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:

A Swarm Of 3D Printing Spiders Could Build Your Next Home

IDO LECHNER for PSFK:  Watching an object being 3D-printed is a spectacle to behold; the speed at which intricate geometries unfold before your eyes is enough for anyone to reckon that this is the future of manufacturing. While both consumer-grade models and more advanced versions are capable of whipping up objects made from different materials, each with their own aesthetic and subsequent properties, the scale of what can be fabricated is entirely based on the size of the printer at use. For this reason, a research team based out of Siemens’ Corporate Technology’s Princeton campus has developed mobile 3D printers in the shape of spiders, which are both autonomous and capable of working in sync to expedite the printing process. PSFK spoke with Siemens’ Director of R&D of Engineering Livio Dalloro on why the team decided to shape their printers like spiders, the implications such a technique might have on the industry, and how Siemens sees the device unfolding in the foreseeable future.   Cont'd...

Bring 3D printed robots to life with 'Ziro' hand-controlled robotics kit

Benedict for 3Ders.org:   Tech startup ZeroUI, based in San Jose, California, has launched an Indiegogo campaign for Ziro, the “world’s first hand-controlled robotics kit”. The modular kit has been designed to bring 3D printed creations to life, and has already surpassed its $30,000 campaign goal. It would be fair to say that the phenomenon of gesture recognition, throughout the wide variety of consumer electronics to which it has been introduced, has been a mixed success. The huge popularity of the Nintendo Wii showed that—for the right product—users were happy to use their hands and bodies as controllers, but for every Wii, there are a million useless webcam or smartphone functions, lying dormant, unused, and destined for the technology recycle bin.   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...

The Questions Executives Should Ask About 3D Printing

Channing Flynn for Harvard Business Review:  Most hearing aids in the U.S. are now custom-made on 3D printers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first 3D-printed pills. Carmakers have started using 3D technology to produce parts. And last year saw the first demonstration of a digital printer producing multilayer, standards-based circuit boards. Imagine the changes afoot in the pharmaceutical, medical device, automotive, and consumer electronics industries. 3D printing is poised to redefine global manufacturing and distribution. It could upend supply chains, business models, customer relationships, and even entrepreneurship itself. It may do to physical goods what cloud computing is now doing to digital services; what the PC, internet, and smart mobility have done to personal computing; and what outsourcing did to software development and business processing — take mass distribution and innovation to the next level while realigning the very geography of work and trade.   Cont'd...

Swagway Teardown: What Makes a Safe Hoverboard?

From Andrew Goldberg at Ifixit.org: The board is also smart enough to not drive around without you. Riders need both feet firmly planted on the board or it won’t be going anywhere. Just how does the board know you’re properly mounted? Each foot pad has two infrared sensors—one at the toe, one at the heel. Stepping down on the pad pushes a peg between emitter and receiver. Only when all four sensors are blocked are you ready to roll... ...Those sensor switches live on the backs of the two gyro boards—one for each wheel. These boards are largely responsible for the “smart” part of smartboard. Each board is home to an Invensense MPU6050 6-axis gyroscope+accelerometer, and a GigaDeviceGD32F130 ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit microcontroller (thanks, Ken!). The ARM chips are responsible for reading the infrared switches, controlling the sweet underglow headlights and top-mounted indicator LEDs, and collating and sending data from the MPU6050 to the main board (more on that later)... ( full article )  

How Microfactories Can Bring Iterative Manufacturing to the Masses

ANDREW O'KEEFE and JASON DORRIER for Singularity Hub:  Humans manufacture a mind-numbing amount of stuff each year—ever wonder how we do it? In the past 100 or more years, it’s been all about economies of scale. This means you should make a lot of a thing because the more you make, the more your fixed expenses get spread out. This reduces the cost of each unit, from light bulbs to iPhones. Here’s the problem. It’s expensive to do a big manufacturing run. So, how do you know what to make in the first place? Often, it’s an educated guess based on prototypes and limited feedback, but you don’t really know until you try to sell a product—and by then, you’re fully committed, succeed or fail. Jay Rogers of Local Motors wants to upend common wisdom. Manufacturers should run through tons ofpotentially good ideas and then test them out to see if people actually want what they’re making before going full scale. And Rogers thinks microfactories are the way to do it.   Cont'd...

This 3D printer can rival standard manufacturing on the factory floor

Lucas Mearian for ComputerWorld:  Start-up Carbon began shipping its industrial-grade 3D printer with the expectation that big-name companies will soon be using it to replace traditional forms of manufacturing. Last year, the Silicon Valley company emerged from quiet mode to announce its technology: a machine that can create objects 25 to 100 times faster than other 3D printers. Carbon is not selling its M1 3D printer outright, but instead is offering it through a subscription price of $40,000 per year, which includes a service and maintenance plan. The three-year-old company based in Redwood City, Calif. said its Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) printing process can create objects in minutes compared to the hours a typical 3D printer requires.   Cont'd...

With this new 3D printing technique, robots can "practically walk right out of the printer"

Katherine Noyes for Digital Arts:  Imagine you could use a standard 3D printer to create your next robotic assistant. Just snap in a motor and battery, and it's ready to go. That's precisely the scenario made possible by a new 3D printing technique developed at MIT. Liquids have long been a challenge for 3D printing, and they're necessary for hydraulic devices like moving robots. On Wednesday, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) announced what they call the first-ever technique for 3D printing robots that can print solid and liquid materials at the same time.   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.. .

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