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

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

US manufacturing sector is seeing ‘record investment’, says Pence

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US Vice President Mike Pence on a visit to Tendon Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector is experiencing a dramatic turnaround in business, according to figures released by the White House. 

President Donald Trump has consistently said he wants the manufacturing sector to grow and has personally intervened to persuade many large manufacturing companies to consider relocating or expanding their operations in the US.

However, the vast majority of manufacturing companies in the US are small businesses, of less than 100 people.  Continue reading US manufacturing sector is seeing ‘record investment’, says Pence

Foxconn evaluating US locations for $10 billion expansion plans

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A Foxconn production line with workers making iPhones. Picture: Flickr

Foxconn, the main manufacturer for Apple’s smartphones and tablet computers, is looking for locations in the US to invest $10 billion into setting up factories, according to a variety of reports in the media. 

The company has already earmarked $7 billion for a display panel factory after buying the Sharp electronics company, although it’s not certain where it will be located.

The Taiwanese company’s newly found interest in the US comes after President Donald Trump made it clear that he prioritises the reinvigoration of the country’s manufacturing base.  Continue reading Foxconn evaluating US locations for $10 billion expansion plans

Daimler lays foundation stone for $280 million Mercedes-Benz plant in Russia

Bense, von Fritsch, Schaefer, Manturov, Ruess and Vorobyov attend a new Mercedes-Benz plant's cornerstone laying ceremony in the town of Esipovo outside Moscow
Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Rus CEO Axel Bense, Germany’s Ambassador to Russia Ruediger von Fritsch, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars Markus Schaefer, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, head of production planning of Mercedes-Benz Cars Rainer Ruess and Moscow Regional Governor Andrei Vorobyov attend a new Mercedes-Benz plant’s cornerstone laying ceremony in the town of Esipovo outside Moscow, Russia earlier this week. Reuters / Tatyana Makeyeva

By Jack Stubbs, Reuters

Daimler began construction of a new Mercedes-Benz plant near Moscow this week, following through on the first new investment by a major foreign automaker in Russia since Western sanctions were imposed three years ago.

Daimler said in February that it will invest more than $280 million in the factory, contrasting with widespread wariness among international investors after a prolonged downturn brought on by sanctions and a collapse in global oil prices.

But Russia’s economy has recently shown signs of recovery, while its car market is returning to growth after four years of decline.  Continue reading Daimler lays foundation stone for $280 million Mercedes-Benz plant in Russia

Epson showcases new Flexion industrial robot and printer built using SCARA robot

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Epson’s Flexion 6-axis industrial robot

Epson Robots is showcasing a range of new technologies for a wide variety of applications in factory automation at the Automation Technology show, ATX East.

ATX is currently under way, running from June 13-15, and is being held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, in the US. Epson’s booth is number 2405.

Epson’s showcase will feature the new and “revolutionary” Flexion N2 6-Axis robot as well as an assembly demo of an Epson Point of Sale printer built with a high precision SCARA robot and a compact 6-Axis robot.  Continue reading Epson showcases new Flexion industrial robot and printer built using SCARA robot

Boeing streamlines aircraft production systems at largest factory

A Boeing 787 is pictured at Boeing's production facility in Everett, Washington
A Boeing 787 is pictured at Boeing’s production facility in Everett, Washington, US June 1, 2017. Reuters / Jason Redmond

By Alwyn Scott, Reuters

Boeing is streamlining its aircraft production systems at its largest factory – Everett, Washington – trying to cut costs to compete with rival Airbus and chip away at the near-$30 billion deficit created by its 787 Dreamliner.

Dozens of complex robots are replacing humans for such mundane tasks as drilling and riveting, and Boeing is reordering some of its assembly steps to speed up the process.

The savings, part of a long-term cost-cutting drive at the world’s biggest plane maker that also includes substantial staff reductions, comes as Boeing has spent heavily to develop new aircraft models.  Continue reading Boeing streamlines aircraft production systems at largest factory

Nidec says demand for robot parts has grown by seven times

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Nidec will add equipment to increase production of speed reducers. Picture: Nikkei

Nidec, a Japanese electric motor manufacturer, says demand for its speed reducers has grown seven-fold. 

The increase in orders has led the company to invest an additional $36 million in new equipment at its factory – operated by subsidiary Nidec-Shimpo – to produce more of the component.

Speed reducers are a core part in robots, and are used to control robotic limbs and give them power.  Continue reading Nidec says demand for robot parts has grown by seven times

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

ABB to acquire B&R

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ABB is to acquire B&R, said to be the largest independent provider focused on product- and software-based, open-architecture solutions for machine and factory automation worldwide.

B&R, founded in 1979 by Erwin Bernecker and Josef Rainer, is headquartered in Eggelsberg, Austria, and employs more than 3,000 people, including about 1,000 R&D and application engineers.

It operates across 70 countries, generating sales of more than $600 million (2015/16) in the $20 billion machine and factory automation market segment.  Continue reading ABB to acquire B&R

HIT Robot Group to showcase products at Automate 2017 for the first time

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Hit Robot Group’s new drone. Picture: Xinhua

HIT Robot Group, which claims to be China’s leading robotics manufacturer, will make its debut appearance at Automate 2017, the largest show of robots and automation technology in North America.

The company will bring its latest smart factory model of robot and hopes Automate will provide a platform for seeking global partners.

Hosted by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) every other year, Automate is one of the top 10 manufacturing shows in the US.

This year the event will take place at McCormick Place in Chicago from April 3rd to April 6th, and will attract big names in the automation industry like ABB, Denso and Kawasaki.  Continue reading HIT Robot Group to showcase products at Automate 2017 for the first time

MRK-Systeme builds Kuka-based automation solution for BMW

Human-robot collaboration-compliant Kuka robots put to work in quality assurance at BMW facility 

MRK-Systeme has developed an automation solution with human-robot collaboration capability for the BMW Group using Kuka robots for high payloads.

It enables the factory in Landshut, Bavaria to carry out quality assurance for crankshaft housing in an “ergonomically friendly manner”, says the company.  Continue reading MRK-Systeme builds Kuka-based automation solution for BMW

Distec and Red Lion Controls host event to demonstrate smart factory technology

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Industrial computing specialist Distec is partnering with industrial automation and networking expert Red Lion Controls to host a smart factory day on March 28, 2017.

The event, which will be held at the De Vere Cranage Estate in Cheshire, UK is designed to give plant managers an overview of the benefits of smart factory technology.

The day will feature speakers discussing their experiences using the latest automation technology to build smart factory environments.

Plant managers and engineers can also view live demo kits to get a hands-on experience of the automation technology that’s helping to build the current and next generation of smart factory. Technical staff will also be on hand to answer questions about the technology and its use in factories.  Continue reading Distec and Red Lion Controls host event to demonstrate smart factory technology

‘Innovative’ Škoda factory introduces human-robot collaboration with Kuka LBR iiwa

Škoda Auto, Matador Group and Kuka have come together in the town of Vrchlabí, Czech Republic, for what they say is “a manufacturing initiative without borders or fences”.

The project is being undertaken in an automobile factory which produces direct-shift-gearbox automatic transmissions.

There, an industrial robot does what industrial robots do best: grow productivity, reduce costs and improve output quality.  Continue reading ‘Innovative’ Škoda factory introduces human-robot collaboration with Kuka LBR iiwa

Rethink Robotics launches ‘first-of-its-kind’ software platform

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Rethink Robotics has launched what it describes as a first-of-its-kind software platform that connects everything in a smart factory.

The collaborative industrial robot maker says the extensible software is “redefining automation deployments and providing a gateway to the factory of the future”.

Rethink Robotics calls its software platform Intera 5, and says it “connects everything from a single robot controller, extending the smart, flexible power of Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer to the entire work cell and simplifying automation with unparalleled ease of deployment”.

Built on the backbone of the Rethink robots’ train-by-demonstration software, Intera 5 is designed to pave the way for connected manufacturing environments and helping companies build factories of the future.  Continue reading Rethink Robotics launches ‘first-of-its-kind’ software platform