Cars themselves aren’t the only machines experiencing a revolution in design in the 21st century.
In fact, the devices used to create cars themselves are constantly innovating by delivering increased efficiency, better products, and easier, more efficient automation. These shifts have huge implications for automotive machine designers, as they look towards creating the next generation of automotive machining hardware and software.
Let’s take a deeper look at the trends shaping the automotive machine industry, and how these new advances will change the future of automotive manufacturing.
Lower Energy Consumption Is At The Forefront Of Innovation
42% of the world’s energy is used in factories. Sound unbelievable? Research firm IHS begs to differ – the power needed to drive the machines that build our world is, in a word, staggering.
Of this 42%, two-thirds are used to drive motors in machines, putting the entire global power consumption of factory motors alone at nearly 28%.
High-efficiency motors could change this. Factories would continue to use a substantial portion of global energy, but more economical machines could provide huge cost savings both to the companies using them and to the global power market.
There are two primary options; building machines with high-efficiency engines included, or designing machines that can be easily retrofitted. For example, large motor enclosures with space for additional components, and so on.
Unfortunately, the high cost of very efficient motors means that this trend will probably take decades to come to fruition and retrofitting plants is extremely expensive. However, those companies who do so usually benefit from significant government issued tax breaks.
Design Visualization Tools Aid In Understanding Complex Machines
The next major trend is more in the production side of things. The machines that make machines.
Most machine designers build their machines made-to-order for the needs of each particular customer, and advanced models of machinery in AutoCAD and other 3D design tools offer a way for plant engineers and other client-side personnel to gain a better understanding of how the completed machine will function. This can aid in developing a machine that’s perfect for the task at hand, and increase efficiency while decreasing costs of operation.
This is also helpful for maintenance and repairs when ordering spare parts. Technicians don’t necessarily have to go out to a facility to understand what parts need to be ordered. Customers can simply consult with their machine vendors to look at a model of the machine, confirm which parts need replacement, and then order them. Not only does this method reduce production downtime, but it also increases the reliability of custom-made machines.
Safety Is Paramount
Safety is essential for smooth automotive factory operations. Not only is the safety of workers essential, but an accident on the production floor can also totally halt production, sometimes for lengthy periods of time.
In the past, many machine designers simply covered up dangerous mechanisms with custom-built guards. Although this increased safety, it also added time to maintenance and cleaning.
Today, the attitude of many machining companies is shifting. Risk assessment and mitigation training are often implemented among floor staff, and high-tech solutions like RFID tags that control interlock switches and shut down dangerous machinery if personnel are too close could signal the future of safety and accident prevention.
In a word, no. High-efficiency motors, in particular, will take a long time to implement, as will advanced features and continued innovation in automation safety.
Design visualization is a bit more commonplace, but many clients and marketers still don’t totally understand the advantages offered by detailed models of factory systems.
Still, these innovations will all be adopted. It’s simply a matter of time whether it be a few years or decades. So keep an eye on these three trends. They’ll certainly be important in the future.