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Posted by: Mark Albert 15. May 2015

MTConnect Institute Announces Student Challenge

Doug Woods (left), president of AMT–The Association for Manufacturing Technology, announces the MTConnect Student Challenge at the recent [MC2] Conference. Assisting him on stage are Joel Neidig and Valerie Pezzullo Fadool, winners in a previous MTConnect Challenge competition.

Announced at the recent [MC]2 Conference in Chicago, the MTConnect Student Challenge is offering a total of $33,000 in cash prizes for winning submissions from college students. This competition is designed to encourage these students to think creatively about concepts and applications for improving manufacturing with the MTConnect standard. The aim is to generate awareness of advanced manufacturing technologies, as well as lead to innovations that help manufacturers, especially those serving the defense industry.

To participate in the challenge, students at the undergraduate and graduate level in community colleges and universities are invited to submit ideas in applications utilizing the MTConnect standard. The competition is expected to be of particular interest to those studying manufacturing-related fields; electrical, mechanical or industrial engineering; as well as software engineering and IT-related studies. MTConnect is an open-source, XML-based communications standard that fosters connectivity between manufacturing equipment and devices.

The MTConnect Student Challenge has two parts: Idea Creation and Application Development.

For the Idea Creation competition, students will be required to interview manufacturers to identify their challenges, describe potential solutions to those challenges and create conceptual mockups for solutions. The prizes for this competition are $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second place and three $1,000 prizes for runners up. Submission opens June 11, 2015 and closes September 18, 2015. Winners will be announced October 15, 2015.

Full rules and submission details are available here.

For the Application competition, students will be required to develop an application that demonstrates innovation and the use of manufacturing intelligence breakthroughs. Submissions will be rated based on their potential to create achievable and measurable benefits to manufacturing operations. These benefits include improving efficiencies, minimizing waste, reducing costs, and the like. The prizes for this competition are $10,000 for first place, $7,500 for second place and $5,000 for third place. Submission opens June 11, 2015 and closes January 31, 2016. Winners will be announced April 20, 2016 at the [MC]2 Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Full rules and submission details are available at here.

“The MTConnect Student Challenge seeks to engage the higher education community to promote innovative thinking and ideas, and ultimately to enable manufacturing intelligence breakthroughs for the defense manufacturing industry,” says Douglas K. Woods, president of the MTConnect Institute and president of AMT–The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Mr. Woods says he hopes the competition will inspire a broader base of software and system architects; build a new, skilled workforce by increasing students’ awareness of advanced manufacturing technologies; and develop MTConnect applications that can be easily adopted by manufacturers of all sizes.

The MTConnect Student Challenge is sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Defense-wide Manufacturing Science and Technology (DMS&T) and executed by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the U.S. Army Benét Labs, the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), and the MTConnect Institute, in partnership with SME and the National Tooling and Machining Association.


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 14. May 2015

Automation for Oilfield Manufacturing

In what Thane Russell of Absolute Completion Technologies describes as “the most advanced manufacturing cell in Alberta,” a level of automation not typically associated with oilfield manufacturing is being applied to downhole parts. Absolute makes well completion tools for the oil and gas industry. Mr. Russell says the company’s new robot-loaded cell applies production techniques from automotive manufacturers elsewhere in Canada. He spoke in this video report about the new cell from the Edmonton Journal.

Another place robot loading is being used for manufacturing downhole components is Louisiana.


Posted by: Steve Kline, Jr. 13. May 2015

Metalworking Industry Growth Ends after 15 Months

With a reading of 47.9, the Gardner Business Index showed that the metalworking industry contracted in April 2015 for the first time since December 2013, ending a string of 15 straight months of growth. Also, April brought an end to the small but steady uptrend the industry had been on since September 2014. Compared with April 2014, the index was down 10.8 percent. This was the largest month-over-month decline in the index since April 2013. It was also the fourth straight month the index declined month over month.

After surging in March 2015, new orders contracted for the first time in 18 months. Production expanded for the 19th month in a row, but the increase was the smallest since December 2013. The backlog index has been trending down since March 2014 and in April reached its lowest level since August 2013. Compared with one year ago, the backlog index has contracted at a double digit rate four straight months. The annual rate of growth continues to decelerate, indicating that capacity utilization has seen its peak rate of growth in this cycle. Employment continues to grow, but the rate of growth in 2015 has been generally slower than it was in 2014. Exports have contracted at a constant rate in 2015 due to the relatively strong dollar. Supplier deliveries lengthened at their slowest rate since August 2013, indicating that general manufacturing activity decreased in April.

The material prices index continued to fall. In April, it was at its lowest level since December 2009. Prices received contracted for the first time since April 2014. This April was the first month to record a significant decline in prices received since October 2010. The future business expectations index fell to its second lowest level since September 2013. However, they were at their historical average.

The index fell at facility sizes. Plants with more than 50 employees continued to grow, but the growth was noticeably slower. Generally, the larger the facility, the more the growth slowed. After two months of growth, plants with 20-49 employees contracted significantly. Shops with fewer than 20 employees contracted even faster in April. Both of these smaller plant sizes had their lowest index since August 2013.

Only two of the six regions expanded in April. Both the North Central – West and West regions had an index of 51.0. The North Central – East, Northeast, and Southeast regions switched to contraction from growth. The Northeast has contracted three of the last four months. And, the Southeast recorded an almost 10 point drop in its index in April. The South Central contracted at a similar rate as last month.

Future capital spending plans were hit hard in April. Compared with one year ago, they contracted 37.4 percent in April. That was the seventh straight month they have contracted month over month. The annual rate of change has contracted at an accelerating rate for five months.


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 12. May 2015

Video: Automation Inside the Workzone

Hear “automation,” and we usually think of something external to the machine, such as a robot or gantry loader. Okuma produced this video in which the company’s Jeff Estes points out that time-saving automation can also be achieved using components that locate entirely inside the machine tool. The options he cites here include a Koma Precision rotary table, Schunk quick-change vise, and probing for part measurement and tool break detection.


Posted by: Stephanie Monsanty 11. May 2015

May 2015 Digital Edition Available

Click the image above to access a digital edition of the May issue
of 
Modern Machine ShopCover art by Orlando Arocena.

The 2015 World Machine Tool Output & Consumption Survey (the basis for May’s cover story and artwork seen above) indicated that U.S. machine tool consumption surpassed $8 billion in 2014, a significant capital investment driven in part by low interest rates. For a complete overview of the data and what it means for manufacturers worldwide, find the story and an infographic on page 72 of the digital edition.

Also in this issue:

  • How a contract shop minimized the impact of part measurement by implementing lights-out inspection;
  • What a good breakfast has to do with efficiency in machining Inconel;
  • Why you should mind tool center heights when turning small diameters;
  • How a CAM program helped a shop increase efficiency and reduce labor costs in designing high-density fixtures;
  • How a collaborative robot helped deliver crowns to dentists faster; and
  • What’s new at the Eastec 2015 trade show, happening this week.

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