 1987
SME is publishing a series of Smart Manufacturing Industry Reports, with the third being released at IMTS this month. The reports, available at sme.org/reports, detail the advantages of smart manufacturing, the challenges to implementing digital solutions, and, finally, keys to implementing the technologies and tools.
Christine Longroy - Automotive Industry Manager, SME
Endless jokes about haboobs and dry heat aside, visitors to the Valley of the Sun saw a dizzying display of software technology at Arizona’s Phoenix Convention Center June 4-7 at the Siemens PLM Connection—Americas 2018 user conference.
Patrick Waurzyniak - Contributing Editor, SME Media
Our community in Randolph County is very much like all the modern, industrial communities found across America. We have large manufacturers, many smaller companies, and job shops, all struggling to fill job openings calling for advanced manufacturing skills. We also have a population of folks willing to roll up their sleeves and invest their futures in a productive career.
Garrett Parker - Department Head, Computer-Integrated Machining Program, Randolph Community College, Asheboro, NC
Designing and manufacturing a new part or product, such as a car engine or wind turbine, can be time-consuming and costly. To combat process limitations, the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory (Lemont, IL) is using cutting-edge machine learning techniques to help organizations reduce design time from months to days and slash development costs.