Capturing this week's zeitgeist
“Holiday Shutdowns and Future Plans,” a poem by Exponential Industry’s GPT.
The factories pause, in this festive cheer, Tools at rest, the machines quiet, clear. Workers smile, as they leave the floor, Dreams of family, feasts, and much more.
Yet in this stillness, we plan ahead, For a new year of progress, our goals widespread. Innovation whispers, in the silent halls, Awaiting our return, to answer its calls.
We’ll embrace lean principles, with vigor anew, Optimizing workflows, enhancing what we do. Automation’s promise, in the coming days, Will guide our efforts, in so many ways.
As lights twinkle, and laughter fills the air, We cherish these moments, with those who care. But soon we’ll return, with a vision so bright, To industries thriving, in the new year’s light.”
This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.
Toyota Outlines Future Production Processes
The new strategy is rooted in the basic principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS), which includes a willingness to do things “for the benefit of someone other than yourself” and a “human-centered” approach to manufacturing. “What caught my attention the most was seeing see the famous genchi genbutsu (real place, real facts) now being done via video,” notes Obara. “Toyota engineers designed a vest to hold a camera, so remote people would not need to be on site to see it all.”
Toyota’s next-generation EVs will be built upon a new modular structure in which car bodies are divided into three sections: front, center and rear. The center section will house solid-state batteries, which offer faster charging and longer range than conventional batteries. Giga-casting is one of the new production technologies that will make these modular structures possible. Currently, the rear section of the Toyota bZ4X EV is made with 86 sheet metal parts and 33 press processes.
“Whereas a typical changeover might take 24 hours and require a large crane, giga-casting molds, which weigh more than 100 tons, leads to even greater time loss,” says Shingo. “Our new approach to giga casting divides molds into two types: general-purpose molds that remain mounted on the machinery and specialized molds whose shape differs by car model. During a replacement, only the compact specialized molds detach themselves automatically from the general-purpose molds.” With these just-in-time mold changes—replacing only what is needed, when it is needed, in the quantity needed—Toyota is aiming to bring lead times down to 20 minutes or less.
Inside (ONE) Our Next Energy's New Michigan Factory!
ANYmal Closes the Remote Inspection Loop with Aker BP and Cognite
Aker BP, Cognite, and ANYbotics partner in pioneering offshore remote inspections with ANYmal X on the Valhall platform in the North Sea. ANYmal X, the only Ex-certified legged robot, was tested for integrated robotic inspections in offshore Ex-rated zones, showcasing the benefits of Cognite’s real-time digital twins and comprehensive AI-powered data platform. This is a significant step in Aker BP’s aim to implement remote inspections as an enabler for unmanned operation of complex offshore processing platforms by 2027-2029.
Preventative maintenance MiR250
Metal steam turbine blade shows cutting-edge potential for critical, large 3D-printed parts
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory became the first to 3D-print large rotating steam turbine blades for generating energy in power plants. Led by partner Siemens Technology, the U.S. research and development hub of Siemens AG, the project demonstrates that wire arc additive manufacturing is viable for the scalable production of critical components exceeding 25 pounds. These parts have traditionally been made using casting and forging facilities that have mostly moved abroad.
While the wait for large castings and forgings has decreased to seven or eight months, ORNL was able to print the blade in 12 hours. Including machining, a blade can be finished in two weeks, Kulkarni said. Although wire arc is a prominent 3D-printing technology, it had not previously been used to make a rotating component of this scale.
Closing the design-to-manufacturing gap for optical devices
We introduce neural lithography to address the ‘design-to-manufacturing’ gap in computational optics. Computational optics with large design degrees of freedom enable advanced functionalities and performance beyond traditional optics. However, the existing design approaches often overlook the numerical modeling of the manufacturing process, which can result in significant performance deviation between the design and the fabricated optics. To bridge this gap, we, for the first time, propose a fully differentiable design framework that integrates a pre-trained photolithography simulator into the model-based optical design loop. Leveraging a blend of physics-informed modeling and data-driven training using experimentally collected datasets, our photolithography simulator serves as a regularizer on fabrication feasibility during design, compensating for structure discrepancies introduced in the lithography process. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach through two typical tasks in computational optics, where we design and fabricate a holographic optical element (HOE) and a multi-level diffractive lens (MDL) using a two-photon lithography system, showcasing improved optical performance on the task-specific metrics.
New Product Introduction
Highlighting new and innovative products and services
Canvass AI Unveils Real-Time Closed-Loop Optimization Using Prescriptive Analytics for Industrial Processes
Canvass AI announced availability of its real-time closed-loop optimization solution for process and sub-process level production. This capability allows operators and engineers to automate production processes across multiple industries and a wide range of manufacturing processes such as fermentation, distillation, co-generation power and much more.
The Canvass AI closed-loop optimization solution comprises of predefined data mapping, learning models, configuration files, AI workflows, and a setpoint optimizer. Using this framework engineers and operators can confidently apply virtual control to physical processes allowing them to constantly adapt to changing production conditions. Canvass AI’s solution overlays legacy OT investments such as APC and DCS to optimize process performance closer to the operating specification limits to maximize quality and output.
Pulling your punches: The greatest leap in CNC CAM programming since punch cards
Theo Saville, CEO and Co-founder of CloudNC, has spent the past decade devising a better approach to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programming. The result is CAM Assist, an AI-powered plug-in for Autodesk’s Fusion 360 software platform that has quickly garnered a reputation for being the biggest paradigm shift for the precision manufacturing sector in decades.
CAM Assist is an AI co-pilot that works straight out of the box in your existing CAM package. It automatically generates professional 3-axis machining strategies in seconds at the click of a button. Research from our user community shows that it can get you 80% of the way there, with the remaining 20% more like reviewing the work done and filling in any blanks. This can save hundreds of production hours, completing tasks in seconds that currently take hours or even days.
We knew we needed somewhere to test our solutions and we figured that no factory would allow us to use their production machines for experiments. Building our own factory gave us our own testing ground, as well as allowing us to measure the impact of our software on day-to-day operations.
Sparkplug: From Specification to Standard
The Eclipse Foundation announced that the Sparkplug® 3.0 specification has been published as an International Standard. The publication of Sparkplug as an international standard is the outcome of a transposition of the specification through the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) transposition process offered by the ISO and IEC Joint Technical Committee (JTC 1) for information technology, a consensus-based, voluntary international standards group. Going forward, Sparkplug will also be known as ISO/IEC 20237. This mirrors the case of MQTT, which has been standardized as ISO/IEC 20922 in 2016.
eDSim, a simulator 50x faster than PSpice with an unlimited license to the ST community
eDSim uses the SIMetrix/SIMPLIS simulation engine and piecewise linear models of ST components to enable much faster convergence than alternative approaches involving nonlinearities. Internal testing with the L6983 synchronous step-down converter revealed that certain simulations requiring between 15 and 30 minutes on Pspice only required around 1 minute with eDSim. Considering that designers perform multiple simulation runs to tune their designs, eDSim can reduce simulation cycles for design projects by hours, if not days.
ST worked with SIMPLIS Technologies to ensure we could provide professional engineers with one of the most flexible licenses. For instance, working with one of our models doesn’t contribute to the eDSim node count or circuit size limit, regardless of its complexity.
How governments are shaping the future industrial landscape.
🇺🇸 Governor Hochul Announces $10 Billion Partnership to Bring Next-Generation Research and Development Center to NY CREATES’ Albany Nanotech Complex
Governor Kathy Hochul announced a $10 billion partnership with leaders from the semiconductor industry such as IBM, Micron, Applied Materials, Tokyo Electron, and others to establish a next-generation semiconductor research and development center at NY CREATES’ Albany NanoTech Complex. The partnership will fund the construction of a cutting-edge High NA Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography Center – the first and only publicly owned High NA EUV Center in North America – that will support the research and development of the world’s most complex and powerful semiconductors. In addition to the transformative investment in New York’s Capital Region, this partnership will make New York State home to the nation’s most advanced, publicly owned semiconductor R&D infrastructure, support the long-term growth of New York’s tech economy, and create and retain thousands of direct, indirect, and union construction jobs.
🇬🇧 Manufacturers urge government to appoint minister for manufacturing
Members of Made in Group, which includes Made in the Midlands and Made in Yorkshire, say that Britain can further advance its position as the eighth largest industrial nation globally but the sector needs more effective support from the Government to do so. An open letter detailing the actions needed to help boost Britain’s manufacturing capacity was delivered to the pigeonhole of every MP.
This week's top funding events, acquisitions, and partnerships across industrial value chains
Armada Raises More Than $55M to Bridge the Digital Divide
Armada, an edge computing pioneer redefining the future of connectivity, compute and AI, today exited stealth. The company marks this milestone with a significant capital raise exceeding $55M, led by Founders Fund, Lux Capital, Shield Capital and 8090 Industries, with participation from Felicis, Contrary, Valor Equity Partners, Marlinspike, 137 Ventures, Koch Real Estate Investments, 8VC and a cohort of other strategic investors. This funding will propel Armada forward in its mission to bridge the global digital divide, empowering businesses and communities to leverage all of their data, regardless of where it’s generated. Armada is dedicated to unlocking the potential of generative AI, edge computing and predictive models on a global scale.
Armada provides a full-stack infrastructure solution, deployable on both on-premise and cloud infrastructures, to deliver optimal edge computing and cutting edge satellite internet connectivity to the world’s most remote regions. This empowers companies to harness the power of generative AI and predictive models where they are most needed, enabling a range of industries — from utilities and infrastructure to military and mining — to dramatically enhance their real-time processing, analysis and decision-making capabilities, right where their data resides.
Tacto secures €50m to tackle disruptions and bureaucracy in industrial supply chains
Tacto’s €50 million investment led by Index and Sequoia will be used to speed up product development and invest significantly in AI. Going forward, Tacto says it aims to expand its active community by building on its strong customer base and equipping Europe’s industrial ‘Mittelstand’ with technology to meet today’s supply chain challenges while preparing for tomorrow.
Tacto is providing a solution to procurement through its central supply chain operating system that manages supplier relations for mid-sized industrial organizations. The AI-based software streamlines all procurement workflows, effortlessly ensuring compliant and sustainable supply chains, along with enabling efficient material sourcing.
Verve Motion Raises $20 Million in Series B Financing
Pioneering the future of industrial safety, Verve Motion, a Harvard University spinout, today announced it has reached a significant milestone by securing $20 million in Series B funding. This achievement, raising the company’s total funding to over $40 million, marks a crucial step in the company’s rapid expansion and the widespread adoption of its innovative industrial-use connected wearable technology, SafeLift™ exosuit.
The Series B funding round, which will play a pivotal role in supporting the company’s goals of market expansion and scaling manufacturing to meet demand, was led by Safar Partners, with new investments from Cybernetix Ventures as well as follow-on investments from existing investors, including Construct Capital, Pillar VC and OUP. The round also included participation from individual investors including Frederic Kerrest, Vice-Chairman and Co-Founder of Okta, and John McEleney, Co-founder of Onshape, and formerly CEO of SolidWorks.
Verve Motion’s technology evolved from work in the Biodesign Lab at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Researchers there developed a soft exosuit with the goal of mitigating fatigue and injury risks for military personnel, work that paved the way for the next generation of wearable robots. The work was supported by DARPA (the advanced research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Defense), the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.
Spore.Bio raises €8M for real-time pathogen detection in FMCG factories
Spore.Bio announced that it has raised €8 million in Pre-Seed funding led by LocalGlobe to solve the critical health and safety challenges threatening the global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market. Besides LocalGlobe, the round also included participation from EmergingTech Ventures, No Label Ventures, Famille C (Clarins Family Office), Better Angle, Mehdi Ghissassi (Google DeepMind), Roxane Varza (Station F) and more. The funding will be used to accelerate the development and deployment of Spore.Bio’s AI-powered technology and grow its team.
Spore.Bio has built the world’s first device for detecting pathogens immediately, directly on the factory floor. It uses advanced machine learning models to train its system to identify the concentration of bacteria in food, drink, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic products before alerting quality managers to the potential risks. Previously, quality sampling would typically take between five and 20 days, with products having to be sent off-site to external labs, at great time and financial expense.
AllSpice.io achieves $10m in venture funding for modernizing electronics design collaboration
AllSpice.io, the hardware development platform that empowers engineers to modernize their collaboration and workflows, has raised an additional $6 million in venture capital. Investors participating in the recent round included Root Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, Benchstrength, Bowery Capital, and a group of angel investors. The funding is being leveraged to develop new features for its growing enterprise customer base and expand complex implementations, integrations, and additional ECAD format support.
Founded and built by engineers, AllSpice.io empowers fellow engineers to modernize their workflows - all through the power of Git. With automation, cross-team collaboration, and version control, engineers can develop hardware more efficiently.
Invert raises €2.5m in additional funding as it eyes fresh expansion
Dublin-headquartered Invert Robotics has raised a further €2.5 million in investment to help grow its new research and development function in Dublin. The latest round, which is in addition to a previous €10 million investment raised last year, was led by Irish EIIS fund Business Venture Partners (BVP) and US investor TechNexus Venture Collaborative.
Invert, which is chaired by former Aryzta chief executive Kevin Toland, uses robotics for non-destructive, high-precision inspections and testing in assets that are in dangerous or difficult to reach environments. Equipped with high-definition cameras and sensor technology to ensure scientific, accurate analysis of assets, clients can increase safety, reduce costs and speed up inspection times.
The robots can be used to inspect wind turbine blades both on and offshore, examine industrial scale tankers and spray dryers used to produce milk powder, coffee, vitamins and animal feed. Its clients include Danone, Lactalis, Heineken, Milei and DMK.
Tribosonics set to create another 25 jobs after £1.5m fundraise
Tribosonics has raised a further £1.5m from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and Mercia’s EIS funds. The investment will support Tribosonics’ ongoing product development and bring its solutions to a wider audience. The company also plans to expand its 42-strong team with the creation of around 25 new jobs in the next 18 months across its technical teams. It will also continue to invest in its award-winning apprenticeship scheme, Tribosonics Future Leaders Programme.
Tribosonics’ solutions are used to monitor industrial machinery and components and manage process efficiency and product quality. Its integrated systems – which incorporate hardware, software and advanced ‘edge’ analytics – provide data and insights to help companies improve performance, extend plant life, reduce maintenance and energy use and meet sustainability goals.
TeamViewer to drive smart factory innovation with strategic investments in manufacturing analytics and IoT
TeamViewer, a leading global provider of remote connectivity and workplace digitalization solutions, today announced strategic investments in two pioneering companies for smart factory solutions: Sight Machine and Cybus. With a total investment of a low double-digit million EUR amount, the company is strengthening its commitment to the digital transformation of industrial working environments and the convergence of Information and Operation Technology (IT & OT).
Audi drives the future of manufacturing
The production of the Audi e-tron GT illustrates what’s possible in this new paradigm. It went from design to production in record time — without a physical prototype.
Virtual reality prototypes are just the beginning. Thousands of assets in the Böllinger Höfe plant operate under the aegis of Audi’s Edge Cloud 4 Production (EC4P), with critical networking and security support from Cisco. And by connecting “brownfield” legacy hardware — that is, existing devices like cameras, robots, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and field busses — the transformation did not demand a complete factory overhaul. It did, however, benefit from the efforts of Cisco’s Customer Experience team to bring the vision to life.
“Audi and Cisco shared the vision of getting rid of the compute hardware from the shop floor and virtualizing it,” Loeser concluded. “That’s one of the big reasons why we are actually deploying this today.
Mitsubishi Electric and TXOne Networks to Cooperate in Mutual Expansion of OT Security Businesses
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and TXOne Networks Inc. announced today that they have signed a long-term cooperation agreement covering technology development and marketing, aiming at expanding the operational-technology (OT) security businesses of both companies.
OT and industrial control systems in manufacturing sites are often operated in closed environments, with IT and OT systems separated from each other. However, the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital transformation (DX) is enabling convergence between these two domains. As a result, cyberattacks targeting manufacturing sites in industries such as semiconductors and automobiles have increased, leading to production disruptions and highlighting the growing need for more robust security measures in factories.
Through their new collaboration, the two companies aim to create innovative new value in OT security by combining Mitsubishi Electric’s assessment, maintenance and operation services as well as control equipment and systems with TXOne’s OT security products. The new OT security solutions are expected to improve manufacturing productivity, efficiency and safety as well as security levels throughout the supply chains of various industries.