'UK manufacturers fail to understand Industry 4.0'

Ian Vallely for Works Management:  There isn't enough understanding of Industry 4.0 by UK manufacturers, according to a report by BDO in partnership with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  It said just 8% of UK manufacturers have a significant understanding of Industry 4.0 processes despite 59% recognising that the fourth industrial revolution will have a big impact on the sector, according to the report . As the increasing use of automation, data exchange, technology and wider supply chain communications driven by Industry 4.0 provides both huge opportunities and threats to UK manufacturing, there remains a ‘gaping hole’ in the education and understanding of Industry 4.0. According to the BDO Industry 4 0 Report, increased productivity, better data analysis, increased competitiveness and lower manufacturing costs are the top ways in which Industry 4.0 will affect UK manufacturing.   Cont'd...

Midea makes bid for robotics maker Kuka official

DW.com:  Chinese appliance firm Midea has announced it has launched a cash offer for a stake of 30 percent in German industrial robotics supplier Kuka. The takeover bid has stoked controversy in Germany and Europe. Midea said on Thursday it would offer 115 euros ($130) per share to Kuka owners under efforts to become the biggest single shareholder in one of the world's leading manufacturers of industrial robots. The Chinese appliance maker, which is so far only known to be producing washing machines and air conditioners, also said its offer would end July 15, with no ceiling on the percentage of shares it was aiming to buy.  Kuka shares closed at just above 106 euros in trading at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The stock gained about 26 percent since the deal was first proposed in May.   Cont'd...

How Big Area Additive Manufacturing is Enabling Automotive Microfactories

Ian Wright for Engineering.com:  Make no mistake, 3D printing is changing manufacturing. Although it may take years before we see the full impact of bringing this technology from rapid prototyping to full-scale production, there are already hints of big things to come. Take Local Motors’ recent purchase of two Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) systems from Cincinnati Incorporated (CI) as an example. The former company designs, builds and sells custom vehicles out of its US-based microfactories. The latter is a century-old manufacturer of metal fabrication tools and, more recently, BAAM.   Cont'd...

Carnegie Mellon Taps Private Gift for Engineering Simulation Center

Dian Schaffhauser for Campus Technology:  Carnegie Mellon University has launched a new collaboration with Ansys, a global company that produces software for engineering simulation. Under the terms of the agreement, the company will endow a new "Ansys Career Development Chair" in the College of Engineering and help fund a new building dedicated to the study of Industry 4.0. That facility will bring together faculty, students, researchers and corporate participants. Industry 4.0 is the name given to a movement that uses sensor, robotic, simulation and other innovative technologies to shrink development cycles and transform product design, development and manufacturing. The new 30,000 square foot facility, which will be known as the Ansys Building, is intended to expand the "making" capabilities of the college by adding a simulation and collaboration lab and a large open bay facility for undergraduate students to build full-scale projects. That open bay facility will be next door to the fabrication and machining facilities of the Hamerschlag Hall MakerWing, announced in December, where students will be able to make their components and then assemble them into larger systems.   Cont'd...

How Small Manufacturers Can Leverage Smart Manufacturing

Andrew Waycott for Industry Week:  I see three ways in which smaller manufacturers can leverage Smart Manufacturing.  The first is the way applicable to all manufacturers—using today’s affordable sensors to get better data, then using that data to fine-tune the process, decrease variability and remove bottlenecks. All of these bring costs down and drive quality up. Now let’s talk about the other two ways—ways that are specific to the smaller manufacturer. Smaller manufacturers have the edge in building volumes of one—in other words, customized orders. For many smaller manufacturers, the look is less assembly line and more set of work stations. This means that the operator in a smaller plant typically makes more decisions. It’s a more people-oriented process.   Cont'd...

Bosch Rexroth launches Industry 4.0 training rigs

The Engineer:  Bosch Rexroth has launched a new range of training rigs designed to help students get up to speed with the internet of things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. The rigs will form part of the company’s Drive & Control Academy programme and are built with industry-grade components. Aimed specifically at educational and industrial institutions, the rigs are tailored towards students and teachers as well as customers and employees, designed to assist with the adoption of Industry 4.0 practices. According to Bosch Rexroth, the modular hydraulic, pneumatic and mechatronic systems simulate a complete production process, combining several elements that can be operated individually or together. The physical rigs are accompanied by corresponding exercises, eLearning, project manuals and other supporting material. “The launch of our new training rigs offering is market leading and aims to provide the younger generation with a better understanding in the future of manufacturing,” said Richard Chamberlain, product manager service at Bosch Rexroth. “We firmly believe our industry grade training rigs will equip students with the ability to stay ahead of the curve. Our course material helps guide trainees through consecutive steps that build on one another, which means motivation remains high.”   Cont'd...

Foxconn Replaces 60,000 Labourers With Robots in China

Subhrojit Mallick  for GIZMODO India:   Apple and Samsung phone manufacturer, Foxconn has already taken a step towards the dystopian future. The South China Morning Post reported the manufacturing giant has replaced 60,000 laborers with robots. The total strength of Foxconn factory workers reduced from 110,000 to 50,000, marking a huge shift towards automation of routine jobs.  The Foxconn technology group confirmed to the BBC that they are automating many of the manufacturing tasks associated with their operations by introducing robots. However, they maintained the move will not affect long-term job losses.    Cont'd...

The Biggest Challenges of Data-Driven Manufacturing

Willy C. Shih and Helmuth Ludwig for Harvard Business Review:  The widespread deployment of low-cost sensors and their connection to the internet has generated a great deal of excitement (and hype) about the future of manufacturing. The internet of things (IoT) and industrial internet in the United States, Industrie 4.0 in Germany, and 物"网 (wù lián wăng) in China are all centered on the application of big data and analytics to creating the next generation of manufacturing: using data to reduce costs through next generation sales and operations planning, dramatically improved productivity, supply chain and distribution optimization, and new types of after-sales services. In fact, IoT is at the peak of Gartner’s 2015 hype cycle, which suggests the next phase will be disillusionment, and it will be years before we see real productivity gains. We believe data-driven manufacturing is indeed the next wave that will drive efficient and responsive production systems. But to get beyond the hype, managers need to understand some underlying challenges and paradigm shifts. While there are a multitude of challenges on the road to successful implementation, we think there are four especially important ones.   Cont'd...

China's Big Bid For Germany's Industry 4.0 Technology

Klaus E. Meyer for Forbes:  Midea, the Chinese household appliances (“white goods”) manufacturer just made what analysts called an ‘incredibly high’ bid for German robot maker Kuka. This acquisition would take the Chinese investor right to the heart of Industry 4.0 : Kuka is a leading manufacturer of multifunctional robots that represent an important building block for enterprises upgrading their factories with full automation, the latest human-machine interface functionality, and machine-to-machine communication. Midea want a 30% stake in Kuka and have offered €115 per share. Kuka’s shares traded at €84 the day before and had already increased 60% since the beginning of the year. This offer values Kuka at €4.6 billion, which means Midea’s 30% stake would be worth €1.4 billion – on par with Beijing Enterprise’s February 2016 takeover of recycling company EEW which was the largest Chinese acquisition of a German firm to-date. Midea’s takeover bid underscores Chinese interest in German Industry 4.0 technology; in January 2016, ChemChina paid €925 million for Munich-based KraussMaffei machine tools, in part because of their advances into Industry 4.0. Recent smaller Chinese acquisitions in the German machine tool industry, which include the partial acquisitions of H.Stoll by the ShangGong Group and of Manz by the Shanghai Electric Group are, in part, motivated by the objective to partake in the latest Industry 4.0 developments.   Cont'd...

German manufacturers take aim at smart factories, mass customization

TOMOHISA TAKEI, Nikkei staff writer:  It has been five years since Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, was first unveiled at the Hannover Messe industrial technology trade fair in Germany.      Industry 4.0 was more of a conceptual model at that time. This year, however, the trade show witnessed an emerging trend toward "smart factories" that can provide mass customization.      On April 25, SEW-Eurodrive's booth at Hannover Messe drew crowds of visitors. The German industrial motor maker demonstrated its automated vehicles for next-generation assembly plants, what it calls the "Lean Smart Factory."      In SEW-Eurodrive's demonstration, about 10 such "smart vehicles" moved about as five workers assembled products. One vehicle approached its target worker, displayed a procedure on its screen and instructed the worker to do the assembly work. After the worker completed the task, the vehicle received the product and moved on to another worker in charge of the next process.      These smart vehicles were connected over a network and programmed at the company factory. But it looked as if the products themselves were driving the vehicles and moved to where the tasks needed to be done. SEW-Eurodrive has already introduced the system at its factory in the southwestern German town of Graben-Neudorf, intending to make individually tailored products in the future.   Cont'd...

Hannover Messe showcases Industry 4.0 innovations

By Mike Bacidore, editor in chief for Control Design:  How are you getting your share of the pie that is the $227 quadrillion Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)? That’s a lot of money, and there’s plenty to go around, so what are you doing to cash in on this next industrial revolution? OK, to be fair, I made up that number. But, unless you’re a research analyst or someone putting together Q3 forecasts for your business unit, you didn’t even give that number a second thought. And you probably shouldn’t. It doesn’t really matter. That number is as justifiable as it is arbitrary. Just pick an amount and then create a scenario and a timetable you can defend. “If you torture data long enough, it will confess,” Ronald Coase once said. The famed British economist also believed that the study of real-world markets was much preferred to speculating on theoretical ones. In reality, this bold new landscape of connectivity has yielded opportunities for revenue streams steered by embankments of innovation. Nowhere was that more evident than at Hannover Messe in Germany, where Industry 4.0—the preferred European term, which includes IIoT, cyberphysical systems and more—was impossible to avoid and insistent in its resolve.   Cont'd...

These Five Exponential Trends Are Accelerating Robotics

Alison E. Berman for Singularity Hub:   If you've been staying on top of artificial intelligence news lately, you may know that the games of chess and Go were two of the grand challenges for AI. But do you know what the equivalent is for robotics? It's table tennis. Just think about how the game requires razor sharp perception and movement, a tall order for a machine. As entertaining as human vs. robot games can be, what they actually demonstrate is much more important. They test the technology's readiness for practical applications in the real world—like self-driving cars that can navigate around unexpected people in a street. Though we used to think of robots as clunky machines for repetitive factory tasks, a slew of new technologies are making robots faster, stronger, cheaper, and even perceptive, so that they can understand and engage with their surrounding environments. Consider Boston Dynamic’s Atlas Robot, which can walk through snow, move boxes, endure a hefty blow with a hockey stick by an aggressive colleague, and even regain its feet when knocked down. Not too long ago, such tasks were unthinkable for a robot. At the Exponential Manufacturing conference, robotics expert and director of Columbia University’s Creative Machine Labs, Hod Lipson, examined five exponential trends shaping and accelerating the future of the robotics industry.    Cont'd...

Three ways to leverage IIoT

Scott Stone for Plant Engineering:  The Internet of Things (IoT) will significantly alter manufacturing, transportation, distribution and other industrial sectors over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum. We've only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ways Internet-connected devices will transform these industrial sectors. To put a number on the anticipated growth of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) over the next few years, Accenture places conservative spending estimates at $500 billion worldwide by 2020. Forward-thinking businesses are already leveraging the power of the IIoT and reaping the benefits. When used effectively, it allows companies to better manage their operation, increase production and transform business for the better. Let's take a look at how industrial organizations should be harnessing IIoT to set their businesses up for future growth.   Cont'd...

Examining 'Industry 4.0′ opportunities in Japan

MINORU MATSUTANI for Japan Times:   “Industry 4.0,” or the fourth industrial revolution, can offer both opportunities and risks for the Japanese economy. It is a term to describe the future state of the economy, particularly manufacturing, based on the connectivity of everything, or the “Internet of Things” (IoT). This connectivity includes not only PCs and mobile phones, but also cars, manufacturing equipment and other devices. Although Japan is said to lag behind other developed nations, a recent gathering discussed whether the country could thrive in this new economy. A consultant, an IT service company president, an employee of the same company and a university professor, all of whom are Japanese, delivered presentations and discussed related issues at a symposium organized by the Keizai Koho Center, titled “The Future of Industry (Industry 4.0) and Japan’s Economic Growth,” in Tokyo on March 18.   Full Article:

Obama and Merkel open HANNOVER MESSE

"We want to build on the spirit of innovation in the USA," said POTUS Barack Obama in his opening speech. This spirit has been driven by Germany and HANNOVER MESSE, especially over the past 70 years. Obama added that the USA has now created new production facilities, subsidy schemes and jobs in recent years to help reach this goal. In what is likely his last visit to Germany as President, Obama spoke in particular about the TTIP free trade agreement. He believes that there are too many obstacles restricting trade between the EU and the USA. Different regulations and standards lead to higher costs. Therefore, one of TTIP's aims is to establish harmonized high standards. Obama also promoted the USA as a production location for European companies. Angela Merkel gladly took the opportunity to respond:  "We love competition. But we also like to win,"  replied the German Chancellor. A challenge with a smile. In her speech, Merkel emphasized that cooperation is essential for the future of industrial production - in a transatlantic partnership. "We in the EU want to lead the way, together with the USA," said the Chancellor, referring above all to the development of global communication and IT standards for integrated industry. However, the opening ceremony at HANNOVER MESSE 2016 was more than a meeting of Heads of State. Amidst musical numbers and dance performances by humans and machines, German Minister for Education and Research, Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, presented the coveted HERMES AWARD for industrial innovation. This year's winner is the Harting Group with its intelligent communication module, MICA.   Cont'd...

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