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...

46% of German companies use Industry 4.0 - survey

Almost one in two companies in the manufacturing sector (46%) use Industry 4.0 applications, while another 19 percent have specific plans to implement them, according to a recent Bitkom survey among 559 industrial companies with more than 100 employees. About 65 percent of the German industrial companies are already active in the Industry 4.0 sector. Around 23 percent of the companies asked have no concrete plans to use Industry 4.0 but will consider use for the future. Only 12 percent stated that this is not an issue currently. The study also showed that companies are still careful when it comes to investments: although 57 percent of the companies use or plan to use Industry 4.0, the budget for this is on average only 4 percent of the total revenue. Users and planners of Industry 4.0 primarily aim to optimise processes (69%) and to improve the capacity utilisation of their factories (57%). Half of the respondents expect a faster realisation of their customers’ individual wishes. 44 percent want to reduce their production costs with Industry 4.0 and 19 percent their personnel costs.   Cont'd...

Industry 4.0 in Hannover Messe 2016 leads manufacturers to cross-industry innovations

Back in Hannover Messe 2011, Germany announced the Industry 4.0 concept and initiated the world's fourth industrial revolution. Since then, Hannover Messe has become a focal point for Industry 4.0 innovations. As Hannover Messe 2016 closes in, the exhibition will once again be surrounded by various Industry 4.0-related hot topics such as integrated industry, smart manufacturing and more. Coming soon on April 25 to 29, Hannover Messe 2016 will be based on the theme "Integrated Industry – Discover Solutions", which aims to provide an interpretation of the smart manufacturing model of Industry 4.0. As a Taiwanese company with deep expertise in IoT automation, NEXCOM has planned four themed demonstrations that map out a complete solution blueprint for industry 4.0 in the upcoming event. Joe Lin, General Manager of NEXCOM's IoT Automation Solutions Business Group, states, "Early Industry 4.0 solutions focused on the lower layers of factory communication where IoT gateways were used to integrate different industrial protocols, bridging the Industry 4.0 last mile connection to fulfill the 'connected' concept. Now in 2016, NEXCOM will extend the pathway to the cloud through NEXCOM IoT Studio configuration tool and IoT gateways, which consolidate the management and connection of factory field devices onto a unified control interface, accelerating data aggregation. This will enable a two-way field-to-cloud connection for big data analytics, promoting development for more Industry 4.0 applications."   Cont'd...

Why Everyone Must Get Ready For 4th Industrial Revolution

Bernard Marr for Forbes:  First came steam and water power; then electricity and assembly lines; then computerization… So what comes next? Some call it the fourth industrial revolution, or industry 4.0, but whatever you call it, it represents the combination of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Systems. In short, it is the idea of smart factories in which machines are augmented with web connectivity and connected to a system that can visualize the entire production chain and make decisions on its own. And it’s well on its way and will change most of our jobs. Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, has published a book entitled The Fourth Industrial Revolution in which he describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterized mainly by advances in technology. In this fourth revolution, we are facing a range of new technologies that combine the physical, digital and biological worlds. These new technologies will impact all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenge our ideas about what it means to be human.   Cont'd...

Industry 4.0: When humans and robots go hand in hand

Kristie Thong for Eco-Business:  Amid concerns that the rise of industrial robots may soon render humans obsolete, Swiss automation giant ABB’s latest innovation may help shine a new light on what the future will look like when humans and robots can work together as partners.   Full Article:

LSIS offers glimpse into smart factory

Lee Min-hyung for Korea Times:  LSIS, the nation's top electric equipment maker, aims to apply integrated automation systems into all of its manufacturing facilities as a core strategy to slash operating costs and dominate the nation's energy efficiency market. The so-called "smart factory" initiative comes amid growing popularity for efficient management systems in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT). Global equipment manufacturers are jumping on the "smart" bandwagon for management efficiency, but only a few companies here have achieved significant feats on the area. LSIS's manufacturing facility, however, offers a glimpse of what automated factory is all about, ranging from assembling parts to packaging. In particular, the company's G production line is equipped with fully-automated production system operated by its programmable logic controller (PLC). The PLC is interconnected with the manufacturing execution system (MES), serving as a network hub to manage every level of manufacturing processes within the factory.   Cont'd...

U.S. manufacturing isn't dead; factories are running at close to a record pace

Rex Nutting for MarketWatch:  U.S. manufacturing sector doesn’t get any respect. Ask a random sample of people on the street and you’re likely to hear that America doesn’t make anything anymore, that China, Mexico and Vietnam took all of our factories, and that the only jobs left in America are flipping burgers and cleaning hotel rooms. “Throughout history, at the center of any thriving country has been a thriving manufacturing sector,” says presidential candidate Donald Trump. “But under decades of failed leadership, the United States has gone from being the globe’s manufacturing powerhouse — the envy of the world — through a rapid deindustrialization.”   Cont'd.. .

How Innovators Overcome Smart Factory Challenges

Brad Done for Manufacturing.net:  Smart factories are the manifestation of what's being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution — a concept that's been in the conceptual-buzz phase for years. While the last revolution saw the widespread digitization of manufacturing technology, allowing information to be produced, replicated and shared on an unprecedented scale, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, could take manufacturing to a place verging on self-awareness. What does this look like? Smart components will interact directly with other devices — independent of human micromanagement and oversight. It means our technologies will be capable of building and interpreting a more nuanced understanding of the manufacturing environment. People and machines will have access to real-time virtual representations of all manufacturing functions. It's a vision that's fast becoming a reality. Experts have expounded on the challenges, but this hasn't prevented early-adopters from making significant headways.   Full Article...

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...

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