BERT MAES

The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

Posts Tagged ‘solar power’

Forecast + List: The Most Durable Jobs of the Future

Posted by Bert Maes on August 3, 2010


We do expect continued growth in manufacturing of a fairly modest 5% or so this year and next year — which is stronger than the overall economy. I guess there are a couple of things driving that: One is exports have done well and we expect to continue to see growth in exports. Second, there is some recovery in investment in capital goods. It’s mostly metals inventory rebuilding and replenishing factories for equipment that has gone beyond its useful life. It’s not really adding to productive capacity; it is productivity improvement and simply replacement. Investment in equipment and software is growing, but still far below 2007/2008 levels. The only way to get faster growth in manufacturing is to bump up the export share.

I BELIEVE THIS SHOWS THAT THE MOST DURABLE JOBS OF THE FUTURE INCLUDE:

Energy-Efficient Automobiles
Computer Software Engineer jobs
Electrical Engineer jobs
Engineering Technician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Computer-Controlled Machine Operator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Operations Manager jobs

Building Retrofitting
Electrician jobs
Heating/Air Conditioning Installer jobs
Carpenter jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Roofer jobs
Insulation Installer jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Construction Manager jobs
Building Inspector jobs

Mass Transit
Civil Engineer jobs
Railroad jobs
Electrician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Bus Driver jobs
Transportation Supervisor jobs
Dispatcher jobs


Wind Power
Environmental Engineer jobs
Iron and Steel Worker jobs
Millwright jobs
Sheet Metal Worker jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Production Manager jobs
Production Supervisor jobs


Solar Power
Electrical Engineer jobs
Electrician jobs
Machinery Mechanic jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Installation Technician jobs
Laborer jobs
Construction Manager jobs

Of course this all depends on
(1)
increased confidence of companies and consumers to invest,
(2)
healthier demand from exports markets,
(3)
streamlined permitting processes to start up exports,
(4)
a permanent favorable government business tax & fiscal policy in R&D, new technology, product development, increased efficiency etc,
(5)
easier access to low cost credit finance conditions,
and (6)
heavy & smart investments in technology-based education and export training.

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Only the manufacturers with highly skilled machinists can survive: an example

Posted by Bert Maes on February 17, 2010


Detroit-area auto suppliers are differentiating and rolling in new business. At least 100 auto suppliers already have secured contracts in other industries and that at least 250 have bid for work.

The machine tool and parts company W Industries, once an exclusive supplier to the auto industry, is now:

  • Making heavy steel parts for the frames, bodies and gun mounts of Humvees and Stryker combat vehicles destined for Afghanistan and Iraq. (see CHART expected growth in defense)
  • Testing the Orion space module by simulating the violent vibrations of liftoff. The NASA Orion space program aims to send human explorers to the moon by 2020 and then to Mars and beyond. (see CHART expected growth in aerospace)
  • Finishing a steel mold that will be used to make 70-foot-long roof sections of Airbus A350 passenger jets.

Race-car engine developer McLaren Performance Technologies is now making components for thousands of SunCatcher solar dishes, and is helping to design and build the motorized units that will convert concentrated sunlight into electricity. (See CHART expected growth in energy & resources)

Dowding Industries, a tool-and-die shop for Oldsmobile in 1965, later expanded into metal auto parts, tractor and rail car parts. In 2006, the company started to develop better-performing tools for plane makers and wind turbine components, in one-fifth the time of current methods. The carbon-composite blades will be 30 percent lighter than fiberglass blades and last 20 years or longer. (See article: the challenges of manufacturing wind turbines). Dowding sees opportunities to use similar technologies for bridges, expressways and ships.

Upcoming products in Michigan include remotely piloted military aircraft, lithium-ion batteries (Johnson Controls), the next-generation wind turbines (General Electric), a Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier engineering center, solar panels and battery systems for utilities.

What makes this shift possible?

The standard of manufacturing in the automotive industry is extraordinarily high in Detroit, and that is the only place you can find such a concentration of skills, for R&D, pilot projects and early-stage production.

The main allure of the Detroit area is its ability to quickly turn designs and prototypes into real workable products, that are more efficient, less expensive and easier to mass-produce.

The region is the country’s premier precision manufacturing base, with tens of thousands of highly skilled, underemployed mechanical engineers, machinists and factory managers. “We have the best manufacturing resources on the planet here in Michigan,” says Chris Long, the founder and chief executive of Global Wind Systems. “We just need to get aligned.”

A BIG question is whether the new work will sustain Detroit’s manufacturing ecosystem if auto assembly keeps migrating elsewhere. As suppliers close, more managers and engineers could move away.

To illustrate how difficult that manufacturing talent would be to replace, Bud Kimmel, vice president for business development at W Industries, points out to 30-year-old machining whiz Jason Sobieck.

Jason is like an artist,” Mr. Kimmel says. “We built our whole program around him. Jason began work at 17 at a small Detroit welding shop. He then worked for tooling companies, where he learned to program automated systems and manage projects. “These skills really aren’t taught in school,” Mr. Sobieck says, “This is a trade you learn on the shop floor.”

That’s one reason that W Industries wants to snap up as many good machinists and engineers as it can afford.

If we don’t re-engage the automotive workers soon in major programs,” Mr. Kimmel says, “this set of skills will be lost.”

Source: Detroit Auto-Parts Suppliers Branch Out to Other Industries – NYTimes.com

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How wind turbines work and the big challenges of manufacturing them

Posted by Bert Maes on February 9, 2010


A summary of Assembly Magazine’s cover article “Assemblers Harness Wind Power“, by Austin Weber, January 27th 2010.

Wind power is the cheapest and most popular type of regenerative energy. As a result, manufacturers all over the world are scrambling to build gearboxes, generators, blades, power systems, motors, control systems and other types of electromechanical devices.

How does a wind turbine work?

Wind power works by harnessing the breeze that passes over the rotor blades of a wind turbine and rotates a hub. The hub is connected to a gearbox via low-speed and high-speed shafts that drive a generator contained within a nacelle. A generator converts the energy into electricity and then transmits it to a power grid.

The typical wind turbine is a slender structure that consists of a three-bladed rotor that extends up to 300 feet in diameter attached to the top of tall towers that soar hundreds of feet into the air. A yaw mechanism uses electrical motors to turn the nacelle with the rotor against the wind. An electronic controller senses the wind direction using a wind vane.

How is a wind turbine made?

The average wind turbine contains up to 8,000 parts that must be assembled. Towers and rotors are the largest and most basic components.

Most wind turbines are designed for a 20-year life cycle. The gearbox and drivetrain system must be strong enough to handle frequent changes in torque caused by changes in wind speed. Bearings are extremely critical. The whole system must be correctly aligned to minimize wear from vibration and any resulting noise.

One thing that differentiates wind turbine manufacturing from other industries is sheer size. All components, such as bearings, gears and generators, must be extra large and extra strong. Big parts and big plants are common in the industry. For instance, the typical gearbox weighs around 30,000 pounds.

Due to their size and weight, gearboxes are often moved through assembly steps at plants in Germany using large rail systems similar to those in automotive plants. Quality expectations in the industry are huge, because manufacturers demand reliability and low maintenance. Wind turbines don’t make money if they’re not working.

Towers typically consist of large tubular structures. Plated steel sheets are rolled into rings and joined together with submerged arc welding. The tower sections are typically fabricated into cans about 20 meter long and then bolted together through internal flanges. This is an industry that needs to build large, high-capital items in a production line manner. It may be compared to aerospace.

There is great potential for advanced robotic welding to be developed. On the other hand, rotor blade manufacturing from fiberglass and other composite materials tends to be the most innovative and highly secretive area of the wind turbine industry. Blades over 70 meters long are now being designed. To achieve low-cost mass production, automated solutions from aerospace or automotive, such as robotic tape layers, have to be used to join long lengths of blade to assure aerodynamic conformance.

What are the challenges facing manufacturing wind turbines?

Wind technology will need to evolve. Engineers need to make wind turbines larger, taller, less expensive, more reliable and more efficient. Because wind turbine components undergo excessive forces and a tremendous amount of joint stresses and failures, numerous manufacturing issues must be addressed.

It looks very graceful and simple, but the aerodynamics, power characteristics, vibrations, system fatigue, acoustics of a wind turbine are harder to understand than an airplane or a helicopter.
For instance, blades, towers and casings must be able to withstand heat, cold, rain, ice and abuse from changing wind speeds. Blades must also be built with a high strength-to-weight ratio, so research into new materials is key.

Making wind energy practical is a matter of maximizing efficiency and minimizing production cost.

Reliability is critical in the wind turbine industry. The most difficult application is the gearbox, because it is important to avoid any distortion. The challenge is to maintain clamp loads for the service life of the turbine. Manufacturers are looking at weight reduction and improved assembly of threaded joints.”

Close tolerances, the ability of components to withstand operation in difficult conditions, and the availability of quality materials are all important challenges facing engineers. It is also a challenge to develop parts that are light-weight enough so that the final system can be assembled more easily, but they must also be durable enough to withstand difficult operating conditions.

And finally: the industry is struggling to build a local supply chain. The availability of a steady and sufficient supply of locally sourced components is important, as turbine companies increasingly develop production facilities away from their home base, they need to be able to have access to enough quality components to build the systems at their new location.”

Feel free to also read:

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An inspiring school building

Posted by Bert Maes on December 3, 2009


The newly opened Langley science academy in Slough has just about everything to motivate, inspire and excite students to study science.

The building is:

  • airy
  • light
  • open
  • eco-friendly
  • full of modern technologies

Read more about the impact of the school infrastructure on student outcomes…

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How to Inspire Young People: The Noble Cause of #Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on October 26, 2009


Written by:  Ronald Bennett

Once only royalty enjoyed extraordinary conveniences, today the extraordinary is the ordinary thanks to manufacturing.

Imagine you are King in the 16th Century. You live in a cold, stone palace with no central air or heat. There’s no running water or indoor plumbing. With no radio, television or newspapers to keep you informed, the world seems small and isolated.

Fast forward to the 21st Century. We have comfortable, climate controlled homes. We turn a faucet and water comes out. The world’s events are literally at our fingertips 24 hours a day. Thanks to technological advances, many of us now live better than the royalty of the past, even on modest incomes. The industry that makes this possible? Manufacturing.

Manufacturing is the life sustaining force that touches every single thing around you—from the furnace in your home to your laptop computer to the pacemaker that may someday save your life. Manufacturers are central in creating a better, more convenient, cleaner and healthier life; but few of us focus on the positives, and that’s a mistake.

To reach and recruit the next generation of would-be manufacturers, it is imperative that we—the old guard—talk about the benefits of a job in manufacturing, rather than just its features. When reaching out to young people, talk about manufacturing’s role in the stewardship of our planet through recycling and eco-friendly practices. Talk about it helps people in need through bio-manufacturing and work in the health industry. Play up the myriad products that make people’s lives better and create a safer world.

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To talk the talk, of course, we must walk the walk. Jump on the green bandwagon by using lean and sustainable practices to conserve nature’s precious resources. Open your minds—and the doors of your shop—to new technology, energy and water conservation, affordable health care and other modern elements. Not only will you attract the best and brightest of today’s generation, you’ll be involved in work that is rewarding. And, you may even boost that bottom line.

If you are still skeptical about your role in creating a better world, here’s some food for thought: You may just stamp hinges in your factory, but somewhere down the supply chain, you’re contributing to an energy-efficient freezer. You may just solder circuits, but the pacemaker you helped create saves lives. You get the idea.

What does your manufacturing operation do to benefit mankind?  If you can make that clear, you stand a good chance of attracting the talent you’ll need this century to have a sustainable business, maximize Minnesota’s competitiveness and maybe even change the world.

Feel free to browse through my posts.
Many articles are linked with the vision above.
I especially recommend:

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[List] Green Jobs: Growing Opportunities in Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on July 24, 2009


green-jobs-bigLast week, Dan Sunia (Department Chair Industrial Technology at Petaluma High School in California) said to me:


Before kids choose their school or field of education, they first have to check the kind of jobs that are available”.

And then I find this at blog.simplyhired.com: a detailed list with descriptions of several green jobs with significant expected growth –

THE JOBS OF THE FUTURE


Building Retrofitting
Electrician jobs
Heating/Air Conditioning Installer jobs
Carpenter jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Roofer jobs
Insulation Installer jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Construction Manager jobs
Building Inspector jobs

Mass Transit

Civil Engineer jobs
Railroad jobs
Electrician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Bus Driver jobs
Transportation Supervisor jobs
Dispatcher jobs

Energy-Efficient Automobiles
Computer Software Engineer jobs
Electrical Engineer jobs
Engineering Technician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Computer-Controlled Machine Operator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Operations Manager jobs


Wind Power
Environmental Engineer jobs
Iron and Steel Worker jobs
Millwright jobs
Sheet Metal Worker jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Production Manager jobs
Production Supervisor jobs


Solar Power
Electrical Engineer jobs
Electrician jobs
Machinery Mechanic jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Installation Technician jobs
Laborer jobs
Construction Manager jobs

Cellulosic Biofuels

Chemical Engineer jobs
Chemist jobs
Chemical Technician jobs
Machine Operator jobs
Agricultural Worker jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Agricultural Inspector jobs


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Last week, Dan Sunia (Instructor and department chair Industrial Technology at the Petaluma High School [great video on that website!] in California) said to me:

Before you choose your school or field of education, first check the kind of jobs that are available”.

And then I find this at blog.simplyhired.com:

Five areas with significant expected job growth are Building Retrofitting, Mass Transit, Energy-Efficient Automobiles, Wind Power, Solar Power and Cellulosic Biofuels.”

>> The blog offers a detailed list with descriptions of several green jobs of the future:

Building Retrofitting
Electrician jobs
Heating/Air Conditioning Installer jobs
Carpenter jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Roofer jobs
Insulation Installer jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Construction Manger jobs
Building Inspector jobs

Mass Transit

Civil Engineer jobs
Railroad jobs
Electrician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Bus Driver jobs
Transportation Supervisor jobs
Dispatcher jobs

Energy-Efficient Automobiles
Computer Software Engineer jobs
Electrical Engineer jobs
Engineering Technician jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Computer-Controlled Machine Operator jobs
Production Worker jobs
Operations Manager jobs

Wind Power
Environmental Engineer jobs
Iron and Steel Worker jobs
Millwright jobs
Sheet Metal Worker jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Production Manger jobs
Production Supervisor jobs

Solar Power
Electrical Engineer jobs
Electrician jobs
Machinery Mechanic jobs
Welder jobs
Metal Fabricator jobs
Electrical Assembler jobs
Construction Equipment Operator jobs
Installation Technician jobs
Laborer jobs
Construction Manager jobs

Cellulosic Biofuels

Chemical Engineer jobs
Chemist jobs
Chemical Technician jobs
Machine Operator jobs
Agricultural Worker jobs
Truck Driver jobs
Agricultural Inspector jobs

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Amazing Manufacturing: the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing

Posted by Bert Maes on July 23, 2009


AldrinSolar_BlogThe 1969 NASA Apollo 11 “Lunar Module” contained “15 million parts“. All of them had “to perform their intended functions flawlessly under the most rigorous conditions” (www.assemblymag.com)

15 million parts… That is just great engineering and manufacturing…

lunar moduleManufacturing will again be the key to developing innovations. Today: in energy efficiency and independence.

As Austin Weber stated:

In 40 years, perhaps we’ll look back on green energy with the same kind of awe and amazement as the first moon landing. I believe it’s time to take another “giant leap for mankind” and pursue bold new frontiers of energy, including batteries, fuel cells, geothermal, hydro, solar, wave and wind power”.

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Part 3: Green Technology ~ Solar Power and CNC

Posted by Bert Maes on July 17, 2009


Part 1: Wind Turbines and CNC

Part 2: Nano-engineering and CNC

Part 3: Green Technology ~ Solar Power and CNC

Production of solar panels… It’s pretty intriguing if you ask me.

When you look at this video, ask yourself

  • How are the major components of these production machines made?

  • And the instruments that are used, such as the computers, robots, volt meters, soldering equipment, and simple screws?



It’s hi-tech CNC manufacturing.

Students following CNC education sometimes even build their own solar carRead more…

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Part 1: Green Technology ~ Wind Turbines and CNC

Posted by Bert Maes on July 2, 2009


Waves of innovation

This is one of those charts I’ll love to use. It deserves some further research and clarification, so I’ll write a few posts on the role of CNC machining in the next “waves of innovation”.

Part 1: Green Technology ~ Wind Turbines and CNC

Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine tools are vital in the wind turbine industry.

CNC machines are actually big computers to shape steel, aluminium, titanium or plastic into critical components of the wind turbine. From the smallest pieces to the giant parts: all are one or two steps away from CNC machining.

CNC technologists first create or review a CAD/CAM computer model for the specific wind turbine part to be made. Next, they load the program in the machine, they select the tools and equipment needed to shape the piece, and calculate where to cut or drill.

They use their knowledge and skills in materials, computers and machine tools to produce the part to extremely precise specifications.

Wind Turbine Elements

It must be extremely rewarding to design technology and create solutions that are very relevant in society and make a real difference for our future.

Don’t you think?

Following soon:

Part 2 might be: Green Technology ~ Nano-engineering and CNC

Part 3 could be: Green Technology ~ Solar Power and CNC

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