What is Nanotechnology? What does it mean for me?

Nanotechnology is yet another buzzworthy topic for 2015 Relative to manufacturing, this multidisciplinary branch of science looks at engineering from a molecular or atomic level—more specifically on a nanoscale: one nanometer is equivalent to one billionth of a meter. An atom is even smaller yet … it’s about one tenth of a nanometer. In an essence, it takes extremely small bits of matter to engineer a part or end-product. Global Industry Analysts predict the nanotechnology market will exceed $30 billion in 2015. And according to Nanotechnology Market Outlook 2020, it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.5 percent between now and 2020. How does nanotechnology apply to manufacturing? And more importantly, why? Nanomanufacturing can help improve manufacturers’ products and processes. It can cut down on waste, improve efficiency, enhance durability and even create products that are not only stronger but also smaller and lighter-weight. Here’s how: Less waste: Bottom up manufacturing (at the nanoscale) versus the top down, there is less waste. Think of carving a sculpture out of a block of wood. Top down manufacturing produces a lot of wasted material (shavings, sawdust, etc.). When you build something from the bottom up, perhaps through methods such as additive manufacturing, there is little to no waste. Improved efficiency: Using nanotechnology, we can create finished products that require no machining, fabrication or assembly. Due to the bottom up approach of nanomanufacturing which cuts down on production time, lowers the cost of materials and labor and decreases the risk of rework. In addition, programming machine setups becomes unnecessary, parts can’t be fabricated incorrectly and an assembly line is...

The “factory of the future” is the “factory of now”

Smart Factories “Factories of the future” or smart factories can no longer be referenced to a future time.  The “factory of the future” is the “factory of now”— or the “factory of today”. As our manufacturing processes continue to evolve at an ever-increasing speed, we are seeing an influx of automated and IT-driven or “smart” processes that are rapidly increasing efficiency and revolutionizing the workplace. The pace of these changes has never been witnessed before in modern times. Take for instance our changing manufacturing shop floors—in some industries, we are advancing from smart cells and smart lines to entire smart enterprises defined by total interconnectivity—from the front office to the production line. In more extreme cases, innovations and technology changes are reducing some factories to an automated box. These highly evolved, unified plants are becoming capable of running and responding to change with little human intervention, and because of that, we are seeing a shift towards employees that are equipped with high levels of technical expertise and critical thinking skills that enable them to oversee today’s highly automated, computerized operations. So what exactly makes a factory “smart”? Think repeatable events or processes, such as automated machine setups completely run by robotics and software, or sensors and digital readers that efficiently check raw materials out of inventory and auto-track materials as they move from location to location, or “lights out” manufacturing, where machines run with little need for the involvement of people. The possibilities are endless, as are the improvements smart technology can have on a process, its speed and its accuracy. Smart Factory Benefits for the Manufacturing Industry There...

Factory Automation and Innovation

Are you utilizing factory automation to innovate? Welcome to December, 2014! In a few short weeks, 2015 will be here! As I reflect on all of the advances C.R.E.W. has made these past 4/5 years – while comparing and contrasting the experiences over the lifespan of my career… it is interesting to note all of the automation related projects that I have been involved in. Indeed, from a personal perspective, the overall pace of factory automation has substantially quickened! Industry Creativity and Innovation As with many other businesses in similar and different industries – creativity and innovation are key ingredients to success. Projects involving factory automation at C.R.E.W. has further enabled the innovative spirit. Through much hard work and effort, automating processes at C.R.E.W. has occurred in many areas: Purchase management Order management Accounting/finance Information technology Sales/marketing Engineering Employee related processes Automation on the shop floor at C.R.E.W. Automation within the shop has created value by making us better understand our manufacturing processes and often leads us to simplify our processes before we automate a task. Ultimately, the true measure of the value created is when all these enterprise automation innovations work harmoniously to meet some very demanding customer expectations. Factory Automation The trend towards factory automation is here to stay. As manufacturing activity continues to pick up around the world, so does the excitement for robotics and other industrial automation technologies. This change is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 and is expected to generate global revenues of $209.4 billion by 2016 according to a white paper published by IHS Technology. Why push for an increase in...