Cincy Machine leads way with Smart Machine plan.
Contracts worth $2.4 million have been awarded by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) to fund the next phase, which will expand the project's scope as well as the number of locations and industrial partners involved in implementing advanced Smart Machine manufacturing technology. Cincinnati Machine will provide overall project coordination and lead the deployment of technology at the project partner sites during the Phase 2 Project.
Cincinnati Machine, as part of Cincinnati Lamb, designs, builds, and integrates high-volume and flexible machining systems as well as stand-alone production equipment for global aerospace, automotive, heavy equipment, and general machining markets. The company offers technology-driven solutions that include composites processing equipment, profilers, routers, five-axis CNC machining centers, horizontal and vertical machining centers, turning centers, and automated assembly and test machines and systems. Cincinnati Lamb is a MAG Industrial Automation Systems business unit.
Established by NCMS in 2004, the Smart Machine Initiative is a collaborative effort between several commercial firms, government agencies, and military maintenance facilities to demonstrate the viability of functional Smart Machine applications on a variety of machine tools and special process equipment. Machines at various partner manufacturing sites will be equipped with monitoring capability to automatically gather and report their performance status in a consistent and timely fashion. Autonomous software processes monitoring the data will help identify anomalies and report pending problems to operators and management personnel. The program's objective is to provide better information that will enable management to achieve the goal of making parts better, faster, and at lower cost, explains Richard Curless, vice president, Engineering and Development for Cincinnati Machine.
In the Smart Machine Pilot Project, NCMS members Cincinnati Machine, Caterpillar Incorporated, and Advanced Technology Services collaborated with the Red River Army Depot and Cherry Point Naval Depot in implementing four proof-of concept Smart Machine installations focused on maintenance support functions. Additionally, the pilot project defined specific, achievable objectives for the subsequent phase two project that could lead toward a more advanced, intelligent Next Generation Factory.
Among the benefits noted in the Phase 1 Project was a reduction in manufacturing process variation in a rubber compression molding application and an improvement in process efficiency of a diesel engine transfer line through better insight into equipment utilization and effectiveness.
The Smart Machine Phase 2 Project will expand the prior pilot project's original four sites to nine depot and industrial partner sites within 12 months, culminating in September. Joining the original project partners are Sikorsky Aircraft and Vought Aircraft, together with four additional military depot facilities.
In addition to further demonstrating Smart Machine functionality on a broad mix of applications, an objective of the Smart Machine Phase 2 Project is to demonstrate a means of providing secure management access to the shop floor data produced by the installations.
According to Tony Haynes, director, NCMS Advanced Technology Programs, "In this project, we will be installing the infrastructure on a variety of new and legacy machine types to allow the equipment to automatically monitor and log their 24/7 condition in a consistent fashion. We will then process the data into concise, factual information that can be conveniently and securely accessed, even from remote locations, to enable managers and support personnel to optimize factory asset performance. NCMS is very pleased to sponsor this important project that promises to achieve Smart Machine goals long discussed but never--until now--accomplished."
The participants of the Smart Machine Phase 2 Project anticipate these key benefits: further improvements in process efficiency and health monitoring, process variation reduction, implementation of automated maintenance management systems, and development of algorithms for facilitating predictive functions. Cincinnati Machine, www.rsleads.com/tp602-175