Challenging the elements and pushing the boundaries of the physically possible, the oil and gas industry is a tough, competitive business that requires near-zero tolerances and equally tough, never-let-you-down products.
A truly global industry, oil and gas upstream exploration and production takes place on all seven continents, major oceans, and deepest seas worldwide. It is a driving force of the global economy. The exploration and production pressures and temperatures are intense, the stakes are high, and error can be catastrophic. Premium pipes, seals, valves, wellheads, couplings, and connectors are essential. Dependable metalworking fluids ensure manufacturers can compete in the highly competitive arena of the oil and gas business to produce 100% reliable pipes and dependable parts efficiently and profitably.
Innovative solutions are the driving force for the continuous creation of added value. In this respect the cooperation between science and industry plays a central role. A good example is the cooperation of the research department technological planning and grinding technologies at the machine tool institute WZL at the RWTH Aachen university (Germany) with the Rösler Oberflächentechnik in the field of mass finishing.
The RWTH Aachen is one of the 11 German universities that are recognised as “universities of excellence”. For decades the machine tool institute, one of the largest and oldest establishments at the Aachen university, has been a globally recognised beacon for future-focused research in the field of manufacturing technologies. One reason for this success has been the close cooperation between the four academic sectors “measuring technologies in manufacturing”, “quality management”, “manufacturing systems” and “manufacturing and machine tool technologies” combined with a balanced mix of basic and practical research.
Marius Ohlert, project manager for grinding technologies in the field technology planning and grinding methods, that is integrated in the academic sector manufacturing technologies, comments: “Through the close cooperation with a variety of industrial companies we make sure that our research projects are based on industrial needs and that the results can be quickly transformed into practical results”.
The mass finishing technology is a widely used system for all kinds of surface refinement tasks such as deburring, edge radiusing, surface smoothing, polishing, descaling and de-rusting. Despite the importance of this technology for many industries most mass finishing processes are still based on the knowhow of experienced experts. Mr. Ohlert describes one research goal as follows: “With our basic research we want to achieve that mass finishing processes are knowledge-based, thus allowing a quicker, more efficient and goal-oriented process development. For this purpose, we study in detail the physical effects of the various mass finishing methods”.
The wide range of milling discs, special techniques when milling by hand, as well as the use with hand angle millers and in (partially) automated processes. The milling discs are available in the three different kinds “milling disc”, “double sided milling disc” and “doubleworker”, which aim different areas of application.
For all of those the following applies:
The surfaces processed with the discs are metallic bright, and therefore prevent cavities while welding. While working, the discs produce neither (unhealthy) dust nor heat, and thus no structural changes that come with heat. The amount of material removed and the fineness of the result depend on the toothing. The fewer teeth, the coarser the chips and the greater the amount of material removed. The more teeth a disc has, the finer the chips and the smoother the surface, but less material is removed. The specific toothing depends on the material to be machined and the disc size.
The discs can be used for the following tasks:
The milling disc gets used for bevelling, deburr and flatten as well as working out weld roots.
The double sided milling disc (DMD) is used to open weld roots, according to the literal translation of the German original description, that would be “weld root opener”. Due to the teeth geometry, it is not made for the tasks performed by a single sided milling disc.
The Doubleworker (DW) combines the scope of single and double sided milling discs, without the need to frequently change the tools. The teeth geometry of the double sided milling disc had been adjusted to resolve the problem of chips getting stuck in the chip chamber.
Maija-Frästechnik GmbH, founded in 2012, develops, produces and sells high-quality milling tools made of hard metal. The company owns the patent for milling discs, which was registered in 2000 by the later company founder.
When asked which of the traditional five senses they would most regret not having, human beings generally choose sight. Is the same true for industrial equipment? In this article, John Young of EU Automation looks at some of the latest trends in machine vision in metalworking.
The global machine vision market is worth approximately $9.6 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 percent over the next five years, according to research by MarketsandMarkets. In the APAC region, demand is being boosted by manufacturers turning to artificial intelligence (AI), Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), all of which benefit from machine vision capabilities.
Definitions of machine vision vary, but most involve the idea of using technology to extract information from images on an automated basis. Machine vision does not refer to a single piece of technology, but rather to multiple technologies, hardware, software and integrated systems.
Deployed in the right way, machine vision can help automate the repetitive and dull tasks traditionally carried out by human workers. For example, sorting parts on a conveyor by colour. Machine vision allows these jobs to be performed at higher speed and with greater consistency, resulting in more efficient quality control, reduced waste and higher yields for manufacturers.
Machine vision technology has been used in manufacturing applications since the 1980s, but there have been barriers to more widespread adoption. Traditionally, perhaps the two key difficulties for manufacturers contemplating adopting machine vision have been cost and the difficulty of installation. As well as being prohibitively expensive in many instances, the equipment often needed a trained and specialized system integrator to set it up.
The latest generation of machine vision technology has gone a long way towards solving these dilemmas by providing systems that are vastly less expensive and much quicker and easier to install. Furthermore, while some machine vision systems might have required hours of ‘training’, which involves feeding images of defective and non-defective parts to the system to allow it to improve its identification capacity, modern technology incorporates machine learning algorithms. This introduces a substantial level of automation into the process.
Another traditional hurdle for the adoption of machine vision in quality control has been the complexity of identifying defects. Take aluminium as an example. Distinguishing between genuine defect and an appropriate level of variation in this alloy is more difficult because of variations in colour and other properties of the material. Many manufacturers would persist with manual inspection, even when inspection errors were made in a quarter of all cases.
Today, machine vision technology is sophisticated enough to make it a commercially viable alternative to human inspection even in more difficult scenarios such as these. Although well-suited to inspection and quality control, modern machine vision systems are multi-purpose and multifunctional. Machine vision can simultaneously offer other benefits like checking OCR codes or monitoring factory equipment as part of a predictive maintenance program.
Automation in metalworking is growing and this growth is strongest in the APAC region. Cobots, or collaborative robots that can work safely alongside human workers, are a good example of this. Cobots are a key area of development in metalworking and are finding new uses in applications like welding, assembly and sorting.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on the global manufacturing supply chain. For instance, factory shutdowns have drastically impacted the metalworking supply chain around the car and auto parts manufacturing industries. While the medical equipment sector is experiencing massive demand, the grounding of airline fleets is expected to put a dent in the MRO industry—at least those segments involving metalworks.
In line with our continuing coverage of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, we at Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) are conducting the following brief survey regarding the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak to your business. Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated and will help ensure we are providing you and the industry with the best content possible.
Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News sat down with Jeff Boyd of Sutton Tools to talk about trends and opportunities in the cutting tools market, and some of the product innovations at the company. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
Established in 1917, Sutton Tools is a family owned company manufacturing cutting tools for the metal cutting industry. The company supplies tools to end-user markets including automotive, medical, mining, power generation, aerospace, defence, and the oil and gas industries. Founded by William Henry Sutton, the company is currently managed by the fourth-generation Sutton family.
At the recent EMO Hannover 2019 trade fair in Germany, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News sat down with Jeff Boyd, export manager at Sutton Tools, to talk about trends and opportunities in the cutting tools market, and some of the product innovations at the company.
Tells us about yourself and your role in the company.
Jeff Boyd (JB): I have a background in product engineering and technical R&D. That kind of matured into a more of a technical role in the field. In 2011, I headed up to Singapore, where I ran the company’s operation and distribution centre. I was there for nearly five years, running the Asian markets. Currently, my role is to support our teams globally, and bring the necessary market information back to our head office to support our production facility.
We offer a wide range of solutions for the metal cutting industry. We have a division in Europe, based in the Netherlands, which supplies the European region; and then from our Melbourne, Australia headquarters, we are very focused on the Asian market, where we supply various engineered cutting tools, to increase the end-users’ productivity. We have salespeople located in all the major markets in Europe and Asia. And for a company our size, that’s probably where we mainly focus on. In these markets, we have a particular focus on aerospace machining of difficult high strength materials and automotive tapping.
What challenges are you seeing in the industry?
JB: Every market has a different challenge. If I bring it down to one thing, it is finding the right people in those markets. People that are engaged in the market, and have very good relationships, because, we know we have a very good, very stable product at a competitive price and the right quality. But at the end of the day, you really need the right people that you can trust to be able to really find the right solution to offer the customer, to bring the benefit to the customer; to bring these products to them.
What opportunities are you seeing in southeast asia?
JB: I would say Southeast Asia has a very strong aerospace/aviation market. Our experiences and successes in the machining of titaniums and Inconels, particularly in the French aerospace markets over the past few years, have allowed us to leverage this knowledge and open up a number of new opportunities for Sutton Tools in Southeast Asia. That said, automotive tapping applications in Thailand and Indonesia is also of particular interest, when it comes to thread forming of forged steel components.
JB: We have a number of customers, particularly in China, for electric vehicles (EVs), and, you know, a lot of materials there are silicon-based aluminium. We have very good solutions for producing threads when it comes to forming taps for those materials. As the internal combustion engine is seeing a demise, we are focusing on EVs, and diversifying our offer; focusing from an engineering point of view on those materials necessary to produce the electric vehicles.
What products are you highlighting here at the show?
JB: We are highlighting industry-based solutions here, so we have a program for super alloy materials for the aerospace industry. In terms of machining, we have a very good carbide grade and geometry ideal for high metal removal rates with dynamic type machining strategies. We have done a lot of independent testing with our tools, and we have about three sales guys in south of France supporting the market there for the subcontractors to Airbus, which is really seeing a lot of growth in the market, particularly this year. That’s a very important area for this exhibition for us.
But we are also showcasing some new products ready for 2020. We’ve recently purchased some new equipment to produce extra-long series carbides drills. We’re releasing a range of 15xD, 20xD and 30xD carbide drills in 2020, as well as a lot of our taps for automotive tapping applications.
The cutting tools market is very competitive. what makes your products unique in the market?
JB: Sutton Tools is flexible in the way we go about our business. We really like to work with the customers, and the end-users. We are very focused on talking to the end user, understanding what their challenges are, and we try to be flexible enough to offer a solution in that way.
You mentioned you were in philippines recently. what are the opportunities you are seeing in that market?
JB: I was in the Philippines for the PDMEX 2019 event, to support our distributor there. We have a couple of aerospace customers and a few automotive customers in the Philippines. It is kind of similar, the aerospace companies based there are very much machining exotic materials including titanium; and we have a very good relationship with them for many years. There are also quite a few automotive customers, again for tapping. And they are our two strengths, really. We like to do things really well, and we put a lot of our resources into supporting the brand.
It will be Milan to welcome the next edition of EMO, the world machine tool exhibition, alternately hosted in Italy and Germany and considered as the leading trade show for the operators of the world manufacturing industry.
Promoted by CECIMO, the European Association of Machine Tool Industries, EMO MILANO 2021 will take place at fieramilano Rho from 4 to 9 October.
Undisputed leader in the scenario of the exhibitions regarding the sector, EMO represents the articulated world of metalworking in the best way, combining vision and innovation, as proven by the data of the previous Italian edition (EMO MILANO 2015), hosting 1,600 exhibiting companies, on an exhibit area of 120,000 sq. m. and registering over 155,000 visits of operators coming from 120 countries.
Metal forming and metal cutting machine tools, production systems, enabling technologies, solutions for interconnected and digital factories and additive manufacturing will be among the products and solutions spotlighted at EMO MILANO 2021, which will transform fieramilano Rho into the biggest digital factory ever set up within an exhibition fairground.
The international origin of exhibitors is the highlight of EMO MILANO, (in 2015 foreign exhibitors were 68 percent of the total). This international presence will appeal to visitors from any part of the world, who have always considered EMO as an unmissable opportunity for technical-professional updating and for observing the technological trends characterising the production of the future.
In this sense, EMO is an exhibition event capable, like no other, of interpreting the industrial “spirit of the age” and, at the same time, of presenting the most futuristic technologies for the development and wellbeing of society, to such an extent that it can be considered the place that showcases “the magic world of metalworking” – as highlighted in the slogan chosen for EMO MILANO 2021.
Todd Abrahams of Monitor ERP System talks about why the metalworking industry should adopt ERP systems in the manufacturing line.
Monitor ERP System AB was established in 1974 by Åke Persson in Hudiksvall, Sweden. The company provides complete ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems optimized for manufacturing companies. The company also provides training, consulting and support services. It currently has about 260 employees, most of whom are based in Sweden, and is represented in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Malaysia, and China.
Todd Abrahams, business development director for Monitor ERP in Penang, Malaysia, talks about why the metalworking industry need to adopt ERP systems in the manufacturing line in this interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News.
What are some of the major drivers for growth for monitor ERP?
Todd Abrahams (TA): Monitor has always focused on production management solutions for the manufacturing industry. Our operations in the ASEAN region have doubled year on year for the past five years, and 2019 doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
The main driver for growth is the need for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to improve how they operate. The global landscape is becoming ever more competitive, driving the need for companies to collect better operational data to help improve their competitive advantage through higher levels of customer service, and better control of their cost of production. Monitor ERP is the enabler for this change.
Why should the metalworking industry adopt ERP systems?
TA: The metalworking industry, just as any other, has the need to service their customer base with a high level of service and cost control in order to sustain and grow from profitability.
What manufacturing trends are driving the need to adopt ERP systems?
TA: ERP has been around for decades, just in different fashions. Today, the topic on the tip of everyone’s tongue is Industry 4.0. This discussion is causing confusion for many SMEs operating in the ASEAN region. For many, they have operated on manual processes for years, never thinking about investing in an ERP system, or following the understanding that the required investment for such a system was out of their grasp.
Now, the pace of the competitive landscape is increasing, and many SMEs are realizing the time for change is now if they are to secure a sustainable operating model for the future of their business.
What about the smaller job shops, how would they justify the need to invest in ERP systems?
TA: It really depends on the characteristics of the market and customer they chose to serve. But, if they recognize the need to increase their level of service, then it’s a must to operate with through a system like MONITOR.
When you talk to your customers, what usually comes out as their top manufacturing challenge?
TA: Our customers are usually concerned with their ability to address their customers’ needs at the right time, price, and level of quality. Our customers coming off of manual operations find that a centralized point of information is a major contributor to departments making decisions, which are more accurate.
Monitor ERP is used to help manufacturing companies produce what their customers demand, deliver it at the right time, and achieve optimal profitability.
What forces do you see driving the ERP industry?
TA: It’s now more difficult than ever before for SMEs to operate and compete globally or even domestically without an operational system in place.
What’s the latest innovations in ERP systems?
TA: Modern ERP system are offering the ability to integrate with machines on the shop floor, and APIs to enable connectivity to external complimentary systems like CAD systems, or high-bay storage systems.
What trends do you see as you look out at the metalworking industry as a whole?
TA: I think additive manufacturing is the future for the metalworking industry. When you look at some of the designs that can come from an alloy 3D printing machine, it’s amazing. This will lead to a next level of innovation traditionally not capable with CNC technology.
What advice can you give customers looking for ERP solutions? What key factors should they consider?
TA: Domain knowledge is key. Try to align with someone who understands your business, and who can offer best practice knowledge built over years of experience gained specifically in your industry.
In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore provides his insights into and outlook for the Vietnam and Philippine metalworking industry.
Steve Bell is the general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd. In this interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), we talk about Renishaw’s activities, and his outlook on the metalworking industry markets of Vietnam and the Philippines.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW TO THIS INDUSTRY, GIVE US A BRIEF BACKGROUND ON RENISHAW.
Steve Bell (SB): Renishaw is a long-established UK company. Our core activities primarily involve inspection and manufacturing process control. We have many solutions and technologies which help to apply high levels of automation and connectivity to fit any manufacturing process. This in turn boosts the efficiency and quality of manufacturing. These include probes used to set up and inspect parts on machine tools, tool setters and advanced 5 axis probing systems designed to check dimensions of components on CMMs.
Our machine tool systems centre on methodologies to implement in-process control with the aim of increasing throughput and improving quality. We branch into other essential areas like calibration—we have many products connected with machine setup, because unless the machines are set up properly, no matter what you do, you will never make the products right. Our calibration products include the XK10 alignment laser used during machine build, the XL80 calibration laser system and the popular QC20W ball-bar employed to do regular health checks on machine performance.
Moving on, we have the Equator automated measuring gauge, which has been designed for use in a production environment. It is used for immediate checking of parts coming off a machine tool as an alternative to manual or custom gauging. Intelligent Process Control (IPC) allows Equator to inspect a part, gather data from the inspection and use that data to update the tool offsets on the machine tool controller to ensure that future parts stay in tolerance. That’s a very efficient way to manufacture, where you are not waiting for the end of the process to find out that something’s wrong; you are making sure parts stay correct all the way through the process.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TRENDS YOU ARE SEEING?
SB: Basically, everyone wants to make the best products as quickly as possible and as cost effectively as possible. That’s what’s driving the trends in the first place. And one of the significant trends that we are seeing is the drive towards automation. And the reason for automation, from a Renishaw point of view, is its main benefit—consistency of manufacturing.
Deploying automation, systems are programmed in advance, meaning intervention and the possibility of human error is minimised or eliminated.
So, for us, automation is about increasing throughput, but also getting that consistency, which in turn, leads to quality.
WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN THE VIETNAM MARKET?
SB: The biggest challenge for the moment for us is that the market, after many years of being very buoyant, is now a little bit flat. A lot of this, I think, comes from international trade tensions; hopefully that is a relatively short-term problem, and things will get back on track.
But I think the longer-term prognosis is very good. We are going to see substantial growth here, particularly with a lot of manufacturing not necessarily moving out of China, but expanding beyond China, to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.
WHAT ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?
SB: We’ve been active in the Philippines for many years. In particularly, we’ve worked with MESCO, our distributor, for 20-plus years. Frankly speaking, in terms of Southeast Asia, the Philippine market for manufacturing and automation is starting from a fairly low base point compared to, let’s say, Thailand, or some other Southeast Asian countries. But having said that, it is also the fastest growing market in the region from that low base. So, for us, it is an important market to be involved with now, and to start to work with in the future as well.
In the Philippines, what we see are manufacturers of consumer goods arriving—a couple of big brands are already active here in the Philippines—we also see a growing market for automotive subcontractors; so those kinds of companies are interested to streamline their manufacturing, improve quality—the kind of things that we bring through our gauging and in-process products.
Regarding challenges, there have been quite a few over the years in the Philippines where the market has been very flat. But as I said, at this point in time, it is definitely a growing market. We can see a big potential for growth. There are manufacturing investments coming in from Europe, the United States, other parts of Asia, and very often, when these companies are investing and setting up new plants, they are starting from a greenfield site—they are not inheriting previous manufacturing systems. So, because of that, when they do come in, they start at the current level of technology—moving straight into the best practices of manufacturing today, utilising automation, making use of all the latest technologies that are available to them. For us, that’s very exciting.
HOW IS THE MARKET FOR 3D PRINTING OR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING?
SB: That’s also a growing market from small beginnings in ASEAN. Singapore is definitely the leader in this technology for now.
Metal AM is very much a niche market at the moment in the Philippines. We hope to see some growth in the longer term.
The real growth in additive manufacturing will come when users start to think about using the technology for real production—not just design prototypes or research but manufacturing parts on a 24/7 basis—and we’re already seeing that now with some customers in Singapore. That trend is likely to spread out across Asia. In Singapore in particular, we are seeing opportunities in the oil and gas and aerospace sectors.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE INDUSTRY? ARE YOU SEEING A BREAKTHROUGH APPLICATION OR TREND THAT WILL DRIVE THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY FURTHER?
SB: Everyone is driving for the same kind of goals, and I think the key thing that is changing is the push towards automation. Automation means, of course, manufacturing process automation but it also encompasses the associated innovations in collecting and managing actionable data about equipment and devices, processes and parts… all of these contribute towards the smart factory/smart manufacturing concept.
That’s probably the number one trend—automation making possible a drive towards advances in consistency, throughput, product quality and cost-effective manufacturing.