The Basics of Agile Manufacturing

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So, let’s say you’ve implemented lean manufacturing principles, have achieved a certain level of success, and are now ready to make your manufacturing business even stronger. What’s the next step? Is there a next step after lean? The answer is simply: yes.

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Do Metals Contribute to Sustainable Building? You Bet They Do

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While you may think of wood as the main source of sustainable building material, various metals actually play an integral role in keeping the green building industry going. Here’s how metals contribute to the bigger sustainability picture:


They’re RecyclableRecycle Metal

Metals like copper, stainless steel, and aluminum are 100% recyclable which means they can be remade into the same product without sacrificing quality. Recycling metal also reduces emissions and uses less energy than mining, milling, and refining new material. Just to give you an idea of how useful recycled metal can be, here are a few stats you might find interesting:

  • 90% of end-of-life stainless steel is recycled into new products and most stainless products contain about 60% recycled content.
  • Of all the aluminum produced in the United States, around 75% of it is still in use today.
  • Approximately 75% of all copper based products contain recycled copper.

So, from the very start, these metals reduce waste and are energy efficient no matter their form.

They Have Long Lifespans
In essence, sustainability is all about maintaining longevity, reducing waste, and making the environment better for the next generation. Metals like stainless and aluminum contribute to the longevity of a project because, in most cases, they last for decades before they need to be replaced and recycled.

 

Aluminum AngleThey’re Durable and Versatile
Metals like stainless steel and aluminum are durable and malleable, making them some of the most versatile materials to work with. They can be used on all aspects of green building projects, from core construction and interior design to outdoor applications like solar energy panels.

One of the contributing factors to a metal’s versatility is its content. For instance, the chromium and nickel content in stainless steel protect against rust and corrosion which can happen in high temperatures or severe environmental conditions. Aluminum, on the other hand, naturally forms a layer of oxide that is impermeable and repairs itself when damaged.

This kind of efficiency in application and resistance to the elements makes these materials ideal for sustainability.

Other Sectors Rely on Them
The appeal of metal in sustainable building permeates multiple sectors, including those that enable sustainability to continue. Automotive, construction, transport, and tool industries all depend on metals to function. And it’s the innovations of these industries that help green building forge ahead.

Is New Technology Fueling the New-Shoring Trend?

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Innovations in technology are making it easier than ever to manufacture products right here at home. From 3D printing and computer aided design to the Internet of Things and data analytics, modern technology is transforming the way manufacturers think and create.

But something else is transforming, too: production. While many established companies have chosen to produce goods in lands far and away over the years, newly launched start-ups and independent manufacturers are using innovative technologies to keep production all American. This trend, called new-shoring, started to pick up just a few years ago and is now a way of business for many manufacturing newcomers.

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The Importance of Data in Manufacturing

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In one way or another, we’re all bound by some type of data. Whether it’s the Internet-based data you can use on smart gadgets or the kind that measures and tracks important information, the concept of ‘data’ is now an intrinsic part of our lives. And no one knows this better than manufacturers.

Today, manufacturers use both types of data to produce quality goods. Not only do they use informational data to make thoughtful business decisions, but they also use the Internet kind of data to streamline their processes.

Here’s how collecting or using even just a little bit of data makes a huge impact on manufacturing:

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What’s the Difference Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals?

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If you’ve ever shopped around for metal, you’ve likely pondered the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. It’s a question that frequently crops up in metal-related conversations and the answer is surprisingly simple: ferrous metals and alloys contain iron while non-ferrous metals do not. But there’s more to it than that. In fact, ferrous and non-ferrous metals have different characteristics, uses, and price points and it’s important to understand these differences when considering which type is most appropriate for your next project.   

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Metal Finish vs. Surface Finish in Metal Fabrication

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Have you ever ordered a metal part with a certain finish only to be completely confounded by the finish when you actually received it? Perhaps you asked for a smooth mill finish and received a part that looked a bit worse for wear. Or maybe you expected a mill finish and ended up with a sanded finish instead. Whatever the specifics of the mix up, you can likely chalk it up to a very common misunderstanding: the difference metal finish and surface finish. While these two terms may sound the same, they indicate very different processes. [Read more…]

6 Smart Manufacturing Terms You Need to Know

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Smart manufacturing is taking the world by storm. In fact, some experts believe that smart manufacturing is ushering in a fourth Industrial Revolution. But what exactly is smart manufacturing and how does it affect you?

Smart manufacturing involves fully integrated and collaborative manufacturing systems that can respond in real time to the obstacles or challenges faced by the factory. These so-called smart machines process data and analytics to streamline production. They’re also better equipped to respond to customer demands as well as reduce the risk of product failures and safety issues on the plant floor.

If you’re new to the concept of smart manufacturing or simply need a refresher, here are six relevant terms to know:

  • smart-watch-821571_1920Internet of Things: The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a network of devices, machines, buildings, and equipment that can digitally exchange data and information. The Internet of Things enables remote accessibility throughout the network, allowing each device connected to that network to communicate without manual interference. This network can include computers, manufacturing equipment, and mobile devices.
  • Machine-to-Machine (M2M): The concept of Machine-to-Machine is very similar the Internet of Things in that it offers remote access to machines. But that’s really all it does. M2M provides access to machine data and is typically used for monitoring the performance of machines rather than interconnectivity and collaboration for the purpose of improving business operations.
  • Cloud Computing: It’s the digital age, so it should come as no surprise that today’s manufacturing equipment can access ‘The Cloud’ and perform what is known as Cloud Computing. While cloud computing may sound like a mysterious and abstract concept, it’s simply a fancy way of saying that machines and devices can access data that is stored on the internet. What makes cloud computing useful in manufacturing is that internet-based data is shared and accessible by all machines on an on-demand basis.  
  • Preventive Maintenance: Preventive maintenance is an ongoing, planned process that follows guidelines for inspecting, detecting, and correcting equipment failure. The aim of preventive maintenance is to eliminate unnecessary inspections and maintenance tasks. Since it doesn’t leave anything to chance, manufacturers who practice preventive maintenance can count on reductions in unplanned downtime and maintenances costs.
  • person-731479_1280Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics looks at the history of machine failures to predict future equipment issues. This automated process, which compares machine sensor data to spot potential problems, provides manufacturers with the insight they need to better anticipate maintenance and productivity issues.
  • STEM: In order for manufacturers to be able to compete, they’ll need to hire candidates who are equipped with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills. While these skills are necessary and relevant right now, they’ll become absolutely essential in the coming years. Candidates who excel in STEM related disciplines will be able to effortlessly slip into a manufacturing role and propel company goals forward.