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How Is Technology Changing Manufacturing?

Tag Archive: automated assembly

  1. How Is Technology Changing Manufacturing?

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    Over the past several years, advanced technology has come to the forefront in the manufacturing world.

    This technology not only enhances processes via automation, it has also allowed for a huge resurgence in U.S. manufacturing. In fact, data from the Institute for Supply Management showed that as of October 2017, the U.S. manufacturing industry had expanded at its fastest pace in 13 years.

    automated technology in manufacturing

    Evolutions in additive manufacturing, automation and industrial robotics are changing every step in the manufacturing process. Manufacturers are adopting robotics and technologies to collaborate with human engineers and operators, freeing them up for higher-level tasks and thereby increasing overall efficiency.

    At ESI, we’re proud to be a part of this exciting shift. We make use of various advanced manufacturing and industrial automation technologies, allowing us to provide cost-efficient, high-quality products with extremely quick turnarounds. Take a look at some of our automated processes below to see just how much time manufacturing technology saves us — and our customers.

    3D Printing

    Time saved for prototyping jobs: Over 200 hours

    3d printer

    The use of 3D printing has dramatically reduced the amount of time needed to develop and produce prototypes, as well as the overall costs associated with the process.

    Before we started utilizing 3D printing, it could take up to two weeks to design and develop a prototype. Additive manufacturing has reduced that time to just three or four hours. And since less time is required to build the prototype, ESI can now devote more time to thoroughly testing and evaluating the part, which, in turn, allows us to more easily adjust and optimize the design as needed.

    Automated Packaging

    Time saved for packaging: 15 hours

    automated-packagingThe team at ESI also makes use of a sophisticated automated packaging machine that loads parts, weighs, and packages them according to weight. With this manufacturing technology, ESI has been able to significantly reduce the overall time and costs needed for all packaging processes.

    What used to take 20 hours with manual packaging now takes just five hours­­. This allows us to get products to customers faster, at lower rates than allowed by manual packaging.

    Vision Inspection/Assembly

    Time saved for inspection: 10 mins. per part (for million-part jobs)

    To ensure our products are of the highest possible quality, we employ an integrated vision inspection and assembly system — a unique, customized assembly machine featuring built-in technology that inspects part runs in the millions.

    This allows for high precision and nearly eliminates the risk of any defects or problems. With this technology, we’ve significantly reduced the amount of time needed to check dozens of specified criteria; now, this complex analysis can be done in just milliseconds. And since this system combines assembly and inspection processes, we can more effectively manufacture large runs of parts with greater accuracy.

    Before we started using this technology, the turnaround time for inspection and assembly was about 10 minutes per part, but now it’s just half a second! Jobs that would have been nearly impossible to complete are now easily doable.

    Learn More

    Automation and robotics deliver a range of benefits for both industrial companies and their customers. At ESI, our advanced manufacturing technology provides shorter turnarounds, faster production times, and higher-quality products, giving us more time to work with our customers to perfect part engineering, design, and functionality.

    To learn more about our manufacturing technology, or to further discuss the benefits of automation, check out our eBook on high-volume production, available in our comprehensive resource library.

    Visit our Resource Library

  2. Q&A with ESI’s President: Why More Aerospace Manufacturers Are Investing in Automation

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    2017 is looking promising for the aerospace industry, driven by increasing military investments and a growing commercial/regional aircraft market.

    This forecast is increasing jobs and manufacturing work throughout the country, forcing aerospace manufacturers to rely more heavily on automation to complete high-volume projects.

    custom-assembly

    Manufacturers serving this industry are also increasingly investing in automated inspection equipment to maintain high quality while keeping up with mass production — and many are custom manufacturing their automated equipment.

    With two facilities combining to 57,000 square feet of metal stamping, machining, assembly, and inspection equipment, Connecticut-based Engineering Specialties, Inc. (ESI) is always on the lookout for the latest technology to better serve its aerospace customers.

    We sat down with ESI President Ron Delfini to learn more about the automation engineering equipment they have custom-built and implemented in their facility.

    Q: What types of parts does ESI manufacture for the aerospace industry?

    ron-delfini-bioRon Delfini: At ESI, we offer a number of high-precision metal stamping, machining, and assembly services for aerospace projects. We’ve manufactured parts like air restrictors, tail landing gear, blade clamp assemblies, and many critical stamped and machined components.

    Tolerance repeatability is imperative for these types of projects, so we use advanced vision inspection technology custom-adapted by our in-house team of engineers. The systems they’ve made simultaneously check dozens of pre-specified tolerance criteria in milliseconds.

     

    Q: Why is automated inspection so critical for this industry?

    Ron: A single aircraft requires  thousands of metal parts, so aerospace component orders come in at very high quantities. We might have to manufacture 50,000 parts per week just for one company.  It would take months to inspect all of those parts manually — and companies just can’t wait for that kind of turnaround time. That’s why we rely on automated technology.

     

    Q: So how do these automated inspection machines work?

    Ron: One of our machines — we call it the Green Seal Machine — has an automated rotary table with seven different stations to assemble and inspect parts at the same time. Once the parts pass through the first six stations defect-free, they’re deposited at the last station to be processed for shipment.

    We also have a proprietary vision inspection machine where parts are dropped through a small window, triggering a laser sensor camera that checks for defects as they fall. These machines allow us to inspect over 500,000 parts per week.

    vision-inspection

     

    Q: How accurate are the automated inspection machines?

    Ron: These machines aren’t just faster than manual human inspection — they’re also more accurate. We can measure feature tolerances down to hundredths of a millimeter.  With our automated inspection equipment, we’re able to quickly deliver millions of parts with zero defects.

     

    Q: How often is new automated technology required?

    Ron: We’re always looking for new ways to increase efficiency. If we’re working on a project and think we can increase product quality while decreasing turnaround time, we’ll custom-build a machine specific to that part.

     

    Q: Have you invested in any other technologies that have improved your aerospace manufacturing processes?

    Ron: We use 3D printing to prototype new parts for clients quickly and cost efficiently. This allows us to perfect a design before taking on a full production run.

    3D printing also helps us custom-build solutions for our production and inspection processes. We make our own workholding fixtures, which hold our metal parts during the stamping process, as well as inspection fixtures to eliminate the need for clamps. Being able to quickly make these fixtures in-house has saved us both time and money while increasing production efficiency.

    See for Yourself — Visit ESI

    ESI is always happy to show visitors around our 30,000-square-foot North Branford, Conn., facility, or our brand-new 27,000-square-foot facility located just down the street. Contact ESI today to schedule a visit and learn more about our industrial automation equipment.

  3. Cutting Labor Costs with Automated Assembly

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    When Henry Ford first introduced the assembly line concept in the early 1900s, it was a serious game-changer — revolutionizing not just the automobile industry, but the entire manufacturing industry virtually overnight.

    custom-assemblyAfter more than a century since Ford’s innovation, the manufacturing landscape is now facing a similar manufacturing revolution: automated assembly.

    Automating certain manufacturing processes, particularly advanced assembly processes, can carry a number of benefits:

    Quicker Turnaround Time

    Smart, efficient use of automation reduces turnaround time for projects. With automation, it is easy to combine a number of assembly capabilities or production steps into a single step. ESI’s custom assembly machine with vision inspection, for example, assembles and compares dozens of part dimensions simultaneously in just seconds.

    See how it works in the video below, or download the case study for the full story.

    This combination of steps not only saves time, but also saves space in a facility. With one piece of automated equipment performing multiple steps, the individual work stations for each of those steps can be eliminated.

    Higher Quality

    Automation also enhances production quality. While some tasks, such as aligned press fits, are often difficult to perform manually, they can be made much more efficiently and accurately through automation. Automated assembly also allows for a high degree of conformity across pieces, another manufacturing aspect that is typically difficult to accomplish manually.

    Further, quality assurance steps can be implemented into an automation system in the same way that multiple production processes can be incorporated. ESI, for example, incorporates cutting edge vision-based inspection technology into all of our automated processes. This allows us to deliver assemblies with virtually 0% defect rates.

    Reduced Labor Costs

    One of the most important benefits of automated assembly is the opportunity for both direct and indirect labor cost savings. Directly, the reduction in cost of labor is clear. Every step that can be automated is a step that an employee no longer has to perform; this frees time for other tasks that can’t be automated.

    However, indirect labor savings achieved through automated assembly are often easily overlooked. Automation can reduce:

    • — Material handling and component orientation time
    • — In-process inventory, when replacing batch operations
    • — Finished product inventory
    • — Scrap
    • — Defective pieces
    • — Personnel training

    All of these reductions help to keep the cost of assembly low, but are often not considered in cost savings calculations.

    Learn How ESI Can Cut Costs on Your Next Project

    To learn about ESI’s automation capabilities, visit the Automated Assembly page of our website. To learn how ESI assembles and inspects more than 500,000 parts per week, download our new case study.

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