Article | May 25, 2022
The manufacturing industry is known for its agility in adopting new technologies to revolutionize processes. In a way, many industries can learn to replicate the speed with which manufacturing undergoes transformation. The use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in manufacturing is yet another frontier the industry is surpassing as it transitions to Industry 5.0.
While VR is a fully digital environment that can be accessed through a VR headset, whereas AR overlays the real-world with digital information that is experienced through a smartphone or a display-based device like a heads-up display (HUD).
For a long time, manufacturing has been marred by skill gaps, talent shortages, and a high employee attrition rate. But there’s hope, AR/VR is creating ground-breaking ways to optimize factory operations.
The Journey of AR/VR Applications: From Gaming to Manufacturing
Gaming was the first industry to use AR/VR. Multiple industries are now recognizing its value and innovating ways to implement AR/VR applications into critical areas of operations. In healthcare, AR/VR applications are used to simulate a controlled, high-risk medical environment in order to train medical professionals.
Right at the Assembly Line, Minus the Risks
Similarly, the manufacturing industry is discovering multiple areas of application for industrial AR/VR, from the warehouse to the training centers. When it comes to training employees, AR is making waves. In a setting where employees have to often manage complex tasks and multi-functional operations, AR applications are enabling manufacturers to simulate hands-on training without the risk of accidents. In addition, it can bypass any wastage of raw materials or avoid expensive mistakes.
From the inspection perspective, 3D imaging can be used to build a digital VR twin of a wiring box. In the instance of a failure, the VR twin allows even an untrained worker to cross check the correct configuration and troubleshoot the problem.
Companies Spearheading the Use of Industrial AR/VR
With so many compelling AR/VR applications in training, several companies are using the technology in exciting and innovative ways. Industrial software solutions provider Honeywell has multiple trailblazing training methods. One of them is a VR training simulator used to train new technicians in high-risk, failure scenarios. The method doubled the skill retention compared to other training methods. The new training method has also enabled Honeywell to engage young workers better, simultaneously ensuring better employee retention.
Guided Accuracy with AR/VR
LightGuide is another AR/VR firm that is at the forefront of using cutting edge applications on the factory floor. The organization used digital traceability and live data to revolutionize over 1000 processes for leading manufacturers across the world. They use AR/VR for inspection and assembly of automotive headliners. The technique projects diagrams of harnesses, glue paths, and tape placements onto headliner blanks. The process also uses 3D sensors to confirm placement.
The Long and the Short of It
The manufacturing industry is forging ahead with the best in AR/VR technologies. The challenge of making it affordable for all types and sizes of manufacturing process is the next plan of action. There is much to be achieved with the two technologies, the most important of which is cost-effectiveness, speed and quality. AR/VR technologies are set to be at the helm of many processes, regardless of the volume and scale, AR/VR integration would help solve real world problems within manufacturing and talent management.
Article | January 12, 2022
Real-time manufacturing analytics enables the manufacturing base to increase its efficiency and overall productivity in a variety of ways. Production data is an effective means of determining the factory's efficiency and identifying areas where it might be more productive.
“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway.”
– Geoffrey Moore, an American Management Consultant and Author
Creating a product-specific data collection may assist you in determining and visualizing what needs to be improved and what is doing well. In this article, we'll look at why manufacturing data collection is vital for your organization and how it may help you improve your operations.
Why is Manufacturing Data Collection so Critical?
Visibility is the key benefit that every manufacturer gets from manufacturing data collection. By collecting real-time data, or what we refer to as "shop floor data," manufacturers better understand how to assess, comprehend, and improve their plant operations. Manufacturers can make informed decisions based on detailed shop floor data. This is why having precise, real-time production data is critical.
“According to Allied Market Research, the worldwide manufacturing analytics market was worth $5,950 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $28,443.7 million by 2026, rising at a 16.5% compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2026.”
For modern manufacturers, the advantages of data collection in manufacturing are numerous. The manufacturing industry benefits from production data and data-driven strategy in the following ways.
Substantial reduction in downtime by identifying and addressing the root causes of downtime.
It increases manufacturing efficiency and productivity by minimizing production bottlenecks.
A more robust maintenance routine that is based on real-time alerts and machine circumstances.
Improvements in demand forecasting, supplier scoring, waste reduction, and warehouse optimization reduce supply chain costs.
Higher-quality goods that are more in line with customers' wishes and demands depending on how they are utilized in the current world.
So, after looking at some of the significant benefits of real-time manufacturing analytics, let’s see what type of data is collected from production data tracking.
What Sorts of Data May Be Collected for Production Tracking?
Downtime: Operators can record or track downtime for jams, cleaning, minor slowdowns, and stoppages, among other causes, with production tracking software. In the latter scenario, downtime accuracy is optimized by removing rounding, human error, and forgotten downtime occurrences. The software also lets you categorize different types of stops.
Changeovers: Changeovers can also be manually recorded. However, changeovers tracked by monitoring software provide valuable data points for analysis, considerably reducing the time required for new configurations.
Maintenance Failures: Similar to downtime classification, the program assists in tracking the types of maintenance breakdowns and service orders and their possible causes. This may result in cost savings and enable businesses to implement predictive or prescriptive maintenance strategies based on reliable real-time data.
Items of Good Quality: This is a fundamental component of production management. Companies can't fulfill requests for delivery on schedule unless they know what's created first quality. Real-time data collection guarantees that these numbers are accurate and orders are filled efficiently.
Scrap: For manufacturers, waste is a significant challenge. However, conventional techniques are prone to overlooking scrap parts or documenting them wrong. The production tracking system can record the number and type of errors, allowing for analysis and improvement. Additionally, it can capture rework, rework time, and associated activities.
WIP Inventory: Accurate inventory management is critical in production, yet a significant quantity of material may become "invisible" once it is distributed to the floor. Collecting data on the movement and state of work in progress is critical for determining overall efficiency.
Production Schedule: Accurate data collection is essential to managing manufacturing orders and assessing operational progress. Customers' requests may not be fulfilled within the specified lead time if out of stock. Shop floor data gathering provides accurate production histories and helps managers fulfill delivery deadlines.
Which Real-time Data Collection Techniques Do Manufacturers Employ?
Manufacturers frequently employ a wide range of data collection techniques due to the abundance of data sources. Manual data collection and automated data collection are two of the most common data collection methods. Here are a few examples from both methods:
IoT: To provide the appropriate information to the right people at the right time with the correct shop floor insight, IoT (Internet of Things) sensor integration is employed.
PLC: The integration of PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) is used to measure and regulate manufacturing operations.
HMI: It can provide human context to data by integrating line HMI (Human Machine Interface) systems (such as individual shop terminals like touch screens located on factory floor equipment).
SCADA: Overarching management of activities with SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems.
CNC and Other Machines: Integrating CNC and other machines (both new and older types) to keep tabs on production efficiency and machine well-being is a must these days.
One of the most challenging aspects of shop floor management is determining what to measure and what to overlook. The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently conducted a study on assisting manufacturing operations in determining which data to collect from the shop floor.Additionally, you may utilize the manufacturing data set described above to obtain information from your manufacturing facility and use it strategically to improve operations, productivity, efficiency, and total business revenue in the long term.
What is manufacturing analytics?
Manufacturing analytics uses operations and event data and technology in the manufacturing business to assure quality, improve performance and yield, lower costs, and optimize supply chains.
How is data collected in manufacturing?
Data collection from a manufacturing process can be done through manual methods, paperwork, or a production/process management software system.
Article | January 21, 2022
3D printing technology and its role in future manufacturing are grabbing the interest of industry experts. In terms of elevating future products, future additive manufacturing has a lot to offer the business. Additive manufacturing is developing and stretching its wings on a daily basis, becoming an integral part of every industry, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, and more.
In this article, we'll shed some light on the 3D printing future trends, which will assist the business in deepening its impact across industries. Furthermore, we will explore whether the additive manufacturing business is worth investing in as well as who the major players are that have already invested in the future of 3D printing.
Future Trends in the Additive Manufacturing Industry
Enhanced Machine Connectivity
Making AM solutions (including software and hardware) easier to integrate and connect to the factory floor is one of the key AM trends we predict to advance in the coming years. It has been a long time since the AM hardware market has been filled with closed, or proprietary, systems. These systems generally function with materials and software given or approved by the machine OEM and are not easily integrated with third-party alternatives.
Closed systems are important for process dependability, but they also restrict collaboration and connectivity. Companies expanding their AM operations will need to connect their machines and software to their production environments. When it comes to additive manufacturing, using siloed solutions is a surefire way to fail. Importantly, we see hardware manufacturers increasingly focusing on solutions that can be integrated with the production floor.
For example, a 3D printing market leader like Stratasys is a good illustration of the trend. In December, the business announced an extension of its previously closed machines' connection.Consumers may now integrate and control their additive production using software programs of their choosing, not just Stratasys' systems. For AM facilities, system connectivity is no longer an option. It's exciting to see the AM industry players recognize and solve this requirement.
AM and AI Continue to Converge
AM growth is incorporating AI and machine learning. AI can help with material development, machine setup, part design, and workflow automation. So, in the future, we anticipate seeing more AI and AM technology integration.
Combined with AM systems, AI will improve process control and accuracy. For example, Inkbit is currently working on an AI-powered polymer vision system. This technology can scan 3D printing layers and anticipate material behavior during printing.
Generative design, already generally recognized as a key digital advance in AM, may tremendously benefit from AI and machine learning.
It has so far been utilized to improve load routes when strength and stiffness are dominant. It can also be utilized to optimize thermal or vibration. AI and machine learning will advance generative design, allowing new concepts to be completely suited to AM.While we may be a few years away from fully developing the capacity to automatically adapt designs to process, we anticipate significant breakthroughs this year that will bring us closer.
AM Will Drive Decentralization
In order to future-proof their supply chains, many manufacturers are following new supply chain models and technology that allow them to cut prices or switch goods more easily. Increasing flexibility and agility will necessitate distributed, localized production, assisted by additive manufacturing.To reduce the number of steps required to manufacture complex metal or polymer structures, shorten lead times, and enable digital inventory management, digital inventory management can be automated. These advantages make it ideal for the distributed manufacturing model. We believe that in the near future, more businesses will actively explore distributed manufacturing with AM.
According to a recent HP survey, 59% of organizations are now considering hybrid models, while 52% are looking into localized digital manufacturing.
3D Printing Future: Major Predictions
In Jabil's 2021 3D printing trends survey of over 300 decision-makers, 62% of participants claim their organization is actively using additive manufacturing for production of their product components, up from 27% in 2017. Many such manufacturers are on the lookout for the latest additive manufacturing trends and forecasts. So let's begin.
Increasing Flexibility and Customization
Customized goods are a popular consumer trend, impacting several sectors. Rather than buying a mass-produced item, customers are increasingly demanding a custom-made item that meets their specific needs.
Additive manufacturing's low-volume production capabilities simply enable personalization and customization.
3D printing allows for more responsive design options, particularly for additive manufacturing. Manufacturers can afford to make smaller batches, allowing designers and engineers to alter product ideas and develop them cost-effectively when inspiration strikes, the public mood is understood, or customer feedback drops in.
Materials Drive the Future of Digital
As the additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, the importance of materials cannot be overstated. Besides high equipment costs, materials and limited additive manufacturing ecosystems have hindered the 3D printing industry's growth. The market is flooded with 3D printing materials, but few are advanced enough to fulfill industry standards.Due to volume constraints in most sectors, suppliers and manufacturers aren't motivated to develop innovative materials for new uses. However, the future of 3D printing is in engineered and application-specific materials.
Various sectors have unique difficulties that demand unique solutions. New designed materials will revolutionize new uses, including highly regulated sectors. Industries will reward those who can promptly introduce 3D printing materials adapted to specific industrial and engineering needs. This will allow more 3D printing applications to be supplied and the whole digital manufacturing flywheel to start spinning.
3D Printing and a Sustainable Future
Finally, additive manufacturing promotes sustainability and conservation. Besides decreasing trash, 3D printing saves energy. The Metal Powder Industries Federation studied the difference between making truck gear using subtractive manufacturing (17 steps) and additive manufacturing (6 steps).
3D printing uses less than half the energy it takes to produce the same product. 3D printing also reduces the need for moving products and materials, reducing the amount of carbon emitted into the environment. So we can see that digital and additive solutions already contribute to a more sustainable future.
Is Investment in the Future of Additive Manufacturing Worth It?
In recent years, there has been an explosion of investment in industrial 3D printing. Hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed into the industry in recent years, assisting new businesses. Desktop Metal ($160 million), Markforged ($82 million), and 3D Hubs ($18 million) have all received significant funding in the past. According to a recent report and data analysis, the global additive manufacturing market will hit USD 26.68 billion by 2027. A rising level of government support for additive manufacturing across regions is driving market demand.
For example, America Makes, the foremost national initiative in the US since 2012 dedicated to additive manufacturing (3D printing future technology), received USD 90 million in support from the government, commercial, and non-profit sectors. Given the industry's expenditures and the expanding need for 3D printing, investing in the additive manufacturing industry or 3D printing is certainly encouraged.
Additive manufacturing is being used in practically every industry, and companies are researching how technology might be used in their specific fields. The numerous advantages and sustainability that 3D printing provides are the major benefits that manufacturers and other industry professionals notice with 3D printing.Future manufacturing will be significantly more accurate and simple to run thanks to 3D printing technologies. Considering the trends and projections listed above, you may have a better understanding of 3D printing's future and make an informed investment decision.
What is the future of 3D printing?
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has the potential to empower everything from food to coral reefs. 3D printers may soon be seen in homes, companies, disaster zones, and perhaps even outer space.
Why is 3D printing important to society?
3D printing results in waste reduction and so eliminates the need for periodic waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. So it helps society with no carbon footprint.
Why is it known as additive manufacturing?
The term "additive manufacturing" refers to the fact that the building process adds layers rather than removes raw materials.
Article | March 29, 2022
The lean manufacturing process is the most time-tested, dependable, and proven method of manufacturing. It has helped numerous notable firms worldwide to reduce production waste and optimize their overall manufacturing operations. Many lean tools, such as 5S lean manufacturing, JIT, and Kanban, have helped manufacturers be more productive and efficient than ever before.
“Lean is a way of thinking, not a list of things to do.”
– Shigeo Shingo, a Japanese Industrial Engineer
In 2014, 29% of manufacturers had implemented lean manufacturing or intended to do so. (Source: MAXIML)
This article highlights lean manufacturing principles and the most commonly used lean tools. We will also look into the three lean manufacturing examples that will help us understand how lean manufacturing techniques may help manufacturing organizations become more successful.
Lean Manufacturing Principles
Value is always determined in terms of the customer's requirements for a particular product. For instance, what is the manufacturing and delivery schedule? What is the cost? What more critical requirements or expectations must be met? This information is vital when it comes to defining value.
The next step after value is to map the "value stream," or all the steps and processes involved in creating a given product, from raw materials to delivery to the client. Value-stream mapping outlines all the steps that move a product or service through a process. Processes might be in design or customer service. The objective is to "map" the movement of material or product through the process on one sheet. The purpose is to identify and eliminate unwanted steps. Some call it process re-engineering. This practice also helps to understand the entire business function.
After removing waste from the value stream, the next step is to ensure there are no interruptions, delays, or bottlenecks. "Sequence the value-creating steps closely so the product or service flows smoothly toward the customer," LEI suggests. This may require breaking down silo thinking and becoming cross-functional across all departments, which can be difficult for lean projects to accomplish. However, studies indicate that this can significantly improve efficiency and productivity, often by up to 50%.
With better flow, the time it takes to get a product to market (or to the customer) can be greatly reduced. As a result, "just in time" manufacturing or delivery becomes simpler. This means that the consumer has the ability to "pull" the product from you at any time (often in weeks instead of months). As a result, the manufacturer or provider and the client save money by not having to build things or store resources in advance.
Developing lean thinking and process optimization part of your organizational culture is the most crucial step. Remember that lean is not a static system that takes continual effort and care to perfect. Lean should be implemented by all employees. Experts claim a process is not fully lean until it has been value-stream mapped a dozen times.
The Most Used Lean Manufacturing Tools
Lean manufacturing employs a variety of lean tools to optimize output and efficiency by making the most use of available resources. Lean manufacturing seeks to improve processes by demanding less work, time, and resources. Specific lean tools may be more suited to one type of business than another. On the other hand, 5S lean manufacturing, Kaizen, Kanban, Value Stream Mapping, and Focus PDCA are among the most useful lean tools.
Three Examples of Lean Manufacturing
Toyota was the first big company to adopt the lean manufacturing process. They have mastered lean manufacturing techniques to minimize defective products that do not meet client expectations. Toyota achieves this goal through two key methods. The first is Jidoka, which means "mechanization with human assistance." While some portions of the operation are automated, humans regularly examine the product's quality. There are extra programs in the system that can shut down the machines if there is a problem.
The second method is called the JIT model. Individual cars can be made as per order using JIT inside the Toyota Production System, but each component must fit precisely the first time due to a lack of alternatives. Therefore, pre-existing production issues cannot be overlooked and resolved quickly.
Computer chip maker Intel implemented lean manufacturing techniques to produce better products with zero defects. This approach has helped to minimize the manufacturing time from three months to ten days. Intel eventually learned that manufacturing low-quality things would not enhance earnings or customer satisfaction. Instead, both parties gain from quality control and waste reduction methods. This is especially true in the electronics business, where products are constantly updated.
John Deere has implemented a lean manufacturing process. Many of their quality control techniques are completely automated, allowing for faster inspection of more parts. This means more products flow out of the door each day, and the consumer gets a better deal. These controls also monitor how each part of their products is made, so they don't overproduce and waste valuable resources.
Being successful with lean manufacturing techniques is a notable achievement for any organization because it involves eliminating redundant efforts, finances, and processes that have hindered your business's growth for an extended period. Recognize your business requirements and select the appropriate lean tool. Ultimately, lean is not just a method; it is an attitude that every manufacturing organization must adopt.
What is the objective of lean manufacturing?
Lean manufacturing aims to improve product quality, cut down on waste, speed up production, and save money.
What are the drawbacks to lean production?
Using lean techniques reduces the error margin. Late supply deliveries can lead to shortages of raw materials and delayed deliveries. This flaw can damage client relationships, drive customers to competitors, and cost you money.
Is lean still applicable today?
Lean manufacturing is relevant now and will be for years to come. So, this might be an exciting opportunity for lean manufacturing to evolve in a new space with new resources.