Higher wages and pressure to bring back manufacturing to the US could result in millions of job losses in clothes-making industry in Asia

A combination of higher wages in Asian countries and a trend for bringing back manufacturing to the US could dismantle large parts of Asian economies, many of which depend on the textiles and clothes manufacturing trades for huge portion of their national income. 

An interesting video report by the Financial Times points to this possible future, but adds that in practice, for now, “almost all of the world’s T-shirts and jeans by millions of cheap workers, mostly women, watching over sewing machines”.

And beyond T-shirts and jeans, the vast majority of jobs and tasks in the clothes manufacturing sector in general is still done by humans.  Continue reading Higher wages and pressure to bring back manufacturing to the US could result in millions of job losses in clothes-making industry in Asia

Half of American jobs at risk of automation, says new report

industrial robot painting

About half of all jobs in America could be replaced by robotics and automation systems, according to a news story on CNBC.com

And as pointed out by CNBC.com, approximately one in four American jobs are at risk of being shipped overseas, which puts three-quarters of all jobs in the US at risk of disappearing or at least changing.

The study the story was based on is How Vulnerable are American Communities to Automation, which was conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

Rethink Robotics signs up nine new distribution partners in Europe and the US

rethink-robotics-baxter

Rethink Robotics has signed deals with nine distribution partners throughout the United States and Europe to extend the availability of its smart, collaborative robots.

With an extensive network throughout the world – including partners in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, China, Korea, Japan, Mexico and Australia – these distribution deals are part of Rethink’s efforts to meet growing demand across the globe, bringing flexible automation to the global manufacturing market.

With the launch of the Intera 5 software platform and ClickSmart family of gripper kits earlier this year, Rethink says it now offers a complete range of products and services to “help manufacturers around the world improve productivity“.  Continue reading Rethink Robotics signs up nine new distribution partners in Europe and the US

Hirotec on long journey towards lights-out manufacturing with robots from Otto and Yaskawa

“Lights-out manufacturing” is a term to mean the method of making things in a way that’s entirely automated and does not need humans to be involved in the process. 

Of course, humans initially set up the process, build the factory and so on, but the factory which outputs the final product only requires robotics and automation technology.

It’s an idea that has probably been explored in science fiction many times, but in reality, a fully automated factory that needs no human intervention at all is still a distant dream.  Continue reading Hirotec on long journey towards lights-out manufacturing with robots from Otto and Yaskawa

American workers sleepwalking into automated obscurity, says new report

robot replaces human
Picture courtesy of Challenge Magazine

Despite an endless stream of stories in the media warning of humanity’s impending irrelevance in an automated future, it seems American workers remain rather blasé about the prospect of being automated out of existence in the workplace. 

New research by Randstad US contradicts many reports that American workers fear losing their job due to automation.

The 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research found that only 14 percent of US employees worry that automation will take their job away, and nearly one-third (30 per cent) say they think automation will make their job better.  Continue reading American workers sleepwalking into automated obscurity, says new report

Government incentives driving growth of Malaysian automation and control systems market, says report

malaysian factory robot
A factory in Malaysia. Picture courtesy of The Malay Mail Online

Government incentives and adoption of new technologies are driving the growth of the Malaysian automation and control systems market, according to a new report.

The Malaysian automation and control systems market, one of the biggest for suppliers, is stable and growing, says the study by Frost & Sullivan, which projects the market to be worth more than $409 million in the next four years.

Government incentives to aid manufacturing and infrastructure spend, as well as an established end-user base of sophisticated automation systems, are driving growth in the region.  Continue reading Government incentives driving growth of Malaysian automation and control systems market, says report

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

Industrial internet of things improving everything, says Rockwell Automation CEO

rockwell ceo blake moret
Rockwell CEO Blake Moret

Industrial internet of things applications are leading to better collaboration, faster problem-solving and increased productivity, according the boss of Rockwell Automation.

Blake Moret, president and CEO of Rockwell, spoke on internet of things adoption and its impact on industrial productivity, sharing insights with more than 1,200 business leaders at Cisco’s IoT World Forum.

Rockwell claims to be the industry’s only company solely dedicated to industrial automation and information, and says it is “uniquely positioned to understand the challenges and opportunities associated with harnessing the future of smart manufacturing”.  Continue reading Industrial internet of things improving everything, says Rockwell Automation CEO

Mitsubishi improves visualisation on its human machine interface

The GT2107 Wide Series Human Machine Interface
The GT2107 Wide Series Human Machine Interface

Mitsubishi has updated its human machine interface and integrated what it says is improved visibility and performance. 

The company says the improvements to its GT2107 HMI were driven by “end user demand”.

Mitsubishi says the GT2107 is an interface that monitors and controls machine components with a graphical touchscreen that connects to equipment such as programmable logic controllers, variable frequency drives and servos.

The compact HMI features a 7-inch wide display with 800 x 480 resolution for clear image quality and is equipped with a remote connectivity option through a virtual network computing server. Continue reading Mitsubishi improves visualisation on its human machine interface

International Transport Workers’ Federation calls for virtual counter-revolution against robot bosses

itf uber car
Picture credit: Alper Cugun via Flickr and ITF

The International Transport Workers’ Federation is calling on all its members and affiliates worldwide to “work together” and launch a virtual revolution to counter the growing oppressive power of robots. 

Autonomous driving technology threatens to displace millions of truck drivers and cab drivers and other transport workers worldwide, and the ITF says the bosses and the elite are introducing these inhuman technologies without bothering to properly consider the “social costs” to the proletariat.

The ITF has 16 million members worldwide and almost 700 individual unions affiliated to the organisation.

In response to the robot takeover, the ITF is promoting a hashtag for people to tweet to – #futureofwork – as well as its own hashtag, #WeAreITF.

The ITF also organised a gathering in Stockholm, Sweden for the first meeting of the federation’s new automation working group.  Continue reading International Transport Workers’ Federation calls for virtual counter-revolution against robot bosses

McDonald’s shares reach record high as it launches new wave of automation

Fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s shares have reached record highs last week, gaining 26 per cent, as the company announced a new round of automation at 2,500 of its outlets in the US. 

The global icon of American enterprise says it will replace cashiers with digital ordering kiosks and introduce mobile ordering at a total of 14,000 locations across the US.

The extensive automation plan is part of the company’s “Experience of the Future”, according to a report on CNBC.comContinue reading McDonald’s shares reach record high as it launches new wave of automation

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

Robots taking over from humans in numerous laboratory tasks

lab automation pic

Robotic lab automation is making progress and removing some of the labor in laboratories, but rarely is it replacing all functions, according to Kalorama Information. 

The healthcare market researcher said the most common use of robots is partial, but that the number of labs using them is on the rise.

Lacking robotics and other types of automation, laboratories may not be able to keep up with the pace of testing, the complexities of new tests, such as those involving molecular diagnostics, and the loss of experienced technicians and technologists.  Continue reading Robots taking over from humans in numerous laboratory tasks

German robotics and automation market set for sales of $15 billion this year

vdma article

The German robotics and automation market is forecast to grow by 7 per cent this year compared with last year, with sales volume projected to reach a massive $15 billion. 

Germany is one of the world’s leading buyers of industrial robotics and automation systems, and purchased approximately $14 billion worth in 2016.

These are figures which German engineering association VDMA has suggested as a result of its research into the market.  Continue reading German robotics and automation market set for sales of $15 billion this year

Kuka to build personal assistance robot business with Midea

Midea-products
Some of the products Midea manufactures

Kuka, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial robotic arms, is planning to expand into the area of personal assistance robotics. 

This is according to an article on FT.com, which quotes Kuka chief executive Till Reuter.

Reuter told the FT that he sees potential for using Midea’s reach into the household appliances market to develop more complex, intelligent machines which can help with household tasks.  Continue reading Kuka to build personal assistance robot business with Midea