Factory moves from China to U.S. with help from robot…

Factory moves from China to U.S. with help from robot…

Feb 23, 2017

  “Factory moves from China to U.S. with help from robot workforce”   Automation has contributed to the declining U.S. manufacturing workforce. But as Mark Strassmann reports, now technology may help factories move back to the U.S.  ...

Special report: Automation puts jobs in peril

Special report: Automation puts jobs in peril

Feb 6, 2017

By Nathan Bomey, USA Today Automation is the greatest threat to the economy, but may also be its biggest opportunity. Part 1 WELCOME TO THE AUTOMATION REVOLUTION BALTIMORE — The patter of automated machinery fills the air inside wire-basket manufacturer Marlin Steel’s bustling factory in a rugged industrial section of this city. Maxi Cifarelli, 25, of Baltimore, peers through safety goggles at a flat screen, her left knee bent and heel resting on her chair. Two years after earning a fine arts degree from Towson University with a specialty in interdisciplinary object design, she now spends her work days working with a personality-free machine with a name to match: a computer numerical control, or CNC, router. With automation poised to sweep through the economy, some fear that it will kill more jobs than it creates. But Cifarelli’s experience is the opposite. She befriended automation, instead of fighting it, and she has a job because of it. “I haven’t named it,” she said, peering over at the robotic machinery. “I should name it.” Cifarelli is one of 33 employees at Marlin Steel, which has undergone a transformation. Employees used to make wire baskets by hand. Now automation has taken over. High-tech machines do most of the work — and the plant needs workers willing to adapt their skill sets to survive in a rapidly changing economy. Automation has allowed Marlin Steel to thrive, but across the country, workers feel threatened. Donald Trump catapulted into the White House by giving voice to those fears and promising to save American factories and jobs by rewriting trade deals, taxing imports and removing regulations. Futurists have warned for years that automation will take your job. Now it’s happening, albeit in pockets, at manufacturers, warehouses and even some labor-intensive white-collar professions. As the political debate rages over how to inject fresh energy into the American economy with Trump taking office, automation presents perhaps the greatest threat to the American economy. But it may also reflect its greatest opportunity if workers take the Cifarelli route and embrace robotics, artificial intelligence and automation. Either way, it’s poised to accelerate — and if not here, then in foreign countries that will reap the benefits while the American economy suffers...

IoT: Meeting Manufacturing’s Next-Generation Challenges…

IoT: Meeting Manufacturing’s Next-Generation Challenges…

Sep 20, 2016

IoT: Meeting Manufacturing’s Next-Generation Challenges And Opportunities By by Rajaram Radhakrishnan & Prasad Satyavolu, Manufacturing Business Technology Manufacturers face an exciting yet challenging future. Meeting consumer demands for personalization, increasing productivity despite the skills shortage and generating new revenue opportunities are all major strategic issues. Deep, real-time visibility into plant operations and supply chains, the ability to predict plant floor events and anticipate broader trends using existing resources to their fullest capacity are all required capabilities. The Internet of Things (IoT), with its potential to assimilate real-time information through sensory enablement and a growing network of interconnected devices, can equip manufacturers with these capabilities, giving them higher flexibility to respond to changing market dynamics. Each manufacturer’s IoT strategy will be unique to their specific operating system, their place in the value chain and the customers they serve. Yet all manufacturers should use the following as benchmarks to ensure that their IoT implementations provide the data and business intelligence required to succeed in today’s business environment. Broad Scope of Instrumentation Automation has existed for decades in most manufacturing production facilities and warehouses — from barcode readers to robots — and some manufacturers easily track the flow of parts and goods on their shop floors. IoT allows the manufacturers to take their automation to the next level, leveraging information available inside, around and beyond the walls of the plant floors. IoT-driven automation delves deeper and broader, enabling manufacturers to gain granular visibility into their operations. For example, human sensing can play a role in integrating work allocation as well as safety in case of an accident. While human sensing in consumer environments raises privacy concerns, it has tremendous potential in the industrial world. Accomplishing complete tracking of operations requires manufacturers to deploy more sensors throughout their facilities, including material handling equipment, capturing multitudes of equipment performance parameters in real-time and data about ambient conditions such as temperature, humidity and air quality. This information set, correlated with the workstation data gathered through the Manufacturing Execution System, provides core level visibility and impact of conditions on overall plant performance. Other systems and devices that affect plant performance also need to be instrumented, from maintenance equipment to drones, robots and...

Five transformative effects Advanced Manufacturing is…

Five transformative effects Advanced Manufacturing is…

Jul 11, 2016

“Five transformative effects Advanced Manufacturing is having on the power industry” By Steve Bolze, President & CEO at GE Power GE’s founder Thomas Edison once said: ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work’. Most people resist change, but to innovate, we must force ourselves into new ways of working, no matter how much effort it may seem. GE has embraced this philosophy, and nowhere is this more evident than our new Advanced Manufacturing Works (AMW) facility, opening today in Greenville, South Carolina. It’s the embodiment of our GE Store, taking our smartest minds and technologies from every part of our business to drive innovation, growth, and ground-breaking customer outcomes. Customers determine our success, and increasingly they challenge us to help them deliver more value in today’s fast shifting market. This means getting new concepts and innovations to production quicker.  With our new AMW facility we’ll be able revolutionize the way GE Power designs, improves, and creates products. Here are five key examples: Connecting people to machines The AMW team is a working laboratory for our GE Power advanced manufacturing method. At the heart of this approach is the union of the physical and the digital – human and machine – into a seamless thread of systems, people, and data facilitating near-instantaneous information sharing. Just like a Fitbit-style wearable health monitor, in a Brilliant Factory (and our customer environments) we monitor our machines’ health. Using sensors, data analytics and the Industrial Internet, we better understand the well-being of our factories and products. Additive manufacturing – accelerating innovation Additive manufacturing, the industrial version of 3D printing, enables speed to market by making innovative, rapid product prototyping and initial production possible. Our AMW facility uses additive manufacturing to manufacture test components of new design ideas for our gas turbines, accelerating their development. Additive manufacturing allows us to optimize a design concept through 10 or more iterations in just a few months, with production parts capable of following just four months later. Using traditional techniques it would take 10-12 months longer. Speed doesn’t mean “easy” here.  Metal additive machines, although fast and powerful, are in their early days; yet gas turbine technology...

2016 Predictions: Three Best Investments For Manufacturers

2016 Predictions: Three Best Investments For Manufacturers

Feb 4, 2016

By Katie Mohr, Manufacturing.net The manufacturing industry is constantly in flux, and that’s especially true with the advent of Industry 4.0, also called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Data is more available and important than ever before, thus making efficiency gains even more measurable. Advanced Technology Services’ Industrial Parts Services Vice President Mike Waltrip talked with Manufacturing.net about how manufacturers can handle intensifying efficiency pressures. Coming from a company that straddles many manufacturing sectors, Waltrip offered three technologies worth investing in: 3D printing, automation and the Internet of Things. 3D Printing A recent study by A.T. Kearney projected that the value of the 3D printing market will reach $7 billion in 2016 and will more than double by 2020, when it is expected to reach $17.2 billion. “This technology has greatly increased in capability within the last 12 months,” Waltrip says. “The costs continue to go down, and the new additive manufacturing technology continues to be a great option to traditional manufacturing.” In addition to the time saved by the ability to send a design directly to production, additive manufacturing can also increase operational efficiency by reducing the number of spare parts businesses need on hand. Instead of purchasing and storing these parts, manufacturers can 3D print the parts they need as they need them. Automation Although factories have been automating repetitive tasks with industrial robots for decades, the potential of these machines is far from completely fulfilled. “As manufacturing organizations continue to see the pressure and costs and the need to increase efficiencies, automation, industrial automation is going to continue to be a need,” says Waltrip. Between 2010 and 2014, the International Federation of Robotics noted that the number of industrial robots in use increased 48 percent — that’s an obvious push for continued automation. To translate that demand into dollars, U.S. manufacturers spent $1.6 billion on new robot orders in 2014. By the end of 2016, the Freedonia Group estimates that market will exceed $5 billion and hit $9 billion by 2021. Internet of Things With the increase of automation in manufacturing, “being able to connect that automation through the Internet of Things allows an organization to be way more efficient,” says Waltrip. In late 2015, a TEKSystems poll of 200...