If a robot can load and unload parts, why can’t it do the same for workholding? VersaBuilt creates robot systems in which the vise jaws that hold a given part inside the machining center also serve as the grippers enabling the robot to load and unload that part. Changing vise jaws as needed enables the robot to shift parts from operation to operation. If there are different jaws on the shelf for different part numbers, then this same jaw change can let the robot switch seamlessly from job to job.
VersaBuilt filmed this video of continuous unattended 3-op machining on a VMC using this system, with the robot switching jaws for the different operations.
Attendees at the recent MFG Meeting in Orlando had an opportunity to immerse themselves in the most important aspects of innovation as force for revitalizing the manufacturing industry.
Here are a few of the insights offered by the speakers and panelists at this event.
George Blankenship, former executive of Tesla Motors, Apple Computers and Gap Inc., make the point that innovative products succeed only if potential buyers and customers are engaged in a way that connects their core interests and values with the core features and benefits that differentiate a new product.
Talking about the Internet of Things, Rob Gremley, executive VP, Internet of Things and Service Lifecycle Management at PTC, emphasized that connected devices (which interact with everyone and everything across a global network) impose new models for how manufacturers create, operate and service them. Service (how these products sustain and renew their value to users) will require the boldest new thinking, he says.
Innovation, the drive to invent the new (new products, new methods, new ideas, new customer experiences) can be a powerful force. It saved LEGO, the global company known for its interlocking toy "bricks"). However, as David Robertson, Wharton School of Business, demonstrated, this force must be pointed toward a clear goal and led by managers guided by a clear vision.
The icon for innovation in manufacturing these days is 3D printing. A panel of experts put this development into perspective. Its power to complement and enhance conventional machining methods represents its greatest impact on manufacturing, rather than the likelihood that it will displace subtractive machining on a wholesale basis. Everyone is still learning what additive can and cannot do.
At the event, Hybrid Technologies Ltd. received the inaugural International Additive Manufacturing Award. Dr. Jason Jones, co-founder and CEO of Hybrid Technologies, accepted the award on the company’s behalf. In his comments, he related his experiences in the years-long effort to develop a practical method to combine laser metal cladding with CNC machining on the same platform. He said that the success of his company rested on bold new thinking for sure, but that persistence, patience, good luck and the ability to turn adversity into opportunity were equally important. Creativity, not knowledge, will distinguish the true innovators in this era, he said.
John B. Rogers Jr., cofounder and CEO of Local Motors (the company's Strati is touted as the world's first 3D printed car) said that manufacturing will look more personal—customers will have direct input on the making of the products they intend to buy. The real drags on innovation are not technical challenges, he said, but rather entrenched bureaucracies, closed-minded regulators and old-guard manufacturers protecting what they consider their turf.
Finally, some attendees took the opportunity to be immersed in innovation quite literally. As a novel fundraiser, a number of members of the Precision Metalforming Association, jumped into the hotel’s pool in their formal wear following the gala dinner on the list night of the event. They, and their wet tuxedos, were raising funds for the association’s PAC efforts.
Hosted by AMT—The Association for Manufacturing Technology, National Tooling & Manufacturing Association and Precision Metalforming Association, The MFG Meeting brings together the complete chain of manufacturing to discuss the current and future state of the manufacturing industry.
Find a link below to a slideshow of photos taken at the grand opening.
Samchully Machinery Co. Ltd. celebrated the official opening of its new corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility in Incheon, South Korea, on Friday March 6, 2015, with friends who gathered from around the globe, including strategic business partners and members of the trade press. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, President Hong Suk Seo addressed the crowd in the company’s spacious auditorium, saying “Samchully places technology and quality above all else. I believe that superior technology and quality are the result of skilled technicians and premium quality machinery.”
Both were on display immediately following Mr. Seo’s presentation when he personally led guests on a top-down tour of the facility, beginning with the rooftop soccer field and basketball court. From there visitors walked through various staging areas, watching technicians assemble manual, power and special chucks, drilling and tapping machines, rotary tables, and milling vises. Manufacturing operations are powered by machine tools from Doosan, DMG MORI and Gleason, including a new Yasda jig borer—the vast majority of this equipment was purchased specifically for the new facility, in fact. The event concluded with dining and musical entertainment in the company’s well-appointed cafeteria, where employees gather for their meals each day. Other amenities include locker and break rooms, a game room with ping pong tables and a café.
With a reading of 50.8, the Gardner Business Index showed that the metalworking industry grew for the 14th consecutive month and the 16th time in 17 months. The MBI increased from September to December 2014, but in the first two months of 2015 the index moved slightly slower. Overall, the index has been relatively flat since the summer of 2014. For the second month in a row, the index was about 5 percent lower than it was one year ago.
Both new orders and production increased for the 17th month in a row. Since September 2014, the new orders index trended up slightly. Production was on a similar trend, but fell off significantly in February. Backlogs continued to contract. In fact, the index was at its lowest level since September 2013. Compared with the same month one year ago, the backlog index contracted by more than 11 percent for the second month in a row. The annual rate of change decelerated for six months in a row, which indicates that the rate of growth in capacity utilization will peak any month now. Employment was still increasing, but the index was at its lowest level since December 2013. The dollar continued to strengthen against almost every other currency. Therefore, exports continued to contract at a significant rate. Supplier deliveries lengthened at their fastest rate in nearly three years.
Material prices increased at a somewhat faster rate than the previous month. However, the rate of increase was still virtually the slowest in the last two years. Prices received increased at a pretty steady rate for the last 10 months. Future business expectations improved slightly from January. The expectations index was near its peak level since the summer of 2012.
Plants with more than 250 employees expanded at a significantly slower rate in February. It was the second lowest rate of expansion since December 2013. These large plants were the prime reason for the slower growth in the metalworking industry, as all other plant sizes had fairly stable business conditions in February. Plants with 50 to 249 employees continued to grow at a good clip. Shops with 20 to 49 employees expanded for the second time in three months. Shops with fewer than 20 employees continued to contract at a rate similar to the last nine months.
The North Central – East was the fastest growing region for the second month in a row. This region is heavily dominated by the automotive industry. It was followed by the West, North Central – West, and Southeast regions. The Northeast contracted for the second month in a row. And, the index in the South Central continued to fall.
Future capital spending plans contracted 4.5 percent compared with February 2014. This was the slowest month-over-month contraction in the last five months. The annual rate of growth contracted for the third month in a row.
More economic news from Gardner Business Media can be found here.
The March issue of Gear Production (a quarterly supplement to Modern Machine Shop) contains two examples of shops that were able to not only embrace, but optimize equipment and software to streamline production. Click the cover image above to access the digital edition and read about:
How a shop serving the mining industry eliminated multiple machining steps on large gears with a 6-meter profile grinder.
A shop that optimized its separate production paths for “cut-teeth-only” and “make-complete” gear jobs via scheduling and resource allocation software.
This issue also includes an overview of waterjet machining for gear production and new product coverage.