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.
Vertical machining centers with advanced features and functions are earning their stripes as more productive members of machine shops’ CNC equipment arsenal.
Rod Zimmerman of cutting tool manufacturer Iscar Metals lives in a pleasant green zone in a Fort Worth suburb. Yet within a half mile of his home, an oil company has sunk a vertical hole 7,500′ (2,286 m) deep, from which it has splayed nine lateral lines, each going about half a mile.
Horizontal machining centers (HMCs) are versatile four-axis and, increasingly, five-axis machine platforms that maximize processing of multi-sided large parts by minimizing part handling.
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.
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.
Efficient creepfeed grinding can remove material quickly and produce a precision ground surface on challenging materials. However, since creepfeed grinding applications typically draw more power and have higher forces, there are important considerations to pay attention to during application setup.
The growing skills gap is causing trepidation among manufacturers and the lack of millennials building careers within the industry is part of the concern.
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.