The Anaheim Convention Center is a great venue for a show, and MD&M West 2016 did not disappoint. Many companies were on hand presenting their wares, with plastic tubing, films, and medical-grade adhesives enjoying particular prominence. But the MDM show is a large one, and many more technologies were also on display.
RSW Technologies showed me it retrofits modern controls on old machines to make them more efficient. The company displayed an injection molder from the 1990s that, thanks to the incorporation of modern controls, was now able to operate up to 80% more efficiently. Representatives also discussed how the company retrofits remote diagnostics on older equipment.
This was in great contrast to a conversation I had with the Bosch Rexroth staff, who said that in many cases retrofitting is delaying the inevitable—and that sometimes, replacing old equipment can add more value to a customer. When considering the added benefits of what information and remote diagnostics can offer from when replacing equipment, many customers felt retrofitting was the way to go. I will follow up with these companies for more information on this debate.
Talking about IoT and remote servicing, Bimba demonstrated its Intellisense offering for the next generation of pneumatics. This product constantly senses the pressure in a system. The software not only gives readouts in a user-friendly display, but can send a text or e-mail notification if pressure is leaking from the system. This and other indicators can show when a seal is about to go bad.
Fanuc was displaying IoT robotics and preventative maintenance capabilities. Some companies embracing this technology are producing systems that offer features in the software that offer the customer to adjust information from all the data to a simple go no-go, alert. Fanuc was also showing off its collaborative robots. This was another strong trend at the MD&M show. I am excited to see what both of these companies will be sharing with Machine Design in 2016.
Seitz caught my attention with an array of plastic gears. After talking with a sales representative, it was apparent the company was more than just a manufacturer, but also offered experienced engineers to help a company in the design process. It was also the first time I saw a 1:9,000 gear ratio. This particular product also took advantage of both plastic and metal gears in different stages to handle the increasing forces.
There was also a large trend toward gantry and robotic arms on display. I spoke to many companies about the benefits of linear and belt drive systems. Bob Shingledecker, vice president of Absolute Robot, educated me to the important of proper belt adjustment. He said many people might not be aware of this, but he said each belt is tuned to the natural frequency of that particular belt.
Some differences at this year’s show—as mentioned in my first blog—were 3D printing and its reduced presents. Stratasys was front and center, and when asked about the reduced presents of 3D printers, felt there might be a few contributing factors. Many companies may have recently gained the ability last year and were trying to advertise it. This year they might have stopped offering 3D printing, or found it was not their focus or a large enough revenue stream to push this ability at the show.
Also, many of the companies that focused on 3D printing have been acquired by other companies, forming larger, more focused 3D printing corporations. This doesn’t mean 3D printing has a reduced market in any way. As with regular manufacturing, to produce quality manufacturing you need focus and resources; that can make it easier for a smaller company to join forces (rather than compete) with larger corporations.
Yesterday, I flew back to NYC and the cold. But with the information and contacts gained at the MD&M show, I should have enough content to keep the articles and information moving along until the Northeast warms up again. Please let me know what type of things you are interested in learning more about, companies you would like to hear from, or industries of interest by emailing me at [email protected].