Editor's comment: Changing with the times

Welcome to the November issue – the last one of 2023. Well, where did the time go? I’ve been piloting Aerospace Manufacturing magazine for nigh on 15 years now and I’ve seen a lot of changes since I first strapped myself into the cockpit.  

None more so than with the many automation-related topics programmed into this issue. I really should consider employing a robot to produce the magazine for me whilst I simply dictate all the words to it!

In this issue, we hear how Siemens’ CNC control systems help factory automation specialist, Electroimpact create an industrial, fibre-reinforced 3D printer that enables tool-less rapid fabrication of aerospace-grade integrated composite structures.

On a similar theme, FANUC explains how its CNC controls can control the multiple axes of large, automated fibre lay-up machines to satisfy our industry’s need for more automated manufacturing techniques with composite materials. Fortunately, robots would appear to be well-suited to handling this challenge.

Never in need of a coffee break, unlikely to catch a cold and even less likely to be spotted on the picket line in the event of a union dispute, automated processes are increasingly being employed to perform tasks such as drilling, fastening, riveting, welding, spray painting and tape layup processes.   

The naysayers will claim that automation diminishes the job prospects of people trying to enter the manufacturing industry. They’ve got a point; just how many more jobs will there be on the shopfloors of tomorrow?

Glued almost ‘man-machine interface’ like to their gaming consoles and smart phones, the younger generation would appear naturally inclined to joining the next wave of automated system programmers.

The manufacturing industry is certainly changing. When it comes to physical or mental labour: anything humans can do, robots – increasingly enabled by Artificial Intelligence – can do it better!

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