Canada’s manufacturers have been bombarded by offshore competition for years. Metal fabricators, for instance, have seen orders decline in recent years as customers move their business to less expensive offshore manufacturing centres in Asia.
That is slowly starting to change, as Nigel Southway, chair of the Toronto Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), noted in his presentation about the organization’s “Take Back Manufacturing” initiative. The presentation was one of 17 presentations at the Insights 2012 Conference on “The Future of Manufacturing” organized by Shop Metalworking Technology Magazine and held on September 25, at the International Centre.
The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Karyn Brearley, executive director of the Yves Landry Foundation, who spoke about the importance of skills training and how manufacturers could obtain funding for it. After the keynote, attendees were able to attend presentations in three concurrent streams focused on fabricating technologies, machining technologies and management issues impacting plant floor operations.
Tabletop exhibitor Amada speakers with a customer at Shop Insights 2012 Conference.
A customer, middle, speaks with Salvgnini’s Bill Bossard, far right, and Luc Seesing, left, of SMD Machinery, a distributor for Salvagnini.
Attendees listen in at Shop Insights 2012 conference.
TRUMPF’s Stefan Fickenscher on selecting the right laser cutting system, C02 or solid state.
This story highlights the Fabricating Technologies stream. Check back on our web site for more details about presentations from the other two conference programs.
Canadian metal product manufacturers understand that to they must invest in new technologies to better compete against formidable offshore competitive. This was the underlying theme among the presentations.
One of the challenges metal fabricators involved in laser cutting face is figuring out which technology will work best for their applications–CO2 or solid state. That was the focus of a paper–“Laser Cutting with C02 or Solid State: The Choice is Yours“–from Stefan Fickenscher, product manager for TruLaser Product Group, TRUMPF North America, Farmington, CT. Years ago, fabricators had only one choice, CO2 lasers. But advances in solid state laser means that fabricators can now make a choice between two technologies. While many factors come into play about the decision–parts quality, productivity, space requirement, gas and energy consumption and machine downtime–ultimately “the application is the deciding factor,” says Fickenscher.
How can you make bending processes more productivity? That was the question Bill Bossard, president of Salvagnini America, Hamilton, ON, addressed during his presentation, “Bending, Forming, Automation and Zero Set-Up for Flexible Manufacturing.”
The simple answer is to eliminate set-up with the use of automated equipment. “When you automate to eliminate set-up, you can produce a quantity of one,” says Bossard. By automating your panel bending process, you achieve higher bending accuracies, zero set-up time and faster cycle time. And today’s automation is much simpler to use too as customers can choose from varying degrees of load and unload automation for panel bending.
Tooling plays a critical role in achieving better quality and higher productivity, says Peter Visser, sales engineer for Mate Precision Tooling. He highlighted some of the technologies and best practices now available that can help fabricators achieve this in their punching operations.
Salvagnini’s bending technology for flexible automation.
Flow’s presentation: Common challenges with waterjet cutting.
For fabricators involved in waterjet cutting, Joe Bodorkos, regional manager for Flow Waterjet, provided some insights into technology innovations. He noted that “all waterjet cutting, 2D and 3D, share common problems,” such as the fact that they all have a natural taper, the occurrence of stream lag because of the non-rigid cutting tool and difficulty predicting stream behaviour, fundamental to cutting accurate parts. He spoke about how Flow has address some of these issues with recently launched products, including its Dynamic Waterjet machine, recently extended to full five axis cutting. It features an automatic taper compensation mode for 2D and 3D cutting.