skip to Main Content
The Role Of IoT Technology In The Metal Fabricating Industry

The Role of IoT Technology in the Metal Fabricating Industry

Ultimately, the metalworking industry needs differentiation and tools to help stakeholders to level up their products and services for customers. Here’s how. Article by Helen Masters, INFOR.

Singapore’s government, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has in recent years identified four technology sectors that Singapore needs to build on; one of which is Internet of Things (IoT). For a small country with a population of just 5.64 million, Singapore has truly transformed itself into a hotbed for technology and innovation, becoming a magnet for foreign companies with regional headquarters and being an example for the rest of Southeast Asia.

With IoT technology, metal fabrication companies based in Singapore are in a position to once again lead the rest of the region with value-add to customers and streamline processes. But will adding condition-tracking sensors to equipment be enough? Is IoT technology the cure-all for tight margins, escalating customer demands, volatile pricing, and aggressive competition? Well, that depends.

The Background in a Snapshot

IoT has been generating buzz that spikes then ebbs, like the tides. Grandiose projections for potential economic impact create optimistic swells. Media pundits herald IoT technology as the key driver behind waves of digitalization. But, then, mixed feedback pops up. Some early adopters realize their tidal waves of data need to be aggregated and analyzed further in order to have practical applications. Data overload is a common issue to resolve.

As more and more projects move through proof-of-concept stages, it becomes clear that deploying an IoT plan is not as simple as flipping a switch. Often, several solutions are required in order to achieve the specific results desired. There is, though, one factor common to all successful initiatives: a foundational strategy and plan for data consumption must be in place to avoid data overload. Analytics with built-in artificial intelligence (AI) separates programs with marginal results from ones with game-changing, differentiating outcomes.

How Do Metal Fabricators Avoid Common Mistakes?

When designing programs to leverage IoT technologies, metal fabricators should focus on applications which will bring measurable impact on the bottom line. Because of the industry’s ultra-thin margins, any tactic which helps to control costs and boost productivity will be of value. Those incremental gains, though, may not be enough to be true attention-getters for customers.

Fabricators wanting to differentiate their business from the onslaught of competitors will need to aim for bigger, better, more unique gains in order to impress the highly demanding B2B customer.

Five Tips for Achieving Differentiation Through IoT

  1. Offer Servitisation. If you are a fabricator of industrial components or equipment, offering a product as a service is one of the most dramatic ways to use IoT technology. Thanks to data generated from sensors, you can monitor customer inventory levels at their location, consumption rates of your products, project needed demand, and provide a continuous as-needed supply. This service will help your customers optimize their inventory levels while building a relationship of trust.
  2. Productise Data. Data generated from sensors provides valuable insight about the way in which components are functioning in the field, how assets are performing, ways to improve field conditions, and lifecycle phases of fabricated parts and components. This data can be packaged and offered to customers. It can be a value-add service or a new revenue stream.
  3. Engage Customers. IoT technology can be used to capture and share insights with customers. IoT connectivity and sensor-generated data up-levels the ability to collaborate on component design, test results, and co-monitor fabricated parts through test stages. Even though you may be miles or continents away from you customer, the ability to collect, aggregate, analyze and share condition-based data from anywhere, brings you closer to your customers– when and where they are making decisions.
  4. Manage Volatility. IoT technology can help you monitor the location of delivery trucks, service fleets, shipments of raw materials, and inventory levels in your warehouse—or your customers. Fast changing stock conditions can be monitored in real-time, so timely decisions can be made about shifting inventory between warehouses or re-routing trucks as needed. This agility can be a marketable differentiator.
  5. Extend Asset Lifecycle. Sensors embedded in shop floor assets can be used to collect data about the physical condition of assets, like temperature and vibration, monitoring for early warning signs of maintenance requirements. Staying proactive and maintaining high-value assets properly can enable companies to extend their lifecycle, eliminate unplanned downtime, and improve productivity. This can ultimately improve the accuracy of capacity planning, on-time delivery to customers, and cashflow.

Getting Started

Each of these differentiating tips requires advanced IoT software, including cloud computing, a data lake for aggregating and storing large volumes of data, and analytics for drawing consumable insights from the data. Solutions need to tightly integrate and adhere to modern security protocols. Working with a solution provider or deployment consultant will help you leverage the benefits of experience.

As IoT technology is still relatively new, your internal IT teams will appreciate the help of professionals who are familiar with the complexities of IoT deployment. These experts can help you avoid common pitfalls and overcome any possible roadblocks that arise.

Ultimately, metal fabricators need differentiation and tools to help them level-up their products and service for customers. IoT technology can provide important abilities and help you leverage technology for insight.

But, to truly be effective and reap differentiating-level benefits, metal fabricators need to go beyond the basics. Involve experts to help plan the strategy. Set goals using advanced applications, such as the five listed here, to stand out from the competition. Most importantly, get started now.

 

Check out there articles:

Importance Of Process Control

Smart Data in the Metalworking Industry

Increasing Productivity And Quality Gains Through Digitalisation

Predictive Maintenance and Machine Learning Will Revolutionise Reliability

Adapting Cutting Tools To Changing Trends

 

WANT MORE INSIDER NEWS? SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DIGITAL MAGAZINE NOW!

FOLLOW US ON: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

 

 

Laser Cutting In Manufacturing Process

Laser Cutting In Manufacturing Process

Laser cutting is a fabrication process which employs a focused, high-powered laser beam to cut material into custom shapes and designs. This process is suitable for a wide range of materials, including metal, plastic, wood and glass. Article by Ahmad Alshidiq.

Manufacturers have sought to make the manufacturing process easier and more efficient. By verifying that a design can actually be manufactured early on in the development process, manufacturers can save time and money, and speed up time to market for new products while also ensure optimum productivity.

The development of technologies such as laser cutting have made manufacturing complex products easier. Laser cutters have simplified the process of manufacturing products simpler, rather than simplifying the products themselves, thus allowing for greater complexity in less time — and increased innovation.

L.A.S.E.R

Laser is the acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, which is the main participant in this process, is a beam of heavily intensified light. This beam of light is formed by a single wavelength or single colour.

The laser machines use amplification and stimulation technique to transform electric energy into high density beam of light. The stimulation process happens as the electrons are excited via an external source, mostly an electric arc or a flash lamp.

Focusing the light beam is not so easy. The laser has to go through a specialised lens or any type of curved surface. This focusing part of the laser happens inside the laser-cutting tip. The focusing is crucial to this cutting process because if the beam is not focused concisely, the shape will turn out different.

Laser cutters can be customised to cut nearly any material of any thickness to exact specifications accurately and fast. It is a cleaner process, requires little or no secondary cleanup, can be easily adjusted to meet the changing needs of the product.

The process works by having a focused and precise laser beam run through the material that users are looking to cut, delivering an accurate and smooth finish. Initially, the beam pierces the material with a hole at the edge, and then the beam is continued along from there. The laser melts the material away that it is run over. This means that it can easily cut light materials up to tougher metals and gemstones.

Either a pulsed beam or a continuous wave beam can be used, with the former being delivered in short bursts while the latter works continuously. Users can control the beam intensity, length and heat output depending on the material you are working with, and can also user a mirror or special lens to further focus the laser beam. Laser cutting is a highly accurate process, thanks to high level of control offered; slits with a width as small as 0.1mm can be achieved.

There are three main types of laser cutting: C02, crystal and, more common, fibre laser cutting.

Fibre laser cutting machines have emerged as the technology of choice for sheet metal cutting in the metal fabricating industry. They are able to deliver unrivalled productivity, precision, and cost-effective operation when compared with the cutting technologies that came before them.

Techniques In Cutting Process

There are also several techniques involved with the laser cutting process, according to SPI Laser:

Laser cutting – This is the process of cutting a shape to create smaller sizes, pieces, or more complex shapes.

Laser engraving – The process of removing a layer of a material to leave an engraving below. This is often used for etching barcodes onto items.

Laser marking – Similar to engraving in that a mark is made but the difference being that the mark is only surface level, while an engraving from laser engraving has much more depth.

Laser drilling – Drilling is creating dents or thru-holes on or in the surface of a material.

Laser cutting allows more flexibility in the manufacturing process. A laser operates with a heat intensity, making it possible to cleanly and accurately cut virtually any material, from the strongest alloy all the way down to the thinnest polymers.

Lasers aren’t bound by geometry, so parts do not have to conform to the capabilities of the laser cutter. Because the laser itself never actually touches the part being cut, materials can be oriented in any fashion, which allows them to be cut in any shape or form. In many cases, the precision cuts made by the lasers require little to no post-cut processing, which also speeds up the manufacturing process.

There are, however, some drawbacks, as laser cutting uses more power than other types of cutters and does require more training to do properly, as poorly adjusted lasers can burn materials or fail to cut them cleanly. And while laser cutting does typically cost more than other types of processes, such as wet cutting, the benefits often far outweigh those costs.

Laser Leads the Way

The laser continues to solve more and more manufacturing problems, and process variables such as beam diameter and manipulation continue to have a meaningful impact. It’s no mystery why manufacturers constantly choose laser cutting for their prototype and their final production over any other traditional metal engraving process. With its precise cutting, smooth edge, cost and energy efficiency as well as many other profitable advantages, it seems like the use of laser cutting in different sectors and industries is not likely to decrease in next decade or so. And it is indeed a wise decision to shift from traditional expensive metal cutting technologies to this efficient process of shaping ideas. Advancements in laser technology are sure to be a key component of success in the era of Industrie 4.0.

 

FOLLOW US ON: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

READ MORE IN OUR LATEST ISSUE

WANT MORE INSIDER NEWS? SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DIGITAL MAGAZINE NOW!

 

 

 

Back To Top