Applied Controls wins large contract from Siemens

allied controls Siemens PLCs

Siemens has appointed Applied Controls as a distributor in the US.

Applied Controls will expand Siemen’s authorized territory to include Maryland, Washington DC, and five counties of Northern Virginia.

Applied is now considered a Siemens “high value partner and automation solution provider”.

Applied Controls will market and support Siemens’ portfolio of factory automation products including PLCs, HMIs, intelligent motion control, industrial computers, SCADA and networking products.  Continue reading Applied Controls wins large contract from Siemens

Fanuc developing industrial internet of everything

Fanuc is developing a machine-to-machine network that will connect just about every piece of equipment in a manufacturing plant. 

The Fanuc Intelligent Edge Link and Drive (Field) system is an industrial internet of things network that will be aimed at automakers.

Fanuc already provides General Motors with a global IIoT platform to manage and maintain the automakers’ robots.  Continue reading Fanuc developing industrial internet of everything

Rethink’s Baxter industrial robot ‘simplifies complexity’ for Donnelly

baxter donnelly
Baxter hard at work at the Donnelly factory

Two-armed collaborative robot making light work of difficult injection moulding tasks 

A US manufacturer says its use of the Baxter industrial robot “simplifies complexity” in its factory operations.

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Donnelly Custom Manufacturing, a company which specializes in short-run injection molding of thermoplastics for industrial original equipment manufacturers, is using Rethink Robotics’ two-armed Baxter robot for flexible automation at its facility in Alexandria, Minnesota.

Donnelly’s focus is on short-run injection molding for customers with low to medium volumes, as well as an array of related engineering and manufacturing services.  Continue reading Rethink’s Baxter industrial robot ‘simplifies complexity’ for Donnelly

Kuka to build global deep learning AI network for industrial robots

Kuka, one of the world’s biggest industrial robotics companies, is to develop a smart manufacturing platform in collaboration with Chinese communications giant Huawei. 

Kuka and Huawei signed a deal to develop what could be a global network – built on the industrial internet of things – to enable the connection of robots across many factories. The companies say they plan to integrate artificial intelligence and deep learning into the system.

In the new manufacturing era, robots will play an increasingly important role in helping manufacturing businesses remain agile and drive growth, say the two companies.

Under the new agreement, Huawei and Kuka will collaborate in the areas of cloud computing, big data, mobile technology, and industrial robots to help manufacturing customers transform and embrace smart manufacturing. Continue reading Kuka to build global deep learning AI network for industrial robots

‘Ergonomic design saves time and money, and is less annoying’

industrial ergonomic design

Robert Holloway, head of order fulfilment at industrial automation parts supplier European Automation discusses the importance of ergonomics for facilities using industrial automation.

Kettles that release red hot steam onto their handles, cupboard drawers that don’t quite slot in and of course, those pesky USB sticks that take three or four attempts to insert before realising you had right the first time. These niggles are part of everyday life and albeit annoying, their poor design is usually pretty easy to ignore.

But in industry, the bad design of manufacturing environments and equipment is much more significant than a few seconds wasted twisting a USB stick.

As part of the modernisation of manufacturing facilities, industrial automation has become invaluable. The undeniable benefits of increased productivity, improved efficiency and reduction in costs have meant that automation has quickly secured its place as a reigning champion of manufacturing operations.  Continue reading ‘Ergonomic design saves time and money, and is less annoying’

ABB wins large robot order from Valmet Automotive to produce new Mercedes SUV

abb robotics

ABB will deliver over 250 robots to Valmet Automotive for use at its Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV body shop in Uusikaupunki, Finland. Production of the GLC sport utility vehicle will begin in early 2017.

This is the largest contract for industrial robots ever signed in Finland. Valmet Automotive’s total number of ABB robots will double to more than 500. The recently announced new production line is a greenfield project, which consists of the main lines and sub-assembly cells.

The additional robots will boost the Finnish automotive supplier’s flexible manufacturing allowing it to enhance its operations by improving productivity and shortening lead-times.

“ABB’s flexible and intelligent manufacturing technologies will help Valmet Automotive reduce investment costs, increase productivity and respond quickly to market demands,” said Pekka Tiitinen, president of ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division. “Improving industrial productivity is one of the major growth drivers of ABB’s Next Level strategy.”  Continue reading ABB wins large robot order from Valmet Automotive to produce new Mercedes SUV

Exclusive: We are living through ‘extremely transformative’ global changes, says Epson boss

Minoru Usui, president, Seiko Epson
Minoru Usui, president, Seiko Epson

When you want to talk to someone about robotics and automation, especially in an industrial context, who better to talk to than an expert from Japan? Not wishing to compound any stereotypes, the “land of the rising sun” has shown itself to be an early adopter of many, possibly all, advanced technologies for many decades now. 

When George Devol and Joseph Engleberger invented the first industrial robotic arm in around 1950, Japan was the most enthusiastic buyer of their product, the Unimate. Devol and Engleberger had found business tough in the US, where there was a general perception – perpetuated by Hollywood science fiction films – of robots as being an otherworldly, threatening menace. Which they are, of course.

It’s inevitable that robots will take over the world and more or less enslave us, but when have humans ever listened to warnings of our impending doom? Continue reading Exclusive: We are living through ‘extremely transformative’ global changes, says Epson boss

It’s not just factory jobs the robots are after – it’s your intellectual jobs too

industrial revolution

Automation technologies such as the Jacquard loom were ubiquitous in the 1800s during the first industrial revolution. Such machines eliminated some of the most tedious and time-consuming jobs from factories, and raised production to record levels. 

Then, in the mid-1900s, the robotic arm was invented. Like the loom, that too is a machine ubiquitous in the contemporary industrial landscape. And with the advent of computing, robotics and automation systems have been increasingly integrated into self-contained production systems, controlled through what might now be considered rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence.

That integration process is still ongoing, but meanwhile a number of new technologies have emerged – particularly in computing and networking – which are combining to form trends that are themselves coalescing. Experts are now encapsulating all these technologies, trends and developments into a relatively new catch-all term – Industry 4.0.

One of the key features of Industry 4.0 is, arguably, the gradual encroachment of AI into what used to be considered jobs that only humans could do – the robots were supposedly not clever enough. The common misconception was that computer-controlled robotics and automation systems can only perform simple manual labour tasks.

While this may be true to a large extent, Moravec’s paradox shows that this is not the whole story, and that, in fact, computers are more suited to high-level intellectual jobs. Which seems obvious when you think about it, or get your robot to think about it. However, neither the hardware nor the software has been available to demonstrate the implications of the paradox on a large scale, until now.

Alexander Khaytin, chief operating officer, Yandex Data Factory
Alexander Khaytin, chief operating officer, Yandex Data Factory

At least some of these views are shared by Alexander Khaytin, chief operating officer at the Yandex Data Factory. According to Khaytin, the gradual move to Industry 4.0 requires rethinking of the full implications of new, artificial intelligence-based technologies.

In exclusive comments to Robotics and Automation News, Khaytin makes the observation that many intellectual tasks are already undertaken by AI systems.

“When we talk about automation, it is often associated with robots performing manual tasks, replacing humans on the assembly line and so on,” says Khaytin.  Continue reading It’s not just factory jobs the robots are after – it’s your intellectual jobs too

The IoT – with Chinese characteristics

iot network illustration

Exclusive interview with Erik Walenza-Slabe, CEO of IoT ONE

Apparently, we are all either living in the Age of Industry 4.0 already, or we are entering it. And one of the main features of this age is a relatively new connectivity technology called the “internet of things”, often abbreviated to IoT.

The IoT is, as you might imagine or know, a network of “things”. These things can be computers, industrial robots or any other type of robot, any device or appliance – anything that is a thing or a machine, which is why it’s also sometimes referred to as the machine-to-machine (M2M) network.

Perhaps it’s not a particularly accurate label for it, mainly because the IoT can be part of the general internet that we all know and use, in that it can use the same Ethernet cables and WiFi and whatever other connections there are available, although it’s thought M2M communications could mainly be carried through radio-frequency identification technology.  Continue reading The IoT – with Chinese characteristics

Technavio survey lists ‘world’s top four’ robot companies

industrial robot playing a vinyl record

Technavio has listed what it claims are the top four leading vendors in their recent global articulated robots market 2015-2019 report. This research report also lists numerous prominent vendors that are expected to impact the market during the forecast period.

Competitive vendor landscape

According to Bharath Kanniappan, lead research analyst at Technavio for robotics, “The top four vendors in the global articulated robots market concentrate on the development of application-specific and industry-specific articulated robots, which help them to have a competitive edge.”

ABB is the market leader in the global industrial robotics market. Fanuc is one of the leading industrial automation vendors and offers various industrial robots under its robotics business unit.  Continue reading Technavio survey lists ‘world’s top four’ robot companies

Tata to launch first Indian-made robot Brabo

tata brabo robot
Tata shows off its Brabo robot

In what is described as a major push for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Make In India campaign, Tal Manufacturing Solutions, a Tata Group company, is all set to launch first India-made robot Tata Brabo in the next two months.

To be showcased for the first time at the ongoing Make in India Week in Mumbai, Tata Brabo has been developed in-house by a team of six engineers. On its official website, the company has also invited one and all to “join the robolution”.

Anil Bhingurde, chief operating officer of Tal Manufacturing Solutions led the group of six engineers whose average age is 24 years. In May last year, Bhingurde had made a presentation on the company’s robotic venture to Ravikant, the chairman, and to the board of the company. Continue reading Tata to launch first Indian-made robot Brabo

The future of small and cooperative robotics, according to Mathias Wiklund of Comau

Mathias Wiklund, chief operating officer, Comau
Mathias Wiklund, chief operating officer, Comau

An interview with Mathias Wiklund, chief operating officer, Comau Robotics. ‘Bringing intelligent robotics to the market means combining ease of use with advanced performance.’

When did you join Comau?

I joined Comau in 2011 as the managing director for Comau Germany, and became the COO of the Robotics Business Unit in 2013. I’m also a member of the Comau Executive Committee.

Having spent most of my career living and working around the world, including Germany, Italy, Sweden, Thailand and the USA, I now enjoy splitting my time between Germany and Italy.  Continue reading The future of small and cooperative robotics, according to Mathias Wiklund of Comau

The delicate balance of costs versus productivity in industrial automation

cp automation dynamic

John Mitchell, business development manager at CP Automation, examines the essence of lean manufacturing

European manufacturers are estimated to spend over €400 billion every year on maintenance activities. Studies show that about 30 per cent of failed machinery can be repaired at half the cost of buying replacements, which suggests a potential 15 per cent saving. John Mitchell, business development manager at CP Automation, discusses the issues that stop manufacturers cutting costs and improving productivity – the essence of lean manufacturing.

Perhaps the first thing manufacturers should consider when addressing efficiency is keeping assets low.Manufacturers can easily eliminate excess inventory from their books, and thus get better return on net assets,simply by not purchasing the inventory until it’s needed. Methods of achieving this include Just in Time (JIT) inventory management, which is also sometimes called the Toyota Production System. Figures suggest thiscould result in a 60 billion saving in plants across Europe.

As a service and commissioning engineer, I’ve often turned up on site to help a customer with a breakdown, onlyto find a host of spares out of their antistatic packaging and a confused client, not knowing whether or not the spares were functional.  Continue reading The delicate balance of costs versus productivity in industrial automation

Investment in manufacturing robotics could boost British economy by £60bn within a decade, says Barclays

manufacturing in the uk

Investing an additional £1.2bn into manufacturing processes, to increase robotics and automation over the next decade, could add as much as £60.5bn to the UK economy over the next decade, forecasts new research from Barclays. This is equivalent to nearly two fifths of the manufacturing sector’s value to the economy today.

The “Future-proofing UK manufacturing” report reveals that investing in automation technology will help to increase the international competitiveness of the UK’s manufacturing sector through increased manufacturing productivity and efficiency. As a result of additional investment, the manufacturing sector will be worth £191bn in 2025, £8.6bn more than currently projected and a 19.6% increase on today.

Furthermore, increased investment in automation will help to soften the expected long-term decline in manufacturing sector jobs by safeguarding 73,500 additional workers in 2025, due to the creation of a larger, more productive and competitive UK manufacturing sector. Continue reading Investment in manufacturing robotics could boost British economy by £60bn within a decade, says Barclays

Siemens provides close-up view of its electronics manufacturing plant, where the lines between human and robot workers are blurred

siemens robotic electronics factory
Picture: At Siemens’ Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Erlangen, Germany, the company has devised new concepts for highly flexible manufacturing systems using lightweight robots and 3D printers.

Simulation, 3D printing, lightweight robots – these are some of the innovative technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or Industry 4.0. And they are already a reality at Siemens’ Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Erlangen, Germany. A key reason for the success of this plant is that people and machines work hand in hand.

siemens robotic electronics factory
Employees at Siemens’ Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Erlangen have the freedom to try out innovative ideas and turn them into successful projects.

Schorsch assembles small converters. Hannes does the big ones; he inserts a fan and a heat sink in the housing and fastens them with four screws – several hundred times a day. When Hannes takes a break, Schorsch keeps on working unwaveringly.

When Hannes goes home, Schorsch goes on working. Hannes is a temporary factory worker. Schorsch is a lightweight robot. Continue reading Siemens provides close-up view of its electronics manufacturing plant, where the lines between human and robot workers are blurred