NPE2018 Show Daily Preview

NPE is truly ‘Breaking the Mold’ as a multifaceted experience, with activities, discoveries and opportunities to satisfy the needs of anyone who works in the plastics industry or has a need to know about plastics

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THE OFFICIAL SHOW DAILY FOR NPE2018: THE PLASTICS SHOW BY MATT NAITOVE Executive Editor Plastics Technology | R obots exhibited at NPE2018 will be faster, smarter, more connected, and, in some cases, more "collaborative." Interviews with leading robot suppliers showed remarkable unanimity about the overall points of empha- sis: new control features to speed cycles, fa- cilitate maintenance, and ease programming; increasing integration of robot and machine controls; and growing industry reliance on automated cells with multiple downstream operations integrated beside the press. is last emphasis is bringing a wider range of robot types to plastics shows—SCARA types, delta or "spider" types, and a growing variety of "collaborative" concepts. Six-axis joint- ed-arm robots are also likely to be more plen- tiful than ever at this NPE, but they are facing competition from five-, six-, or seven-axis linear robots sporting servo wrists. FASTER, STRONGER, SMARTER Robots overall are becoming faster, car- rying heavier loads, and are easier to pro- gram. More sophisticated programming is shaving every possible fraction of a second off of cycle time by executing multi-axis movements simultaneously, anticipating the movements of the clamp and ejectors, and establishing optimum standby positions. Smarter robot controls can learn and adjust timing and positions for such automatic cycle optimization. On the other side of the coin, some controls actually slow down the robot when the cycle permits, saving wear and tear by ensuring the robot doesn't move any faster than necessary to get where it is going on time. e speed, precision, and programma- bility of servomotors has largely replaced pneumatics on takeout robots—both on the main axes and on wrist rotation. As you'll see at NPE2018, servo sprue pickers are also having their day—becoming, in fact, mini robots. One supplier notes that servo pickers offer benefits for controlling orientation of demolded parts. However, there's general agreement among robot vendors that pneu- matics will have a place in simple pick-and- drop applications for some time to come. e constant pressure to squeeze out higher productivity also means less patience with "flutter" of the robot's vertical axis due to acceleration, deceleration, and machine shock and vibration. Robot suppliers have worked steadily to reduce mass and increase stiffness of robot arms to minimize inherent vibration tendency. ey also use soware for active vibration suppression—controlling acceleration/deceleration and using small robot counter-motions to dampen vibration (analogous to noise-canceling headphones). Ease of programming has been a steady trend (see the Plastics Technology cover story this past November). Some vendors have approached this, in part, by ensuring a consistent interface among all models in their line; another strategy has been to apply a similar look and Can Widening Skills Gap Be Bridged? PLASTICS calls for "collaborative response across all levels of government and all manufacturing sectors" to tackle critical issue. BY TONY DELIGIO Senior Editor Plastics Technology | A er years of closely monitoring an increasingly worrisome labor shortage, Plastics Industry Association's (PLASTICS) warnings about the widening gap between the sector's need for skilled workers and the supply of such employees have shied to full alarm. As stated in PLASTICS' 2017 Size & Impact Study, "While the skills gap and the decline of a qualified manufacturing work- force have been discussed for many years now, the nation has reached the point where their impacts will begin to be felt more acutely." In that report, released in December, PLASTICS forecasts that employment in plastics manufacturing will expand 0.9 per- cent, 0.7 percent and 0.6 percent from 2017 to 2019—rates slower than in the three prior years and in five of the last six going back to 2011. Total employment in 2019 is forecast to reach 735,000, not including captive oper- ations. It stands at 719,000 today. "Employ- ment growth slows as the supply of labor starts to dry up," is how PLASTICS describes the impending scenario in the report. Plastics is not alone in its search for work- ers. According to the Manufacturing Institute, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled in the BY JIM CALLARI Editorial Director Plastics Technology | C ome NPE2018 time—May 7-11 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida—more than 65,000 attend- ees from all over the world will be able to navigate more than 1 million net square feet (nsf ) of operating machinery, new product demos, exciting innovations, and emerging technologies from more than 2,000 leading suppliers of primary processing machinery, auxiliary equipment, tooling, soware, ma- terials, additives, and more. is year's show will also feature 10 process-specific Technol- ogy Zones—plus International Pavilions and the Industrial Designers Society of America Design Center—to further showcase what's hot in the industry. ere are a number of specialized areas, all of which will be located in the South Hall. continued on page 28 >> continued on page 6 >> Get in the "Zone" with Specialized Areas on Show Floor Nearly a dozen "shows within the show" let attendees focus on specific technologies and exhibitors on the sold-out show floor. Robots Are Asked to Do More and to Be Team Players, Too At NPE2018, key themes will be cell automation and equipment connectivity. Look for more capable robots and forward thinking about Industry 4.0. The "collaborative" niche is also growing. SHOW PREVIEW PRODUCED BY OFFICIAL MEDIA PARTNER continued on page 24 >> NPE2018 will feature specialized "zones" for 3D printing and bottle making—which combine in this printed plastic blow mold for a PET bottle. Register at NPE2018: THE PLASTICS SHOW • REGISTER TODAY AT NPE.ORG

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