Out Front with Bob Henry


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Machine-Tool Reliability: The Cornerstone of Automation

Like the proverb of building a house on sand, so too would be the development of an automated manufacturing system built with unreliable machines. The very purpose of automating machining processes is to establish robust, stable, around-the-clock production that lowers costs, increases throughput and improves part quality. Machine downtime is a crippling obstruction to attaining these goals. As such, a reliable machine platform is the enabler for a manufacturer’s ability to automate a production process. In fact, it is absolutely essential.

The relentless demand that North American manufacturers face to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve traceability and throughput is a primary driver for the trend toward automation. It is through this type of advanced technology that manufacturers can level the global playing field and develop robust, reliable and cost-effective production processes that satisfy the needs of the market. In fact, some analysts forecast that the North American industrial robotics market is poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 percent between 2015 and 2019. With this rising demand for automation, it is essential for manufacturers to begin building a foundation for these technologies by investing in reliable machine tools.

Reliability and maintainability are fundamental principles in the design and construction of every machining center at Makino. Design elements such as one-piece way covers and dual-supported tool-change arms are examples of how our engineers carefully evaluate each machine component based on its ability to stand up to the toughest production environments 24/7, with minimal routine maintenance required. It is this level of design that enables leading manufacturers to confidently run their machines and their automated systems to satisfy their customers’ cost and volume requirements.

The requirements for a reliable automated manufacturing system don’t end with the selection of the right machining center. Manufacturers must also carefully consider their choice of an integrator of the automation solution. All manufacturers, particularly those investing in automation for the first time, need a reliable partner who possesses deep knowledge and experience in the planning, design, development and integration of complex automated systems. A reliable partner should be capable of effectively managing all aspects of an automated manufacturing system, including hydraulic fixtures, robot end-of-arm tooling, vision systems, 2D matrix stamping, blow-off stations and custom human-to-machine interface (HMI) control systems. In selecting the right supplier, manufacturers should be regularly informed of current project status and feel confident that project timelines are being met. Who better to manage those details than the people most familiar with the reliable machine platform, the machine manufacturer. It’s counterintuitive to add more communication and interface challenges to any project.

With decades of experience in supporting manufacturers’ investments in automation, Makino has become uniquely capable of developing robust production-ready processes—including the machines, fixtures, tools, programs and documentation—for parts with demanding tolerances and tight deadlines, challenging budget constraints and statistical quality standards. Our teams manage every step of an automation project with single-point contact project management, project engineering, on-site supervision and post-installation training and support. Most important, customers benefit from guaranteed cycle times, improved process capability (Cpk) and cost per part that meet or exceed their objectives.

To remain competitive, North American manufacturers need to consider investments in automation, but not without first identifying reliable and enabling machines from a reliable supplier. By initially focusing on establishing a reliable foundation, manufacturers can expect to see success and competitiveness.

Contact Bob Henry at:
Phone:(513) 573-7425
Email: robert.henry@makino.com