3 Manufacturing Trends to Watch
Fads have a short lifespan, but advancements in manufacturing technology that continue to evolve and gain increasing traction are trends that should not be ignored. The significance of the three cited below are borne out by the interest of attendees at trade shows like IMTS 2016, surveys of high-performing CNC shops and articles in online and print media.
- Interconnectivity. AKA the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the ability to share and use data among various machine tools, peripherals and factory computers can take manufacturing efficiencies to new levels. For example, an Ethernet-based system that enables an automatic bar feeder and CNC turning machine to communicate with each other automates changeovers, manages part programs more effectively, and reduces material waste.
- Advanced automation systems. From the advent of CNC machine tools, manufacturers have sought ways to improve throughput and reduce costs through robotic loading and unloading of workpieces, automatic bar feeding, vacuum part unloading and other technologies. Today, IIoT takes automation to another level by interconnecting multiple automated cells to enhance workflow throughout a factory. Meanwhile, thanks to improved vision and touch sensing, industrial robots are doing much more than simply loading and unloading parts. Cobots are robots that work alongside and with their human coworkers and, as AI (Artificial Intelligence) evolves, machines will be better able to make improvements in machining programs on the fly, prolonging tool life, simplifying setups and changeovers, and monitoring their own health.
- Lights out production. Unattended overnight production runs are already a reality for many shops. The advancements in interconnectivity and automation make it feasible for more manufacturers to embrace this concept. Of course, moving to lights-out production does require the right equipment, and it helps to work with experienced professionals – as one automotive parts supplier learned in this case study.
The common thread that runs through these three trends, of course, is the use of data and automation to improve overall workflow, reduce cost-per-part and improve product quality. Learn how LNS machine tool peripherals can help you put these trends to work in your facility. Contact your nearest LNS representative or call 513-528-5674.