Additive Manufacturing

SEP 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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GLOBAL SERVICES CATEGORY: M Manufacturing 4.0 mtadditive.com 19 By Marcel Beraud Director – Global Services AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology Here we are in the fourth cycle of manufacturing, which some call Manufacturing 4.0 and others call Smart Manufacturing, all enabled by the advent of Internet of Things. While it all sounds very cool, what many fail to mention is what it takes to play and excel in this realm. And where does the journey end? How do we embark on it, how much is it going to cost, what does it mean and how do I measure my progress? These are all valid questions that we ask ourselves when we hear, read or participate in one of these sessions. What is it for me? Simple: It is the goal of a fully integrated supply chain that is closed loop and provides feedback, so waste and errors can be eliminated, thus increasing customer satis- faction and positive impact on the bottom line. I can hear you asking: "Isn't this what we have all been working towards all these years?" As an avid floor manufacturing guy, to me it all starts with the basics. We need to have robustness in everything we do: our designs, our process instructions and controls, our material selection and control, employee selection/retention, environmental and safety awareness, etc. Everything we do needs to be well defined, controlled, monitored and re- peatable, and most of all have a positive impact on the human who is performing the tasks. This closed-loop supply chain is all about data, which will allow us to "predict to anticipate" and "adapt to adjust" with the agility to respond much faster than we have ever dreamed of. But as one person said, "bad data in is bad data out." So, what can one do to get ready for 4.0? For one, make sure that we anticipate the outcome of our processes, ensuring that all variables are accounted for, and that we engage the workforce, because it is they who will ultimately enjoy the benefits of this journey, and they need to know it is not just the flavor of this week, month or year. It is here to stay. Our competitors, customers and suppliers will expect it. What Does it Take to Be 4.0 Ready? Recently I participated in a technical session about augmented reality on the factory floor. Everything sounds so cool and futuristic, where an employee could wear some goggles and a system would walk them through the assem- bly of a complex product using data streamed to their visor. Imagine a world where we would not need any documen- tation on the floor. Skill set expectations would be reset since the individual would be told step by step how to do the assembly. If an error occurred, the operator would be alerted, and the line would stop. How cool is that? What they forget to mention is the robustness of all those input points. Data integrity would be of utmost importance, much greater than ever before. During the presentation I was thinking how I would support all this. What if the headgear is not returned to its right location after the shift, or what if it was broken and I didn't have another set for the next shift? What if all this gear produces safety or health issues to my employees? Or if my system is down and needs to be rebooted, do I have backup systems in place so I don't lose my line output? What are the infrastructure costs and maintenance required to keep all this data flowing? Ultimately, does it improve the way of life of my workforce? One analogy might be the assimilation of GPS navigation systems in our vehicles, whether through our phones or another de- vice. We have grown so accustomed to using those that if they fail or take us to the wrong place, we are way out of luck. Whatever happened to our abil- ities to use maps or find our location? Another example is our cellphones. It seems we have grown so dependent on them that some have lost their confidence to socialize in person. To me technology is to help me improve my way of life. When it becomes dependency, I try to distance myself. As we move into 4.0 let's not forget that it all starts with the fundamentals: robustness in everything we do, consistency in the way we do things and predicting as much as possible the future outcome with the resources at the tips of our fingers. The revolution is here, and we need make sure we are ready for what it takes to operate in this type of environment. How do we embark on it, how much is it going to cost, what does it mean and how do I measure my progress?

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