Manufacturing: A different type of industrial cloud

Not so long ago, computers were almost always in a business location – an accountant’s office, or something like that. But gradually, partly thanks to Apple iMac, the machines started making their way into homes in large numbers. 

But there are still categories of computers which don’t really belong in the home, or at least weren’t designed for domestic bliss. If you can comfortably fit a supercomputer or a mainframe into your house, that’s probably enough domestic bliss for you anyway.

For most of us, desktop computers – or increasingly laptop computers – are just about all the space we can share, and the largest manufacturers of such poor-man’s systems were recently listed by Gartner.

Worldwide computer shipments in second quarter of 2016

  1. Lenovo – 13.2 million units
  2. HP – 12.3 million units
  3. Dell – 10 million units
  4. Asus – 4.7 million units
  5. Apple – 4.6 million units
  6. Acer – 4.4 million units
  7. Others – 15.4 million units


Source: Gartner

Continue reading Manufacturing: A different type of industrial cloud

Sewbots prepare to take millions of jobs off humans in clothes manufacturing sector

More and more companies in the textiles, clothing and footwear business are turning to advanced manufacturing technologies – robotic sewing machines and connected systems – to reduce the number of humans in their factories, along with the financial and social costs of employing them.

One of the largest apparel manufacturers in India, Raymond, which employs 30,000 human workers, says it plans to replace 10,000 of them with robots over the next three years. Continue reading Sewbots prepare to take millions of jobs off humans in clothes manufacturing sector

Automation fails without aligning materials support function with demand, says Synchrono

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By Thomas R. Cutler

Robot-to-person solutions are on a rapid trajectory for 2017 and beyond. Yet discrete manufacturing organizations which initiate material replenishment automation programs without properly analyzing processes and priorities for internal and external stakeholders, find far less value than anticipated.

Manufacturers are unsure about current replenishment capabilities within ERP (enterprise resource planning) and other systems, and are even less clear whether to fix, buy, or build a solution to gain the capabilities needed.

Too often disruptions in leadership and a change-averse environment can create barriers to improved production flow and automating processes.

The manufacturing sector is well-served when considering whether a replenishment solution can enhance flow and enable continuous improvements; often best practice robotic solutions follow.  Continue reading Automation fails without aligning materials support function with demand, says Synchrono

Omron to showcase 16,000 factory automation products

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One of the world’s leading robotics and automation systems manufacturers, Omron, says it will introduce a total of 15,583 models in seven categories in its second wave of factory automation control devices built on a common design platform for unified product specifications.

Omron says it has been continuing to work for the innovation of making control panels which house and control factory automation devices on the production front line.

The company unified the design and size of factory automation devices, and introduced products in April 2016 which are built with the company’s proprietary wiring technology “Push-In Plus Terminal Block” for device and control panel makers in need of “downsizing and space-saving” of factory automation devices and control panels, “expedited delivery”, and “response to globalization”.  Continue reading Omron to showcase 16,000 factory automation products

Collaborative robots are driving the global market, says Universal Robots

Daniel Friis, Universal Robots
Daniel Friis, Universal Robots

The International Federation of Robots, the source of much authoritative research about the industry, has released its latest survey of the global market. 

With such a wide-ranging study, there’s probably something for everyone to highlight which is relevant to them.

For example, from the point of view of Universal Robots, the IFR report’s most interesting and relevant finding is that collaborative robots have been the market driver in recent times.

Given that Universal is a manufacturer of collaborative industrial robots, the fact that they consider that particular aspect of IFR’s study most noteworthy may not be surprising.

Universal recently announced that it has so far sold 10,000 of its collaborative robots worldwide, which probably makes it the world’s largest manufacturer of collaborative robotsContinue reading Collaborative robots are driving the global market, says Universal Robots

Kuka selects Apttus digital commerce solution

Companies say the new customer relations management system will lead to greater efficiencies in complex product ordering 

Software company Apttus has been selected by Kuka as its digital commerce provider.

Kuka is a German manufacturer of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation and has been a leader in its industry since its inception in 1898.

Kuka’s business is dedicated to providing its customers with specific, often customized, factory automation tools.  Continue reading Kuka selects Apttus digital commerce solution

Boulting claims to be one of the ‘guardians of industrial networks galaxy’

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Boulting Technology has launched what it says is a comprehensive and dedicated industrial network service, which includes consultancy, feasibility testing, network design, implementation, commissioning and ongoing maintenance.

Boulting Technology specialises in performance-driven, secure, customised industrial network solutions in the operation technology space that facilitate migration from legacy systems and seamless integration into the IT space.

Boulting claims to be one of the guardians of industrial networks galaxy, adding that it has a strong portfolio of industrial network solutions projects in the utilities, transport and manufacturing sectors, which has delivered innovative, customer-led, business enabling solutions for over 10 years.  Continue reading Boulting claims to be one of the ‘guardians of industrial networks galaxy’

Watchmaking robots: It’s a small world

When Apple wanted to launch a watch, most people may have thought the company would name it iWatch, to go with iPhone, iPad and iLife. 

However, Swatch raised a legal objection on the grounds that it had the rights to a product called iSwatch, and Apple’s iWatch would be too similar. This week, the courts agreed and banned Apple from using the name.

But Apple had already changed its mind some time ago, and went with Apple Watch, which has gone on to sell 13 million units in its first year, estimated to be a faster sales rate than the iPhone.

But as a total, 13 million is barely a drop in the ocean of the global watch market.  Continue reading Watchmaking robots: It’s a small world

Adidas reveals ‘first’ robot-manufactured shoes

Adidas has unveiled the first product to be created at its industry-changing SpeedFactory facility in Ansbach, Germany – in its Futurecraft MFG (Made for Germany) series, 500 pairs of which will be sold to the general public.

Designed to provide the “ultimate fit”, Adidas claims its Futurecraft MFG shoe is the first step in what Adidas believes will be a “game-changing” moment for the industry – mainly because the system customises the shoe for the shapes and motions of the individual customer’s feet.

The shoe is the first high performance footwear to come out of the Adidas SpeedFactory, which will ultimately allow for the creation of footwear made for the specific fit and functional needs of consumers.

The SpeedFactory is the name given by Adidas to its advanced manufacturing facilities, featuring high levels of robotics, automation and 3D printing. The first one was opened in Germany, and another one is being built in the US.

Continue reading Adidas reveals ‘first’ robot-manufactured shoes

Industrial Internet Consortium agrees security framework for robotics and automation systems connectivity

iiot robots factory

Industry association says new standard is a comprehensive approach to protect the industrial internet

The Industrial Internet Consortium, the public-private organization formed to accelerate adoption of the industrial internet of things, has published its Industrial Internet Security Framework, a common security framework that addresses security issues in IIoT systems.

The organizations says IISF emphasizes the importance of five IIoT characteristics – safety, reliability, resilience, security and privacy – that help define “trustworthiness” in IIoT systems. The IISF also defines risk, assessments, threats, metrics and performance indicators to help business managers protect their organizations.

IIoT security cannot be considered in isolation, says IIC. It comprises a complex set of industrial processes and applications as well as significant safety and reliability requirements.  Continue reading Industrial Internet Consortium agrees security framework for robotics and automation systems connectivity

Industrial internet: ABB signs deal with Huawei to develop robotics and automation solutions

ABB’s two-armed collaborative robot at Huawei Connect
ABB’s two-armed collaborative robot at Huawei Connect

ABB and Huawei say their agreement will help drive industries towards a ‘fully connected era’

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has signed a memorandum of understanding with ABB to robotics and automation technologies, including solutions for the power generation sector.

Under the deal, agreed at the Huawei Connect event earlier this month, the two parties will integrate Huawei LTE-based OneAir products and technologies into ABB robots and industrial automation solutions.

The cooperative mission involves the realization of remote wireless robotic monitoring, management, configuration, big data applications, and visualized intelligent manufacturing to jointly promote full industrial connectivity.  Continue reading Industrial internet: ABB signs deal with Huawei to develop robotics and automation solutions

Chinese whispers: The most populous nation on Earth wants to replace millions of human workers with industrial robots it plans to manufacture

A mechanical installation named "Long Ma" makes it way during the Long Ma performance in front of the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing
Mechanical art installation of robot dragon, Long Ma. Picture credit Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon via Diseno Art

Towards the end of last year, the nominally communist Chinese government announced that it wants China to become the world’s largest producer of industrial robots. 

In comments made in the past few months, China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have clearly stated their intention to embrace robots and the new industrial revolution brought about by internet connectivity and artificial intelligence.

In a speech to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jinping called for a “robot revolution”, saying: “Our country will be the biggest market for robots, but can our technology and manufacturing capacity cope with the competition? Not only do we need to upgrade our robots, we also need to capture markets in many places.”

And speaking at the China Association for Science and Technology conference in Beijing, Keqiang said the conference will “spur the the growth of the emerging robot industry and create the world’s largest robot market”.  Continue reading Chinese whispers: The most populous nation on Earth wants to replace millions of human workers with industrial robots it plans to manufacture

Universal Robots now certified for applications in cleanroom environments

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Universal Robots’ lightweight collaborative robot arms can now be implemented in controlled environments, says the company

Universal Robots says it collaborative robots have been awarded a certification which officially allows them to be used in cleanroom applications. 

After successful tests in accordance with VDI 2083 Part 9.1, the international industrial guideline concerning the various functions and measures of cleanroom technologies, the robot arms and the accompanying controller boxes made by the Danish pioneer in human-robot collaboration have been awarded the certification for cleanroom applications by the international certification organization TÜV SÜD.

In compliance with the industrial norm ISO 14644-1, the company’s robots UR3, UR5 and UR10 are now authorized for the global use in cleanroom environments of the cleanroom class ISO 5.  Continue reading Universal Robots now certified for applications in cleanroom environments

Caterpillar, GE and Microsoft invest in Sarcos Robotics exoskeleton

sarcos guardian exoskeleton

Sarcos Robotics says its Guardian exoskeleton (pictured) will be capable of lifting hundreds of pounds when it is commercially available

Sarcos Robotics, a developer of dexterous industrial robots for use in unstructured environments, has secured $10.5 million in funding from a group of top-tier strategic investors including Caterpillar Ventures, GE Ventures, and Microsoft.

Additionally, Cottonwood Technology Fund and two other private investment firms, together with the company’s three co-founders, Ben Wolff, Dr Fraser Smith and Dr Marc Olivier, invested in the financing round.

The company says the infusion of capital will be used to expand the Sarcos team and to accelerate the production and deployment of Sarcos’ Guardian line of robots that are significantly reducing the risk of injury and the cost of performing many of the world’s most dangerous and difficult tasks.  Continue reading Caterpillar, GE and Microsoft invest in Sarcos Robotics exoskeleton

Honeywell launches industrial internet of things service to ‘improve plant performance’

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Honeywell says its new cloud-based IIoT service helps increase plant utilization and performance and avoid production interruptions

Honeywell UOP has launched a new software-based service designed to allow refiners and petrochemical and gas processing plants to improve performance. 

Honeywell UOP’s new Connected Performance Services (CPS) business leverages the Industrial Internet of Things to tap Honeywell’s deep process knowledge, design expertise, and understanding of catalysis with next-generation software platforms from Honeywell Process Solutions, the leading provider of software-based solutions for the process industries.

Zak Alzein, vice president for CPS, says: “This cloud-enabled service makes plants smarter and more responsive.

“Problems that caused plants to be less efficient or less productive and that went undetected for weeks or months now can be resolved quickly and proactively, and decisions that used to take days now can be made in hours. For many plants, the avoidance of downtime and suboptimal performance, and better agility, can be worth millions of dollars per year.”  Continue reading Honeywell launches industrial internet of things service to ‘improve plant performance’