Ford Motor Co. has adopted the phrase “Manufacturing unit of Tomorrow” to explain its imaginative and prescient of the longer term, which incorporates partially a plan for the automaker to remodel into “a really digital operation.”
The phrase is somewhat deceiving, nevertheless, when you hear what Ford is doing in the best way of superior know-how right this moment—as a result of it’s already doing fairly so much.
In his Dec. 3 keynote tackle throughout IndustryWeek’s Manufacturing & Technology Virtual convention, Mike Mikula, international chief engineer in Ford’s superior manufacturing group, shared a few of the firm’s advances in areas such as additive manufacturing, collaborative robots, prolonged actuality and even exoskeletons. And extra.
For instance, whereas Ford has been utilizing additive manufacturing because the Nineteen Eighties, right this moment’s deployments go far past easy prototyping or beauty prospers. Mikula described how the corporate is each designing and fabricating, through additive manufacturing, parking brake brackets for the Mustang GT 500.
“It is a essential structural element of the automobile. It’s required to fulfill the entire crash take a look at worthiness requirements, and in consequence we’ve realized as an organization how one can apply additive manufacturing into elements and subsystems that traditionally folks have been skeptical that additive manufacturing can meet the necessities,” Mikula mentioned.
“We’ve not solely demonstrated that, however now we have very convincingly finished so, and as such we’re aggressively working with our product growth workforce to discover different elements of the automobile and automobile subsystems that may very well be transformed to additive manufacturing,” he added.
In one other instance, Mikula mentioned the usage of an prolonged actuality answer for its 10-speed rear wheel drive transmission. An built-in wi-fi software and prompting from “clever” projected lights may also help guarantee that operators are each utilizing the right software and utilizing it within the right location, the chief engineer mentioned.
“We would like to have the ability to have a manufacturing facility that helps staff keep secure, helps staff carry out the work they’re anticipated to carry out and do it in a means that … meets or exceeds the shopper expectations.”
Mikula says the prolonged actuality answer can act as a coach, serving to staff keep secure and ensure the work is carried out correctly.
Two extra examples from Mikula spotlight the main focus Ford has positioned on security, and the assistance offered by superior applied sciences to fulfill that problem. Ford employs collaborative robots and exoskeletons in lots of situations to both assist operators carry out work that’s ergonomically tough for people or, within the case of the robots, carry out the tough process within the place of human operators.
Mikula’s speak didn’t finish with these applied sciences. Digital twin, IIoT and extra peppered his speak and pepper Ford’s digital imaginative and prescient.
At Ford, the way forward for superior applied sciences is right here right this moment.
To see Mikula’s full presentation, register here. Additionally, you will acquire entry to all keynotes, workshops and excursions for as much as 90 days.