Metso awarded orders for a gyratory crusher and a major apron feeder package in the Americas
Metso has been awarded orders for a gyratory crusher and apron feeders including related services and spare parts to support a mining customer project in the Americas. The value of the orders is approximately EUR 20 million, of which 80% were booked in Minerals segment’s first-quarter orders received and the balance in Minerals segment’s second quarter.
Metso’s scope of delivery includes an impressive apron feeder package featuring Metso’s AF18 apron feeder, one of the largest feeders that Metso has ever produced. The apron feeder supplies material downstream to a Metso Superior™ MKIII primary gyratory crusher. The gyratory crusher accepts the largest top size feed in the market, allowing it to provide higher capacities, which makes this crusher the most cost-efficient primary gyratory crusher in the industry.
“We are excited to be able to support our customers to ensure their needs are met. It is especially rewarding when we are able to demonstrate our capabilities for flowsheet synergies such as crushers and apron feeders as this equipment works hand in hand for minerals processing,” says Guillaume Lambert, SVP, Crushing at Metso.
Metso has the capability to design and deliver even the largest apron feeder systems with high project quality. Combined with our advanced line of mining duty crushers, Metso offers complete solutions providing flexible and reliable material processing to meet high demands and ensuring the success of our customers.
Read more about Metso Outotec’s feeding and crushing solutions on our website.
Metso is a frontrunner in providing sustainable technologies, end-to-end solutions and services for the aggregates, minerals processing and metals refining industries globally. By helping our customers increase their productivity, improve their energy and water efficiency and environmental performance with our process and product expertise, we are the partner for positive change.
Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, Metso employs over 16,000 people in close to 50 countries and sales for 2022 were about EUR 5.3 billion. The company is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki. metso.com
Outokumpu introduces first-of-its-kind initiative bringing customers and steel scrap suppliers together to strengthen circular economy in Europe
Outokumpu is launching a new circularity initiative, Outokumpu Inner Circle, to strengthen the circular economy in Europe. The initiative will be launched today at the World Circular Economy in Helsinki, Finland. The Inner Circle initiative will bring transparency to supply chains and smoothen the path from stainless steel to usable scrap, and from scrap to ever more sustainable stainless steel production – ultimately creating a closed loop for steel scrap. This initiative is the first of its kind for the industry.
“Circularity is one crucial element of sustainable stainless steel production. With the Inner Circle initiative, we are bringing our customers and scrap suppliers together to ensure an efficient, transparent, and sustainable supply chain for steel scrap. Ultimately, our vision is to create a visible closed loop for steel – a unique example of circular economy in action,” explains Max Menzel, Head of Sustainability & Technical Customer Service at Outokumpu.
By using existing, efficient supply chains, the ways for the scrap from customers back to the producers can be shortened. Transparency and ESG conformity throughout the supply chain will be ensured by verifying all partners within this initiative.
In the initiative, Outokumpu’s role is to steer the initiative and create networks between customers and verified scrap suppliers. The scrap suppliers’ role is to ensure a sustainable supply chain by providing scrap from the network’s partners and to distribute the scrap sustainably. Customers who join the program will bring their scrap back into the cycle after processing the material or by the end of the product’s life cycle via the scrap suppliers.
“Together we will show strong initiative and leadership by spearheading the move towards a more circular and a closed-loop economy. Our partners can join this unique and open initiative, which is the first in the industry, and demonstrate their leadership and contribution to the circular economy,” says Max Menzel.
Inviting steel industry partners to join
Outokumpu’s partners can now join this groundbreaking initiative and demonstrate their leadership in circular economy to customers and stakeholders. The first partners will be able to give their input to the creation and development of the network to genuinely add value to the industry’s efforts in sustainability.
“Outokumpu Inner Circle is an open initiative where we would like to welcome all scrap suppliers and stainless steel consumers from Europe to participate. We are now entering the first phase of this initiative and I’m happy to announce CRONIMET as the first scrap supplier partner joining us. At this stage, our focus is on creating the practices and learning about the co-operation. There’s been a lot of interest already, showing that there really is an industry-wide need for this kind of an initiative,” says Max Menzel.
“The Inner Circle initiative builds on the ideas of fairness, openness and the pursuit of long-term partnerships and therefore fits perfectly with our corporate values. At the same time, we are convinced that this is the right approach to achieving sustainability and business success in the circular economy,” says Nico Krueger, Commercial Director at CRONIMET.
Enabling circular economy for a more sustainable future
For Outokumpu, circular economy is at the heart of its sustainability approach. As a material, stainless steel is a key ingredient of circular economy as it is 100% recyclable. Already today, Outokumpu has the highest recycled material content rate in the stainless steel industry at 94%.
“We believe the world does not need more things – but things that last. And when a product is at the end of its life cycle, it should be brought back to life by becoming raw material for something new. The more we use scrap, the lower our emissions are. We would like to enable our customers and partners to actively participate by joining this initiative,” says Juha Erkkilä, VP – Sustainability, Outokumpu.
Outokumpu is the global leader in stainless steel. The foundation of our business is our ability to tailor stainless steel into any form and for almost any purpose. Stainless steel is sustainable, durable and designed to last forever. Our customers use it to create civilization’s basic structures and its most famous landmarks as well as products for households and various industries. Outokumpu employs approximately 8,500 professionals in close to 30 countries, with headquarters in Helsinki, Finland and shares listed in Nasdaq Helsinki. www.outokumpu.com
Identifying poor assets and inefficient pumps.
Despite the soaring prices brought on by an energy crisis that shows no signs of diminishing, ask pump and blower operators about the efficiency of their equipment, and the truth is that most don’t know – according to a leading monitoring technology provider.
The pumps, for example, might often be described as ‘working fine’ and ‘doing their job’, but is that, now more than ever, a strategy? How about saving money now, and in the future?
“The opportunity to truly maintain, protect and optimise assets is here and now, with a Return on Investment (ROI) that is shorter than ever”, says Julian Lowe from Riventa. “The cost of solving asset management challenges is on a much smaller scale than most companies imagine”.
So, just how can you make hidden costs more visible?
At minimum, put some testing in place. By obtaining accurate, quality data, this first proactive step will give you a snapshot of performance, as well as health and efficiency. Even this entry-level testing will help identify poor assets and inefficient pumps.
Riventa’s Julian Lowe added: “All we hear about at the moment, understandably, is the giant hike in energy prices, so best test your pumps (and/or blowers and turbines) to reduce energy consumption and maximise savings. This will almost immediately help identify actions to improve performance. In addition to pump efficiency, measuring key parameters such as flow rate, head and electrical power - current pump performance characteristics can be compared to ‘as new’ and ‘post-refurbishment’ conditions. This provides the same accuracy as a pump manufacturer’s test facility – but with the distinct advantage of real operating conditions”.
Across numerous industries, where for some, running pumps ‘til destruction is the modus operandi, Lowe has a point. He claims that for larger pumps, blowers and turbines, the ROI can be as little as 18 months.
A level up from pump testing is to look at an Optimisation Service, utilising secure on-site pump monitoring equipment to provide real-time data. This enables you to start seeing what’s happening across your system by capturing data over 14-days or longer. This doesn’t have to involve tons of ‘spaghetti’. Systems can now be cable-free; up and running in around 1 hour per pump, at low risk and with minimal disruption to existing operations.
‘Realistic payback calculations’
Dr Tom Clifford from Riventa, continued: “Once in place, real-time data for each asset can be evaluated, with information-driven insights highlighting performance issues and supporting decisions. This can establish best practice recommendations, realistic payback calculations and a business case for moving forward – all backed by precision measurement and innovative analytics”.
Clifford explained how Riventa had recently worked with a food manufacturer; testing the company’s cooling system, which is split into two pumping sub-systems: factory pumps 1-5 for sending chilled water from heat-exchangers to the factory; and evaporator pumps that send chilled water from the factory to refrigeration heat exchangers.
“To test the pumps, we used the thermodynamic measurement technique (with our specialist software) to measure suction and discharge pressures either side of the pump, differential temperature, and motor input power. These measurements enabled us to calculate differential head across the pump, hydraulic efficiency and volumetric flow. Pumps were altered gradually. After each change, a test point was taken, while allowing enough time to obtain the best statistical average. Tests also involved a routine of testing performance at an incumbent set point, followed by throttling the pump to reduce its flow rate. The latter action allowed other pumps running in parallel to increase in speed to compensate, with a final test point taken at this moment”.
He continued: “Throttling meant we could observe the maximum possible flow through each pump under test, without altering the overall flow to the plant. At times this was challenging, because conditions downstream in production would change, altering the cooling load and in-turn the flow set point. Nevertheless, good quality performance information was obtained.
‘Strong case for robust savings’
“We found that all pumps were showing signs of wear. Moreover, manufacturer performance levels were not being achieved. None of the pumps we tested reached the manufacturer’s BEP (81%). In fact, the maximum pump efficiency possible was found to be 75% (achieved by pumps 1 & 2 only). Our findings enabled us to put pumps into a descending order of repair: 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. While pumps 1-3 achieved a good relationship between power and flow, pumps 4 & 5 were not performing when at lower flows. This indicated a high likelihood of internal recirculation – from high to low pressure parts of the impeller – being caused by high wear. We were able build a strong case for robust savings through the pump refurbishment. Broadly, two options were made available:
- Basic Refurbishment: Internal coating plus replacement of wear-rings, bearings and seals.
- Comprehensive Refurbishment: As per the Basic Refurbishment, plus a new tailored impeller.
“We calculated that pump refurbishment would bring potential
savings of £19,200 per year, with possibilities to refurbish 2, 3 or 5 pumps”.
This is just one example of what Riventa say they are helping companies achieve across industries that also include water, power, mining, petrochemical, to name but a few.
Advanced pump monitoring and optimisation are available too, continuously focusing efforts by evaluating and understanding performance gains across priority pumps and sites. And for some organisations, full optimisation of networks is available.
‘Change in Mindset’
“Nobody wanted an energy crisis”, concluded Clifford, “but as prices soar, we are beginning to see a change in mindset about just how important it is to know how your assets such as pumps, blowers and turbines are really performing. Initially, some basic testing might reveal some not altogether pleasing facts (!), but you can soon put yourself on a very positive course to make some seriously good, ongoing savings”.
Bypass hot work permits: pinpoint potential problems in explosive environments without the paperwork
The world of hazardous manufacturing and production can be complicated enough without adding extra elements to your workload. Hot work permits are often seen as being an essential part of working in hazardous environments - but what if you could inspect without this having to provide copious amounts of paperwork??
A multinational chemical manufacturing company has recently begun to do just that; freeing up time and labor to redeploy throughout its workforce.
Typically, inspecting in Zone 2 hazardous environments requires getting a hot work permit signed off by a manager. This can consist of extensive manual paperwork and requires that work ceases for at least one hour prior to inspection. It also requires that all potentially explosive materials (such as combustible dust and gases) are carefully measured and monitored to reduce the possibility of ignition.
To inspect key components of machinery in these challenging environments, thermal cameras are often used to identify hotspots, gauge the temperatures of machinery and check that parts such as valves are operating within expected parameters. Unfortunately, these cameras pose an indirect risk to the safety of the facility themselves because they are not intrinsically safe by design - which is why hot work permits must be approved prior to use.
Safer inspection - with the FLIR Cx5
The FLIR Cx5 is a thermal camera specifically designed to provide safer inspections in hazardous locations. The rugged housing which encases the lithium-ion powered thermal camera ensures high-performance thermography without the inherent risk associated with non-intrinsically safe products.
Whether in hazardous locations dealing with gas, vapor, dust or (in this case) combustible chemicals, it entirely eliminates the need for hot-work permits.
On site at this chemical plant, it allows operators to safely inspect areas that deal with extreme heat, such as the refractory which runs at 1400°C at its core. Operators can clearly see the external temperature of the brick-lined vessel and check to ensure it’s working within guidelines. The FLIR Cx5 is also used in this facility to monitor rotor pumps, the temperature of bearings and the level of liquid inside vessels.
Hours of time, freed up to better serve your facility
A spokesperson for the facility explains: “Use of hazardous area certified equipment is always preferable as the source of ignition is removed and a hot work permit is not required.
“Generating a hot work permit is labor-intensive as a request must be made, the permit to work prepared and all applicable areas confirmed free of flammable gases (and, of course, this only confirms that flammable gases are not present at that point in time). All-in-all, we’re probably looking at 3 hours’ work for each individual inspection - which the Cx5 eliminates - and means we can better put it to use elsewhere.”
With a 3.5-inch touchscreen interface that is simple to use, and the 160 × 120 thermal resolution reveals the accurate temperature measurement of nearby targets between -20 and 400°C. Add the FLIR Cx5 to your toolbox and you’ll always be ready to investigate mechanical and electrical equipment around your production site - with no hot work permit in sight.
Discover how you can free up time and maximise productivity in your facility with the FLIR Cx5.
About Teledyne FLIR
Teledyne FLIR, a Teledyne Technologies company, is a world leader in intelligent sensing solutions for defense and industrial applications with approximately 4,000 employees worldwide. Founded in 1978, the company creates advanced technologies to help professionals make better, faster decisions that save lives and livelihoods. For more information, please visit www.teledyneflir.com or follow @flir.
ArcelorMittal Construction orders digital and control system technology for steel mill in France
ArcelorMittal Construction has awarded ABB a contract to deploy solutions specifically designed for metals processing at its cold rolling mill in Contrisson, France, as part of a modernization project. The solutions, which include ABB Ability™ Manufacturing Operations Management for metals (MOM4Metals), Roll-Gap (RGC) and Automatic Gauge Control (AGC), will help the world’s largest steel producer to bring productivity to a new level, improve quality and performance.
- ABB will install its Manufacturing Operations Management system (MOM4Metals) on cold rolling mill at Contrisson plant
- ABB will modernize technology for Roll-Gap Control (RGC) and Automatic Gauge Control (AGC) on the same mill
- ABB’s technology will help the steel producer to bring productivity to a new level, improve quality and performance
ABB MOM4Metals product, based on precise data analytics, improves information sharing, production planning, execution, reporting, asset monitoring and operational performance optimization. It is designed for and used in various metal production processes from rolling mills to processing lines delivering clear benefits over generic industry-agnostic MES platforms.
ABB is also modernizing advanced RGC and AGC technologies to reduce thickness deviations and off-gauge length. The project is expected be completed in the first quarter of 2024.
“ArcelorMittal Construction has placed its trust in ABB know-how and solutions for cold mill applications,” said Frederik Esterhuizen, Global Business Line Manager for Metals at ABB. “Through discussions with the customer we have been able to utilize our deep metals expertise to refine the ABB solution to meet their needs. ABB solutions enable cold rolling mills to improve and maintain performance and meet quality requirements in terms of thickness tolerances, flatness and surface characteristics via precise process control and equipment lifecycle management.”
“ABB will bring a combined MOM4Metals and RGC/AGC automation solution specific to metals processing to our modernization project at Contrisson,” said Frédéric Geoffroy in charge of process and automation department at ArcelorMittal Construction. “This stands out from standard automation and digital solutions and we are pleased that our needs can be met by one supplier with whom we have a long standing relationship at and beyond this site. ABB successfully revamped the drive of the cold rolling mill previously.”
“For ArcelorMittal Construction France, leader in the field of steel building envelopes, ABB supports us through its business solutions and allows us to offer our customers innovative solutions based on decarbonized and sustainable steel.”
Technology is a decisive factor in determining the quality of rolled products. ABB’s rolling mill solutions, including metals specific electrical, process automation and control technologies, leverage over 100 years of metals industry expertise to enable increased speed, reduced non-rolling time and threading problems while allowing for precise process control in terms of strip surface, flatness, thickness, off-gauge length and more to deliver improved strip quality, productivity and resource efficiency.
ABB’s Process Automation business automates, electrifies and digitalizes industrial operations that address a wide range of essential needs – from supplying energy, water and materials, to producing goods and transporting them to market. With its ~20,000 employees, leading technology and service expertise, ABB Process Automation helps customers in process, hybrid and maritime industries improve performance and safety of operations, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. go.abb/processautomation
ABB is a technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. The company’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered and operated. Building on more than 130 years of excellence, ABB’s ~105,000 employees are committed to driving innovations that accelerate industrial transformation.
‘BIG BIRTHDAY BASH’ MARKS UNISON’S 50 YEARS OF INTELLIGENT TUBE TECHNOLOGY
Unison Ltd, the UK-based inventors of all-electric tube manipulation, celebrated their 50th anniversary with a big birthday bash at their Scarborough HQ on Wednesday, 24th May 2023.
Just short of 100 customers, colleagues, friends and members of the ‘Made In Yorkshire’ trade group attended the event, which began with a hearty brunch and a warm welcome by Unison’s joint managing director, Alan Pickering.
Technology talks and machine tool presentations followed. These included demonstrations of Unison’s ultra-precise, all-electric Breeze range of tube bending machines, as well as fibre laser cutting machines from Unison’s sister company, Nukon Lasers UK. Unison’s newly released Opt2Sim Scan hand-held 3D tube scanning system - the latest addition to the company’s advanced Opt2Sim Suite of tube simulation software - also attracted a great deal of attention. The event concluded with a buffet lunch, followed by ice creams in the glorious Scarborough sunshine that graced the day.
“I’d like to thank everyone who attended and helped make our 50th anniversary celebrations such a resounding success,” comments Alan Pickering. “It was fantastic to meet customers and friends old and new – many of whom had travelled a considerable distance to celebrate with us. I’d also like to thank every member of the incredible Unison team for the hard work they put into making the day possible. Here’s to another 50 years of intelligent tube technology!”
Unison Ltd: intelligent tube technology
Established in 1973, Unison Ltd is the UK’s leading manufacturer of tube and pipe bending machines and continually innovates the tube and pipe bending marketplace. The company manufactured the world’s first all-electric tube bender in 1994, followed by the world’s first all-electric multi-stack tube
bender, then the world’s largest all-electric tube bender for the shipbuilding industry. Available in single-stack, multi-stack and right/left varieties, Unison machines are delivered to more than 20 countries globally. Unison’s tube bending software is recognised as the most user-friendly control system for tube bending machines. The software is written and supported by Unison, ensuring complete control of its evolution, with no need for third party support.
Offshore engineers Blackfish launch Scottish arm to support offshore wind sector
Offshore engineers Blackfish have today [Thursday May 25] launched a Scottish arm to support the fast-expanding offshore wind sector – with the goal of helping operators accelerate innovation and drive down cost.
- Goal to accelerate innovation and drive down cost.
- Dedicated Scottish team aims to expand in months ahead.
The Bristol-based engineering specialists already have a long track record in marine renewables in Scotland, working closely with wave and tidal pioneers Mocean Energy and Orbital, alongside a growing portfolio of offshore wind clients.
They now plan to ramp up their offering to Scotland’s burgeoning offshore wind pipeline with a dedicated team based in Aberdeen and Edinburgh led by senior engineers Nick Del-Greco and James Hastie, and strategic advisor Stuart Brown.
Commenting on the new setup, company managing director Jonathan Powell says:
“The rapid expansion of offshore wind in Scotland, in particular the ScotWind round, is creating strong demand for solution-focussed engineers who can partner with developers to address real-life complex engineering challenges – with the clear goals of improving safety, accelerating innovation and driving down cost.
“Already we are working with two of the three largest wind turbine OEMs and nine of the world’s biggest offshore wind developers, and are actively developing bespoke, innovative designs and technology to improve efficiency and lower costs for the sector.
“We are also engaged with innovation bodies including Wave Energy Scotland, the Carbon Trust and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult to develop industry-standard products in areas including electrical connections and moorings.”
Senior mechanical engineer James Hastie says:
“We believe our knowledge of tackling problems in the offshore environment is second to none and the creation of a distinct Scottish operation enables us to be closer to our customers, deliver content locally and create opportunities to further expand our offering north of the border.
“These are really exciting times to be involved in offshore wind engineering.”
Blackfish is forged from years of innovative technology development in the tidal stream industry. From our formation in 2016, we have been driven to impart our hard-earned experience, knowledge and skills to the betterment of the offshore renewable energy industry. We are now one of the UKs leading names for engineering design and development services in Tidal, Wave and Offshore Wind sectors.
Sulzer signs agreement with Jindan New Biomaterials in China for production of biobased plastic
Sulzer has recently signed an agreement with major lactic acid (LA) producer, Jindan New Biomaterials (Jindan), to enable the production of polylactic acid (PLA), a biobased plastic. Jindan will utilize Sulzer’s licensed PLA technology at its new manufacturing plant in Henan Province to produce up to 75’000 tonnes of PLA per year, mainly to be used for food packaging, molded goods and fibers production. Sulzer will also provide extensive service support to ensure a seamless start.
Jindan’s new bioplastic facility will produce PLA in a variety of grades to support the expanded use of bioplastics in several sectors in China, including the textile and package manufacturing industries. To enable the company’s transition towards more sustainable, circular practices, Sulzer Chemtech will design and supply its key proprietary PLA technology, while further providing extensive engineering and technical support and field services as the manufacturer commences operations.
Sulzer’s Executive Chairwoman Suzanne Thoma said: “Our leading technologies are currently used at the vast majority of existing PLA facilities worldwide and support the increased adoption of circular manufacturing practices and sustainable materials. We are pleased to collaborate with Jindan New Biomaterials to meet ever-increasing market demand for bioplastics.”
Mr. Shi Congliang, President of Jindan New Biomaterial, added: “By investing in Sulzer’s PLA solutions, we are taking key, strategic steps to advance our competitiveness in the booming biopolymer industry and drive the use of greener plastics. Thanks to its comprehensive expertise in the PLA value chain and all the stages involved, Sulzer Chemtech is an extremely valuable partner. We look forward to installing the equipment and starting-up our enhanced operations.”
Sulzer is a global leader in fluid engineering and chemical processing applications. We specialize in energy-efficient pumping, agitation, mixing, separation, purification, crystallization and polymerization technologies for fluids of all types. Our solutions enable carbon emission reductions, development of polymers from biological sources, recycling of plastic waste and textiles, and efficient power storage. Our customers benefit from our commitment to innovation, performance and quality through our responsive network of 180 world-class manufacturing facilities and service centers across the globe. Sulzer has been headquartered in Winterthur, Switzerland, since 1834. In 2022, our 12’900 employees delivered revenues of CHF 3.2 billion. Our shares are traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange (SIX: SUN). www.sulzer.com
7 Ways Automation Makes Manufacturers More Competitive
Consumers are demanding: They want quality and speed at the right price, and they expect the manufacturing world to deliver. As organizations everywhere try to meet evolving consumer requirements—all while managing safety, efficiency, and logistics within their facilities—each one faces the looming threat of competitors closing in. With so much on the line, manufacturers are challenged to adopt smart approaches that keep their businesses both profitable and competitive.
More and more, these approaches are being influenced by the prospect of game-changing automation. By integrating smart automation solutions, manufacturers can achieve the kind of operational outcomes that lead to sustainable bottom-line success. In fact, sales of industrial automation equipment, including fixed and flexible options, are on the rise—an upward trend that’s expected to continue as innovation, advancement and the entire industry landscape mold to the needs of the market.
- FIXED VS. FLEXIBLE AUTOMATION
Fixed automation, sometimes called hard automation, refers to an automated production process with a “fixed” sequence of operations determined by the equipment’s configuration. Essentially, commands are programmed into the machine to operate its cams, gears, wiring and/or other hardware that is not easily changed over from one product style to another. Fixed automation enables high production rates and is suitable for large-volume products of identical specs. Examples include pneumatic (air-driven) devices, hydraulic machines, electric cylinder assemblies, cartesian pick and place robots, and parts feeding equipment. These options can be leveraged as standalone automation or in tandem with industrial robots.
Flexible automation, also known as robotics, provides the opportunity to accommodate changes and repurpose automation solutions for fluctuating needs. Industrial robots can be programmed to perform multiple functions for products of varying sizes and materials. Because reprogramming the equipment in flexible automation is performed at a computer terminal (not on the production equipment itself), there is no need to group identical products into batches. A mixture of different products can be produced one right after another. Common applications include welding, material handling and machine tending, as well as picking, packing and palletizing.
For manufacturers considering whether new or additional automation might fit into their current operations, it’s essential to understand how this investment can positively impact the business. Here, we’re breaking down seven of the most compelling ways leveraging automation can maximize manufacturers’ competitiveness in the industry.
1. MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION REDUCES LABOR COSTS.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), unit labor costs (the total labor costs required to produce a unit of output) rose in the vast majority of manufacturing industries in 2019. Of the 51 industries in durable manufacturing, 45 experienced rising unit labor costs. Of the 35 industries in nondurable manufacturing, 32 recorded rising unit labor costs.
For so many companies, labor is the predominant cost in manufacturing a product, not to mention the most difficult one to manage. The most obvious way that automation helps slash this expense is by requiring fewer workers to produce the same number of manufactured goods. Fewer workers means less monetary allocation for not only payroll, but also employee taxes, healthcare benefits, insurance and other related overhead costs. Of course, this is just one aspect of a much larger labor cost benefit.
Take the high cost of employee acquisition and turnover. For one thing, worker shortages are a real and present challenge in some areas. Recent findings from the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey show that the number and rate of total U.S. job openings have increased to 6.6 million (+617,000) and 4.5 percent, respectively. There is also the vastly increasing number of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) approaching retirement age. In less than 10 years, all of the workers in this generation will be 65 years or older.
At an estimated 73 million, this generation is one of the largest living age groups, second only to millenniums—a population highly unlikely to gravitate toward production roles in manufacturing facilities.
What does this all mean? Well, particularly for jobs that are demanding, dirty, dangerous or downright unpleasant, the time and expense it takes to fill open manufacturing positions amid current employment conditions can become a major burden—one that automation plays an immense role in easing.
Finally, there’s the cost of absenteeism, which results in a lack of consistency and predictability in terms of planning for production shifts. When workers unexpectedly leave early or call out, it can cause significant and costly disruption to production uptime.
2. MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION MAXIMIZES CAPACITY UTILIZATION.
The capacity utilization rate is an important operational metric for manufacturing companies, as it assesses their current operating efficiency. Automation supports higher rates of capacity utilization by fostering greater, faster output without requiring additional per-unit expense.
For instance, if you automate an existing process that was relying on human workers for operation, now you have the ability to produce through lunches and breaks, and even in the event of employee sickness or no-shows. In fact, you could potentially run two 10-hour shifts via the automated process and achieve the same output as you might over a 24-hour period consisting of three 8-hour shifts (given, of course, that each person will require at least one hour of non-production time for lunch and breaks).
Automation works tirelessly around the clock. It doesn’t get sick, get distracted, require vacation time or take breaks. It is reliable and consistent.
And if demand necessitates a ramping up of your production output without increasing your production time, automation gives you the opportunity to produce more quickly—minus the need to invest in additional production equipment and/or workers.
3. MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION IMPROVES QUALITY AND ACCURACY.
Manufacturing automation streamlines repetitive tasks and minimizes margins of error. Adoption of modern systems has become critical for maximizing Cpk and alleviating manufacturers’ quality, consistency and waste issues, manifesting the following outcomes for those who embrace smart solutions.
- Repeatability & Precision:
Especially in the life sciences arena, such as pharmaceutical and healthcare manufacturing, human error is a big concern. It is essential for these products to have zero defects because people’s health and lives are at stake. With the support of automated solutions that make ultimate repeatability and precision a reality, you can mitigate the risk to both consumers and the organization at large.
- Product Safety & Viability:
Particularly in the food and beverage industry, production and handling processes that rely on human workers carry increased risk of introducing contamination into the environment, which ultimately endangers the final product. Automated systems minimize human interaction with the product, thereby lessening the potential for contamination by germs, pathogens or foreign objects that can result in discarded food, complex recall processes, loss of consumer trust and legal liability.
- Reduced Waste:
When it comes to applications that involve uniformity and quality, human error has the potential to incur substantial monetary losses. Consider, for instance, companies in the faucet industry that utilize workers to fulfill the polishing process. Because humans, by nature, are prone to making mistakes, a certain amount of products will bear defective surface finishes and must be discarded. Automation eliminates this waste.
- Mollified Material Damage:
In industries where expensive materials and equipment are handled by humans, there’s ample opportunity for error to result in costly damage. Fiber optic cable, as an example, is extremely fragile and, if mishandled by a worker, can cost thousands of dollars. There’s also the risk of humans dropping heavy parts, a mistake that can cause damage to the part itself, expensive production equipment, or even a workplace injury.
- Unrivaled Skill & Consistency:
Think about the consistent motion required for production processes like painting and welding. Automation affords a level of technique and uniformity that humans are simply incapable of matching.
4. MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION SUPPORTS SAFETY AND ERGONOMICS.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), work-related MSDs are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. MSDs, or musculoskeletal disorders, affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons.
Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors for MSDs increases a worker’s risk of injury.
In production facilities lacking automation, workers may be subjected to safety and ergonomic concerns such as:
- Physical stress
- Repetitive motion
- Awkward postures
- Heavy lifting
These can cause employees to experience intractable pain, an inability to work or physical conditions that necessitate medical care and time off—all of which results in production downtime and higher costs for the organization. On the other hand, automated solutions improve workplace safety while optimizing workflow processes.
By creating a more favorable and ergonomic working environment, automation has the potential to retain talent and limit liability. Safer, less rough conditions, like those cultivated by replacing certain human-performed tasks with machine-operated ones, minimize the risk of seeing a revolving door of workers, the challenge of constantly training new people, the ongoing need to attract employees for hazardous and undesirable jobs, and the liability inherent in unsafe surroundings.
5. MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION ACCOMMODATES SOCIAL DISTANCING AND FULFILLMENT DEMANDS.
In the midst of a global pandemic, with its rippling social and economic impacts, the market for manufacturing automation and industrial robots has exploded. FANUC, the largest maker of industrial robots in the world, has seen its volume demands flourish.
Why is this the case? One big reason is the now critical need for manufacturers to safely space out their workers and limit human interaction. Anywhere people are working in small, confined or heavily populated spaces, there’s increased risk for exposure to a contagious virus. And just one positive test result can lead to production declines or even a complete shutdown. Manufacturing automation solutions support a reduction in the manpower needed to occupy these spaces, thereby mitigating the overall risk of infection.
In addition, there’s automation’s capacity to meet rising fulfillment demands. Especially with regard to product categories that have skyrocketed in response to the onset of stay- at-home guidelines and other pandemic-related nuances, production requirements have amped up for some manufacturers. Automation provides the platform for meeting increased demands and tightened turnaround times.
- THE ROLE OF ROBOTICS TECHNOLOGY IN THIS ERA OF DYNAMIC INNOVATION
Robots are already deployed across many segments of the supply chain, and the industry expects to see an explosion in the number of robots working in warehouses and DCs as the growth of e-commerce fulfillment continues to rise. Even before the global pandemic and coinciding shifts in consumer behavior, decreasing population, and increasing demand, the implementation of robotics and automation was expected to expand as companies look for ways to remain productive and competitive.
Once considered a futuristic trend, autonomous robots are quickly becoming the useful and reliable technology for the logistics industry. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are proving to be a disruptive robotic solutions technology that are increasing efficiencies, providing significant cost savings, and mitigating risks associated with human resources. A variety of AMRs are currently in use. Some are considered ‘collaborative’ — that is, designed to work with and around people — and others non-collaborative.” Additionally, this technology is working in both structured and non-structured environments, making the implementation more advantageous across several industries.
6. MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION CREATES JOBS AND MINIMIZES RELIANCE ON GLOBAL OUTSOURCING.
There’s a changing perception of automation occurring among the general public. The common judgement, particularly after the last recession, used to be that automation takes jobs away from the American workforce. Now, we’re starting to see a shift in that mindset.
Yes, automation definitely replaces some of the unskilled labor force. By leveraging it to keep factories up and running, however, you’re also sustaining valuable jobs like administrative, human resources, and cleaning and maintenance, not to mention the skilled workers required to program and manage all of the new technology. In essence, manufacturing automation has the potential to create both vast opportunities for employment and a greater reliance on our own domestic resources.
Remember, the U.S. still has the cheapest and most consistent energy supply. And the consumer is here. It’s always cheaper to manufacture closer to your consumer. Manufacturing your product locally, where it is purchased, gives you a huge competitive advantage in supply chain management. Automation enables manufacturers to keep production onshore, giving U.S. companies a competitive edge in the global market.
7. MANUFACTURING AUTOMATION BOOSTS OVERALL PROFITABILITY.
The evolution of manufacturing automation has transformed once difficult, slow, and hazardous production tasks into remarkably safer and more productive ones. As automation in manufacturing continues to advance in sophistication, so do the advantages of leveraging such opportunities in facilities across the industry. Although the prospect of adopting a modernized approach to routine operations can seem daunting, the profitability payoffs are well worth the leap.
Given all of the factors mentioned already, it stands to reason that automation can produce and get items to your customers more efficiently, thereby increasing your profit margins— gains that are poised to continue well into the future. Here’s a more specific breakdown of how some of the previously highlighted competitive advantages amount to cost savings and expanded profitability.
- Labor Reduction: With the right automation solution(s), your organization will require less manpower for its operations, including reduced HR and overhead costs.
- Machine Utilization: Production numbers tend to drop as workers become tired or call out, whereas automation has the ability to maintain consistency throughout any shift, from beginning to end. This means your line is set to run more efficiently and without the need to replace equipment as frequently.
- Quality Improvements: With the precision of an automated process, you’re positioned to produce less scrap or waste, an important measure of cost savings.
- Ergonomic Savings: Automation minimizes the costly risk of workplace injury, including time off, workers’ compensation, increased insurance premiums and potential compliance fines.
- Worker Retention: When automation performs the unfavorable types of tasks once assigned to human workers, it can foster a more amenable work environment. Happier employees generally equate to less turnover, which leads to a more lucrative bottom line.
- DESIGNING AN AUTOMATION SOLUTION FOR YOUR MANUFACTURING NEEDS
Given the wide span and nature of ways to derive value from automation, it can be argued that just about any manufacturing operation has the potential to glean a competitive edge from embracing it. And even though automation was too expensive for smaller companies to implement some 15-20 years ago, this has completely changed over time. Now, automation is suited to organizations of all sizes. As long as you’re seeking to lower cost and improve efficiency, automation is worth your consideration.
The way in which your company ultimately chooses to leverage automation should depend largely on your business goals and operational requirements. Regardless, the opportunities for organizational competitiveness are immense.
Consider partnering with an integrator who will work to understand and accommodate your goals before designing an automation system that fully supports them. Whether you already have detailed specifications for a project or you’re looking for an expert to develop a plan based on your cycle times, product information and overall business objectives, an experienced integrator like Wauseon Machine has the knowledge and expertise to make your integration a successful one.
About Wauseon Machine and Manufacturing
Wauseon Machine and its sister company, McAlister Design & Automation, are industry leaders in robotics automation, tube fabrication equipment, and build-to-print precision machines parts. With 40 years of experience, the company has four separate focus plants dedicated to Tube-Forming Technologies, Robotic Automation, and Precision Machining. Across their plants, they focus on tool development, machine building, automation, and providing contract CNC production machining of volume and custom precision piece parts and components for other companies. Wauseon Machine / MD&A are best in class suppliers of system integration to incorporate automation into a variety of industries, applications and cutting edge technologies for manufacturing. For more information, visit https://www.wauseonmachine.com.
KROHNE to Showcase TIDALFLUX 2300 F at Florida Water Resources Conference 2023
KROHNE, Inc. announces that it will be showcasing the TIDALFLUX 2300 F Electromagnetic Flowmeter, a flow measurement solution ideal for partially filled pipes, at the Florida Water Resources Conference 2023 from May 31 - June 3, 2023, at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. Attendees can view KROHNE’s unique electromagnetic flowmeters at booth #534.
Visit KROHNE at booth #534 to learn about their meters and measuring solutions
The TIDALFLUX 2300 F provides reliable flow measurement in pipes between 10 and 100 percent full. It features a non-contact sensor that is unaffected by oils and fats floating on the surface. Its smooth surface prevents buildup, minimizing the need for regular cleaning.
Available in diameters to fit pipes up to 72 inches, TIDALFLUX 2300 F has high chemical and an abrasion resistant polyurethane liner to provide exceptional durability. The electromagnetic flowmeter features an integrated, non-contact capacitive level measurement and a Class 1 Division 2 rating for use in hazardous environments. TIDALFLUX 2300 F is an excellent choice for municipal or industrial wastewater transport application, and can also be used for measurement of effluent brine from dredging, mining or sea/well water injection applications.
Wet-calibrated at the factory using a direct volume comparison, TIDALFLUX 2300 F does not require on-site calibration. The meter’s accuracy in partially filled pipes is <1 percent of full scale, and the accuracy in full pipes is <1 percent of the measured value.
A good choice for use in the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in wastewater applications, the TIDALFLUX 2300 F replaces open channel measurements with an in-line closed measurement solution that provides a safe and clean working environment. The electrodes are mounted at a height of 10 percent from the pipe bottom, ensuring that they are always wetted to avoid corrosion, which increases electrode life span. The capacitive level sensors are integrated in the liner, and are unaffected by H2S and any residues that may be floating on the water surface or particles in the water.
TIDALFLUX 2300 F is available with the IFC 300 F (PF) remote converter in field housing. This means that the IFC 300’s extended diagnostic functions, including application and device diagnostic as well as out-of-spec tests, are now available for TIDALFLUX. For subsoil installation or applications in areas that can be partially flooded, TIDALFLUX 2300 F can be ordered with an IP68 protection rating which features a special coating.
KROHNE will also have the WATERFLUX 3070 battery powered electromagnetic flowmeter on display as well as the OPTIWAVE 1400 among other measuring solutions. The WATERFLUX 3070’s unique rectangular sensor design provides bi-directional flow measurement over a wide dynamic range and good low flow performance. The water meter’s optimal pressure and temperature sensors allow it to be used in leak detection, quality control, and pressure management systems. The OPTIWAVE 1400 is a 2-wire 24 GHz radar (FMCW) level transmitter for liquids in water and wastewater applications. It is equally suited for continuous, non-contact level measurement of water from springs, rivers, lakes or the sea as well as rainwater, wastewater, sludge or other liquids in storage applications.
For more information, speak with the KROHNE experts in booth #534 at the Florida Water Resources Conference or visit www.us.krohne.com.