What equipment, processes and ideas will have the greatest impact on manufacturing environments? Technology including internet connected factory, robotics, augmented reality and 3D printing are already driving much of the change for manufacturers.
Given today’s leading-edge capabilities, it’s reasonable to envision — and prepare for — a data-driven factory of the future where all internal and external activities are connected through the same information platform. Customers, designers, and operators will share information on everything from initial concepts, to installation, to performance feedback throughout the life cycle. Assembly lines will output highly personalized products, sometimes in a lot size of one, that contain zero defects. Operators will access materials on demand, collaborate with robots to use them safely and ergonomically, and rely on virtual work instructions presented at the point of use. As a result, overall equipment effectiveness and labor utilization become more effective.
Over the last decade, China emerged as an automated manufacturing powerhouse, due to their embrace of Robotics. As labor costs increased and booming industrial demand drove tremendous growth in industrial robotics, China roughly doubled to an estimated 75,000 in 2015, with that number forecast to double yet again to 150,000 by 2018, according to the International Federation of Robotics.In the U.S, robots are employed to complement rather than replace workers. This concept, known as “cobotics,” teams operators and machines in order to make complex parts of the assembly process faster, easier, and safer.
Recent advances in computer vision, computer science, information technology, and engineering have enabled manufacturers to deliver real-time information and guidance at the point of use called augmented reality. Users simply follow the text, graphics, audio, and other virtual enhancements superimposed onto goggles or real assemblies as they perform complex tasks on the factory floor. These tools can simultaneously assess the accuracy and timing of these tasks, and notify the operator of quality risks.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing is defined as printing technology which produces solid objects from digital designs by building up multiple layers of plastic, resin, or other materials in a precisely determined shape. Early adopters among industrial manufacturing companies are using 3D printing to manufacture parts in small lots for product prototypes, to reduce design-to-manufacturing cycle times, and to dramatically alter the economics of production.
In Huron Township, MI Brose, a manufacturer of various auto parts, expects to expand its facility to accommodate increased supplier business. They have updated their processes to include various levels of these technologies. The facilities will include a child care facility, paint shop and facilities to house an additional five hundred employees.
The Local Development Finance Authority of Huron Township exists to provide public improvements necessary or desirable to facilitate, promote and sustain industrial development within the established district.
The Local Development Financing Act (LDFA), allows eligible entities to establish area boundaries, create and implement a development plan, acquire and dispose of interest in real and personal property, issue bonds and use tax increment financing to fund public infrastructure improvements for eligible property. The tool is designed to promote economic growth and job creation. The group has used these tools to support companies in manufacturing, agricultural processing, and high technology operations.
Huron Township LDFA is home to many other successful manufacturing businesses with space to grow new companies! Recently the group has developed a new LDFA2 district with many opportunities for new business. Call R.P. Lilly, chairman for more information 517-375-1624.