Tales of Hands On Robotic Automation
Capturing this week's zeitgeist
From “What Should a Manufacturer Do if its Bank Fails?”
When three major financial institutions collapsed last week, it sent reverberations throughout the financial world. Not only were typical household customers scrambling to access their money, but many small-business owners were left in the lurch, until the FDIC stepped in Sunday to ensure all deposits at the banks would be covered.
- If your bank fails, communicate with your customers and suppliers immediately. Be transparent.
- Consider sharing your story on social media. It could bring unexpected support from a pro-active lender.
- If your bank is in trouble, start forming new banking relationships immediately rather than waiting for a regulatory fix.
- Be proactive: cultivate relationships with investors in your community.
- Have short-term liquidity solutions in your investment plan, as there may not be much time to react to a bank collapse.
- If you can avoid it, don’t put all your cash in a single bank.
In the 8th annual “State of Smart Manufacturing Report” by Rockwell Automation and Plex:
The world has changed, and manufacturing has changed with it, but there is more to do. Skilled labor – and labor of any kind – continues to be elusive across the globe. As manufacturers continue to seek opportunities for profitable growth, they’re finding that uncertainty in workforce availability is impacting quality, along with their ability to meet their customers’ needs and transform at pace. They are addressing this impact by using technology to extract data from their operations and assemble actionable insights. We are also seeing how technology is helping the industry accelerate their agility and competitive differentiation.
The clear message coming from this report is that manufacturers view technology as an advantage for improving quality, agility, innovation, and to attract the next generation of talent. Manufacturers expect to mitigate risk through technology tied to processes and people to build resiliency and drive future success.
It was great having @AddMfgMedia here today and showing them around our new factory! Here they are, in front of one of our printer cartridges. @AMPeterZelinski is in deep thought while @AM_StephanieH takes copious notes pic.twitter.com/XXJro0Dw4t— Seurat Technologies (@SeuratTech) March 16, 2023
This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media
🦾 How to Make a Cost-effective Flexible Robotic Solution for Low-volume Production
Despite its process flexibility, the unified cell is still a production system that requires a level of investment that might not be the best suited for scenarios where one wants to produce short production runs of products that don’t share common applications (e.g. joining equipment) therefore require reconfiguration of its applications for every production run. To address this problem, we need a production system that can be reconfigured with multiple process capabilities while reusing as much equipment as possible to allow good utilisation of investment-heavy resources while meeting the machine safety directives and technical requirements.
By lessening the complexity of the hardware architecture, we can significantly increase the capabilities and ways of using the equipment that makes it financially efficient even for low-volume tasks. Moreover, the further development of the solution can be mostly in the software part, which is easier, faster and cheaper than hardware R&D. Having “chipset” architecture allows us to start using AI algorithms - a huge prospective.
🦾 From Simulation to Reality: A Tale of Robotic Heartache
It’s hard to imagine building any physical object without first fully designing, assembling, and even testing it on your computer. CAD/CAM tools and multi-physics simulations are readily available, allowing you to iterate quickly in the digital world rather than building N-prototypes of your widget and spending a lot of money trying to get it right. Validating a process in simulation is critical because there is very little margin for error on a real robot. Robots can be big, powerful beasts that will obediently destroy thousands of dollars of material just because you were off by 1 millimeter in your calculations. Not to mention the potential danger to personnel who happen to be near the robot during testing. So, the more we can simulate, the safer and more productive we will all be.
🦾 How to Address Tradeoffs in Robot Performance
Innovations in robotic automation have allowed manufacturers in countless industries to achieve higher throughput, improved quality, and safer working environments. But choosing a robot for an automation task often involves balancing tradeoffs between three key performance criteria: speed, payload, and precision. In other words, to achieve high precision, a user may have to sacrifice somewhat on the application’s speed and payload. Alternatively, if the robot’s payload is increased, the operating speed may need to be reduced. The underlying cause of these performance tradeoffs is vibration of the robot arm.
Smart Factory with TI TDA4VM
Knowing the status and health of factory machinery is critical to an organization’s success. It takes factory operator vigilance to regularly monitor equipment and take action if anomalous behavior is detected. However, it can be fatiguing for personnel to constantly monitor equipment, and if an issue is missed, weeks of downtime for costly repairs can be the result.
This is where the power of computer vision on the edge can be invaluable. Using a computer model trained to detect nominal and off-nominal behavior, operators can be alerted of issues, rather than having to be constantly on the lookout. And with the inferencing being done at the edge, privacy is maintained, and organizational leadership can breathe easy that perhaps sensitive images won’t be sent to the cloud for remote inferencing.
How to Balance Assembly Lines
“Line balancing connects the amount of labor to the production rate of demand in a precise manner via standardized work,” explains Smalley. “Supervisors at Toyota, for example, have to work with team leaders and team members to adjust manpower based upon calculations involving takt time and standardized work charts. This avoids not having enough operators on the production line when demand increases or excess labor on the line when demand decreases.”
“Line balancing is important, because it helps to achieve the lean goal of continuous flow,” explains Miller. “Imagine walking into a factory with an assembly line that’s supposed to manufacture a certain number of jobs in an hour. If the line is poorly balanced, some stations may become overwhelmed with work while others have idle time, leading to bottlenecks and delays. This can cause a build-up of WIP at one station, while another station may run out of parts or materials to work on.
🧑🏭 Industry 4.0 Technology and Manual Assembly
Digital work instructions, cobots, radio frequency identification (RFID), augmented reality (AR) and other Industry 4.0 technologies can help. These technologies are designed to provide cognitive and physical support to people on the assembly line. But, they’re not appropriate for every situation. How can engineers decide when such technologies are a worthwhile investment? We decided to come up with a methodology to help.
To evaluate various options, we propose the PROMETHEE method (preference ranking organization method for enrichment evaluation). Based on mathematics and sociology, the PROMETHEE method was invented in the 1980s. It has particular application in decision-making, and is used around the world in various decision scenarios in fields such as business, government, transportation, healthcare and education. Rather than pointing out a “right” decision, the PROMETHEE method helps decision-makers find the alternative that best suits their goals and understanding of the problem. It provides a comprehensive and rational framework for structuring a decision problem, identifying and quantifying its conflicts and synergies, and highlighting the main alternatives.
Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace keeps its Engines Running on Databricks Lakehouse
Pattern-Shaping System Speeds Up Chip Production
Applied Materials has introduced its new Centura Sculpta pattern-shaping system that promises to provide a cost-effective alternative to extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography double patterning used to print dense interconnect lines and vias. As a result, the solution can reduce the number of EUV steps, production complexity and costs while potentially improving yields.
To keep advancing transistor performance, power consumption and density, chipmakers must adopt more sophisticated process technologies with tighter critical dimensions. Usage of dual EUV exposure is inevitable to print smaller features with 3-nm, 2-nm and thinner nodes. But double EUV patterning is expensive, lengthy and resource-consuming.
Weekly mergers, partnerships, and funding events across industrial value chains
🦾 Nimble Robotics raises $65M to scale up its autonomous logistics fulfillment network
Nimble Robotics Inc., an autonomous logistics startup that’s aiming to reinvent the fulfillment center for small and medium-sized businesses, said today it has closed on a $65 million round of funding. Today’s Series B round was led by Cedar Pine and saw participation from existing backers DNS Capital, GSR Ventures, Breyer Capital and others, bringing the company’s total amount raised to $115 million.
Zeda, Inc. (Formerly PrinterPrezz / Vertex Manufacturing) Closes $52 Million Series B Financing Round
Zeda, Inc. (previously PrinterPrezz / Vertex Manufacturing), a global leader in advanced 3D manufacturing and nanotech solutions for the medical, space, aerospace, and defense industries, closed a $52 million equity and debt financing for a total capital raise of $68 million to date. The Series B round included participation by multiple new institutional and strategic investors, including Michelin, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (a Mitsubishi Chemical Group company), and Fives Group. It was jointly led by existing investors: Boutique Venture Partners, Berkeley Catalyst Fund, DOV Management, and Solvay Ventures. The company will primarily use the proceeds to fund its new advanced manufacturing digital foundry in Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as expand our facilities globally to address the growth in demand for metal 3D printing in the medical, aerospace, defense, space, and energy applications as well as expansion into the Asian market for its medical implant applications.
Verity raises $32M in Series B funding to accelerate rollout of autonomous inventory drone system
Verity AG (Verity), creators of the first commercially successful inventory tracking solution powered by fully autonomous indoor drones, today announced completion of a 30M CHF ($32M USD) Series B funding round. The investment was led by A.P. Moller Holding with participation from Exor Ventures and existing and new investors. This funding allows Verity to quickly scale up operations to address the growing backlog of deployments with systems already installed in 30 sites across 13 countries on 3 continents.
ScoutCam Closes $14 Million Private Placement
ScoutCam (OTCQB: SCTC), a leading provider of Predictive Maintenance (PdM) and Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) solutions, today announced that it has completed a private placement to existing stockholders, of 3,294,117 units, at a purchase price of $4.25 per unit, with each unit consisting of one share of the Company’s common stock and one three-year warrant to purchase one share of the Company’s common stock at an exercise price of $5.50 per share, pursuant to the terms of Stock Purchase Agreements entered into on March 16, 2023. Gross proceeds from the private placement of approximately $14 million are expected to be used for working capital and general corporate purposes, including to further advance the Company’s innovative products and technology in the fields of Predictive Maintenance and Condition Based Monitoring, critical pillars of Industry 4.0.
Germany-based Intelligent fluids bags €10M for its sustainable industrial cleaning fluids
Leipzig-based Intelligent fluids (IFC), a deeptech scale-up that designs high-performance cleaning fluids, announced on Wednesday that it has raised €10M in a Series B round of funding. The round was led by the US-based WAVE Equity Partners, a sustainability fund. Existing institutional investors High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and IBG Sachsen-Anhalt also participated in this round. IFC says it will use the funds to increase its workforce, boost production at its German facility, and start its expansion into international markets by establishing manufacturing facilities in the US, India, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Taiwan.
AG5 raises €6 million from Headline, Peak to save the manufacturing industry from Excel
AG5, the SaaS platform used to map and track employees’ skills and qualifications, has raised €6 million in a new round of investment. Last year, the company received €1.2 million from tech investor Peak. Since then, AG5 has grown exponentially, and its annual revenue has tripled. Now, together with SaaS experts Headline and Acadian Ventures, Peak is investing in AG5 once more.
AG5’s SaaS solution offers the first interface organizations can use to map and track employees’ skills that is directly linked to production lines. It delivers scalable capacity planning and insights for audits and training programs to industries that still rely on Excel, or pen and paper. AG5’s plug-and-play software solution simplifies skills management with intuitive, appealing, and sharable skill matrices. AG5’s clients report an 80% reduction in audit preparation times and 15% savings on employee training budgets.
Blinto raises €10.6 million for machinery platform
Swedish firm Blinto raised €10.6 million as it looks to enhance its machinery selling platform technology and expand across European markets. Blinto provides a sustainable solution which extends the lifetime of construction machines, utility vehicles and tools that would otherwise go to landfill. The investment came from sustainability investors Verdane.
🦾 Rockwell Automation Announces Strategic Investment in READY Robotics and Collaboration to Streamline Robot Implementation
Rockwell Automation, Inc., the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation, announced today a strategic investment in READY Robotics, a pioneering company in software-defined automation and a Rockwell Technology Partner.
READY Robotics’ ForgeOS platform enables operators to control and program the most popular brands of robots from a single user-friendly interface with minimal training. Using Task Canvas, one of many useful ForgeOS Productivity Apps included with the platform, operators can quickly create new automation tasks with a powerful, no-code, flowchart-based interface.
🚜 Augmenta acquired by CNH Industrial
Augmenta Agriculture Technologies announced on Monday, March 13 that it has been acquired by CNH Industrial, a world-class equipment and services company. This acquisition will accelerate Augmenta’s growth and offer a unique opportunity to expand its state-of-the-art perception and automation capabilities, broaden its global market reach, and increase its impact on thousands of farms worldwide. With this integration, Augmenta will amplify its impact, while CNH Industrial will provide a seamless offering of the deepest technology in its farm input automation vertical.
🖨️ 3D printing software developer Oqton and Baker Hughes form partnership
3D printing specialist Oqton and petroleum services company Baker Hughes enter into an agreement to use Oqton’s additive manufacturing software suite. The agreement will bring together the two companies’ engineering expertise and knowledge of manufacturing to develop an industrial digital ecosystem that will transform how manufacturers bring their products to market in highly regulated industries such as energy, aerospace, and healthcare. The solution is intended to accelerate the design and production of additively manufactured parts across the entire manufacturing workflow to increase efficiency and facilitate regulatory compliance.
🦾 Hai Robotics Partners with MITSUI&CO. MACHINE TECH (SHANGHAI) LTD.
Recently, Hai Robotics announced its strategic partnership with MITSUI&CO. MACHINE TECH (SHANGHAI) LTD. This alliance aims to offer top-notch warehouse automation solutions for clients in the manufacturing industry. It also signifies a deepening of cooperation between the two companies, as they have served several of the world’s leading zipper giants.