Startup company launches DoBot ‘industrial’ robot at CES

DoBot Magician robot
The DoBot Magician robot from Shenzhen Yuejiang Technology

lockA Chinese startup company has demonstrated what it calls the “first industrial robotic arm for small business”, and has raised more than $400,000 on Kickstarter

The company describes the “DoBot M1” as a “professional SCARA based robotic arm” suitable for desktop use by small businesses, makers and hobbyists. Dobot was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas.

Manufactured by Shenzhen Yuejiang Technology, the Dobot M1 is a robotic arm with a number of extensions. The robots can also connected together to form a multi-arm system.  Continue reading Startup company launches DoBot ‘industrial’ robot at CES

Manufacturing: Trump tempts Toyota with tax break if it builds cars in US instead of Mexico

toyota mexico
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto with Toyota North America CEO James Lentz last year during the start of building the facility in Guanajuato

lockAfter apparently pressuring Ford to change its plans to expand its manufacturing operations in Mexico, President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly putting pressure on Toyota to follow suit. 

Ford had intended to build a plant in Mexico, but is now applying the brakes on those plans, according to the Economist.

A couple of days ago, Ford said it would cancel its $1.6 billion project in San Luis Potosí, Mexico and instead invest $700 million in its plant in Michigan, in the US.  Continue reading Manufacturing: Trump tempts Toyota with tax break if it builds cars in US instead of Mexico

Industrial design with obsolescence in mind

Designing with obsolescence in mind

Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of industrial automation equipment supplier EU Automation, discusses his considerations for designing for obsolescence

It’s fair to say that the smartphone is to blame for many everyday technologies including the calculator, the torch and the camera slowly entering the realms of obsolescence.

However, not even this innovative technology can go on ruling our lives forever.

A study by Ericsson found that one in two people believe the smartphone will be obsolete in five years’ time. With tech life cycles becoming shorter, it is important for product designers to plan in advance for component obsolescence to maximise the life span of their products.  Continue reading Industrial design with obsolescence in mind

Tesla begins production at its Gigafactory – said to be the largest battery manufacturing plant in the world

tesla gigafactory
Tesla’s Gigafactory has almost 5 million square feet of operational space and when it’s completed, it will be the largest building in the world

lockTesla has started making lithium-ion battery cells at its brand new “Gigafactory” in Nevada, US. 

At almost 2 million square feet, the facility is said to be the largest battery manufacturing plant in the world – and that’s just for starters.

In a statement, Tesla says: “The current structure has a footprint of 1.9 million square feet, which houses 4.9 million square feet of operational space across several floors. And we are still less than 30 percent done. Once complete, we expect the Gigafactory to be the biggest building in the world.”  Continue reading Tesla begins production at its Gigafactory – said to be the largest battery manufacturing plant in the world

Hannover Messe: Making use of energy management systems

power lines

Get your complementary ticket to Hannover Messe before they’re all gone – limited number

There is no question that energy is costly. Costs for this resource have quadrupled since 2000, according to the German Energy Agency, with the planned energy transition also contributing to this trend.

This development hits business particularly hard. Industry, trade and services account for some 45 percent of total energy consumption in Germany.

So efficient use of this resource makes economic sense, as well as being an environmental imperative. The German Energy Agency estimates that companies could reduce their energy needs by 30 percent using standard efficiency measures.  Continue reading Hannover Messe: Making use of energy management systems

Igus launches pre-assembled Robolink D 5-axis articulated arms

igus robolink_D_roboter

Igus says the low-cost robot enables simple configuration, easy acquisition, and immediate connection 

Igus has launched its Robolink D 5-axis articulated arms as an assembly kit consisting of arm, motor and gearbox, or now as a ready-to-connect articulated arm, enabling machine and system builders to rapidly implement their own low-cost robotic automation systems.

Robert Dumayne, director of dry-tech bearings, Igus, says: “Robots are taking over more and more in automation tasks. Last year, sales of industrial robots exceeded 245,000 pieces, marking a new record.”

At the same time, Igus says, interest is also growing in simple and inexpensive robotics solutions. In the area of low-cost automation, engineers can increase the productivity of their machines with a flexible robot kit using Robolink D, says Igus.  Continue reading Igus launches pre-assembled Robolink D 5-axis articulated arms

Rolls-Royce to open new research facility in US

rolls-royce purdue
Rolls-Royce will house an R&D group for its jet engine component research in a 40,000-square-foot facility in the Purdue Research Park Aerospace District in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Purdue Research Park image)

Rolls-Royce is to open a new research and development centre in the US. The company formally received the keys to the 55,000-square-foot facility in the Purdue Research Park Aerospace District in West Lafayette. 

Purdue Research Foundation and Rolls-Royce are scheduled to celebrate the building’s opening late March.

David Waggoner, head of programs, customer and operations, control systems in North America for Rolls-Royce, says: “This facility is a great opportunity for us to create something unique to North America but also unique to Indiana, and allow us to strengthen our partnership with Purdue.  Continue reading Rolls-Royce to open new research facility in US

New $10,000 collaborative robot can build copies of itself

FRANKA EMIKA industrial robot
The Franka Emika industrial robot

The makers of a new, collaborative robot called Franka Emika say the machine could build copies of itself. 

In an article published in the IEEE magazine, the robot’s creator, Sami Haddadin, is quoted as saying “there will be Frankas building Frankas”.

The article also suggests that Franka’s price is around $10,000 – and reveals the prices of other collaborative robots:

  • Rethink’s Sawyer ~ $30,000; and
  • Universal Robots’ best-selling UR5 ~ $35,000.

The collaborative robots market is currently dominated by Universal Robots, which has sold so many robots, it’s made it on the list of industrial robot manufacturers with the largest install base, with approximately 10,000 sold worldwide so far.

Full article on IEEE Spectrum

Reassuringly expensive gear: Overcoming the challenges of the packaging industry

Packaging industry gears crop

Graham Mackrell, managing director of precision gearing specialist Harmonic Drive UK, explains actuators, boots and socioeconomic unfairness 

As a famous fictional policeman once said, “The reason that the rich were so rich… was because they managed to spend less money”. 

What he meant was that although the rich may buy more expensive things, they buy products that will last longer and are therefore a better investment.

Although the policeman in question was referring to boots at the time, the same is true of cars, phones, and even servo actuators used in packaging machines.  Continue reading Reassuringly expensive gear: Overcoming the challenges of the packaging industry

Foxconn to replace all humans with robots

Hon Hai Precision, better known as Foxconn, says it will replace all its human workers with robots, according to a report in Futurism.com

Quoting DigiTimes.com, Futurism says Foxconn has announced a three-part plan to fully automate its factories in the hope of achieving 30 per cent automation by 2020.

Foxconn currently has about 40,000 robots – or Foxbots – working in its factories. The company says it has the capacity to produce 10,000 Foxbots a year.  Continue reading Foxconn to replace all humans with robots

US manufacturing growing at ‘fastest rate in two years’

robots

The US manufacturing sector is growing at the fastest rate it has in more than two years, according to calculations produced by the Institute for Supply Management and published in Forbes, among other media. 

The Manufacturing ISM Report on Business figures show December was the best month for manufacturers in 2016. More components and parts were ordered this month than previous ones.

The ISM report is a survey sent out to a “manufacturing committee”, and collating the responses revealed that “of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 are reporting growth in December”, according to ISM.

The ISM adds: “Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in December, and the overall economy grew for the 91st consecutive month.”

More details at ISM’s website

Siemens says it wants to strengthen its position as a ‘digital company’

Siemens is expanding its open platform “Siemens Cloud for Industry” to form the basis of new digital business models for industrial companies. The new Connector Box is a Simatic IPC-based cloud gateway that transmits machine and system data easily and securely to the Cloud.

One of the largest engineering companies in the world – famous for making humungous, physical things for the real world – is increasingly enthusiastic about the digital world

Siemens says it aims to achieve double-digit annual growth in digital business every year through to the next decade. 

The company expects its software business, and its digital services and platforms to be the main growth drivers.

Its MindSphere cloud-based, open operating system was recently rolled out companywide, which has transformed many of the processes at Siemens.  Continue reading Siemens says it wants to strengthen its position as a ‘digital company’

US gives Midea green light to buy Kuka

US approves Midea takeover of Kuka. Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay
US approves Midea takeover of Kuka. Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

Reuters

China’s Midea said it will complete its takeover of German robotics maker Kuka in the first half of January after the United States authorities gave the deal a green light.

Midea, which launched a €4.5 billion offer for Kuka in May, said Germany’s markets regulator had approved the settlement of the transaction, allowing it to control a 94.55 percent voting stake in Kuka from January onwards.

The bid for Kuka, a high-tech robotics manufacturer, sparked controversy in Germany amid fears that key technologies were falling into foreign hands at a time when China protects its own companies against foreign takeovers.  Continue reading US gives Midea green light to buy Kuka

MTA 2017 to spotlight new technologies with specialised zones

mta 2016 opening speech

In a global manufacturing outlook report, 49 per cent of manufacturers surveyed were reported to be investing six per cent of their revenues in research and development and innovation, in a push to transform their businesses.

Asian manufacturing companies surveyed exhibited the highest investment expectations, with a majority of respondents from China, Japan and India indicating they would spend more than six per cent of their revenues on technology and innovation.

Twenty-five per cent of the respondents have already poured investment in avant garde technologies such as 3D printing.  Continue reading MTA 2017 to spotlight new technologies with specialised zones

Rethink Robotics raises $18 million in new funding

scott eckert, sawyer robot
Scott Eckert with Sawyer, Rethink Robotics’ new collaborative industrial robot

Rethink Robotics, maker of the Baxter and Sawyer industrial robots, says it has raised new funds for global expansion and new product development  

Rethink Robotics has raised $18 million in new funding as part of its Series E financing round.

The new round includes funding from leading asset manager and private equity investment firm, Adveq, as well as contributions from all previous investors, including Bezos Expeditions, CRV, Highland Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, DFJ, Two Sigma Ventures, GE Ventures and Goldman Sachs.

The funding will support Rethink’s global expansion initiatives and new product development, says the company.  Continue reading Rethink Robotics raises $18 million in new funding