Lights-out, Automated Production & Recovery with Machine Learning

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Assembly Line

Capturing this week's trending industry 4.0 and emerging industrial technology media

Automatically Weaving the Digital Thread in 3D Printing with Oqton

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Author: Michael Molitch-Hou

Topics: Additive Manufacturing

Organizations: Oqton

In the case of dental aligners, which rely on patient-specific 3D printed molds, the Manufacturing OS plays an integral role in enabling lights-out, automated production. Schrauwen explained that the Oqton Manufacturing OS “manages everything from scheduling to nesting to build preparation, managing the machines, tracking failures, tracking the CNC, trimming, laser marking—everything.”

By being integrated into every aspect of the production process, the Oqton Manufacturing OS offers benefits aside from AI-based automation. Specifically, it enables traceability for such highly regulated fields as medicine, aerospace/military, and oil and gas. Unlike some other MES providers, Oqton built material traceability into the core of its software because it wanted to target highly regulated industries early on. With this built-in traceability, fields that require a full accounting of a manufactured item can log into the Oqton Manufacturing OS to get a full report about a part all the way down to the sensor values and oxygen concentration thresholds used on the printer while it was being printed.

Read more at 3DPrint.com

Walgreens Turns to Prescription-Filling Robots to Free Up Pharmacists

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Author: Sharon Terlep

Topics: Industrial Robot, Warehouse Automation, BOPIS

Organizations: Walgreens, iA

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is turning to robots to ease workloads at drugstores as it grapples with a nationwide shortage of pharmacists and pharmacist technicians.

The nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain is setting up a network of automated, centralized drug-filling centers that could fill a city block. Rows of yellow robotic arms bend and rotate as they sort and bottle multicolored pills, sending them down conveyor belts. The company says the setup cuts pharmacist workloads by at least 25% and will save Walgreens more than $1 billion a year.

The ultimate goal: give pharmacists more time to provide medical services such as vaccinations, patient outreach and prescribing of some medications. Those services are a relatively new and growing revenue stream for drugstores, which are increasingly able to bill insurers for some clinical services.

Read more at Wall Street Journal (Paid)

AI Driven Vision Inspection Automation for Forged Connecting Rods

CircularNet: Reducing waste with Machine Learning

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Authors: Robert Little, Umair Sabir

Topics: Sustainability, Machine Learning, Convolutional Neural Network

Organizations: Google

The facilities where our waste and recyclables are processed are called “Material Recovery Facilities” (MRFs). Each MRF processes tens of thousands of pounds of our societal “waste” every day, separating valuable recyclable materials like metals and plastics from non-recyclable materials. A key inefficiency within the current waste capture and sorting process is the inability to identify and segregate waste into high quality material streams. The accuracy of the sorting directly determines the quality of the recycled material; for high-quality, commercially viable recycling, the contamination levels need to be low. Even though the MRFs use various technologies alongside manual labor to separate materials into distinct and clean streams, the exceptionally cluttered and contaminated nature of the waste stream makes automated waste detection challenging to achieve, and the recycling rates and the profit margins stay at undesirably low levels.

Enter what we call “CircularNet”, a set of models that lowers barriers to AI/ML tech for waste identification and all the benefits this new level of transparency can offer. Our goal with CircularNet is to develop a robust and data-efficient model for waste/recyclables detection, which can support the way we identify, sort, manage, and recycle materials across the waste management ecosystem.

Read more at Tensorflow Blog

Colgate-Palmolive’s 40-year old veteran who’s just getting started

2022 Assembly Plant of the Year: Continuous Improvement Culture Thrives at Brose

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Author: Austin Weber

Vertical: Automotive

Organizations: Brose

The complex world inside a car door or under a seat is Brose’s domain. The $7 billion Tier One supplier does business with just about every automaker in the world. Customers include legacy firms ranging from Audi to Volkswagen, in addition to startup electric vehicle manufacturers such as Lucid and Rivian. One of Brose Group’s most important facilities is its 18-year-old assembly plant in Vance, AL, which generates more than $400 million in annual revenue. The 302,000-square-foot factory is strategically located between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, near Daimler’s sprawling Mercedes-Benz assembly plant that produces sport utility vehicles.

“During the last three years, we have conducted numerous process improvements and implemented procedures to reduce our plant costs and improve our overall quality,” says Jim Barbaretta, plant manager. “We have improved productivity and production costs by 25 percent over the last four years. “We also improved our productivity by 14 percent and have achieved an average continuous improvement savings of more than $2 million annually,” adds Barbaretta.

Read more at ASSEMBLY Magazine

Waymo and C.H. Robinson: Moving goods safely

Leveraging Operations Data to Achieve 3%-5% Baseline Productivity Gains with Normalized KPIs

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Author: Steve Beamer

Topics: Manufacturing Analytics

Organizations: Element Analytics

Traditional code-based data models are too cumbersome, cost prohibitive and resource intensive to support an enterprise data model. In a code-based environment, it can take six months just to write and test the code to bring a single plant’s operating data into alignment with enterprise data pipelines. By contrast, a no-code solution like the Element Unify platform allows all IT/OT/ET data sources to be quickly tagged and brought into an Asset Hierarchy. The timeframe for a single plant to bring their operating data into alignment with the enterprise data architecture and data pipelines drops from 6 months to 2 to 4 weeks.

Read more at Element Analytics Blog

Capital Expenditure

Tracking this week's major mergers, partnerships, and funding events in manufacturing and supply chain

Electra raises $85M to electrify and decarbonize iron and steelmaking with no green premium

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Topics: Funding Event

Organizations: Electra, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Amazon, BHP Ventures, Temasek

Electra, a green iron company, has raised $85 million to produce Low-Temperature Iron (LTI) from commercial and low-grade ores using zero-carbon intermittent electricity. Electra’s process emits zero carbon dioxide emissions and carries zero green premium, meaning it will cost the same or less than existing production methods powered by fossil fuels.

Electra, founded by entrepreneurs with decades of experience developing complex electrochemical systems, has created a novel process to electrochemically refine iron ore into pure iron at 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) using renewable electricity and then convert the iron to steel using the existing infrastructure of electricity-powered arc furnaces. By comparison, 69% of steel today is made at approximately 1,600 degrees Celsius (2,912 degrees Fahrenheit) using coal, emitting about two tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of steel produced.

Read more at Businesswire

Plyable secures $3.2M investment to deliver their lightweight custom composite marketplace on a global scale

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Topics: Funding Event

Organizations: Plyable, Maven Capital Partners, Solvay

Plyable, award-winning, market-leading composite mold producer has now received a total of $4.25M investment to fund the growth of its time and significant cost-saving composite tooling solution.

The demand for composites is growing exponentially, with the incredible, rapid innovation seen in aerospace, electric vehicle and marine industries. Award winning, market-leading disruptor in composite tooling, Plyable’s impressive customer base spans all these sectors. This latest injection of investment will fund the growth of its time and cost-saving composite tooling solution, benefiting innovators, engineers and industry disruptors across the board.

Read more at Plyable News