Metal Casting Technologies : MCT-3RDQRT-2017
22 www.metals.rala.com.au Future focus Liberating employees from the hardship of tasks that could and should be automated is part of a new global economy that is increasingly focused on leveraging human ingenuity instead of human productivity. Going forwards, such an economy will be characterised by jobs that are better suited to human capabilities, rather than causing the workplace injuries, both physical and mental, that are still prevalent in many of today’s manufacturing environments. The jobs vs automation, technofatalist vs technofantasist debate is nothing new. The likelihood is that robotic systems in the workplace will not cause mass unemployment, but will speed up the existing trend of digital automation, disrupting labour markets and requiring workers to rapidly acquire new skills. Many experts predict that the trend towards automation will actually drive the creation of more jobs, the likes of which cannot even be conceived right now. As we have already witnessed from the nascent rise of cobots, robots and humans can work together safely and effectively, and their respective strengths can be complimentary. Either way, the ongoing evolution of economies and technologies means robotic systems – which have so far only scratched the surface when it comes to delivering automation – will become increasingly ubiquitous in a wide range of industries and settings. Robots and automated systems are now making a game- changing contribution to the operations of metal casters across the globe, allowing them to remain profitable in the face of changing economic and environmental pressures. In processes such as high pressure die casting, for example, robots already make a huge contribution by enabling thermal stability and maximising productivity. Robots will soon be able to monitor process parameters such as metal temperatures and volumes, or mould or die temperatures, all of which may require constant adjustment. Robots have been the stuff of science fiction for nearly 100 years. Yet the clear and present truth is that those metal casters who lag behind the automated curve are going to find it increasingly difficult to survive. As the cost of such systems comes down and their versatility and intelligence increases, the benefits they offer are both real and compelling, both for businesses and for individual humans. n A pioneering example of a robotic exoskeleton, Ekso Bionics' EksoZeroG robotic arm is designed to hold loads of up to 19kg, allowing users to manoeuvre the load without injury or fatigue. FEATURE ROBOTS AND AUTOMATED SYSTEMS ARE NOW MAKING A GAME CHANGING CONTRIBUTION TO THE OPERATIONS OF METAL CASTERS ACROSS THE GLOBE, ALLOWING THEM TO REMAIN PROFITABLE IN THE FACE OF CHANGING ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL PRESSURES. An ABB robot handling aluminum parts at the CTF Foundry in Norway.
MCT DEC 2017 (4TH QRT)