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...

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...

6 machine learning misunderstandings

Ryan Francis for NetworkWorld:  Machine learning isn’t confined to science fiction movie plots anymore; it’s fueled the proliferation of technologies that touch our everyday lives, including voice recognition with Siri or Alexa, Facebook auto-tagging photos and recommendations from Amazon and Spotify. And many enterprises are eager to leverage machine learning algorithms to increase the efficiency of their network. In fact, some are already using it to enhance their threat detection and optimize wide area networks. As with any technology, machine learning could wreak havoc on a network if improperly implemented. Before embracing this technology, enterprises should be aware of the ways machine learning can fall flat to avoid setting back their operations and turning the c-suite away from implementing this technology. Roman Sinayev, security intelligence software engineer at Juniper Networks, cites ways to avoid the top machine learning missteps.   Cont'd...

Manufacturing's Productivity Myth

Justin Fox for Bloomberg:  The U.S. manufacturing sector is far from the basket case it is sometimes made out to be on the campaign trail. But it's important to realize that it isn't exactly going gangbusters, either. The everything's-OK line about U.S. manufacturing goes something like this: Yes, lots of manufacturing jobs (7.3 million, to be precise-ish) have been lost since employment in the sector peaked in 1978, but real manufacturing output is at an all-time high. So the manufacturing sector is doing fine -- it's just that thanks to automation and other technological advances it has gotten much more productive and thus doesn't need as many workers.   Cont'd...

Smart Factory Hackathon: Talented data-science specialists develop solutions for the factory of the future

Press Release via AutomotiveWorld:  “Data drives our production – you innovate from our data” is the motto of the Smart Factory Hackathon, which was held at the Audi Forum Ingolstadt from October 19 to 21. Talented young data-science specialists from the fields of IT, mathematics and engineering developed innovative software solutions for the factory of the future, based on genuine but anonymized data sets from Audi’s production. On Friday afternoon, the winners of the IT competition were awarded their prizes: The “Happy Unicorns” team won first prize with its idea on the subject of container management. The Smart Factory Hackathon is a programmers’ marathon in which participants work out digital solutions and prototypes for genuine application cases over a period of 24 hours. For the competition, more than 20 departments from the pre-series center, toolmaking, paint shop, assembly and logistics had provided anonymized data sets with which the teams had to work. The results were assessed by a jury of four Audi experts and the startup consultant Thorsten Weber from “UnternehmerTUM,” the center for innovation and startups at the Technical University of Munich. The teams then presented their ideas to an audience. The winners were decided equally by the jury assessment and the audience’s votes.   Cont'd...

5 key trends in the global smart factory market

Abhishek Budholiya for Embedded Computing Design:  Smart factories are being touted as the future of manufacturing. Continuous advancement in machine intelligence is expected to bring about a fourth industrial revolution, expected to offer a wide range of benefits, including greater efficiency, flexibility, and safety. The global smart factory market was valued at nearly $52 billion in 2014 and is expected to expand at over 13 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the next ten tears. Let’s take a look at some key insights on the global smart factory market. First, smart factories are gaining traction in the automotive and transportation sector. Tightening profit margins and stringent guidelines have made automotive manufacturing a highly competitive market.   Cont'd...

Local Motors: Driving Innovation with Micro-Manufacturing

NewCo Shift:  Local Motors was founded in 2007 by John “Jay” Rogers, an Ivy league-educated ex-Marine who wanted to marry his lifelong interest in vehicles with new economic models. The result: Local Motors, a company that, after eight years in business, now produces a series of vehicles built locally in a handful of facilities, but designed by a global community of enthusiasts. Local Motors’ business model is built around its microfactories. The four now in existence — and the dozens more that the company plans to open over the next 10 years — each focus on a few vehicle types. Each looks to source components locally to the greatest extent possible. And each features a modular factory floor that can be configured and reconfigured as needed to accommodate the demand for individual vehicles.   Cont'd...

Fujitsu to sell 'smart' factory systems in China

Nikkei Asian Review:  Japan's Fujitsu will partner with Chinese group Shanghai Yidian to sell factory management systems in China, where the government is promoting such technology as a way to cope with a shrinking labor force and improve manufacturing quality. These systems fall into the realm of "internet of things" -- networks of machines, such as factory robots or appliances, that can collect and share data. The municipal-government-run Shanghai Yidian group comprises nearly 150 companies making electronic components, lighting and other products. Some of the group's factories have already adopted Fujitsu software that allows managers to monitor equipment in real time. These systems track energy usage as well as any problems the machines encounter.   Cont'd...

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