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...

A Soft Control Architecture: Breakthrough in Hard Real-Time Design for Complex Systems

In the relentlessly changing world of technology, several important advances and trends have emerged that allow OEMs to transition to a soft control architecture that will not only move them away from dependence on FPGAs and DSPs, but also change the basis of competition in the equipment and machine tool industries.

Sensors Expo 2016 And The Missing Secret Ingredient

In addition to the extremely popular and educational track presentations there will be both new and updated tracks, five unique pre-conference Symposia, ably presented by 90+ experts in their respective fields.

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...

5 Real-Time, Ethernet-Based Fieldbuses Compared

This paper seeks to determine which standard offers the best value and has the best chance of being viable in the long term.

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...

A New Breed of Speed Reducer

Basically the drive works like a harmonic gear, the most distinctive difference is the flexible spline is now replaced by rollers to generate needed wave motion.

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...

Why an Open "Plug-and-Play" Platform is The Answer for Industrial Automation

These days almost all industrial automation engineers fall victim to three toolset options to build their applications

Full 5-axis or 3 + 2 Machining: Which is Right for You?

Both 5-axis and 3 + 2 machining have advantages and can help make you more profitable by improving efficiency on your current production jobs.

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...

Process Data Readouts on a Smartphone: Safety Through Transparency

Near-field communication (NFC) protocols allow data from intelligent vacuum components to be read directly from the processor of a device to a mobile end device, opening up totally new opportunities for optimizing production processes. This is what Industry 4.0 is all about.

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