This Factory Robot Learns a New Job Overnight

MIT Technology Review:   Fanuc’s robot uses a technique known as deep reinforcement learning to train itself, over time, how to learn a new task. It tries picking up objects while capturing video footage of the process. Each time it succeeds or fails, it remembers how the object looked, knowledge that is used to refine a deep learning model, or a large neural network, that controls its action. Deep learning has proved to be a powerful approach in pattern recognition over the past few years. “After eight hours or so it gets to 90 percent accuracy or above, which is almost the same as if an expert were to program it,” explains Shohei Hido, chief research officer at Preferred Networks, a Tokyo-based company specializing in machine learning. “It works overnight; the next morning it is tuned.”... ( full story )

Bosch combines "Industrie 4.0" platform and Industrial Internet Consortium standards

Connected industry is now becoming an international reality. In a new project, Bosch is working together with partners to combine the technical standards of Germany’s “Industrie 4.0” platform and of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) for the first time. This combination of the two approaches allows the exchange of data between central areas of connected industry. “Industry 4.0 is not so much a national as an international issue. Only a truly global approach – without competing company standards or differing national regulations – will allow it to develop to its full potential,” said Dr. Werner Struth, a member of the Bosch management board, at the Bosch ConnectedWorld IoT conference in Berlin. To date, the lack of a common language has hindered the smooth international coordination of manufacturing, logistics, and building and energy management. “As we head towards connected industry, two worlds are now coming together. This is a major advance. A combination of these two standards paves the way for numerous new cross-border business opportunities for Industry 4.0 solutions, both for Bosch and for other international companies,” Struth said.   Full Press Release:

Plattform Industrie 4.0 and Industrial Internet Consortium Agree on Cooperation

Representatives of Plattform Industrie 4.0 and the Industrial Internet Consortium met in Zurich, Switzerland to explore the potential alignment of their two architecture efforts - respectively, the Reference Architecture Model for Industrie 4.0 (RAMI4.0) and the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA). The meeting was a success, with a common recognition of the complementary nature of the two models, an initial draft mapping showing the direct relationships between elements of the models, and a clear roadmap to ensure future interoperability. Additional possible topics included collaboration in the areas of IIC Testbeds and I4.0 Test Facility Infrastructures, as well as standardization, architectures & business outcomes in the Industrial Internet. State Secretary, Matthias Machnig, Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy: “We welcome the cooperation of both initiatives as an important milestone in the cooperation of companies internationally. The combined strengths of both IIC and Plattform Industrie 4.0 will substantially help to pave the way for a mutually beneficial development of a digitized economy for our international businesses.” Prof. Dr. Siegfried Russwurm, Technical Director of Plattform Industrie 4.0, CTO and Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, said„Collaborating with other initiatives is important, especially for Germany’s export-oriented economy. We are highly interested to cooperate intensively with others in order to pave the way for global standards. Cooperating with IIC – and with other consortia – is an important step in the right direction.”   Full Press Release:

Automotive Industry 4.0 - Disrupting the Industry?

Pascal Drescher  for The Market Mogul:  We all know what happened to Nokia and Motorola around a decade ago – are BMW, GM and Toyota the next to get disrupted? The automotive industry developed on an evolutionary path after Henry Ford’s game-changing introduction moving assembly line over a century ago, but the industry might soon get disrupted once more. There are currently several catalysts, rooted in technological advancements as well as in changes in consumer behaviours such as more and more powerful batteries and growing interest in environmentally friendly fuels, or self-driving vehicles. Furthermore, the sharing economy has reached the automotive industry with different services such as BMW’s DriveNow or autolib in Paris. Tesla is so far the most successful new entrant that took advantage of some those developments, but other companies from the Silicon Valley might put an even higher threat to established manufacturers such as BMW, Toyota or GM. What is likely to be the next big thing is the move towards automotive industry 4.0, that is marked by the convergence of automotive, technology and telecommunication industry, according to a Roland Berger study. The automotive industry is not the first to face such disruption, thinking about how iTunes revolutionised the music industry, or how Apple and Samsung with their Smartphones remodelled the telecom industry while previously leading companies such as Nokia had to face bankruptcy. And when thinking of technology and telecommunication, it is clear that it will be once more tech giants Apple and Google who are only waiting to jump into the market, leveraging their massive technological knowledge and financial base. As it is known, both already highly invested in developing self-driving vehicles, Apple under its “Project Titan” and Google’s autonomous vehicles are already driving through California.   Cont'd...

Samsung to provide 'smart factory' solution in South Korea

Cho Mu-hyun for ZDNet:  Samsung Electronics will provide its smart factory solution for over a thousand small and medium-sized businesses in South Korea by 2017, the company announced. The South Korean tech giant will first provide the solution to 224 firms selected by the Center for Creative Economy & Innovation (CCEI), a state-run startup and small businesses accelerator program, starting this month. The CCEI has centres nationwide and works with almost all South Korean conglomerates to fund and support small enterprises with potential. Samsung will provide these firms with manufacturing execution systems and enterprise resource planning solutions. It will also provide its IT-based manufacturing solutions such as automated manufacturing, process 3D simulations, and CAD/CAM super-precision moulding machines. The firm plans to provide 450 companies with the solutions this year and over 1,000 by next year.  Cont'd...

Republican-Leaning Cities Are At Greater Risk Of Job Automation

​ By Jed Kolko for Five Thirty Eight:   More and more work activities and even entire jobs are at risk of beingautomated by algorithms, computers and robots, raising concerns that more and more humans will be put out of work. The fear of automation is widespread — President Obama cited it as the No. 1 reason Americans feel anxious about the economy in his State of the Union address last month — but its effects are not equally distributed, creating challenges for workers and policymakers. An analysis of where jobs are most likely to face automation shows that areas that voted Republican in the last presidential election are more at risk, suggesting that automation could become a partisan issue. So-called “routine” jobs — those that “can be accomplished by following explicit rules” — are most at risk of automation. These include both “manual” routine occupations, such as metalworkers and truck drivers, and “cognitive” routine occupations, such as cashiers and customer service reps.1 Whereas many routine jobs tend to be middle-wage, non-routine jobs include both higher-wage managerial and professional occupations and lower-wage service jobs.   Cont'd...

The making of: BionicANTs

What do ants and Industry 4.0 have in common? What challenges faced the engineers when it came to developing these delicate technology platforms? Take a look behind the scenes and dive into the world of the Bionic Learning Network... ( cont'd )

Industrial IoT Market Nears $132 Billion in 2020: Technavio

Pedro Hernandez for Datamation: The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to have a major, efficiency- and productivity-enhancing impact on how manufacturers and other companies in industrial settings conduct businesses. A new forecast from market research firm Technavio paints a rosy picture for IT vendors that specialize in industrial IoT. According to the analyst group, the market for industrial IoT software and services will reach nearly $132 in 2020. Between now and then, the market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent. In terms of demand, Technavio has identified the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region as the largest market for industrial IoT. Last year, the industrial IoT market generated $38 billion in sales in the region, a number that will reach $54 billion in 2020. APAC countries are investing heavily, including South Korea, which plans to pour over $3.6 billion into the IoT by 2020. Cont'd...

Nobilia uses IoT to create smart factory

Kitchen maker Nobilia has rolled out IoT and automation systems in its German factories to enable real-time tracking of furniture as it progresses through the manufacturing process. The company, which has distribution in Australia, is using Beckhoff automation technology that is powered by Intel processors. A barcode that is attached to furniture is encoded with details including processing steps, components required to be added to complete it, and logistics information such as where the finished product is to be delivered. “Each processing machine scans the barcode and retrieves the associated machining data from a central database. Data connecting the whole factory together makes it possible to produce 2700 kitchens daily,” Intel said in a blog post. “Through real-time tracking enabled by Intel IoT technologies, Nobilia knows exactly where each part is in the production process at any time. “If one of the manufacturing lines shuts down, parts are automatically rerouted to another line.”

Industry 4.0: What businesses need to know

By Barclay Ballard for ITProPortal:  In order for businesses to prepare for Industry 4.0, they first need to understand the technological driving forces behind it, including the Internet of Things. Although mainstream examples of IoT devices are relatively limited at the moment, in the future connected objects are expected to revolutionise a whole host of business sectors. In the same way that new manufacturing processes brought about huge upheaval during the Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things is also predicted to bring wholesale changes to industry. “The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been described as a crucial step in the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0,” explains Martyn Williams, managing director of industrial automation software expert, COPA-DATA UK. “Using IoT technology, organisations are developing smarter infrastructures and building connected networks across entire manufacturing processes.” Some of the key changes predicted to emerge as the Internet of Things is adopted by industrial firms include the following:   Cont'd... 

UK 'risks losing out in Industry 4.0 race'

By PRW:  A leading trade body has warned that a lack of government planning was threatening the UK’s position at the forefront of Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution. A number of plastics companies in the UK and on the Continent have begun to develop products and processes that take into account developments in and around Industry 4.0 – also known as the ‘Internet of Things’. However research conducted by manufacturers’ organisation the EEF found that while 91% of companies surveyed believed that internet access was as important to their business as electricity and water supplies more than half reckoned connectivity was inadequate for the future. While the awareness of how important the internet was to a company’s operation was seen as a positive, the EEF highlighted that poor digital connectivity may prove to become a drag on future growth. Many companies were already having to pay a premium to ensure they had high-speed access, the trade body said.   Cont'd...

Boy, do Fanuc and Cisco have a deal for your factory

Fanuc and Cisco Systems are set to commercialize a technology this summer that promises glitch- and disruption-free factory operations. The Internet of Things-based system monitors machinery and spots signs of possible abnormalities so that parts can be replaced more smoothly and without affecting operations.          A one-minute suspension at a car factory generally costs around 2 million yen ($16,900). If, for example, a gear breaks and operations are halted for 60 minutes to replace it, the costs would be 120 million yen. Frequent line stoppages could also affect product quality.      The Fanuc-Cisco system uses sensors attached to each robot carrying or welding parts to monitor temperatures, vibration and other conditions. Data streams are sent via the Internet. A computer analyzes the data and decides which parts will likely need fixing and when. The system also places orders for replacements. The accuracy of the system's prediction and analysis functions will increase as data accumulates, representatives from the companies said.   Cont'd...

U.S. official sees more cyber attacks on industrial control systems

Jim Finkle for Reuters:  A U.S. government cyber security official warned that authorities have seen an increase in attacks that penetrate industrial control system networks over the past year, and said they are vulnerable because they are exposed to the Internet. Industrial control systems are computers that control operations of industrial processes, from energy plants and steel mills to cookie factories and breweries. “We see more and more that are gaining access to that control system layer," said Marty Edwards, who runs the Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, or ICS-CERT. ICS-CERT helps U.S. firms investigate suspected cyber attacks on industrial control systems as well as corporate networks. Interest in critical infrastructure security has surged since late last month when Ukraine authorities blamed a power outage on a cyber attack from Russia, which would make it the first known power outage caused by a cyber attack.   Cont'd...

Thoughts turn to revolution in Davos

By Matthew Allen for SWI:  Intelligent robots and drones, 3D printers, self-driving vehicles, data mountains, smart production lines, fintech and blockchain – the fourth industrial revolution is here. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual Davos meeting will ponder the potential, limitations and societal impacts of “Industry 4.0”. Will the transformation of the workplace create jobs or unemployment? Will it close the gap between industrialised and developing economies, rich and poor - or widen it? For Swiss firms, can the new technological revolution ease the pressures of the strong franc? Speaking ahead of the annual meeting in Davos, WEF founder Klaus Schwab called on world leaders to revise policies to accommodate the coming changes. “We are not yet sufficiently prepared for this fourth industrial revolution that will come over us like a tsunami and will change whole systems,” he said. “My fear is that if we are not prepared we will create a world where particularly the middle class is frozen out. That would lead to a new problem of social exclusion that we absolutely have to avoid.”  Cont'd...

For Advanced Manufacturing, Success Demands Innovation, Education and Public-Private Partnership

MICHAEL D. WHEELER for Photonics.com:  Global manufacturing has undergone enormous changes in the past decade as many developing countries have joined the club of tier-one manufacturing nations, a recession stalled demand, and employment fell precipitously in leading economies. Yet manufacturing remains critical to the future of both developing and advanced worlds, driving innovation, productivity and competitiveness, and offering a pathway out of poverty. Recent attention has focused on “advanced manufacturing,” which replaces traditional labor-intensive processes with ones based on the newest technologies. It encompasses a family of activities that depends on information, computation, software, sensing and networking, while making use of cutting-edge materials and emerging capabilities such as nanotechnology. Advanced manufacturing is an especially potent propellant of future economic growth, distinguished by continual process improvement and rapid new product introduction. These critical features will lead to the building of lighter, more fuel-efficient automobiles, the creation of “needleless” tests for medical conditions like diabetes, and the fabrication of semiconductors with 10 times the current processing power.   Cont'd...

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