Four days of live technology, networking capability, new production concepts, and practical applications, from IIoT and additive manufacturing to functional advances in machining productivity
IMTS 2016 is almost a year away, and EMO Milano was an ocean away, but anyone in search of breakthrough ideas in machine tool technology and plant automation would have their fill of both at Mazak Corporation’s Discovery 2015 event. The four-day event, staged October 26-27 and November 3-4 at Mazak’s North American headquarters in Florence, Ken., drew hundreds of manufacturers seeking a view of the future of machining in operation now.
Among several headline-worthy introductions, and multiple machine tool demonstrations, Mazak made the formal presentation of SmartBox, a network-communication device developed in collaboration with Cisco Systems and Memex Inc. that adapts to any machine and creates link from the production level to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
IIoT is a framing device for understanding much of what guides manufacturing automation in its current phase – for Mazak no less than for other suppliers of manufacturing technology — and thus was the subject of a thorough and well-received presentation by Cisco’s senior manager – Manufacturing Solutions, Bryce Barnes. His comprehensive explanation of the capabilities and possibilities for ‘real-time awareness’ by production centers across a global supply chain provided the context for SmartBox.
Many visitors also took the opportunity to see SmartBox in a production setting, providing communication from machining units in the Mazak plant, feeding data to MTConnect and expanding the implications of the group’s iSmart Factory global production strategy.
Another revelation for Discovery 2015 visitors was Mazak’s new interpretation of multi-task machining — an operation performing additive manufacturing functions as well as the more customary ‘subtractive’ tasks. A Mazak Integrex i-400AM hybrid multi-tasking machine performed turning, milling, drilling, metal deposition, and laser marking in a single setup. It was described as providing “a significant reduction” in the time needed for finished part development, and an advance in shops’ ability to process dissimilar metals effectively within “complex workpiece geometries.”