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Capturing this week's zeitgeist

‘Go and see for yourself’ (genchi genbutsu) is necessary for understanding manufacturing operations, as Toyota’s Daihatsu re-learns.

Assembly Line

This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.

Printing Twins: The agricultural equipment manufacturer developing a digital warehouse of back-up 3D printed parts

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✍️ Author: Sam Davies

🔖 Topics: Additive Manufacturing

🏢 Organizations: CNH Industrial, Materialise

Since the start of 2023, CNH has been working with Materialise’s Mindware additive manufacturing consulting team, assessing how it can grow its additive manufacturing (AM) application to safeguard its supply chain. The company first adopted AM in 2008 for prototyping, and in recent years has begun applying the technology to tooling and spare parts. Functional parts – designed with the technology in mind from the start – are on the agenda, as is the development of ‘AM twins’. Because, another question CNH has been asking itself is, if its supply chain breaks down somewhere, ‘Is there any backup solution?’ And ‘Could additive manufacturing be an alternative to the conventional market?’ The answer was yes. Materialise was thus looped into the process of identifying applications that can be manufactured with AM, with the view of designing back-up solutions in case of any supply chain issues.

Peter Ommeslag, Director Supply Chain Manufacturing Systems and Tools for CNH Industrial, anticipates that up to 40% of parts manufactured or provided by CNH could be a fit for AM, with between 80-85 AM twins already designed, pending quality checks. CNH is already using AM to produce 250 different spare parts – most of them being polymer components, and most of them being non-critical units like covers, hoods, and pipes – but with its AM twins project is now aiming to reinforce its supply chain.

Read more at TCT Magazine

Self-Driving Vehicles Are Finding a Home in Industrial Operations

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✍️ Author: Paul Berger

🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle, Autonomous Forklift, Warehouse Automation

🏢 Organizations: Kimberly-Clark, Newell, Third Wave Automation, Outrider

Kimberly-Clark credits hundreds of autonomous forklifts with helping the consumer-products company keep Kleenex facial tissue, Cottonelle toilet paper and other goods flowing to stores despite labor shortages during the Covid pandemic. Sharpie maker Newell Brands says the vehicles are helping deliver safety improvements and cost savings across the company’s operations.

Kimberly-Clark has more than 300 autonomous forklifts at its North American warehouses, up from about 30 in 2019, said Sarah Haffer, vice president of customer logistics for the company’s North America consumer division. Haffer said Kimberly-Clark’s warehouses with autonomous forklifts have provided some of the most consistent service levels to its retail customers. “We have been able to manage through Covid with real stability and beyond in terms of throughput and capabilities,” Haffer said.

Newell Brands, whose products also include Coleman outdoor recreation equipment and Rubbermaid food storage goods, uses more than 200 autonomous forklifts across its facilities. Newell Chief Executive Chris Peterson said robotic vehicles have reduced incidents of damage to goods and are delivering “significant cost savings.”

Read more at Wall Street Journal

Unlocking the Full Potential of Manufacturing Capabilities Through Digital Twins on AWS

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✍️ Authors: Harjot Kalra, Ravi Avula, Sylvia Feng, Paul Park

🔖 Topics: Digital Twin, Metaverse, IT OT Convergence, Data Architecture, MQTT

🏢 Organizations: AWS, Matterport, Belden

In this post, we will explore the collaboration between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Matterport to create a digital twin proof of concept (POC) for Belden Inc. at one of its major manufacturing facilities in Richmond, Indiana. The purpose of this digital twin POC was to gain insights and optimize operations in employee training, asset performance monitoring, and remote asset inspection at one of its assembly lines.

The onsite capture process required no more than an hour to capture a significant portion of the plant operation. Using the industry-leading Matterport 3D Pro3 capture camera system, we captured high-resolution imagery with high-fidelity measurement information to digitally recreate the entire plant environment.

The use of MQTT protocol to natively connect and send equipment data to AWS IoT Core further streamlined the process. MQTT, an efficient and lightweight messaging protocol designed for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, ensured seamless communication with minimal latency. This integration allowed for quick access to critical equipment data, facilitating informed decision making and enabling proactive maintenance measures.

Throughout the plant, sensors were strategically deployed to collect essential operational data that was previously missing. These sensors were responsible for monitoring various aspects of machine performance, availability, and health status, including indicators such as vibration, temperature, current, and power. Subsequently, the gathered operational data was transmitted through Belden’s zero-trust operational technology network to Belden Horizon Data Operations (BHDO).

Read more at AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

How I Became A Manufacturing Controls Engineer

Chemicals and materials to play key role in chips as 2-nm milestone nears

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✍️ Author: Cheng Ting-Fang

🔖 Topics: Materials Science

🏭 Vertical: Semiconductor

🏢 Organizations: Entegris, Merck

James O’Neill, chief technology officer of American chip material maker Entegris, said it is no longer the chipmaking machines, but advanced materials and cleaning solutions that are taking center stage in making advanced production processes possible. “Thirty years ago, it was all about lithography [equipment] to make [transistors on chips] smaller and improve device performance,” O’Neill said. Lithography refers to the key chipmaking process in which integrated circuits are printed onto a chip. How finely a machine can print these circuits generally defines how advanced the chips are.

Kai Beckmann, CEO of Merck’s electronics business, echoed that sentiment. “We are moving from the past two decades where [chipmaking] tools are most important to advance technologies to the next decade, what our customers call the age of materials,” Beckmann said. “The tools are still important, but now materials make all the difference.”

The jump to 2-nm production for logic chips, for example, required a completely new chip architecture. In this new configuration, referred to as gate-all-around (GAA), transistors are stacked in a more complex, three-dimensional way than in earlier, planar configurations. Developing the materials for new transistor configurations like gate-all-around requires innovative materials “that will coat the top, the bottom and the sides equally,” O’Neill said, adding that the industry is engineering ways to do this “at atomic scale dimensions.”

Merck’s Beckmann gave another example of the industry’s material evolution: Copper is widely used as a conductive layer in current chipmaking processes, but to make ever smaller and more advanced chips, the industry is exploring new materials such as molybdenum.

Read more at Nikkei Asia

Multiple Rounds of In Vivo Random Mutagenesis and Selection in Vibrio natriegens Result in Substantial Increases in Rare Earth Element Binding Capacity

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✍️ Authors: Sean Medin, Anastacia Dressel, David A. Specht

🔖 Topics: Materials Science

🏢 Organizations: Cornell University

Rare earth elements (REE) are essential ingredients to many technologies including catalysts, high-efficiency lighting, and lightweight high-strength magnets found in hard drives, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and many other applications. These magnets often utilize multiple REE such as neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium. The demand for these technologies is rapidly increasing, and the corresponding supply of REE needs to increase with it. Current methods of purifying REE utilize solvent extraction, which often requires high temperatures and harsh chemicals, giving these important elements a high carbon and environmental footprint.

Adsorption, or biosorption, of REE onto bacterial cell membranes offers a sustainable alternative to traditional solvent extraction methods. But in order for biosorption-based REE purification to compete economically, the capacity and specificity of biosorption sites must be enhanced. Although there have been some recent advances in characterizing the genetics of REE-biosorption, the variety and complexity of bacterial membrane surface sites make targeted genetic engineering difficult. Here, we propose using multiple rounds of in vivo random mutagenesis induced by the MP6 plasmid combined with plate-throughput REE-biosorption screening to improve a microbe’s capacity and selectivity for biosorbing REE.

Read more at ACS Synthetic Biology

New Product Introduction

Highlighting new and innovative products and services

Desktop Metal Now Shipping the Figur G15 – a Digital Sheet Metal Forming Machine that Eliminates the Need for Custom Tooling

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🔖 Topics: Additive Manufacturing

🏢 Organizations: Desktop Metal, Figur

Desktop Metal, a global leader in Additive Manufacturing 2.0 technologies for mass production,announced the first commercial shipments of the Figur G15, an innovative Digital Sheet Forming (DSF) machine tool, to Saltworks Fab, a Florida-based automotive restoration and hot rod company. Investing in the Figur G15, the company will dramatically reduce production times while also having the flexibility of digital manufacturing to create complex shapes, efficient one-offs, or produce short-runs of designs.

The Figur G15 is the first commercially available machine tool platform to shape sheet metal on demand without custom tooling. Introduced at the 2022 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, the Figur G15 uses patent-pending DSF technology in which a software-driven ceramic toolhead on a gantry shapes standard sheet metal into parts with up to 2,000 lbs of forming force without tooling, with software that simplifies the creation of sheet metal part production.

Read more at Business Wire

Outrider releases latest AI-driven perception technology to accelerate yard automation

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🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle, Yard Automation

🏢 Organizations: Outrider

Outrider’s latest perception technology identifies specific characteristics of yard actors, such as orientation, position, and velocity, anticipates their trajectories, and responds to their actions using predictable, human-like behaviors. Data collection from a wide variety of distribution yards feeds Outrider’s proprietary deep-learning models, which create the neural networks for the autonomous system to automate yard tasks with increasing intelligence and precision.

To enable the latest perception capabilities, Outrider updated its multi-modal sensor platform on each autonomous yard truck with over 3x the range and 10x the sensor data to achieve critical safety and performance objectives for scaled driverless operations.

Read more at Outrider Press Release

Introducing TwinBox: RoboDK’s Compact Solution for Production Robot Integration

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🔖 Topics: Industrial Robot, Workcell

🏢 Organizations: RoboDK

RoboDK TwinBox represents the latest step in production robot programming for automation engineers. This compact system, launched in November 2023, integrates pre-installed RoboDK software into industrial PCs and small single-board computers or IPCs. RoboDK TwinBox can manage multiple devices and robots from various manufacturers simultaneously in a production environment. TwinBox can be easily controlled through a web browser, allowing you to trigger actions remotely and have a 3D view of your cell.

Read more at RoboDK Blog

Industrial Policy

How governments are shaping the future industrial landscape.

🇮🇱 Israel grants Intel $3.2 billion for new $25 billion chip plant

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Steven Scheer

Israel’s government agreed to give Intel a $3.2 billion grant for a new $25 billion chip plant it plans to build in southern Israel, both sides said on Tuesday, in what is the largest investment ever by a company in Israel. The expansion plan for its Kiryat Gat site where it has an existing chip plant that is 42 km (26 miles) from Hamas-controlled Gaza is an “important part of Intel’s efforts to foster a more resilient global supply chain, alongside the company’s ongoing and planned manufacturing investments in Europe and the United States,” Intel said in a statement.

Read more at Reuters

🇪🇺 European plans for battery supply chain face delays as US lures components producers

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✍️ Author: Harry Dempsey

European plans of creating a battery supply chain for electric cars independent of China face big delays as companies focus on the US market because of clean energy subsidies, a top manufacturer has warned. Chris Burns, a former Tesla engineer who heads Australian battery materials producer Novonix, told the Financial Times that the US Inflation Reduction Act was drawing producers away from Europe.

Read more at Financial Times

Business Transactions

This week's top funding events, acquisitions, and partnerships across industrial value chains

Luxshare Acquires Leadership of Pegatron’s Kunshan Plant, Challenging Foxconn’s Dominance on iPhone Assembly?

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🔖 Topics: Acquisition

🏢 Organizations: Luxshare, Pegatron, Apple

Chinese iPhone assembly contractor Luxshare Precision is set to officially acquire the controlling stake of Pegaglobe (Kunshan), the iPhone assembly plant under Pegatron. This series of acquisitions will provide Luxshare with a stronger competitive advantage against Foxconn. Concurrently, Luxshare is reinforcing its component layout to enhance its capability to expand iPhone orders.

Following the acquisition of Wistron’s Jiangsu and Kunshan plant, Luxshare has now secured the controlling stake of Pegaglobe (Kunshan), a subsidiary of Pegatron. This marks another acquisition of China’s plants involved in manufacturing iPhone for Taiwanese companies.

Read more at Trend Force

HD Hyundai, Google Cloud team up to accelerate generative AI innovation

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: Hyundai, Google

HD Hyundai and Google Cloud have formed a strategic partnership to use the US firm’s multimodal AI model Gemini, unveiled earlier this month, across the Korean company’s core businesses, including shipbuilding, heavy machinery and energy. Under the partnership, Google Cloud will provide HD Hyundai with enterprise tools such as the Vertex AI platform to develop industry-specific AI applications. Starting in January 2024, HD Hyundai and Google Cloud will develop various AI solutions tailored to industry-specific needs and cultivate AI experts at the Korean conglomerate.

Read more at PR Newswire