Robots won't kill the workforce. They'll save the global economy.

Ruchir Sharma for The Washington Post:   The United Nations forecasts that the global population will rise from 7.3 billion to nearly 10 billion by 2050, a big number that often prompts warnings about overpopulation. Some have come from neo-Malthusians, who fear that population growth will outstrip the food supply, leaving a hungry planet. Others appear in the tirades of anti-immigrant populists, invoking the specter of a rising tide of humanity as cause to slam borders shut. Still others inspire a chorus of neo-Luddites, who fear that the “rise of the robots” is rapidly making human workers obsolete, a threat all the more alarming if the human population is exploding. Before long, though, we’re more likely to treasure robots than to revile them. They may be the one thing that can protect the global economy from the dangers that lie ahead.   Cont'd...

Delta buys Unicom to advance smart factories

Christine Chou, The China Post: Delta Electronics, a provider of power management solutions, will acquire a 100 percent stake in industrial software provider Unicom (羽 ) for NT$351 million (US$10.9 million). In a bid to speed up its smart manufacturing operations, Delta Electronics' board of directors agreed on Friday to acquire Unicom - merging the leading Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) software provider into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta. Unicom, which specializes in Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), has been providing solutions to streamline factory management and equipment monitoring for almost 20 years. Delta Electronics chief executive officer Cheng Ping said with the arrival of the internet of things, manufacturers must move towards smart production to adapt to changing market demands. The development of core technologies and systems for smart manufacturing requires cross-disciplinary cooperation to speed up the transition and seize market opportunities, Cheng said. Cont'd...

How Industry 4.0 is changing human-technology interaction

Ben Rossi for InformationAge: Accelerated by technologies such as 3D printing and intelligent robots, the role of the human machine interface (HMI) is becoming more sophisticated. This is altering the way industries approach increasingly complex processes of machines and systems in order to improve efficiency and decrease downtime. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) are at the centre of new technological approaches, development, production and the entire logistics chain - otherwise known as smart factory automation. HMI is implemented in any industry where human intervention with a machine or automated device is necessary. The high rate of demand for HMI is being driven by the need for enhanced efficiency, data security and compliance, mobility, remote services and reliable hardware. Cont'd...

Siemens to buy Mentor Graphics amid push to digitize factories

By Christopher Alessi and Natascha Divac, Dow Jones Newswires:  Siemens AG’s planned acquisition of automation and industrial software provider Mentor Graphics Corp. is the German giant’s latest play to stay competitive in the race to digitize heavy industry. Siemens on Monday offered $37.25 a share in cash, equivalent to a 21 percent premium on Mentor’s closing share price on Friday, giving the U.S. company an equity value of around $4 billion.Wilsonville, Ore.-based Mentor, which has agreed to the acquisition, sells software and hardware design-automation tools for the development and testing of advanced electronic systems. The company has a field office in Longmont. Mentor’s shares gained 18.3 percent to $36.30 in recent Nasdaq trading on Monday. “It’s a perfect portfolio fit to further expand our digital leadership and set the pace in the industry,” Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said.   Cont'd...

Trump promises to bring back manufacturing jobs, but robots won't let him

Lora Kolodny for TechCrunch:  For Americans struggling with stagnant wages, under- or un-employment, one of Donald Trump’s most appealing campaign promises was to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Navigating the complexities of policy, tariffs and geopolitics would make that hard enough already for the president elect. But technology will make this promise nearly impossible to fulfill. Why? Because manufacturing jobs are increasingly done by robots, not people. Robotics have already helped reduce reliance on labor overseas for manufacturers in automotive, electrical and electronics industries, according to a fresh policy report from the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development.  Cont'd...

6 machine learning misunderstandings

Ryan Francis for NetworkWorld:  Machine learning isn’t confined to science fiction movie plots anymore; it’s fueled the proliferation of technologies that touch our everyday lives, including voice recognition with Siri or Alexa, Facebook auto-tagging photos and recommendations from Amazon and Spotify. And many enterprises are eager to leverage machine learning algorithms to increase the efficiency of their network. In fact, some are already using it to enhance their threat detection and optimize wide area networks. As with any technology, machine learning could wreak havoc on a network if improperly implemented. Before embracing this technology, enterprises should be aware of the ways machine learning can fall flat to avoid setting back their operations and turning the c-suite away from implementing this technology. Roman Sinayev, security intelligence software engineer at Juniper Networks, cites ways to avoid the top machine learning missteps.   Cont'd...

Time for Monumental Thinking in Additive

Karen Haywood Queen for AdvancedManufacturing.org:  The limits of CAD and CAE tools and the STL file format are holding manufacturers back As additive manufacturing emerges from a long infancy, the industry is grappling with a key challenge: A file format and design tools from the 20th century are being asked to do 21st century jobs. “The industry was a hobby industry for 25 years and it’s starting to grow up,” said Kirk Rogers, technology leader at GE. “You made a 3D model and it had a cool factor—Mickey Mouse or a little chess piece—it was awesome to look at,” said Kenneth Church, CEO of the R&D engineering firm Sciperio, as well as the 3D printing firm nScrypt. “What if I made it functional?    Cont'd...

With 3D printers and nanofingers, HP Labs builds a new future

Stephen Shankland for CNet:  Get ready for the third chapter in the book of Silicon Valley. During the first chapter, innovation in Silicon Valley was about atoms, carving up silicon wafers into the electronic transistors that started the computing revolution. The second one, more ethereal, brought the triumph of internet services like Facebook and Google. To be competitive now, a company must blend both approaches. That's the view of HP Chief Engineer Chandrakant Patel, who rose through the HP Labs ranks over 30 years to secure 151 patents and become the company's chief engineer. "The 21st century will require Silicon Valley to be a cyber-physical valley," Patel said.   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...

3D printing hack: Researchers crash drone with sabotaged propeller

Conner Forrest for TechRepublic:  University researchers were able to sabotage a drone by hacking the computer controlling the 3D printer that made its parts, according to a research paper released Thursday. By changing the design of the propellor before printing, they caused the $1,000 drone to "smash into the ground" and break, shortly after take off. The paper, titled dr0wned - Cyber-Physical Attack with Additive Manufacturing, was a joint effort from researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), the University of South Alabama, and Singapore University of Technology and Design. In the paper, the researchers explained how they committed the cyberattack, and what the attack could mean for the future of 3D printing security. Using a phishing attack, the researchers gained access to the PC that was connected to the 3D printer.   Cont'd...

GE opening microfactory in Chicago to build industrial prototypes

Robert Channick for the Chicago Tribune:  GE is opening a microfactory in Chicago to turn big industrial ideas into small-batch prototypes.  The Chicago manufacturing facility, set to open in December, will be the first for Fuse, a new GE crowdsourcing initiative to create and build innovative industrial products. One of the first challenges on the Fuse drawing board, for example, is finding a new way to quickly inspect a hot jet engine between flights. "The idea of reaching out to the online community really accelerates how we introduce new products," said Axel Grippo, Fuse's inaugural general manager.  The microfactory will be housed inside the mHub technology incubator, and will employ a staff of about 15 to 20 once manufacturing gets up to speed, Grippo said. The first prototype is expected to roll out early next year.   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...

Give a 3D printer artificial intelligence, and this is what you'll get

Dyllan Furness for Digital Trends:  A London-based startup has combined some of today’s most disruptive technologies in a bid to change the way we’ll build the future. By retrofitting industrial robots with 3D printing guns and artificial intelligence algorithms, Ai Build has constructed machines that can see, create, and even learn from their mistakes. When CEO and founder Daghan Cam was studying architecture, he noticed a disconnect between small-scale manufacturing and large-scale construction. “On one side we have a fully automated production pipeline,” Cam explained at a recent conference in London. “On the other side we’re completely dependent on human labor.” With the emergence of more efficient printing technologies, he thought there must be a better way. “We wanted to push the boundaries of how intricate we could design things through computation and how we could create them through 3D printing,” Cam said.   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...

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.

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Thomas R. Cutler: Leading Manufacturing Journalist Worldwide

Thomas R. Cutler: Leading Manufacturing Journalist Worldwide

Cutler authors more than 1000 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler has established special divisions including African manufacturing, Colombian manufacturing, Gen Z workforce, and Food & Beverage. Cutler was recently named the Global Supply Chain journalist of the year for the second time in a row. Over 5200 industry leaders follow Cutler on Twitter daily at @ThomasRCutler. Contact Cutler at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com.