For the last 100 years, dryers, ovens, refrigerators, washing machines and other household appliances have performed the same basic functions, such as keeping food hot or cold and getting clothes wet and dry. But, a new breed of “smart” appliances is emerging, thanks to advanced sensor technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Whether fully automatic, semiautomatic or manual, almost every assembly system has some type of sensor for inspection, error-proofing or production monitoring. Thanks to new technologies, sensors are becoming smaller, more robust, more accurate and easier to integrate.
In the early 1980s, a product design methodology called design for assembly (DFA) began to gain popularity. It focused on improving efficiency by evaluating the amount of labor required for assembly. Since that time, the DFA methodology has been adopted with much success by more than 850 corporations.
Efforts to reduce vehicle weight have mostly focused on aluminum, plastics and composites, but another lightweight material is also getting attention: magnesium. The ninth most abundant element in the universe, magnesium is as strong as steel, but 33 percent lighter than aluminum, 60 percent lighter than titanium, and 75 percent lighter than steel.
If we are to build a better world, politicians tell us, power must be placed in the right hands. This statement will draw no protest from assemblers. After all, these skilled workers require state-of-the-art power tools to build long-lasting quality products on a daily basis.
Aircraft manufacturing has changed significantly in recent years. Instead of being assembled in one spot, most aircraft today are built on moving assembly lines similar to those used by automakers. Despite this evolution, however, many aerospace manufacturers still rely on hydraulic jacks, tuggers or overhead cranes to move aircraft through the various manufacturing stages.
Instant, reliable communication amongst plant managers is essential for them to coordinate and optimize their facility’s productivity and efficiency. Even a slight delay in relaying information can prevent a company from achieving these goals, especially if the delay results in unplanned downtime for equipment retooling or maintenance.
A few years ago, Brian Gattman, senior mechanical engineer at Fluke Corp., faced a big problem when designing the company’s new handheld TI400 thermal imaging camera. The off-the-shelf bearings he wanted to use in it were too big and had a too-high coefficient of friction. By working closely with the supplier, however, he was able to have the bearings custom made to meet both design specifications.
ARaymond Automotive has provided custom fasteners, clips, connectors, adhesives and other materials to OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers around the world for nearly 20 years. Its engineers specialize in three processes (fastening, fluid connections and bonding) that are used in all areas of a vehicle.
My first column talked about why manufacturing matters most for our country. This month, I want to discuss how chasing cheap prices is not only hollowing out domestic manufacturing but, in many cases, it’s making the companies that offshore less profitable. For decades, consultants and MBAs have told companies to focus on their core competencies—mostly R&D, finance and marketing—and outsource manufacturing offshore. Now, companies are discovering that strategy was often wrong.