Plan Now for Energy-efficient ManufacturingSeveral general considerations will improve the transition to sustainable production for increased productivity, reduced costs and enhanced profitability.
The manufacturing sector has a current window of opportunity to adjust to the requirements of sustainable, energy-efficient manufacturing. While specific applications will have their unique demands, several general considerations will improve the transition to sustainable production for increased productivity, reduced costs and enhanced profitability.
First, manufacturers must adapt to new materials necessary for energy-efficient designs, especially in the automotive and aerospace industries. Lighter vehicles drive and fly farther with less fuel consumption, and the integration of carbon fiber and other exotic composites will become increasingly important alongside innovations in high-tensile steel, titanium and aluminum alloys due to their high strength-to-weight ratios. Cutting and machining these materials will require manufacturers to modify and refine tool selection and machining methods for maximum efficiency and profit.
As manufacturing workpiece composition continues to evolve, so must tool selection. While tools themselves will generally remain the same for the foreseeable future, geometries and coatings will mature, and shops will need to understand how their tooling choices perform with continued advances in workpiece materials. Smart tooling technology that tracks cutting performance, wear and efficiency will allow manufacturers to determine the optimal setup for any given application and material. The result will be improved tool life, reduced tool inventory and increased production.
Composites and exotic alloys are priced as premium materials, and as they become essential elements for reducing weight and fuel consumption in energy-efficient designs, new machining approaches must be developed that minimize waste and scrap. Applications development on expensive work materials will be unreasonably expensive. Instead of refining production processes on valuable raw stock, part fabrication for the desired results will need to be perfected on less expensive materials with similar characteristics to reduce costs.
Efficient manufacturing demands that machines operate at optimal capacity and reducing cycle times will continue as a manufacturing imperative. In addition to investing in the latest automation solutions and multi-tasking machining, shops must also focus on the development and efficient utilization of their skilled workers. Processes for uninterrupted component production must continuously be evaluated and improved to ensure operators have everything they need to keep machines running, including the proper tooling, fixtures, raw materials and appropriate setup data for the specific application.
To achieve and maintain sustainable production, manufacturers must consume less. Investments will be needed to refine tool selection, develop new machining techniques and incorporate automation. The investments will ultimately pay off in terms of efficiency and productivity while, at the same time, conserving valuable resources. Apart from shop floor operations, manufacturers may also need to rethink facility design. Physical plants that install green building technologies reduce energy consumption. Site designs that integrate recycling into daily operations – especially as it relates to carbon fiber and composites – will become increasingly important.
The most efficient way to develop and implement sustainable manufacturing practices without engaging in costly trial and error is to seek expert help. The Seco team of experts can deliver the perspective and answers necessary to optimize your shop for today’s sustainable manufacturing processes and enhance your overall productivity. Contact Seco today for answers you can use.
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