Hot Topic: Automation

When a manufacturing operation involves both high mix and low volume, making the best equipment choices can be challenging. Here are considerations for selecting the types of automation that will work best for any given facility.


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As expected, this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS 2018) brought an extensive range of ideas for innovation, technology, and best practices, with incredible networking opportunities. But also, as usual, a large percentage of these ideas focused on some central themes, such as data-driven manufacturing and IIoT, additive manufacturing, and lasers. But today, automation remains one of the hottest topics in manufacturing as shops continue to look for ways to facilitate more efficient production while battling a shortage of skilled labor.

The latest issue of Production Machining features a look at how automation fits in with high-mix, low-volume turning applications. High-mix manufacturing relies on flexible manufacturing equipment, while low-volume manufacturing should have low setup time. When manufacturing is high-mix and low volume, making the best equipment choice can be challenging. This article reviews important considerations when selecting the proper automation relating to the types of applications for which it will be used.

You can learn more about the author of this article and his company in my October column, where I discuss the importance of creativity, thinking outside the box, and playing to one’s own strengths.