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Archive for April, 2015

Robotics in the Manufacturing Industry

Monday, April 27, 2015
posted by IMT-Webmaster

robotics in the manufacturing industryTechnology is advancing at a break neck pace, but no type of technology has the kind of potential demonstrated by the field of robotics. From handling dangerous tasks to reducing human errors, robots in the manufacturing industry can make it a much safer environment as it reduces the costs. Robots are not meant to be a way of putting people out of business, rather they are meant to increase productivity and minimize risk. Repetitive actions have an adverse effect on the human body, and this is something that robots can not only do faster and more accurately, it reduces the hazards for employees. Custom metal fabrication is just one example of how robotics are improving the workforce by taking the next logical step in robotic evolution.

Human and Robot Interaction

Robots are being increasingly designed to provide a more comfortable interaction with people. Called collaborative robots, these amazing technological advances are not what is typically thought of as a robot. While there are increasingly more news stories about robots That look and move like people, robots actually come in many different shapes and sizes. Many people are still not comfortable with the idea of working with things that look human but clearly are not. Collaborative robots are more like Siri, so that you can interact with them, but they won’t make you feel like you are talking to something that is trying too hard to be like you.
Collaborative robots also give companies a way to ease robots into the workforce without causing concern that people will start losing their jobs. People have to interact with these creations for them to get the job done. Just like an employee, the robots have to be trained in how to do their jobs. For manufacturers, this means that the experts are the ones making sure the robots are functioning as intended.

Custom Metal Fabrication and Robots

Some of the inherent dangers of custom metal fabrication are mitigated by the use of robots. The most notable use of robots in this field is the use of robots in welding. Robotic welding gives companies a means of automating the welding without sacrificing quality. Welding robots can do things from underwater welding to plasma welding to SRC welding. It can be difficult, even dangerous, for people to try to reach some seams. Robots can easily access and weld these seams, increasing the strength of the product and giving customers a much wider range of options for their custom metal fabrication.

Embracing the Future
Just as businesses have an increasingly more difficult time getting clients without a website, manufacturers are going to find that it is difficult to get by without the use of robots. Manufacturing is one of the easiest industries into which robots can be included because so many of the tasks and requirements are repetitive. By embracing a future that is guaranteed to include robots, businesses can look for better uses of their employees while getting a more consistent product with robots.

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Green Initiatives and Sustainable Construction

Monday, April 20, 2015
posted by IMT-Webmaster

going-green-constructionAs humanity confronts climate change, pollution, and other environmental hazards, sustainability and business success have become inseparable. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the air conditioning industry, where innovative businesses have lowered the cost and environmental impact of heating and cooling a building through increased efficiency. This development has given homeowners a chance to save money while creating new markets for environmentally conscious metal manufacturers.

The Growth of Green

Green building techniques are designed to make climate control more efficient, reducing the amount of energy it takes to heat or cool a building. Popular green initiatives include:

  • Floor Level Heating– As heat rises, it is more efficient to distribute heat from beneath the floor rather than from air ducts.
  • Window Insulation– With insulated glass and protective sealants, you can reduce the amount of heat that enters or leaves your building through the windows.
  • Reflective Shades– Green builders use shades specially designed to reflect heat away from your building, reducing cooling costs during the summer.

The green building industry has expanded rapidly over the past few years, particularly for non-residential buildings. The number of non-residential construction projects using green techniques has grown from 2 percent in 2005 to more than 44 percent in 2014. This trend has also affected residential housing, with 23 percent of new houses being built with green construction methods in 2013.

An Enticing Investment

Besides helping the earth, green building is also a lucrative investment. Although sustainable heating and cooling systems cost roughly 25 percent more than ordinary ones, property owners will more than make up for this cost through:

  • Energy Efficiency– Green building techniques reduce the amount of energy you have to use to heat or cool your building, lowering your gas and electric bills.
  • Incentives– The Federal government provides tax credits and subsidies for home and business owners who install sustainable heating systems.
  • Property Values– Recent studies have shown that installing green technology will raise the value of your property substantially.

Opening Opportunities

The green building boom has created new opportunities for metal manufacturers, particularly those who use lean manufacturing techniques and other sustainable methods. Green builders need metal parts for their air conditioning and heating systems, and are more likely to buy from producers that make those parts sustainably. Through lean manufacturing, my business has minimized waste and pollution in our production process, making us a favorite among environmentally-conscious builders and building suppliers.

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Hand Spinning vs. CNC Spinning

Monday, April 13, 2015
posted by IMT-Webmaster

hand-spinning-vsCraft machinist have always been reluctant to give up their “bones” in metal spinning. As hand spinners of longstanding, they feel the craft lies in their delicate touch and feel. That’s where the art lies. After all, hand metal spinning is an age-old art that can conserve material, produce precision, and repeat quality. But, machining professionals are quickly coming to value CNC metal spinning as a welcome and inevitable technology.

Hand spinning

Industry has long relied on hand spinning lathes to quickly prepare metal prototypes. Primarily used on sheet metal, a levered force applies to the metal spinning against a  mandrel. The pressure applied uniformly to the speeding spin shapes the form evenly. The speed and craft permits fast production and reproduction.

Only the mandrel has to be replaced or altered to modify the outcome. However, and depending on the complexity of the design, the physical force can proved increasingly demanding per job and over time. It takes muscle, and while it gets easier through a training curve, the pressure on muscles and joints becomes counterproductive.

So, while you don’t want to deny or diminish the skills and artistry of these “old school” hand spinners, automated spinners are now the state-of-the-art.

CNC spinning

Cut it, form it, and fabricate it, customers for processed metal demand accuracy, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. Traditional machines have taken up less space and used less power than the larger more complex CNC machines. But, despite their upfront cost and energy usage, Computer Numerical Control machines offer undeniable advantages – to supplier and customer.

  • Produce more quickly and more precisely than hand spinning.
  • Run constantly as long as you perform scheduled maintenance.
  • Produce thousands of duplicates within the same tolerance designed.
  • Require fewer operators allowing fewer machinists to turn out more product at more multiple machines.
  • Integrate with CAD design, responding to software revisions from designers.

The CNC revolution introduces new technologies that enable machined designs not doable on manual spinners. Some machines even allow you to make multiple axes of motion creating two- and three-dimensional cuts and contours. Those same advances allow you to reprogram machines to create entirely different parts with little downtime and to adjust operating equipment in advance of wear. And, continuing advances promise the evolution of more artificial intelligence and robotics to assist CNC spinning.

The “new school” machining

The CNC does not wipe out the crafts people working in machine shops. There will still be calls for their subtle artistry. But, the new direction reduces the demanding, dirty, physical pressures on operators and generally improves their work environment. And, most employers offer them the first chance to train to the new equipment.

CNC metal spinning does not mean a loss of the qualified operator. In fact, the CNC technology requires new knowledge, skills, and abilities that are information-based. That information creates a new quality-focused partnership between operator and product and between supplier and customer.

Customer needs for quality metal fabrication and manufacturing are upping the demand for uncluttered work flow, high-quality outcomes, and guaranteed service. And, the metal works specialists who accept and master the challenge presented by advanced CNC technology are redefining metal manufacturing.

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The Importance of Transparency Among Leadership and Employees

Monday, April 6, 2015
posted by IMT-Webmaster

importance-transparencyMany positive trends have been linked to transparency among leadership and employees. This includes loyalty among employees, increased productivity and higher employee retention rates. To ensure that my business remains afloat I make decisions that are thoughtful through several ways that ensures I and my employees benefit from transparency through:

  • Efficient problem solving by laying all the cards on the table from the beginning
  • Greater respect and trust for company employees and leaders
  • Interpersonal relationships between the members of my organization
  • Team building through acknowledgement of weaknesses and strengths openly

These four have resulted to higher levels of performance. In some businesses I find there are leaders who are not willing to cultivate transparency as they think they will be viewed to be less authoritative. Additionally, in this era I have seen changes and I believe executives should come out of the boardrooms and discuss matters routinely with members of their organization to have an input from the workforce.

Transparency is not as easy but it helps deliver benefits to the company and bolster satisfaction from the employees. The desires of all leaders need to be aligned for everything to be in sync and differences between leaders need to be addressed to narrow the gap in different perceptions affecting the company. It is necessary to communicate every aspect of business that workers need to know

Employee training and development

For me I find training to be very important in business relations and the topics that are covered include;

  • Sexual harassment
  • Safety
  • Quality initiatives
  • Human relations
  • Ethic
  • Diversity
  • Customer service
  • Computer skills
  • Communication

This will help foster;

  • Job satisfaction
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased efficiency leading to increased financial gain
  • Reduction in employee’s turn over
  • Enhances the image of my company

If I and those in leadership have the time to take the employees through the training process, it will be one way we can be transparent as well as ease communication. When our employees are well trained they can easily get involved in the activities of the company that will foster its growth.

My business is growing and includes making adjustments in the way things are done. Having respect for the employees is ideal so they can also be into the things that my company is about. People do not want to work for companies with no vision. They all want a company that offer them a meaningful career.

Changes are occurring in the market on a daily basis; new technologies and innovative ideas that impact the way business activities are done. To stay on top of the evolving economy, my operations need to be flexible with the changes. For my business to keep moving I need to be open with the employees as their inputs can go a long way in promoting the growth of my business. They can;

  • Help in remodeling the goals to meet the needs of the consumers
  • Use their social network skills to help market my business on social media and making use of the wealth of information found online that will help my business create new connections with customers and people of influence in the industry

Due to this, my employees are at the forefront of the business plans as they will be directly affected by the changes. They need to be kept motivated and that is why I respect their effort, time, family needs and culture. Businesses are changing as well as the market trends and that is why open relationships with the employees will make me be flexible and adventurous in my business as I have an effective team to back me up all the way.

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