Renishaw brings factory of future into focus

UK engineering giant Renishaw is using its biggest ever MACH stand to showcase a range of process control solutions for advanced manufacturing industries

Centre-stage on its main stand (Stand H19-430) is a real-life example of industry 4.0 in action in the form of an automated high productivity machining cell, designed to demonstrate how high levels of automation and connectivity can be incorporated into CNC machining operations to improve productivity.

The new Equator 500 alongside its smaller cousin the Equator 300

Based on the closed-loop process control applications that Renishaw uses to machine parts in its own production facilities in the UK, the cell on display at MACH is designed to demonstrate how the latest developments in intelligent process control technologies can be adapted and integrated into CNC machining operations across many industries today, bringing the ‘factory of the future’ into focus for manufacturers worldwide.

Commenting on this feature Jonathan Archer, National Sales Manager said: “the automated cell delivers against a lot of the requirements of Industry 4 and also particularly the shortage of skilled engineers and how robotics and automation can help fill that gap for a lot of customers in the advanced manufacturing sector.”

Arguably we’ve been following industry 4.0 principles in our own manufacturing for year

Whilst Industry 4.0 has been discussed for a number of years now, Renishaw’s head of comms Chris Pockett pointed to a growing understanding of the concept, and a realisation that it is, in many respects, simply about taking a common-sense approach to using the huge volumes of data generated during manufacturing processes. “Arguably we’ve been following industry 4.0 principles in our own manufacturing for years,” he said, pointing to the company’s RAMTIC process control system that it’s been using since the mid 1990s as an example of this in action.

Alongside the automated cell, the firm’s stand also features a number of new product launches including the world premiere of The Equator 500  a measurement system for the gauging of larger parts, with a working volume of 500 mm in diameter and up to 400 mm in height.

For the third MACH in a row, Renishaw also has a separate stand dedicated to its growing Additive manufacturing business ( H20-150)

The RenAM 500Q additive system

Systems on display include RenAM 500M and AM 400 systems Renishaw’s latest system, the four-laser RenAM 500Q, which increases productivity in the most commonly used machine platform size.

Archers explained that in an intriguing example of additive “chicken and egg” one of key optical components of this system, the Galvanometer, was produced on the machine itself.

Commenting on the broader picture for UK manufacturing Pockett – who is also chair of the MACH exhibition committee – said that despite continuing uncertainty over Brexit, UK manufacturers are in confident and bullish mood. “As a company we could be reasonably impacted by a hard Brexit – our business model is totally integrated with the EU and If we don’t have a frictionless border – then we’ve got choices were going to have to look at. But the only known we have is uncertainty so we’ve got to get on with it,” he said.

Against this backdrop, the company is optimistic that MACH 2018 will be good for business although Pockett added that with the firm increasingly concentrating on turnkey bespoke solutions for customers success won’t be measured by the volume of equipment sold at the show.  “The days of selling boxes have moved on for a company like Renishaw which is now about supplying turnkey solutions,” he said, “a lot of it is the start of a process that will be followed up where we send our apps guys and sales guys into to be in their environment and understand how our products and services will fit in.”