Putting the ‘smart’ in manufacturing

Putting the ‘smart’ in manufacturing

Apr 11, 2018

By Silke Schmidt, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Phys.org “Although smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, many of the companies that make our everyday consumer products still rely on paper trails and manually updated spreadsheets to keep track of their production processes and delivery schedules,” says Leyuan Shi, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That’s what she hopes to change with a research idea she first published almost two decades ago. During the past 16 years, Shi has visited more than 400 manufacturing companies in the United States, China, Europe, and Japan to personally observe their production processes. “And I have used that insight to develop tools that can make these processes run much more smoothly,” she says. These tools are based on the notion of a “digital twin,” or a computer representation of physical assets (machines and people) and processes that helps managers better operate the systems that connect them. Take, for example, a car manufacturing company with 15 different suppliers, each of which delivers a specific car part. As these parts arrive at the company, they are assembled by people who work in different departments, such as sheet metal cutting, heat treatment, welding, painting and so forth. The overall goal of this manufacturing system is to fill a set number of vehicle sales orders. That’s a classic example of a supply chain: a set of processes that link raw source materials to final consumer products. A company’s goal for making supply chain manufacturing more efficient might include decreasing production downtime due to delivery delays for required parts, and better adjusting to unpredictable events, such as rush orders, machine breakdowns, or defective parts. The technology Shi has developed helps managers meet these goals. With a database system, user software and equipment sensors, it creates a digital twin of what is physically happening at the supply facilities and shop floors. Managers can use that digital representation to visually track the global production progress in real time and adjust workflows as needed. The tool provides continuously updated start times for each assembly stage and constantly refined delivery times for the customers who ordered the cars. “That’s what we mean by smart manufacturing,” Shi says. The technology...

China Lists $50B of US Goods it Might Hit With 25 Percent…

China Lists $50B of US Goods it Might Hit With 25 Percent…

Apr 5, 2018

“China Lists $50B of US Goods it Might Hit With 25 Percent Tariff” By Joe McDonald, Associated Press Featured on Manufacturing.net China on Wednesday issued a $50 billion list of U.S. goods including soybeans and small aircraft for possible tariff hikes in an escalating and potentially damaging technology dispute with Washington. The country’s tax agency gave no date for the 25 percent increase to take effect and said that will depend on what President Donald Trump does about U.S. plans to raise duties on a similar amount of Chinese goods. Beijing’s list of 106 products included the biggest U.S. exports to China, reflecting its intense sensitivity to the dispute over American complaints that it pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. The clash reflects the tension between Trump’s promises to narrow a U.S. trade deficit with China that stood at $375.2 billion last year and the ruling Communist Party’s development ambitions. Regulators use access to China’s vast market as leverage to press foreign automakers and other companies to help create or improve industries and technology. A list the U.S. issued Tuesday of products subject to tariff hikes included aerospace, telecoms and machinery, striking at high-tech industries seen by China’s leaders as the key to its economic future. China said it would immediately challenge the U.S. move in the World Trade Organization. “It must be said, we have been forced into taking this action,” a deputy commerce minister, Wang Shouwen, said at a news conference. “Our action is restrained.” A deputy finance minister, Zhu Guangyao, appealed to Washington to “work in a constructive manner” and avoid hurting both countries. Zhu warned against expecting Beijing to back down. “Pressure from the outside will only urge and encourage the Chinese people to work even harder,” said Zhu at the news conference. Companies and economists have expressed concern improved global economic activity might sputter if other governments are prompted to raise their own import barriers. The dispute “may compel countries to pick sides,” said Weiliang Chang of Mizuho Bank in a report. “U.S. companies at this point would like to see robust communication between the US government and the Chinese government and serious negotiation on both sides, hopefully...

The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going…

The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going…

Apr 2, 2018

“The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going: Manufacturing Innovation” By Marco Annunziata, Forbes  The current U.S. economic expansion is already one of the longest on record—it turned 104 (months) in February. The manufacturing sector holds the key to making it the longest. Manufacturing is currently seen as unglamorous, unloved, needing protection just to survive. I believe this view is profoundly misguided, and that it is in manufacturing that we will see the most powerful growth-enhancing technological transformation ahead. The U.S. economy has picked up speed, and the global economy with it. The IMF recently noted that we are enjoying the most broad-based synchronized upswing since 2010. The U.S. labor market keeps expanding at a robust pace and has created over 17 million jobs since the recovery started; the unemployment rate holds at a very low 4.1%, and strong economic activity keeps attracting more people into the labor force. Wage growth remains muted, however, with average hourly wages increasing at a modest 2.6% pace in the last twelve months. This is a problem. Stronger wage growth would give better support to household consumption, and it would make it easier to reduce income inequalities. Slow wage growth is disappointing, but it should not be too surprising. True, a tighter labor market should boost wages—I believe that it will, and that in the coming months we will see more robust wage pressures. But sustainable strong wage growth depends on productivity. Only when productivity rises at a robust pace can workers enjoy faster wage increases without compromising their firms’ competitiveness and market position. Productivity growth has been dismal of late. In the decade prior to the financial crisis, 1996-2005, U.S. labor productivity rose at an average pace of 3% per year. During the recovery, 2011-2017, it averaged a measly 0.7%–over four times slower. Most other advanced economies have suffered a similar fate. What I find most worrying is that manufacturing sector productivity has suffered an even more severe slowdown: from 4.8% to 0.3% a year. From the early 1990s to the onset of the global financial crisis, productivity growth in manufacturing outpaced the rest of the economy by a significant margin; now it is lagging behind....

U.S. Reshoring: A Collaborative Challenge

U.S. Reshoring: A Collaborative Challenge

Mar 27, 2018

Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine Manufacturing Experts Answer 5 Questions on How to Turn the Tide FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio—North America’s $137 billion metalforming industry is driven by the production of myriad precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming, and roll forming technologies, as well as vital value-added processes. In recent decades, approximately 3-to-4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost to offshoring. The tide seems to be turning modestly in recent years as companies return U.S. production, or sourcing, from offshore. In comparison to 2000-2003, when the United States lost about 220,000 manufacturing jobs per year (net) to offshoring, 2016 achieved a net gain of 27,000. Progressively bridging this gap presents huge collaborative opportunities and challenges for all manufacturers, associations, employees, communities, and the U.S. government itself. The following Q&A explores factors that are key to the collective goal of gaining momentum in successfully returning the manufacturing of parts and products to the United States from offshore. Authors of the Q&A are two men with a vested interest in the subject of reshoring: John Stoneback, president of JM Performance Products, Inc., of Fairport Harbor, Ohio; and Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, based in Kildeer, Illinois. JM Performance Products, Inc. has been manufacturing CNC mill spindle optimization products since 2009. The company’s Patented High Torque Retention Knobs overcome a critical “loose-tool” design flaw inherent in CNC v-flange tooling that was responsible for costly, industry-wide issues with CNC milling and boring that negatively impacted production costs, cycle time, and tooling costs. An essential element of the patented design is a knob that is longer and reaches a little deeper into the holder’s threaded bore. As a result, all thread engagement occurs in a region of the tool holder where the diameter is large, and where there is correspondingly more material to resist deformation. The Reshoring Initiative, founded in early 2010, takes action by helping manufacturers realize that local production, in many cases, reduces their total cost of ownership of purchased parts and tooling. The Reshoring Initiative also trains suppliers in how to effectively meet the needs of their local customers, giving suppliers the tools to sell against lower priced offshore competitors. The Initiative is...

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in

Mar 22, 2018

By The American Chemical Society Featured on TechXplore.com A powerful new 4-D printing technique could one day allow manufacturers to produce electronic devices and their wiring in a single process. From moon landings to mobile phones, many of the farfetched visions of science fiction have transformed into reality. In the latest example of this trend, scientists report that they have developed a powerful printer that could streamline the creation of self-assembling structures that can change shape after being exposed to heat and other stimuli. They say this unique technology could accelerate the use of 4-D printing in aerospace, medicine and other industries. The researchers are presenting their work today at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). “We are on the cusp of creating a new generation of devices that could vastly expand the practical applications for 3-D and 4-D printing,” H. Jerry Qi, Ph.D., says. “Our prototype printer integrates many features that appear to simplify and expedite the processes used in traditional 3-D printing. As a result, we can use a variety of materials to create hard and soft components at the same time, incorporate conductive wiring directly into shape-changing structures, and ultimately set the stage for the development of a host of 4-D products that could reshape our world.” 4-D printing is an emerging technology that allows 3-D-printed components to change their shape over time after exposure to heat, light, humidity and other environmental triggers. However, 4-D printing remains challenging, in part because it often requires complex and time-consuming post-processing steps to mechanically program each component. In addition, many commercial printers can only print 4-D structures composed of a single material. Last year, Qi and his colleagues at Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with scientists at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, used a composite made from an acrylic and an epoxy along with a commercial printer and a heat source to create 4-D objects, such as a flower that can close its petals or a star that morphs into a dome. These objects transformed shape up to 90 percent faster than previously possible because the scientists incorporated the tedious mechanical programming steps directly into the...

Metal 3D Printing Hits the Big-Time

Metal 3D Printing Hits the Big-Time

Mar 14, 2018

By Jeff Reinke, Industrial Equipment News Engineering powerhouse Roush explains their end-product manufacturing strategies after purchasing the largest metal additive manufacturing system of its kind. Livonia, Michigan-based Roush is a full-service product development supplier with over 4,000 employees throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The company is known for its innovative engineering, testing, prototyping and manufacturing services within the mobility, aerospace, defense and theme park industries. Oh, and then there’s Roush Fenway Racing, Roush Performance and Roush Cleantech that develops and manufactures performance vehicles and alternative fuel systems.  So, it’s safe to say that the company knows a thing or two about manufacturing and product development technologies. The company recently invested in the largest powderbed metal additive manufacturing system of its kind –  the Xline 2000R.  Made by Concept Laser, which was acquired by GE Additive in 2016, the machine features a build envelope of 800 x 400 x 500 mm production of parts as large as engine blocks. IEN recently interviewed Roush’s Brandy Badami to get some insight on the machine, how her company utilizes the technology, and the impact additive manufacturing could have on production strategies  Jeff Reinke, IEN editorial director: Could you offer a little background on Roush’s history with additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies? Brandi Badami, Roush business development manager – additive manufacturing:Roush has over 20 years of experience with 3D printing/additive manufacturing, mainly in plastics/polymers. We started off with stereolithography (SLA), then selective laser sintering (SLS), then polyjet/objet technologies. Roush adopted 3D printing into our everyday practices with product development and rapid prototyping to support our design engineering and tooling groups.  As the technologies and materials advanced, we used additive manufacturing for functional prototypes, end-use components, fixtures, tools and gauges. Now, with the recent investment of new 3D printing technologies and equipment, including fused deposition modeling (FDM) from Stratasys and 3D metal printing (powder bed fusion) machines from EOS and Concept Laser (a GE Additive company), we are able to expand our reach within the aerospace, defense, entertainment and transportation industries. JR: How will the addition of this machine change things on a day-to-day basis? BB: The addition of the Xline 2000R has, and will continue, to open many doors for how...