Machine tool giant Mazak has passed another milestone in its embrace of “smart manufacturing” with full digitization of its manufacturing plant at Oguchi, Japan. The manufacturer emphasizes data analysis and machine connectivity in its designs — specifically using the MTConnect® open communications protocol and customized data-collection technology — and applies these in its own machine tool production processes, too.
“There is little doubt in the industry that MTConnect will soon be the standard worldwide and the foundation of tomorrow’s digitized manufacturing operations,” stated chairman Brian Papke. “At Mazak, we’ve experienced double-digit increases in productivity and machine utilization in each facility immediately after the implementation of digital process monitoring through MTConnect and our SmartBox technology.”
SmartBox is a network device that collects data from and supplies information to individual machines, and communicates with a wider network via the open protocol.
Oguchi is one of five Mazak plants in Japan, its headquarters location and the site of its R&D operations. The plant manufactures a range of horizontal and multi-tasking machines. A new plant Mazak is building at Inabe City, southwest of Tokyo, is designed according to the "iSMART Factory" concept and will begin producing machine tools in 2019.
Mazak’s first iSMART Factory is its plant in Florence, Ky., which manufactures the complete line of Mazak machine tools. The plant is organized as a series of advanced manufacturing cells and production systems in order to maximize productivity and flexibility. The MTConnect protocol links the machines, work cells, individual devices, and discrete processes, collecting process and product data from each one.
The iSMART Factory concept achieves “free-flow data sharing,” to optimize manufacturing by coordinating all available technology, information, and resources, in line with the theories projected as the industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
In addition to its two ISMART Factories and the one in development, Mazak indicated it would report further details in September.
Gears, motors and drives specialist Bonfiglioli says that its expanded New Zealand warehouse optimises stock availability and accessibility.
Bonfiglioli is expanding its New Zealand branch with a 25% bigger warehouse, workshop and freight transitioning area as part of an overall plan to streamline logistics, optimise stock availability and better serve customer needs.
The Auckland-based branch serves all of New Zealand, by providing gears, motors and drives to customers in many industries and sectors, including bulk handling and mining.
“We typically work on shorter lead times than other branches anyway, due to the nature of the business in New Zealand. We need to be able to pack and assemble for three to four day deliveries at times,” said Neil Pollington, Bonfiglioli New Zealand country manager.
“Our competitive advantage is why this upgrade is vital to the continuous improvement of our business. It gives us greater flexibility in the handling, warehousing and assembly of products, which optimises stock availability and lead times,” he said.
The expansion of the NZ branch is part of a strategic plan to grow the entire operation with a strong focus on stock availability, to meet customer needs. Other initiatives include in-country assembly in both Australia and New Zealand, which further enhances lead times.
“Being able to understand customers’ needs is crucial to the success of our business. As an Italian owned company, a lot of our suppliers are based in Europe, so we have long lead times for parts. Our close relationships with our valued customers mean that we are often ordering parts in advance, so that we can deliver on-time,” said Mr Pollington.
Between the worlds of CNC machining and additive manufacturing (AM), there lies a bridge technology referred to as hybrid manufacturing. Hybrid systems combine both production techniques to join the benefits of subtractive and additive processes—the precision of the former with the freedom of the latter.
As promising as hybrid manufacturing is for changing the way objects are made, the state of the technology makes it ideal for a specific niche in the market. To learn more, ENGINEERING.com spoke to Jason Jones, CEO and co-founder of Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies. Continue to full article