Capturing this week's zeitgeist
This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.
Tesla Manufacturing: See how the Cybertruck HFS Panels are Blanked, Bent, and Built!
Automating Quality Machine Inspection Infused with Edge AI and Digital Twins for Device Monitoring
In this post, we will discuss an AI-based solution Kyndryl has built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to detect pores on the welding process using acoustic data and a custom-built algorithm leveraging voltage data. We’ll describe how Kyndryl collaborated with AWS to design an end-to-end solution for detecting welding pores in a manufacturing plant using AWS analytics services and by enabling digital twins to monitor welding machines effectively.
Kyndryl’s solution flow consists of collecting acoustic data with voltage and current from welding machines, processing and inferencing data at the edge to detect welding pores while providing actionable insights to welding operators. Additionally, data is streamed to the cloud to perform historical analysis and improve operational efficiency and product quality over time. A digital twin is enabled to monitor the welding operation in real-time with warnings created to proactively manage the asset when predefined thresholds are met.
Tapping AI for Leaner, Greener Semiconductor Fab Operations
Flexciton’s software combines two conventional approaches to production scheduling: heuristics and mathematical optimization. “We begin with a relatively simple rule-based algorithm to find a good starting point for our scheduling problem,” Flexciton CEO Jamie Potter told EE Times Europe. “This initial solution is what we call a ‘warm start.’ Then we use mixed-integer linear programming to further optimize the problem from that starting point. However, this problem is often too complex for computers to solve within a practical time frame.
Flexciton uses a cloud-based hybrid scheduling model whose two key components are a global scheduler and a toolset scheduler. The global scheduler focuses on the broader objective of optimizing the overall manufacturing process at the fab level. It considers the big picture and aims to make decisions that maximize efficiency and productivity across the fab. The toolset scheduler works at a more granular level, focusing on the efficient operation of individual machines or tools within the fab. Its main goal is to ensure that wafers move through the fab machines smoothly and efficiently. It also strives to follow the priority ranking that was determined by the global scheduler.
To ensure that even the slightest changes in a fab element’s operation do not hamper the manufacturing process, Flexciton’s software runs its calculations every 10 minutes for the global scheduler and every three minutes for the toolset scheduler.
Can ChatGPT Create Usable G-Code Programs?
Mike Wearne is an educational content creator at CAMInstructor, has a take on the GPT-3 G-code. “If we use a basic program that’s a drill four holes sort of thing, and compare this to someone who’s just learning G code, I would say it’s not bad,” he says. “I would give it a low B or a high C.” The overall structure was there — it put the right codes in the right places, such as G20 and G21 to switch between metric and imperial units, and G90 for absolute positioning at the top of the program. “If you’re new to G-code programming, those are usually the tough things to remember and to get in the right spot,” he notes. However, it was missing some elements, such as tool changes and spindle speeds.
Wearne also noticed a marked improvement in the G code GPT-4 produces. “It’s like GPT-4 can think more about its answers and GPT-3.5 just spits out whatever it comes up with as quick as it can,” he explains. With its most recent update, Wearne says it can program simple parts almost perfectly. Whereas GPT-3 was getting a high C or low B as a grade for its code, “For the simple parts, if we’re in G-code 101, GPT-4 is getting an A,” he says.
Accelerating Automation in Logistics with Simulation - A DHL Case Study
OPC-UA Cyber Threats Explained: Specifications Vulnerabilities and MITM Risks
Recent research into the cybersecurity of OPC UA in industrial control systems has revealed shocking vulnerabilities, highlighting an urgent need to strengthen security measures. Many systems utilizing OPC UA are vulnerable, primarily due to flawed implementations of security features such as certificate validation and inadequate Trust List management, issues that persist even among products from leading brands. Numerous products lack essential security features, such as Trust Lists, or have unsafe default configurations. This indicates a significant underestimation of network security threats in industrial control systems, especially those associated with OPC UA.
AI steers adaptive control systems
A new study led by Flinders University and French researchers has now used a novel bio-inspired computing artificial intelligence solution to improve the potential of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and other adaptive control systems to operate more reliability in rough seas and other unpredictable conditions.
This innovative approach, using the Biologically-Inspired Experience Replay (BIER) method, aims to overcome data inefficiency and performance degradation by leveraging incomplete but valuable recent experiences, explains first author Dr Thomas Chaffre. The method incorporates two memory buffers, one focusing on recent state-action pairs and the other emphasising positive rewards. To test the effectiveness of the proposed method, researchers conducted simulated scenarios using a robot operating system (ROS)-based UUV simulator and gradually increasing scenarios’ complexity.
New Product Introduction
Highlighting new and innovative products and services
Holcim launches Phoenix, the first-of-its-kind circular 3D-printed concrete bridge
Holcim launches Phoenix, the first-of-its-kind 3D-printed concrete masonry bridge built with 10 tons of recycled materials, at its Innovation Hub in Europe. Using its proprietary ECOCycle® circular technology, Holcim developed a custom concrete ink for Phoenix with recycled materials inside. Phoenix demonstrates how circular construction combined with 3D concrete printing can enable low-carbon infrastructure applications.
Circular construction, using computational design and 3D printing, allows for a reduction of up to 50% of the materials used with no compromise in performance. Circular by design, Phoenix stands solely through compression without reinforcement, with blocks that can be easily disassembled and recycled. Holcim and its partners are now exploring how Phoenix could be scaled up to provide more generalized sustainable infrastructure solutions.
Parallel Systems Tests Railcar ‘Platooning’ in California
The individually powered railcars are designed to transport standard shipping containers as a single or double-stacked load in short-haul freight operations, and can form “platoons” of up to 50 cars, according to Parallel Systems. “The fully automated platooning process eliminates the requirement for railcars to couple to each other and connect air brake lines,” the company explained. “Upon contact, each vehicle maintains bumper contact with the one in front by controlling tractive effort. The small air gap between containers and the pushing action through railcar bumpers reduces average aerodynamic drag of the platoon, ultimately improving energy efficiency. Individual railcars can also separate from one another, enabling them to bypass rail classification yards and independently proceed to varied destinations, or to keep railroad crossings clear. Brake systems are self-contained in each railcar and therefore do not require connecting air lines.”
How governments are shaping the future industrial landscape.
🇲🇽 Mexico’s nearshoring wave is years in the making
Whether through foreign direct investments or internationally purchased goods, the automotive sector has an outsized share of Mexico’s top trade metrics. In the first three quarters of 2023 alone, motor vehicle manufacturing drew $5.4 billion in foreign direct investments, more than any other full year prior. For example, BMW, which has been in the country for over 30 years, this year announced an $860 million investment to ready its plant in San Luis Potosí for electric vehicle production. Similarly, Tesla has proposed building a gigafactory in Nuevo León.
Besides automotive products, beverages, household appliances, electrical equipment and medical supplies are among the other Mexico-made products that have experienced rising demand, according to U.S. import data analyzed by Supply Chain Dive.
🇲🇾 Could Malaysia’s semiconductor industry help China?
Malaysia currently controls 13% of the global market for packaging, assembly and testing services for semiconductors. It is also the sixth largest source of semiconductor exports in the world. This makes the country an ideal supplier in the semiconductor supply chain, with the US being a major trade partner in the industry too.
According to a report by Nikkei Asia, chip companies Jabil, Micron, Bosch, Western Digital and Lam Research are all expanding their manufacturing footprints in the area around Penang in Malaysia, stretching from Kulim in the north to the Batu Kawan Industrial Park in the south. DHL Express is constructing several logistics centers in the area, after launching direct cargo flights five days a week between Penang and Hong Kong, a chip-trading hub close to mainland China, in mid-2021.
🇨🇳 China's surging steel exports risk new round of trade frictions
China is on track to export around 90 million tonnes of steel in 2023, approaching the more than 110 million tonnes of 2015 – a year that saw a proliferation of anti-dumping measures around the world. The problem stems from China’s slumping internal demand for steel, due chiefly to the cooling real estate market. Steel demand has dropped more significantly than the slowdown in production.
Southeast Asia is a key export market for Chinese steel. In September, China’s steel exports to Thailand increased roughly 60% on the year, with shipments to Malaysia rising roughly 80%. Chinese steel exports doubled to Indonesia and more than quadrupled to Vietnam.
This week's top funding events, acquisitions, and partnerships across industrial value chains
China EV maker Nio secures $2.2bn investment from Abu Dhabi
Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio will receive a $2.2 billion strategic investment from a fund backed by Abu Dhabi, as it bolsters finances in the face of growing competition. CYVN Holdings will acquire 294 million newly issued shares in Nio for $7.50 each by the end of the month. The purchase will increase CYVN’s ownership in Nio to around 20.1%.
AI-Driven Warehouse and Retail Automation Leader GreyOrange Closes on $135M Growth Financing
GreyOrange Inc., a leader in AI-driven fulfillment automation, today announced the first close of its Series D funding, securing $135 million. Led by Anthelion Capital (formerly Cowen Sustainable Investments) this investment reinforces GreyOrange’s innovative approach to transforming warehouse and retail store operations through a hardware-agnostic software platform and a dynamic range of certified robotic and sensing technologies.
GreyOrange will deploy the growth capital to accelerate the company’s technology leadership, continue its global expansion, and further support the adoption of GreyOrange’s fulfillment orchestration platform in warehouses, distribution centers, and retail stores.
TuMeke Raises $10M in Series A Funding led by Intel Capital
TuMeke, a computer vision platform that automatically assesses injury risk in manufacturing facilities, raised $10M in a Series A funding round led by Intel Capital to expand and scale the TuMeke team of engineers, ergonomists, and academics.
TuMeke has become a key partner in manufacturing, empowering industry powerhouses such as AF Group, Chemtrade Logistics, Sentry Insurance, and more to prioritize ergonomic safety and establish a resilient workforce. With employee health at the center of company decisions and technology designs, the product offers swift and accurate ergonomic risk assessments without the need for wearables or extra equipment, emphasizing efficiency and user comfort.
PaintJet Raises $10M in Series A Funding to Protect the Nation’s Infrastructure from Premature Aging with Industrial Painting Robots
PaintJet, the robotics company bringing automation to industrial painting, today announced it has raised $10M in Series A funding to bring critical automation technology to the construction industry and address widespread labor shortages. The latest round of funding was led by Outsiders Fund with participation from 53 Stations, Dynamo, Pathbreaker Ventures, MetaProp and VSC Ventures.
Rather than selling or leasing its robots to construction teams, the startup provides a comprehensive service inclusive of its robot and proprietary paint and maintains oversight of the painting process from start to finish. This model enables PaintJet to tap into the $200 billion paint market without being reliant on a shrinking workforce.
With the new capital, PaintJet will relocate its headquarters from Nashville to Virginia in early 2024 and make strategic engineering, financial and operational hires. This move will also support the company’s expansion into marine-based projects. When used on ships, PaintJet’s proprietary paint can not only prevent rust and corrosion, but prohibit mollusks, algae, and fungus from attaching to the bottom of a boat. Without this layer of protection keeping the boat’s bottom smooth, ships can lose 40% of their fuel economy due to increased drag – a significant reason the US Navy has a $3B budget just to paint its ships and submarines.
Industrial edge platform Helin raises €3 million Seed round for seamles edger analytics
Helin, a Netherlands developer of an industrial edge intelligence platform, has successfully raised a €3 million Seed round from FORWARD.one. Specialising in the maritime and energy sectors, Helin’s fully managed SaaS solution offers a seamless edge control experience, merging on-site systems with cloud data processing and remote AI applications.
Japan's Nippon Steel to acquire U.S. Steel for $14.9 billion
The acquisition of U.S. Steel will help Nippon, the world’s fourth largest steel maker, move toward 100 million metric tons of global crude steel capacity, while significantly expanding its production in the United States, where steel prices are expected to rise as automakers ramp up production following their recent deals with labor unions to end strikes.
Nippon did not give any projection on the value of the synergies that will arise from the deal, to justify the price it agreed to pay. It said the synergies will come from pooling advanced production technology and know-how in product development, operations, energy savings and recycling.
Synopsys seeks to acquire engineering software company Ansys
Synopsys Inc, a maker of software used in chip design, has submitted an offer to acquire Ansys Inc, an engineering software vendor with a market value of $30 billion. Synopsys is one of the companies that has been in talks with Ansys about a potential deal, the sources said. Ansys has also attracted other suitors, and there is no certainty that Synopsys’ bid will prevail.