Bend it like Comeco: Nord helps Swedish company to improve rebar bending process

Looking for ways to improve their machines’ usability and to economize on manufacturing costs, the Swedish company Comeco decided to launch a new line of rebar benders with electric drives instead of hydraulics.

Nord DriveSystems supported the company from the early planning phase through to production, configuring an AC vector drive with an integrated programmable logic controller that controls all machine functions.

The current solution is simpler, more robust, and easier to maintain, says Comeco. In addition to substantial savings for procured parts, the assembly time was halved.  Continue reading Bend it like Comeco: Nord helps Swedish company to improve rebar bending process

The big feature: Urban mobility in China – why car sharing is set to take off

By Klaus Schmitz, Arthur D. Little

China’s dominating chauffer companies, Didi and Uber China, merged in 2016, wrapping up a history of fierce competition for the city-mobility market.

The two are now left with a huge shared customer pool that knows a lot about their choices for mobility.

The new phase being ushered in is car sharing, which is poised for explosive growth across China.

In this article, Klaus Schmitz of consultancy firm Arthur D Little examines the market dynamics and the major hurdles, and makes predictions for the future of the Chinese car-sharing scene.  Continue reading The big feature: Urban mobility in China – why car sharing is set to take off

General Electric to shed 12,000 jobs as electric future opens up

General Electric’s recent decision to reduce its employee numbers by 12,000 globally indicate how important it thinks the trend of electric power will become, or perhaps has already become. 

The significant job losses will come from the GE Power division. GE says the decision is part of its overall restructuring.

The company acknowledges that the growth in renewables is part of the reason for the cost-cutting measures.  Continue reading General Electric to shed 12,000 jobs as electric future opens up

Nidec says it’s on target to become ‘number one’ in industrial motors and drive systems

Nidec Industrial Solutions claims it is on course to become number one in its market segment of industrial motors and drive systems, ahead of companies such as Siemens and General Electric.

In a statement, Nidec says: “As competitors like GE and Siemens announce major cuts and reorganizations of their industrial assets Nidec continues to invest in growth.”

The company further underlines its confidence with the comment: “The road to the top is never easy and if you are a relative newcomer to the industrial sector you have to contend with the force and reputation of some very strong, well-consolidated brands.  Continue reading Nidec says it’s on target to become ‘number one’ in industrial motors and drive systems

Technical guide: Fanuc panel keyboard keys overview

Contributed by MRO Electric, an independent factory automation distributor 

Fanuc Alarm keys: These keys are located on the machine panel that displays alarm intelligence for the machine panel. MRO Electric has several Fanuc part numbers starting with A06B, A20B, and A16B in-stock here. These keys differ from the alarm keys correlated with the control panel.

Fanuc Auto key: This is the key on the CNC machine (including the A16B, A17B & A20B product line) that reshapes the operation mode to automatic. Automatic mode authorizes an operator to contact and execute a part program stored in memory. Automatic mode is called memory mode on some CNC controls at times.

A safety function that determines if the tool has moved beyond its set boundaries. Forbidden zones can be programmed to specify areas where the tool can and cannot enter.  Continue reading Technical guide: Fanuc panel keyboard keys overview

SPS at the nexus of IT and OT convergence

There seems to be more interest in the SPS IPC Drives event this year than there was last year. 

It’s noticeable to us here at the website because we have received many more press releases and articles talking about the event.

But there could also be another reason. It’s very likely that the trend of connecting machinery to the internet and computerising production processes is the real reason behind the growing interest in the event.  Continue reading SPS at the nexus of IT and OT convergence

New study: Industrial cameras, technical features, and market

Each year, in cooperation with the trade journals Vision Systems Design and Inspect, industrial imaging company Framos identifies technical and commercial trends in the industry based on users’ and manufacturers’ views.

For this 10th market study, 90 manufacturers and users from 22 countries responded to questions about the status quo of the imaging market, and its ongoing development.

In the age of automation and the smart factory, classic machine vision is the cornerstone of success for the Imaging industry.

CMOS technology and fast processing are enabling real-time precision, while cognitive vision solutions using artificial intelligence are the bases for further growth.  Continue reading New study: Industrial cameras, technical features, and market

Digital manufacturing: An overview of an increasingly complex scenario

Digitalisation is, in essence, simple. It means exactly what the word implies – the digitalisation of everything. 

But as simple as it sounds, digitalisation can be applied to any business in any sector, and that is what makes it difficult to provide a simple overview.

If we stick to one sector – manufacturing – that might make it more manageable.

But since manufacturing is already a hugely complex endeavour, the process of digitalisation – even in this one single sector – encompasses so many different disciplines that it’s difficult to think of it as being, essentially, simple.

But enough complaining about having to do some work for a change, let’s get on with the show.  Continue reading Digital manufacturing: An overview of an increasingly complex scenario

Dr Robot: Robotics and automation in the medical sector

Robotics in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector has a relatively long history, having started with a robot called the Puma 560 in 1985, according to All About Robotic Surgery.

Now, however, a number of robotic and automation systems have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for operation in healthcare environments, and the market is probably set to grow exponentially in the next few years as they become fully commercialised.

While robotic surgery systems such as Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci may be the most photogenic of the systems, gaining a lot of publicity in recent years, there are numerous other systems being developed, with some already being used in healthcare.  Continue reading Dr Robot: Robotics and automation in the medical sector

Graphene: A primer on the miracle material

Graphene is sometimes described as being two-dimensional, or 2D, which is probably more a reflection of the enthusiasm people feel about the material rather than a statement of fact since graphene is actually one atom thick. 

It may only be one single atom, but it’s still there, which means that graphene is, in fact, three-dimensional.

Another interesting thing about graphene is that the naturally occurring composite mineral it’s extracted from – graphite – has been in use for thousands of years in such things as ceramic paints, and it’s been used in pencils for decades. But only now has graphene been extracted from it and suggested for a wide array of applications.  Continue reading Graphene: A primer on the miracle material

An introduction to product design and development for manufacturing

Many people have ideas, but actually producing something – sketch, prototype, then final product – from those ideas, and having it mass-manufactured, is a hugely complex, time-consuming and expensive process.

If that product is an electronic and semiconductor technology-based hardware-and-software product, which is increasingly in demand these days, then that’s an even higher level of complexity and stress.

This article tries to provide a starting point, or introduction, for those interested in industrial design or product development, and maybe have ideas for products and want to know how to start the process of getting them manufactured.  Continue reading An introduction to product design and development for manufacturing

Auto companies still moving to Mexico despite Nafta uncertainty

Mexico used to be an attractive place to invest in building manufacturing facilities. It still is. 

The country of 120 million people is still part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which makes importing and exporting to the US easier than it would otherwise be.

And even as US President Donald Trump pushes for a renegotiation of Nafta, manufacturing companies are continuing to choose Mexico as an investment location.  Continue reading Auto companies still moving to Mexico despite Nafta uncertainty

Additive manufacturing: It’s a matter of finding the right composition

The terms “additive manufacturing” and “3D printing” are used interchangeably, although it seems additive manufacturing suggests an industrial context whereas 3D printing has become so widespread that it could be considered a consumer technology now. 

The majority of those who use such processes are, however, makers or manufacturers, meaning they’re on the supply side of the economy rather than the demand side.

Perhaps the reason why 3D printers are not yet completely in the consumer domain is that they’re not totally perfect. The high-end machines can probably get close to perfection, but not at a price point which can unlock consumer markets.  Continue reading Additive manufacturing: It’s a matter of finding the right composition

Midea embarks on journey to transform itself into a ‘high-tech industry leader’

Chinese home appliances giant Midea says it has completed its acquisition of German company Kuka, one of the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturers. 

While the deal prompted some consternation among those who said the German government should stop the takeover, as well as with those people who subsequently demanded the European Union make it more difficult for Chinese companies to buy EU companies, the two companies are now part of the same group.

Technically, Kuka was acquired by Midea’s subsidiary company, Mecca International.  Continue reading Midea embarks on journey to transform itself into a ‘high-tech industry leader’

From two months to a few seconds: A brief overview of automotive robotic painting systems

Painting was one of the first applications for industrial robots, but it didn’t start well. 

When they were first introduced in the 1980s at General Motors’ Michigan plant, the robots initially painted each other, according to an article on industrial robot history, published on Robots.com.

The complexity of painting is probably under-estimated because humans can do such tasks with relative ease.  Continue reading From two months to a few seconds: A brief overview of automotive robotic painting systems