On the showfloor at this week's Pacific Design & Manufacturing show in Anaheim, Calif., vendors offered a varied view of what’s happening in manufacturing. The economy keeps looking encouraging, and the Internet of Things (IoT) keeps growing, but there were some surprises on Tech Street.
Parts are needed faster
For one, propriety HMI has disappeared. This assessment comes from Kevin Gingrich, communications and e-business leader at Bosch Rexroth. Gingrich points to open-core engineering as the driving force against proprietary technology. “We intended our open core to give our users room for development, so we launched a user community so engineers can interact with Rexroth engineers as well as other engineers on the Internet,” Gingrich told Design News.
Another trend he sees is the ever-escalating rush to get products to market. “It’s all about speed,” Gingrich told us. “Our customers want to get their products to market faster, so they need our parts sooner.” To accommodate the speed, Rexroth set up a “Go To” program that ensures parts go out the door in one to 10 days. Rexroth now has 4,200 parts in the Go To program.
Everything’s smaller and faster
Motion control company Renishaw reports that its customers want speed and miniaturization. “Speed is an issue, and the smaller the better,” Jeff Seliga, marketing services manager at Renishaw, told Design News. The goal for Renishaw is more miniaturization and increased speed to market to support the customer’s need for greater throughput.
“Our customers want to know what we can do to help with throughput,” said Seliga. “One answer is programmable gauging.” He noted that manufacturing customers can use multiple gauges to measure more and more parts. “Instead of just measuring a lot of parts, you can now measure every part. It’s a versatile gauge."
IoT brings security challenges
The design engineering firm Optimal Design is seeing increased interest in everything connected. “Machine-to-machine communication and integrated wireless -- that’s our fastest growing area,” Joe Wascow, principal at Optimal, told us. “And the connectivity is just getting started.” Wascow conceded that the underbelly of widespread connectivity is security. “I have my home on a wireless network, but now it’s easy to tell when nobody’s home.”
Optimal engineers are putting connectivity into a wide range of products in nearly every industry. “We’re doing it for military, industrial, and consumer products,” said Saj Patel, also a principal at Optimal. “Security is a concern, and nobody knows how to really handle it yet.”
3D printers don’t need to be small
In a world where 3D printer companies pride themselves on making smaller and smaller models, PBC Linear is making larger 3D printers. “The small, inexpensive 3D printers make toys. We have a 3D printer that makes real parts,” Mark Huebner, PBC's market development manager, told Design News. PBC Linear contributes actuators and mechatronics to a 3D printing platform that is about 3 ft x 3 ft. “This is a mini production platform,” he said.
Huebner noted that customers want complete systems. In the past, PBC customers bought parts to create their own 3D printers. That’s changed. “Now our customers say, ‘I need the whole system because I don’t have time to build one.’ So they ask for the whole system at the same price they were paying for a set of parts. We can do that.”
While the trends in manufacturing on display at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing show were varied, patterns emerged. Things are getting smaller and faster. Systems are becoming less proprietary, more open. And everything is connected –- even if that connectivity opens up the awkward problem of security.