You could be seeing things that aren’t there: Google Glass finds new home in old industries

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On the left is an assembly engine manual that GE’s mechanics used to consult. Now they use Glass Enterprise Edition on the right. Picture: Google X

About four years ago, when Google first showed off its Glass product – a pair of hi-tech spectacles capable of running augmented reality apps – it was met with some scepticism, incredulity even. 

Few people thought it would take off, as interesting as the idea was. Maybe people generally couldn’t see themselves walking around wearing glasses which could be seen as intrusive.

Theoretically, Google Glass could display images on pretty much everything and everyone you looked at while wearing them – and would people in your eyeline appreciate that?  Continue reading You could be seeing things that aren’t there: Google Glass finds new home in old industries

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

Americans positive about future of manufacturing but wouldn’t want to work in it

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Americans are optimistic about the future of manufacturing despite saying they wouldn’t want to work in the sector. 

The US manufacturing industry suffers from an important image problem that undermines its competitiveness, says a new opinion survey by Deloitte and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Only 50 per cent of Americans think manufacturing jobs are interesting and less than 30 per cent are likely to encourage their children to pursue a career.  Continue reading Americans positive about future of manufacturing but wouldn’t want to work in it

Electric cars will change the way industrial robots are used in manufacturing, says Fanuc boss

fanuc flow drilling robot

With Volvo’s decision to go all electric in its future vehicles, combined with the French government’s decision to ban sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and similar moves in Germany, the automotive industry is preparing for a tectonic shift in the manufacturing landscape. 

The way electric cars are made already differ considerably now, and new techniques will take the production of the new vehicles further away from traditional methods.

An interesting insight into the future was offered by a senior executive at the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturer, who suggested that electric cars are highly likely to fundamentally change the way industrial robots are used.  Continue reading Electric cars will change the way industrial robots are used in manufacturing, says Fanuc boss

BMW and General Electric invest in Xometry manufacturing marketplace

 

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An online marketplace which offers custom-manufactured parts using 3D printing and machine learning to generate instant price quotes has raised $15 million in its latest funding round. 

Relatively new startup company Xometry – which rhymes with geometry and is pronounced zometry – has raised a total of $38 million since it was established in 2013.

The company already generates approximately $20 million in annual revenue and has hundreds of providers and more than 5,000 customers.  Continue reading BMW and General Electric invest in Xometry manufacturing marketplace

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

US manufacturing faces possible pitfalls and severe declines, says report

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Picture credit: LeHighValley.com via GlobalTradeMag.com

The US manufacturing sector faces numerous possible pitfalls and some risk of severe declines, according to a new report by Creditsafe USA.

The in-depth analysis of the US manufacturing industry says that, despite recent overall consistent performance, there are “several areas of concern” across the entire sector. In particular, the rate of bankruptcy signaling the possibility of an industry slowdown.

With the manufacturing industry being the largest area of employment in the US, any decline could have a “catastrophic effect” on the overall US economy, says Creditsafe.  Continue reading US manufacturing faces possible pitfalls and severe declines, says report

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

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

China’s enthusiasm for robots and electric cars creating oversupply of clean technology

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A jade-polishing robot produced by the HIT Robot Group, one of China’s largest robot makers

China’s enthusiasm for new technology, combined with its paranoia about being left behind in a globally intensifying high-tech competition, sometimes leads it to create small bubbles in its economy which may or may not dissipate in the disciplined manner in which the markets they encompass may have emerged in the first place. 

Two years ago, the government of the world’s most populous nation of 1.4 billion people launched a 10-year national plan to “transform China from a manufacturing giant into a world manufacturing power”, in the words of XinhuaNet, the state propaganda outlet.  Continue reading China’s enthusiasm for robots and electric cars creating oversupply of clean technology

Bosch to build gigantic semiconductor production plant in Germany

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German industrial giant Bosch is building a massive semiconductor production plant which would represent the single largest investment in the company’s 130-year history. 

The high-tech facility, to be located in Dresden, would employ around 700 staff working on 300-millimeter semiconductor chips which Bosch says has growing applications in the automotive market, smart cities and on the industrial internet, all strong markets for Bosch.

The construction of the high-tech factory is to be completed by the end of 2019, says Bosch, and production is expected to begin at the end of 2021 after a start-up phase. Overall, the investment volume for the site is estimated to be around $1.1 billion.  Continue reading Bosch to build gigantic semiconductor production plant in Germany

Yaskawa invests €4 million in production facility in Sweden, and partners with Midea in Asia

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Yaskawa facility in Torsås, Sweden. Picture credit: Yaskawa via Evertiq

Yaskawa is expanding its manufacturing operation in Sweden, according to a report on Evertiq.com.

One of the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturers, Yaskawa is investing a further €4 million into the plant at Torsås, Sweden.

The work will eventually expand the facility by 2,000 sq m and is expected to be completed by summer 2018.  Continue reading Yaskawa invests €4 million in production facility in Sweden, and partners with Midea in Asia

ABB puts YuMi collaborative industrial robot to work making wall sockets at its factory in Holland

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The dual-armed ABB YuMi robots shown at the company’s plant in Ede, the Netherlands

ABB has installed three YuMi robots on a new production line at its electrification products plant in Ede, the Netherlands.

Designed for use in small parts assembly, the three YuMi robots will assemble a new cavity wall socket called HW52-F.

ABB says that, due to its “inherently safe” design, the YuMi collaborative dual arm robot solution will ensure the safety of those around it and elevate the nature of work at the plant by performing repetitive tasks to perfection.  Continue reading ABB puts YuMi collaborative industrial robot to work making wall sockets at its factory in Holland

Why automated parts inspection is important in manufacturing

precision ball actuators

Inspection in manufacturing is a process that involves the testing, gauging, measuring, and examination of a material or specimen, with the express purpose of determining whether or not it is in proper condition.

Typically, specified standards are set, against which the results of the inspection are compared to establish if the material being inspected is able to pass this stage of quality control.

In the past, inspection used to be performed solely by human agents, a special workforce that was commonly equipped with the necessary paraphernalia, and sometimes, simply by their bare senses.  Continue reading Why automated parts inspection is important in manufacturing