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...

OMRON to Introduce 15,583 Models in 7 Categories to World, Second Wave of FA Devices Built on Common Design Platform

OMRON Corp., based in Kyoto City, will introduce to the world on October 3, 2016, a total of 15,583 models, in 7 categories, as the second wave of factory automation (FA) control devices built on a common design platform for unified product specifications.  Based on a wide range of products, OMRON has been continuing to work for the innovation of making control panels which house and control FA devices on the production front line. OMRON unified the design and size of FA devices, and introduced products in April 2016 which are built with the company's proprietary wiring technology "Push-In Plus Terminal Block" for device and control panel makers in need of "downsizing and space-saving" of FA devices and control panels, "expedited delivery," and "response to globalization."   Full Press Release:  

Adidas Shows Off First Shoe Made In Its German Smart Factory

Designed to provide the ultimate fit, the adidas Futurecraft M.F.G. shoe represents the first high performance footwear to come out of the adidas SPEEDFACTORY in Germany, heralding a new era in footwear crafting while providing greater precision, unique design opportunities and high performance. Welcome to the future.  Adidas, meanwhile, plans to open its second Speedfactory next year in the Atlanta area.

How to Attract Millennials to Advanced Manufacturing Jobs

Tony Oran for Quality Digest:  In an age where popular technology careers are only seen as attractive if they are based in Silicon Valley or offered by the latest and greatest startup companies, the manufacturing industry must make changes to attract bright and talented Millennials. The numbers clearly illustrate this need. Baby Boomers currently make up a large part of the manufacturing workforce. With many workers expected to retire in the coming decade, there will be nearly 3.5 million jobs to fill, according to Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. Millennials have now overtaken Baby Boomers as the most populous generation, making them one of the largest pools of talent for employers. Quantity, however, does not always translate to quality. Employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill available openings, and it’s a trend companies are seeing regardless of sector.   Cont'd...

Bosch, SAP team up for Industry 4.0

Peter Gutierrez for IoT Hub:  Bosch and SAP will combine their expertise on cloud technologies and software solutions to make inroads into the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 markets. Customers will be able to use SAP’s HANA database platform within Bosch’s IoT Cloud, which the companies hope will enable large-scale data processing for IoT applications in real-time. Bosch’s IoT microservices will also be made available in SAP’s HANA cloud platform, providing multiple device and component connectivity.   Cont'd...

Industry 4.0: Cloud driving the rise of machines

From BizCommunity:   The technologies defining the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution', more commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, are being powered by cloud infrastructures. The Oracle Cloud: Opening up the Road to Industry 4.0 report has found that from robotics to artificial intelligence, businesses view the cloud as a blank canvas upon which to build their innovation strategies. [Industry 4.0: Cloud driving the rise of machines] The research investigated how companies in EMEA are managing the transition to Industry 4.0 and sheds light on which technologies they are investing in to continue succeeding in the data-driven age.  The majority of businesses are currently implementing, or plan to implement new innovation strategies: • 62% have or plan to implement robotics technology • 60% have or plan to work with artificial Intelligence Most companies also recognise a cloud infrastructure is required to bring these technologies to life – 60% believe an enterprise cloud platform provides the opportunity for organisations to capitalise on innovation such as robotics and artificial intelligence.   Cont'd...  

Safety solutions for intelligent human-robot collaboration

Fanny Platbrood for SafeToWork:   Human-robot collaboration (HRC) describes a work scenario in which humans and automated machines share and work in the same workspace at the same time. Driven by Industry 4.0, this model of collaboration promises highly flexible workflows, maximum system throughput and productivity, as well as economic efficiency. However, ensuring that HRC is actually able to live up to this promise requires exactly the right safety technology for the application in question. One of the major issues associated with Industry 4.0 is making work processes flexible. At the extreme end of the spectrum, this may involve manufacturing products in batch size 1 under industrial mass-production conditions – that is, manufacturing unique items on a conveyor belt.    Cont'd...

IIoT and Industry 4.0 to Create Growth in Telerobotics in Manufacturing

Kagan Pittman for Engineering.com:  By now, we’re all be familiar with industrial robotics—but you might not have heard of telerobotics.  Telerobotics is all about the control of semi-autonomous robots from a distance, hence the prefix “tele-,” meaning “to or at a distance.”  Telerobotics and teleoperation are playing an increasingly meaningful role in industrial automation and the rapidly evolving industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) arena, according to industry researchers at Mind Commerce Publishing.  It’s also worth noting that there are various other supporting technologies that promise to accelerate the adoption of industrial robotics and improve process controlling and monitoring in IIoT environments. These technologies include hardware, such as sensors, activators and dynamic control interfaces such as exoskeleton gloves, as well as software, such as Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).   Cont'd...

Hirose, Harting Team Up on 10 Gbit Ethernet Connector Standard

Spencer Chin for Electronics360:  Interconnection component suppliers Hirose Electric Co., Ltd., based in Tokyo, and Harting Electronics GmbH, Espelkamp Germany, have reached an agreement on the joint development, product standardization and marketing of a miniaturized connection technology system for 10 Gbit ethernet. The technology will overcome the limitations of RJ45, which is not ideally suited for industrial environments and could only be deployed with certain modifications. In light of this situation, Harting developed reportedly the world’s first industry-compatible field attachable RJ45. The miniaturization of components and interfaces in connection technology has become a key factor in global digitalization through the Internet of Things and Services.   Cont'd...

Why manufacturing will make or break the future of energy

Lauren Hepler for GreenBiz:  From solar panels a decade ago to energy storage today, the history of clean tech is littered with capital-intensive concepts poised to radically alter the relationship between industrialized society and the environment. But why do these widely heralded breakthroughs always seem to limp along so slowly when it comes to actually hitting the market? The dreaded "valley of death" between conception and commercialization is one increasingly recognized explanation, dooming novel technologies to relegation in never-ending pilot projects as follow-on investment lags. For Mark Johnson, the Department of Energy's resident innovation expert, the real problem often boils down to production. That is, not just inventing a new energy-centric technologies, but making sure those new tools can be reliably made in a cost-effective manner.   Cont'd...

New technologies reshape production lines

LINSEY MILLER & CHRISTOF WEHNER OF ARTESYN EMBEDDED TECHNOLOGIES, originally Published on Embedded Computing Design:  Whether people call it Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), or networked production, they are all talking about coming changing paradigms in the industrial network. Today there are several single-task workstations, manned by humans or robots, which are connected to a higher-level enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. However, that hierarchy is on the cusp of changing massively in the near future to accommodate newer, more intelligent technologies spanning multiple segments of the production line.   Cont'd...

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Automation & Networking - Featured Product

New M12 A-Coded Connectors from binder are now Ecolab and FDA certified

New M12 A-Coded Connectors from binder are now Ecolab and FDA certified

binder USA, LP, has expanded the M12 product family with the addition of the M12 A-Coded Connector, which is now certified for both Ecolab and FDA Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21 standards. The M12 A-Coded connectors are extraordinarily durable and IP69K-rated, ideal for harsh-duty and washdown applications in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. Available in 3, 4, 5, 8, and 12 contacts, the high quality stainless steel locking rings (V4A) and gold contact plating can also withstand UV exposure and shock and vibration.