“The harder the journey, the more glorious the victory.”
– Melissa Dohme
1. Preparing for Automation
At some point, you will talk about automation in your organization. Adopting this technology is a companywide, multistep journey. One critical tool companies should use is an evaluation matrix to help understand the ROI and prioritize requirements. Everyone is eager to give you a list of nice-to-haves. Ask them to trim it down to three must-haves, and you have a good starting point.
2. Make It Rain Titanium
While I enjoy superplastic forming of titanium, machining and forming the material is still a challenge. Researchers are investigating ways to reduce waste in manufacturing raw materials and increase strength with a new grade of titanium. This matches the overall material science trend of increasing toughness and strength. After all, how will we ever be able to fly from L.A. to Japan in less than two hours without more resilient materials?
3. You Always Have a Friend in Tennessee
Developing new manufacturing technology is one of the riskiest challenges in the world. It is only seconded by getting my nine-year-old to go to bed on time. Collaborating with partners (or co-parents) significantly reduces the amount of risk to your company (or your blood pressure). Oak Ridge National Laboratory is one partner you can count on to leverage all of its capabilities. Now if only they’d read bedtime stories to children…
4. Automation Embrace
Are there any negatives to implementing automation? Automation can increase productivity, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and create jobs. Yes, the risk lies in not managing scope and setting realistic expectations. Companies on this journey must invest in training and education to ensure their workforce has the skills to work alongside automation and robotics.
5. Will Skynet Take Over the World?
Not without a good Wi-Fi connection. Mobile robots are all the rage, and like any automation, they have value in the right manufacturing scenario. However, the technology’s weaknesses are not often understood. Consider the definition of a robust mission, communication, safety, and training. Otherwise… Well, ask me how many times I tripped over my Roomba because it sucked up a Nerf bullet.
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