China's Midea buys nearly half of German robotics firm Kuka

The Star:  Chinese appliances giant Midea moved a step closer to fulfilling its ambition to acquire German industrial robotics firm Kuka with two weekend deals raising its stake to nearly a majority.  Two of Kuka’s biggest German shareholders – technology company Voith and entrepreneur Friedhelm Loh – said they had decided to take up Midea’s offer of €115 (RM512) per share and sell their stakes.  German news agency DPA reported that Voith had agreed to sell its stake of 25.1% for €1.2bil (RM5.34bil).  And Loh told the business daily Handelsblatt he had decided to sell his stake of 10% for nearly €500mil (RM2.22bil).  Combined with its existing holding of 13.5% in Kuka, the two purchases mean Midea now holds 48.5%, or not far from the outright majority, in the Augsburg-based robot builder.   Cont'd.. .

Understanding Industry 4.0

Process and device will become inseparable. This is the direction we're heading in and it is all powered by the capabilities of Industry 4.0.

10 Ways Machine Learning Is Revolutionizing Manufacturing

Louis Columbus for Forbes:  Every manufacturer has the potential to integrate machine learning into their operations and become more competitive by gaining predictive insights into production. Machine learning’s core technologies align well with the complex problems manufacturers face daily. From striving to keep supply chains operating efficiently to producing customized, built- to-order products on time, machine learning algorithms have the potential to bring greater predictive accuracy to every phase of production. Many of the algorithms being developed are iterative, designed to learn continually and seek optimized outcomes. These algorithms iterate in milliseconds, enabling manufacturers to seek optimized outcomes in minutes versus months. The ten ways machine learning is revolutionizing manufacturing include the following:

Industry 4.0 breathes new life into cybersecurity

Dave Sutton for IT Pro Portal:  A technical evolution has taken place, which has made cyberthreats more potent than at any other time in our history. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, over half of British businesses will suffer cyberattacks by 2018. As businesses seek to embrace Industry 4.0, cybersecurity protection must be a top priority for Industrial Control Systems (ICS). These attacks are financially crippling, reduce production and business innovation, and cost lives. In years gone by, legacy ICS were developed with proprietary technology and were isolated from the outside world, so physical perimeter security was deemed adequate and cybersecurity was not relevant. However, today the rise of digital manufacturing means many control systems use open or standardised technologies to both reduce costs and improve performance, employing direct communications between control and business systems. Companies must now be proactive to secure their systems online as well as offline.   Cont'd...

The Next Industrial Revolution - 3D Printing

The 3D printing field is expected to grow more than 14% annually to become an $8.4 billion industry by 2020

Printed Perforated Lampshades for Continuous Projective Images

From Haisen Zhao, Lin Lu, Yuan Wei, Dani Lischinski, Andrei Sharf, Daniel Cohen-Or, Baoquan Chen: We present a technique for designing 3D-printed perforated lampshades, which project continuous grayscale images onto the surrounding walls. Given the geometry of the lampshade and a target grayscale image, our method computes a distribution of tiny holes over the shell, such that the combined footprints of the light emanating through the holes form the target image on a nearby diffuse surface. Our objective is to approximate the continuous tones and the spatial detail of the target image, to the extent possible within the constraints of the fabrication process.  To ensure structural integrity, there are lower bounds on the thickness of the shell, the radii of the holes, and the minimal distances between adjacent holes. Thus, the holes are realized as thin tubes distributed over the lampshade surface. The amount of light passing through a single tube may be controlled by the tube's radius and by its direction (tilt angle). The core of our technique thus consists of determining a suitable configuration of the tubes: their distribution across the relevant portion of the lampshade, as well as the parameters (radius, tilt angle) of each tube. This is achieved by computing a capacity-constrained Voronoi tessellation over a suitably defined density function, and embedding a tube inside the maximal inscribed circle of each tessellation cell. The density function for a particular target image is derived from a series of simulated images, each corresponding to a different uniform density tube pattern on the lampshade... (full paper)

Companies, employees not quite ready for cognitive technology wave of robotics, AI, machine learning

Larry Dignan for Between the Lines:  Robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other cognitive technologies will replace about 7 percent of U.S. jobs by 2025 with office and administrative staff taking the biggest hit, according to a Forrester Research forecast. The bad news is jobs will be lost. The good news is that new gigs will be created as cognitive technology takes hold. One reason the disruption won't be larger or happen sooner is that companies aren't ready for the change related to the new automated workforce, said Forrester. Among the key items: 16 percent of U.S. jobs will be replaced, but 9 percent of jobs will be created. That's how Forrester gets to the 7 percent job loss by 2025 figure. Emerging jobs will be robot monitoring pros, data scientists, automation specialists and content curators. 93 percent of automation technologists feel unprepared to take on smart machine technologies. 83 percent saw cognitive computing as critical to their companies' future. 32 percent of respondents said they are prepared for the cognitive technology changes ahead, but only 12 percent are prepared to deal with the human and organizational fallout. 46 percent say the number of jobs will remain about the same and 43 percent of respondents thought jobs would decline. Full Article:

Microscan Visionscape® GigE Camera Performs Precision Measurement of Apertures in Digital Camera Housing at Foxconn

his case study from the electronics manufacturing industry could be applied to other sectors, and as vision technology advances and experience from its practical application is accumulated, there are sure to be even more challenges addressed using precision machine vision solutions.

'UK manufacturers fail to understand Industry 4.0'

Ian Vallely for Works Management:  There isn't enough understanding of Industry 4.0 by UK manufacturers, according to a report by BDO in partnership with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  It said just 8% of UK manufacturers have a significant understanding of Industry 4.0 processes despite 59% recognising that the fourth industrial revolution will have a big impact on the sector, according to the report . As the increasing use of automation, data exchange, technology and wider supply chain communications driven by Industry 4.0 provides both huge opportunities and threats to UK manufacturing, there remains a ‘gaping hole’ in the education and understanding of Industry 4.0. According to the BDO Industry 4 0 Report, increased productivity, better data analysis, increased competitiveness and lower manufacturing costs are the top ways in which Industry 4.0 will affect UK manufacturing.   Cont'd...

SME Launches High School Membership Program to Build the Manufacturing Workforce Pipeline

With an anticipated skills gap of 2 million jobs by 2025, the manufacturing industry needs to attract and inspire the next-generation workforce,


Evan Gough for UniverseToday:  Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have manufactured their first tool using the 3D printer on board the station. This is another step in the ongoing process of testing and using additive manufacturing in space. The ability to build tools and replacement parts at the station is something NASA has been pursuing keenly. The first tool printed was a simple wrench. This may not sound like ground-breaking stuff, unless you’ve ever been in the middle of a project only to find you’re missing a simple tool. A missing tool can stop any project in its tracks, and change everybody’s plans. The benefits of manufacturing needed items in space are obvious. Up until now, every single item needed on the ISS had to be sent up via re-supply ship. That’s not a quick turnaround. Now, if a tool is lost or destroyed during normal use, a replacement can be quickly manufactured on-site.   Cont'd...

Midea makes bid for robotics maker Kuka official  Chinese appliance firm Midea has announced it has launched a cash offer for a stake of 30 percent in German industrial robotics supplier Kuka. The takeover bid has stoked controversy in Germany and Europe. Midea said on Thursday it would offer 115 euros ($130) per share to Kuka owners under efforts to become the biggest single shareholder in one of the world's leading manufacturers of industrial robots. The Chinese appliance maker, which is so far only known to be producing washing machines and air conditioners, also said its offer would end July 15, with no ceiling on the percentage of shares it was aiming to buy.  Kuka shares closed at just above 106 euros in trading at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The stock gained about 26 percent since the deal was first proposed in May.   Cont'd...

Transforming 64-Bit Windows to Deliver Software-Only Real-Time Performance

Freed from the isolation of the real-time system and from other functions such as the user interface, OEMs are able to explore more innovative solutions with less risk and overhead.

MIT Food Computers

From MIT:   The Food Computer is a controlled-environment agriculture technology platform that uses robotic systems to control and monitor climate, energy, and plant growth inside of a specialized growing chamber. Climate variables such as carbon dioxide, air temperature, humidity, dissolved oxygen, potential hydrogen, electrical conductivity, and root-zone temperature are among the many conditions that can be controlled and monitored within the growing chamber. Operational energy, water, and mineral consumption are monitored (and adjusted) through electrical meters, flow sensors, and controllable chemical dosers throughout the growth period. Each specific set of conditions can be thought of as a climate recipe, and each recipe produces unique results in the phenotypes of the plants. Plants grown under different conditions may vary in color, size, texture growth rate, yield, flavor, and nutrient density. Food Computers can even program biotic and abiotic stresses, such as an induced drought, to create desired plant-based expressions... (project homepage)

The Additive Manufactured Excavator Design Competition

The additive excavator cab design competition had very few limitations on the cab design and essentially encouraged students to showcase our skills and ideas. We could create something totally unique, aesthetically pleasing, yet functional to showcase the capabilities of additive manufacturing

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