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Atlas Copco takes smart-manufacturing tools and systems on tour

Wireless tools and production systems intertwined to the Industry 4.0 manufacturing revolution are featured in Atlas Copco’s recently-launched traveling roadshow.

Tucked inside a customized 53-ft (16-m) commercial truck trailer are three interactive work stations (Superior Productivity, Wireless Freedom and Quality Assurance). That 1000 sq ft (92.9 sq m) space is a showcase for Atlas Copco products and software that underscore Industry 4.0’s intended benefits, ranging from reduced part defects to reduced energy use with multiple wireless tools running on a single assembly controller.

“There is really so much opportunity for customers to improve efficiency, maximize uptime and make wonderful improvements to their operations,” Bob Flynn, General Manager of Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Systems LLC, said at the company’s North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Automotive Engineering spoke with Flynn at an October 11 open house featuring the mobile technology trailer. Atlas Copco’s first-of-its-kind Smart Connected Assembly traveling product tour will make multiple stops throughout North American in the latter part of 2018.

The massive evolution to Industry 4.0—which encompasses automation, networked data exchanges and other facets of smart manufacturing—is unfolding differently from industry-to-industry, company-to-company and plant-to-plant. “Some of the bigger automakers are further along in their aspiration and their vision of how they’re going to capitalize on Industry 4.0, so they’re actually taking steps to do it,” said Flynn.

Atlas Copco’s technology roadshow was envisioned as a way to show and tell through hands-on product demonstrations how automakers and suppliers can transition to smart manufacturing and assembly operations.

Wireless assembly tools
The roadshow features a number of wireless assembly and torque tools. Unlike their cable-connected counterparts, the fast-charging, battery-powered tools also are connected to cloud-based networks.

“Right now, the buzzword is big-data. But data is really just raw material unless you’re able to do something with the data so that it serves a purpose. With our software, our Power Focus 6000 controller and our wireless tools, we’re providing customers with the ability to view, manipulate, and analyze data,” said Will Polumbo, marketing director for Atlas Copco USA.

Quality assurance gets a dramatic upgrade from a traditional manufacturing work process in which a quality operator uses one device for audits, another device to check the torque tools and yet another device for visual inspections.

“Just like tools are being networked to become smarter and provide data to align with the Industry 4.0 vision so that companies can make data-driven decisions, the same thing is being done with quality assurance operations,” Polumbo explained. “With smarter tooling, we’re able to bring all of those quality processes under one umbrella to simplify a quality operator’s tasks. And the best thing is all of the quality data is collected in one place.”

Atlas Copco officials expect that thousands of engineers and technical specialists will see the company’s smart manufacturing-floor technologies. “When customers visit our mobile technology trailer, we want them to let us know their specific needs, challenges and opportunities,” said Flynn, “Our product specialists can help customers improve their current manufacturing process.” Continue reading »