The aviation industry is constantly striving for latest technological solutions to the challenges it faces. A look into the advanced tools and technology trends in the industry tells you that India is aggressively looking to carve a role for itself as a global manufacturing hub as well as aiming big for infrastructure development. Cutting tool industry, which derives its demand from across a wide spectrum of sectors, is looking forward to seize on the opportunity. Adaptive as they are, Indian manufacturers are looking at challenges at hand in meeting the expected demands and are constantly looking to address them through innovative technologies. Fortunately, cross-sectoral demand for advanced cutting tool puts the industry well placed to capitalise on opportunities emerging in a growing economy.
The end markets for drilling and boring tools for instance are highly diverse and not confined to aerospace. As demand is driven by sectors as varied as general engineering, transportation, energy and aerospace market, the demand for advanced cutting tools will continue to shoot north in the years to come. More so, because an efficient use of cutting tools impacts the overall cost of manufacturing. We are very optimistic about the future and are taking steps to capitalise on the potential opportunities in these segments.
Apart from aerospace, these segments include sectors like railways, defence, die and mould, and medical engineering for the sturdiness of the growth. It particularly draws attention to automotive industry and heavy and light engineering sectors for the “phenomenal growth and technological advancements in the industry”.
Infrastructure is another sector the industry has keen eyes on. Impressive developments in infrastructure and construction activities in the Asia Pacific region are also contributing factors in the growing demand for cutting tools.
It would be only appropriate in this context to take note of the Indian government’s ambitious Rs 100 lakh crore (USD 1.3 trillion) plan for integrated infrastructure development to assess sectors driving the cutting tool industry.
Cutting tool industry is looking to find a mentionable name for itself in the growth story. But like any other industry at any other time, it has challenges at hand.
Boring or drilling or deep hole drilling, each applications throws its own challenge in selecting a suitable cutting tool.
The most common among all the cutting tools, a drill, coming in various shapes for varied types of applications, is going through a major shift in terms of technology adoption for a myriad of challenges that it places. Among the most complex machining processes, drilling, deep hole drilling and boring has witnessed introduction of a variety of solutions to challenges they pose.
“Hole making is considered to be one of the most difficult machining operations,” says the MMC MD. At the same time, innovations taking place in the field of hole making play a substantive role in making very sophisticated pieces.
The shopfloor faces myriad of challenges everyday such as process of changing drills leading to higher operation time and the setting of the boring tools resulting in errors and backlashes. Chip extraction, chip jamming, chips spilling out of control, and improper evacuation of chips are some of the major challenges that operators face with drilling. Vibration and coolant starvation are some of the other aspects to be looked at.
Consumers are getting forced to use centre drills as a pre-drilling operation in long drilling applications which is another hurdle that leads to longer operation time..
An expert makes particular mention of the safety hazard as well as damage to the workpiece on account of chip getting out of control, especially while drilling the super alloys or the stainless-steel workpieces.
A very important aspect of safety is a long, stringy chips getting wound up around the drill body which could lead to accident and damage to the workpiece. Meanwhile, on the other hand, short chips generated during drilling of a few varieties of cast iron or some alloy steels, may pose these problems because they do not get evacuated properly leading to breakage of tool and sometime damaging the component or the machine, too. Searching for suitable grades and coatings also need to be addressed. There are various challenges in searching for solutions and finding answers through technology.
According to a recent survey, it has been suggested that a lot of Indian manufacturers are adopting advanced manufacturing practices more than the manufacturers from some other advanced countries. Manufacturers today embrace technology much faster than ever before, says Ketan Shah, Product Specialist – Hole Making for India at Sandvik Coromant.
A market expert stresses his point by citing the rising ratio of NPS (New Product Sales) in the market which suggests that the “rate at which customers and manufacturers are adapting to changes in the technologies is increasing rapidly. In a dog-eat-dog scenario, it is imperative for businesses to create a strong value differentiation for customers. “Adapting emerging trends in cutting tools with innovation, refined manufacturing processes, advanced surface treatments and grades enable manufacturers to create that competitive value differentiation,” revealed the expert who didn’t want to be named while explaining the increasing integration of new technologies.
However, since the industry serves a wide range of end-consumers, the adoption rate of new technologies, of course, varies according to the end markets a manufacturer targets. Apart from such individual variations, as the manufacturing industry continues to evolve, new technologies will also continue to shape the future and cutting tools will definitely lead that future charge.
Article by Arijit Nag
Arijit Nag is a freelance journalist who writes on various aspects of the economy and current affairs.
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