Manufacturing Engineering asked thought leaders at five companies for their views on challenges and trends facing the metalworking industry.
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In preparation for mass customization, for starters, Japanese and German tech research officials today committed to expanding their joint work to establish a “social-technical or maybe ‘cyber-social’ environment where ‘digital companions’ and production lines communicate with humans” working in manufacturing, Andreas Dengel said in an interview with Smart Manufacturing magazine here at the CeBIT (Centrum der Büroautomation und Informationstechnologie und Telekommunikation) fair.
Renishaw Inc. is preparing to move into a new 133,000-sq.-ft. office and warehouse facility in West Dundee, IL, about 40 miles from Chicago. The two-story facility will be the company’s new North American headquarters, but also includes space for product development, testing, warehousing and distribution. It includes the new U.S. Additive Manufacturing Solutions Center – part of Renishaw’s network of global Solutions Centers, opening over the next year.
Innovate, Integrate, Collaborate are more than just marketing keywords. A number of metrology and software companies I visited at IMTS are putting their development dollars to work in these areas and showing off the results.
Challenged by an increasingly niche-oriented automotive market, The Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI) must increase the number of models it offers while decreasing its capital investment. The company plans to offer 50% more models in 2009 compared to 2004, according to John Felice, VP of manufacturing, technology and global enterprise for Chrysler.
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.
While high-end metrology devices like advanced laser scanners or precision CMMs garner a lot of attention, it is hard to imagine any industrial setting without the presence of work-a-day hand-held, contact metrology tools such as calipers or micrometers. That is what Justin Frazzini, quality manager for A.A. Jansson (Waterford, MI), retailer and calibration and repair service provider, observes in his practice.
As machine vision technologies improve, providing more data more frequently, new uses for inspection during the manufacturing process are emerging. The automotive industry might represent the ultimate challenge to providers of machine vision equipment used in robotic guidance and material inspection.
The industrial world is continuing its adoption of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T), the advanced tolerancing methodology. The symbolic language is intended to be both more precise while providing more latitude in allowable variations, replacing the simpler method of adding tolerances to each dimension.
“Five years ago, our fit and finish was below average,” said Dr. Raj Kawlra, director of dimensional strategy and management of Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI). “To be the future world-leaders, we knew that we had to focus on all aspects of quality … vehicles that look good, feel good, sound good, and are reliable.”