AI Ranks as Top Capability for Manufacturers


Shop Talk

Capturing this week's zeitgeist

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Kaizen Blitz

  • 📊 Rockwell’s 9th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing report is out!
    • Respondents believe those at the forefront of the manufacturing industry are using data to fuel AI / ML and optimize processes. However, those surveyed believe their organizations use less than half of the collected data effectively.
    • AI ranks as the top capability manufacturers believe will drive the biggest business outcomes. 83% of manufacturers expect to use generative AI (GenAI) in their operations in 2024.
  • 🌉💸 The Baltimore bridge collapse affects coal, sugar, and automotive parts within the Port of Baltimore.
  • 🏭💰 Factory investment roundup
    • 🚙 Chinese electric vehicle battery manufacturer EVE Energy is reportedly in discussions to invest over £1 billion in constructing a massive new gigafactory on the outskirts of Coventry.
    • 🔋 BMW to Break Ground for Battery Production Center in San Luis Potosi
    • 🔋 Northvolt begins EV battery gigafactory construction in Germany
    • 💉 The GLP-1 effect: Contract drugmaker Schott Pharma will build a prefillable polymer and glass syringe facility in North Carolina
    • 💊 Astellas breaks ground on new €330m state-of-the-art facility in Ireland
    • 💿 Micron’s New Factory in Xi’an Has Started Construction
    • 📷 Sony opens $66m Thailand fab for driver-assist image sensors

Assembly Line

This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.

Navigating the Complexities of PLM-ERP Integration with Graph Models and Modern Digital Product Data

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Product Lifecycle Management, Enterprise Resource Planning

🏢 Organizations: OpenBOM

Graph-based models emerge as a promising solution for addressing the complexities of PLM-ERP integration. Unlike traditional data models, which rely on rigid hierarchies and structures, graph models offer a more flexible and scalable approach. By representing data entities as nodes and their relationships as edges, graph models enable the creation of dynamic and interconnected data structures. This flexibility is particularly beneficial in managing complex dependencies and configurations within PLM and ERP systems.

Read more at BeyondPLM

How Apple’s New Robot Will (Actually) Change The World

This Startup Promised to Help Fashion Go Green. Brands Didn’t Want to Pay for It.

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Trefor Moss

🔖 Topics: Sustainability

🏭 Vertical: Textiles

🏢 Organizations: Renewcell

Last month, the company, Renewcell, filed for bankruptcy. While some big retailers, including H&M and Zara, were enthusiastic backers, not enough brands committed to buying its material. Having misjudged how quickly the fashion industry would switch to more sustainable sourcing, the company was left with a costly factory running far below capacity.

The plight of Renewcell illustrates the fashion industry’s hesitancy in adopting new materials that may be better for the environment but typically cost more, at least in the short term. It is also another sign of how some companies are putting less emphasis on green initiatives amid a more challenging economic climate.

Read more at WSJ

The optimal network concept for artificial intelligence

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Profinet, Time-Sensitive Networks, IT OT Convergence, IIoT, OPC UA

🏢 Organizations: Phoenix Contact

What requirements does the use of AI therefore place on automation and networking? The following points should be kept in mind:

  • Large amounts of data have to be transported from the field to the AI system.
  • The result of the AI operation has an effect on the process to be controlled.
  • High-precision time synchronization is essential for processing and evaluating distributed data from the field level.

A concept in which all of these requirements can be met in a single network is ideal. The mechanisms of Time Sensitive Networks in combination with Profinet form the optimal architecture for AI applications. Compared to separate networks for field communication and IT, there are significant advantages for existing and new applications.

Read more at industrial ethernet book

Inside Samsung Futuristic Factory Building Massive Amount of Smartphone

Inside Boeing’s Quality Control Process for 737 Max Planes

New Product Introduction

Highlighting new and innovative facilities, processes, products, and services

Electra Launches Pilot Plant to Advance Commercialization of Sustainable Clean Iron Production

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🏢 Organizations: Electra, BHP

Electra, a clean iron company, announced the commissioning of its Pilot plant in Boulder, Colorado. The Pilot demonstrates Electra’s first-of-a-kind technology to produce metallic iron from already mined, high-impurity, commercially stranded ores to accelerate decarbonization, sustainability, and circularity across the ore-to-steel value chain.

With 90 percent of steel production’s CO2 emissions coming from ironmaking, Electra’s process takes on this challenge by operating at merely 140 degrees Fahrenheit, enabling seamless integration of intermittent renewable energy resources, making emissions-free iron possible at temperatures colder than coffee. The process intakes a wide range of ores and the principal iron ore impurities like alumina and silica are selectively refined as co-products. With greater than 99 percent purity, Electra’s clean iron, combined with recycled scrap steel, offers the highest value-in-use for electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmakers, while reducing the capital intensity, cost, and waste across the value chain.

Read more at Business Wire

Rootstock Debuts AIRS™: Cutting-Edge AI for Manufacturers

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: Rootstock, Salesforce

Rootstock Software, a recognized leader in the Manufacturing ERP space, is thrilled to announce the launch of AIRS. Short for “Artificial Intelligence (AI) from Rootstock (RS).” Built on Salesforce Einstein 1 Platform, AIRS leverages Rootstock’s unique ERP dataset—including order, supply, financial, and production data. This dataset is collected from across the Signal Chain—from CRM, SCM, PLM, IoT platforms and other systems. As a result, AIRS enables a complete Signal Chain Decisioning Platform, as it bridges the physical and digital worlds and enables smart, autonomous decisions that will redefine manufacturing innovation.

Read more at Business Wire

Asystom announce Valve Leak Detection monitoring solution extending AsystomPredict Industrial offer

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: Asystom

Using ultrasonic technologies combined with unique learning algorithms, AsystomPredict – Valve Monitoring adapts to any type of valve and industry, regardless of the nature of the fluids or usage conditions. Its external mounting system, without any intrusion, allows for quick installation in a few minutes, even in hazardous environments, thus offering optimal flexibility to operators.

Upon installation on a valve, the application begins to analyze its operation, recording opening and closing cycles. After a learning period, the application provides accurate information on the valve’s condition and alerts in case of suspected leaks, thus enabling preventive intervention before problems worsen.

Read more at Asystom News

Inside HISEP® – How TechnipFMC is taking dense gas separation and storage fully subsea

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: TechnipFMC, Petrobas

TechnipFMC was awarded the iEPCI™ contract for Petrobras’s Mero 3 HISEP® carbon capture project at the culmination of a six-year research and development effort. The new technologies delivered by that work enable the separation of CO2-rich dense gas to take place on the seabed. This move reduces greenhouse gas intensity and boosts production capacity on the topside because processing and storage instead happen subsea immediately after fluids are extracted from the reservoir.

In partnership with Petrobras, TechnipFMC developed four key subsea technologies: the separation station, the boosting station, high voltage power distribution, and the dense gas pump. The separation station receives mixed oil, natural gas, and CO2 from the production well. The mix flows into the inlet device and the gravity separator where oil is split from the CO2-rich dense gas. Oil is exported to the topside, while the dense gas is sent to the subsea boosting station where it is scrubbed, cooled and fed to the high-pressure dense gas pump before reinjection into the reservoir.

Read more at TechnipFMC News

Industrial Policy

How governments are shaping the future industrial landscape.

🇨🇳 Will Xi’s manufacturing plan be enough to rescue China’s economy?

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Edward White, Cheng Leng

As Xi Jinping toured China’s central Hunan province last week, local officials were called forward to inform the nation’s powerful leader on their plans to accelerate the development of “new quality productive forces”.

Xi’s pivot towards high-technology manufacturing, rather than relying on incentives to boost consumer-led growth, is drawing scrutiny at home and abroad. Economic growth has slowed since the pandemic, the country’s 1.4bn citizens are hoarding savings rather than spending and foreign direct investment has waned. That weak domestic demand has raised fears that many of the high-tech products Xi espouses will end up being dumped on to export markets.

Read more at Financial Times

🇨🇳 How China uses foreign firms to turbocharge its industry

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Kyle Chan

China uses foreign firms selectively to bring in technology and know-how, to build up its domestic suppliers, and to ultimately sow the seeds for homegrown Chinese companies to compete on the world stage. There are two broad principles at work here.

  1. “Market access in exchange for technology” (市场换技术)
  2. “Bring in technology, absorb it, then re-innovate” (引进技术消化吸收再创新)

The case of LK Group serves as a striking example. Tesla worked with LK Group, a Chinese maker of manufacturing equipment, to produce gigantic casting machines for what Tesla calls “gigacasting.” These casting machines allow Tesla to manufacture large auto components as a single continuous piece, which saves time, factory space, labor, and materials that would normally be needed to weld together many separate pieces. LK Group then went on to sell similar “gigacasting” machines to six Chinese firms, likely other automakers.

Read more at High Capacity

🇳🇱 Cabinet close to €1.4 billion plan to keep ASML, NXP in Eindhoven; End 30% ruling cuts

📅 Date:

A last-ditch effort by the Dutch Cabinet to keep critically important high-tech companies in the Netherlands is nearly finalized, and will amount to at least a billion euros. The fund will allow for a major expansion of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), massive infrastructure investments in the Eindhoven region, more housing in the region, and possible tax breaks, sources close to the Cabinet told NOS.

ASML and Eindhoven semiconductor firm NXP both have been critical of Dutch politicians who have argued to cut all forms of immigration, seriously limit the availability of university courses taught in English, and reduce a key tax break used to lure talented workers from abroad. Dredging companies Boskalis and Van Oord have already announced plans to expand their workforce elsewhere, and ten other firms are considering an exodus.

Read more at NOS

Business Transactions

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

Viam Announces $45M Series B Funding for Revolutionary Software Platform Accelerating AI, Data, and Innovation in Robotics, IoT, and Smart Machines

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Viam, Union Square Ventures, Battery Ventures

Viam, the software platform for smart machines, today announced that it has closed $45 million in Series B financing. The round includes participation from continuing investors, Union Square Ventures and Battery Ventures. The financing brings Viam’s total funding to $87 million. The latest funding will enable Viam to continue accelerating enterprise partnerships, driving commercial innovation, and making further developments into the software platform.

Viam is a fully modular, interoperable, and open source software solution that works seamlessly across all hardware and any fleet of machines. Its open architecture removes costly and complex barriers to working with physical devices, in order to speed developer velocity, democratize access to open data to inform AI, and accelerate innovation in critical sectors such as industrial manufacturing, energy, and climate.

Read more at PR Newswire

Robovision raises $42M to accelerate AI-powered industrial automation

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Robovision, Target Global, Astanor Ventures

AI-powered computer vision, Robovision, has raised $42 million in its latest investment round, bringing its funding to $65 million. Headquartered in Ghent, Robovision’s AI-powered computer vision platform offers an end-to-end, no-code solution for machinery manufacturers and production lines. Target Global and Astanor Ventures led the round. Red River West also joined the funding round.

The funding round will help accelerate Robovision’s U.S. expansion, fostering a robust local presence to address the increasing demand for automated solutions in American factories. The funds will also be used to invest in R&D and growth in existing markets, with future office openings planned across Germany, France, the UK, the Middle East, and Asia.

Read more at Tech EU

Gather AI Raises $17M to Accelerate Growth and Bring Warehouses into the Modern Era with AI-Powered Inventory Monitoring

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Gather AI, Bain Capital

Gather AI, makers of computer vision and AI-powered warehouse inventory monitoring solutions, announced a $17M Series A-1 led by Bain Capital Ventures with participation from Tribeca Venture Partners, Dundee Venture Capital, Expa, and Bling Capital. The new funding provides a total of $34M raised to date. It will be invested in scaling operations as Gather AI continues to attract customers by solving supply chain issues with richer data and AI.

With the Gather AI solution, AI software enables drones to fly autonomously through warehouses, scanning 15 times faster than traditional means. Additional AI infers bar codes, text, empty locations, and other inventory-related information in the images, automatically comparing them with what’s in the warehouse management system (WMS). The warehouse manager can then view inventory data in real time from a web dashboard. Gather AI customers are seeing an ROI of 3-5x, driven by a 66% reduction in warehouse inventory database errors.

Read more at Business Wire

Firecell raises €6.6M Seed funding for 5G industrial solution

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Firecell, Ventech, Matterwave Ventures

Firecell announced the completion of a €6.6 million Seed round in equity led by Ventech and Matterwave Ventures, accompanied by Bpifrance’s Digital Venture fund and Bouygues Telecom Initiative. The funds will be used to develop a new range of products with new features such as geolocation and protection against cyber-attacks. They will also help deploy Firecell’s offering in Europe, notably in Germany, the leading European industrial market, where the startup is establishing a subsidiary, and to recruit new team members.

By reducing the footprint of 5G technologies to operate on standard servers and through strategic partnerships with renowned manufacturers, Firecell enables industrial enterprises of all sizes to pave the way for a smart industry.

Read more at Tech EU

Tomorrow Things raises €1.5M for AI-driven digital twins

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Tomorrow Things, HTGF, neoteq ventures

AI start-up Tomorrow Things has secured €1.5 million in funding to continue the development of an AI-powered Operating System for machines on the internet. High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and neoteq ventures led the funding which was supported by Notion Capital, solo GP Robin Capital, and a number of business angels specializing in fundraising, marketing, and B2B SaaS (Christian Noske, Maximilian Eichler, Thomas Lang, Thomas Hollwedel, and Markus Doetsch).

Tomorrow Things is an intelligent automation platform that creates digital twins of technical assets. Tomorrow Things enables secure bidirectional data transfer between machines and internet applications. AI-driven control strategies can be created centrally by value-add partners and operated on the edge to execute optimised setpoints in the machine interface that achieve better results.

Read more at Tech EU

Shell and Verdagy to Collaborate on Renewable Hydrogen Projects

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: Shell, Verdagy

Verdagy, a renewable hydrogen electrolysis company with over a decade of technology and product development experience, announced today that Shell provided technical endorsement of Verdagy’s eDynamic® electrolyzers. This major step qualifies Verdagy as a supplier in its upcoming green hydrogen projects. Verdagy worked with the Shell team to successfully complete a rigorous “HAZOP” (safety) review along with a detailed Design and Technology Development Review of Verdagy’s electrolyzers, as necessary and important steps to commercial adoption within Shell.

Read more at Verdagy News

International Paper stirs up possible bidding war over DS Smith

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Acquisition

🏢 Organizations: International Paper, DS Smith

International Paper has stirred up a potential bidding war over British paper packaging firm DS Smith making a takeover offer that sent the shares of the FTSE-100 target over a two-year high. DS Smith said it was in discussions with International Paper over an all-stock offer from the U.S.-listed company, which valued it at 5.72 billion pounds ($7.22 billion), or 415 pence per share.

Read more at Reuters