Automation: Time & Money Saved
Automation: Time & Money Saved
Automation brings to mind robots for most people. But rather than the stereotypical sci-fi robot, automation should bring to mind some more practical concepts: time and money saved.
Many applications are already increasing manufacturing automation, but in large scale projects that need the precision of portable metrology, the software SpatialAnalyzer® (SA) from New River Kinematics (NRK) is boosting the efficiency and ease of automating processes.
Gone are the days of hand-built large machines for transportation. In the past, planes used to be hand-built, piece by piece. Assembly changes have driven the industry to innovate and replicate. Lower costs, raised quantities and repeatability are high priorities in the manufacturing sectors. The use of robots and automation allow for duplication more easily in the manufacturing process of trains, planes, and automobiles.
The term "automation" may imply creating many of the same, but some of the biggest advancements in automation are numerous custom projects it applies to. For every part, there is a process to automate and the need to measure the effectiveness of that automation.
Rick Cole, of NRK, feels that custom designed automation processes are the future for portable metrology applications. “There are phases of automation, and really, there are no ‘typical’ applications. Everyone building anything needs to customize to fit their needs,” he said.
Cole explained that modern automation’s event-based model changes old ideas about automation that were based on time and often ran into production difficulties.
“Certainly, there are uses for off-the-shelf series of measurements that use data acquisition and measure them against templates,” he said. “But there are also major applications that need solutions specifically and truly designed for them.”
One example is the Delta 4 rocket being constructed in Florida, where seasonal hurricanes are an issue. The manufacturing facility is, by necessity, a building with only a few stories. Typically a fuselage for a rocket like the Delta 4 is stacked vertically. In this case, the Delta 4 is being built on its side, with some adjustments in the manufacturing process.
SA can be used to automate external activities and send movement instructions to a robot or piece of equipment. Cole describes it like this: “Here’s where you are, and here’s how you need to fit and move those pieces. There are two extra large pieces and you have to track their location and orientation in real time and be able to reposition in any direction. The laser trackers tell us where the pieces are and ensure that they will fit during the process.” The term “automation” may imply creating many of the same, but some of the biggest advancements in automation are numerous custom projects it applies to. For every part, there is a process to automate and the need to measure the effectiveness of that automation.
There are serious consequences if components are not aligned properly, especially if they are not aerodynamic enough to fly. This is a dangerous situation, particularly if it has a fuel payload that potentially could explode. The question is: How can you measure something to a hair’s breadth, if that something is the size of a locomotive? Well, with SA, you can.
Automation is surely making a difference in large scale projects and people are taking notice. Automation is where so many things are pointed to for the future, creating more need for custom assignments such as automation within production. And in industries that are driven for higher productivity, more accountability and increased compatibility, it’s not hard to predict the future: added automation.
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