E3 production is set to transform manufacturing

Scarce and expensive raw materials, rising energy prices, climate protection and demographic shifts has resulted in dramatic changes to manufacturing processes.

The E3-production project just annoinced by Fraunhofer in Germany focuses on new machines, technologies and processes that conserve Energy and resources – and pave the way for an Emissions-neutral factory. Ergonomics in manufacturing completes the set. The process may be used in any manufacturing environment.

German companies at the forefront of the Industry 4.0 development which involves the de-centralising of control tasks performed by networked instruments.

Producing a car body is currently an extremely elaborate process that requires a lot of time and energy because sheet metal components need to be individually press formed before they can be put together and mounted during the car body manufacturing process.

It is now possible to combine two production stages – saving time, resources and money in the process. The manufacture of a hood, normally broken down into an outer section and several reinforcing parts, can now be combined into a single process.

Combining joining and forming in a press line shortens the process chain. Not only is the speed of production greatly increased, it also uses less energy and materials.

During testing, the cycle time for the benchmark car body component was successfully halved. Meanwhile, energy consumption was down 35 percent with a reduction of some eight percent in the materials required.

Making tools last longer also conserves resources. Forming tools used in processes such as the deep drawing of large components are particularly susceptible to rapid wearing at the edges.

A new laser technique locally deposits protective layers on surfaces that come under particular stress. Costly tools thus last more than 2.5 times as long.

To keep the emissions generated by production processes to a minimum, the manufacturer must be able to detect harmful substances and document their levels over time and area.

A mobile environment monitoring box can fulfill this function, allowing users to establish the levels of volatile organic compounds, ozone, carbon oxides, nitrogen compounds, ammonia and methane in the surrounding air.

A particle counter monitors fine dust particles, meaning that the environment box also contributes to work safety and aids production workers.

Chemical manufacturers in Australia are already boosting control technologies at their plants in an attempt to boost energy efficiency. This has led to a growth in automation and software solutions market in the region.