As shops look to expand capacity, they are increasingly turning to lights-out machining instead of adding machines, employees or shifts. Utilising overnight and weekend hours to produce parts with no operators present, shops are able to get more production out of their existing machines. However, unattended machining can be risky and not advisable — if a machine or cutting tool were to fail with no one around to quickly address the situation, the results could be costly
In order to successfully transition a production process from attended to unattended machining, shops should reconsider every aspect of the process and optimise it for lights-out production. The new process may require new equipment, such as the addition of automation for loading and unloading the machine in the form of bar feeders, machine-tending robots or pallet systems. Machine monitoring software can provide data and insights into the process that can drive optimisation. Moreover, chip and coolant management systems need to be robust enough to continue working through unattended shifts. Cutting tools may be the one aspect machine shops may overlook when building a lights-out machining process.
Being one of the leading manufacturers of machine tools and a key player in the industry, India offers several investment opportunities. The industry is moving towards increasingly advanced CNC machines, driven by demand from critical user segments, such as electronics, medical equipment, die and mould, automobiles, consumer durables, etc. Hence, modern manufacturers of machine tools should leverage the capabilities to cater to this demand and investments to yield long-term benefits.
As the government emphasises on ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbharta’, the spotlight is on the Indian manufacturing sector. Going by the industry reports of the last few years, there has been encouraging response to the Indian machine tools industry and is also projected to grow further in the coming years. So, how do we work towards the future and realising a positive outcome? As the process of automation is integrated with the latest CNC controllers and machine tools, it allows the user to implement a process that delivers precision, quality, and higher productivity.
The machine tool industry is gaining prominence and has started adopting innovative solutions. The technology push in the machine tools industry is driven by user industries demand for automation and an increase in productivity. Hence, there is a significant demand for more flexible machine tool designs that can quickly adapt to new products, as well as for sophisticated CNC controllers that can operate and deliver precision.
In order to make India the focus of major investments, we need to establish India as a global brand, the products manufactured in India should be backed by higher accuracy and sophisticated machines catering to a wide range of Industries. The right technology and correct pricing will be the deciding factor for Indian businesses. Organisations need to encourage R&D activities to cultivate and process the ideas of Machine tool manufacturing.
It’s important that companies should also indulge in activities like Vocational Trainings at various training institutes to bridge the gap of technical knowledge among the youth. In turn supporting the future of the Indian machine tool Industry.
The most common types of machining and metal fabrication tools can be categorised as the following:
Three reasons to watch the Indian machine tool industry, even from a vantage as distant as North America are as follows:
Generally, majority of the builders focus on the domestic market first, and many cite North America as a target for the distant future. However, there are entities who are already here, or likely soon will be. By the time this article is published, Marshall Manufacturing will be offering “plug-and-play” Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) turning technology from an office in Atlanta.
An Indian company, Bharat Fritz-Werner (BFW), which is a manufacturer of milling and turning machines, sees opportunity in the mould and die sector in particular. Company representatives say they could foresee opening a U.S. office within a year.
Emerging technologies like additive and data-driven manufacturing are essential if India is to be a major player in the advanced manufacturing markets of the future, and by the look of things there is ample evidence of manufacturers focusing on both. Advanced knowledge of when machines need maintenance and tools will wear—a critical concern when machining of materials like titanium and Inconel—has significantly reduced labour costs.
Recently, at a concluding celebration of IMTEX, representatives of the India Machine Tools Manufacturers’ Association (IMTMA) recalled that many people did not take the organisation seriously when it began construction of the BIEC in 2007. The detractors said that many other large machine tool exhibitions have taken place at venues built and funded by governments, not privately-owned trade associations. Suffice it to say, these representatives consider their critics have been silenced.
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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