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...

U.S. manufacturing may depend on automation to survive…

U.S. manufacturing may depend on automation to survive…

Jan 6, 2016

“U.S. manufacturing may depend on automation to survive and prosper” By Martin Neil Baily, Brookings Can this sector be saved? We often hear sentiments like: “Does America still produce anything?” and “The good jobs in manufacturing have all gone.” There is nostalgia for the good old days when there were plentiful well-paid jobs in manufacturing. And there is anger that successive U.S. administrations of both parties have negotiated trade deals, notably NAFTA and the admission of China into the World Trade Organization, that have undercut America’s manufacturing base. Those on the right suggest that if burdensome regulations were lifted, this would fire up a new era of manufacturing prowess. On the left, it is claimed that trade agreements are to blame and, at the very least, we should not sign any more of them. Expanding union power and recruiting are another favorite solution. Despite his position on the right, Donald Trump has joined those on the left blaming China for manufacturing’s problems. What is the real story and what needs to be done to save this sector? The biggest factor transforming manufacturing has been technology; and technology will largely determine its future. Disappearing jobs Employment in the manufacturing sector declined slowly through the 1980s and 1990s, but since 2000, the decline has been much faster falling by over 6 million workers between 2000 and 2010. There were hopes that manufacturing jobs would regain much of their lost ground once the recession ended, but the number of jobs has climbed by less than a million in the recovery so far and employment has been essentially flat since the first quarter of 2015. Manufacturing used to be a road to the middle class for millions of workers with just a high school education, but that road is much narrower today—more like a footpath. In manufacturing’s prime, although not all jobs were good jobs, many were well paid and offered excellent fringe benefits. Now there are many fewer of these. Sustained but slow output growth The real output of the manufacturing sector from 2000 to the present gives a somewhat more optimistic view of the sector, with output showing a positive trend growth, with sharp cyclical downturns. There...

Automation expands deeper into aircraft production, speeding…

Automation expands deeper into aircraft production, speeding…

May 5, 2015

“Automation expands deeper into aircraft production, speeding deliveries and helping to reduce order backlogs” By Patrick Waurzyniak, Manufacturing Engineering Automation expands deeper into aircraft production, speeding deliveries and helping to reduce order backlogs Faced with ballooning order backlogs, aerospace builders and automation suppliers are exploring new ways to automate a broader range of aircraft manufacturing processes. The goal is to deliver higher-volume commercial aircraft like the Boeing 737 and 777 more quickly to customers, but also to improve the consistency and safety of the final product. To pick up the production pace, manufacturers and their suppliers are refining the automation systems used for drilling, filling and fastening operations and finding new opportunities for automation. In recent years, the aerospace and defense industry has adopted many of the high-volume automation practices of the automobile industry with some success given the much lower volumes of aircraft manufacturing. Some examples include high-precision robotic drilling and riveting of holes on airframes. Other key automation improvements have been made in painting, coating, and sealing, trimming of composite components, and machining aircraft engine turbine blades. Greater use of automated guided vehicles (AGV) for transporting very heavy and unwieldy airframe structures to drilling or machining cells has also enabled reductions in the time-consuming use of large cranes traditionally deployed in aircraft factories, leading to faster production, lowered costs and more optimized factory floor space. Integrating Airframe Automation A new robotic pulse production line developed by KUKA Systems North America (Sterling Heights, MI, and Augsburg, Germany) for the Boeing 777X program aims to speed up production of Boeing’s latest wide-body 777X commercial jetliner. Last September KUKA Systems unveiled the new robotic riveting system for the 777, called the Fuselage Automated Upright Build (FAUB), that will be the baseline manufacturing process on the twin-aisle 777X aircraft as well as current 777 models. This pulse line uses KUKA robots with special end effectors from a KUKA company, Alema Automation, for performing riveting operations currently done by hand. The robotic line will install up to 60,000 fasteners in the forward and aft sections of the 777 fuselages. “Aerospace manufacturers are improving manufacturing processes and using automation to make the assembly process less costly. The less...

A New Generation of AGVs Are Appealing to…

A New Generation of AGVs Are Appealing to…

Apr 29, 2015

“A New Generation of AGVs Are Appealing to Small- and Midsize Manufacturers” By Austin Weber, Assembly Magazine Once upon a time, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) were only found in warehouses, automotive assembly plants and other operations with large amounts of floor space. But, that’s starting to change. Recent advancements have made the machines more appealing to small- and mid-sized manufacturers in a wide variety of industries. Companies are investing in AGVs to improve plant-floor efficiency and reduce operating cost. As the flexible technology becomes more affordable and easier to use on assembly lines, many manufacturers are deploying driverless carts, robotic parts bins and autonomous tuggers. Manufacturing engineers have more options available than ever. In fact, at last month’s ProMat trade show in Chicago, exhibitors unveiled several new types of machines. “The market is ultra competitive these days,” says Keith Soderlund, vice president of sales at Creform Corp. “Lots of new competitors are driving prices down and capability up.” One of the newest players is Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz Ltd., the largest mobile robotics company in India. It made its North American debut at the ProMat show. The company has installed more than 100 AGVs in the last three years for applications such as engine assembly, mobile assembly stations and parts kitting. According to the MHIA’s automated guided vehicle systems group, an AGV consists of one or more computer-controlled, wheel-based load carriers. The battery-powered devices operate without a driver and come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and styles. Engineers can choose between tuggers that pull a string of carts or trailers in a train; unit load carriers that move subassemblies and work-in-process from one assembly station to another; forked pallet trucks that interface with pickup and drop off points on the plant floor; and automated guided carts (AGCs) that are smaller, cheaper and easier to install than traditional AGVs. AGCs are popular for applications where lighter loads and flexibility are required. AGVs and AGCs have defined paths or areas within which or over which they can navigate. Navigation is achieved by several means, such as following a path defined by surface-mounted magnetic tape or optical strips. Laser guidance, GPS and vision systems are also...

Digital factories: The fourth industrial revolution?

Digital factories: The fourth industrial revolution?

Apr 16, 2015

Is this a vision of the future of industry? Fewer workers, more machines, fully automated