Material Selection in Manufacturing: Plastic or Metal

PATTY RASMUSSEN| June 23, 2017
MATERIAL SELECTION IN MANUFACTURING: PLASTIC OR METAL
There are a host of decisions that need to be made when you're designing a new product. One of the first, and biggest, is the question of material selection. Which material to use has less to do with what it looks like than what it's used for. In other words, form - what it looks like, what materials are used, how big or small, what colors - follows function.

Spotlight

Continental Girbau

Continental Girbau, Inc., based in Oshkosh, Wis., is much more than a renowned manufacturer and supplier of commercial and industrial laundry equipment. Our Mission is Your Success and that’s why we offer a web of support services to coin and on-premise laundries. We focus on helping coin store investors get into business the right way, with the right business strategy.

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How Collaborative Robots Are Revolutionizing the Manufacturing Industry

Article | December 10, 2021

A new form of robot is entering manufacturing plants all around the globe. Instead of being locked away in their own work cell, collaborative robots work side by side with their human counterparts. Together, they form the manufacturing crew of the future. Collaborative robots, or cobots, are more flexible, easy to use, and safer than industrial robots. Instead of ending up abandoned in a corner, they are proving to be serious expansions of production capacity leading to better ways of creating superior quality products. 1.1 A New Breed of Bot Cobots are a new type of automation product with their own ISO standards for safety and usability. For a robot to qualify as a cobot, it has to be used for tasks of a collaborative nature while sharing all or part of its reach space with human operators. So it is not the product alone that classifies it as a cobot. Industrial robots must be expertly programmed for one specific job along the production line. This requires hard line coding and endless tweaking and testing, which together with other factors make for a sizable upfront investment. Not so with collaborative robots. Cobots may look similar to traditional robots in some ways, but they are much easier to install and program. This foregoes the need to cooperate with a robotic integration service. Their lightweight and friendly form factor lets manufacturers conveniently relocate them on the shopfloor from one project to another. This renders the robotics technology perfect for a data-driven, Industry 4.0 work environment. Cobots can side with traditional machinery and additive manufacturing equipment, aided by artificial intelligence and cloud connectivity while embedded in a networked environment rich with smart sensors and mixed reality interfaces. 1.2 A Unique Blend of Benefits Because it is fairly straightforward to reprogram a cobot to various tasks, they are perfect for high-mix, low-volume work to meet the rising demand for ultra-customized products. They can also do multiple tasks in unison, such as alternatingly loading a machine and finishing parts from the previous cycle. Here are some other advantages in addition to flexibility: • Low investment. Cobots typically cost a fraction of the price of an industrial robot, but they offer much lower payload and reach. ROI is typically one to two years. • Safety. With rounded surfaces, force-limited joints, and advanced vision systems, cobots are exceptionally safe. This reduces the risk of injury due to impact, crushing, and pinching. Driverless transport systems are wheeled mobile robots that immediately halt when their lasers detect the presence of a nearby human being. • Accuracy. Cobots score well on accuracy with 0.1mm precision or well below that. While they do typically sacrifice speed, dual-mode cobots can be converted to fully-fledged tools of mass production that run at full speed in their own safeguarded space. • Easy to program. Many brands offer user-friendly programming interfaces from beginner to expert level. This reduces the need for continuous availability of expensive and scarce expertise while giving current employees an incentive to upskill. And because they can be deployed within hours, cobots can be leased for temporary projects. • Research. Small processing plants, agile start-ups, and schools can invest in cobots to experiment with ways to automate processes before committing to full automation. 1.3 Cobot Activity Repertoire Cobots are perfect candidates for taking over strenuous, dirty, difficult, or dull jobs previously handled by human workers. This relieves their human co-workers from risk of repetitive strain injury, muscle fatigue, and back problems. They can also increase job satisfaction and ultimately a better retirement. The cobot’s program of responsibilities includes: • Production tasks such as lathing, wire EDM, and sheet stamping. • Welding, brazing, and soldering. • Precision mounting of components and fasteners, and applying adhesive in various stages of general assembly. • Part post-finishing such as hole drilling, deburring, edge trimming, deflashing, sanding, and polishing. • Loading and unloading traditional equipment such as CNC and injection molding machines, and operating it using a control panel to drastically reduce cycle times. • Post-inspection such as damage detection, electronic circuit board testing, and checking for circularity or planarity tolerances. • Box-packing, wrapping, and palletizing. • Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) assist with internal transport and inventory management. 1.4 No-Code Programming While an industrial robot requires the attention of a high-paid robotics engineer, anyone with basic programming savviness can install and maintain a collaborative unit. Brands are releasing more and more kits for quick installation and specific use cases. Instead of being all numbers and line-coding, current user interaction is exceptionally people-focused. At the lowest skill level, lead-through programming lets operators physically guide the cobot’s end-of-arm-tool (EOAT) through the desired motion path, after which it will flawlessly replicate the instructed behaviour. It is also possible to enter desired waypoints as coordinates. At the highest level, it is of course still possible to have full scripting control. An intermediate step is visual programming interfaces. These let users create blocks of functionality that they can string together into more advanced action sequences, while entering the appropriate parameters for each function such as gripping strength, screwing tightness, or pressing force. These UIs come in the form of in-browser or mobile apps. Based on a 3D-CAD model of the machine and its industrial environment, a digital twin of the cobot can simulate and optimize its operations, for example to prevent collisions. It also lets operators remotely monitor and adjust the machine while it’s running. All the while, back-end artificial intelligence can do its analyses to find further efficiency improvements. 3D models of the to-be-manufactured product can be imported for edge extraction of complex surfaces. These will then be converted into the cobot’s desired movement trajectories instead of tedious manual programming. This makes them feasible to implement for highly dexterous tasks like welding curved hydroformed metal parts or sanding and polishing the most intricate of 3D printed geometries. Interfacing directly with the robot is becoming increasingly human-centered as well. Future cobots will respond to voice interaction as well as touch input, eradicating the screens-and-buttons paradigm of current devices. Some brands are giving the cobot a face with emotional expressions, hoping to lower the barrier to adoption. The upcoming generation of cobots can even respond to body language, as well as show its intentions by projecting light to where they are about to reach or move next. 1.5 A Human World Ultimately, the objective of any company is to create value for people. It is not an option to completely remove humans from the shop floor in an attempt to stay at the forefront of innovation. Attempting to leap to full automation and the utopian “lights-out factory” does not work anyway, as automotive giants such as Ford, Chrysler, GM, and Tesla can testify. A significant portion of human employees will indeed need to give up their roles. On the other hand, improved productivity levels open up space to retain personnel and uplift them to more creative, managerial, analytical, social, or overall more enjoyable jobs. For certain tasks, humans still need to be kept inside the manufacturing loop. For example: • Complex assembly routines and handling of flexible components. • Large vehicle subassemblies contain many variable components and require more hand-eye coordination than one cobot can handle. Humans are needed to make sure everything lands in the right position while the cobot provides assistive muscle power. • Fashion, footwear, jewellery, art pieces, and other products where creation borders on artistry rather than mechanical assembly require the aesthetic eye of humans. People are also needed to spot aesthetic deficiencies in custom one-offs in order to correspond with customers before finishing the production batch. • While intelligent automation software can spot bottlenecks in efficiency, humans are required for creative problem solving and context-awareness to make decisions. A spirit of flexibility and innovation is just as important as the accuracy of perfect repetitions. 1.6 Mission: Install a Cobot Cobots have numerous advantages over industrial solutions or people-only workspaces. They enable faster, more precise, and more sophisticated operations while reducing downtime and maintaining employee satisfaction. Low-voltage operation and reduced material waste fits with sustainable innovation and corporate social responsibility programs. Many companies are reporting surges in production capacity and staff generally experience the presence of cobots as favorable. For example, industry leviathans like BMW and Mercedes-Benz are reaching the conclusion that in many parts of the production process implementing a cobot has been the right decision. Connecting all parts of the production line with full automation solutions is a pipedream. It works only when all steps are perfectly attuned, and in reality this never happens and one misstep can be catastrophic. Whether to hire a human, a robot, or a co-robot is a complex and ever-more pressing decision. Statistical process control is paramount for large organizations to make unbiased data-driven decisions. Determine the key performance indicators, then find the most critical bottlenecks and major opportunities for leaps in production efficiency, product quality, or staff unburdening. Talk to employees for their insights and probe their level of skill and enthusiasm needed for working with their new artificial assistants. Digital transformation should be an exciting shift in the organization and its people, so apply new technological advancements only where it makes sense. Despite common beliefs about robotization, the cobot is an entirely separate product category that can be a surprisingly plug-and-play solution for simple tasks, with programming apps becoming increasingly intuitive. A cobot’s flexibility makes it perfect to run early experiments to help companies find its best spot on the factory floor. Its unbelievable precision, consistency, and level of control generally can make a strong first impression on customers. Not only can cobots increase production capacity while reducing idle time and cycle time to accelerate manufacturing across many vertical markets, but they also enrich the work environment resulting in happier and more involved employees. For many companies, a cobot can be the next logical step in their digital transformation.

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Lead Generation for Manufacturers: 5 Effective Techniques That Work

Article | January 4, 2022

Lead generation for manufacturers has always been tough due to a lack of knowledge about new technology and trends that can help them generate more business leads. There are still a lot of small and mid-sized manufacturing companies that rely on antiquated manufacturer lead generation methods. In this article, we'll discuss some proven methods for generating leads that can help you increase your company's sales and improve your overall return on investment. "Don’t think of your lead as "LEADS." Instead, think of them as people who are frustrated because understanding and buying your product is too hard. Your job is to make it easy for them to learn about your product and get started. " —Andy Pitre, VP of Product, HubSpot So let's get started. Factors That Must Be Aligned to Drive New Business Leads Landing Pages Landing pages are mini-websites embedded into your site. To deliver an experience that speaks directly to the user's intent, marketers use landing pages. Create unique landing pages for every industrial lead generation campaign. Calls-To-Action To generate quality leads, you need to have a strong call to action (CTA). CTAs are usually buttons that allow users to submit information, visit a landing page, or download an e-book or white paper. Your CTA must be compelling. Give your prospects a reason to click and remove any barriers to the click. CTAs should be bold, high-contrast, and easily identifiable. Forms Without forms, it is impossible to collect leads. Therefore, visitors will be asked to fill out forms that collect their contact information in exchange for an offer. Offers Every lead contains a transaction. A company provides a valuable service in exchange for a prospect's contact information. You won't get many leads unless you provide value to your potential customers. This offer comes in the form of an e-book, consultation, coupon code, or whitepaper. To generate more leads, make compelling offers. Website The above components can't exist if you don't have a website. If you want to emphasize your business, you need to generate quality leads. Why? Because most of today's B2B buyers are millennials, who are highly tech-savvy and increasingly conduct their supplier research online. How to Generate Manufacturing Leads: 5 Effective Techniques Create a Website That Converts "The lead generation process starts by finding out where our target market ‘lives’ on the web." – Wayne Davis Your website should be a trusted source of quality leads. Unfortunately, many companies lose sight of this and develop websites that are cumbersome and difficult to browse, causing a rift between you and your potential customers. Don't expect people to behave if your site doesn't encourage them to act. Your website should have clear "call to action" buttons and lead capture options that allow visitors to contact you in a simple and pleasant way. Additionally, there are website optimization tools available, including PageSpeed Insights, Hotjar, Google Optimize, and WAVE. All of the above-mentioned website optimization tools provide complimentary services. So, this is the most accessible and most reliable approach to generating web leads. Make Descriptive Infographics Infographics are a great way to provide prospects with helpful information while motivating them to contact you. Most importantly, infographics establish your company as a thought leader and unconsciously identify you with industry authority. According to recent surveys, Nearly 41% of respondents indicated that infographics and illustrations are the most effective solutions for achieving their business objectives. On social media, infographics receive three times the number of shares as other types of content. Articles that included infographics received 72% more views than standard articles. A great infographic has a great design. If your organization lacks an in-house graphics team, you can simply locate a freelance designer to create a stunning infographic for you. Your infographics are ageless pieces of material that can be reused for smart marketing and lead generation manufacturing. Here's an example of an infographic from Digital Marketing Philippines from 2019 that received over 1,600 shares and is jam-packed with data and text. In this way, you can see how the company may have gotten its leads from these 1600 shares, each of which is a potential customer. Host an Event According to Bizzabo, 86% of senior management (Senior Managers, Executives, and Board Members) believe that in-person events are critical to the success of their company. The majority of B2B marketers (97%) believe in-person events have a significant impact on achieving business goals. According to Marketing Charts, 68% of B2B marketers agree that in-person events aid in lead generation for manufacturers, while case studies help with lead conversion and acceleration. Improve manufacturing lead generation through events that can occur both online and offline. Organize any kind of event to attract your target market while collecting contact information. Use live events to interact with consumers in real-time, answering questions, addressing objections, learning about your audience, and guiding prospects through the sales funnel. Consider webinars, workshops, seminars, meetups, and conferences. Create a Value-Packed Newsletter "Content is the fuel for your lead generation efforts." – Dayna Rothman According to the Content Marketing Institute, 31% of B2B marketers believe email newsletters are the most effective way to nurture leads. 81% of B2B marketers report that email newsletters are their most frequently used form of content marketing. Create a must-read newsletter that invites interested prospects to engage and remain connected with your company. This enables you to stay top-of-mind with consumers and promote your products and services to move prospects along the sales funnel. The newsletter can have new blog entries, product or service updates, special deals, upcoming events, and recommended reading from other thought leaders. Incorporate SEO into Your Marketing Plan According to Intergrowth, 61% of B2B marketers say SEO and organic traffic generate more leads than any other type of marketing. Search engine leads convert at a rate of 14.6%, while outbound leads (cold calling, direct mail, etc.) convert at a rate of 1.7%. Manufacturers are no exception when it comes to the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). As a result, you may generate many leads with the correct marketing approach and a profound grasp of SEO for manufacturers. Final Words When we consider the statistics explained earlier in this article, we can see the benefits of all of the techniques mentioned and how they can help you increase your lead generation and, as a result, your overall business ROI. Thus, we can refer to the above-mentioned lead generation techniques as sales-driven strategies that will assist you at every lead generation and conversion stage. Improved lead generation for manufacturers enables businesses to reach a vast customer base and generate more high-quality leads. FAQ What is a high-quality lead in manufacturing? Leads of high quality have an increased propensity to convert into paying consumers. The more qualified your leads are, the more likely they will buy your product or service. What are the lead generation challenges? Making accurate data, shaping conversations, and converting qualified leads into sales are some of the significant challenges in manufacturing lead generation.

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Wireless AGVs May Prove Most Important ProMatDX Innovation

Article | April 1, 2021

April 12 -15 ProMatDX, the largest material handling event, will take place virtually. It will feature dozens of AGV vendors. Sadly, some of these highly innovating products still need to be plugged-in to capture power. No more. Wiferion in process charging eliminates the plug-in charging making AGVs truly autonomous. In process charging eliminates the waste of AGV downtime – the fleet is always working AND charging. In process charging is safe ensuring the OSHA, ergonomics, and danger to workers significantly reduced. In process charging is cost-efficient because full vehicle deployment means a reduced fleet count ensuring a rapid ROI. For OEMs of AGVs and industrial trucks implementing inductive charging technology solves the wear and tear issues caused by conventional charging methods as well as making vehicles fully autonomous. For end-users of AGVs and industrial trucks, inductive charging in combination with lithium batteries can improve fleet availability by more than 30%. Whether driverless transport systems (AGVs), electric forklifts, or mobile robots (AMRs), the efficient use of industrial trucks is a decisive factor for competitiveness during ever- increasing cost pressures. The energy systems are being scrutinized and lithium-ion batteries are the preferred technology. The advantages versus lead-acid batteries (including the ability to recharge faster and more often) are obvious. Until now the full potential of storage technology has not been fully realized.

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Business Models for Sustainable Manufacturing

Article | December 23, 2021

Sustainable business strategiesare bringing significant financial and environmental benefits to manufacturers. Sustainable manufacturingcreates goods while minimizing environmental consequences and preserving energy and natural resources. In addition, sustainable production improves the safety of workers, the community, and the products they produce. Allied Market Research projects that the worldwide renewable energy market will reach $1,977.6 billion by 2030, increasing at an 8.4% CAGR. As a result, we can conclude that many businesses are transitioning from traditional manufacturing to sustainable manufacturing. It’s a good time to be a part of the renewable energy industry. New technologies are coming to market every day, and we work in an industry that is trying to solve an enormous challenge. – Susan Stone, Chief Executive Officer at Ubiquitous Energy, Inc., in conversationwith Media 7 Though many organizations are pioneering the sustainable manufacturing approach, we have selected five of the most well-known companies making serious attempts to be sustainable manufacturing companiesby all means. In addition to the list of sustainable manufacturing businesses, this article will discuss the advantages of sustainabilityand how organizations may become carbon neutral. So let's get started. Top 5 Companies with a Sustainable Business Model The following are five manufacturing businessesthat are investing in sustainable manufacturingmethodsacross their production processes to become more responsive to our mother earth. Philips Electronics The company is reducing its environmental effect by engaging with suppliers, taking climate action, and driving the shift to a circular economy. Climate change is a key concern for Philips. So they are rethinking their business strategies and decoupling economic development from environmental and social impacts. They met their aim of becoming 100% carbon-neutral in their operations and procuring 100% of their power from renewable sources by 2020. They intend to obtain over 75% of their total energy usage from renewable sources by 2025 and to reduce CO2 emissions across their whole value chain to meet the 1.5°C global warming state. Schott Sustainability is profoundly embedded in SCHOTT's DNA. It derives from their distinctive business concept, which dates back to 1896. Their sustainability plan includes responsible governance, workers, society, environment, and climate. “Regarding climate change, it is high time to act. Everyone must take responsibility – politicians, companies and society. We are ready to play our part. We want to become climate neutral by 2030.” - Dr. Jens Schulte, Member of the Board of Management with responsibility for the “Zero Carbon” strategy program Long-term thought and responsible behavior are guiding principles of SCHOTT, which is why they care about the environment and climate. They are entering a new era of sustainable management with their “Zero Carbon” strategic program. Long term, they seek to eliminate fossil fuels as soon as technologyallows it. They are focused on the most energy-intensive stage of glass melting to create new solutions. IKEA IKEA's low-cost furniture utilizes a lot of wood. But because the company employs sustainable forestry practices, your new minimalist nightstand didn't cost the globe a rainforest. The business is also investing heavily in solar and wind energy. This year, the corporation intends to increase its already significant expenditures in renewable energy, to reach 100% clean energy by 2020. It also leads in offering cleaner, greener products. Nike In addition to encouraging people to walk, this footwear manufacturer uses recycled aluminum frames in its headquarters in the Netherlands, and underground energy storage to reduce its carbon footprint. Moreover, it has implemented stringent emission regulations at all of its manufacturingfacilities and has cut its overall carbon footprint by around 80 % since the late 1990s. The company also sells the most environmentally-friendly soccer sneakers on the market. Johnson & Johnson According to the company, Johnson & Johnson has just begun transitioning a significant portion of its energy reliance to solar power in an effort to become the world's most socially responsible organization. Currently, it is the second-largest user of solar energy in the United States, with more than half of its power coming from environmentally friendly sources. Rewards of Adopting Sustainable Manufacturing Practices Many businesses are seeking sustainabilityfor many reasons, including: Reducesoperating expenses and waste Respondsto new consumers and get a competitive edge Buildspublic trust and protect brand and reputation Createslong-term business viability Recognizesand address regulatory constraints What Can We Do to Make Sustainable Manufacturing a Reality? Every business must support green energy projects. Here are some fundamental actions that every business should take to transform itself into a sustainable manufacturing organization. Maximize the Efficacy of Fossil Fuels In today's society, energy conservation is a win-win situation. Approximately half of the world's known oil reserves have been exhausted, which means we are near to the point of diminishing returns in terms of supply. As far as we know, there hasn't been a shortage of supplies. Shutting down unwanted equipment might help you save money immediately. Replace a single-speed motor with a variable speed or servo drive. Use a hydraulic pump with variable speed. Wind, solar, and hydropower can also be used to conserve energy. Reduce or Eliminate Waste Don't overindulge; merely take in what you need to get the task done. At this point, we may all agree that it's easy, but in the past, our primary focus was on reducing productioncosts or time to market. Whether we were wasting resources was unknown or irrelevant to anyone. Metal, paper, and packaging are all examples of industries where this is true. The potential for waste reduction may justify the purchase of highly accurate production equipment. Recycle As a byproduct of manufacturing, metals may be easily recycled and used for new products. In addition, recycling metal saves money and energy since it uses less energy in the manufacturing process, allowing for a 60 % or more reduction in the energy needed to make new products. Final Words Sustainable manufacturing practicesare making manufacturing industries more socially responsible and carbon neutral. This new manufacturing method is necessary for today's period because we must consider future generations while improving today's. Natural resources must be conserved before depleting, and we have nothing left to offer future generations. Responsible organizations have already used this sustainable approachin their manufacturing processes, and we anticipate that every company should consider this method to be more sustainableand environmentally responsible. FAQ What is the difference between green and sustainable manufacturing? The main difference between green and sustainable is that green addresses a single aspect i.e., environmental health, but sustainability addresses the entire system, including economic, social, and environmental aspects. Which business is more environmentally friendly? According to Corporate Knights, Alphabet, Tesla, and AstraZeneca were among the world's most sustainable companies in the Global 100 Index for 2021. What are the four sustainability factors? The word sustainability refers to programs, activities, and actions to preserve a resource. But it relates to four unique key areas. Human, social, economic, and environmental are the four pillars or factors of sustainability.

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Spotlight

Continental Girbau

Continental Girbau, Inc., based in Oshkosh, Wis., is much more than a renowned manufacturer and supplier of commercial and industrial laundry equipment. Our Mission is Your Success and that’s why we offer a web of support services to coin and on-premise laundries. We focus on helping coin store investors get into business the right way, with the right business strategy.

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