Bystronic Voice

Your precision laser cutting and sheet metal bending solutions partner

ByVisionOld School Knowledge
While there is something to say about running production on machinery that is already paid for, what are the real costs? After all, these machines are “free” right? But, unfortunately, “free” machines can become unproductive and very expensive when manufacturers and job shops cannot find skilled workers to run them.

One of the biggest challenges manufacturers face today is finding qualified skilled workers. This has been an ongoing struggle for years in the manufacturing and fabrication industries, but recently the problem has increased exponentially. The key reason is that “old school” craftsmen with the knowledge and experience required to operate these older style machines are retiring in droves, leaving a significant labor shortage in their wake. With manufacturing not able to attract enough of the available skilled workers necessary to fill the fabricating work pool, alternative solutions needed to be developed.

Smart Bending Technology
Today’s metal cutting and bending fabrication equipment have built-in “smart knowledge” incorporated directly into the machines by equipment manufacturers. For example, this “smart knowledge” is employed in many ways with modern press brake machines.

“Smart knowledge” includes employing:

  • Embedded knowledge systems that adjust for material properties and characteristics based on the material being processed
  • Control screens that have tool mapping to identify where tools are to be located on the table and ram
  • Controls that enable 3D simulations of the entire part before processing
  • Controls that can automatically set bend sequences to manually programmed parts
  • Offline programming software that eliminates having to program at the control altogether

‘Control’ user interfaces have also evolved. Gone are the days of controls with lots of push buttons as they have been replaced with modern, large, high definition touch screens. These interfaces are very similar to the screens found on smart phones and digital tablets, making them ideal for attracting new workers who are already familiar with operating their own consumer electronics in a similar manner.

What embedded “smart knowledge” means for today’s fabricators and OEM manufacturers is this: finding qualified workers is a much easier task. They can now hire from a larger pool of semi-skilled, electronically minded, savvy workers, and have them operating these ‘smart’ press brakes and producing quality parts very quickly. Equipment manufacturers of today’s modern press brake machinery are not only building smarter machines they are making them easier to operate than their older counterparts currently in the market.

Technology Advantage
In the end, when we consider a technologically advanced machine’s ability to outperform older machines with less technically skilled employees, the question changes from “Can we afford to invest in new technology?” to “How can we afford not to invest in new technology?”

By Frank Arteaga, Head of Product Marketing, NAFTA Region
Bystronic Inc., Elgin, IL – Voice.bystronic@bystronic.com

Categories: Manufacturing