A Great Manufacturing Transformation


Shop Talk

Capturing this week's zeitgeist

Check out ASML’s short film and how it was made:

The film was made with 1,963 natural language prompts that yielded 7,852 images, which were edited and then rendered by more than 900 computers. These renders were then processed with various generative AI techniques with the total film covering 25,957 frames at 1,000 MB per frame. The trickiest scene was Isaac Newton and his apple among the planets. It took the team more than 20 attempts to get Newton’s scene right, producing more than 9,800 frames.

Kaizen Blitz

Assembly Line

This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.

The IX Reference Architecture Evolves for the Journey to Zero+

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Niels Andersen

🏢 Organizations: LNS Research

The LNS Research Reference Architecture is a future-looking framework that categorizes the technological capabilities needed to deliver for all personas involved in manufacturing operations. While previous frameworks have been focused on core functions such as operations, quality, asset performance management, IT, and OT, our research shows that companies that successfully transform include a broader set of functional areas. Industrial operations have moved from a pure focus on cost reduction to a more extensive scope around profitability, sustainability, and the Future of Industrial Work (FOIW) lifecycle to achieve the vision of Operation 2030 and the Journey to Zero+.

Read more at LNS Research Blog

Walking Through a Big PCB Factory in China

Cobot creates ‘cell manufacturing dream’ for plastics thermoformer

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Cobot, Thermoforming

🏢 Organizations: Universal Robots, Kal Plastics

Thermoforming, a technology that is more than a century old, uses sheet plastic that is heated to become soft so it can be vacuum-formed in or around a mold. Excess plastic is then cut off to create final products with dimensions that range from a few inches to the size of a room.

When Kal Plastics needed to replace a CNC machine that was nearing the end of its life, Goff was presented with an opportunity. She set out to research the use of cobots for her own business and agreed to share her findings at the organization’s national conference. “I did my homework and found that Universal Robots was the global leader in the collaborative robot space,” Goff said. “They came out and gave us a demonstration, and when I looked at the numbers, they were really attractive. I was looking at getting another five-axis CNC router, and at the time it would have been a $250,000 investment and I would have waited 12 months to take delivery. When I met with UR, I was quoted two weeks to get the equipment, and the entry point was a quarter or a fifth of the cost.”

Read more at The Robot Report

Audio-Visual Effects of a Collaborative Robot on Worker Efficiency

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Cobot

🏢 Organizations: University of Maribor

Collaborative workplaces are increasingly used in production systems. The possibility of direct collaboration between robots and humans brings many advantages, as it allows the simultaneous use of human and robotic strengths. However, collaboration between a collaborative robot and a human raises concerns about the safety of the interaction, the impact of the robot on human health, human efficiency, etc. Additionally, research is unexplored in the field of the collaborative robot’s audio-visual effects on the worker’s efficiency. Our study results contribute to the field of studying collaborative robots’ audio-visual effects on the worker’s behavior. In this research, we analyze the effect of the changing motion parameters of the collaborative robot (speed and acceleration) on the efficiency of the worker and, consequently, on the production process. Based on the experimental results, we were able to confirm the impact of robot speed and acceleration on the worker’s efficiency in terms of assembly time. We also concluded that the sound level and presence of a visual barrier between the worker and robot by themselves have no effect on the worker’s efficiency. The experimental part of the paper clearly identifies the impact of visualization on work efficiency. According to the results, the robot’s audio-visual effects play a key role in achieving high efficiency and, consequently, justifying the implementation of a collaborative workplace.

Read more at Symmetry

Making air conditioner manufacturing cool again

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Facility Design, Worker Safety

🏢 Organizations: SICK, Liebherr-Transportation Systems

In just six months, Liebherr-Transportation Systems completely reconstructed two manufacturing lines, significantly upgrading them in the process. “The facility was divided into these three manufacturing lines because the three areas require very different manufacturing steps, and need to handle components of differing sizes,” Ahmad said.

The manufacturing lines – apart from the E-Box manufacturing – were first set up and tested in Korneuburg. What was especially pleasing to the two responsible persons in Korneuburg was the fact that many previously absent technologies were being used. A Kanban material delivery system and semi-automatic test steps were developed, the manufacturing became paperless, and the issue of safety gained an entirely new importance as it was able to be completely revisited.

The new production lines use, among other things, the intelligent deTec safety light curtains, TR110 Lock safety switches with locking function, various safety command devices (like emergency stop, reset, and enabling switches), signal lamps, various safety switches, and the versatile, programmable Flexi Soft safety controller.

Read more at SICK Sensor Connection

Mech-Mind AI + 3D Vision-Guided Applications in Automotive Industry

Robust unsupervised-learning based crack detection for stamped metal products

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Penghua Zhang, Hojun Ryu, Yinan Miao, Seungpyo Jo, Gyuhae Park

🔖 Topics: Anomaly Detection, Autoencoder

🏢 Organizations: Chonnam National University, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, KIA

Crack detection plays an important role in the industrial inspection of stamped metal products. While supervised learning methods are commonly used in the quality assessment process, they often require a substantial amount of labeled data, which can be challenging to obtain in a well-tuned production line. Unsupervised learning has demonstrated exceptional performance in anomaly detection. This study proposes an unsupervised algorithm for crack detection on stamped metal surfaces, capable of classification and segmentation without the need for crack images during training. The approach leverages the Vector Quantized-Variational Autoencoder 2 (VQ-VAE2) based model to reconstruct input images, while retaining crack details. Additionally, latent features at different scales are quantized into discrete representations using a codebook. To learn the distribution of these discrete representations from non-crack samples, the study utilizes PixelSNAIL, an autoregressive model used for sequential modeling. In the testing stage, the model assigns low probabilities to discrete features that deviate from the non-crack distribution. These potential crack candidate features are resampled using vectors in the codebook that exhibit the highest dissimilarity. The edited representations are then fed into the decoder to generate resampled images that have the most significant differences in the crack area from the original reconstruction. Crack patterns are extracted at the pixel level by subtracting resampled images from the reconstruction. Prior knowledge that crack patterns often appear darker is leveraged to enhance the crack features. A robust classification criterion is introduced based on the probability given by the autoregressive model. Extensive experiments were conducted using images captured from stamped metal panels. The results demonstrate that the proposed technique exhibits robust performance and high accuracy.

Read more at Journal of Manufacturing Systems

Intelligent Layering Metal 3D Printing at 3DEO

Real-Time Programming: Priority Inversion

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Stephanie Eng

🏢 Organizations: PickNik Robotics

Many robotics applications have real-time requirements, which means that they must be able to execute sections of code within a strict deadline. A control loop is one such example - failure to complete the control loop in time may cause controller instability or trigger protective stops! For ROS applications, ros2_control is a framework that can be used for real-time control of robots using ROS 2. Whether writing a real-time application with ros2_control, or your own custom real-time application, real-time code requires a specific set of concerns around ensuring latency is controlled and deadlines are met.

In this blog post, we’re going to discuss priority inversion, which is a potential source of unbounded latency that needs to be avoided in your real-time code. Priority inversion is very much a concern for robotics: a famous example is that priority inversion caused a failure on the Mars Pathfinder!

Read more at PickNik Blog

New Product Introduction

Highlighting new and innovative products and services

Canon aims to ship low-cost ‘stamp’ machine this year to disrupt chipmaking

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: David Keohane, Kana Inagaki

🔖 Topics: Lithography

🏭 Vertical: Semiconductor

🏢 Organizations: Canon

First unveiled in mid-October, Canon’s nanoimprint lithography — a technology under development for more than 15 years but which the company says is only now commercially viable — stamps chip designs on to silicon wafers rather than etching them using light. The process, says Canon, will be “one digit” cheaper and use up to 90 per cent less power than Netherlands-based ASML’s market-dominating and light-based extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology.

Read more at Financial Times

Those who adapt the fastest win

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: FAULHABER

The range of tasks that is being carried out by robots has become limitless. It includes gripping, holding as well as manipulations such as clamping and screwing through to foaming and welding. And when it comes to standardized mass production, specialized robots can be used, which perform the same tasks day and night. But many processes require flexibility, such as when it comes to batch size 1. This is also important to save on investment costs. The greater the range of tasks that a robot can carry out, the better.

This is where the TKX tool changer comes in. Mounted to the end of the robot arm, it is able to remove a variety of different tools from a rack. For example, it enables the robot to first grip and position a workpiece, then to process it with tools, and finally to check and document the quality with a contour sensor or a camera. For this, the adapter needs suitable feedthroughs for the corresponding tool functions. The TKX series offers all conceivable options here, plus several lateral screw-on surfaces for additional modules. But the main task of the tool changer is to securely lock the tool when it is picked up, and to quickly and consistently release the lock again when it is set down after use.

Read more at FAULHABER Blog

HD Hyundai launches world's first mega methanol-fueled container

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Sang Hoon Sung

🏢 Organizations: HD Hyundai, Maersk

South Korean shipbuilding giant HD Hyundai Co. marked a major milestone in the maritime industry on January 28, christening the world’s first mega methanol-fueled container ship at its Ulsan shipyard. The Ane Maersk, named after Ane Mærsk Mc-Kinney Uggla, the chairman of AP Moller Holdings and mother of Robert Mærsk Uggla, holds the distinction of being the first such vessel with a capacity exceeding 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Read more at Korea Economic Daily

Why BYD is breaking into shipping

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Zeyi Yang

🏢 Organizations: BYD

BYD, the Chinese electric-vehicle maker, has been particularly good at expanding into different, related businesses. Not only can it make high-performing and safe batteries for cars, but it also does almost everything in house, from designing car chips to mining lithium and other materials. The fact that it has subsidiaries in every step of the EV supply chain enables the company to keep its costs down and sell cars at more competitive prices.

Now, to pull that off once again, BYD is starting a sea freight business. As I just wrote in a story published today, the company is assembling a fleet of at least eight car-carrier ships that will transport BYD cars from factories in China to sell in Europe, South America, and other markets.

Read more at MIT Technology Review

GITAI Autonomous Robotic Arm Arrives at Space Station to Conduct ISAM External Tech-Demo

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: GITAI, SpaceX

GITAI USA Inc. (GITAI), the world’s leading space robotics startup, is pleased to announce that its 1.5-meter-long autonomous dual robotic arm system (S2) has successfully arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (NG-20) to conduct an external demonstration of in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing (ISAM) while onboard the ISS. The success of the S2 tech-demo will be a major milestone for GITAI, confirming the feasibility of this technology as a fully operational system in space.

Read more at PR Newswire

Industrial Policy

How governments are shaping the future industrial landscape.

🇯🇵 Japan's NTT, Intel to collaborate on cutting-edge chips using optical tech

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: NTT Data, Intel, SK Hynix

Japanese telecom carrier NTT will develop technologies to mass-produce next-generation semiconductors that drastically reduce power consumption by utilizing optical technology, in partnership with U.S. chipmaker Intel and other semiconductor companies. SK Hynix of South Korea is also expected to participate in the initiative, which eyes countering China by cooperating in research and development of cutting-edge strategic technologies. The Japanese government will provide about 45 billion yen ($305 million) in support.

Read more at Nikkei Asia

🇺🇸 A Great Transformation: Advanced Manufacturing’s Future is in the National Defense Industrial Strategy

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Matt Kremenetsky

Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation: the Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (1944) starts with an appropriately jarring first sentence: “Nineteenth-century civilization has collapsed.” While perhaps not as readable as Polanyi, the Department of Defense’s first-ever National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS), released on January 11, 2024, also begins rather succinctly: “A robust and resilient industrial base provides the enduring foundation for military advantage.”

20th century civilization had collapsed. 21st century civilization is still in the process of forming. Its formation is being accelerated by the full-scale reemergence of industrial policy.

Read more at 3DPrint.com

🇦🇺 $200m investment to make Australia a global green steel powerhouse

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Georgia Smith

🏢 Organizations: Bluescope Steel

The Australian Government’s $200m grant to upgrade Australia’s steel industry is a crucial early step to realising Australia’s potential as a global green steel powerhouse, according to the Australian Workers’ Union.

The federal government has announced the first round of the Powering the Regions Fund (PRF) will provide funding to BlueScope Steel Limited and Liberty Steel Australia. Bluescope will use $136.8m to upgrade of its No. 6 Blast Furnace at the Port Kembla Steelworks. LIBERTY has also been awarded $63.2m towards the purchase and commission of a low carbon electric arc furnace to replace its blast furnace at the Whyalla Steelworks.

Read more at Manufacturers Monthly

Business Transactions

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

Inari Accelerates Proven SEEDesign™ Platform for Nature-Positive Agriculture with $103 Million Fundraise

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Inari, Hanwha Impact

Inari announced the completion of a $103 million fundraise, bringing its cumulative equity raised to more than $575 million. The successful investment round signals confidence in Inari’s ability to develop and commercialize higher-yielding seeds that require fewer resources, using AI-powered predictive design and multiplex gene editing.

The fundraise received strong support from existing investors, including Hanwha Impact, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), Rivas Capital, NGS Super, State of Michigan Retirement System and company founder Flagship Pioneering. The company also welcomed several new investors including RCM Private Markets fund, advised by Rokos Capital Management (US) LP.

Read more at PR Newswire

Boston Metal Secures $20M in Series C2 Funding

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Boston Metal, Marunouchi Innovation Partners

Boston Metal, a global metals technology solutions company, today announced a $20 million Series C2 investment from Tokyo-based Marunouchi Innovation Partners. The new funding brings the series total to $282 million.

With this new capital, Boston Metal expands its presence in Asia, a market accounting for more than 70% of the world’s steel production. Additionally, the funding will accelerate the company’s path to commercialization and support its ongoing growth by attracting and retaining top industry talent.

Boston Metal’s Molten Oxide Electrolysis (MOE) technology is a direct, one-step process that can produce high-quality steel from abundant medium- and low-grade iron ores. This flexibility is unique and positions MOE to meet the growing demand for environmentally sustainable steel in various industries. As a platform technology, MOE also allows for the extraction of high-value metals from previously unusable low-concentration materials, like mining waste.

Read more at Business Wire

Tau Group Closes €11 Million Extension to Series-B Round to Fuel Growth and Enhance Production Capacity

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Tau Group, CDP Venture Capital, Santander

Tau Group, a leading technology company driving energy transition and decarbonization efforts, is establishing a new global standard in electric motor insulated wire. Tau has successfully closed a €11 million extension to its Series-B funding round. CDP Venture Capital and Santander Alternative Investments (through Santander InnoEnergy Climate Fund) took the lead in this round, with continued support from existing investors. This strategic funding aligns with Tau’s concurrent expansion of production capacity in a new facility, geared towards fulfilling long-term supply agreements recently inked with automotive industry partners.

Read more at PR Newswire

Peripass to equip 1000 sites with yard management software by 2030, following €7.5M funding

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Peripass, Welvaartfonds

Belgian logistics SaaS scale-up Peripass announced it has secured €7.5 million in funding to accelerate its global expansion. Welvaartfonds led the financing round, which builds on previous investments from the Van Overstraeten Group. With the capital raised, Peripass will focus on building a global partner network and strengthening its existing commercial teams in France, the UK, and Germany.

By digitally streamlining trailer movements, Peripass successfully reduces driver waiting times by up to 70 percent.

Read more at Tech EU

SEMRON secures €7.3M Seed funding for industry-first 3D AI semiconductor chips

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: SEMRON, Join Capital

German semiconductor tech company SEMRON announced it has secured €7.3 million in seed funding. Join Capital, led the current funding round, which saw participation from new investors SquareOne, OTB Ventures, and Hermann Hauser (Onsight Ventures).

SEMRON crafts powerful energy-efficient computer chips designed to enhance AI performance in compact smart devices. The company’s innovative approach utilises a three-dimensional space in chip design, allowing for unprecedented improvements in efficiency.

SEMRON has achieved a significant breakthrough in developing the world’s most energy-efficient semiconductor technology for AI inference. This proprietary technology, named CapRAM™, employs a novel semiconductor device architecture that calculates using a variable capacitor (‘memcapacitor’) instead of relying on currents like resistive approaches and transistors.

Read more at Tech EU

InMotion Ventures’ first investment in Energy Source: $1.2M funding for lithium battery sustainability

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Energy Source, InMotion Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover

Energy Source has caught attention overseas and has raised $1.2 million from InMotion Ventures, the investment arm of JLR (Jaguar Land Rover). This signifies InMotion Ventures’ inaugural venture into the Brazilian market.

Energy Source intends to use the fresh funds to capitalise on the growth of the country’s burgeoning startup ecosystem and broaden its focus beyond the UK and the US. It will use the capital to accelerate growth and expand operations, enabling it to continue catering to global clients in the future, such as JLR, from their 4,500 m2 industrial plant in São João da Boa Vista.

Read more at Tech Funding News

ABB Robotics and Mettler-Toledo International Inc. join forces to accelerate global adoption of flexible lab automation

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: ABB, Mettler-Toledo

ABB Robotics and METTLER TOLEDO, a global supplier of precision instruments and services, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to offer an innovative solution that seamlessly integrates ABB’s robots with LabX™, METTLER TOLEDO’s laboratory instrument management software.

With the collaboration, METTLER TOLEDO’s LabX software will seamlessly integrate into ABB’s OmniCore ™ robot controllers, enabling LabX to orchestrate robotic lab workflows. By combining the flexibility, ease-of-use and precision of ABB robots with the secure data capture, method control and instrument management of LabX, customers can increase lab productivity, reduce system complexity, fulfill data quality, and safety and regulatory requirements. This also relieves scientists and lab technicians of mundane, repetitive tasks; eliminating common errors; and optimizing productivity – providing lab professionals additional time to pursue higher-value activities, such as data analytics.

Read more at ABB News

Cognite and ANYbotics Driving Innovation Within AI Robotics And Safe Operations

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: Cognite, ANYbotics

Cognite, a globally recognized leader in industrial software, and ANYbotics, a globally leading robotics company specializing in the development of advanced four-legged robots for industrial inspection, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where they will enter a non-exclusive collaboration aimed at delivering cutting-edge products and services to global customers. The parties seek to leverage the unique strengths of both companies to offer customers an integrated robotics inspection solution, enabling unmanned operations by providing real-time autonomous data collection in industries such as Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities, Chemicals, and Metals.

ANYbotics’ autonomous robotic inspection, driven by an automated end-to-end workflow, and Cognite’s specialized industrial DataOps platform, Cognite Data Fusion®, complement each other seamlessly and will fuel AI robotics innovation and deployment across current and prospective customers to improve the safety of operations and reduce operational expenditures.

Read more at Cognite Press Release

Honeywell To Drive Distribution Center Efficiency And Enhanced Storage Capacity Through Collaboration With Hai Robotics

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: Honeywell, Hai Robotics

Honeywell announced it will team up with Hai Robotics to deliver flexible, high-density storage and retrieval solutions to distribution centers (DCs). The alliance couples Hai’s innovative robotics technology with Honeywell’s Momentum Warehouse Execution Software, enhanced cybersecurity capabilities and experience integrating robotics solutions. Additionally, it supports Honeywell’s portfolio alignment to three compelling megatrends: automation, the future of aviation and energy transition.

Hai Robotics solutions integrate with Honeywell’s Momentum Warehouse Execution Software, enabling DC operators to analyze real-time operating information across a DC and prioritize and redirect work as it is performed by both robotic systems and people, allowing for reduced costs and greater customer service levels.

Read more at Honeywell Press