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Machining by The Hour

11th July 2019


Servitisation of machine tools is a proposed business model where a manufacturer purchases productive time available on a machine, rather than the capital asset. This game-changing approach to the in-service support of manufacturing will improve productivity, raise technology levels and improve sustainability of manufacturing throughout the UK’s supply chain.  Manufacturers will be contractually provided with machine tools with guaranteed quality, performance and availability; SMEs will gain access to cutting edge CNC machines while the onerous responsibility for maintaining machine capability would reside with the experts.

The challenge is to mitigate service supplier’s considerable risk since the machine is being operated by their customer. They need to remotely monitor and automatically schedule preventative maintenance. Advanced sensing technology and analytics must be used for both the machine and manufacturing process. Metrology is a fundamental driver for the quality requirement, process optimisation ensures performance targets can be met and monitoring for degradation in both can allow predictive maintenance to ensure availability.

This proposal will map out the business model, necessary hardware and software, data infrastructure and contractual requirements to allow this approach to succeed. A successful outcome will give MTT a model that will increase their market share, cementing their place as UK leaders in machine tool maintenance. early-adopters will have more productive and sustainable manufacturing facilities.

Project Scope

The main focus of the project is to provide an innovative business model which servitises the use of manufacturing machines and provides the technical and analytical tools to be able to do so. The project addresses machine tools, since this is the main business of MTT (the lead partner’s) work and therefore lowers the risk to early-stage implementation; MTT already have a broad customer base, who trust their manual intervention in maintaining their machines. However, the project will also consider how the model can be structured so that it can later be expanded to include other, emerging manufacturing processes such as nanomanufacturing, laser machining, etc.

Both competition themes are addressed: first, digital technologies relevant to the instrumentation of mechanical conversion are becoming sufficiently scalable, affordable, flexible and rugged to allow them to be applied to machine tool fleet management; second, the resulting opportunity to introduce servitisation to the machine tool supply chain creates new opportunities for design for manufacture (e.g. co-creation of innovative techniques and processes) and lifecycle extension (e.g. replacement of the ‘dispose and replace’ paradigm for the machine tools fleet with ‘modify and redeploy’).

The business model can only succeed if the supporting technology is sufficiently developed to mitigate the risk to the service provider from misuse/abuse by the machine user. The project will rely heavily on exploiting digital manufacturing concepts of smart sensors, signal capture, data analytics and interconnectedness. Since metrology systems are at the heart of guaranteeing the quality metric, embedding measurement data into the analysis tools is fundamental to the challenge. The project is therefore likely to lead to an increased awareness for manufacturers of the need for design for measurement.

The project will lead to a step-change in enabling UK firms, particularly SMEs, to access advanced CNC machines, achieve better return-on-investment and productivity from legacy and future fleets of machine tools. It responds to the need to continually improve the ability of domestic manufacturers to compete in a global market. Manufacturing processes will become more efficient (e.g. through servitisation) and flexible (e.g. through repurposing) as a result of both technical innovations in the mechanical conversion performed by manufacturers themselves and capability development within the supply chain for machine tool products and services. The project supports the basic manufacturing infrastructure and therefore is applicable to all sectors (e.g. Aerospace, automotive, power generation, transfer lines) where precision machining is required. The project deliverable is a servitisation model and improved tools for advanced monitoring technology and analytics for a specific case and a universal framework for the adoption of the technology on other machines.

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