Increasing demands for faster delivery, greater throughput, enhanced quality and lower costs will push aerospace production machines toward more automation and digital connections through the industrial Internet of Things, according to David Ward, product marketing manager of Makino. 

“The aerospace manufacturing facility of the not-so-distant future is going to be extremely efficient, utilizing data and automation to maximize machine utilization, uptime and performance,” Ward predicts. He believes aerospace OEMs may also want their suppliers to connect machinery to Material Requirements Planning and Enterprise Resource Planning systems for greater visibility and efficiency.

Makino itself has been concentrating on making machines much smarter and more efficient. For example, it recently introduced SGI.5, its latest Super Geometric Intelligence software for fast, tight-tolerance machining of complex 3D shapes. Bill Howard, vertical machining product manager, calls SGI.5 “the next-generation Makino advancement, culminating a decade of leadership in high-speed, high-accuracy motion control in complex 3D-contouring application.” Depending upon the specific geometry of the application, SGI.5 can cut cycle time 20-60%, while maintaining accuracy and surface finishes.

Another accelerator of the manufacturing process is Makino’s redesigned MMC2 automated pallet-handling system, fully compatible with the company’s a61nx-5E 5-axis horizontal machining center. Together, the new MMC2 pallet handler and 5-axis machining center yield higher processing speeds and more flexibility, so that aerospace manufacturers can adapt quickly to customers’ just-in-time needs for complex, multidimensional parts. 

The key is a new pallet-transfer interface on the MMC2’s rail-guided vehicle, which handles unique pallet designs used on the a61nx-5E. Ward says the machining center is so fast, some firms had been having trouble keeping it fed with raw materials. Now the MMC2 can fully exploit that speed and keep things humming. Manufacturers can now achieve spindle utilization rates as high as 95%.

Makino specializes in machines, controlling software and accessories to manufacture aluminum and titanium structures for aircraft and jet engine components. It also offers general-purpose machines that can fabricate a variety of aerospace components, including seating components, semiconductors and more. And the firm is always looking for ways to better automate aerospace manufacturers’ demands for high-mix, low-volume production and just-in-time delivery.