The Factory of The Future< Back to All
Tags: Automated Laboratory, Burke E. Porter Machinery Company, CIMAT, Factory of the Future, Industrial Internet of Things, LISMAR, Noise-Vibration-Harshness Testing (NVH), Non-Contact Wheel Alignment System (NCA), Precision Motion Systems, Primatics, Roll Inspection, Turbocharger Balancers
October 23, 2017
The Burke Porter Group (BPG) has long been at the forefront of manufacturing and testing equipment. For over 60 years, our ever-growing family of companies has produced intelligent machines to help customers design, manufacture, and test products in a variety of industries.
As a result, the rising enthusiasm for “smart” factories, or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), has not caught BPG by surprise. With decades of experience developing “smart” machine technologies for the automotive industry, such as dynamometers, end-of-line test equipment, and tire & wheel assembly systems, we understand how to design systems that collect test data, and provide the tools for our customers to analyze that data to adjust and improve their product’s design.
For example, our turbocharger balancers are well-known for advanced manufacturing and have been validated by OEMs such as BorgWarner Turbo Systems and Garrett. An automated measuring process makes our Turbo Test Expert the most sophisticated, fastest CHRA balancing device available.
Primatics, another company within the Burke Porter Group family, provides multi-axis precision motion and positioning products for automated biomedical and life sciences laboratory analysis, diagnosis and testing. Primatics products support other advanced manufacturing applications as well, including semiconductor wafer production and assembly, consumer electronics assembly and testing, laser processing, and 3D printing.
In the steel industry, BPG company LISMAR offers a computerized roll-inspection system to detect surface and sub-surface defects using a combination of ultrasonic waves and eddy currents. The system can store a roll’s historic hardness and roughness grinding wheel data for use with the company’s automated grinding control system.
INTELLIGENT NETWORKS ON THE FACTORY FLOOR
The concept of IIoT is a natural extension of “smart” buildings, in which “smart” appliances, HVAC, lighting, security, etc., are controlled automatically through wired or wireless networks.
For smart factories, “It’s the interconnectivity that’s recently been added,” Burke Porter Group CEO David DeBoer said in a recent article. With the ability of the IIoT to collect, store, and analyze data from hundreds or thousands of cars, automakers could more quickly pinpoint problem spots and take action much earlier.
For example, Burke Porter’s multi-line non-contact wheel alignment system (NCA) uses laser scanners to measure vehicle toe, caster, and camber, and display accurate readings so that operators can adjust in real-time. DeBoer said that someday in the not-too-distant future, artificial intelligence (AI) will make the need for a human operator obsolete.
AI could “assess how many times an adjustment is being made and in which way that information could then be fed back to the factory in order to make modifications earlier in the process, and as a result speed up the end-of-line test process,” he said.
NOISE AND VIBRATION TESTING FOR ELECTRIC CARS
In addition to IIoT, the rapid adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles brings additional issues to auto manufacturing and testing.
DeBoer explains: “The acoustics of these vehicles presents a whole new dynamic that engineers are not yet sure how to characterize, so a series of products needs to be developed to quantify what is a good or bad acoustic signature.”
To that end, the Burke E. Porter Machinery Company produces noise-vibration-harshness (NVH) powertrain test systems that integrate accelerometers, microphone arrays, laser vibrometers, and complete analysis software into a single test cell package.
In the EU, and particularly in China where a lot of new capacity is being added, the emphasis has been on hybrid and electric cars, DeBoer said. Meanwhile in the U.S., the company has had to provide new systems for electric vehicles and retrofit older factories and machines for IC engines.
Yet another trend in auto technology is driverless and internet-connected vehicles. BPG has developed new testing equipment to accommodate the large number of sensors these cars contain. For example, BPG engineers are looking at putting targeting systems on conveyor belts in order to calibrate sensors earlier in the cycle.
THE AUTOMATED LABORATORY
In addition to automated steel and auto factories, the IIoT is invading the life science laboratory, with “smart” positioning and precision motion systems from BPG for tasks such as pipetting, dispensing, optical inspection, and sample storage and retrieval.
By digitizing and automating laboratories, samples can be identified and followed throughout the analysis process to ensure quality control and traceability. Smart machines, including robots, can monitor and control continuous reaction vessels, and be reconfigured as needed to accommodate new lab processes and products.
At Burke Porter Group, our intelligent machinery solutions ensure the highest level of quality and the best support system – both now and in the smart factories and laboratories of the future.