Capturing this week's trending industry 4.0 and emerging industrial technology media
200-Year-Old Manufacturer Turns to Smart Technology to Drive Efficiency
Westley Plastics is a family-run business that specialises in taking engineering plastic products from concept and design to final manufacture, utilising its on-site design, casting and CNC machining facilities. It works across several heavy industrial sectors including construction, defence, automotive, rail and steel. The company operates 24 hours a day, but it wasn’t evident whether machine utilisation and productivity were consistent throughout any 24-hour period. It was agreed that greater visibility of the shop floor through machine monitoring would enable them to identify capacity and cycle times and help to focus the workforce on the processes that required and benefited most from their skills.
FourJaw’s manufacturing analytics platform, which works on machines of all types and ages, enabled the business to identify machine downtimes and understand the reasons behind the stoppages. Machine monitoring has also identified and improved cycle times. The team had previously discussed running two machines at the same time but didn’t think it could be done. However, the data from FourJaw revealed which machines could be run together – improving efficiency, productivity and job profitability.
Conveyor-Less Micro Factories for Urban Car Production
The automobile manufacturing value chain consists of a press shop, body shop, paint shop and assembly. The assembly process is different from other processes in terms of automation. The level of automation in press shops, body shops and paint shops is usually very high. Many are nearly 100 percent automated. However, final assembly is difficult to automate due to the complexity of the tasks and diversity of the parts.
One way to achieve mass individualization while maintaining various automation levels is to decouple final assembly from the value chain. The press shop, body shop and paint shop would continue as mass production centers in central locations, while final assembly would be carried out in separate micro factories located in urban areas. The assembly process does not need to be physically located with the other manufacturing processes. Instead, it can be moved to an urban area where the labor supply is elastic. Low-volume, high-mix production can be realized with this model.
An urban automotive assembly plant should be designed for maximum flexibility, minimal capital investment and asynchronous production. That points away conveyors and favors autonomous transport technologies. Two options are available: autonomous mobile robots (AMR) and VaaC. AMRs are vehicles that are equipped with on-board sensors to autonomously move vehicles or materials along predefined paths without the need for magnetic tapes on the floor. In VaaC, the EV guides itself through the assembly process. A sensor skid, temporarily attached under the EV, guides the EV based on local sensing and communication with a high-level fleet management system. The skid is designed to be easily removed at the end of the assembly. The skid body has a set of pins that temporarily engage with locating holes in the underbody. The skid is equipped with numerous sensors that detect objects around the EV.
How Boeing Uses Cloud Native
“Being able to leverage the best technologists out there in the rest of the world is of great value to us strategically,” Torres, chief engineer of open source and cloud native for Boeing, said. This strategy allows Boeing to “differentiate on what we do as our core business rather than having to reinvent the wheel all the time on all of the technology.”
Like many other large companies, Boeing has created an open source office to better work with the open source community. Although Boeing is primarily a consumer of open source software, it still wants to work with the community. “We want to make sure that we have a strategy around how we contribute back to the open source community, and then leverage those learnings for inner sourcing,” he said.
Pretty cool. Ajinomoto, known best for selling MSG seasoning, has redirected its work with amino acids to become a leading manufacturer of insulation for semiconductors. Stock is up 21% this year to a record high. https://t.co/rvmnciW05n pic.twitter.com/SeH3rjA3Cj— Mike Bird (@Birdyword) November 30, 2022
AI In-situ Monitoring Detects Fusion Flaws in L-PBF Metal 3D Printing
In-situ process monitoring is the key for validating the quality of AM-made parts and minimizing the need for post quality control. In this collaborative research, in-situ datasets collected from a co-axial photodiode installed in an EOS M 290 were subject to a set of correction factors to remove chromatic and monochromatic distortions from the signal. The corrected datasets were then analyzed using statistical and machine learning algorithms. These algorithms were systematically tuned and customized to detect lack of fusion flaws.
Computing With Chemicals Makes Faster, Leaner AI
A device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.
A commercial ECRAM chip that accelerates AI training is still some distance away. The devices can now be made of foundry-friendly materials, but that’s only part of the story, says John Rozen, program director at the IBM Research AI Hardware Center. “A critical focus of the community should be to address integration issues to enable ECRAM devices to be coupled with front-end transistor logic monolithically on the same wafer, so that we can build demonstrators at scale and establish if it is indeed a viable technology.”
Ignos by Aarbakke is pioneering Smart Factory as a Service
Brick and iron heat battery for zero-carbon industrial processes
The company’s so-called “brick toaster” heat battery stores intermittent generation from renewable energy resources like solar and wind, able to hold stored heat energy at temperatures up to 1,500 degrees Celsius for hours or days at a time. The zero-carbon solution supports manufacturing processes such as steel, cement and chemical manufacturing, as well as low-temperature food processing.
Tracking this week's major mergers, partnerships, and funding events in manufacturing and supply chain
Anduril Raises $1.48 Billion in Series E Funding
Defense technology company Anduril Industries today announced $1.48 billion in Series E funding, valuing the company at $8.48 billion, nearly doubling the company’s previous valuation in June 2021. The new funding will enable Anduril to accelerate research and development to bring new, cutting edge, autonomous defense capabilities to the market and continue to mature and scale its current business lines with the US Department of Defense as well as US allies and partners.
The problems US and allied militaries are facing are fundamentally software problems. To continue to enable the US, allies and partners to deter adversaries, Anduril is building software-defined and hardware-enabled capabilities that solve mission needs with autonomy, today. Autonomous systems will enable the military to operate faster and at greater scale across both tactical and strategic operations.
Locus Robotics Announces $117 million in Series F Funding, Bringing its Valuation Close to $2 Billion
Locus Robotics, a leader in autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for fulfillment and distribution warehouses, today announced more than $117 million in Series F funding, led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and G2 Venture Partners. As part of the financing, Mark Midle, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs, and Zach Barasz, Partner, G2 Venture Partners, will join the Locus Board of Directors, bringing their unique industry perspectives and insights to further guide Locus’s next stage of growth and global expansion.
The Locus warehouse execution platform disrupts large-scale warehouse fulfillment and distribution with an industry-leading, intelligent, and dynamically scalable robotics-driven solution. Locus delivers 2X-3X productivity by seamlessly coordinating both human labor and AMRs to dramatically improve order fulfillment efficiency and workplace ergonomics, while lowering operational costs.
Specialty chemicals startup Covvalent raises $4.3 million in seed funding from Nexus VP, others
Gurugram-based startup Covvalent, which operates in the B2B speciality chemicals space, has raised $4.3 million in a seed funding round led by Nexus Venture Partners. The startup, founded this year by IIT Kharagpur alumni Sandeep Singh and Arush Dhawan, operates as a tech-enabled managed marketplace for speciality chemicals such as pigments, resins, additives, binders and polymers.
RailVision Raises US$4MM in Seed Funding to Lower Fuel Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Railway Industry
RailVision Analytics, the company powering the railway industry into a new era of cleantech, announced today it has closed a US$4 million (CAD$5.5 million) seed funding round from investors that back entrepreneurs building the future of transportation. The investment – which was more than two times oversubscribed – was led by Trucks Venture Capital with participation from new investors MUUS Climate Partners, Blackhorn Ventures, Incite.org, and Measured Ventures, and returning investors Active Impact Investments and Neil Murdoch. RailVision will use the funding for technical hiring, to grow its product development team, and to expand its product line and customer base.
Accenture and Siemens: Tackling industrial machinery challenges through Intelligent Service and Asset Lifecycle (ISAL)
The industrial machinery industry is being transformed by global supply chain disruptions, changes to equipment practices and a push for greater sustainability. Executives seeking to adapt to the shifting landscape need reliable partners and world-class solutions.
Accenture and Siemens can partner with industrial machinery manufacturers to help manage this period of transformation. This post discusses trends in the sector, the Intelligent Service and Asset Lifecycle (ISAL) solution and the role Accenture and Siemens play to support a new direction for industrial machinery companies.