US Manufacturers Too Slow to Adopt Industry 4.0: BCG Study

Industry Week:  U.S. manufacturers recognize the potential of the digital technologies known collectively as Industry 4.0 to create value, but they are largely approaching the opportunity in piecemeal fashion and may miss out on the significant business benefits these technologies offer, according to new research from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Nearly 90% of manufacturing leaders surveyed by BCG regarded adopting Industry 4.0 technologies as a way to improve productivity, but only about one in four see opportunities to use these advances to build new revenue streams. Many are pursuing isolated initiatives scattered throughout the company, BCG found in its new report, "Sprinting to Value in Industry 4.0," without a clear vision and coordination from the top.   Cont'd...

The Rise and Fall of the Everyman Tycoon

Article about the rise and fall of MakerBot by Andrew Zaleski at Backchannel: Itwas October 2009 when Bre Pettis — his unmistakable sideburns and dark-rimmed rectangular glasses framing his face — took the stage at Ignite NYC, threw his hand in the air, and shouted “Hooray!” two times. A PowerPoint slide lit up behind him, revealing a photo of a hollow wood box crisscrossed with wiring. Bouncing up and down, his profuse mop of graying hair flopping about, Pettis began: “I’m going to talk about MakerBot and the future and an industrial revolution that we’re beginning — that’s begun.” A former art teacher, Pettis had emerged as a key character in the growing maker movement of the late 2000s, a worldwide community of tinkerers who holed away in makeshift workshops and hackerspaces, equally at home with tools like old-school lathes and contemporary laser cutters. Pettis had begun his ascent in 2006, producing weekly videos for MAKE magazine—the maker movement’s Bible—that featured him navigating goofy tasks such as powering a light bulb with a modified hamster wheel. In 2008, he cofoundedthe NYC Resistor hackerspace in Brooklyn. By then, Pettis was a star. A year later, he launched a Brooklyn-based startup with friends Adam Mayer and Zach Smith (also a NYC Resistor cofounder) called MakerBot... (full article)

IIoT's new business models

Smart Industry:  Today, most companies see the value of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as additional information— data—that can help them do the things they already do, just better and more efficiently. And there lies a lot of low hanging fruit in  But for some companies, a much greater value is coming in the form of whole new capabilities—new products, services and businesses that could not exist without IIoT technology. “This higher value of IIoT is hidden in a lot of people’s minds—they’re not able to see the potential,” said Joe Sinfield, senior partner, Innosight and tenured professor of civil engineering, Purdue University. Sinfield spoke at September’s Smart Industry 2016 conference in Chicago about how individuals and companies can learn to see and take advantage of these new opportunities. “IIoT will transform virtually all industrial companies,” Sinfield said. How will the IIoT ecosystem evolve, and where is value shifting? How can industrial companies spot and capture related opportunity? What are the strategic roles available for industrials? What shifts in strategic planning are needed to unlock the value of IIoT?    Cont'd...

Robots won't kill the workforce. They'll save the global economy.

Ruchir Sharma for The Washington Post:   The United Nations forecasts that the global population will rise from 7.3 billion to nearly 10 billion by 2050, a big number that often prompts warnings about overpopulation. Some have come from neo-Malthusians, who fear that population growth will outstrip the food supply, leaving a hungry planet. Others appear in the tirades of anti-immigrant populists, invoking the specter of a rising tide of humanity as cause to slam borders shut. Still others inspire a chorus of neo-Luddites, who fear that the “rise of the robots” is rapidly making human workers obsolete, a threat all the more alarming if the human population is exploding. Before long, though, we’re more likely to treasure robots than to revile them. They may be the one thing that can protect the global economy from the dangers that lie ahead.   Cont'd...

Researchers 3D print working drone with embedded electronics

The Engineer:  Researchers at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have 3D printed a ready-to-fly drone with embedded electronics using an aerospace-grade material. The electronics were incorporated in the drone during the 3D printing process, which employs Stratasys’ ULTEM 9085, a high strength, lightweight FDM (fused deposition modelling) material certified for use in commercial aircraft.   Cont'd...

Closing tech gaps can fortify advanced manufacturing, save $100 billion

FRAN WEBBER FOR NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST):  To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, as well as save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and "proof-of-concept" demonstrations of emerging technologies. This is the overall conclusion reached by economic studies funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of four advanced manufacturing areas used to create everything from automobile composites to zero-noise headsets. "Gaps in the technology infrastructure--including the lack of reliable measurement and test methods, scientifically based standards, and other formal knowledge and tools--limit advanced manufacturing's further development and adoption," said NIST economist Gary Anderson, coordinator of the economic studies prepared by RTI International (link is external), an independent nonprofit research institute.  Cont'd...

Hospital to get first dedicated 3D tissue-printing facility

Steve Dent for enGadget:  You still can't get a 3D-printed liver transplant made from your own cells, but an Australian hospital is trying to push the tech into the mainstream. The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane is building a dedicated "biofabrication" space where doctors and researchers can develop tech to model and print cartilage, bone and other human tissue. "It will be the first time a biomanufacturing institute will be co-located with a high-level hospital," said Australian Minister of Health Cameron Dick. The facility will occupy two floors of the hospital and use state of the art tissue manufacturing tech in surgery procedures. "Our vision for healthcare is that the biofabrication institute will pave the way for 3D printers to sit in operating theaters, ready to print tissue as needed, in our hospitals of the future," Dick said.   Cont'd...

The Audi smart factory of the future

Jason Siu AutoGuide.com:  Audi is developing a “Smart Factory” where robots will work together with humans to build cars. The German automaker first talked about its Smart Factory last year, envisioning a plant with human-robot collaboration, 3D printed parts, drone material transport and piloted cars that drive themselves off the production lines. A new video has been released that gives us a glimpse into that factory, proving that it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. In fact, Audi appears to be making great progress with drones transporting steering wheels, although it may not seem very effective in the video.   Cont'd...

Delta buys Unicom to advance smart factories

Christine Chou, The China Post:  Delta Electronics, a provider of power management solutions, will acquire a 100 percent stake in industrial software provider Unicom (羽冠) for NT$351 million (US$10.9 million).  In a bid to speed up its smart manufacturing operations, Delta Electronics' board of directors agreed on Friday to acquire Unicom - merging the leading Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) software provider into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta. Unicom, which specializes in Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), has been providing solutions to streamline factory management and equipment monitoring for almost 20 years. Delta Electronics chief executive officer Cheng Ping said with the arrival of the internet of things, manufacturers must move towards smart production to adapt to changing market demands. The development of core technologies and systems for smart manufacturing requires cross-disciplinary cooperation to speed up the transition and seize market opportunities, Cheng said.   Cont'd...

How Industry 4.0 is changing human-technology interaction

Ben Rossi for InformationAge:  Accelerated by technologies such as 3D printing and intelligent robots, the role of the human machine interface (HMI) is becoming more sophisticated. This is altering the way industries approach increasingly complex processes of machines and systems in order to improve efficiency and decrease downtime. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) are at the centre of new technological approaches, development, production and the entire logistics chain - otherwise known as smart factory automation. HMI is implemented in any industry where human intervention with a machine or automated device is necessary. The high rate of demand for HMI is being driven by the need for enhanced efficiency, data security and compliance, mobility, remote services and reliable hardware.   Cont'd...

Siemens to buy Mentor Graphics amid push to digitize factories

By Christopher Alessi and Natascha Divac, Dow Jones Newswires:  Siemens AG’s planned acquisition of automation and industrial software provider Mentor Graphics Corp. is the German giant’s latest play to stay competitive in the race to digitize heavy industry. Siemens on Monday offered $37.25 a share in cash, equivalent to a 21 percent premium on Mentor’s closing share price on Friday, giving the U.S. company an equity value of around $4 billion.Wilsonville, Ore.-based Mentor, which has agreed to the acquisition, sells software and hardware design-automation tools for the development and testing of advanced electronic systems. The company has a field office in Longmont. Mentor’s shares gained 18.3 percent to $36.30 in recent Nasdaq trading on Monday. “It’s a perfect portfolio fit to further expand our digital leadership and set the pace in the industry,” Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said.   Cont'd...

Samsung SDS releases AI-based smart factory system

Yoon Sung-won for KoreaTimes:  Samsung SDS has launched its artificial intelligence (AI)-based smart factory system service Nexplant, the company said Wednesday. The system integration service affiliate of Samsung Group highlighted that the new service will help clients maximize production efficiency as the AI system analyzes manufacturing problems in real time. "Before the domestic release of the service, we have already drawn high interest from manufacturing businesses in overseas countries including the United States and India," Lee Jae-cheol, smart factory business director and senior vice president of Samsung SDS, said in a statement. "We will expedite business expansion on the global stage." In developing the Nexplant system, Samsung SDS said it has tapped into its expertise in manufacturing process optimization systems that it has accumulated during the last three decades while providing them to plants run by other Samsung affiliates.   Cont'd...

Trump promises to bring back manufacturing jobs, but robots won't let him

Lora Kolodny for TechCrunch:  For Americans struggling with stagnant wages, under- or un-employment, one of Donald Trump’s most appealing campaign promises was to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Navigating the complexities of policy, tariffs and geopolitics would make that hard enough already for the president elect. But technology will make this promise nearly impossible to fulfill. Why? Because manufacturing jobs are increasingly done by robots, not people. Robotics have already helped reduce reliance on labor overseas for manufacturers in automotive, electrical and electronics industries, according to a fresh policy report from the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development.  Cont'd...

China Adopts Cybersecurity Law Despite Foreign Opposition

Bloomberg News:  China has green-lit a sweeping and controversial law that may grant Beijing unprecedented access to foreign companies’ technology and hamstring their operations in the world’s second-largest economy. The Cyber Security Law was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, and will take effect in June, government officials said Monday. Among other things, it requires internet operators to cooperate with investigations involving crime and national security, and imposes mandatory testing and certification of computer equipment. Companies must also give government investigators full access to their data if wrong-doing is suspected. China’s grown increasingly aggressive about safeguarding its IT systems in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. spying, and is intent on policing cyberspace as public discourse shifts to online forums such as Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. The fear among foreign companies is that requirements to store data locally and employ only technology deemed “secure” means local firms gain yet another edge over foreign rivals from Microsoft Corp. to Cisco System Inc.   Cont'd...

Tesla is buying a German engineering company to automate factories

Matthew DeBord for Business Insider:  On Tuesday, Tesla announced that it will acquire Grohmann Engineering, a German automated manufacturing company. The terms of the deal, which is subject to German regulatory approval, weren't disclosed. In a statement, Tesla described Grohmann as a "world-renowned engineering company in Prüm, Germany, which will become Tesla Grohmann Automation."   Cont'd...

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