Solving Aerospace Manufacturing’s Complex Riddle

Solving Aerospace Manufacturing’s Complex Riddle

May 7, 2019

What suppliers are doing to ensure product quality and safety By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine Talk to any qualified supplier of aerospace parts and they will likely tell you the same thing: Quality needs to be the top priority for manufacturing. All stakeholders—from prime contractors to tier-3 suppliers, contract manufacturers, and job shops—know it because the safety of aircraft passengers depends on it. But today, jet makers are working to solve an engineering and manufacturing riddle that goes something like this: “How do you achieve the highest quality requirements when aircraft materials, parts, and production processes are now more complex, and more challenging, than ever?” Monitoring and Controlling the Process Aero Gear (www.aerogear.com) manufactures precision gears and gearbox assemblies used by aerospace giants like Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, Boeing, and General Electric. Last June, the company completed a 24,000-square-foot addition to its facility that Aero Gear President Doug Rose said was necessary to keep pace with the industry’s robust demand for jet engines, the primary application for its parts and assemblies. The addition increased Aero Gear’s total space to approximately 100,000 square feet, which includes manufacturing space for several new programs. “We’re a small company, but we have a big impact on the industry because our gears out there flying in commercial and military aircraft, in thousands of planes a day,” Rose said in an interview at Aero Gear’s facility in Windsor, Connecticut. “We started out as just a local shop making parts for companies like Pratt & Whitney, and then, as globalization came about, we embraced it and went looking for opportunities. Now, we do 30 percent of our work internationally, exporting.” Rose said that Aero Gear ensures the highest quality of its parts by carefully controlling and monitoring its processes. A quality control person is embedded in each manufacturing cell to make sure the process is consistently producing good parts, and to document that the parts are free of defects. It’s a far cry, he said, from the old school practice of waiting until all the parts have been machined before inspecting them at the end of the process. To help make the inspection process less manually intensive, the company invested in white...

Jobs surge in April, unemployment rate falls to the lowest…

Jobs surge in April, unemployment rate falls to the lowest…

May 3, 2019

“Jobs surge in April, unemployment rate falls to the lowest since 1969” By Jeff Cox, CNBC The U.S. jobs machine kept humming along in April, adding a robust 263,000 new hires while the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, the lowest in a generation, the Labor Department reported Friday. Nonfarm payroll growth easily beat Wall Street expectations of 190,000 and a 3.8% jobless rate. Average hourly earnings growth held at 3.2% over the past year, a notch below Dow Jones estimates of 3.3%. The monthly gain was 0.2%, below the expected 0.3% increase, bringing the average to $27.77. The average work week also dropped 0.1 hours to 34.4 hours. Unemployment was last this low in December 1969 when it hit 3.5%. At a time when many economists see a tight labor market, big job growth continues as the economic expansion is just a few months away from being the longest in history.   The unemployment rate for Asians fell sharply, plunging from 3.1% to 2.2%. While last month’s slump in the jobless rate came with strong increase in hiring, it also was helped along by a sharp decline in the labor force of 490,000. That brought the labor force participation rate down to 62.8%, exactly where it was a year ago. A broader unemployment gauge that includes those who have quit looking for jobs as well as the underemployed held at 7.3%, where it has been since February. Those counted as not in the labor force surged by 646,000 to a fresh high of 96.2 million. “Leaving aside month-to-month fluctuations, the labor market is still very strong, adding almost double the number of workers needed to keep pace with new entrants to the labor force in any given month,” said Eric Winograd, AllianceBernstein’s senior economist. “Wages may have been slightly tepid this month relative to expectations but are still growing at just about the highest rate this cycle, and the unemployment rate is at multi-generational lows.” The level of unemployed people plunged by 387,000 in April, bringing the total level to 5.8 million. However, the ranks of the employed also declined by 103,000, according to the Labor Department’s household survey. Professional and business services led...

Ford cancels Mexico plant, expands U.S. factory and…

Ford cancels Mexico plant, expands U.S. factory and…

Apr 23, 2019

“Ford cancels Mexico plant, expands U.S. factory and adds 700 jobs” By Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY Ford Motor announced Tuesday that it would cancel plans for a $1.6 billion Mexico plant and launch a Michigan expansion in a move that may be viewed as a capitulation to Donald Trump. Ford CEO Mark Fields said the company would spend $700 million and add 700 jobs to “transform and expand” its Flat Rock, Mich. manufacturing plant to make autonomous and electric vehicles. “Make no mistake about it — Ford is a global automaker but our home is right here in the United States,” Fields said at a press conference. The move marks a sharp reversal for Ford, which has defended its production in Mexico even as Trump has assailed the company for expanding there. “This is a vote of confidence for President-elect Trump and some of the policies he may be pursuing,” Fields said. To be sure, Ford acknowledged that it would still move production of the next-generation Focus sedan to Mexico, as previously announced. But it will be built at an existing plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, not at a new facility. President-elect Donald Trump is going after General Motors giving them an ultimatum when it comes to manufacturing across the border. Veuer’s Nick Cardona tells us what the President-elect had to say. Buzz60 The United Auto Workers hailed the decision. “We’ve seen our jobs go overseas,” UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles said. “It’s evident today that Ford is rewarding us for our hard work.” Others will view the move as a bid to satisfy Trump, who has cited Ford’s Mexico expansion as a key example of how the North American Free Trade Agreement has weakened American manufacturing. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford called Trump this morning to inform the president-elect of the decision, and Fields called incoming Vice President Mike Pence. “Automakers are facing a situation where they have to consider the political consequences” of all their decisions, AutoTrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs said. Ford’s expansion will convert 700 temporary jobs at the Michigan plant into permanent positions, adding to an existing hourly staff of about 3,600. Fields said the automaker will add about 200 jobs at its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico,...

Manufacturing a Solid Case for IoT on the Factory Floor

Manufacturing a Solid Case for IoT on the Factory Floor

Apr 12, 2019

By Dan Jamieson, Manufacturing.net Sixty percent of global manufacturers will use analytic data recorded from embedded devices to optimize manufacturing and supply-chain operations by 2021, according to market intelligence firm IDC. That’s because small, inexpensive computing hardware (such as low-cost wireless radios and sensors) can wirelessly monitor and transmit data instantly on the state of any machine. In fact, with the perpetual mandate to cut costs, operate more efficiently, achieve greater visibility into processes and minimize supply-chain risk, all manufacturers should begin investing in IoT technologies—if they aren’t doing so already. IoT’s many benefits can transform your business and set you apart from your competitors. There are risks, to be sure, but they can be mitigated so long as the project is carefully and deliberately managed. Fortunately, that’s what competitive manufacturers are already good at. First, let’s take a look at the value the IoT can bring to your manufacturing floor, where seamless operations depend on reliably functioning machinery. Increase Visibility and Simplify Operations Smart industrial appliances can help increase visibility and simplify business operations: Increase visibility — With smart sensors, businesses can monitor important assets at every stage of the supply chain and report this information to a centralized database. Simplify operations — Businesses can use smart sensors to locate and assess inventory levels. Predictive Maintenance Capabilities Can Mitigate Disruptions Furthermore, manufacturers can eliminate error-prone service inspections with IoT technology. For example, smart sensors can anticipate problems before they become larger issues by relaying real-time analytics on a machine’s performance. Data collected from a machine, such as current or vibration, combined with real-time alerts allows manufacturers to engage in predictive maintenance, minimizing disruptions and work stoppages, which in turn increases asset utilization and mitigates the risk of missed deadlines, increases in production costs and reputational damage. In this scenario, best practices call for integrating a wireless connectivity module (Cellular or Wi-Fi-enabled, aka a smart sensor) that can communicate the status of the machine and its parts to humans on a cloud-based interface. These connectivity modules can also send and receive over-the-air (OTA) software updates even after the device has been deployed. A use case such as the one described above can yield the following benefits: Enhanced...

China Says Trade Talks With U.S. ‘Moving Forward’

China Says Trade Talks With U.S. ‘Moving Forward’

Apr 11, 2019

By The Associated Press BEIJING (AP) — China said Thursday that trade talks with the U.S. are “moving forward” after nine rounds of consultations aimed at ending a standoff that has shaken the world economic outlook. The latest discussions had achieved “new substantial progress,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily news briefing. “We also feel that the consultation is moving forward. We hope that the two sides can continue to work together to properly address each other’s concerns on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” Lu said. Lu’s comments were echoed by those from Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng, who said “new progress” had been made at the talks. Gao said the sides were now in “close communications with all effective approaches.” “They will spare no efforts for the negotiations and working toward the direction of implementing the important consensus reached by both leaders,” Gao said at a weekly briefing. The three days of talks in Washington last week dealt with issues including technology transfer, intellectual property rights protection, non-tariff measures, agriculture and enforcement of agreements. Leading the delegations are U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders earlier said “significant work remains” before an agreement can be reached. The dispute centers on the Trump administration’s allegations that China steals technology and coerces U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets — all part of Beijing’s zeal to overtake U.S. technological dominance. To pressure China, the United States has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods. The Chinese have counterpunched by taxing $110 billion in U.S. imports. Forecasters at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, among others, have downgraded their outlook for the global economy in part because the U.S.-China rift is damaging trade and causing businesses to slow investment until they know how the dispute will end. Tensions have eased somewhat since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Buenos Aires late last year and the administration ended up suspending its plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to buy time for...

Desktop Metal Introduces New, Enhanced Model to…

Desktop Metal Introduces New, Enhanced Model to…

Mar 20, 2019

“Desktop Metal Introduces New, Enhanced Model to Production System Platform” Featured on D2pMagazine. com Company anticipates first shipments to start in 1st Quarter of 2019 FRANKFURT, Germany—A larger build envelope and faster printing speed are among the new advancements that Desktop Metal has made to its Production System™, a metal 3D printing system that the company calls “the fastest metal printer in the world.” Desktop Metal’s new Production System™ has a 225 percent larger build envelope (750mm x 330mm x 250mm) and a 50 percent increase in print speed to 12,000 cm3/hour, the company said in a press release. Desktop Metal (www.Desktopmetal.com) made the announcement before previewing a broad range of metal 3D printed parts at Formnext 2018, an international trade show for additive manufacturing. The first installation of the Production System is scheduled to take place during the first quarter of 2019 at a Fortune 500 company. Additional customer installations at major automotive, heavy duty, and leading metal parts manufacturers will follow throughout 2019, with broad availability in 2020, the company said.   “As we continue to expand our list of global customers and partners, companies that are turning to the game-changing technology available with the Production System, and installations set to begin rolling out in the coming months, Desktop Metal is looking to further shift the industry beyond prototyping to now include full-scale metal manufacturing, said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal, in a statement. Powered by Single Pass Jetting™ technology, the Production System is said to be the first and only metal 3D printing system for mass production that delivers the speed, quality, and cost-per-part needed to compete with traditional manufacturing processes. It is also reported to be more than four times faster than competing binder jet processes and 100 times faster than laser-based systems. The improved system includes two full-width print bars, advanced powder spreaders, and an anti-ballistic system that spread powder and print in a single quick pass across the build area. According to Desktop Metal, it is the most sophisticated single-pass inkjet printhead ever installed in a binder jet system. The system uses 32,768 piezo inkjet nozzles that enable a broad range of binder chemistries to print an...