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IMTS 2024 attendees can visit Shop Floor Automations for manufacturing integration solutions and support

“Everything we have today is the result of going to Chicago, walking through those doors of IMTS, and seeing all the amazing technology. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s like walking into a living room that’s set up as a CNC shop with people smiling and ready to help you.” 

 — Ashley Miller, Co-owner, ARC EDM 

For those who attended the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2022, like Miller, they know that there was plenty to keep over 86,000 registrants from 110 countries interested in the 1,816 exhibitors. IMTS 2024 promises much more, with many new product launches and networking connections anticipated over the course of the six-day event.

Visit Shop Floor Automations at IMTS 2024 in Chicago

New Products, New Connections

ZOLLER (booth #432018), for one, plans to introduce its >>coraMeasure LG<< automated tool measurement system to improve tool measurement precision and speed by delivering tools to a linear robot that removes tools from the pallet and moves them to a ZOLLER >>venturion<< presetting and measuring machine. Each tool is identified with the ZOLLER >>dChip<< system and tool data is stored in the ZOLLER z.One database and accessible anywhere.

The new HAIMER (Booth #431510) Automation Cube One will also make its debut at IMTS 2024. This fully automatic robotic cell can shrink fit a tool, measure it and send the data to the machine tool in just 60 seconds. The Automation Cube One features a FANUC cobot for handling of tool assemblies and a Siemens Sinumerik One CNC control.

IMTS machine monitoring exhibitor Shop Floor Automations

DataXchange, available through IMTS machinoe monitoring exhibitor Shop Floor Automations, has released new protocol for supported equipment brands, including Okuma, Heidenhain and Siemens.

For those exploring machine monitoring and data collection solutions, Scytec Consulting (Booth #133240) has released new protocol for machine brands like Okuma, Heidenhain and Siemens to connect more data points for greater depth and analysis of equipment on the shop floor with its DataXchange equipment monitoring software. The added collection of Siemens spindle speed rates, for example, can help identify faults for better finish and surface quality due to consistent cutting speed at the tool cutting edge.

The partnership between Scytec and CGTech’s VERICUT® takes machine monitoring a step further through digital twins to simulate your manufacturing environment and identify the presence of variances before production begins on the floor, thereby minimizing or eliminating non-conformances and rework. Attendees seeking an IMTS machine monitoring exhibitor will have first access to the latest Post Check feature of CNC Machine Connect, in which users may replay stored, live-streamed data from the program for even greater visibility and predictive accuracy of your simulations.

IMTS 2024 attendees can visit Shop Floor Automations for manufacturing integration solutions and support

Greg Mercurio, president of manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations, says that “It’s the relationships that we start and build at IMTS that make the show such a vital experience. Not only are we able to demonstrate the latest advances in our technology portfolio, but our deep customer connections allow us to match the right solution and service to their environment so they can focus on their producing high-quality product.”

To plan your IMTS show with these exhibitors and others, visit www.imts.com.

Manufacturing Forecasts 2024

As 2023 winds down, it’s an ideal time to consider manufacturing trends and predictions that may affect your goals, plans and budgets for the year ahead.

Overall, there’s an expectation that interest rates will fall in the middle of 2024, fueling more consistent economic growth and acceleration by the end of the year, reports Dodge Construction Network chief economist Richard Branch in Engineering News-Record. Escalating tensions in the Middle East, Russia and Ukraine may present difficulties, however, as will continued labor issues. Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, recently told the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) that, “The good news is manufacturers will gain economic strength in this country and secure our economic wellbeing for generations to come. But for the individual manufacturer, there will be higher competition for workers in an already labor-scarce market, and that problem will persist for years. The only hope for companies to survive is to drive efficiencies by adopting automation and other advanced technologies.”

CNC Machine Operator worker productivity

Automating for Worker Productivity and Efficiency

For manufacturers feeling the continued pressures of the labor market, they’ve been heeding Beaulieu’s advice and turning toward technology to increase worker productivity while minimizing costs. There’s many examples of this occurring on the shop floor; let’s dive into three:

  1. “I’m trying to upgrade the machines in my shop to a more modern way of communicating with add-ons to keep costs low.” This manufacturer knows it can’t afford to upgrade its machines altogether. DNC software from manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations (SFA) was recommended by a user, sharing their experience that “all machines had their serial to WiFi and it was flawless sending from the DNC computer.” That same user leaned on SFA for machine monitoring software as well, noting that management loved knowing when night shift “truly ran great” based on progress reports from the software.
  2. Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere, says Bernard Marr in Forbes. Use cases are often described within enterprise organizations, such as Hitachi’s AI-generated training videos to ramp up new workers in maintenance and manufacturing. But that doesn’t mean small-to-mid-sized manufacturers can’t leverage this technology in 2024. CGTech’s CNC machine simulation solution VERICUT 9.1, for example, uses AI to learn from cutting while simulation occurs to automatically set up tools for optimization and then auto-optimizes NC programs after learning.
  3. From the outset, Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) compliance would seem to decrease worker productivity as the control of removable media, including PCMCIA cards and USB drives typically used to transfer CNC programs, is significantly tightened, if not prohibited altogether. But for manufacturers still relying on such media, they know the inefficiency – and costs – of uploading programs and getting routers per part. The use of one industrial DNC software network for all your CNC machines, robots, CMMs, PLCs, 3D printers and other equipment can help streamline the CNC program transfer process as well as provide revision control. It’s just in time, too, as CMMC is expected to be included in public contracts sometime in 2024.
manufacturing speed

By partnering with a manufacturing integrator, you’ll be best positioned to address enduring workforce issues at the lightning pace of the modern digital economy.

“The only hope for companies to survive is to drive efficiencies by adopting automation and other advanced technologies.”

While manufacturers look to technology to fill the labor gap and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution that will be able to address enduring workforce issues at the lightning pace of the modern digital economy. Only by partnering with a manufacturing integrator that understands your existing environment – and the direction you’re headed toward – will you be best positioned to tackle the trends and predictions awaiting you in 2024. Contact SFA today to discuss your strategic initiatives of tomorrow.

A screenshot of DataXchange with VERICUT software integration, which servers to provide a simulation of a machine's workflow to catch errors before they happen.

The concept of an effective digital twin, or exact replica of your equipment or process on the shop floor, gained notoriety in 2002 despite its early roots in NASA’s space program in the 1960s. Today digital twin creation is happening across manufacturing floors around the world in an effort to speed up and optimize traditional processes. Rather than perform process steps in a particular sequence, manufacturers with digital twins may carry out processes simultaneously for faster results. And there’s plenty of applications for digital twins as well. Manufacturers with a digital twin of a prototype can be tested across multiple simulations or designs to reduce the number of physical iterations needed before production, says the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or they can be used to analyze product performance, distribution and end-user experience for product design improvements.

Simulating Success

CNC machine simulation software provider CGTech, the makers of VERICUT®, and Scytec, producer of the DataXchange machine monitoring solution, identified another such application for CNC digital twins: quality management. By identifying the presence of variances before production begins on the floor, the partnering companies found that non-conformances and rework can be minimized, if not wholly eliminated. It works like this: CNC machines with modern FANUC oi and 30i series controls are monitored by the DataXchange solution, sending set up information, like main NC programs, subprograms, axis locations, work offsets, and tooling, to compare with VERICUT’s Machine Configuration (VMC) for accuracy verification. Any differences between machine values and simulation values are then updated in the VERICUT simulation to ensure only the intended result. By rerunning the simulation with values from the machine, it’s possible to check that there are no new problems or unexpected errors related to the machine setup.

A screenshot of DataXchange with VERICUT software integration, which servers to provide a simulation of a machine's workflow to catch errors before they happen.

With this latest DataXchange integration with VERICUT, any differences between actual machine values and simulation values can be updated in the VERICUT simulation to ensure only the intended result.

VERICUT shows material removal at the workpiece level, but it can also simulate entire machine tools as they appear on the shop floor. Its Machine Simulation detects collisions and near-misses between all machine tool components, such as axis slides, heads, turrets, rotary tables, spindles, tool changers, fixtures, work pieces, cutting tools and other user-defined objects. A user can set up near-miss zones around the components to check for close calls, and detect over-travel errors.

Honing Predictive Accuracy

In future releases, the VERICUT integration with DataXchange for CNC Digital Twins is expected to introduce these capabilities:

  • Glean post-machining insights to investigate differences between how the part ran on the machine and simulation
  • Investigate potential issues that may have caused parts to be out of specification, review any modifications to the NC program subroutines, or feed rates and spindle speeds
  • Identify and review any errors or problems that resulted in overrides or emergency stops in real-time
  • Compare live cycle times to VERICUT’s predicted run times
A screenshot of VERICUT software, showing the project tree and programs that can be simulated within the software.

Collisions and near-misses between all machine tool components may be recorded in the VERICUT Machine Simulation for refinement opportunities.

The digital twin concept has come a long way since Dr. Michael Grieves first applied it to manufacturing in the early 2000s. But its benefits hold promise, particularly for manufacturers saddled with costly materials, a limited and extended workforce and high customer demands for exceptional quality. To learn more about the VERICUT integration with DataXchange for your manufacturing business, contact a Shop Floor Automations expert today.