Capturing this week's zeitgeist
“For yet another month in 2022, and now for the whole year, we can report that while orders were down, the manufacturing technology industry is doing great,” said Patrick W. McGibbon, chief knowledge officer at AMT. “The industry recorded its third-best year in 2022. Despite the reduction in orders from 2021, it is hard to find a negative story about the manufacturing technology industry. The recession that pundits have been predicting for months is now being termed a ‘rolling recession,’ where some industries grow while others contract at different rates. We in the manufacturing industry call that business as usual, and 2022 proved no different.”
This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media
👚 Look at Shein from the perspective of a Recommender Systems researcher and a B2B SaaS builder
Shein uses digital signals such as likes, views, and purchases to drive its recommendation system, which is directly linked to its production and stock management. In contrast, traditional brick-and-mortar businesses receive feedback mostly offline. This allows Shein to introduce 10,000 of new products daily, even before they are manufactured. According to information found online, the company takes 5-7 days to produce an item and maintains a 15-20 day inventory safety stock, compared to the industry standard of 90-plus days at 3x to 6x the safety stock.
In the body shop, stamped parts & chassis castings are welded together by 600+ robots. Each car body is then lifted into the paint shop by one of the largest industrial robots ever, named Godzilla pic.twitter.com/n5jGXhmLkB— Tesla (@Tesla) February 13, 2023
Companies Are Slow to Adopt Robot-Operated ‘Dark’ Warehouses
More than a fifth of warehouse operators have invested in automation to help address labor shortages, particularly as they worked to handle surging e-commerce orders during the pandemic. Some companies are exploring full automation that requires few employees. These “lights out” or “dark” warehouses—called so because robots don’t need as much lighting as humans—require sizable upfront costs, however, and still face the limitations of robotic technology, including the ability to pick up different kinds of items deftly.
🔋🖨️ Sakuu Announces 3D-Printed Solid-State Battery Success
On February 16, Sakuu announced it has successfully and consistently manufactured 3D-printed fully functional batteries in custom shapes and sizes in a fully dry process at its Silicon Valley battery pilot line facility since December of last year. These batteries cells contain patterned openings for thermal management.
The company says in its announcement shared with CleanTechnica that this marks a first of its kind recorded manufacturing achievement and is an important step towards Sakuu’s planned commercial scale production of next-generation SwiftPrint batteries, including solid-state batteries, from its Kavian platform in gigafactories worldwide.
🖨️ Design of additively manufactured moulds for expanded polymers
The traditional tools used in steam-chest moulding technologies for the shaping of expanded polymers can be replaced today by lighter moulds, accurately designed and produced exploiting the additive manufacturing technology. New paradigms have to be considered for mould design, assuming that additive manufacturing enables the definition of different architectures that are able to improve the performance of the moulding process. This work describes the strategies adopted for the design and manufacturing by Laser powder bed fusion of the moulds, taking into specific consideration their functional surfaces, which rule the heat transfer to the moulded material, hence the quality of the products and the overall performance of the steam-chest process. The description of a case study and the comparison between the performance of the traditional solution and the new moulds are also presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new approach. This study demonstrates that the re-design and optimization of the mould shape can lead to a significant reduction of the energy demand of the process, thanks to a homogeneous delivery of the heating steam throughout the part volume, which also results in a remarkable cutting of the cycle time.
Weekly mergers, partnerships, and funding events across industrial value chains
Sif takes Final Investment Decision to Construct the World’s Largest Monopile Foundation Manufacturing Plant
Sif Holding N.V. (“Sif” or the “Company”) today announces its €328 million Final Investment Decision (“FID”) to construct the world’s largest monopile foundation manufacturing plant in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Construction is expected to start in April 2023. The upgraded manufacturing plant will significantly increase the total combined capacity of Sif to 500 kilotons a year and upgrade Sif’s capabilities to manufacture the equivalent of 200 XXXL, 11 meter diameter, 2,500 tons reference monopile foundations a year.
Third Wave Automation Announces Strategic Investment from Qualcomm Ventures and Zebra Technologies
Third Wave Automation (TWA), provider of high-reach autonomous forklifts, today announced a strategic investment by Qualcomm Ventures and Zebra Technologies, bringing total funding to $70 million. The strategic investment will enable TWA to accelerate new innovations as its first product expands its select pilot program. With the funding, TWA plans to expand its market offerings, accelerate new solutions for automating other classes of forklifts, including narrow aisle and counterbalance trucks and integrate with automation solutions, such as Fetch Robotics, which is now part of Zebra Technologies.
Apkudo Secures $37.5 Million in Series C Funding, Accelerating Growth of its Circular Industry Platform for Connected Devices
Apkudo, the leader in supply chain automation for connected devices, announced today that they have closed $37.5 million in Series C funding in an oversubscribed round co-led by Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund and Piper Sandler Merchant Banking with the participation from new and existing investors including MissionOG, Harbert Growth, Grotech Ventures, Lavrock Ventures, and Point Field Partners. During 2022, Apkudo continued its rapid growth and doubled revenue as industry players increasingly looked for ways to simplify and optimize their forward and reverse logistics for connected devices like mobile phones, tablets, laptops, wearables and other products. The company will use the funds to further expand their commercial and technical operations, as well as their international presence.
Sustainability Ai Tech Start-Up QiO Technologies Secures $10m to Help Energy-Intensive Businesses Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Costs
QiO Technologies, an AI sustainability tech start-up which supports energy-intensive businesses to deliver rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and energy costs, has closed a $10m Series B funding round from WAVE Equity Partners, a leading impact investment firm based in Boston, USA. QiO will use this funding to expand its operations in USA and Europe, enhance the capabilities of its Foresight Sustainability Suite™, and accelerate customer acquisition in sectors which face the biggest challenges in achieving net zero GHG emissions.
Prevu3D Raises $10 Million US to Accelerate the Development and Deployment of Its Industrial Digital Twin Software Solution
Prevu3D, the industry-leading provider of 3D digital twin technology, today announced the closing of a $10 million US Series A funding round led by Cycle Capital, a leading growth stage climate tech venture capital firm that supports the development of innovative technologies and contributes towards climate change mitigation and advancing the transition to a net-zero economy. The round also includes funding from previous Prevu3D investors, Brightspark Ventures and Desjardins Capital. The new funding will enable Prevu3D to build on its longstanding vision of reimagining the physical world, extending and accelerating the deployment of its 3D digital twin platform for industrial environments.
Zurich-based UNISERS bags €13M to help semiconductor fabrication plants eliminate contaminations
UNISERS, a developer of wafer inspection and particle detection solutions for semiconductor materials, announced on Thursday that it has secured $14M (approximately €13M) in a Seed round of funding led by Intel Capital. The capital will enable UNISERS to accelerate the delivery of its commercial products to customers by 2023.
Trace Space's plan for AI industrial software raises the founders $1.5 million — all without an MVP
The Latvian company creates AI-powered tools specifically for industrial and automotive product manufacturing to manage 80 percent of the product development lifecycle, helping them build and deliver new products to the market faster. We’re in a world filled with modern productivity tools like Slack, Miro, and Figma. But engineering projects still mainly run on outdated enterprise software with outdated UX, monolithic architecture, and hefty annual licence fees.