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Behind The Facade Of Counterfeit Consumables

Behind The Facade Of Counterfeit Consumables

Lester Lee, regional marketing manager, Hypertherm Asia Pacific, Mary Allen, IP protection manager, Hypertherm Inc, Sanjay Kumar, consumables sales manager, Hypertherm India give their thoughts on counterfeits and what manufacturers need to know when purchasing plasma torch consumables.

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Doubling Up On Productivity

Doubling Up On Productivity

Thanks to the implementation of a new line featuring robots, which was made possible by the collaboration between SIR, a system integrator based in Modena, and FCA Cento, production of new engine blocks for 3000cc V6 diesel engines is doubled. Contributed by Comau

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Managing Your Data Smartly

Managing Your Data Smartly

Industry 4.0 is becoming the talk of the industry, but with all the big terms that it has spawned, manufacturers might be intimidated by this seemingly disruptive revolution, especially when it comes to data. In a nutshell, what is the Industry 4.0, and how can one manage data smartly? By Michelle Cheong 

With the fourth industrial revolution, or better known as Industry 4.0, beginning to show signs of incorporation in today’s manufacturing industry, there have been many bombastic terms spawned: Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing, Big Data, Digital Factory. And truth be told, not all manufacturers around the world are clear of what exactly these are yet.

Defining Industry 4.0

In brief, the Industry 4.0 that originated in Germany envisions the adoption and execution of a ‘Smart Factory’, where all manufacturing processes would ideally be automated, less human labour would be required, operation efficiencies would be improved and customisation of products to be mass produced will be made available.

In doing this, the Industry 4.0 revolves around six design principles:

  • Interoperability: humans and machines will be able to communicate via the IoT—humans will be able to operate machines remotely and at a higher machine-to-human ratio.
  • Virtualisation: the ability to view the entire factory and manufacturing processes virtually.
  • Decentralisation: the ability of machines to ‘think’ on their own for smart decision-making.
  • Real-time Capability: With the smarter functions of machines, more data would also be generated and the capability of machines to collect, analyse and provide derived insights in real-time would be an ideal asset.
  • Service orientation: the ability to offer services through the Internet of Services
  • Modularity: the flexibility of Smart Factories to accommodate changing requirements through replacing or expanding individual modules.

A Big Data Mess

As aforementioned, with Industry 4.0 coming into play and the more sophisticated machines available, manufacturers today are producing more data daily than they did some 10 years ago such as sensor data, camera images, digital gauge data, etc.

In theory, all this data that is churned out can be used to measure things. However, managing and making sense of this data—termed ‘big data’—in practice is a challenge, because while all these data can be generated or gathered, manufacturers are posed with the complexity of what to use this data for or how to even use it.

To solve this problem, data management companies are competing to create the leading data analytics programme that can best serve manufacturers of the industry. One area in which these programmes are rapidly developing in is the Industry Internet of Things (IIoT).

The programmes developed under this serve to capture, collate and distribute data to the company’s personnel, while customising it totally so that the relevant personnel would receive only data that they would need, and in convenient ways such as through their personal devices—smart phones, tablets, or laptops.

To store the unquantifiable amounts of information pouring out from the machines, cloud storage is currently popularly being employed as a repository for large unstructured data sets of machine process variables, tooling and workpiece information, due to the economic viability of leveraging the cloud. Being on the internet that can be accessed virtually from any location, data can be tackled and analysed from anywhere and at any point of time.

But how, one may ask, is using this data beneficial? How does it affect one’s manufacturing operations? Is the data important?

How Data Can Be Used

Without a doubt, analysing the data produced can benefit manufacturers in a myriad of ways. For one, data on processing times or energy consumption for example, let a manufacturer with quantifiable evidence of the efficiency of the process or machine, and if an alternative is required. Processes or machines in this way can be optimised once the direction for improvement has been identified through the use of data.

According to Sal Spada, research director, ARC Advisory Group, machine tool data can also predict the quality of a production workpiece. With real-time process parameters that can be extracted from operating machines, production machinery process models can be developed and continuously improved upon to guarantee the quality of production workpieces.

Also, with the increased connectivity between digitally-controlled machines, manufacturers can additionally collect a wide array of real-time process parameters. This data can then be used to develop accurate mathematical models of machine behaviour under innumerable operating conditions that are difficult to set up in a laboratory test bed, he added. This would then allow manufacturers to virtually monitor their machines and processes around the clock.

Smart Management Of Data

Making good sense of the data produced is essential for improved productivity and efficiency of manufacturing processes, and in order for this optimisation to happen, manufacturers need to be aware of which data exactly they need or want, and how to use this data to its full potential.

An easy advice to managing data smartly is to go simple, and a reference guideline is demonstrated below:

1.Determine which machines can produce what information, and from there, pick out the information that one would require

  • Tip: Pick out only the most useful information

2.Using a reliable data analytics programme, determine how the programme can be used to represent the data in a way that is easy to understand

  • Tip: A graph or chart would suffice, as these usually turn out to be the optimum way for people to digest information quickly
  • Tip: Do not go overboard in visualising data—always keep in mind the goal for the analysis so as to not waste resources unnecessarily

3.Make an informed decision—the condensed information should be able to provide the relevant people with the required knowledge for a quick and effective decision-making process

Naturally, many more things can be done with the data for further analysis, or the data can be presented in a variety of different ways, but the main message is the same: ultimately manufacturers should be clear on what kind of data they are able to get, which kinds of data they would actually need, and how exactly they can present their data in a way they would want so as to aid in decision-making.

Looking For Greater Industrial Process Control

Looking For Greater Industrial Process Control

The need for greater control in manufacturing processes drives Renishaw’s growth into new forays. Steve Bell, General Manager, Renishaw, ASEAN, spoke to APMEN and shared the company’s direction for the region.  

At the recent Manufacturing Technologies Asia 2017 exhibition held in Singapore, Renishaw exhibited a range of products, including its 5-axis scanning technology for coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). But the company is also introducing additive manufacturing to the region, with a focus on metal manufacturing companies and drive for greater industrial process control.

Q: For Renishaw’s precision measurement and process control line, are there any new products that you would like to introduce to our readers?

Steve Bell (SB): We are introducing new ways of using the technology that we already have. The main one would be particularly our Equator line. We are also launching something called Intelligent Process Control; that means that we not only use a gauging system to find out what went wrong on the machine tool, but actually using our gauging systems to control the production of parts in-process.

Q: What are some recent trends you are seeing in metrology for metalworking?

SB: The big change that we have seen is that we were initially pioneers for CMM probing. That is very much of the end of the production process activity, and checking what has already been made.

For many years, that was what we were about. The huge difference now is that we are more involved in industrial process control. Almost all of our industrial products are moving into that area. For this, we are talking about the beginning of the manufacturing process. You have the machine that will make the part, then you have calibration equipment to calibrate the machine—which is the foundation of the manufacturing process.

Then we have machine tool products—tool setters and parts, which is at the process setting stage. That is when you start to cut the metal. Next, we have in-process controls which happen during the metal cutting process. In this stage, there are probes and the equator gauging system and a lot of different products involved in trying to control this process. In many cases, the process is controlled automatically.

For example, our Equator gauging system looks at parts coming directly from the machine tool and checks the dimensions of the parts that uses the data from the inspections to give feedback to the machine tool, and correct the machine tool offsets for the next parts to be manufactured. That means rather than waiting for a process to go out of control and make scrap, we are actually correcting the process before it gets the chance to go wrong.

This is very much tied up with the ideas of Industry 4.0. These are things which many companies are talking about, and this is something which we are practicing. We do it not only in terms of providing these types of services to our customers, but in the manufacturing of our own parts back in the UK.

Q: Renishaw is introducing metal additive manufacturing systems (AM). What applications will these AM systems see?

SB: For us, additive manufacturing is the highlight of the show for Renishaw. In our booth, we are showing the AM 400 machine which has up until now been our bestseller; it handles all kinds of different materials.

Most customers for AM have tended to be universities and R&D institutions. This type of customers’ motivation is to try and understand what this technology can do—to play and experiment and we will continue to support that. But what we are trying to do now, it is to push additive manufacturing for production.

Renishaw’s drive is towards metal manufacturing companies, industrial process control. We are very much involved at looking at manufacturing processes and trying to improve them. In the same vein, we would now like to take the technology out of the R&D lab and into the production line. That is at the China International Machine Tool Show, we launched the RenAM 500M, which is the next version of our AM.

The AM 400 will still be a very important machine for us and we will continue selling them to R&D facilities—as it allows for frequent changes of materials to allow experimentation.

The RenAM 500M incorporates powder recirculation, which means the metal powder which is not melted during the build process is recirculated, filtered and reloaded into the machine automatically so the process continues. This means the machine never has to stop. All that needs to be done is topping up the powder at certain points, without halting the machine.

Obviously because it operates in that way, it means each machine is dedicated to one powder. So if a customer decides they want to build parts using stainless steel, they would choose that particular powder for the RenAM 500M. If they need to constantly change materials, the AM 400 would be the way to go.

For us, we want to make batch production using AM more of a reality for a lot of customers. We want to take it from R&D institutions into the production line.

Q: Why should manufacturing sectors such as automotive and aerospace consider implementing AM systems?

SB: Any sectors, particularly these two and also manufacturers for bicycles, and any other sectors that involve moving transport should consider AM systems. One of the key components of AM for these sectors is to try to remove weight from the products. This is something that AM does very well.

Instead of manufacturing struts in a product part that are completely solid, for example on a bicycle frame, an alternative would be to use AM technology and actually have thinner walled components with an internal lattice work arrangement to provide strength with reduced weight.

Customers can actually achieve the same strength in these components and have weight reduced from the component. This is important for things like bicycles, and we have had a lot of success with mountain bikes—the parts would last longer than with using conventional materials.

In aerospace, every kilogram that can be removed from the structure of the plane saves fuel and money, which is a key area. At the moment on the aerospace side, particularly on the non-flight critical parts, there is a big drive to use AM parts. Taking away solid and heavier parts keeps the strength of the object and removes the weight.

Q: As additive manufacturing is time consuming, taking hours to produce a single part, can the processes be improved and quickened?

SB: Some products take two to four hours to produce, and some might take even up to 15 to 20 hours. The technology is still in its infancy, so there are lots of different development programmes ongoing. One of them is to see how we can speed up the process, and there are lots of ideas for how that could happen.

Other ideas include introducing new materials, and also to improve the monitoring system in the machine so that we can ensure there is more consistency in the final result. There are lots of drivers toward improvement, and speeding up the machines is only one of them, amongst many other possible solutions.

Q: Since this is a “disruptive” technology, meaning that the process is very different from traditional manufacturing processes, will there be any other kinds of support you offer?

SB: One of the things to think about is that on our Renishaw system, pretty much everything on the system, including the software, is made by us. Most of the other manufacturers are using software packages that they outsource, so they do not have direct control over the development of those products. For us, we have our own QuamAM software and it is developed in-house by us. It is our platform, so we have total control over future development.

For support to our customers, having the right support for this technology is absolutely vital. Especially around Asia, we have taken a very structured approach to the launch of AM. We do not try to sell AM machines in every country. We set up support first, before setting up the machines for our customers—to ensure they have the support they need.

Customers need support for this especially in the beginning, as in most cases they are not very experienced with the technology, and they need a helping hand in the beginning. As a result of this, around this region, we have focused on China. We have been successful in China, and we have a big support centre there.

We then have moved from there to Australia and New Zealand. It is a very niche area where AM has become very popular. Again, we have put people into that area. Now we are doing the same in Taiwan and Singapore. We have had recent successes in both countries, and that is where we are focusing on. There would not be a point to move into the market without having the support structure in place first.

Q: What are some of the challenges you foresee in introducing AM to the region?

SB: The challenges include having the infrastructure behind the company. You have to make sure that you support your customers. In Singapore, people now know about AM. They are open to the technology and they have a big interest in it. But first, a lot of companies still need to understand what the technology can do for them in particular.

AM is not the answer to all manufacturing needs. The vast majority of parts would still be made by conventional means, as it is more economical and faster. AM is usually required for particular parts which cannot be made by conventional means. That is the big education challenge for us—to make sure customer’s expectations are correct, that we sell AM machines and technology to the right kind of customers, for the right kind of applications.

Q: Any other thoughts you would like to share with readers?

SB: I would say that we see the AM market in the region growing. As I mentioned, we are trying to design our machines with production in mind. We can see in the market that we are talking to companies who are not in the R&D field, and who are really looking into building parts for production. We are still far for the peak of demand of AM machines, and there is much room for growth in this market.

Additive manufacturing can reduce weight from an object whilst maintaining it’s strength

AM can be used to designed specific parts which cannot be made by conventional means

An operator measuring parts of an object on the Equator system

Key Trends For Growth In Southeast Asia

Key Trends For Growth In Southeast Asia

With 2017 looking to be a year of steady manufacturing growth for Southeast Asia, machine tool makers that form the backbone of most industry development would do well to take notice. By Jonathan Chou 

Machine tools are part and parcel of manufacturing, particularly in segments such as automobiles, aerospace, defence, and railways. The machine tool market is thus closely linked with the ups and downs of each specific industry.

With the Nikkei ASEAN Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showing Southeast Asia ticking upwards to 50 in January this year as compared to 49.4 in December 2016, machine tool makers could benefit from identifying upcoming growth areas in the region.

Economy Boosted By Manufacturing: Singapore

Singapore was estimated to consume approximately US$310 million in machine tools in 2016, according to Gardner. This represents a substantial amount of spending, and even with its small geographic size, the country is projected to be the 14th top market worldwide for metalworking equipment in 2016-2017, as said by the International Trade Administration.

The country’s gross domestic product growth rate performed above expectations, expanding by 2.9 percent year-on-year in the last three months of 2016, higher than 1.2 percent in the previous period and above initial estimates of a 1.8 percent growth. It is the highest expansion since the third quarter of 2014 and was mainly boosted by manufacturing, according to figures by Trade Economics.

The Singapore economy mainly relies on purchasing of intermediate goods and exporting of high-value added products. Machinery and equipment take up 46 percent of total exports, and opportunities in the country are thus mainly focussed on the high-end precision engineering sector.

Indonesia Setting Sights On The Automotive Sector

The Indonesian government has identified vehicle manufacturing and assembly as a key industry for development in the next five years, in hopes to become Southeast Asia’s largest centre for vehicle assembly.

The nation also promoted local manufacturing of auto parts and components, with forging, casting, and stamping processes being the main areas to boost growth in production of assorted metal goods.

In 2016, Indonesia purchased a total of US$76.88 million worth of lathes and turning machines. As for machining centres, Indonesia imported a total of US$62.22 million during the same period, according to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, which also added that Taiwan has remained one of the major suppliers of machine tools to the Indonesia market in the past five years.

With the government releasing economic policy packages designed to attract fresh investments and spur market activities (of which 14 had been released so far since September 2015), the automotive sector in Indonesia seems to be shaping up for growth.

Improving Investor Climate: Vietnam

For the past few years, Vietnam has been emerging as an attractive foreign investment destination. Manufacturing and high-tech industries constitute a fast growing part of the economy, and the country is also one of the largest oil producers in the region.

According to the German Embassy in Hanoi, many major German companies, which are operating in various fields such as automobile, energy and industrial machinery in Vietnam, plan to expand their presence in Vietnam to take advantage of the improved investment climate and signed free trade agreements.

This includes companies such as Marquardt Group which arrived in Da Nang to discuss with municipal authorities on the production of high-tech automobile equipment and components. The project would have an estimated investment of about US$39 to 50 million and generate jobs for some 500 to 600 local workers.

Promising Signs

The global machine tools market is predicted to exceed US$120 billion by 2020, growing at a compound annual growth rate of more than six percent and a large portion of this growth will take place in Asia, according to Technavio.

Anju Ajaykumar, lead analyst at Technavio for tools and components research observed that industrial sectors such as automotive, industrial machinery as well as aerospace and defence are showing “signs of positive growth which will augur well for the growth of the machine tools market during the forecast period (2016-2020).”

The promising signs of manufacturing growth in Southeast Asia this year could very well indicate an associated uptick in orders and purchases in the machine tools sector as well.

Choosing The Right Slideway Oil For Your Coolants

Choosing The Right Slideway Oil For Your Coolants

Slideway oil affects both the machining precision and service life of metalworking fluid. By Imtiaz Ahmed, Asia Pacific Mobil SHC brand manager, ExxonMobil Lubricants

The metalworking industry in Asia Pacific is booming due to a rise in urbanisation, cheaper manufacturing costs and increasing automation in the region. This has in part been driven by strong growth and an optimistic outlook in the Asia Pacific region as it remains an attractive manufacturing hub for regional and global exports.

According to the IDC Manufacturing Insights Spending Guide, manufacturing spending in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.8 percent for the 2015-2019 period. Manufacturers are moving towards automation and digitalisation to ensure that their factories are operationally efficient. The rise in intelligent manufacturing calls for more complex machine tools and machining processes, creating a demand in the metalworking industry.

Consequently, the expansion in metalworking has resulted in a demand for metalworking lubricants. The global metalworking fluids market was estimated to be worth US$8.3 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach US$9.74 billion by 2020 based on a CAGR of 3.2 percent from 2015-2020. This growth is in part driven by the use of removal fluid as a coolant across the manufacturing industry to maintain optimum temperature and to remove unwanted metal chips during the grinding, drilling, and other processes.

Major Technology Trends

A lot of friction and heat is produced, whether from the simple production of nuts and bolts to more complex, tougher metalworking processes. In addition, these heavy duty processes require machines to be both precise and efficient in their working, which is why lubricants and coolants play a vital role in the machine’s performance and maintenance.

In addition, companies are looking for ways to reduce costs while increasing profitability, and many players in the metalworking industry are adopting green practices, including using vegetable-based coolants, and finding ways to reduce wastage such as implementing recycling programs or reusing coolants instead of disposing them.

However, not all cutting fluids can be reused as they do not meet the lubrication, cooling and protection requirements of each application for every machine. This is why choosing the right combination of high quality lubricants – slideway oils, water soluble cutting fluids and neat cutting oils – ensures machine tools run smoothly for a longer time, and helps to cut costs and reduce wastage, ultimately enabling the machines to be more operationally efficient.

Stick-Slip Effect

Slideway operations in particular require special attention to friction to ensure it runs smoothly and with precision. When moment frictional control is lost, this can cause inaccuracies, ultimately resulting in lost productivity.

Slideways move in a linear motion, therefore the slides would have to stop when they reach the end and move again in the opposite direction. Their stepwise manner of operations would mean that they need to use mixed lubrication to operate efficiently. Consequently, a mixed lubrication setting would make slideways more susceptible to the stick-slip phenomenon.

Stick-slip occurs when there is more static friction than dynamic friction. This causes jerky movements to the slide and the attached work tool. Uncontrolled motion such as this can result in inaccuracies in operations, poor quality and loss in production. To have better friction control, friction modifiers such as special additives are being added to the lubricant.

Slideway Oil

Choosing the right slideway oils enhances the productivity of modern machine shops as they affect both the machining precision and service life of the metalworking fluid. Slideway oils must provide outstanding friction control and excellent separability from aqueous coolants that are commonly used in metalworking operations.

Such lubrication usually happens in an open machine system, which increases the chances of contamination in the coolant circulation system. The contamination between slideway oils and aqueous coolants will eventually form tramp oil.

Tramp oil is a primary contaminant in these systems and causes a lot of problems that affect the working life of the equipment:

  • High volumes of tramp oil in aqueous coolants can also change coolant concentrations and cause coolant foaming, which makes monitoring more difficult.
  • Lubricity in the machine may be reduced, which leads to tool wear and poor precision finish.
  • Coolant pH levels can also be reduced, which causes corrosion.
  • There is also a risk of increased bacterial growth and the formation of undesirable odours in the machine shop. These complications reduce the life of coolants and causes health problems for employees.

Tramp oil can also enter the metalworking fluid in more than one way, including leaks from way, gear, spindle, and hydraulic oils, or oil on parts from previous operations. The more oil is used, the more tramp oil will need to be removed, resulting in an increase in operational and maintenance costs, as well as reduced productivity in the long-run.

What To Look For : Coolant Separability

Knowing what properties to look out for when choosing slideway lubricants is vital to prevent the formation and contamination of tramp oil.

A key factor is the ability of slideway oils to separate from water-soluble coolants quickly and completely. If the separation between the oil and the coolant is not complete, the performance of the aqueous coolant can be severely affected, which results in high operational costs and unscheduled machine downtime. A slideway oil with good coolant separability properties will also allow machine tools to operate with optimal precision. This will help enhance the life and performance of the aqueous coolant and improve metalworking processes.

Proper Maintenance of Machining Processes

While slideway oils are the most common source of oil contamination in aqueous coolants, other lubricants such as hydraulic oil, gear oil and grease can interfere with the life of the coolant. Metalworking operators need to adopt maintenance practices to prevent contamination from interfering with a machine shop’s operational efficiency.

Operators need to monitor coolant concentration on a regular basis to maximise coolant life. This is to ensure that there is no build-up of tramp oil as a result of slideway oil emulsification.

Tramp oil can be detected in the system by using lubricant analysis. Operators can test for coolant concentration by measuring by titration and then compare the results with new, unused coolant to determine the levels of emulsified tramp oil.

Removal of tramp oil is done by automatic skimmers that can be found in many modern machine tools available today. Filter and centrifuges can also be used is larger systems to remove contaminants. Alternatively, contaminants can also be removed manually by using specialised equipment such as an industrial vacuum cleaner.

On top of choosing the right slideway oil and coolant for your metalworking needs, using a single supplier for both metalworking fluids can help limit compatibility and contamination issues. This, combined with proper maintenance and regular testing, play a part in ensuring precise and efficient operations.

Driving Efficiency And Advancing Productivity

Metalworking fluids such as slideway oil and coolants were once considered as a basic necessity to keep machine tools operating. Today, they have become important factors to enable machine shop operators to improve operational efficiency so as to reduce costs and increase profit margins. Metalworking fluids are now considered as liquid tools and they should be treated with the same degree of importance as machines tools since they have a direct impact on productivity and profitability.

While the selection process of slideway oils and coolants is dependent on the variety of applications in machine shop, choosing good quality metalworking fluids will work for most applications such as turning, drilling, milling, forming and stamping. The metalworking industry needs to ensure operational excellence with the right lubrication solutions and proper maintenance allowing them to focus on innovation to capitalise on future growth opportunities.

Manufacturing spending in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 4.8 percent until 2019.

Slick-slip effect causes uncontrolled jerky movements to the slide and the attached work tool. To have better friction control, friction modifiers are added to the lubricant.

Metalworking fluids are considered as liquid tools and can have a direct impact on productivity and profitability.

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