There’s a new woman in my life, and my wife is jealous. Really? I admit that I’ve been a little preoccupied lately with automating my house, but to say that I talk to Alexa more than the mother of my children is unfair. No, it’s not obsessive behavior; it’s an experiment in what’s possible.
It’s no secret that many manufacturers are scrambling to attract skilled workers to fill openings. A host of training programs are available to provide job seekers with the skills needed to get hired, and one in my hometown of Chicago that caught my attention is the Jane Addams Resource Center.
Manufacturers are continually looking to improve workflows. To assist them in reducing the time to assemble products and worker errors, Cemtrex, Inc. offers Workbench XR, an augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) software application developed for the manufacturing industry. The Farmingdale, N.Y., company plans to release a beta version this summer.
A sensei is a teacher or instructor, usually of Japanese martial arts. Sensai the company offers an augmented productivity platform for manufacturing operations, but transferring knowledge to help people make better decisions is at the heart of the company’s concept, according to CEO Porfirio Lima. “We believe that the most valuable asset an organization has is the knowledge that comes from its people.”
As the factories for U.S. manufacturers are increasingly becoming digitized and connected, the surface for cyberattacks is broadening. To allow experimentation on cybersecurity technology for the factory floor, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Chicago, officially launched its “Cyber Hub for Manufacturing” earlier this month. DMDII reported that the U.S. Department of Defense contributed $750,000 in seed funding for the hub.
After helping customers to remove tramp oil from coolant for more than 40 years, Jim Petrucci, vice president of Oil Skimmers Inc., has yet to hear from anyone that doesn’t have at least some tramp oil present in an individual machine sump or large holding tank. When enough tramp oil seeps into coolant on a steady basis to justify the acquisition of oil-removal equipment, which is common, the Cleveland-based company offers oil skimmers to remove surface oil.
Customers of Cobra Carbide asked the company for made-in-America cutting tools and the West Coast manufacturer of drills, endmills, reamers and burs met their request. Until late 2016, Cobra sold tools in the U.S. that were produced either at its Riverside, Calif., facility or a plant it owned in India, which the company recently sold. It now produces all its tools in Riverside. “As more and more customers asked for made-in-the-U.S. product, we changed accordingly,” said Cobra Carbide’s CEO, Rakesh Aghi.
There’s a Sands Casino where the Bethlehem Steel Corp. once stood. The casino was completed in 2009, just 8 years after the 100-year-old steel company filed bankruptcy. Ironically, the biggest obstacle facing the casino’s developer was a shortage of structural steel. Even more ironically, the developer ended up buying it from Nucor Corp., the onetime “minimill” competitor that Bethlehem executives scoffed at decades earlier for the startup’s embrace of electric arc furnace technology.
Not only is automation continuing to displace workers at manufacturing companies, the thought of being ousted by a robot is making some workers at those plants feel sick. That’s according to a study by three Ball State University researchers and a Villanova University professor.
A free app for the repair of industrial equipment aims to quickly connect service requesters with service providers. Up! by Up! LLC, Columbus, Ohio, is a new app designed to match manufacturers with companies that perform repair and preventive maintenance services for equipment. “We look at ourselves as the crusaders against downtime,” said CEO A. Vinod.
Twenty years ago, tired of the Minnesota winters, I interviewed for a job with a largish aerospace shop in Austin, Texas. The owner was looking for a general manager, and George, the recruiter who set up the interview, warned me that there might be some tough questions. He was right. I did pretty well until almost the end of the interview. “If you get the job, what’s the first thing you’ll do to increase productivity in my shop?” the owner asked. It was an unfair question. After all, I’d never seen his shop, so how would I know what needed fixing? In hindsight, I should have told him as much. But I assumed that his shop was much like most shops back then: plagued with hourslong setups, wasted motion and downtime.
In connection with my feature article on abrasive machining for the May issue, I spoke with Steve Kendjelic, senior applications engineer for Norton/Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Worchester, Mass., about power gear honing. The process is used for ultrafinishing generated gear teeth and is generally performed on a honing machine.
Some tool builders in the expanding economy are having a hard time obtaining machine components, which is delaying production, said Logan McGhan, technical salesman at KD Capital Equipment LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz., a machinery dealer specializing in used CNC machinery, plastic molding machinery and sheet metal fabrication. He said U.S. manufacturers must meet delivery deadlines in a demanding market. “You could potentially lose a customer," McGhan said, adding he is hearing about wait times of 6 months to a year for certain machinery. This environment may make it a good time for some companies to buy or sell used CNC equipment, even if doing so is new for them.
If you’re reading this, it means that Earth wasn’t destroyed. On Feb. 9, the asteroid 2018 CB passed overhead with just 39,000 miles to spare—well within the moon’s orbit and, by outer space standards, way too close for comfort. The pocket protector-toting space nerds at NASA call the asteroid a near-Earth object, which is defined as any object that passes through our solar system at less than 1.3 astronomical units (about 120 million miles) from the sun.
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