27 Feb A bit Star Wars maybe?

But certainly lots of Applications for Castings on show in recent CMF visit!

Members from the CMF Steel Casting Sector were able to have a tour of the Factory of the Future 2050, on the University of Sheffield’s AMRC site in Rotherham, following the normal sector meeting.

The facility is ‘the UK’s first state of the art factory, entirely dedicated to conducting collaborative research into reconfigurable digitally assisted assembly, component manufacturing and machining technologies and is capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts’ and ‘is home to the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG)’.

On show were robotics and automation, including a KUKA Titan heavy-duty 6-axis robot, controlled by a Siemens 840DSL controller and KUKA omniMove Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), as well as integrated large volume metrology, digitally-assisted assembly and manufacturing informatics all aimed at developing ways of meeting demand for high variation and mass customisation, intelligent machines, techniques to shorten lead times and ramp production up and down rapidly, ways of handling and making sense of big data, human machine collaboration and techniques for digitally assisted assembly.

Whist much of what was on show seemed a far cry from the equipment and methods of most UK castings facilities, it was interesting to see just what is possible and some of the technology may of course trickle down over time for some processes and for more highly automated production facilities – and of course it was clear that much of the kit contained cast components, which is always good to see!

Angela Mason
Angela Mason
angelamason@cmfed.co.uk