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Three Perspectives on Change in Manufacturing

Alan Rooks
By Alan Rooks Editor in Chief, Manufacturing Engineering

The way products and services are created and delivered is always changing. In the past, the pace of that change was relatively slow and organizations had plenty of time to adapt to and plan for new ways of doing things.

Not anymore.

Today, disruptive change seems to happen every day. For me, three recent examples of this reality stand out. First, in early February I attended the Motion Meeting 2018 in Thun, Switzerland, sponsored by Studer, Schaudt and Mikrosa (part of United Grinding), which produce high-end grinding machines. There was a lot of news, of course, but one presentation stood out: how manufacturers using the company’s grinding machines can employ digital production monitoring, remote service, and service monitoring.

The Production Monitor, a 24/7 service, provides shops with a real-time overview of running times, non-productive times and disruption times. Customers can use this data to optimize production utilization and availability. Remote service means that, at the push of a button, a service ticket is opened and, if permitted by the customer, direct access to the machine is possible: the United Grinding Conference Center can communicate, exchange data or directly interface with the machine control. Finally, the company’s Service Monitor displays a diagram with the maintenance due date of all connected machines; operators receive information about the tools and spare parts needed, including instructions for each maintenance measure—no need to dig through the service manual!

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The second example is aerospace manufacturing, the focus of this issue. One feature, on additive manufacturing, explains that while aerospace companies have exploited AM for noncritical flight components, it also offers advantages in engine and body work. You can expect to see many new applications in aircraft engines, according to one observer. Likewise, one of our columns (page 8) explains that to meet high quality standards and regulatory requirements, advanced aerospace manufacturers need to effectively use PLM software throughout their production operations today, and consider adding augmented reality (AR) processes in the future.

The third example is Manufacturing Engineering itself. As you may have noticed, we’ve upgraded our paper stock and changed the layout with a more open, modern, clean, and bold look that highlights the fine work of our editors and contributing writers. Our graphics staff researched and implemented the latest trends in font design and other type treatments, along with new design elements and additional space for graphics to deliver a fresh design that we hope will engage you, our readers. A special thanks to Barry Sloan and Cheryl Voglesong in SME’s graphics department for their hard work to make this redesign a reality.

Change isn’t easy, but when it produces good results, it’s definitely the right thing to do.

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