TMCnet Feature
July 09, 2020

How Does Industry 4.0 Impact the Future of CNC Machining?

When German economist Klaus Schwab suggested in 2007 that interconnectivity - the internet of things - would drive the future of industry, he envisioned a time when data collection would be used to automate and optimize the efficiency of manufacturing processes.

Industry 4.0 is the materialization of Schwab's vision and it's quickly becoming an integral part of CNC machining, 3D Printing, and other innovative manufacturing methods.

Industry 4.0, like earlier major industrial revolutions, promises to reorganize production methods and the type of employee positions needed to support the changes. Progressive CNC machine shops must be prepared to implement the transition, in order to compete in current and future markets.

Those in the CNC business shouldn't fear the change. Industry 4.0 provides the means to collect performance data instantly and use it to make quick decisions for increasing product quality and production efficiency.  Faster order delivery, increased demand, and greater profits will result. The CNC industry overall, will benefit.

Tom Kohm, President & CEO of Premier Equipment explains,”Industry 4.0 has accelerated the future of CNC machining. Automation is becoming more and more popular. More than ever before, bar feeds on lathes, pallet changing machines and gantry robots are sought after. It's also becoming more accessible to smaller shops. The price of 5-axis machines has reduced over time, allowing more shops to afford more advanced equipment. This increases efficiency, as these machines can perform many operations. Rather than needing multiple machines to manufacture a single part, now these shops only need one machine.”

Industry 4.0 basically refers to a more complex manufacturing setup which includes sensors that monitor and measure manufacturing processes and respond autonomously when something goes wrong. This ability helps CNC machines self-diagnose problems and corrects errors in the production process faster than employees could detect and respond to the errors, or diagnose the reason for a machine's malfunction.

Some fear this higher degree of automation, a hybrid of data sensing and processing technology and CNC manufacturing processes, may necessitate the layoff of valued employees. Depending upon the specifics of each company's situation, the reverse could actually be the case. Industry 4.0 systems will need people to program and monitor them. In spite of the technical nature of the equipment, managing it doesn't usually require individuals with high-level IT degrees. Often, current staff members can be pre-trained, ready to transition to new roles in the company when the Industry 4.0 setup is launched.

The medical product industry demands perfection of manufacturing processes, since lives depend upon mistake-proof components. CNC machines, and Industry 4.0 technology, together assure the manufacture of top quality parts for medical devices.

Similarly, this Manufacturing Global post explains how CNC manufacturing is getting a boost from demand for Industry 4.0 implementation in the motorsport industry. CNC machinery and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) are a combination that produces superior, flaw-free products at a significant profit no matter what industry a manufacturer serves.

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