FEATURE HYDRAULICS & PNEUMATICS Pushing towards the ‘flexible factory’

Flexible factories demand flexible production and flexible thinking. With their modular approach, push-fit fittings and pipes are a natural choice for this new era. Roger Goodwin, business development manager at John Guest, comments


he world’s mindset is changing. Encouraged by the web and

smart technology, we’re living in an era of instant gratification – and manufacturing is working hard to keep up with this demand. In the emerging economies, a new

breed of mega-factory is churning out goods and driving down costs. Unable to compete on low cost products, many manufacturers elsewhere are turning to quality by embracing smaller runs of higher value, with individualisation at the core. Cars are just one example, with

buyers increasingly able to specify their exact requirements. There’s also a trend towards smaller

plants. Some UK manufacturers are even turning to the ‘pop-up’ model, taking their factories nearer to their markets to improve their service while reducing supply-chain complexity. A feature of a more agile economy, the era of the ‘flexible factory’ has arrived on the coattails of Industry 4.0. The signs are that it’s working. Recent UN data shows the UK has risen to become the world’s eighth biggest nation by manufacturing output, its highest ranking since 2008. According to Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF Manufacturers’ Body, this: “reflects the renaissance that manufacturing is currently undertaking through a consistent focus on innovation, research and development, and high-value skills.”


pipes carrying it to individual tools and workstations. However, while galvanised steel has been used for countless years, it doesn’t lend itself well to the concept of the flexible factory. It typically comes in 6m lengths and needs to be cut to size, before threading and installation. It’s also quite heavy and rigid, making it difficult to move or reconfigure. Galvanised steel pipes also have a tendency to leak, affecting machine performance and resulting in environmental waste and significant cost. It isn’t uncommon for a galvanised system to lose as much as 30% of a compressor’s output. Most of the leakage occurs where joints are made, as rust and the build-up of deposits reduce the effectiveness of the seal.

PUSH-FIT FITTINGS None of this is compatible with flexible factories or the notion of future-proofed manufacturing. Luckily, another more agile solution has emerged: push-fit fittings and pipes, such as those in the John Guest Air and Pneumatics range. Manufactured from either nylon or

aluminium, they are comparable to steel in terms of strength, but are corrosion resistant and much lighter and easier to handle. They are also precision engineered to ensure a leak-proof seal, preventing loss of compressed air and accumulation of deposits. Available in easy to cut 3m lengths, a

Push-fit fittings and pipes are available in the John Guest Air and Pneumatics range

A DIFFERENT WAY OF WORKING This ‘flexible factory’, however, demands a different way of working. To accommodate different product lines and changing demands, the production layout must be re- engineered and equipment needs to be moved. Manufacturers are therefore demanding faster and more efficient ways to reconfigure their plant and make flexible factories a reality. One of the biggest gains can be

made with compressed air. One of the key drivers of industrial automation, compressed air powers a vast range of equipment. Without it, industry would be far less efficient, and Industry 4.0 would be impossible. In most factories, compressed air is generated in a compressor and then carried throughout the plant in galvanised steel pipes, with smaller


Cars buyers today are increasingly able to specify their exact requirements

simple push-fit mechanism allows for the installation – and demounting – of fittings and pipes quickly and without tools, facilitating an even more streamlined installation. Rather than full factory layouts that require constant maintenance, they allow installers to think about modular compressed air systems. No matter how many times the layout needs reconfiguring, installers can be sure that they will perform effectively, time and time again.

John Guest

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64