Experts agree that future production facilities will be much smarter than today’s factories. This intelligence will be made possible by the use of miniaturized processors, storage units, sensors, and transmitters that will be embedded in nearly all conceivable types of machines, unfinished products, and materials, as well as smart tools and new software for structuring data flows. All of these innovations will enable products and machines to communicate with one another and exchange commands. In other words, the factories of the future will optimize and control their manufacturing processes largely by themselves.
Most mechanical engineers have long recognized that the ability to switch machine formats automatically is a huge advantage, saving an enormous amount of time over methods using hand wheels. Plus, automation also minimizes the amount of material wasted, as the format adjustments are always precisely reproducible and auto-correcting.
Made-to-measure format changeovers in bottling plants
When the operating managers of major breweries present their state-of-the-art bottling plant, they wash a large number of bottles very quickly. The visitor is amazed as these fragile vessels are propelled through the machine. However, an experienced manager knows the importance of speed when the bottles are not moving. This machine is designed so that changeover downtime is no longer significant and changeover precision does not vary. The plant can afford more frequent changeovers and support a more flexible operation. The example of bottle inspection machines makes this particularly clear.