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.
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Technology is changing ever more rapidly. Sometimes this means topics learned in engineering or technical school become obsolete. Whole new fields emerge within a few years, so that even those with freshly minted educations suddenly find themselves faced with new challenges.
Manufacturers face a difficult task juggling the current “innovation agenda.” Today, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), robotic automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are all poised to be the next big thing.
Modern manufacturing is rapidly adopting model-based definition (MBD). When employing an MBD strategy, the CAD model becomes more than the nominal to which all parts are measured and inspected against. MBD keeps the all-important digital thread intact—from design to manufacturing to inspection and quality reporting.
The first kilowatt-class fiber laser for material processing was introduced by IPG Photonics in early 2002. Since that time, the adoption of fiber lasers for production applications has grown at a rapid rate. Today, fiber lasers are becoming the choice for most major production laser applications as well as converting traditional welding and cutting processes to fiber laser technologies.
I’m among the first to dive into the latest manufacturing innovations and see how they can improve our customers’ operations. Yet, I’m also among the first to advise them to pause and ensure that the fundamentals of their manufacturing processes are in place before adding something new into the complex mix of functionality and desired outcomes.
Although laser welding is a well-established manufacturing solution, many sheetmetal fabricators have been hesitant to implement the process at their shop.
More shops than ever are embracing waterjet cutting systems. And for the most part, the reason is that a number of customer-driven improvements/innovations to waterjet technology make it even more user friendly, productive and appealing to an ever-broadening array of manufacturers.
There have been many process improvement trends in manufacturing over the decades, and none have had more significant ROI than machine monitoring. The increase in machine monitoring is owed in large part to the rise in popularity of the open and royalty-free interconnectivity standard MTConnect.
It’s easy to become dazed by the continuing stream of buzz words. For those of us in manufacturing, all this buzz creates a sense of impending change, but no clarity on what that change might be. Uncertainty means anxiety.