Grow with automation

A major, well-planned automation expansion increases production a whole lot and adds just a few more highly trained personal. Productivity and throughput increase substantially. Manufacturers across the U.S. are doing it, and you can benefit from their experiences. VISIT. When you take your vacation this summer, or when you're traveling on business, consider calling ahead and asking for a tour ...

06/01/2006


A major, well-planned automation expansion increases production a whole lot and adds just a few more highly trained personal. Productivity and throughput increase substantially. Manufacturers across the U.S. are doing it, and you can benefit from their experiences.

VISIT . When you take your vacation this summer, or when you're traveling on business, consider calling ahead and asking for a tour of a nearby automation vendor's manufacturing or assembly plant. It's a great opportunity to see how others are applying the latest technologies.

READ . Technologies are fun, but go beyond the next great technology to the smart application of automation. Ask some of the vendors and other experts cited between the covers of this issue to get you additional customer examples. And read them daily at www.controleng.com.

SEE . I saw an outstanding expansion recently at the SEW-Eurodrive facility in Lyman, S.C. The company doubled the size and productivity of its assembly and K-Series Gearmotor manufacturing in five years and added 5% to personnel. Technologies include advanced robotic loading and unloading of parts into new machine tools (and older ones); automated deburring during unloading; an automated "rail line" (wireless power and controls) to load and unload new, more efficient heat-treat furnaces; and new human-machine interface, database, and manufacturing execution system technology to make it easier to setup, run, and improve manufacturing. Many operators that ran one machine now regularly run/oversee three or more. In assembly, an automated cart-based monorail (with bar-code-based positioning) carries parts from the new paint area through the new halogen paint drier to cut cure time to 20 minutes from 21 days.

LEARN . Control engineering requires smart technologies and optimal processes. Bob Yenkner, director of Americas lean operations for Celestica Corp., was part of a keynote panel at AM Expo last month. The topic: what's next in advanced manufacturing. Yenkner says the five key steps toward lean operations are:

  • Define value from the end-customer's perspective;

  • Identify the entire value stream for each product;

  • Economize. Make the steps flow as quickly and smoothly as possible;

  • Design the system to deliver what the customer wants and when; and

  • Pursue perfection. Focus on eliminating waste through continuous improvement.

APPLY . Reap the benefits of other people's experiences using automation to facilitate growth. Apply what you learn—and please let me know how it's going.

Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief

MHoske@cfemedia.com

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