DHL could stop Amazon from taking over the world. Probably

It’s not a glamorous business, logistics. Doesn’t make the mainstream news very often. And it’s not likely to be the top career choice for most people. 

It’s understandable. After all, how interesting can it be to move boxes from point A to point B?

Put like that, it’s not much to write home about. But now, with driverless vehicles everywhere, augmented reality glasses and exoskeletons for warehouse workers, and robotics and automation technologies of all kinds promising to transform the industry worldwide, logistics is about to get much more interesting.  Continue reading DHL could stop Amazon from taking over the world. Probably

Interview: Leading robotics and automation fund manager planning to launch new investment vehicle

The news that investments in robotics and automation companies have out-performed all other investments on the stock market will only add to the allure of this sector. 

Fuelled by a renewed fascination and technological advancement in artificial intelligence, investors are enthusiastically looking for funds and companies in which to put their money.

There’s very few investments in life or in history that can offer get-rich-quick returns, but certainly a wise investor could make substantial returns if they are careful with their money.  Continue reading Interview: Leading robotics and automation fund manager planning to launch new investment vehicle

Smartphones have created a whole new world of opportunities, says Hillcrest Labs boss

Even for Apple, selling 60 million units of anything would be a big deal. For most small and medium sized companies, just six units might be the start of a wonderful voyage in the world of enterprise. 

For Hillcrest Labs, the journey started more than a decade ago, and over that time, the company has reached the milestone of having sold 60 million units.

Having started out selling software, the company moved into bundling that software into chips, which have become more elaborate over time and found an increasing number of applications.

In an exclusive interview with Robotics and Automation News, Chad Lucien, senior vice president of business development at Hillcrest Labs, tells the company’s story.  Continue reading Smartphones have created a whole new world of opportunities, says Hillcrest Labs boss

Interview: Robotic Vision Technologies boss eyes growth of global collaborative robotics market

Interview with Rick Weidinger, CEO of Robotic Vision Technologies

A human eye transmits data to the brain at a rate of approximately 10 million bits a second, which is about the equivalent of the capacity of some Ethernet connections. 

This was the finding of a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and while that may be debatable, and perhaps doesn’t tell the whole story of the complexity of the human eye, it’s probably a widely accepted idea that our eyes collect and transmit more data than do our other “sensors”, if they can be called that – the ones for sound, touch, smell and taste – which, with sight, make up our five human senses.

Robots, of course, only have senses because their makers want to integrate sensors into them.  Continue reading Interview: Robotic Vision Technologies boss eyes growth of global collaborative robotics market

A giant company built on tiny components: Interview with Bosch industrial internet boss

bosch image

In this interview, Stefan Hartung, a senior member of the board at Bosch, talks extensively about the industrial internet, detailing some of the components and devices the company uses to give old machines a new lease of life, and provides some insight into the company’s plans going forward

Bosch is as relevant in today’s computerised world as it was after the end of the first industrial age, and the company’s main concern now is keeping it that way. 

Its relevance comes from making the power tools and household appliances most readers will be familiar with, and also from its development of ideas and technologies which are likely to shape a future which many of us haven’t even thought about yet.

Nowadays, all the talk is of Industry 4.0, an umbrella term to describe a range of technologies which have at their centre two tiny components: sensors and chips – both of which are Bosch’s essential stock in trade.

And if you want someone to blame for the Industry 4.0 phrase, look no further than Bosch, because it was part of the working group of German industrial giants which coined the term in 2011.  Continue reading A giant company built on tiny components: Interview with Bosch industrial internet boss

Interview: Big data suggests there’s a trade war looming

Port of Los Angeles, in the US
Port of Los Angeles, in the US

One of the wonders of the modern, computerised world is the emergence of data science. Data science is, arguably, at the heart of most successful businesses today, and its favourite food is big data. 

For Panjiva, data science and big data enables it to keep track of virtually all goods moving from one country to another, with a particular emphasis on the US market.

But while it might sound straightforward to some, the actual collation and preparation of the data, and then the presentation of it, is not a simple process.  Continue reading Interview: Big data suggests there’s a trade war looming

Cyber-physical systems and manufacturing’s new frontier

The real world and its digital twin are collaborating to bring forth something called “mass customisation”, a new manufacturing culture which, as the term suggests, will be the basis for the most diverse ecosystem of engineered products ever seen. 

To understand and articulate some specifics about what’s being called “the new frontier of manufacturing”, one of the world’s largest management consultancy firms, Deloitte, partnered with the Singularity University, a forum for technology futurists co-founded by Ray Kurzweil, to organise a conference called Exponential Manufacturing, featuring many thought leaders working in the industrial sector.  Continue reading Cyber-physical systems and manufacturing’s new frontier

What’s in the stars for manufacturing in India?

An electric fan factory, Varanasi Benares India
An electric fan factory, Varanasi Benares India

Exclusive interview with Sharmila Annaswamy, India-based consultant specialising in industry

Apple recently established a manufacturing facility in India, through Foxconn, the Taiwanese company which makes its iPhones, iPads and other devices. 

For Sharmila Annaswamy, a Frost & Sullivan consultant specialising in industry, the tech giant’s decision is one of the “remarkable achievements” of the government’s Make in India campaign.

As well as Apple and Foxconn, a number of Chinese companies have set up manufacturing facilities in India. Huawei, for example, plans to make smartphones in the country.

In an exclusive interview with RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com, Annaswamy says: “Apple and other large companies moving into India is one of the good things that is happening with the Make in India campaign, which the government has been promoting on a large scale.  Continue reading What’s in the stars for manufacturing in India?

Video: Microsoft looks to strengthen partnerships with industrial companies

Microsoft has been offering industrial companies a range of digital services based on its Azure platform over the past few years and is probably the leading tech company in the space.

Microsoft’s global infrastructure and Azure cloud platform enables companies with worldwide manufacturing or logistics operations to create software applications either specifically for their own companies or for other companies.

The company has also developed special connectors which can accept data from devices which use the OPC-UA standard, a data transmission protocol which is increasingly being adopted in industry for sensor-laden machines and components.  Continue reading Video: Microsoft looks to strengthen partnerships with industrial companies

Video: Massive growth in collaborative robots market could strengthen Universal

The market for collaborative robots is growing at a phenomenal rate, with some estimates suggesting it will go from $150 million a year now to more than $3 billion in five years.

The market leader in the cobots sector is currently Universal Robots, and this video is an interview with Helmut Schmid, the company’s general manager, with responsibility for a number of countries in Europe.

RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com spoke to Schmid at this year’s Hannover Messe, held in Germany recently.  Continue reading Video: Massive growth in collaborative robots market could strengthen Universal

Exclusive interviews: Genesis Robotics bosses claim their LiveDrive could ‘change everything’

A company called Genesis Robotics is claiming that its new innovation could change the world of robotics, as well as the whole area of motion control in general. 

The company’s LiveDrive is a component which could replace traditional gears in everything from industrial robots to cars and even bicycles.

In an interview with RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com, Genesis Robotics’ president, Michael Gibney, and James Klassen, CTO, both of whom we met at Hannover Messe, provide some background about how the company was formed as well as some insight into the new technology.  Continue reading Exclusive interviews: Genesis Robotics bosses claim their LiveDrive could ‘change everything’

Video: Stäubli Robotics investing in software for the future

One of the first industrial automation companies in the world, Stäubli, is investing in the next generation of technology for the future. 

In an exclusive interview with Robotics and Automation News (video above), Stäubli Robotics group division manager Gerald Vogt says the company is “investing and developing in the software side”.

A range of Stäubli robots
A range of Stäubli robots

However, he added that hardware remains fundamental to the company’s business. “I think mechanics will still be the basis on which software is built, meaning that if you don’t have good mechanics, the software will not help.”

Vogt says this is an exciting time for the robotics and automation sector because “we have the technology” to see what the applications of Industry 4.0 technologies are going to be.

Video: Fanuc open to building manufacturing plant in outer space

The world’s largest industrial robot manufacturer could build a facility in space.

In a wide-ranging interview with RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com, recorded at Hannover Messe, Neil Dueweke – who was competing to be heard over a loud musical band in the background – says the company has big ambitions.

“Anywhere there’s robotics involved, Fanuc will be there,” says Dueweke. “Space robotics? Why not?”

As far-fetched as it might sound, there are many projects involving robots in space – that’s in addition to the robotic rovers which are already widely known.

In one project, the European Space Agency is building a robot holiday resort on the Moon.

And Nasa has a large number of projects involving robots in space, and has even installed an outer space additive manufacturing facility which targets the alien marketContinue reading Video: Fanuc open to building manufacturing plant in outer space

Video: F&P Robotics boss says he wouldn’t trust the thinking, feeling robots of the future

The founder and managing director of F&P Robotics says he wouldn’t trust the robots of the future because they will become conscious and capable of taking over the world, and possibly enslaving humans. 

The experienced roboticist, who has a background in natural sciences and brain research, says it’s only a matter of time before artificial intelligence-powered robots start thinking about big questions – like, who created the universe and what is the point of humans.

In an interview with RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com, recorded at Hannover Messe in Germany (video above), Dr Hansruedi Früh says the only difference between humans and robots, at the moment, is “self-reflection, which only humans and very few animals have”, but robot learning is progressing and that their consciousness is inevitable.  Continue reading Video: F&P Robotics boss says he wouldn’t trust the thinking, feeling robots of the future

Video: Siemens predicts small number of companies will dominate industrial internet

Only a small number of companies will dominate the industrial internet, according to a business development executive at Siemens, who was speaking to RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com at Hannover Messe. 

The German engineering giant recently launched its MindScape IoT platform and more than 50 individual apps for a variety of scenarios in industry.

Matthias Lutz, business development manager, digital factory division, Siemens, says: “I personally do see a couple of platforms co-existing in future, and maybe a couple of very specialised ones.

“But in the end, in my opinion, I think it’s a matter of two to three large platforms.”  Continue reading Video: Siemens predicts small number of companies will dominate industrial internet