The future of the machining industry is focused on the increased integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into machine operating applications. That means smarter machines. If you’ve seen “The Matrix” you know where all of this is headed…Machines that make machines to make machines. No humans needed, thank you!
Does that mean the human component has become obsolete? Not in the least. The human component makes the whole thing happen in the first place, not to mention we are crucial for upgrading and maintaining CNC machines to ensure they continue to function. The role of humans is changing, but that’s nothing new. In most cases, machines of all kinds are going to become less dependent on humans and more dependent upon themselves to run correctly.
It’s all about machine learning and emerging technology
When you drive down the street and ask your smartphone for directions to the nearest hamburger joint, you’re already dealing with machine learning. Once you ask the phone a couple of times, the phone figures out that you’re probably going to want those directions again and it makes the decision to make that burger joint the first on the list of your searches. That’s machine learning.
Talking to computers has become commonplace. So commonplace that we don’t think about what its impact is in the industrial world. The impact is significant and has been happening for the last decade. If you’re not up on the latest technology as it applies to machines, you need to get educated because you’re behind the curve.
How does this apply to the machining industry?
To be exact, the technological enhancements geared for the machining industry emphasize application language and getting more results with fewer keystrokes. For one thing, talking to the computer rather than typing in instructions has served many typing-challenged machinists. Not to mention the autocorrelation feature on most text-dominated programs.
The current trend is to get MaaS (Manufacturing as a Service) to work with customer demands for products. In manufacturing circles, This means cutting out the middleman who might be a local dealer, distributor, or warehouse. Customers can order products directly from the manufacturer saving time and money, as well as putting the producer directly in communication with their customer.
Get with the program
The question isn’t whether or not you should adopt the new technology. The question is which technology to adapt to your situation. If you’re into CNC machining, the applications and constant upgrades to machine tech have produced the 6-axis CNC machine. Capable of cuts and designs never dreamed possible a decade ago, this is the holy grail for manufacturing at the moment.a
Do you need to get an advanced degree in computer science?
No, that’s not a requirement, but it would be beneficial to speak with your machinery suppliers about classes and training that would enhance your current education. Embrace the future and see your role in it by familiarizing yourself with the latest news in industry magazines and periodicals. Talk to your friends and network with other machinists to discover what they’ve learned, heard, or seen.
Times change and so does technology. Machine operators with any time under their belts have seen those changes. They know that to stay ahead of the competition they have to be educated and keep getting educated. If you think about it, it’s all about making life easier and more productive. In the old days, it was called working smarter, not harder.
There’s no doubt more changes are coming. CNC Machining, lathe operation, milling capabilities, and a host of other CNC machine improvements are coming down the pike. They’ll keep coming for the foreseeable future and smart machinists, floor managers, shop owners, and production supervisors know the price of education is well worth the results it produces.