Top 10 product lifecycle management applications by install base

Product lifecycle management software is mainly used to manage the design and manufacturing process. 

Actually it can help with other aspects of the process such as research and development and supply chain logistics. And if it’s connected to administration tools, such as customer relations management, usually referred to as CRM, and enterprise resource planning software, which is often called ERP, PLM systems can become even more powerful.

The PLM system originated in the 1980s in the auto-making business but is now used across a wide range of industries, but still mostly traditional manufacturing sectors.

The usage of PLM is growing, with several reports predicting the market for the software reaching approximately $65 billion to $75 billion by 2022.  Continue reading Top 10 product lifecycle management applications by install base

Baidu opens up its software to accelerate development of self-driving technology with 50 other companies in ‘autonomous driving ecosystem’

Baidu self-driving car
Baidu self-driving car being showcased at a recent company conference

Baidu, which is China’s equivalent of Google, has accelerated the development of its self-driving technology by opening up its software to outside companies. 

The Chinese internet search giant has been building its autonomous vehicle operating system for quite some time, testing it on a variety of vehicles in China.

Now it will give away that software for free, probably in an effort to steal a march on global competitors such as Google, Apple and a growing number of other tech companies which are developing artificial intelligence systems which can drive cars all by themselves.  Continue reading Baidu opens up its software to accelerate development of self-driving technology with 50 other companies in ‘autonomous driving ecosystem’

North American robotics market growing and creating new types of work, says A3

fanuc at hm 1

The fast-growing North American robotics and automation market is creating new kinds of jobs, according to the Association for Advancing Automation, or A3. 

The association says new technologies, such as collaborative robots and advanced vision systems are driving growth and diversity of employment in the sector.

Jeff Burnstein, who has a number of roles in the association including A3 president, says: “Automation technologies are fueling entirely new categories of jobs – really creating the jobs of the future – in addition to enabling companies to become more productive and create higher-quality products in safer environments.”  Continue reading North American robotics market growing and creating new types of work, says A3

World’s largest automotive companies and an intro to their autonomous and electric vehicle tech moves

audi
A picture of a car production line, this one in an Audi factory

In the first of a series of articles about large industrial companies, we list 20 of the leading automakers in the world in order of their last reported annual revenue amount, and highlight some of their more interesting developments in autonomous technologies. 

Automakers are have long been the largest market for industrial robotics and automation systems, but also, more recently, the vehicles they produce have become more robotic.

The design and development of road vehicles are becoming increasingly an exercise in developing computing technology – both hardware and software. Add to that the growing importance of artificial intelligence to run the advanced driver assistance systems that many new cars already have. Continue reading World’s largest automotive companies and an intro to their autonomous and electric vehicle tech moves

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

Engineering companies struggling to find and keep talented young workers

engineering graduates
Picture courtesy of WonderfulEngineering.com

To anyone looking for work, it might sound strange to hear that some sectors of the economy are struggling to find and retain workers, but that’s the situation many engineering companies find themselves in. 

Finding, educating, training and retaining talented young people is not just a dilemma for engineering companies in one region or country, it’s a global issue.

But, paradoxically, while companies in some countries say there’s a problem finding engineering graduates, in other countries such as India, large numbers of engineering graduates are reportedly not having much luck finding jobs.

In those countries where there is a shortage, such as Germany and maybe the US, it’s not at crisis levels yet, but it’s a complication that large industrial companies are trying to alleviate in a variety of ways.  Continue reading Engineering companies struggling to find and keep talented young workers

Japan turning to robots because there’s not enough humans around

FILE PHOTO: Humanoid robots work side by side with employees in the assembly line at a factory of Glory Ltd., a manufacturer of automatic change dispensers, in Kazo, north of Tokyo
Humanoid robots work side by side with employees in the assembly line at a factory of Glory, a manufacturer of automatic change dispensers, in Kazo, north of Tokyo, Japan. Reuters / Issei Kato / File Photo

By Stanley White, Reuters

Desperate to overcome Japan’s growing shortage of labour, mid-sized companies are planning to buy robots and other equipment to automate a wide range of tasks, including manufacturing, earthmoving and hotel room service.

According to a Bank of Japan survey, companies with share capital of 100 million yen to 1 billion yen plan to boost investment in the fiscal year that started in April by 17.5 percent, the highest level on record.

It is unclear how much of that is being spent on automation but companies selling such equipment say their order books are growing and the Japanese government says it sees a larger proportion of investment being dedicated to increasing efficiency. Revenue at many of Japan’s robot makers also rose in the January-March period for the first time in several quarters.  Continue reading Japan turning to robots because there’s not enough humans around

Hannover Messe: Global software update

Special report from Hannover Messe: How hard-bitten industrialists are turning to software 

Back in the old days, you knew what was what, who was whom, and industrial companies built machines and stuff, like cars, aircraft, power stations and whatnot.

In the past, General Electric could be said to have been a typical industrial company; so could ABB, Bosch and many others.

But now, all of them, almost without exception, seem to have caught the software bug. Now they all want to be software companies.

“Software will take over the world,” says Matt Wells, senior product general manager, GE Digital, in an exclusive interview with this website. Continue reading Hannover Messe: Global software update

Automate 2017 to host US-China robotics forum

automate 2017

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has organised a joint US-China Robotics Forum to be held April 4 at the Automate 2017 Show and Conference at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The forum will bring together A3’s Robotic Industries Association, the leading North American robotics industry trade organization, and its counterpart, the China Robot Industry Alliance.

According to the World Robotics Report 2016, published by the International Federation of Robotics, China has significantly expanded its leading position as the largest robotics market in the world purchasing 27 per cent of the total supply in 2015.  Continue reading Automate 2017 to host US-China robotics forum

Engineering clusters driving automotive innovation

silverstone

Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director at EU Automation looks at some of the most exciting automotive engineering clusters around the world

While autonomous vehicles are making most of the headlines in the world of automotive engineering, behind the scenes, the industry is proving that collaboration rather than autonomy is the road to success.

Manufacturing clusters are not a new concept. First noted in the UK in the early 1900s, highly concentrated and localised industries, otherwise known as industry clusters, became home to a rising population and lucrative activities.

Industrial clusters now span the globe, with highly innovative companies dedicated to some of the fastest moving (in more ways than one) industries. Automotive engineering clusters are particularly prevalent worldwide.  Continue reading Engineering clusters driving automotive innovation

World’s largest manufacturing companies

samsung chip

It’s a couple of years old, and we will update it as we go along, but this list provides an overview of the global manufacturing landscape over the past few years.

It shows that traditional companies – meaning those with a long history – are still dominant. Giants like Samsung, Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, General Electric, and General Motors have each been around for a century.

Samsung is relatively young, having been established in 1938. And it’s probably perceived as being even younger, since it’s the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones, a product which has been in existence for barely a decade.  Continue reading World’s largest manufacturing companies

Four reasons why Trump will learn a Chinese Lesson on how isolationism never works

donald trump

By Edward Tse, Gao Feng Advisory

Donald Trump’s election as the next US president is generating a lot of speculation about US-China relations, especially in investment and trade. People are wondering what the implications will be for both Chinese and US companies.

We can look at this situation in several ways.

First, isolationism can never generate sustainable growth for any country. History has proven this over and over again. Continue reading Four reasons why Trump will learn a Chinese Lesson on how isolationism never works

Command and control rooms: Navigating the internet of things

spock kirk bridge
“Sensor readings, Mr Spock” … “Captain, you must make me believe in luck”

lockWho doesn’t want a control room of their own? If you grew up watching the original Star Trek series, you still might warm to the idea of something similar to the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, which wouldn’t be bad at all. 

But, sadly, things have moved on.

Star Trek may have been decades ahead of its time – demonstrating such technologies as tablet computers, flip-top mobile communicators, and of course a truly space-age command and control room – but reality has now almost caught up with the visions of the sci-fi show’s creators.

Today’s command and control rooms may still have some of the basic elements of what we saw on the Enterprise bridge, but they’re a lot more complex and sophisticated, although that’s not for an absolute certainty since we don’t have warp speed to deal with yet.  Continue reading Command and control rooms: Navigating the internet of things

Industry 4.0: Comau signs deal with EII to develop predictive maintenance solutions

comau

Companies plan to jointly develop hardware and software solutions for the proactive maintenance of machines

Engineering Ingegneria Informatica and robot-maker Comau have signed a global cooperation agreement to develop and market solutions for predictive maintenance based on modular hardware and software and designed to acquire and analyze field data – through the internet of things, and big data analytics. 

The companies say these solutions are targeted at the manufacturing industry and in particular, and companies operating in the automotive, industrial manufacturing, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and white goods sectors, and conform to the Industry 4.0 paradigm.

From a technical point of view, the solutions developed by the two partner companies seek to predict the potential occurrence of malfunctions or a full stop of the machines, and to intercept negative trends in production process quality, or predictive maintenance system.  Continue reading Industry 4.0: Comau signs deal with EII to develop predictive maintenance solutions