Here are a few concepts represented as acronyms that will impact our industry in big ways.
Manufacturing acronyms abound. What follows are a few you likely know that will become even more commonplace in our industry as it continues to evolve and advance. (For the grammar purists out there, technically these are “initialisms,” because each letter is pronounced separately and not as a single word. For the rest, sorry if that clarification was TMI.)
Overall equipment effectiveness combines three production elements to generate a single value indicating how close a machining process is to its full potential. OEE is calculated by multiplying the percentages of machine availability (scheduled uptime less unplanned downtime), performance (actual cycle time to produce a part) and quality (the ratio of good parts to total parts produced). Large operations have historically been more apt to track OEE, but because advanced machining equipment is readily available to all shops, and data collection and analytic capabilities are becoming more powerful and easier to apply, more small and mid-sized businesses will likely start considering this metric as an effort to identify production bottlenecks.
Design for manufacturability is a value-adding capability that an increasing number of shops offer these days. Shops that can suggest design changes to simplify machining and reduce overall production costs for its customers become more valuable suppliers. This is especially attractive to companies that have outsourced much or all of their own in-house production work, because there are no longer manufacturing personnel from whom to solicit this sort of advice. As a result, shops continue to bolster their engineering capacity to meet this need.
Minimum quantity lubrication delivers a very small amount of coolant to a cutter’s edge in the form of an oil mist, as opposed to traditional techniques of flooding the workzone with a substantial volume of liquid coolant. It offers economical and environmental benefits because just a limited amount of coolant is required. Although this concept is more widely applied in Europe, some large U.S. operations are either considering it or have begun to implement it. Will more modest-sized U.S. shops start considering this alternate method of tool cooling and lubricating? Continued advances in MQL technology may cause this to happen.
Additive manufacturing leads all trending industry buzzwords. That said, I’m not sure how prevalent the “AM” acronym will be used just as I (and much of industry) don’t know how the niche technology will evolve into a production role as a complement to traditional chip-making operations. Because it’s important to keep track of this disruptive technology, we began publishing our Additive Manufacturing (additivemanufacturinginsight.com) supplement a few years ago in conjunction with our sister publication MoldMaking Technology. The key with our treatment is that while we recognize AM’s possibilities, we also realize its current limitations pertaining to production. It’ll find its place on shop floors, but it might be some time before it is more widely used.