Who needs manufacturing? Apparently not the U.S., according to San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams. Speaking at El Camino High School in South San Francisco, California, in April, Williams said that the economy will rely increasingly on services, not manufacturing, and that work in healthcare and education is where U.S. workers excel.
Without manufacturing, the U.S. would have to rely on other countries for everything. Without manufacturing, many individuals wouldn’t be working in careers where they could put their talents to use. Without manufacturing, the U.S. would be turning its back on an industry vital to prosperity – one where analysts predict between 2 million and 3.5 million jobs will need filling in the next 10 years. And manufacturing is strong and growing. April industrial production jumped 1% from a month earlier, the largest gain in more than three years while capacity use, a measure of slack in the economy, increased 0.6 percentage point to 76.7% – staying slightly below the long-run average of 79.9%.
Americans do believe manufacturing is vital to the U.S., with 8 out of 10 noting its importance in maintaining the “American Way of Life” in the sixth U.S. public opinion of manufacturing study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute (https://goo.gl/e7johc). However, the survey shows there’s still is some negative stigma with the industry – one-third say they wouldn’t encourage their children to pursue a career in manufacturing because of worries it doesn’t pay enough, is not a strong career path, and concerns of its security and stability. While manufacturing no longer employs the numbers it used to – down 4.9 million jobs in the past 20 years – the good news is 67% believe manufacturing careers are interesting and rewarding, which they are, plus manufacturing is strong.
Knowing that manufacturing is a high-tech field, 88% of survey respondents believe the jobs require high technical skills, and 76% support additional U.S. investment in the industry. Parents of school-age children, Gen X, and those familiar with manufacturing rank it as their No. 1 industry; 69% believe it should be a national priority.
So, while it has been a slow process in changing the public’s antiquated ideas about a career in manufacturing, a positive perception is developing. Much of that is due to the growth of programs and events that introduce younger generations to today’s manufacturing environment. More companies are offering internships, work-study, and apprenticeships which, together with skill competitions, facility visitation days, and student days at trade shows put manufacturing in the right light to see it for what it is – a cutting edge industry embracing technology and automation that needs creative individuals from the start of a design through the finished product.
So, as manufacturing is being seen with a better, fresher image, how is your company helping build excitement about advanced manufacturing technologies and careers?
Let me know at email@example.com.~Elizabeth
Timely repair or replacement of equipment is critical for medical device manufacturers investing in engineering, fabrication, finishing, assembly, digital design, prototyping systems, automated fabrication, CNC finishing, and multi-axis laser-based quality assurance systems.
Maintaining equipment often presents a logistical nightmare that involves farming out components to a variety of specialty repair shops with variable capabilities, quality, pricing, and turnaround time. In response, the repair industry continues to broaden capabilities to provide a more one-stop-shop repair service to simplify the process.
Medical device manufacturing equipment uses a variety of spindles, spindle motors, arbors, and tools. A range of mechanical or hydraulic components and sophisticated electronic control elements also display real-time status information. Alarm monitoring and critical production-related data for on-the-fly analysis of events, system troubleshooting, and process improvement are also common.
Repair shops tend to specialize – a hydraulic component repair shop may not have the capability to also repair motors; a motor repair shop may not replace power supplies; and robotic equipment must usually be repaired at a dedicated facility.
However, these services can converge with larger repair service companies that offer an array of services under one roof – repair or replacement of components from mechanical to hydraulic. K+S Services repairs electronic components including replacement of controller cards for power supply, input/output (I/O), communication, and memory, as well as human machine interface (HMI) control panels.
Regardless of the type of part, it is important to look for a repair company that will conduct an initial evaluation to identify the probable cause of failure and then repair and test the part to the manufacturer’s specifications.
K+S Services operates 12 facilities globally to remain near manufacturers, enabling faster repairs for customers. Beyond standard services, repair service companies often offer specialized programs, similar to K+S’ Smart Total Asset Management Program (STAMP). STAMP assigns a full-time, on-site account manager to serve as a one-stop facilitator and manager of all repairable assets within a specific plant.
K+S Services Inc.
Do your shoes hurt your feet? Normally a person will shift his or her weight to take the pressure off the sore area. However, in people with diabetes, the nerve endings in the foot often become atrophied, numbing those affected. This can lead to pressure points and wounds that don’t always heal properly. Custom-made insoles by orthopedic shoemakers offer some relief by placing soft material around the injury. Until now, it hasn’t been possible to collect data surrounding insoles – since each insole is a one-off item.
Digitalizing insole manufacturing
Researchers from the German Fraunhofer Institutes for Mechanics of Materials (IWM) and for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) are collaborating with industry partners on digitalization, with funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
“Digital foot mapping is already common practice. As part of this project, we have now also digitalized the insole production process,” says IWM scientist Dr. Tobias Ziegler. “Using newly developed software, the orthopedic shoemaker can design an insole for a patient and print out the result on a 3D printer.”
Advantages of the LAUF project, a German acronym for making customized footwear with laser-assistance, are that mechanical properties of each insole become apparent. Health insurance companies gain valuable data, and insole production costs can be reduced.
A year ago, composites companies Covestro and Lehmann&Voss&Co. laid the foundations for 3D printing insoles. These industry partners were the first to develop a soft material for 3D printing using thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Working with UMSICHT experts, they are now developing other types of TPU, expected to be even more suitable for orthopedic insoles.
Meanwhile, IWM scientists have been optimizing the 3D structures required of TPU when used for insoles. How soft or rigid insoles are depends on the material and how it is shaped.
“First, we think about structures – straight rods, crooked arms, or triangles, for instance – then we produce a computer model of them, key in the data for material, and simulate how rigid the result is under pressure,” Ziegler explains. “By altering the structure type, we can determine the insole rigidity.”
The IWM team uses application-oriented load simulations to resolve which structures are needed and where. They test the material’s load-bearing strength and expected lifespan.
He also uses this approach in relation to other materials and structures for 3D printing. Data relating to different insoles is next sent to Fraunhofer IWM’s industrial partners rpm - rapid product manufacturing GmbH and Sintermask. The company’s 3D printers print them via selective laser sintering. Another partner, Explius, is responsible for processing the 3D data. Fraunhofer UMSICHT is responsible for optimizing and testing the printing process. Once an insole has been printed, Fraunhofer IWM tests points of failure using tensile, abrasion, and bending.
In a few years, IWM scientists hope this software will be available to orthopedic technicians through IETEC, a member of the project.
LAUF project partners include Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM; Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT; IETEC Orthopädische Einlagen GmbH Produktions KG; Covestro AG; Lehmann&Voss&Co. KG; rpm - rapid product manufacturing GmbH; Sintermask GmbH; and Explius GmbH.
The Rapid Response web-based service from MW Industries guides product designers and engineers to the right solution when specifying springs, wire forms, metal stampings, fasteners, or other precision metal components for their products.
Rapid Response connects customers to multiple problem-solving engineers so the right technical solution can be found. Users can make a query on MW Industries’ website and, if made during business hours, response is received within the hour. If a potential match exists, a quote, proposal, or other response is provided in two days. www.mw-ind.com
Pneumatics for Industry 4.0
Festo Motion Terminal VTEM features apps that can replace more than 50 individual components, as a result of piezo technology and software. Piezo technology and integrated stroke and pressure sensors are controlled via motion apps. Changes in pneumatic functions and adaptations to new formats are also controlled via apps by changing parameters. Integrated intelligent sensors for control, diagnostics, and self-learning tasks eliminate the need for additional components.
When the VTEM is launched, 10 functions will be available via motion apps; from basic modification of the directional control valve functions to energy-efficient motion, and from proportional behavior to different motion profiles – using the same valve hardware.
Festo Motion Terminal VTEM permits fast and powerful movements and leakage diagnostics at lower costs than current solutions. Fewer controllers are required compared with electrical solutions since one controller can control up to eight movements with the VTEM. Energy consumption is also reduced, and the required installation space is decreased by up to 65%. www.festo.com/motionterminal
ACS Motion Control joins forces with PI
Motion control and nanopositioning systems company PI (Physik Instrumente) acquired 80% of Israel-based ACS Motion Control, a developer and manufacturer of controllers and drives for multi-axis systems. The investment gives PI the ability to offer tailored systems that can be integrated into a variety of automation environments.
Control any robot, tend any machine, from any location
Tend’s in.control (intelligent control) hardware-agnostic, smart-cloud, robotics software platform allows remote control, monitoring, and analysis of robot and production equipment performance from mobile devices. in.control enables robots to read and respond to human-machine interface (HMI) screens, perform quality assurance (QA) inspections, and monitor part status. Analytic dashboards provide a real-time view into the status of robots, machines, and specific jobs.
The system uses basic USB cameras to allow robots to interface visually with machines without the need for networking or integration.
“The one thing that all industrial machines have in common is that they were designed to interface visually with human beings,” explains Tend CEO Mark Silliman. “So, while we’re all looking forward to the day when machines can communicate more directly with one other, visual cues provide the best way for us to make those connections today, while creating a path forward to an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) reality.” www.tend.ai