Local Motors co-creates vehicles and related components with a global community of designers, engineers, fabricators and enthusiasts.
Local Motors built one of its Rally Fighter open-source production vehicles on the show floor at the 2012 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). For IMTS 2014, Local Motors is taking the concept of online design and hardware co-creation one step further. At this year’s show, the company will build and deliver the first direct digital manufactured vehicle.
This project is a partnership between IMTS sponsor AMT—The Association for Manufacturing Technology and Local Motors. It is intended to be a high-profile demo of how sustainable green technologies that use both additive and subtractive techniques can deliver stronger, safer, faster and more efficient vehicles.
Designed by the company’s global community and built using the material science and advanced manufacturing techniques available at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Local Motors plans to produce an electric vehicle that is purpose-built for the urban transportation needs of cities like Chicago.
Seen here is the raw stock for a cylindrical part that would typically be machined on a lathe. Vanderhorst Brothers runs it on a machining center so that the job can be queued within the pallet system for lights-out machining. The part is held by a dovetail fixture that this shop helped to invent.
Brian O’Rell, president of Vanderhorst Brothers Inc. of Simi Valley, Calif., says one of the keys to his shop’s success can be expressed in three letters: LTA.
LTAs—long term agreements—are so valuable to this machine shop that he is willing to invest considerable time and care in looking for cost reductions he can justify for the sake of quoting attractive prices to customers seeking to enter into an LTA contract.
The value of a contractual agreement to keep on supplying the same part number to a customer is even greater than many shops realize, he says. True, the programming and process engineering all can be performed just one time, and amortized over the cost of the job. That is a real source of savings. But it is also true that the amount of quoting and prospecting that Mr. O’Rell has to do is reduced as long as he has enough LTA work to keep the shop busy. He is happy to pass along this source of savings as well.
Another benefit is this: After the term of an LTA ends, the shop that has been doing the work for all of that time is in the best position to win the work again when a new LTA is signed. Today’s contractual customers will be the shop’s best prospects tomorrow.
Vanderhorst Brothers has invested significantly in lights-out machining using machining centers fed by pallet systems. The shop has realized unattended production to an extent that now goes beyond even what we reported on in this article. The shop runs just one staffed shift, routinely using most of the remaining hours in the day to run jobs that were queued up while employees were in the building.
Lights-out machining and LTAs go together, says Mr. O’Rell, because the evening hours are cheaper than the hours when employees are present. He therefore gives the benefit of this economy to his contractual customers by running LTA jobs through the night.
Trade press from around the world gather at the Deckel Maho manufacturing facility in Pfronten, Germany, which is currently undergoing expansion.
“Efficiency” and “optimization” are key words in the manufacturing world these days, and they were themes at DMG Mori Seiki’s Open House at the Deckel Maho facility in Pfronten, Germany, the week of February 17. Quite a few of the company’s 2014 world premieres were on display, and I was struck by the attention paid to simplify the user experience, allowing complex processes to be managed more easily.
For example, DMG Mori Seiki’s design seems to address far more than aesthetic concerns. With so much emphasis being placed on recruiting young students for careers in manufacturing, I couldn’t help but think about how much more appealing the streamlined appearance of the company’s new machines will be to the next generation of equipment operators.
According to the company, CELOS APPs provide the user with integrated, digitized management, documentation, and visualization of order, process, and machine data.
They will also find the CELOS operator interface familiar, having grown up with smartphones and tablet computers with similar graphics and functions. That’s certainly what I gathered from mingling with the groups of teenagers who were wandering the expo hall. The touchscreen monitor CELOS incorporates employs many of the same navigation techniques familiar to smartphone users. Eighteen machines currently offer CELOS as part of the company’s new common design, as will all future equipment.
In addition to CELOS—originally introduced at EMO 2013—new machines and/or designs were on display. The CTX beta 800 TC offers complete turn and mill machining with a new, ultra-compact spindle, and the fourth generation of duoBLOCK 80 machines provide increased precision during five-axis milling operations. The DMU 270 P is designed for large-envelope five-axis machining, and the DMU 70 ecoline opens the door to five-sided machining for entry-level operators. A concept study featuring Lasertec 65 additive manufacturing focused on the introduction of generative laser deposition welding into five-axis milling.
(Left) New machine designs, expansion plans, and growth markets were topics of discussion at DMG Mori Seiki’s Technical Press Conference. (Right) Some 6,000 members of the global trade press observed 66 machines in operation at the Deckel Maho manufacturing facility.
Tool vending systems like this one can enable shopfloor supervisors to help operators find out why tools are breaking or wearing sooner than expected.
3D Medical Manufacturing, the medical job shop profiled in this article, is currently on its second iteration of a tool vending system: a system from MSC Industrial. This system enables the shop to accurately track every nondurable tool for each job while providing daily tool usage reports for those jobs. This enables tight cost control and ensures that the shop never runs out of the tools it needs, which was a problem in the past that led to extended machine downtime and high next-day shipping charges. The vending system automatically reorders tools once a specified minimum inventory level is reached, and the shop’s tool crib manager reloads the tools when they’re delivered.
However, this system also serves as an important problem-solving device. Each job has a maximum number of tools that an operator can pull. The system locks out operators who attempt to pull a tool beyond that limit and notifies a supervisor of the situation. That way, the supervisor can work with the operator to determine why tools are breaking or wearing sooner than expected. In some cases, the operator can precisely explain the problem, meaning a change to the process might be warranted. In other cases, the operator might be unsure of the problem. Therefore, the notification turns into a teachable moment, because the supervisor can help the operator pinpoint the issue and remedy it.
The shop also has expanded this concept to its inspection devices, some of which are supplied by customers. This eliminates time wasted looking for special gages, for example, and ensures accountability for those devices.
Jeremy Bout of the Edge Factor created this short video exploring the question of who is to blame for the current lack of skilled talent in manufacturing. The point of the video: Maybe who is to blame is now beside the point.
The Edge Factor’s latest project is “LaunchPoint,” a TV series telling stories of men and women who work in manufacturing.