Capturing this week's zeitgeist
This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.
GM takes 3D printing to new heights with Cadillac CELESTIQ
The Cadillac CELESTIQ integrates 115 metal and polymer 3D printed components, including a metal laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) steering wheel, 3D printed window switches, grab handles, decorative parts, and structural seatbelt D-rings, which holds the title of being GM’s first 3D printed safety-related part. It’s no surprise that the new low-volume vehicle represents the broadest integration of 3D printed production parts for GM. And we wanted to understand how the company got there; how it has pursued AM so successfully and where it’s going with the technology.
While GM uses a wide array of additive processes across its business, there are a few specific processes that have really excelled for the company’s production applications: metal binder jetting, metal LPBF, and HP’s Multi Jet Fusion.
CRG Automation | Dual Robot, Dual Process Welding Cell
Robots Are Looking Better to Detroit as Labor Costs Rise
Tesla has been a leader in factory robotization, putting pressure on competitors to follow suit. Last year, executives at the world’s most valuable automaker said introducing more automated equipment was a crucial tool in its goal to cut the cost of making future models by 50%.
Dozens of new battery factories and electric-vehicle plants in the works will also open the door to broader use of high-tech systems, analysts say. It is easier and less costly to install robots in a new facility versus retrofitting an existing one. Plus, it is more streamlined to have updated systems that “speak” to each other smoothly, as opposed to popping in a new machine among older ones.
Teardown: What’s Inside a Solenoid-Controlled Safety Interlock?
There are multiple signals inside a safety switch - even more than inside standard E-stop buttons. Four of the terminals are dedicated to sensing the condition of the switch internally, both the solenoid’s position and the actual position of the lock. Two terminals provide control power to the solenoid (supplied from another safety circuit). Two other terminals provide an auxiliary monitor for the status of the lock. Finally, the last two terminals provide a selectable input, either to provide power to an indicator LED or to monitor the position of the solenoid.
Smart Trac: AI-Assisted for Predictive/Condition-Based Vibration Monitoring
New Product Introduction
Highlighting new and innovative products and services
Cognite Announces Beta Launch of Generative AI-Powered Remote Operations Control Room for Celanese Clear Lake Facility
Cognite, a globally recognized leader in industrial software, today announced the beta launch of a generative AI-powered Remote Operations Control Room (ROCR) at the Celanese facility in Clear Lake, Texas. Celanese, a global chemical and specialty materials company, plans to use the ROCR to deliver full visibility into the real-time operation of its sites worldwide, thereby expediting workflows and gaining operational insights orders of magnitude more efficiently.
By integrating generative AI into a Remote Operations Control Room, Cognite will increase visibility to our site leaders and their teams and enable a multitude of possibilities – from monitoring equipment performance to enhancing root cause analysis to streamlining and enhancing our processes,” said Brenda Stout, vice president of Acetyls Manufacturing at Celanese.
Mitsui-Celanese JV commences production of methanol derived from CO2
Fairway Methanol LLC, a US-based 50-50 joint venture between Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (Tokyo) and Celanese Corp. (Dallas, Tex.), has begun the production of methanol by using carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from plants surrounding the joint venture’s facility. Fairway Methanol is expected to capture 180 thousand metric tons of CO2 and produce 130 thousand metric tons of low-carbon methanol per year, which leads its annual production capacity to 1.63 million metric tons per year.
JF35-ADN1 industrial robotics motherboards by Jetway
Jetway has recently introduced a new motherboard, the JF35-ADN1, which is set to significantly impact the field of industrial robotics, including the technology used in Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV). This advanced motherboard is designed to support complex machine vision systems and secure payment solutions, powered by the robust Intel Processor N97 CPU. It stands out with its exceptional connectivity and display options, making it a key player in the realm of industrial automation.
What if You Never Had to Charge Your Gadgets Again?
After decades of trying, consumer electronics companies are rolling out a solar technology that mimics photosynthesis in plants. It lets devices charge indoors and, in some cases, can eliminate batteries entirely. This new tech is based on principles first explored by chemists in the 1960s and turned into workable solar cells in the 1980s. It’s taken until now for versions of these cells tough enough for consumer applications to be manufactured on the scale required for mainstream adoption.
Now, companies including Ambient Photonics and Exeger are offering solar cells of this kind, known as a “dye-sensitized solar cell.” They are lightweight, bendable, made from common materials, and can be manufactured cheaply, in a type of printing process. Sharp is also working on dye-sensitized solar cells, although its version is rigid, and made with the same equipment used to make LCD panels.
IHI Brings Planet Closer to a Carbon-Free Future by Developing World’s First Aircraft Engine-Embedded Megawatt-Class Electric Motor
IHI announces it and several domestic partners jointly developed the world’s first one-megawatt-class (see note 1) electric motor (note 2) mounted inside a jet engine tail cone (note 3). This achievement is one fruit of the company’s More Electric Architecture for Aircraft and Propulsion (MEAAP) project. This technological innovation initiative aims to optimize the overall energy management of aircraft systems, including engines, to help cut their carbon dioxide emissions.
TSIS Deploys RRAI Autonomous Yard Tractors For Detroit Intermodal Hub
In a vitally important supply-chain niche, the Autonomous Yard Tractor (AYT) space is steadily gaining momentum. Truck Specialized Information Services (TSIS) has chosen RRAI to deploy Automated Vehicle tech in their partner’s Oasis Trucking Centers (Oasis) bustling trailer storage yard in Detroit, Michigan. TSIS and Oasis teamed up to develop this TSIS Detroit truckport, with AYT operations beginning last August with initial deployment of two vehicles.
How governments are shaping the future industrial landscape.
🇩🇪 Northvolt chooses Germany over US for new EV battery plant with €902M aid
The European Commission to approve a €902 million German state aid measure to retain Germany as the location of Northvolt’s new EV battery manufacturing plan. In line with the Green Deal Industrial Plan, the Commission approved the aid under the State aid Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework. Without the funds, Northvolt would establish its plant in the United States, with the backing offered through the Inflation Reduction Act.
🇰🇷 Korean steelmakers mull anti-dumping suit vs Chinese, Japanese firms
Under growing pressure from increased imports of cheap Chinese and Japanese steel products, South Korean steelmakers are considering filing an anti-dumping complaint with the Seoul government against their rivals in the two neighboring countries.
POSCO Holdings Inc., the parent of Korea’s top steelmaker POSCO, and Hyundai Steel Co. are reeling from heavy inflows of steel products from China and Japan, which are also struggling to cope with rising inventories amid weak demand at home.
🇮🇹 Italy considers special administration for ArcelorMittal steel plant
Italy’s government could put the former Ilva steel plant under special administration after its main shareholder ArcelorMittal rejected a state-backed plan to keep the site afloat. ArcelorMittal, the world’s second-largest steelmaker, took control of Acciaierie d’Italia (ADI) formerly known as Ilva in 2018. It currently owns 62% of ADI, while public investment agency Invitalia has the remaining 38%.
Bogged down by an increase in energy prices and a drop in rolled steel coil prices, the steel plant has long been short of cash and has accumulated a huge debt pile with suppliers, including energy giant Eni.
This week's top funding events, acquisitions, and partnerships across industrial value chains
INERATEC Raises $129 Million Led by Piva Capital to Usher in the Next Era of Sustainable Mobility
INERATEC, a pioneering e-Fuel company, announced it has raised over $129 million in its Series B funding round, led by Piva Capital with additional participation from HG Ventures, TDK Ventures, Copec WIND Ventures, RockCreek, Emerald, Samsung Ventures as well as the increased support from current investors, including global corporates like ENGIE New Ventures, Safran Corporate Ventures and Honda.
INERATEC’s technological advancement is a scalable patented technology that enables the production of ‘drop-in’ e-Fuels. The process involves two main steps: first, turning CO2 and hydrogen into synthesis gas, then using a second reactor to turn the synthesis gas into liquid and solid hydrocarbons. The e-Fuels are compliant with standards targeted for industries heavily relying on fossil fuels, such as aviation, shipping, road transport, and the chemical industry.
Since it was founded in 2016, INERATEC has built and operated numerous pilot plants and is engaged with over 30 customers in the respective fields of application. Additionally, the company has been recognized with several key awards, including the German Founders Award, the Next Economy Award, and the EARTO Award and was recently selected as Top Innovator by UpLink, the Innovation platform of the World Economic Forum.
International Battery Company raises USD 35 Mn to revolutionize EV adoption in India
International Battery Company (IBC), a product and technology company that specializes in the creation of eco-friendly, large-sized rechargeable Prismatic Li-ion NMC batteries, is announcing it has raised USD 35 Million. This includes a Pre-Series A round, led by RTP Global, and contributions from a broader investment base, which includes Beenext, Veda VC, and other strategic Korean and US Investors. The investment marks an important moment in IBC’s journey to revolutionize the global EV landscape.
IBC is channeling this investment into a 50MWh capacity ramp manufacturing plant and has developed United Nations 38.3 and BIS-certified, ready-for-delivery battery cells for the Indian market, reflecting the growing needs of India’s EV and energy storage sectors. These batteries will meet the region’s distinctive requirements, such as the need to operate safely in high temperatures, support fast charging capability, and offer an extended lifecycle, with a 7–10-year warranty. Furthermore, its highly eco-friendly products use components that are fully recyclable and reusable, supporting India’s push towards a greener future and closed-loop manufacturing, where materials are repurposed and reused, minimizing waste and reducing environmental impact.
weavix® Secures $23.6 Million in Series B Funding
weavix, the Wichita-based technology firm specializing in frontline communication and efficiency solutions, announced today it has successfully raised $23.6 million in its latest Series B funding round. The investment was led by global software investor Insight Partners, with participation from Four More Capital, The Friedkin Group, and Perkins Coie. As strategic partners and leaders in the industrial world, they now join Koch Disruptive Technologies, which previously invested $10 million in Series A funding in January 2022.
With this new funding, weavix intends to expand its product offerings and strengthen its market presence in industries such as manufacturing, construction, food and beverage production, hospitality, and energy. The funds raised will be primarily allocated to rapidly scale operations across the United States to meet demand and secure the position as the leading frontline worker platform benefiting the hands-on workforce through employee communication to drive engagement, enablement, and retainment.
ZymoChem Closes $21M Series A Round Led by Breakout Ventures with Investments from lululemon and Toyota Ventures
ZymoChem, creators of the world’s most carbon-efficient bio-manufacturing platform, closed a $21 million Series A round. The investment is led by Breakout Ventures with participation from new investors including lululemon athletica, inc. and Toyota Ventures, and existing investors including GS Futures, KdT Ventures, and Cavallo Ventures. By pairing this financing with existing revenues from commercial partnerships and funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, ZymoChem will launch its first high-performance material and advance its first partnered product to commercial scale.
3DEO Secures Strategic Investment
3DEO, a Los Angeles-based leader in design, engineering and metal additive manufacturing (AM), today announced a significant investment from the Development Bank of Japan Inc. (DBJ) and Seiko Epson Corporation (EPSON). This partnership marks a pivotal step in 3DEO’s expansion and underscores the confidence in its proprietary end-to-end 3D printing technology. The investment will propel 3DEO’s growth strategies in North America and Japan, expanding opportunities for partnership in the semiconductor, aerospace, medical devices and equipment, and industrial sectors.
3DEO’s unique approach focuses on a specialization in complex metal 3D printed components/assemblies and advanced Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM), and is underpinned by a differentiated portfolio of 18 patents. 3DEO’s purpose-driven vision empowers customers to innovate and design competitively positioned products, while its end-to-end solution, encompassing proprietary software, metal 3D printers, robotics, and materials, streamlines the production process. This integration significantly reduces the complexity for clients, allowing them to scale up without the burden of mastering AM processes themselves, supported by 3DEO’s comprehensive DfAM training and expertise.
Element Zero Raises US$10M Seed Funding Led by Playground Global
Element Zero, a green materials platform company, announced today that it has raised US$10 million in seed funding led by Playground Global. The company has developed a novel approach to cost-effectively convert metal ores, such as iron, nickel, and other future-facing materials, to pure metals with zero carbon emissions. The low energy consumption and the ability to operate using intermittent renewable energy underpins the company’s capability to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale. Element Zero will use the funding to grow R&D, engineering, and project development teams and scale the development of a pilot iron plant. Peter Barrett, Co-Founder and General Partner at Playground Global, has joined the company’s board of directors.
Toyota Motor Corporation Collaborates with READY Robotics to Introduce Sim-to-Real Robotic Programming in Industrial Manufacturing Using NVIDIA Omniverse
READY Robotics, a pioneer in operating systems for automation and robotics, is collaborating with Toyota Motor Corporation and NVIDIA to bring a significant leap forward in industrial robotics. Toyota will employ READY ForgeOS in tandem with NVIDIA Isaac Sim, a robotics simulator developed on NVIDIA Omniverse, to build a state-of-the-art simulated robotic programming environment for its aluminum hot forging production lines.
This groundbreaking collaboration is set to enhance safety and efficiency in Toyota’s manufacturing processes. Typically, programming robotic systems for forging necessitates that the metal parts remain hot during programming, presenting significant safety challenges. By integrating NVIDIA Isaac Sim — an extensible application developed on the Omniverse platform for simulating, developing and testing robots — with ForgeOS, programming can now be accomplished seamlessly in a simulated environment, eliminating the risks associated with hot parts.
Figure announces commercial agreement with BMW Manufacturing to bring general purpose robots into automotive production
Figure, a California-based company developing autonomous humanoid robots, announced that it has signed a commercial agreement with BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC to deploy general purpose robots in automotive manufacturing environments.
Under the agreement, BMW Manufacturing and Figure will pursue a milestone-based approach. In the first phase, Figure will identify initial use cases to apply the Figure robots in automotive production. Once the first phase has been completed, the Figure robots will begin staged deployment at BMW’s manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Microsoft and Cognite extend partnership to build industrial data operations platform on Microsoft Fabric and Azure OpenAI Service
Long-time partners Microsoft and Cognite have successfully delivered digital transformation value to industrial customers in energy, industrial carbon management, manufacturing, and renewables globally. In a landmark new collaboration, Cognite and Microsoft are excited to announce an expansion of their strategic partnership to bring enterprise data operations to the generative AI era, from the shop floor all the way to the top floor. For the first time, enterprise and industrial—information technology (IT), operational technology (OT), and engineering technology (ET)—converge for data operations and AI value.
John Deere, Meet Elon Musk: SpaceX Satellites to Link Farm Giant’s Equipment
Deere said it would tap SpaceX’s satellite fleet to propel the tractor maker’s digital farming push and help automate planting and harvesting in remote locations. The world’s largest farm machinery manufacturer signed a deal with SpaceX’s Starlink business to connect tractors, seed planters, crop sprayers and other equipment in areas that lack adequate internet service, allowing them to use Deere’s digital products.
Synopsys to buy engineering software firm Ansys in $35 billion deal
Chip design software maker Synopsys, opens new tab said it would buy Ansys, opens new tab in a $35 billion cash-and-stock deal. The transaction will create a massive new player in a sector of the business software industry that is already highly consolidated, which Wells Fargo said in a note creates regulatory uncertainty. After the news, Synopsys shares were up 3.8% to $513, but Ansys shares were down 4.8% to $329.86.