A CNC Shop Owner Looks At The Changing Face Of Manufacturing
Rusty Arant of North Carolina’s Northeast Tool is a true believer in applying the latest manufacturing technologies to keep his family business competitive. That includes adding a robotic automation system designed by Gosiger Automation that dramatically reduces time and cost-per-part. You can read the full case study elsewhere on the Gosiger Web site.
When we interviewed Rusty, he shared his thoughts on the changing face of manufacturing:
- I see automation as a natural evolution of the manufacturing process. It enables us to reduce the number of hands that touch the part during production, the amount of floor space utilized and the time required to go from raw materials to finished parts.
- When I first looked for opportunities to enhance our manufacturing processes with automation, I thought about everyday life and how much robots are already involved. The washing machine and many other household appliances are, essentially, robots. A recent example is the self-driving car. We use these robots to save time and energy that we can apply elsewhere. Which is exactly what we need to make our manufacturing processes more efficient.
- Realizing that automation and other advanced manufacturing technologies were already all around us, I knew that we had to be intentional about implementing automation within our company.
- Introducing automation into our manufacturing process has been a paradigm shift in how we are growing our company. For example, it has changed our criteria for recruiting new employees. Today, we look for engineering school graduates with automation experience or the ability and desire to learn about automation. So far we’ve hired three engineers with automation backgrounds.
- Collaboration between the manufacturer, the supplier of machine tools and the system integrator, is the key to developing a successful automation process. Our company and Gosiger Automation worked closely together to come up with the best solution for our needs.
- For thousands of years, mankind has been manufacturing things by using tools to shape or cut other materials. We use carbide and diamond coated tools to make parts from various kinds of metals, for example. However, this whole art of machining is about to change radically with the adoption of advanced technologies like additive manufacturing. While there may not be head-to-head comparisons yet, we are already seeing examples of disruptive technology, such as putting machine tools and additive manufacturing tools together to cut time and cost-per-part.
- One of the most exciting aspects of this kind of advanced manufacturing is that design engineers can now create parts in ways they never even thought of before.
- Seeing the difference that robotic automation makes in our manufacturing processes made me think about the changing roles of the machinist, the programmer and the design engineer. We’ve replaced the manual machinist with a CNC machine operator who tends an automated cell that’s programmed offline, so the operator is disconnected from the manufacturing process. That’s one reason we acquired a 3-D printer. Now we can print a physical model of the part so the machinist can actually see and hold it prior to production. This has greatly enhanced their ability to connect with what they are actually machining.
- We’ve also taken that concept to our production readiness reviews prior to producing the part. Having a 3-D model allows us to address work holding, special tools and other requirements for a successful production run.
- We’ve been in business for more than fifty years and have seen a great deal of manufacturing technology changes in that time. Considering how rapidly these new, advanced technologies are developing and their impact on our industry, I believe that any manufacturer that isn’t moving in that direction will not be in business fifty years from now.
Listening to our customers brings greater understanding to the Gosiger team so we can better apply our 95+ years of manufacturing equipment and applications experience to helping CNC shops compete and prosper. Contact your nearest Gosiger facility and tell us your story. Our people know how to listen – and help.