Capturing this week's trending industry 4.0 and emerging industrial technology media
Delivering the US manufacturing renaissance
A strong manufacturing economy unlocks important employment and advancement opportunities—a factor set to grow in significance if current job market pressures ease. Manufacturing is the main economic engine and primary employer in around 500 US counties today, and in those communities, the industry employs a broader-than-average swath of the overall population and does so more inclusively. In most cases, employees don’t need four-year degrees, and they can earn twice as much as those holding equivalent service-sector jobs, as employers invest in upskilling and reskilling their current workers by offering expanded learning opportunities. Our analysis suggests that reviving manufacturing could add up to 1.5 million jobs, particularly among middle-skill workers, which would help recalibrate the US labor market and bolster the middle class.
Any reinvigoration of US manufacturing will also require reinvention. Around the world, companies are taking a fresh look at the paradigms that have dominated the industry’s evolution for decades, with the aim of making manufacturing more sustainable, more digital, more skilled, and more resilient.
MiR250 at Wuhan Institute of Shipbuilding Technology
Amazon’s Janus framework lifts continual learning to the next level
“The problem with machine learning is that models must adapt to continually changing data conditions,” says Cassie Meeker, an Amazon Robotics applied scientist who is an expert user of Amazon’s continuous learning system. “Amazon is a global company — the types of packages we ship and the distribution of these packages changes frequently. Our models need to adapt to these changes while maintaining high performance. To do this, we require continual learning.” To get there, Meeker’s team created a new learning system—a framework powerful and smart enough to adapt to distribution shifts in real time.
Enabling the Factory of the Future
Automation is an equalizer and is spawning a rapidly growing trend that’s advancing the use of robots to smaller factories. Manufacturers using Robotics as a Service (RaaS) gain the benefits of robotic process automation by leasing robotic devices and accessing a cloud-based subscription service rather than purchasing the equipment. Digi-Key’s state-of-the-art distribution facility, the new Product Distribution Center Expansion (PDCe), is held up as a prime example of a factory of the future.
What are the challenges around using additive manufacturing for production?
“A lack of workflow automation is just one factor affecting the relatively low throughput of current AM technologies. But, relatively high maintenance requirements also leads to an untenably low uptime of the capital equipment. Until real and reliable automation can be integrated into the end-to-end workflow, serial production with AM technologies will be limited to relatively low-volume production.”
Automation comes up frequently. Additive is a complex, multi-step process with several touch points along the way from setting up process parameters to material handling to the often-manual task of support removal. But automation comes with its own challenges. “Currently, it is more cost-effective for brands to mix and match production of parts between a number of big and small industry players,” Davey explained. “This makes automating the entire physical and digital flow much more difficult because integration can be complex. There are many nuances, such as geometries and post- processing requirements to name a few, that must be considered.”
An integrated approach to optimising inter-warehouse transportation for more efficient supply chains
From our study, we proposed an algorithm to solve the integrated problem of identifying consolidation warehouses, optimising transshipment between consolidation warehouses, and scheduling the pickup and delivery of commodities to and from the consolidation points. The algorithm is based on a multi-armed bandit approach and iterates between solving the three problems WCP, SNDP, and PDP, until convergence to a global solution.
Novel Predictive Tool Tests the Durability of Composite Materials
Field experts will assess the extent of the aircraft damage using ultrasound equipment. This information will be used by Davidson’s developed predictive tool for computational tests to calculate the composite structure’s operating life and failure risk. The study also seeks to provide answers to the issues of what repairs are necessary, how long it will take to complete those repairs, and whether the aircraft is now safe to fly.
“The data obtained from the field teams is often incomplete. I’m infilling missing data using machine learning and computational tools to determine composite life, durability and safety. We’ll do the impacts and stress tests on the aircraft composites virtually,” Davidson adds.
Tracking this week's major mergers, partnerships, and funding events in manufacturing and supply chain
Divert seeks to scale food waste prevention tech, recycling platform with $100M investment
Divert, a Massachusetts-based technology company focused on mitigating food waste, announced last week its retail customer base has grown by 40% in the last two years to more than 5,200 stores across all 50 states — including among five Fortune 100 companies. The company currently has six modular sites with depackaging capabilities to prepare material for third-party organics processing, plus two existing anaerobic digesters in California and Massachusetts. Divert is developing three more digesters in California, Pennsylvania and Washington that will produce renewable natural gas. The company was founded in 2007 but has largely kept a low profile. Last year, Divert was acquired by private equity firm Ara Partners and received $100 million in growth equity.