Smart manufacturing comes in many forms

The idea of smart manufacturing and smart machines has taken on many forms at IMTS 2018. Whether it’s machines, operations or general philosophy, there are many ways to be smart, but it does come with challenges. Which forms of smart manufacturing will help you?

09/12/2018


The Otto Omega self-driving lift truck from Otto Motors is designed to react to real-time changes on the factory floor and move around obstacles to prevent disruptions in operations. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE MediaThe push for smart manufacturing and increased automation is taking on many different forms at IMTS 2018 at McCormick Place in Chicago. From vehicles to machines to robots—and sometimes a combination of these—the products used on the plant floor are getting smarter. Some of the developments, such as a self-driving lift truck, offer major benefits for a manufacturing industry that is often changing and taking on new forms.

"The way manufacturers do business is constantly changing. Those who adapt have the competitive advantage. Those that don't risk falling behind or risk going out of business." said John Schlemmer, chief operating officer (COO), JAAS Systems Ltd. in his presentation "Trends in Manufacturing — 2018."

Being smart, though, isn't enough for companies looking to improve their bottom line and return on investment (ROI). Knowing the product, their setting on the plant floor, and knowing when and acting to make changes is just as important as creating the appearance of a "smart" manufacturing facility. While technology applications can challenge manufacturers, solutions and ideas displayed and presented at IMTS 2018 shows many possible answers to being smarter. The only wrong answer is not doing anything. 

Self-driving lift truck for material handling operations

The Otto Omega self-driving lift truck from Otto Motors, which is making its debut at IMTS in the East hall, is an example of using technology to make manufacturing operations smarter and safer. It is designed to react to real-time changes on the factory floor and move around obstacles to prevent disruptions in operations.

Matt Rendall, CEO of Otto Motors, talked about the Otto Omega self-driving lift truck at IMTS 2018. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE Media"We wanted to take appropriate steps to ensure safety," said Matt Rendall, CEO of Otto Motors, at a press event on Tuesday. "We want to be sure that our machine can move pallets through busy factories without disruption."

The concept of a self-driving lift truck is not that different from what has been seen with self-driving vehicles.

"We want to get the vehicle to the right place at the right time every time," Rendall said.

The Omega is designed to achieve this with laser scanners and cameras that take accurate pictures of its surroundings several times a second. It also has safety scanners to prevent the robot from hitting people. While this might seem like a lot of hardware, Rendall demonstrated the vehicle's ability to adapt while walking near the robot during the presentation.

Rendall said the goal is to provide products that result in minimal or even zero downtime and being able to adapt on the fly. In today's manufacturing world, it is not enough to be smart. It is vital to keep operations moving without planned or unplanned interruption interruptions. 

Intelligent connected devices for reducing downtime

Jeremy King, a product marketing manager for Bimba, discussed how intelligent connected devices can reducing downtime and improving efficiency throughout a machine’s lifecycle. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE MediaJeremy King, a product marketing manager for Bimba, had similar thoughts during his presentation "The role of intelligent connected devices in reducing downtime and improving efficiency throughout a machine's lifecycle." His approach, while focused more on machine parts such as vacuum cups and actuators, nonetheless is representative of manufacturing's general efforts to improve efficiency and reduce downtime whenever possible.

"It's easy to focus on high-priced items when thinking about breakdowns," he said, referring to a robot and a tooling machine. "It's the small-time items like the actuator and the suction cup, however, are likely to wear down first. That's where the unpredicted downtime comes from."

For King, who deals with vacuum pumps that move objects around, the cost might not seem so bad. It might be a slight delay because an object wasn't picked up or it might have dropped. These delays, though, while perhaps not significant by themselves, do add up. He referred to a situation with a client where a slowdown led to a conveyor breaking two weeks later because the gear in the conveyor overcompensated because of an initial slowdown.

King said using sensors to analyze performance and anticipate how certain items can help determine what needs to be fixed before it becomes a problem. This can, King said, not only reduce downtime, but it can help maximize the life of the components in use to save money long-term. Performing spot checks or doing continuous monitoring on the product can also help.

"Continuous monitoring is better than spot checks, but it is more expensive," King said. "It provides more real-time information to help detect problems sooner to reduce downtime."

The key, King said, is to turn the information into a diagnostic tool to make better decisions in real time. And it starts with checking on the status of a few cheap products that might seem interchangeable. While they may be in terms of initial cost, they play a large role in how companies use smart manufacturing through sensors and real-time information to prevent even larger breakdowns and challenges. 

Keeping smart manufacturing costs down

Smart manufacturing, which consists of many aspects, is ultimately about making the manufacturing process better than it already is. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE MediaSmart manufacturing has brought a lot of initiatives such as Industrie 4.0, Made in China 2025, and others. Tomer Goldenberg, director of marketing and strategy for Elmo Motion Control, said all these programs boil down to the same thing in his presentation "The paradox of Smart Manufacturing."

"It's all about making the manufacturing process better than it already is," he said. According to Goldenberg, there are four areas being improved by smart manufacturing:

  • Flexibility: These include rapid design and production changes as well as more customizable products.
  • Efficiency: Higher throughput, shorter time to market (TTM), higher operation simplicity, and less downtime.
  • Quality: This includes greater reliability and a higher yield.
  • Technology: Cutting-edge development that are mandatory for production to produce advanced and better products.

There is no question about the overall benefits when improving these four areas, but therein, said Goldenberg, lies the paradox: Improving value costs money. So the question is: How do manufacturers improve efficiency and value while reducing costs?

The answer, said Goldenberg, is technology. Improved technology can help lower costs and improve the other areas benefiting from smart manufacturing.

Goldenberg highlighted a case study involving a manufacturer that needed to keep up with rising market demand by increasing their production. They made improvements in their machines and robotics, but now they needed to find ways to use technology to improve overall production. Goldenberg said this was accomplished in three ways:

  • Smarter controls that provided minimal TTM with simplified implementation.
  • Efficient motion control that reduced wasted energy and movement.
  • Functional safety, which shifted the responsibility to the servo drive to improve machine functionality while simplifying operations and safety.

Goldenberg emphasized the final point, saying, "Safety, more than ever, is an integral part of today's smart factory."

A smart manufacturing team, with the right knowledge and information at their core, will be working alongside smart machines and technologies in the new and better age of manufacturing.

IMTS 2018 breaks attendance, space records

IMTS 2018 has broken all previous records for largest show. Visitor registration reached 122,636 on Tuesday, eclipsing the old record by nearly 1,000 visitors. Other records for IMTS 2018 include 1,424,232 sq. ft. of exhibit space and 2,123 booths representing 2,563 exhibiting companies.

Previous historical highs were 1,415,848 sq. ft. of exhibit space at IMTS 2000; 2,407 exhibiting companies at IMTS 2016, 1,475 booths at IMTS 2014 and 121,764 visitors at IMTS 1998.

Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
July/Aug
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me