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Brian Papke VIEWPOINTS INDUSTRY LEADER OPINION & ANALYSIS It’s a Journey: Get Smart About Manufacturing v W


hether they realize it or not, many manufacturers already employ some, if not all, of the strategies and technologies necessary to operate as a smart factory. In addition to lean principles, practically every manufacturer has implemented to one degree or another, advanced manufacturing cells and systems—i.e., multitasking, full fi ve-axis machine tools and some level of automation. However, they often lack one key component: full digital integration to achieve free-fl ow data shar- ing in terms of process control and operation monitoring. Those already operating smart factories, Mazak and its


iSMART Factory included, continue to increase utilization, increase throughput, eliminate nonvalue-added operations and boost production fl exibility and part-machining effi ciency. On the cells and systems side of the smart factory, multitask-


ing/fi ve-axis machine technology is a must. These machines still are evolving, and tomorrow’s multitasking systems will have even more single-setup, done-in-one part-processing capabilities to further increase productivity with less capital equipment. Every day, OEMs develop new software and accessories that give multitasking machines even more functionality. Multitasking machines now can build whole parts and part features using ad- ditive manufacturing processes, then machine those parts com- plete in subtractive operations. Such advances will continue, and manufacturers can expect that new advancements will dominate many booths, Mazak’s included, at IMTS 2016. Much like machine tools, automation also is evolving from


yesterday’s dedicated systems to those that are more fl exible. Increased fl exibility lets manufacturers not only combine different operations/types of machine tools all within the same automated cell, but also to process a wider range of part types with it. The role of automation is fundamental to the smart fac- tory and can be implemented in various levels or degrees. For instance, the combined operations of a multitasking system that allows done-in-one part processing is automation at its simplest form. At higher degrees of automation, those same multitasking machines would include gantry systems, robotics or other load- ing devices and work with other machines within an automated cell. Whatever the degree of implementation, automation within a smart factory must provide the fl exibility to adapt to different types of machine tools and parts.


112 AdvancedManufacturing.org | May 2016 While multitasking and automation technologies are well


entrenched in today’s part production operations, the full digital integration aspect of the smart factory could be considered relatively new, especially within the manufacturing world. Most people would agree that the development of the MTConnect standard open communications protocol was manufacturing’s fi rst real recognition of the digital connectivity concept. In the smart factory, MTConnect is mandatory. Thanks to The Association of Manufacturing Technology, MTConnect has gained momentum as more companies integrate larger numbers of machines to improve system output. For Mazak’s iSMART Factory, MTConnect works with process support software and provides connectivity and the ability to monitor and then harvest data from all the other machines, cells, devices and processes.


Every day, OEMs develop software and accessories that give multitasking machines even more functionality.


Data could be considered the lifeblood of a smart factory, and to keep it fl owing requires sensors that draw it out of machines and other equipment on the factory fl oor. Sensor technology has advanced to the point where its use can transform anything from automobiles to coffee makers into smart systems. Unfortunately, full digital integration between manufacturing systems, data storage and the outside world via the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) makes many nervous, mainly those in the IT department. Their biggest concern is cybersecurity. Within the smart factory, there must exist a system that func- tions much like a network fi rewall/fi lter. For Mazak’s own iSMART Factory operations, the company worked with Cisco Systems to develop just such a system, the SmartBox. Now on the market, it not only protects Mazak’s internal network, but also provides a platform for easy and secure entrance into the IIoT. As a fi nal and very important note, the smart factory concept can be considered a journey and one implemented in stages. But in the end, it is an all-or-nothing concept. Lean principles, advanced manufacturing cells and systems along with full digital integration woven into the operations must all be in place for a factory to truly be a smart one.


President Mazak Corp.


www.mazakusa.com


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