The growing importance of software in the manufacturing sector

 

It’s not just manufacturing – it applies to all industries. But manufacturing is the sector that outside observers might expect to be the least affected by the digital world. 

Nothing could be further from the truth of course, especially now.

Some people might think that everything in a factory is entirely mechanical, and maybe just has some electrical components – with a chip or two for the industrial robots.

But increasingly, factories are becoming a hive of hi-tech activity, and the new buzz is almost entirely about the software.  Continue reading The growing importance of software in the manufacturing sector

Electronics industry boosting sales of industrial robots

 

The global growth in the number of data centres, and the corresponding growth in the manufacturing of servers, could provide opportunities for robot makers 

The electrical and electronics sector is one of the fastest-growing markets for the industrial robotics and automation industry. 

The sector bought almost as many industrial robots as did the automotive sector, traditionally the biggest buyer of industrial robots.

This is partly confirmed by new data and analysis by the International Federation of Robotics, but mostly, it can be gleaned from anecdotal evidence all around. Continue reading Electronics industry boosting sales of industrial robots

US trade boss warns of oversupply of bad robots because of Chinese government subsidies

 

China’s appetite for industrial robots is big and growing. Already the largest buyer of the machines, domestic companies are being encouraged by the Chinese government to build more robots locally, not just import them from overseas. 

Such high-powered encouragement has led to the establishment of numerous robot manufacturers in the country, some of which take advantage of government subsidies.

This has prompted criticism from US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross (main picture), who grumbled about a range of issues, but singled out China’s burgeoning robotics industry, which he apparently believes is built mainly on government subsidies.  Continue reading US trade boss warns of oversupply of bad robots because of Chinese government subsidies

Opinion: How assistive robots will transform the workplace and elderly care

By Dr Antonio Espingardeiro, member of the IEEE

Robots can bring significant benefits to the workplace, positively impacting productivity, efficiency and quality.

There are challenges to realising these benefits – not least the complex subject of the degree and quality of human interaction that we want or need robots to deliver.

However, robotics offers tremendous scope for helping humanity, so the field will continue to develop the advanced technologies that make it possible.  Continue reading Opinion: How assistive robots will transform the workplace and elderly care

Opinion: Digitalization, big data, artificial intelligence, agility… what really creates value for industrial companies?

By Vincent Champain, GE Digital

For years industrial companies have been looking for opportunities to enhance the operational efficiency of their assets and processes.

Unsurprisingly, new technologies and agile working have opened a new world of possibilities to the manufacturing sector.

In recent years, new technologies, such as big data and artificial intelligence, have considerably impacted the way industrial companies operate, leading to an increasing number of players in the industry embracing the trend of digitalization.  Continue reading Opinion: Digitalization, big data, artificial intelligence, agility… what really creates value for industrial companies?

Opinion: Materials handling automation and robotics requires IIoT monitoring

By John Hayes, Vecna Robotics

There is a frequent complaint of Industry 4.0, Big Data, and the Industrial Internet of Things. Too much data, little of which can be accessed and used effectively.

From tuggers, automated guided carts, and automated guided vehicles, there is a real need to include IIoT monitoring which defines the next phase of automation and robotics in materials handling.

Without IIoT monitoring, plant managers, operations managers, logistics coordinators throughout manufacturing and distribution sectors lack the data collected which offers real-time continuous status and health information.  Continue reading Opinion: Materials handling automation and robotics requires IIoT monitoring

Opinion: Automation ‘engineer to order’ solution reduces rejects by almost 11 percent for electroplating company

By John Murdoch, Alfacon Solutions

Lloyd Betcher, vice president of operations and services with Kuntz Electroplating (KEI), recently shared that the firm will celebrate 70 years in business next year.

A family owned and operated business since 1948, KEI boasts North America’s largest and most advanced metal finishing operation for original equipment manufacturers of steel and aluminum components.

As the first metal finisher to simultaneously achieve ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 certification, Kuntz set the industry’s benchmark for quality and service.  Continue reading Opinion: Automation ‘engineer to order’ solution reduces rejects by almost 11 percent for electroplating company

China’s auto mobility revolution: Going from ‘ownership’ to ‘usership’

Gao Feng, a business consultancy headquartered in China, has released a new paper about the revolution in auto mobility in China

China’s unique set of urban transportation challenges, very high rate of adoption of mobile internet services, and rapid and aggressive introduction of alternative mobility solutions have combined to make China a global breeding ground for mobility innovation.

The deeply-rooted automotive industry business model is experiencing disruption.

Mobility needs previously satisfied through product “ownership” are increasingly being served through mobility services “usership”, with profound implications not only for traditional players within the value chain, but also for non-traditional players – as they enter and compete to deliver services.  Continue reading China’s auto mobility revolution: Going from ‘ownership’ to ‘usership’

Opinion: Augmented and virtual reality ‘open up whole new world of opportunities’

augmented-reality-glasses atheer

By Douglas Bruey, electrical engineering program lead at Synapse

At first glance, a gamer playing Pokémon Go has little in common with a surgeon saving lives in an operating theatre. But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that might not be the case for much longer.

Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies are poised to open up a whole new world of opportunities. We’re already seeing the effects of VR when it comes to gaming. But in future could AR add a new dimension to surgery?

AR and VR both have the ability to alter our perception of the world. AR takes our current reality and adds something to it – virtual objects or information. VR, on the other hand, immerses us in a different – virtual – world.  Continue reading Opinion: Augmented and virtual reality ‘open up whole new world of opportunities’

PLC vs PAC: Similar but not the same

arnold machine

By Zach Arnold, founder, Arnold Machine

Programmable logic controllers, or PLCs, and programmable automation controllers, or PACs, are similar as they both perform the same essential functions. But with modern technology, their differences are becoming more blurred. 

The most notable difference between PLCs and PACs is their programming interface. PACs are more intricate, using C or C++. PLCs on the other hand, are programmed using ladder logic.

These programming differences create distinctions in the architecture and capability between the two computers.  Continue reading PLC vs PAC: Similar but not the same

What will America’s roads and highways look like in the future?

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has been looking into the future to see how roads and highways will change over the next few years, and found a significant proportion of roadways in a poor state. 

Across the United States, says the NJIT, there are more than 4 million miles of public roadways, and 28 percent are listed as being in “poor condition”.

Throughout those roadways, 61,000 bridges are considered “structurally deficient”.

On top of the needs for rebuilding US roadways, 42 percent of America’s major urban highways remain congested, which costs an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually.  Continue reading What will America’s roads and highways look like in the future?

Innovative sensors are empowering the smart factory robot, says AMS

ams Industrial-Robotics

By Mark Donovan

The next industrial revolution is arriving on a shore near you. It’s called Industry 4.0, and like its three predecessors, it’s about to bring sweeping changes to manufacturing that will globally affect everyone.

Industry 4.0, and the resulting manufacturing changes that are coming with it, have spawned a new type of production plant called the smart factory.

Central to the smart factory is the prolific use of autonomous and collaborative robots that work symbiotically with each other and alongside human beings to yield a more productive and efficient manufacturing plant.  Continue reading Innovative sensors are empowering the smart factory robot, says AMS

Opinion: Is digitalisation the key to remote plant operation?

3d printing

By Eric Duchesne, SVP technology experts for Total, who will be addressing at the ERTC Ask the Experts conference in Cologne on 20-21 June 

There have been many advances in the field of digitalisation in recent years.

As the industry moves towards remote operation it is plant optimisation and integrity management which will provide the tools to enhance safety and anticipate potential problems within the plant, ensuring that the right human assets and replacement parts are available when required.

Today, there’s lots of talk about big data, but before we start to consider how we use big data we can dramatically improve the performance of our plants through the more effective interpretation of data that already exists. We need to become proactive rather than reactive.  Continue reading Opinion: Is digitalisation the key to remote plant operation?

Finding a third way forward for China’s economy

chinese wall

By Edward Tse, CEO of Gao Feng 

China’s fast economic growth, its gradual but consistent transition from a planned economy toward a market economy, the emergence of highly intensive competition in the open sectors, the increasing prevalence of technology and the availability of angel investing and venture capital funds all contributed to the emergence of waves of entrepreneurship and innovation in China that the country had not seen before. 

In their search for growth strategies, these Chinese entrepreneurs were typically fast and agile. Some of them developed diversified conglomerates, and there were others that decided on a narrow focus, taking the core competence approach.

The results have been mixed. Interestingly, some of them, through trial and error, discovered a third way of strategy development. We call it “multiple jumping”.  Continue reading Finding a third way forward for China’s economy

How China’s ‘copycat’ tech companies are now the ones to beat

made in china label

By Edward Tse, CEO of Gao Feng 

For a long time, Chinese companies have been known for copying market-proven products, brands and business models from the West and adapting them for the local market with only minor modifications. Such a phenomenon is known as shanzhai, a Chinese term that was originally used to describe a bandit stronghold outside government control. In today’s slang, it refers to businesses based on fake or pirated products.

Shanzhai has been prevalent in China in recent decades and this has earned China the reputation of being a “copycat nation”. Western media report that China’s preferential policies and regulations to restrict market access, such as the the “Great Firewall” in the internet industry, and the lack of intellectual property protection, give Chinese companies an unfair home advantage to create copies.

While shanzhai is common across a range of products and services, it is particularly prevalent in the internet sector. Chinese internet companies are often compared to their Western counterparts based on the similarity of their business models. For example, Baidu is known as the “Google of China”, Alibaba as the “eBay of China”, and Xiaomi as the “Apple of China”, just to name a few.  Continue reading How China’s ‘copycat’ tech companies are now the ones to beat