The Timken Co. is using a $1.4-million grant from the US Department of Energy to develop an online ultrasonic measurement system that increases the efficiency of manufacturing seamless steel tubing. The new manufacturing process uses a laser-ultrasonic system for providing on-line measurement of wall thickness and eccentricity of steel tubing for manufacturing control. According to the US Department of Energy, the system improves productivity of seamless mechanical steel tubing by 30 to 50% while reducing energy consumption and emission of pollutants. How? First, consider that current methods require stopping production runs for manual measurement. Machinery adjustments for each run result in a loss of approximately three of ten tubes made. "And while you stop the machinery and make adjustments three or four times, your plant sits idle," says Robert Kolarik, an engineer and project manager for the Timken Co. "The new online ultrasonic measurement method eliminates the need for stopping the machine for manual measurements. "Just like traditional ultrasound, we use sound waves. Knowing the acoustic velocity of the steel allows us to determine the wall thickness and eccentricity," he says. Scrapped tubes resulting from out-of-tolerance specifications are eliminated. Call the Timken Co. at (330) 471-3514.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.