What does a submarine operating underwater have in common with a metal stent propping open a human artery? More than you’d think initially.
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With the September issue, Smart Manufacturing introduces Collective Intelligence, a new initiative under which we gather experts in one room to go deep on one important topic. We focused this first roundtable on the intractable problem of the workforce skills gap.
Throughout 2018, SME has published 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 necessity and advantages of smart manufacturing, the challenges to implementing digital solutions, and, finally, keys to implementing the technologies and tools.
As the momentum to go green continues to build across the globe, the number of environmental regulations for reducing hazardous substances keeps growing. At the same time, more and more customers are now setting their own environmental requirements, adding more complexity to the mix.
When considering a new robotic automation system, one of the biggest concerns can be the weight of the initial costs. While such a large capital expense may be hard to swallow at first, it’s industry-proven that manufacturers see an average ROI of 24 months from robots.
In the 1955 short story “Autofac,” Philip K. Dick envisioned a world dominated by self-replicating robots that work incessantly, eventually depleting the planet’s resources.
The requirements for FDA 21 CFR Part 11 are in place for a good reason: When companies are making a part that goes inside your body, the engineering and manufacturing process must be meticulously documented, tested and controlled. People’s lives are at stake.
The human factor is sometimes just too cumbersome in manufacturing. Take the German chipmaker Infineon: By using an autonomous robot called Scout from MetraLabs for the last several years, the automotive supplier shrank to 10 from 300 the number of minutes it takes to collect the clean-room data needed to measure the presence of rare gases in the air.
Intelligent factories have existed since manufacturing’s historical inception, but intelligence—defined as the acquisition and application of manufacturing knowledge—resided only with the factory’s staff.
I’ve had quite a month, again, covering clever software and gadgets that continue to inch their way into performing tasks once reserved for humans. These tasks range from mundane material handling to highly skilled engineering design. It has made me think quite a bit about how our world of manufacturing and engineering will be affected by all this artificial cleverness.