Machine Tools the Mother Machines: A Collaborative Approach to Standardization
Machine tools can be understood as "machines that help people to make things" or as “the mother of all machines”. The machine tool industry is a global multi-billion-pound industry and a fast-moving industry sector. As technology advances in both hardware and software, growth is inevitable. UK input into the Standards Development process has never been more important.
An Evolving Landscape
According to International standards, a “machine tool is a mechanical device, which is fixed and powered, typically used to process workpieces by selective removal/addition of material or mechanical deformation (…). Machine tools operation can be mechanical, controlled by humans or by computers (…)”.
There is a great variety of metalworking machine tools: milling machines, lathes, sheet metal forming machines, EDM machines and additive manufacturing machines. Stainless steel, aluminium, titanium and copper are some of the main metals processed by these machine tools. In addition, to manufacture components for key industries like automotive, aerospace, energy and medical technology, machine tools enable the production of all the other machines, including themselves. This is why they are often referred to as the “mother machines”.
Technical Standards will become ever more important, with a constant need to keep track of the industry’s processes and practices. As functional safety becomes more accepted in the sector with the introduction of more advanced safety functions there will be an increase in the need for the updating of standards. Additionally, workable standards that can ensure the accuracy of manufacturing machines will also have a big impact on how the industry makes better quality and more sustainable products.
New standards, collaborative partnerships and industry entrants will emerge with the development of technological software such as automation and systems applications.
The Role of BSI
BSI represents UK social and economic interests in the Standards Development process and is at the forefront of defining innovation.
Standards are developed by a wide range of stakeholders. Machine Tools (MTE/1) and its subcommittees: Safety (MTE/1/1) and Accuracy (MTE/1/2) are well constituted and represent Standards Makers from The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Renishaw Plc., Huddersfield University, Automatic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and the Safety Assessment Federation (SAFed) to name but a few. They are involved for numerous reasons, whether that is to improve product performance, reduce risk, shape the future of the industry or to share their ideas and expertise in a collaborative environment.
I am fortunate to work with a group of UK experts who are focused on the overarching machine tools standards which defines industry’s approach to
(i) The Machinery Directive;
(ii) functional safety; and
(iii) condition monitoring.
The Machinery Directive
A Directive is a legal act of the European Union, which requires members to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving that result. It can be distinguished from regulation as it does not require any implementing measures. Directives normally leave member states with a certain amount of leeway as to the exact rules to be adopted.
The Machinery Directive, Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council is of relevance to the committee as BSI is a member of the European Standards Body (CEN), where the UK has to harmonize and adopt European Standards. Additionally, the Machinery Directive has the dual aim of harmonizing the health and safety requirements applicable to machinery while ensuring the free circulation of machinery on the EU market.
One way of demonstrating compliance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSR) can be done through compliance with harmonized European standards, hence its importance to UK industry and to the committee.
By developing current and relevant standards to define best practice and in doing so determining the performance and condition assessments of machine tools, a common understanding of the necessary requirements can be agreed upon between customers and suppliers of machine tools. This process ensures the establishment of the most suitable machine tool solution for a given manufacturing technique, thus optimizing manufacturing performance and efficiencies.
A collaborative relationship
“We can do things that our predecessors would only have dreamt of. Our industry is always moving forward” - MTA President Marcus Burton - The MTA Centenary Dinner, 28 February 2019.
A committee should ideally be reflective of industry and a committee member should actively engage with BSI, its nominating organisation and industry. BSI’s relationship with the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) is great example of a mutually beneficial relationship, to name but one.
The MTA is a trade association for companies who create and supply the technology that manufacturer’s use to make products. They support their members in the advanced engineering sector through lobbying, media contact, networking and activities, including the week-long MACH 2021 exhibition.
The MTA recognizes that its members use Standards, while BSI recognizes the technical expertise the MTA brings to the table and the strength of its membership. Both organizations realize that there are opportunities not only in increasing awareness of Standardization, but in developing industry in the UK.
UK industry can only thrive with your involvement if you are interested in participating and developing Standards then find out more here