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3 Ways Advanced Machining Builds A Competitive Edge In Aerospace

3 Ways Advanced Machining Builds a Competitive Edge in Aerospace

Solutions for suppliers seeking ways to meet new productivity challenges, including increasing demand and shorter lead times. Article by Michael Palmieri, Makino.

Aerospace and defence (A&D) suppliers are feeling the heat.

Over the next five years, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are expected to increase commercial aircraft production by 21 percent. The ramp-up means suppliers face unprecedented challenges. They must find ways to satisfy demand for more components while OEMs place more pressure on them to decrease lead times and prices.

READ: Machining for the Aerospace Industry

Industry 4.0 technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), automation and advanced machine-tool capabilities, such as 5-axis machining centres, could become more common on A&D shop floors as suppliers seek ways to keep pace with OEM demands.

These technologies can help the A&D suppliers respond to market needs faster without expanding their workforce. This white paper will explore some of these trends and the solutions that A&D suppliers need to remain competitive.

  1. Enable Faster Throughput for Complex Designs

Modern aircraft designs are forcing suppliers to rethink their current production capabilities. Older machine tools may not be equipped to manage lighter-weight, heat-resistant materials, such as titanium. Modern machining centres that are purpose-built for aerospace applications can reduce set-up times, increase accuracy and improve throughput on less-conventional designs.

Titanium vs. Aluminium Considerations

Aluminium makes up about half of the aerospace materials market by volume. But titanium use is increasing as manufacturers seek ways to reduce weight for components in next-generation planes. Titanium is lighter than structural steels historically used and almost as strong. Aluminium and titanium present different challenges that manufacturers must take into consideration when selecting machine-tooling solutions. Aluminium requires more horsepower and high rpm while titanium requires high torque at low rpm.

READ: EDM: Past, Present and Future

Speeding-up Material Removal Rates

Suppliers need access to a variety of machine tools that can perform fast removal rates on a wide range of materials, including aluminium, stainless steel and titanium. Several key advancements in machine tooling are helping A&D suppliers address different material requirements. Some of the key technologies developed to increase productivity for titanium machining include:

Autonomic spindles that protect the spindle from excessive forces damaging the bearings. This can reduce unplanned downtime related to machine damage—which, in turn, optimizes productivity.

High-pressure, high-flow coolant systems deliver large volumes of coolant directly to the cutting zone for faster chip evacuation, increased production, and tool life.

Vibration damping systems that adjust frictional forces based on low-frequency vibration sensing, avoiding chatter and cutter damage from structure resonance in real time. Vibration damping enhances depth of cuts, which results in higher removal rates.

READ: How Digitalisation Is Transforming The Aerospace Sector

Developments in aluminium machining are also helping A&D suppliers increase productivity. This includes greater spindle power to improve processing speeds, improvements to acceleration and cutting feed rates, and large-capacity automatic tool changers that are capable of holding more than 100 tools and automatic pallet changer—which can reduce changeover and set-up times significantly.

In both aluminium and titanium, 5-axis capability is a key advantage by providing an efficient way to produce typical, complex, A&D part geometries. In addition, large-capacity tool changers and pallet changing automation can allow for unattended machining, which means less operator labour cost per part. These system features reduce machine downtime between parts and part handling between set-ups, which also lowers labour costs. The ability to reduce handling time, including moving parts from machine to machine or resetting them on new fixtures, also helps increase throughput and shrink production lead times to enable faster deliveries.

  1. Maximise Productivity to Avoid Costly Delays

Many A&D suppliers are struggling to meet demand. For instance, in November 2018 Boeing reported decreases in 737 deliveries due to supplier delays. The lead time in A&D manufacturing is already longer compared to other industries, which means suppliers can’t afford machine failures or any other issues that could result in downtime. Suppliers may need to place a greater emphasis on predictive maintenance and automation to maximise productivity.

Why Reliability Matters

On-time delivery issues are urgent enough that Boeing and Airbus are working with suppliers to ensure they’re equipped to meet expectations. In addition, unplanned downtime costs manufacturers about $50 billion annually, and equipment failure is the cause of downtime 42 percent of the time.

READ: Makino Asia’s Smart Factory Meets Sophisticated Precision Engineering Capabilities

Smarter Approaches to Efficiency

Manufacturers are implementing automation and Industry 4.0 technologies to gain visibility into machine performance issues before they lead to major repairs or failures. In the A&D sector, Industry 4.0 is bringing predictive insights to operators and technicians in several ways, including:

The ability to access charts that display alarm events, so operators and technicians can observe trends and implement corrective measures.

Access to spindle and axis monitoring technologies that record and display axis forces, loads and speeds. This data can then be used to fine-tune processes for faster cutting speeds and greater depths of cut. In addition, manufacturers can monitor critical tool data for multiple machines from one centralised location. Operators can use this data to make adjustments for enhanced tool performance and lifespan.

Camera monitoring capabilities that capture an internal view of a machine’s work zone, making it easier to solve processing errors before they impact part quality. Technicians also can receive email and text notifications of alarms, including images of the work zone. This helps service staff immediately address maintenance issues before they become costly problems.

READ: Coronavirus Hits Automotive And Aerospace Supply Chains

According to Deloitte, manufacturers that implement predictive maintenance technologies typically experience operations and MRO material cost savings of 5 percent to 10 percent, reduced inventory carrying costs, equipment uptime and availability increases of 10 percent to 20 percent, reduced maintenance planning time of 20 percent to 50 percent and overall maintenance cost reductions of five percent to ten percent.

A&D suppliers also are realising enhanced performance through automated machining solutions, such as pallet-stacking systems. The Makino Machining Complex (MMC2) is an automated material handling system that links Makino horizontal machining centres, pallet loaders and operators. The system provides a constant flow of parts to the machining centres, so it can operate for extended periods unattended, including overnight and on weekends. The ability to automate manual processes reduces the need for time-consuming manual tasks and increases flexibility to meet OEM demands.

  1. Bridging the Workforce Skills Gap

As machine tools become more technologically advanced, the A&D industry must confront another persistent challenge: the lack of skilled workers. In a recent industry workforce survey, 75 percent of respondents said they are concerned with the availability of key skills. “The need for talent will become even more critical in the next few years, as the baby boom generation moves beyond traditional retirement age – and the unavoidable loss at some point of their expertise and knowledge,” according to Aviation Week’s “2018 Workforce Report.” Machines that are equipped with IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and other smart capabilities can enhance productivity for existing employees and minimise the learning curve for new hires.

The Case for a Connected Workforce

Voice-assistant technology common in the consumer world, such as Alexa and Siri, are now making their way into modern machine tools. In fact, more than 80 percent of A&D industry executives say they expect their workforce to be directly impacted by an AI-based decision within the next three years, according to an Accenture report. Voice-activated commands reduce manual interaction with the machine and helps operators translate and analyse big data. These digital assistants typically work through the use of headsets. Operators speak commands into the headsets, such as “turn the machine’s lights on,” “change tools,” or “show set-up instructions.” These voice-actuated capabilities simplify machine operation by reducing the time operators spend searching for information or performing manual tasks.

READ: Makino Strengthens Presence In Vietnam With New Technology Centre

Minimising the Learning Curve

AI also serves as a coach for operators who may not be familiar with various operating procedures, such as how to perform different maintenance tasks. For example, a worker can ask the voice assistant how to change a filter. In many cases, these intelligent machines are not replacing operators but helping the existing workforce perform their tasks more efficiently.

They’re also allowing workers to move easily from one type of machine to another without a significant learning curve because they’re not reliant on an unfamiliar machine interface. These intelligent machines may help A&D manufacturers identify and onboard skilled workers with greater ease because they require less training and experience than more traditional technology.

Looking Ahead: What’s Next for A&D Machining

High-tech machining solutions are advancing at a rapid pace. The availability of new technologies comes at a critical point for the A&D industry. Suppliers must continue to improve productivity and reduce costs amid a constantly changing environment. In addition to OEM demands, the industry faces new competitive challenges, including potential price increases for materials. For instance, A&D manufacturers are still uncertain how U.S. tariffs on aluminium and steel imports could impact prices. The potential for higher material prices puts additional pressure on suppliers as they try to meet increasing demands for lower costs per part and delivery.

Suppliers need equipment that can reduce downtime, increase productivity and minimise labour costs. Manufacturers should consider machine-tool providers with a broad portfolio of equipment built specifically for the aerospace industry. The latest machining centres can perform high-precision tasks faster than ever. Vendors with experience in the aerospace industry can help A&D suppliers evaluate their needs and select a solution that is appropriate for specific applications. Makino is continuously updating its machines with the latest technologies, including automation and IoT capabilities, to help the industry produce accurate structural and turbo machinery parts faster with less variability and at the lowest cost.

 How ATEP Slashes Titanium Machining Costs

Arconic Titanium & Engineered Products (ATEP) in Laval, Quebec, Canada, needed titanium-machining solutions to meet customer demands to lower costs and shrink delivery times. ATEP specializes in assembly and precision machining of various titanium aircraft components, including wing attachments, seat tracks and doorframes. Standard machine platforms couldn’t provide the rigidity, flexibility or control the company needed to meet its customer requirements. The company decided to install several Makino T-Series 5-axis horizontal titanium machining centres. Research engineers from ATEP determined the machines could help the company perform certain production processes three times faster than previous methods. It eventually led to a 60 percent reduction in cycle times and 30 percent reduction of tool costs.

The company also has realized benefits related to quality improvements. ATEP is a fully integrated supplier of titanium and other specialty metals products. ATEP is receiving additional business from customers who are asking the company to correct quality issues from other suppliers, according to a company executive.

 

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Hexagon And Ericsson Host Joint Webinar On The Role Of 5G In Industry 4.0

Hexagon And Ericsson Host Joint Webinar On The Role Of 5G In Industry 4.0

Experts in manufacturing and communication technologies discuss how 5G networks help drive digital transformation within the manufacturing sector.

Join Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and Ericsson on 16 April 2020 for a webinar on how 5G will support Industry 4.0 deployments.

Sachin Mathur, Head of Partnership Programs, Smart Factory, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, Erik Josefsson, Vice President, Head of Advanced Industries, Ericsson and Sasidhar Yalavarthi, Project Manager, Smart Factory, Ericsson, will discuss how 5G wireless networks facilitate greater automation and data-driven decision-making in the manufacturing sector. The event will be moderated by Brett Brune, Editor in Chief of Smart Manufacturing magazine.

Ignacio Blanco, Product Marketing Manager, Smart Factory Solutions Hexagon, says: “Hexagon and Ericsson are partnering to make manufacturing smarter by simplifying the capture, transfer and use of data with reliable, low-latency, high-bandwidth wireless networks. As a result, manufacturers will be able to connect multiple machines, sensors and systems across even the largest sites in a way that suits their individual productivity needs.”

The webinar will be sponsored by Digital Engineering, a leading German-language construction and engineering trade magazine; Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), one of the most authoritative metalworking magazines in the region; Smart Manufacturing, a principal industry voice in the United States and The Manufacturer, a major UK publication that provides news and promotes best practice in the manufacturing industry.

Programme:

  • 5G and Industry 4.0 in a nutshell
  • Smart Wireless Manufacturing
  • Strategic business-driven decisions
  • IoT and Industry connectivity
  • Testing results

Register to join the webinar on 16 April 2020 at a choice of different times.

 

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NAP 2020 Drives Malaysia’s Automotive Sector

NAP 2020 Drives Malaysia’s Automotive Sector

The Malaysian government has launched the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2020 which will contribute MYR 104.2 billion to the economy over the next decade as Malaysia aims to be the regional leader in the automotive sector. Three key technological elements are introduced in NAP 2020—Next Generation Vehicle, Mobility as a Service and Industrial Revolution 4.0. Furthermore, it will focus on three strategies—value chain development (enhancing competitiveness of domestic value chain), human capital development (developing local talent) as well as safety, environment and consumerism (promoting adoption of environmentally friendly technologies).

READ: Coronavirus Hits Automotive And Aerospace Supply Chains

“The proposed new Malaysian Vehicle Project will emphasise on research and development and incorporation of the latest technologies in order to be competitive in both domestic and global markets. New technology clusters as well as new expert workforce, especially in the field of automotive engineering would be developed consequently,” said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

READ: Thailand’s Roadmap To Become The Regional EV Hub By 2025

Accelerating the automotive sector will not only benefit car manufacturers, but also encourage development of new technologies that will complement other industrial sectors. “The technologies embedded within the car provide immense opportunities for related industrial sectors to break new grounds. Linkages to both upstream sectors such as steel, plastics and rubber and the downstream value chain demonstrate that the automotive industry is one of the most important and strategic contributors to the overall growth of the manufacturing sector,” he said.

 

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COVID-19 Forces Companies To Evaluate How They Operate And Embrace Technological Investment

COVID-19 Forces Companies To Evaluate How They Operate And Embrace Technological Investment

The Coronavirus outbreak and the worldwide reaction to the pandemic will force companies to radically rethink how they operate and embrace technological investment, states global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.

READ: Coronavirus Outbreak Reveals the Weakest Links In The Supply Chain

In its new white paper, Taking Stock of COVID-19: The Short- and Long-Term Ramifications on Technology and End Markets, ABI Research Analysts look at the current and future ramifications of COVID-19 across technologies and verticals. Analysts also offer recommendations to weather the storm and strategies to help companies rebound and prosper after the pandemic has slowed.

“To effect change, there must be a stimulation of a magnitude that means companies cannot do anything but make bold decisions to survive. COVID-19 is that magnitude,” explains Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research.

READ: Coronavirus Hits Automotive And Aerospace Supply Chains

Bold decisions and technological investments could lead to outcomes such as:

  • A more concerted and widespread move to lights-out manufacturing
  • Increased usage of autonomous materials handling and goods vehicles
  • A more integrated, diverse, and coordinated supply chain
  • Investment in smart cities to support community resilience
  • A move to virtual workspaces and practices
  • And so much more

“Before we feel this potential long-term impact, there will be some serious short-term implications. Contractions in consumer spending, disruptions to supply chains, and reduced availability of components will create a rough sea for all boats,” Carlaw says. “In the short-term, there will be a retrenchment in outlooks a reduced investment in modernisation, as survival instincts trump the drive to prosperity.”

 

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Helping Customers Move Towards Industry 4.0

Helping Customers Move Towards Industry 4.0

Amolak Preet Singh, Managing Director of Haimer talks about how the company is helping its customers move towards process improvement and automation.

Amolak Preet Singh

Haimer is a family owned company based in Igenhausen, Bavaria in Germany. Established more than 40 years ago, the company designs and produces high-precision products for metal cutting as well as for other branches including automotive, aerospace, energy, rail, and general machining.

In addition to its large offering of tool holders, shrinking and balancing machines, as well as 3D sensors, Haimer is now also offering tool presetting machines. On top of that, the company has an entire tool management program, and solid carbide end milling program for machining centres.

READ: HAIMER To Showcase Latest Technologies And Solutions At EMO 2019

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News recently sat down with Amolak Preet Singh, Managing Director, SEA, NZ and India, Haimer, to talk about the company’s Thailand market, how they are helping customers improve their processes, and the company’s strategy towards Industry 4.0.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN THAILAND?

Amolak Preet Singh (AS): Thailand has been a great market for us in the past two years since we started to revamp our operations here. The business has grown three times in the last 2 years. We are seeing great opportunity not only in the aerospace industry, which has been growing here, but also the die and mould sectors, and the automotive sector. Worldwide, there is a greater push that is happening now towards Industry 4.0, and Thailand has started to take the first steps towards the direction moving towards it. We can see a lot of companies who are really talking about it.

There is also the emphasis being given now on improving machine efficiencies. That opens completely new doors for us from a business point of view. And I think the requirement for reducing the cost and improving machine efficiency is growing tremendously, so we are trying to partner with the industry on their overall processes to reduce their manufacturing costs.

READ: Optimised Tool Management Through Integrated Process Chain

Although the automotive industry is not growing in a big way, from a Haimer perspective, it is a great opportunity because the customers are still looking at major process improvements to reduce their costs. That’s where we are coming in as a partner—so from our perspective, the opportunity for us to grow in the automotive sector is massive here.

WHAT MANUFACTURING CHALLENGES ARE CUSTOMERS COMING TO YOU FOR?

AS: Most of the customers still look at Haimer as a supplier of world class tool holders and 3D sensors. That’s a perception that we are trying to change, especially in the past two years. And honestly, that’s our challenge—to change customers’ perceptions, from looking at Haimer not just as a company that supplies world’s best quality tool holders, but as an integrated supplier for all requirements around the machine. That’s where we are adding a lot of value to our customers.

And we are already seeing great success with the customers we are working with, in that once they start to use one Haimer product, they invariably start to use the other one because, at the end of the day, it is helping them reduce their costs.

READ: Haimer: Microset Tool Presetters

We have made good inroads into our customers, especially in the aerospace, automotive sectors, and die and mould sector, when it comes to improving their throughputs and production, or reducing their throughput costs. And we have unique products which, keeping everything constant, can help them either improve their productivity or reduce their consumable costs by 30 to 50 percent.

HOW DO YOU HELP CUSTOMERS MOVE TOWARDS INDUSTRY 4.0?

AS: Industry 4.0 is a very big subject. Sometimes a little bit vague, I would say. It means different things to different people. But to put it in a very simple way where the manufacturing process is concerned—I would say, can we help them reduce their dependence on people, improve their processes, and in that process, improve their machine efficiency, so that costs could come down? That’s where we are trying to focus at the initial level.

A very simple example is our shrink machine. A lot of people have huge issues in operating shrink machines—they need to train their people, the same as with the pre-setting machines.

Now, our new machines come with a QR code and RFID, so you don’t even need an trained operator to be running those machines. You just scan it, and the machine does everything automatically.

We are looking at Industry 4.0 more on automating the process, reducing the dependence on people, because getting skilled operators is becoming a huge challenge. We also have high-end software to link different machines, but I would say that’s at a second stage right now.

YOUR TOOLS ARE QUITE ADVANCED. ARE THEY SUITABLE FOR THE MARKETS HERE IN SEASIA?

AS: That’s a very good question, and that’s where I think we, being the technology leaders and worldwide leaders in most of the fields we operate in, have a bigger responsibility as regards helping the industry transit into the new mode.

When we started this new concept, this journey of moving towards the process for improvements last year, the response for the first six to 12 months was very slow. But we are really feeling that traction building up towards the last half of the previous year and continuing into last year, that people are very much interested in improving their processes and reducing their costs, because as the world becomes more globalised, or I would say, as the world shrinks, the only way to reduce your costs is to have strong processes, which will help you reduce your manufacturing costs on a continuous basis year in and year out. Those are the challenges that the industry is facing right now. And I think we are a very big catalyst to a lot of our customers, helping them in their journey towards automation—towards better quality, better processes, and cost reduction.

WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR 2020?

AS: The market continues to be challenging, especially in Singapore and Malaysia for the semiconductor industry; though we are seeing some early green shoots coming in that indicates that the market might have bottomed out. If you look at Thailand, the automotive industry has been a little bit challenged, but our general feeling is that the worse may be over. I think we have seen the bottoming out of the worst phase of this industry, so we are hopeful that the end of the first quarter, things will be much better.

 

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Infusing Purpose Into Emerging Technologies

Infusing Purpose Into Emerging Technologies

Few technologies stand to transform industry as much as additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Mike Regan, Director (HP Labs / CTO), HP-NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Lab, tells us why.

Today, the world’s most successful companies are not those that insulate themselves from accountability. Rather, they’re the ones that routinely take stock of whether they are performing as the public expects—and now demands—of them. More than ever, this thoughtful self-evaluation is paramount, especially on the heels of a thought-provoking World Economic Forum last month.

Recently, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), issued a sweeping manifesto in which he challenged companies around the globe to define their universal purpose in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0). It is a thoughtful dissertation that urges leaders to spend as much time fulfilling human and societal aspirations as they do generating wealth.

READ: HP-NTU Corporate Lab Showcases R&D Innovations And Announces Digital Manufacturing Skills Development Programme

Industry 4.0 promises to completely reshape how businesses operate, make products and deliver them to markets throughout Asia and the world. While still in its early stages, this paradigm shift could lead to the creation of more than 133 million new roles, according to a study made by the World Economic Forum. As history has proven, though, radical change is difficult. Redefining value creation for the future invariably triggers some hesitation at the highest levels of business.

To that end, HP partnered with the Nanyang Technological University to launch the HP-NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Lab, which aims to drive the innovation and skills required for Industry 4.0 in Singapore and across the region.

Still, companies recognise they must embrace technology—and change—to advance their businesses and serve a greater purpose in this world. In the coming year, therefore, I expect robust government and business discussion around three key trends: the continued march of digital manufacturing; the rise of additive manufacturing and its implications for the environment; and the need to fill the ongoing digital skills gap.

The Tech Driving a Digital Manufacturing Revolution

To thrive in Industry 4.0, digital transformation is imperative. IDC predicts global investment in this area will approach $7.4 trillion between 2020 and 2023. The manufacturing sector, a major driver of global prosperity and economic health, has been the most active, with manufacturers spending more than $345 billion globally on digital transformation in 2019 alone.

READ: HP: Eight Trends In 3D Printing

In the year ahead, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), which enable the automation and optimisation of processes from design to delivery, will likely constitute much of that investment. A McKinsey survey found that nearly half (47 percent) of companies have implemented at least one AI capability, with robotic process automation, computer vision and ML being the most common. Manufacturers reported deriving the greatest value from such technologies, especially for streamlining operations, improving visibility into supply chains and asserting more control over business strategies and operations.

Manufacturers will also continue embracing the cost and operational advantages of cloud computing. This will not simply mean outsourcing all data to third party servers. Rather, most enterprise organisations will pursue hybrid strategies involving a blend of public and private clouds as well as edge computing. In fact, a global Nutanix study found manufacturers plan to more than double their hybrid cloud deployments to 45 percent penetration in two years.

Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) are also on target to become more prevalent on factory floors. IDC says worldwide spending on VR and AR will jump to $18.8 billion in 2020 compared to last year, with discreet manufacturing making up $1.4 billion of that total. Asian-Pacific automakers, in particular, are embracing VR and AR innovation. Toyota, for instance, is using the technology to build cars faster and give customers a virtual glimpse of what is under the hood—without even lifting it. Hyundai and Kia, meantime, have established a VR design evaluation system to help enhance vehicle development processes.

Creating the reliable and trustworthy digital ecosystem outlined in Schwab’s manifesto requires leaders to invest in emerging digital technology that creates value, not just in their own supply chain, but also throughout their workforce and for their consumers.

How 3D Printing Will Build a Better World

Few technologies stand to transform industry as much as additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.

Advances in materials have made it possible to finally use this technology for more than just producing prototypes. It can now be used to make entire products. 3D printers will play central roles in the production of everything from consumer goods to aerospace and defence equipment to artificial limbs and organs.

READ: Accelerate Smart Additive Manufacturing with Simulation

Along the way, it’s likely this nascent industry will lead to substantial economic growth. In fact, the Asia-Pacific region is becoming the fastest growing 3D printing market in the world, according to AMFG, an additive manufacturer software provider. AMFG forecasts spending on 3D printing in the region will grow 18 percent to reach $3.6 billion within five years, led by China, Japan and South Korea.

Committing to 3D printing serves Schwab’s vision to “continuously expand the frontiers of knowledge, innovation and technology to improve people’s well-being.” Additive manufacturing also has significant implications for the environment, reducing the negative effects of manufacturing, from production runs to shipping.

In a recent study made by A.T. Kearney, a model on the sustainability of 3D printing showed CO2 emissions could be reduced by 130 to 525 Mt by 2025, including a 5 percent reduction in manufacturing intensities due to 3D printing. The study went on to say that if 3D printing was applied to higher production volumes, it could even decouple energy and CO2 emissions altogether from economic activity. Embracing 3D printing wholeheartedly can help companies meet the Manifesto’s directive for organisations to become “stewards of the environmental and material universe for future generations.”

Considering the Skills Gap in the Era of Rapid Innovation

Rapid innovation and the digitisation of analogue processes are tenets of the Industry 4.0. As we move through this decade, millions of new tech-oriented jobs will be created, often without enough qualified candidates to fill them.

READ: Powering Additive Manufacturing With Data Analytics

To address this disparity, businesses will need to make it their mission to retrain current employees and contribute to educational institutions to ensure the next wave of entrepreneurs and workers are ready for the inevitable changes coming to the manufacturing sector. This investment in new and deepening skills will create a pathway for the profound ideas and solutions our global well-being depends on right now.

This is a time to celebrate change and a commitment to technologies that will make life better and more sustainable for everyone across this region.

 

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Driving the Next Industrial Revolution

 

 

 

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Coronavirus Outbreak Reveals The Weakest Links In The Supply Chain

Coronavirus Outbreak Reveals the Weakest Links In The Supply Chain

For many firms, the outbreak of COVID-19 has meant staff working from home and more use of teleconferencing rather than face to face meetings. However, it’s a different situation for manufacturers because, despite investments in automation, reducing the need for staff on assembly lines, they still need to receive raw materials. The impact of Coronavirus is both global and unpredictable, and the supply chain shock it is causing will most definitely and substantially cut into the worldwide manufacturing revenue of US$15 trillion currently forecasted for 2020 by global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.

READ: Coronavirus Hits Automotive And Aerospace Supply Chains

The virus will have both short- and long-term ramifications for manufacturers. “Initially, plant managers and factory owners will be looking to secure supplies and be getting an appreciation of constraints further up the supply chain plus how much influence they have on their suppliers,” explains Michael Larner, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.

In the longer term, manufacturers will need to conduct an extensive due diligence process as they need to understand their risk exposure, including the operations of their supplier’s suppliers too. “To mitigate supply chain risks, manufacturers should not only not source components from a single supplier but also, as COVID-19 has highlighted, shouldn’t source from suppliers in a single location,” Larner advises.

READ: Light In Thailand’s Economy Despite Coronavirus Outbreak

In software applications in the manufacturing setting, ABI Research forecasts that the supply chain impact of Covid-19 will spur manufacturer’s spend on enterprise resource planning (ERP) to reach US$14 billion in 2024. While many ERP platforms include modules for inventory control and supply chain management, in light of the outbreak, many manufacturers will also turn to specialist providers. Larner adds, “Supply chain orchestration requires software to be more than a system of record and provide risk analysis and run simulations, enabling manufacturers to understand and prepare for supply chain shocks.”

Industry 4.0 has received much attention; however, the focus has been on the activities inside the factory gates. “But investments in robotics or IoT sensors and the like assume that assembly lines receive a steady flow of raw materials. COVID-19 demonstrates that manufacturers need to be as focused on their supplier’s capabilities as they are on their factory floor,” Larner concludes.

 

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Hexagon And Ericsson Host Joint Webinar On The Role Of 5G In Industry 4.0

Hexagon And Ericsson Host Joint Webinar On The Role Of 5G In Industry 4.0

Experts in manufacturing and communication technologies discuss how 5G networks help drive digital transformation within the manufacturing sector.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and Ericsson, in media partnership with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), will be holding a webinar on 16 April 2020 on how 5G supports Industry 4.0 deployments.

Hexagon and Ericsson are partnering to make manufacturing smarter by simplifying the capture, transfer and use of data for our customers.

Sasidhar Yalavarthi, Industrial Ecosystem Manager, and Erik Josefsson, Vice President and Head of Advanced Industries at Ericsson, and Sachin Mathur, Head of Partnership Programs Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division will discuss how 5G wireless networks facilitate greater automation and data-driven decision-making in the manufacturing sector.

Sachin Mathur says: “We’re excited to be partnering with Ericsson on helping our customers create manufacturing operations that are smarter, more flexible and more productive. Digital transformation depends on secure data exchange. With reliable, low-latency, high-bandwidth wireless networks our customers can connect multiple machines, sensors and systems across even the largest sites in a way that suits their individual productivity needs.”

Register here to join the webinar on 16 April 2020!

 

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Fibre Laser Or CO2 Laser—Which Will Prevail?

Fibre Laser or CO2 Laser—Which Will Prevail?

Many processes in the sheet metal industry are developing rapidly. Laser cutting, for example. In this interview, Johan Elster, Bystronic’s Head of Business Unit Markets, explains where the journey is headed.

Johan Elster

Nowadays, sheet metal is cut using both fibre lasers and CO2 lasers. how will these two technologies develop?

Johan Elster (JE): Over the past few years, the fibre laser has experienced massive technological advances. We launched our first cutting system with fibre laser technology in 2010. Since then, the output power has grown six-fold. Our current top-of-the-line model, the ByStar Fiber, has an output of twelve kilowatts. This progress has also resulted in a massive expansion in the range of applications. Initially, fibre laser technology was suitable only for thin sheet metal; but today, fibre lasers can be used to cut sheet metal thicknesses of 40 mm and beyond.

READ: Laser Cutting In An 8-metre Format

For a long time, thick sheet metal was considered the domain of CO2 lasers. is this no longer true?

JE: The CO2 laser still possesses good characteristics for the cutting of thick sheet steel. It also allows good results to be achieved in terms of the price per part. Nevertheless, its market share has decreased significantly in recent years; today our sales of CO2 systems are almost negligible.

So, fiber lasers are now the preferred solution for many sheet metal processing companies. what is the key to the success of fiber laser technology?

JE: Fibre lasers achieve up to five times higher cutting speeds than CO2 lasers and exhibit three times the energy efficiency. The operating and maintenance costs are also considerably lower. The fibre laser offers highest cutting speeds, an attractive cost-performance ratio, high cutting quality, and increased flexibility.

READ: Bystronic On Flexible Automation

Flexibility as a competitive advantage?

JE: Absolutely. Around 70 to 80 percent of our customers are job shops that do not produce any products of their own. They must be prepared to deal with a broad spectrum of orders. Manufacturing a wide variety of parts at the lowest possible cost and in the desired quality is what their business is all about. Fibre lasers make this possible. The ByStar Fiber cuts stainless steel, aluminium, non-ferrous metals, mild steel—and all of these from the thin to thick range of material.

High-performance fiber lasers are all-rounders; what are the most important criteria when selecting their power output?

JE: The criteria vary from customer to customer. Companies that primarily cut thin sheet metal can usually get by with three, four, or six kilowatts. Users that frequently cut in the medium range, for example mild steel between 6 and 15 mm, and want to use nitrogen as the cutting gas, are optimally served with ten or twelve kilowatts. For large companies, the output of the laser is obviously the most important factor for the efficient processing of large batches. Here, the higher output has a significant effect on both speed and profitability.

READ: The Carefree Package For The Entry Into Bending

What does the higher cutting speed mean for the overall production chain?

JE: In fact, the challenge with the latest generation of fiber lasers is to keep up with the loading and unloading. Hence, as a general rule, it makes sense to combine fiber lasers with an automation system. Our ‘ByTrans Extended’ and ‘ByTrans Cross’ loading and unloading systems take automation to the next level. Many small and medium-sized companies are currently in the process of progressively automating their production processes. We are experiencing an increased demand, in particular for sorting solutions. Nowadays, our customers no longer want to sort manually. For this, we offer our highly flexible BySort solution.

What can customers who want to increase their level of automation expect from Bystronic?

JE: As a general rule, our customers have a great deal of expertise in their core processes. We can help identify customer-specific bottlenecks: For example, we can find out where time is being wasted or where there is potential for improvement. This requires all the processes to be analyzed. We build on this and show what options are available to customers to optimize their production processes. Frequently, our customers are interested in compact cells that combine efficiency and flexibility. Accordingly, our solutions are configurable – not only in terms of hardware, but also with regard to software.

READ: Sustainable Manufacturing Thanks To Fiber Lasers And Automation

How can companies digitalise their production?

JE: This must be implemented step by step. Nowadays many suppliers offer a range of processes: cutting, bending, welding, etc. Regardless of how many processes are involved, it is possible to digitalize. We can help network our customers’ production environments in a gradual and process-specific manner using suitable software solutions.

What is the role of laser cutting in the context of Industry 4.0?

JE: Laser cutting is just one building block in a smart factory. Intelligent and networked production encompasses all the processes of a sheet metal processing company, in particular also those upstream and downstream of the production process: calculations, the preparation of offers, production planning, etc. A manufacturing execution system (MES) controls the production line. This enables production processes to be optimized fully automatically by comprehensively evaluating the data generated during the individual processes and optimizing the processes for the following orders.

READ: Bystronic Releases Entry Level Solution For Bending

There are hurdles that must be overcome on the path towards networked production—which of these is the most challenging?

JE: Since with regard to interfaces, our industry does not have the kind of standards as those found in the IT world, the integration of a variety of different machines into a networked system is very challenging. As a result, the process flow of each individual customer must be taken into consideration.

Bystronic is the only supplier that also integrates third-party machines. what are the reasons for this decision?

JE: We are convinced: The customer wants to be able to pick and choose the best solutions. In our view, suppliers that only integrate their proprietary products are following an outdated approach. For example, no supplier’s portfolio currently includes paint finishing systems. But it is precisely this process step that many customers also want to integrate. What is more, our customers generally already have machines that they wish to integrate into an overall system. This is why it is clear to us: Optimizing a production environment and achieving a higher level of overall efficiency requires not only expertise, but above all openness.

 

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Additive Manufacturing And Journey To Industry 4.0

Additive Manufacturing and Journey to Industry 4.0

Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore discusses the additive manufacturing trend for aerospace parts, and the journey towards Industry 4.0. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Steve Bell

At the recent Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific (ITAP) 2019 event in Singapore, Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd showcased an end-to-end solution involving the production of aerospace blades and its assembly into a blisk. From additive manufacturing, where the aerospace blades were manufactured (Station 1) though metal 3D printing; to the calibration station, which featured Renishaw’s XL80 and XK10 calibration products, designed to make sure that machining processes are as accurate as they can be; to Station 3, which featured a machine tool showing some of Renishaw’s probing technologies, particularly SupaScan, which is a method of using a scanning probe on a machine tool to gather data quickly, and enables set up of a part very accurately. Alongside the machine tool is the Equator gauging system, which makes sure that parts being finished on the machine tool stay within tolerance. Finally, Station 4 showcases the final assembly of the blades into a blisk, which is being inspected on a CMM using a REVO 5-axis scanning technology.

“Basically, we’re looking at a complete, end-to-end story of the part,” says Steve Bell, general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw Singapore. “All of that supplemented by Renishaw Central, a software product that allows you to gather data from the complete mix of Renishaw equipment; and from there, to use the data to make intelligent decisions about your manufacturing processes.

According to Bell, it is the first time for company to attend ITAP. “We heard good things about last year’s ITAP event, so we decided to take part this year,” he says. “What we are seeing is that it is very much focused on automation, smart factory, Industry 4.0—these are all things that are of interest to us as a company. Industry 4.0 is all about connectivity of your equipment, getting useful information from the equipment, and then using that information to make sensible decisions about how you continue your manufacturing process. And all of that is very much what Renishaw is about.”

Growing Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry in Singapore is a growing market, according to Bell. “It is very much an industry niche within Singapore,” he says.

The challenge, though, is the accuracy, the need for conformity of parts, and the need to reach the approval levels that are essential within the industry.

“The tolerances are constantly getting tighter, so, people are looking for improvements in performance, they are looking for faster, more consistent ways to manufacture parts,” he notes. “These areas are where we think we have a lot to contribute.”

An evolution in the manufacture of aerospace parts is taking place, especially with the emergence of 3D printing. In fact, the blades showcased here by Renishaw feature a hollow lattice-structured central section. “The aim is to make the blades strong, but also as light as possible,” says Bell.

Journey to Industry 4.0

ITAP covers the full gamut of industry—from top level factory management systems, all the way down to shop floor tooling.

“Industry 4.0 is meant to bring all of the diverse parts together, to bring the data on to one single platform where decisions can be made,” says Bell. “So, I think, an exhibition that reflects that, with a focus on Industry 4.0, makes a lot of sense to us.”

According to Bell, people have been talking a lot about Industry 4.0, “but the first signs of real implementation are just beginning to be seen,” he says. The picture across Southeast Asia is quite mixed. While some markets are moving rapidly to Industry 4.0, for others, it is going to take longer toward smart factory implementation.

“I look after Southeast Asia. In Singapore, a lot of the heavy lifting has been done by the Singapore government, so they are pushing the SMEs towards an understanding of Industry 4.0, and hopefully, also implementation. From our point of view as a company, our first requirement is to make sure that our own equipment can be integrated into central systems ; we need to have all the hooks in place so that the data from our equipment can be ported into other factory management systems. That’s exactly what we are trying to showcase at this exhibition.”

 

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