Engel Offers a Vision of the ‘Factory of the Future’
Engel’s inject 4.0 program is its on-ramp to the factory of the future.
With at least six automated molding cells dedicated to markets from automotive and teletronics to packaging and medical, plus robots both linear and articulated, in-mold decorating, LSR, advanced mold-cooling technology, and a new line of economical, general-purpose machines—there’s a lot to take in at the Engel booth (W3303).
“But the big thing is the factory of the future, or Industry 4.0, and Engel’s product offering, which we call inject 4.0,” says Mark Sankovitch, president of Engel Machinery Inc. “We’re a visionary company, and we want to present our commitment to innovation that will help the industry move forward. Some people are afraid of innovation, but our goal is to overcome this by breaking down this sometimes overwhelming topic into smaller pieces and understandable examples.”
Adds Wolfgang Degwerth, v.p. of sales and service, “For example, one aspect of inject 4.0 is better ways to keep your machines up and running. Everyone wants that, but current methods of troubleshooting, servicing and maintaining machines take too much time. Our newly enhanced e-connect customer portal, which has just been launched in North America, allows our expert service personnel to look inside your machine remotely, rather than getting in a car or on a plane to come visit your plant. Our new e-connect.monitor technologies for predictive maintenance will alert you to service your machines before you lose any downtime. New sensors can monitor your machines 24/7, in place of that experienced worker who’s not always available.”
Sankovitch acknowledges that there is plenty of uncertainty in the marketplace about Industry 4.0 and all the talk about “smart factories.” He encourages visitors to explore the “expert corners” in Engel’s booth, devoted to explaining the key concepts of smart machines, smart production, and smart service. “Our experts can provide a more personal approach to this complex subject, and explain it in simpler terms.”
He cites an example: “You have data in your machines—here’s how to make it useful.” Engel has a solution to that need in its recently acquired T.I.G. subsidiary that builds MES (manufacturing execution system) software. Says Degwerth, “Not more than 10% of molders are using MES today to plan production and reduce labor costs. But that will change. Inject 4.0 is a whole new means of production, where everything is connected.”
“What we’re showing today is the beginning of a trend,” says Sankovitch. “It provides new ways to handle the increasing complexity of manufacturing, together with greater flexibility to accommodate shorter runs of a greater variety of products. It’s also a way for the U.S. to rebuild manufacturing leadership. We’ll never be a low-cost labor market, yet we can still win with technology. But people have to get on board. They can’t afford to sit back and wait until smart factories are well established. The time to learn the basics is now.”
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