Capturing this week's zeitgeist
Industrial revolutions have a history of illicitly appropriating technological advancements. The current day climate of industrial espionage may be incomparable to previous generations. China is reported to have tried to copy an entire chip plant from Samsung, and rig telecommunications bids (video below).
This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media
🦾🧑🏭 The Robotization of High-mix, Low-volume Production Gains Momentum
One company, ABAGY, overcomes the limitations of traditional robotics. With this software, manufacturers can use robots for custom projects or even one-of-a-kind parts. No robot programming is required. The software automatically generates a robot program to produce a specific product, which only takes minutes. Using machine vision, the system scans the parts and adjusts the robot’s path depending on the actual position and deviations of the product.
A manufacturer in Sabetha, Kan., already had a robotic cell, but wanted to increase its utilization. The robotic cell was used for a limited number of parts because the programming was tedious. After implementing a new system with AI and machine vision, the setup time reduced dramatically — only 10-to-15 minutes for a new product — and the robot can now be used for many more products. It used to take 90-to-120 minutes to program a robot to produce one rotor. That’s a big win for a manufacturer with high-mix production. In the first month of the robotic cell’s operation, the company created 50 different technical charts. The company plans further robotization of production.
🦾 Patent filing strategy for emerging robotics companies
A robust patent portfolio is key to an emerging robotics company’s growth and success, but building such a patent portfolio takes strategy, time, and money. Thorough examination and understanding of a company’s individual business objectives, the landscape within the robotics industry, and country-specific patent rules and regulations are all important factors to ensure that resources are allocated appropriately and that a patent portfolio filing strategy meets the company’s needs.
Utility patent applications cover how a technology works and, in the United States, generally fall into one of two categories – provisional applications and non-provisional applications. Noting the distinction between the two can be crucial for developing a filing strategy. Design applications can also be filed to cover the ornamental design of a product.
We 3D Printed End-of-Arm Tools with Rapid Robotics
🚜 Inside John Deere Harvester Works: Think your iPhone is cutting-edge? Try driving an X9 combine.
”Supply chain was massively disrupted last year,” said Jim Leach, the factory manager in East Moline. “We had hundreds of machines that were partially complete. We still haven’t seen a return to normal yet.” One way to minimize the wait for parts is to make them yourself. The Harvester Works has eight industrial Trumpf fiber-optic laser stations turning sheet metal into combine parts, chassis components and grain tank sides, then molding them on 10 press brakes — large industrial presses — in a process that is almost totally automated. The only need for human hands is to transfer the components from the lasers to the presses. The plant turns 60,000 tons of sheet steel a year into combine parts.
As big a challenge as making the parts is then keeping track of where they go, spread across Harvest Works’ 71 acres of floor space. Two years ago, employees were manually conducting daily inventory of which parts and aborning combines were where. Now, a large, white refrigerator-sized autonomous mobile robot purrs its way through the facility, scanning the RFID chips in various components to map the inventory down to each bin of bolts.
Assembling and checking are often done simultaneously. Michael Churchill uses an impact wrench gun containing an RFID chip that talks to Deere’s central production computer system, which knows when Churchill has tightened any given bolt enough and tells him to stop.
🚗 Using RFID Databolts in an Engine Assembly Plant
There are many types of RFID processors and network protocols to keep in mind as you’re installing your RFID system in your automotive plant manufacturing line. This blog post focuses on RFID databolts. I’ll discuss best practices for installing them, how to use RFID technology to track engine parts and components throughout the production process and how to use RFID databolts to provide instructions and to document the finished process.
The RFID databolt is a threaded device that can be embedded into a blank engine block or other component prior to production. It includes a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag, a microprocessor, RFID antenna, and a power source, such as a battery or a connection to a power supply.
A Comparative Analysis of Data Modelling Standards for Smart Manufacturing
In essence, adopting data modeling standards can facilitate seamless data exchange across the entire value chain, enhancing overall efficiency and cooperation among various applications and machines. Crucial to this evolution is semantic modeling, allowing machines to deduce meaning without human intervention. Thus, the concept of information modeling, encapsulating not only data but its meaning, is paramount to facilitating intelligent, autonomous decisions.
The Digital Twin Definition Language (DTDL) language follows JSON syntax but is based on JSON-LD. JSON-LD, or JSON for Linked Data, is a method of encoding Linked Data using JSON. It is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standard that provides a way to enrich your data by contextualizing it with schemas (vocabularies) that you choose. This makes it easy to define complex models and relationships between different parts of a system.
Sparkplug and OPC UA, on the other hand, provide a way to structure data and ensure interoperability. Sparkplug uses MQTT and Protocol Buffers, focusing on SCADA/IIoT solutions and efficient data encoding, while OPC UA provides a more generalized approach, offering industry-specific guidelines through companion specifications.
Rocket Warhead Demating Machine (RWDM) | FAT
Simplify Your Thermal Simulation With Immersed Boundary Method
However, common bottlenecks to simulation have been CAD preparation and the numerical discretization of that model (meshing). Both consume time and manual intervention. The advent of advanced physics solvers and novel meshing techniques, such as the immersed boundary method, means that engineers spend less time making their CAD models simulation-ready and more time on insight-driven design. Skipping the time-intensive CAD preparation also opens up the possibility of doing simulations very early when some components are still in the draft stage and comparing many variants that otherwise would have required repeated CAD simplification efforts.
The Immersed Boundary method addresses the core of this dilemma. It completely removes the CAD preparation or reduces it to a few minutes at most. At the same time, the physics-driven meshing avoids high mesh resolutions on detailed CAD features that are insignificant to the system’s thermal behavior. Yet, it resolves physically relevant regions like power sources or flow channels to the level the user requires. This level might differ significantly based on the current simulation intent.
Major factory investments and line commissions
🏭🌏 KES China Facility Operational, Driving Localization and Embracing Chinese Market
On May 19, Koch Engineered Solutions (KES) held an opening ceremony for its first manufacturing facility in China, located in Changshu, Jiangsu Province. The Changshu manufacturing plant utilizes the latest generation of automation and manufacturing capabilities and is uniquely designed to produce our full product line. This facility will also bring design, engineering, and service capabilities to our local customers as part of this initiative. The opening marks a significant milestone in KES’ localization process and demonstrates the firm’s strong confidence in the development of China’s green industry, technological innovation and the market’s future potential.
🏭🌍 Novo Nordisk invests DKK 15.9 bn in expansion of manufacturing facilities in Hillerød, Denmark
Novo Nordisk today announced plans to invest 15.9 billion Danish kroner starting in 2023 to expand an existing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) production facility in Denmark for the future portfolio within serious chronic diseases. The investment in Hillerød, Denmark will create additional production capacity and increase Novo Nordisk’s ability to meet future market demands and be a key enabler for Novo Nordisk to develop its future clinical late-phase product portfolio.
🏭🌏 Siemens presents €2 billion investment strategy to boost future growth, innovation and resilience
To boost future growth, drive innovation and increase resilience, Siemens presented its investment strategy which includes €2 billion mainly for new manufacturing capacity as well as innovation labs, education centers and other own sites. Siemens today announced a new high-tech factory in Singapore, to serve the booming Southeast Asia markets.
In addition, there is an expected increase of around €0.5 billion in research and development (R&D), such as artificial intelligence and the industrial metaverse, in fiscal year 2023 versus prior year. This R&D is focused on strengthening Siemens’ leading position in core technologies including simulation, digital twins, artificial intelligence or power electronics, as well as supporting the development of the Siemens Xcelerator open digital business platform. The company recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to speed up code generation for industry automation by using ChatGPT. With NVIDIA, Siemens is working to build the industrial metaverse to improve design, planning, production and operation of factories and infrastructures.
🏭🌍 Intel Plans Assembly and Test Facility in Poland
Intel announced that it has selected an area near Wrocław, Poland, as the site of a new cutting-edge semiconductor assembly and test facility. This facility will help meet critical demand for assembly and test capacity that Intel anticipates by 2027. Intel expects to invest up to $4.6 billion in the facility, which will have the capacity to expand. When completed, the facility will support approximately 2,000 Intel employees. The construction of the facility is also expected to create several thousand more jobs, in addition to eventual hiring by suppliers. Design and planning for the facility will begin immediately, with construction to commence pending European Commission approval.
This week's top funding events, acquisitions, and partnerships across industrial value chains
Percepto Raises $67M Series C, Receives FAA Waiver, Ushering in New Era of Autonomous Drone Inspections at Industrial Sites
Percepto, the leading autonomous inspection and monitoring solution provider, announced today a combined $67M Series C in equity and debt funding, led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), alongside new investors Zimmer Partners and one of the largest U.S. energy companies. The round includes participation from existing investors U.S. Venture Partners, Delek US Holdings, Atento Capital, Spider Capital and Arkin Holdings, bringing the total investment in the company to more than $120 million, reflecting Percepto’s strong performance and confidence in its robust offering.
Percepto recently received an unprecedented, nationwide Beyond Line of Sight (BVLOS) waiver from the FAA, allowing the company to provide any US critical infrastructure site with remotely-operated automated drones without the need for site specific approvals from the FAA. A game changer for the industry, this waiver removes logistical and cost barriers, such as the need for radars or people on the ground, fueling the adoption of autonomous drone technology.
🚛 FERNRIDE raises $31 million to scale operations and advance its teleoperated trucking platform
German autonomous trucking company FERNRIDE announces it has raised $31 million in Series A funding. Customers include Volkswagen, DB Schenker, BSH, and HHLA, operating over 1,000-yard trucks in Europe alone. Yard trucks operate on private sites, moving cargo from A to B, such as moving containers between two halls on-site at a one to two-kilometre distance 100 times a day.
FERNRIDE is funded by venture capital firms 10x Founders, Promus Ventures, Fly Ventures, Speedinvest, and Push Ventures, along with corporate investors, such as HHLA Next, DB Schenker via Schenker Ventures and Krone. The latest funding will be used to scale FERNRIDE’s operations with existing and new customers globally and boost its technological development.
⚙️ SPARETECH secures Series A funding led by US-based Insight Partners to fuel international expansion
SPARETECH, the leading data platform for industrial spare parts, raised €10M in a Series A investment round led by New York-based software investor Insight Partners with participation from Headline and existing investors to scale internationally. Founded in 2018 by Martin Weber and Dr. Lukas Biedermann, former Porsche engineers, our solution answers the supply chain crisis with automated spare parts management processes, reducing manufacturers’ downtimes, costs, and CO2 emissions.
VIVOLTA Raises €7 Million Financing to Further Execute Its Growth Strategy as Medical Electrospinning CDMO
VIVOLTA, a world leader in the development and manufacturing of electrospun medical products, announced that it has raised €7M in a new funding round with participation from existing shareholders and the Dutch government’s NXTGEN HIGHTECH growth fund.
These funds will enable us to further advance our initiatives to transform our partners’ design concepts into fully scalable commercial products. Moreover, our MediSpinTM platform gives us a strong advantage by being able to commercially manufacture electrospun medical products with the quality, consistency, and volumes required by the medical industry.
Husqvarna Ventures invests MEUR 2.5 in Angsa Robotics to expand innovation in green space management
Husqvarna Group, the global leader in outdoor power products, is pleased to announce an investment of MEUR 2.5 in Angsa Robotics, a Munich-based startup disrupting automated waste collection in green spaces. The investment by Husqvarna Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Husqvarna Group, aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of Angsa’s groundbreaking robotics platform.
Angsa Robotics is developing an autonomous solution, providing a cost-efficient, ecologically friendly and AI-adaptive robot for waste collection in green spaces. With its ability to navigate autonomously, detect obstacles and collect litter, Angsa Robotics’ technology offers another opportunity within green space management.
🖨️⚙️ Replique spins out from BASF Chemovator business incubator
Digital manufacturing firm Replique has spun out from BASF’s Chemovator business incubator after closing a late seed round. The funding round was led by STS Ventures, a leading digital technology investor, with BASF also offering support by additional funding through Chemovator.
Replique, who provides a fully encrypted 3D printing platform to facilitate spare parts management and small series production, is the fifth start-up to spin-off from Chemovator. Though it has become an independent company, it will maintain a close relationship with BASF – both its BASF 3D Printing Solutions subsidiary and the rest of its network – as a customer. The company will now focus on ‘expanding its reach and acquiring new customers in various industries’, while harnessing its latest round of funding to add new features to the Replique platform. Investment in human resources is also expected.
🤝 Anduril Industries and Hadrian Announce Strategic Partnership
Defense technology company Anduril Industries and Hadrian, a leader in advanced manufacturing, have announced a strategic partnership in which Hadrian will supply and manufacture precision parts for Anduril’s suite of autonomous systems.
Through the Anduril-Hadrian strategic partnership, Anduril will accelerate its production of key components and precision parts at scale, leveraging Hadrian’s proprietary design excellence and manufacturing competencies to reduce cost and lead time. Hadrian’s automated, software-first approach will provide Anduril with higher flexibility and improved scalability not seen with traditional defense manufacturing.
🤝 PTC and Rockwell Automation Extend Relationship with Focus on IoT and Augmented Reality for Manufacturing
PTC (NASDAQ PTC) and Rockwell Automation (NYSE ROK) today announced an extension of their relationship, focused on the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR) software by manufacturing companies. Rockwell Automation will continue to resell PTC’s ThingWorx® IoT software, including the Digital Performance Management (DPM)™ manufacturing solution, and Vuforia® AR software to new and existing customers across discrete and process manufacturing verticals. Customers will continue to benefit from both companies’ resources, technologies, and industry expertise.
🤝 Hexagon collaborates with NVIDIA to transform industrial digital twin solution
Hexagon AB, the global leader in digital reality solutions combining sensor, software and autonomous solutions technologies, announced a collaboration with NVIDIA to enable industrial digital twin solutions that unite reality capture, manufacturing twins, AI, simulation and visualisation to deliver real-time comparison to real-world models.
The collaboration will connect industry-leading technologies from Hexagon and NVIDIA to enable seamless, multi-user workflows through a unified view for factory planning and design, as well as process quality optimisation and operations. As part of the collaboration, Hexagon’s HxDR reality capture platform and Nexus manufacturing platform will be connected to NVIDIA Omniverse, a platform for developing and operating industrial metaverse applications, based on the Universal Scene Description (USD) framework. The connected platforms provide complementary technologies that enable customers to advance manufacturing for digital factories and accelerate the power of digital twins for intelligent cities, construction and infrastructure.
Take a break with a few maintenance activities
According to Paul McCartney, “AI used to create new and final Beatles song.” Speculation ensues that the song is likely to be a 1978 Lennon composition called Now and Then and be released later this year. Hopefully, it doesn’t get pulled from Spotify and Apple for using AI to clone voices.