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Shop Talk

Capturing this week's zeitgeist

The McMaster-Carr Rocket Challenge

Everyone knows you can’t build a rocket without McMaster-Carr. But can you build a rocket from only the McMaster-Carr catalog? How high will it fly? How cheap can you make it? These are the questions.

The challenge: build a rocket using only materials and equipment available from the McMaster catalog. Fly the rocket (safely!). Record the altitude and document the budget. Produce a photo album, build video, or similar with enough detail that we can figure out what you did and that someone skilled at McMastering stuff together could probably replicate it. Fly something cheaper and/or higher than other folks and we’ll list you on the winners list. All successful entrants get on the honorable mentions list.

Kaizen Blitz

Assembly Line

This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.

Honeywell exec reveals plan to deliver $100 million in value with generative AI: “Just getting started”

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Matt Marshall

🔖 Topics: Generative AI

🏢 Organizations: Honeywell

Jordan did not divulge which specific gen AI application is yielding the most value, but said the company has a range of generative projects that fall into five buckets, and that value is being realized across all of them. She said GitHub and large language models (LLMs) for operations, in particular, have shown early promise.

Honeywell has created a Generative AI Council, made up of representatives of the company’s functional and business departments. Each function and department has a plan for generative AI, and that translates into 24 active programs that have either been deployed or will be deployed over the next couple of months, Jordan said. Jordan is personally tracking the P&L of the projects, and how they are controlled, and works closely with a colleague who is running the Council. Moreover, the CEO holds an all-day staff meeting monthly, and generative AI is an agenda topic every month.

Read more at VentureBeat

Formlabs Form 4 Beats Injection Molding Machine in Speed and Quality

More integration of components: The story behind AISIN's 'X-in-1' eAxle

📅 Date:

🏭 Vertical: Automotive

🏢 Organizations: Aisin

“X-in-1” is the generic term for an eAxle that combines multiple components or functions into one, where “X” indicates the number of integrated components. For example, when five components are integrated, it is called a “5-in-1” eAxle; when eight components are integrated, it’s an “8-in-1” eAxle, and so on.

The current mainstream eAxle is a combination of inverter, gearbox and motor. This is called a “3-in-1” eAxle. Aisin is developing a 3-in-1 eAxle based on a three-generation concept. The first-generation eAxle has already been mass-produced and is used in Toyota’s bZ4X and other electric vehicles. We aim to achieve the world’s highest level of efficiency in the second-generation eAxle, which is scheduled to be introduced in 2025 to help strengthen a full product lineup. The third-generation eAxle is aimed at achieving overwhelming miniaturization, reducing the overall size by 50 percent of the first generation.

Read more at Aisin Innovation Blog

Robotic lab proves new recipes make cleaner battery materials

Semiconductor advancements: Elastic strain ‘map’ guides the fine-tuning of material properties

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Lisa McDonald

🔖 Topics: Elastic strain engineering, Materials Science

🏭 Vertical: Semiconductor

If manufacturers are to meet the demand for semiconductors and improved computing performance, new materials and system structures must be identified and implemented. Elastic strain engineering (ESE) may help address this need. In contrast to doping, which tunes a semiconductor’s properties by adding trace amounts of other elements into the material, ESE tunes a material’s properties solely through the introduction of controlled mechanical strain. This method can be an easier way to tune the properties of wide-bandgap semiconductors, such as diamond, which are difficult to dope.

In February 2024, the researchers published their latest paper on the topic. In contrast to previous studies, which focused on answering specific open questions in the field, the new open-access paper took that knowledge and created a general “map” showing how to tune crystalline materials to produce specific thermal and electronic properties. The map, which was created using a combination of first principles calculations and machine learning, plots the stability regions of a crystal in six-dimensional strain space. Looking at the map reveals the conditions under which a material can exist in a particular phase and when it might fail or transition to another phase.

Read more at The American Ceramic Society

AF-FTTSnet: An end-to-end two-stream convolutional neural network for online quality monitoring of robotic welding

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Yuxiang Hong, Xingxing He, Jing Xu

🔖 Topics: Robot Welding, Quality Assurance, Machine Vision

🏢 Organizations: China Jiliang University

Online welding quality monitoring (WQM) is crucial for intelligent welding, and deep learning approaches considering spatiotemporal features for WQM tasks show great potential. However, one of the important challenges for existing approaches is to balance the spatiotemporal representation learning capability and computational efficiency, which makes it challenging to adapt welding processes with complex and drastic molten pool dynamic behavior. This paper proposes a novel approach for WQM using molten pool visual sensing and deep learning considering spatiotemporal features, the proposed deep learning network called attention fusion based frame-temporality two-stream network (AF-FTTSnet). Firstly, a passive vision sensor is used to acquire continuous dynamic molten pool images. Meanwhile, temporal difference images are computed to provide novel features and temporal representations. Then, a two-stream feature extraction module is designed to concurrently extract rich spatiotemporal features from molten pool images and temporal difference images. Finally, an attention fusion module with the ability to automatically identify and weight the most relevant features is designed to achieve optimal fusion of the two-stream features. The shop welding experimental results indicate that the proposed AF-FTTSnet model can effectively and robustly recognize five typical welding states during helium arc welding, with an accuracy of 99.26%. This model has been demonstrated to exhibit significant performance improvements compared to mainstream temporal sequence models.

Read more at Journal of Manufacturing Systems

New Product Introduction

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

Opening a window to the food industry’s future: the world’s first factory growing food out of thin air launches

📅 Date:

🏭 Vertical: Food

🏢 Organizations: Solar Foods

Factory 01, Solar Foods’ first commercial-scale production facility of Solein®, starts production in Vantaa, Finland. It marks the beginning of the commercialisation of the novel protein and showcases what the future of food production could look like. Solein® is the revolutionary protein grown out of a tiny but mighty micro-organism with CO2 and electricity by the Finnish foodtech company Solar Foods.

Beyond the major step the facility represents for the company’s business, it is also a historic first of its kind for cellular agriculture. Factory 01’s bioreactor grows the same amount of Solein protein per day as a 300-cow dairy farm would produce milk protein – and does this all while being entirely decoupled from the demands and environmental stresses of traditional agriculture. Vainikka likens its significance to food production to the impact quantum computing will have on information processing.

Read more at Solar Foods

Intel builds world’s largest neuromorphic system

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Neil Tyler

🏢 Organizations: Intel, Sandia National Laboratories

The system, code-named Hala Point, has initially been deployed at Sandia National Laboratories, and uses Intel’s Loihi 2 processor. It is intended to support research into future brain-inspired artificial intelligence (AI), as well as tackling challenges that are related to the efficiency and sustainability of today’s AI.

Hala Point is the first large-scale neuromorphic system to demonstrate state-of-the-art computational efficiencies on mainstream AI workloads. Characterization shows it can support up to 20 petaops, with an efficiency exceeding 15 trillion 8-bit operations per second per watt (TOPS/W) when executing conventional deep neural networks.

Read more at New Electronics

Industrial Policy

How governments are shaping the future industrial landscape.

🇨🇳 How Innovative Is China in the Robotics Industry?

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Robert D. Atkinson

China does not yet appear to be leading in robotic innovation, but its domestic production and adoption are growing rapidly, and the Chinese government has prioritized the industry. It is likely only a matter of time before Chinese robotics companies catch up to the leading edge.

Indeed, when it comes to robot adoption, China appears to be in a class of its own, with its national and provincial governments committing massive amounts of money to subsidize adoption of robots and other automation technology. This is one reason why, according to IFR, China has been the world’s largest market for industrial robots for eight consecutive years. In 2022, 52 percent of all industrial robots in the world were installed in China, up from 14 percent a decade earlier. The fact that the Chinese automobile industry is now the largest in the world is also a boon to Chinese robotic adoption, as the auto industry is a major purchaser of industrial robots.

Read more at ITIF

Business Transactions

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

Tree Energy Solutions secures €140M to fuel production of electric natural gas derived from green hydrogen

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Tree Energy Solutions, Azimut Group, Fortescue, EON

Brussels-based Tree Energy Solutions (TES), a global green energy company, announced that it has concluded its third fundraising round at €140M from financial institutions and energy investors, including Azimut Group, Fortescue, E.ON, HSBC, O.G. Energy, Zhero and others. Existing shareholders, including AtlasInvest, Reggeborgh, Zhero, and Zodiac Maritime, participated in the funding round.

The company will use the funds to develop its global portfolio of large-scale e-NG (electric natural gas derived from green hydrogen) production projects and its import terminal project in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

Read more at Silicon Canals

KODE Labs Secures $30M Series B Funding to Propel Global Net-Zero Building Emissions

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: KODE Labs, Maverix Private Equity

KODE Labs, a pioneering Detroit-based autonomous smart building startup, proudly announced the closure of a robust $30 million Series B round. Spearheaded by Maverix Private Equity, this milestone round also saw enthusiastic participation from esteemed partners TELUS Ventures and existing investor I Squared Capital. The infusion of strategic capital marks a pivotal moment for KODE, empowering the company to help buildings worldwide achieve net-zero emissions.

Read more at PR Newswire

AI Precision Spraying Pioneer Greeneye Technology Raises $20M to Scale U.S. Operation

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Greeneye Technology, Deep Insight

Greeneye Technology, the pioneer of AI-enabled precision spraying technology that is proven to reduce herbicide use in farming by an average of 88%, announces the completion of a $20m funding round led by Israeli investment company Deep Insight. The investment will be used to significantly scale Greeneye’s operation in the U.S. and to advance the technology’s analytical capabilities and extend its usage to new inputs and crops. The next phase of expansion will see dozens more systems deployed in farmers’ fields this year, targeting the 200m acres of corn, soybean and cotton grown in the U.S.

The round is supported by existing investors Syngenta Group Ventures, JVP, Orbia Ventures, and Eyal Waldman, the founder and former CEO of Mellanox (now part of Nvidia), as well as other notable new investors including Iron Nation and Amol Deshpande, the founder and former CEO of FBN. Also as part of today’s announcement, Greeneye welcomes Barak Ben Eliezer, Managing Partner at Deep Insight, to its Board of Directors.

Read more at PR Newswire

GA Drilling Announces First Close of $15M to Accelerate the Delivery of Deep Geothermal Energy

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: GA Drilling, Nabors

GA Drilling, the leader in deep geothermal, announced the first close of $15 million in financing after a series of successful tests. The investment fuels the commercialization of geothermal technologies to scale the renewable energy source as a real option to replace fossil fuels for baseload power. Delivering deep geothermal faster and at deeper depths while remaining cost-effective is how the company will go from delivering megawatts of energy to terawatts. Investors include leading global drilling rig, services, and technology provider, Nabors, Christian Oldendorff’s new Family Office, alfa8, the previous CEO of private equity firm EQT, Thomas von Koch, newly established geothermal fund Underground Ventures, and Slovakia-based, Neulogy Ventures.

Read more at Globe Newswire

Exyte acquires Kinetics Group to enhance global leadership in high-tech facility solutions

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Acquisition

🏢 Organizations: Exyte, Kinetics Group, Quadriga Capital

Exyte, a global leader in the design, engineering, and delivery of high-tech facilities, plans the acquisition of Kinetics Group. Kinetics is a globally leading provider of installation services, equipment, as well as technical facility management. Exyte and investment firm Quadriga Capital have signed the respective contracts. The purchase price has been agreed to remain confidential. The transaction is subject to the necessary regulatory approvals.

Read more at PR Newswire

Schneider Electric Confirms Talks With Bentley Systems

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Acquisition

🏢 Organizations: Schneider Electric, Bentley Systems

Schneider Electric, the global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, confirms that, as part of its continuous exploration of opportunities in furtherance of its One Software strategy, it has been holding discussions with Bentley Systems with regards to a potential strategic transaction. Discussions remain at a preliminary stage regarding a potential transaction, and there is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed upon.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

Artelys Optimizes Toyota Motor Europe Vehicle Processing Using FICO Technology

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: Artelys, Toyota, FICO

Artelys, an independent company specializing in numerical optimization, modeling, and decision support, has used FICO optimization technology to build a solution that optimizes post-production activity in Toyota Motor Europe’s vehicle distribution hubs, organizing tens of thousands of operations on thousands of vehicles a day. The manual scheduling that used to take three hours per day for each hub is now done in 20 minutes.

A customer buying a vehicle from a Toyota retailer can add numerous options to a Toyota vehicle such as a navigation system, a towing bar or a parking assist system. To minimize delivery time, the solution has increased the efficiency of the distribution hubs of Toyota Motor Europe, ensured satisfactory delivery time to customers, and reduced the carbon footprint of vehicle logistics operations.

Read more at FICO Newsroom