Another International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) is in the books, and by official reckoning, the 2018 edition set records for attendance, exhibiting companies, number of exhibitor booths, and floor space occupied (see story beginning on page 34).
Additive manufacturing (AM) had expanded space, with a focus on metals in 3D printing, and the themes of Industry 4.0, automation, and digital manufacturing each had a spotlight.
What impressed me most, however, was how pervasive automation has become. It seemed to me that nearly every machine tool exhibitor in McCormick Place had at least one machining center or grinder with a robot above, beside, or within it. Co-bots (collaborative, worker-friendly, low-speed robotic arms that do not require a safety barrier) are gaining acceptance, too, and have potentially more applications around the shop than dedicated, high-speed models. Pallet-loaders, automated tool changers, bar-feeders, and other automation examples were also conspicuous.
Robotics are no longer an afterthought, machine manufacturers have embraced automation as a selling point to increase productivity – unattended manufacturing, improved process reliability, and to make better use of machine and machinists’ time – helping customers meet production ramp-ups.
Most of the machine tool builders note they are authorized automation integrators – reducing the steps needed to get a work cell running in your shop with name-brand robotics – and potentially circumventing third-party robotics integrators. One-party solutions seem to be growing in popularity, I think, because people are now accustomed to ordering from one, all-inclusive source online (Amazon). It’s easy to say the robotics trend will grow, since the number of robots sold in North America in 2017 surpassed all previous records, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), and 2018 will likely exceed those numbers.
Connectivity was another theme present in just about every corner of the show. Machines from different manufacturers around the South exhibit hall were connected, their data streams displayed on a centralized dashboard to demonstrate seamless connectedness, with individual performance metrics immediately available.
While sharing information was a sub-theme, the problems with information sharing was also on many minds, as in: who owns the machine-generated data, how secure is it, and who will digest and analyze the torrent of data that will come not just from machine tools, but the tools themselves, the automation, and measurement devices?
There’s no space here to delve deeply into those answers, but here are a few considerations. At least one industry expert expects specifics on who will own machine data and process information to be part of future contracts throughout the supply chain. Data security is everyone’s responsibility, but shops without extensive information technology (IT) expertise may need outside help. Expect new businesses to spring up that specialize in analytics to manage and make sense of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) machine data as a service, similar to what GE Aviation and others are now offering for jet engine condition monitoring. – Eric
Intended for screw-machine blanks and fasteners, the MW35 for high-speed turning operations can deliver parts in 3 seconds or less. It takes 1.9 seconds to load materials into the unit. From its starting position, the servo loader rotates 90° vertically to set materials on the
The machine’s two spindles allow it to perform simultaneous operations from a single, self-contained source. It comes with a gang-type tool plate, built-in workpiece ejector, and servo-controlled high-speed swing-type loader, reducing part-to-part cycle time. Its 2,416mm x 980mm footprint allows users to reduce floor space yet double the production of a single-spindle machine.
Murata Machinery USA Inc.
The U.S. Navy has awarded Boeing $805 million to build MQ-25 carrier-based unmanned aerial refuelers to extend the range of deployed fighters.
Under the engineering and manufacturing development contract, Boeing will provide four aircraft, with plans to perform the work at its Defense, Space & Security facility in St. Louis, Missouri.
According to the U.S. Navy, the MQ-25 Stingray will provide better use of combat strike fighters by extending the range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C aircraft. MQ-25 will also integrate with carrier catapult and launch and recovery systems. http://www.boeing.com
High-altitude UAS market to reach $12.4B in 10 years
According to a market intelligence report by Fremont, California-based BIS Research, the global high-altitude aeronautics platform station (HAAPS) market is anticipated to reach $12.4 billion by 2028, up from $3.8 billion in 2017.
HAAPS technology – unmanned aerial vehicles, airships, balloons, tethered aerostats, and tethered drones – offers a competitive advantage compared to conventional satellites and terrestrial-based systems. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Raven Aerostar, Thales Alenia Space, Bye Aerospace, and Airbus are some of the HAAPS manufacturers covered in the report.
According to BIS Research analyst Sudheer Uniyal, the commercial HAAPS segment is expected to have the highest growth in the forecast period (2018 to 2028). “The growing need for high-capacity wireless communication services is likely to push the development of HAAPS to provide wireless connectivity.” https://bisresearch.com
Solar-powered Airbus Zephyr UAS sets endurance record
The Airbus Zephyr S solar-powered, high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) unmanned aerial system (UAS) logged a maiden flight of nearly 26 days, the longest duration yet achieved. Supported by
The previous longest duration record of more than 14 days continuous flight was logged by a Zephyr prototype aircraft in 2010.
Operating exclusively on solar power, above the weather and conventional air traffic, Zephyr can focus on an area of interest hundreds of miles wide while providing satellite-like communications and Earth-observation services.
With a 25m wingspan and weighing less than 75kg, Zephyr can fly at an average altitude of 70,000ft (21km).
Additional flights are planned for 2018 from a new operating site at the Wyndham airfield in Western Australia, according to Jana Rosenmann, head of Airbus unmanned aerial systems. https://www.airbus.com
Boeing’s main production plant for metal machining in Portland, Oregon, is sponsoring a joint membership with German tooling company Haimer at the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center Research and Development (OMIC R&D) in Scappoose.
William Gerry, global technology program manager for Boeing Research and Technology says, “We know [Haimer] as a high-quality tool holding, shrinking, balancing, and presetting technologies company that Boeing has relied on heavily and exclusively for this service. Haimer can support OMIC R&D and its members with state-of-the-art technology and Industry 4.0 connectivity solutions.”
Haimer Group President Andreas
OMIC R&D has 17 manufacturing industry partners and three Oregon public universities to develop advanced metals manufacturing technologies through its collaborative activities. http://www.boeing.com; https://www.haimer-usa.com
Novelis to acquire Aleris
Aluminum rolling and recycling firm Novelis Inc. plans to buy rolled aluminum products supplier Aleris Corp. for approximately $2.6 billion.
Novelis hopes to acquire Aleris’ 13 manufacturing facilities across North America, Asia, and Europe, giving the combined company 37 facilities across 11 countries, with approximately 16,500 employees.
In May 2018, Aleris obtained a multi-year contract to supply aluminum plate and sheet for Boeing’s commercial airplanes. In October 2017, Aleris officials announced a multi-year agreement to supply aluminum flat-rolled products for various Bombardier aircraft programs. China’s Zhongwang USA LLC’s offer to purchase Aleris was withdrawn in 2017 after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) raised concerns about the transaction.
Novelis officials expect it to take 9 to 15 months to win needed regulatory and shareholder approvals. The companies will continue to operate separately until the close, when they will integrate Cleveland, Ohio-based Aleris into Novelis, which will remain headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Since 2010, Aleris has been owned and controlled by investors from Oaktree Capital Management L.P. and Apollo Management L.P.
Hypertherm celebrates 50 yrs, 150,000 hrs community service
Employees at industrial cutting systems and software manufacturer Hypertherm prepared dinner for homeless adults at Hixon House, a shelter run by the local nonprofit Upper Valley Haven, to mark 150,000 hours of community service since 2003 and celebrate the Hanover, New Hampshire company’s 50th anniversary.
“We are thrilled and proud to celebrate this momentous occasion at the Upper Valley Haven, one of our strongest and longest strategic partners,” says Stacey Chiocchio, Hypertherm’s community citizenship manager. “This achievement is a testament to the work of all Hypertherm associates worldwide who have volunteered throughout the years.”
Hypertherm associates usually cook dinner for Hixon House residents once a month. They celebrated the milestone in July. https://www.hypertherm.com