From Aug 9-10, the Advanced Manufacturing Expo took place in downtown Grand Rapids, MI. The event saw over 4,000 attendees and featured over 300 exhibitors with many showcasing the latest advancements in Industry 4.0 technology.
Amid the conference’s hustle and bustle, Automation Alley captured the stories of three unique exhibitors in attendance.
The Manufacturing App Powered by Artificial Intelligence
Andonix, an Industry 4.0 mobile-ready technology company, showcased its AI-powered manufacturing chatbot, ANDI. According to Andonix, ANDI can Automatically generate training content, checklists, and workflows for a company-specific knowledge base with over 1,000 manufacturing skills.
“Everything starts with problem detection and since most companies waste a lot of money just on the fact that machines are stopping longer than necessary, quality issues pile up much more than they have to be,” Oliver Theiss, Andonix CRO said. “And so what we do is, through a simple app, empower people and workers and the rest of the factory team with a simple download.”
The app is currently deployable in many languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, and Arabic.
The app grants both workers and leaders access to the same quality information, Theiss continued. “The system can be used to standardize processes, such as checklists, work instructions, and so on and so forth. This then empowers teams with the right information for training, minimizing downtime while connecting with the rest of the technology stack.”
Regarding AME, Theiss pointed out the business climate in Grand Rapids is different from the Southeastern side of the state.
“The west side of the state can be actually a little more attractive, because there are a lot more middle sized manufacturing companies versus the east side’s more predominantly large scale companies,” Theiss said.
“What we have seen is a lot of traction in companies that are not primarily in automotive, so food and beverage machine manufacturing companies, equipment manufacturers — you name it. From that perspective, the west side of the state is from our interest or point of view, a very interesting geography to attract that kind of an audience.”
Advanced Reverse Engineering and 3D Printing Technology
The expo also featured Burton Precision, a high-tech Industry 4.0 company founded in 1958. The company specializes in metrology, scanning, inspection and 3D printing services.
“We are displaying our scanning technologies as well as some 3D printed parts that we have,” Burton Precision Appliance Engineer Derrick Jenner said. “We represent scan tech, and mainly our 3D scanning products.”
Earlier this year, Burton Precision secured a state-of-the-art NEXA3D Lubricant Sublayer Photocuring 3D printer, enabling for rapid printing applications.
Jenner said the reverse scanning technology on display is important for some clients that haven’t had the chance or time to go back in their catalog to digitize past production parts.
“Some customers don't have data for something that they need. And with our service in 3D scanning some old projects that they don't have any CAD for, we're able to scan and create 3D CAD for the project that's current, enabling them to use it efficiently.”
Smart Manufacturing Showcase
The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center was also at the event with its Smart Manufacturing Zone. The zone features several Industry 4.0 technologies on display, including:
- Cobots and Autonomous Mobile Robots
- Additive Manufacturing
- Augmented and Virtual Reality
- Big Data and Information Systems
- Digital Work Instructions
- Machine Monitoring/Control Systems
MMTC Applications Engineer Robert Scipione said his goal at MMTC is to help Michigan manufacturers select and implement new technology.
“The first thing we always try to get our manufacturers to understand is the direct tie between operational performance and financial performance. The quicker you can close that lag time, meaning getting it as close to real time data, the better,” Scipione said.
According to Scipione, the goal of MMTC’s assessment is to enable companies to be proactive with data and technology instead of reactive to problems on the floor.
One illustrative success story involved helping Amigo Mobility realize the full potential of its data. The Saginaw Valley-based company produces mobility solutions for people with different levels of walking challenges, including canes, walkers, power wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
“They had an issue where they came to us and they basically cannot hit their production goals. We leveraged technology, mainly data capture to help them see what their true cycle times and tack times were in real time, giving them dashboards and then implementing a feedback neck mechanism.”
The Amigo team achieved this through inputting reason codes for what was holding them up, Sciopione added.
“By collecting those and cradling those out, we were able to show to the supervisors in the management team, how much these small little delays were adding up in the week in the month. So then they were able to prioritize them and tackle them. When provided with the data, they were able to fix a lot of their problems in their production line and hit new production records. We're really proud of that story.”
Scipione said he hopes to become a part of more of these stories through the democratization of Industry 4.0 technologies.
“Computers and technology get better, cheaper, and faster every year,” Scipione said. “Now this technology that might seem far out there and outlandish for some of the small manufacturers now is really becoming cost effective. Competition is a good thing for the small manufacturers because it's really driving the cost down. Now is the time to adopt these types of technologies since they're becoming mature.”
AME will return in 2024. Pre-registration is available here.
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