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.. .

Greycork Challenges Ikea With A Flat-pack Living Room In A Box

From Dezeen:   Rhode Island furniture company Greycork has created a collection of quick-assembly, flat-pack pieces that are intended "to be a better alternative to Ikea"... ...Each piece is shipped for free in a thin, flat box and is designed to be assembled by the customer in under four minutes... ...The company's first line, the Brooks Collection, featured a folding dining table, coffee table and bench – all made of wood and priced from $500 to $950... ( full story ) ( Greycork site )

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 )

NASA is sending a 3D printer to space that you can use

Emily Calandrelli for TechCrunch:  NASA is preparing to send its first commercial manufacturing facility to the International Space Station (ISS). The 3D printing company Made in Space has partnered with NASA to send their Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) to the space station on a launch scheduled to take place next Tuesday. Users on Earth can pay to use AMF, a 3D printer specially designed to operate in a microgravity environment, to print products on the space station. Once it arrives, Made in Space will be able to command AMF remotely from their headquarters in the NASA Ames Research Park. Spencer Pitman, head of product strategy at Made in Space, told TechCrunch that the company has already secured 20 paying customers for AMF. Their customers include high schools that are hosting space-related design challenges, universities that will print medical research components, and companies that will print commercial parts for satellites and other spacecraft.   Cont'd...

3D Printing Reboot

Dana Blankenhorn for SeekingAlpha:  While many people consider 3D printing dead, given what has happened to the stocks of industry leaders such as 3D Systems, Stratasys, ExOne and voxeljet , it's more accurate to say the industry has rebooted and is preparing for another run. This means the industry's excitement is now coming from college campuses and startups. As an investor you want to keep an eye on this, but withhold your investment. Industry leader 3D Systems has been drawing a bid this year as it  undergoes a restructuring, bringing in more professional management, anddropping the Cube, its consumer printer, from the product line. For all of 2015 it reported a loss of $664 million, $5.85/share, on revenues of $666 million. The stock, which once traded as high as $96/share during the last boom, is now at around $13, but it had been as low as $6.42 in mid-January. Founder Charles Hull, 76, has been kicked upstairs to a Chief Technology Officer role.   Cont'd...

America Makes and ANSI Launch Additive Manufacturing Standardization Collaborative

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) today announced the launch of the America Makes & ANSI Additive Manufacturing Standardization Collaborative (AMSC). The purpose of the AMSC will be to coordinate and accelerate the development of industry-wide additive manufacturing standards and specifications consistent with stakeholder needs and thereby facilitate the growth of the additive manufacturing industry. Participation is open to any interested person. The catalyst for the AMSC is the fact that a number of standards developing organizations are engaged in standards-setting for various aspects of additive manufacturing, prompting the need for coordination to maintain a consistent, harmonized, and non-contradictory set of additive manufacturing standards. Full Press Release:

Nanolights

From Nature.com: Ultimately, Goh, a PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore, hopes that the method will help her to find blood vessels that are leaking owing to inflammation, perhaps helping to detect malaria or predict strokes. Crucial to her technique are the virus-sized particles that give the solution its colour. Just a few tens of nanometres across, they are among a growing array of 'nanolights' that researchers are tailoring to specific types of fluorescence: the ability to absorb light at one wavelength and re-emit it at another. Many naturally occurring compounds can do this, from jellyfish proteins to some rare-earth compounds. But nanolights tend to be much more stable, versatile and easier to prepare — which makes them attractive for users in both industry and academia. The best-established examples are quantum dots: tiny flecks of semiconductor that are prized for their beautiful, crisp colours. Now, however, other types of nanolight are on the rise. Some have a rare ability to absorb lots of low-energy photons and combine the energy into a handful of high-energy photons — a trick that opens up opportunities such as producing multiple colours at once. Others are made from polymers or small organic molecules. These are less toxic than quantum dots and often outshine them — much to the amazement of chemists, who are used to carbon-based compounds simply degrading in the presence of ultraviolet light... ( full article )

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:

4D-Printed Concept Car Will Predict Your Wishes

Viknesh Vijayenthiran for Discovery News:  New materials will also play a significant role in the further evolution of the car, according to BMW. This has already started with the increasing use of carbon fiber and other composites instead of conventional steel. Looking further forward, technologies such as rapid manufacturing and 4-D printing (3D-printed materials that change depending on conditions) will open up new possibilities. One of the more interesting aspects of the concept is a technology called Alive Geometry which consists of 4D-printed components that can change their shape and interact with the driver.   Full Article:

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:

Mobile Robotic Fabrication System for Filament Structures

The project Mobile Robotic Fabrication System for Filament Structures, developed by ITECH graduate Maria Yablonina, demonstrates a new production process for filament structures. It proposes multiple semi-autonomous wall climbing robots to distribute fiber filament, using any horizontal or vertical surface, or even existing architecture, to support the new structures. Compared to larger scale industrial robots that are limited by position and reach, these robots are enabled with movement systems and a collection of sensors that allow them to travel and interact accurately along typical ground, walls, roofs, and ceilings. One can imagine a fabrication process where an operator arrives to the scene with a suitcase housing all the necessary robots and materials to create a large structure. These agile mobile robotic systems move robotic fabrication processes beyond the constraints of the production hall, exposing vast urban and interior environments as potential fabrication sites.

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...

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