Three Easy, Cost-Effective Ways to Run a Smarter Shop

Angie Foss


As the manufacturing industry evolves at lightning speed, it’s more crucial than ever for small- and medium-sized shops to stay ahead of the curve and optimize their operations. With new technology, job shops have unique opportunities to optimize their operations and stay competitive. However, with ever increasing demands on shops with limited time and resources, it’s hard to know where to start.

Enter Smart(er) Shop, an IMTS+ Original Series hosted by Ryan Kelly (AMT) and Adam Allard (Autodesk Research) that provides bite-sized solutions to solve manufacturing challenges. In each episode, the duo provides easy-to-implement and cost-effective solutions to manufacturing challenges, all in 10-minute or less segments.

“There are tools that all manufacturers—both small and large—can use and easily implement on the shop floor,” says Adam, who personally appreciates the series’ access to subject matter experts in the field: “Being able to get the firsthand download from the experts on how to implement these tools is very valuable,” he continues. “It’s really something that’s easily attainable in industry.”

In Season 1, the series tackled messy shop problems with cheap, elegant solutions such as machine monitoring for material removal, proactive air hose management, and a digital fix to monitor water jet abrasive. Now, the newest season gives you three more ways to upgrade your tech and proactively manage shop challenges – so you can get back to work.

Here’s a first look at the lessons learned in Season 2 of Smart(er) Shop:

Cybersecurity in the Shop

Manufacturing is the target for nearly one-quarter of ransomware attacks, making it one of the most vulnerable industries to cyber threats. While optimizing efficiency and reducing downtime is crucial to maintaining a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced environment, ensuring data security is equally important. In this supersized, two-part episode of Smart(er) Shop, Ryan and Adam visit MxD in Chicago to hear cybersecurity experts discuss six easy-to-understand security practices to keep shop data safe – including practices to help manufacturers optimize their cybersecurity and safeguard their data. Watch part one and part two.  

Connected Workshops

Ryan and Adam visit the Autodesk Technology Center in San Francisco to discover the benefits of connected CNCs. Alana Mongkhounsavath and Orion Beach of Autodesk Research give a practical demonstration on how a connected shop can reduce downtime, monitor spindle utilization rate, and work effectively using built-in drivers for specific machines. The potential for two-way communication about tools in the workflow allows for adjustments with less risk and more efficiency. Tune in to learn how to evolve your job shop and work smarter in today’s digital age. Watch the episode.

Robotics as a Service

Ryan and Adam learn from Nick Keyes of Rapid Robotics as he demonstrates how Topcon Positioning Systems used robotics-as-a-service to improve the efficiency and accuracy of their manufacturing process. Rapid’s demo shows that vision-assisted robots can help to identify micro imperfections in precision bench assembly work. The best part? The robotics-as-a-service model shifts high-cost capital expenses to monthly operating expenses, making robotics more accessible for small- and medium-sized shops by reducing the upfront cost with additional support. Watch the episode.

Learn more about Autodesk Research, and the Autodesk Technology Centers.

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