Some Manufacturers Find Ways to Lower Cost


Shop Talk

Capturing this week's zeitgeist

Some manufacturers see reshoring as vital to maintaining product quality, safeguarding IP, reducing lead times, and lowering costs. However, the success of reshoring tooling and molds hinges on a calculated and holistic approach.

Some manufacturers use hybrid manufacturing to marry the speed of 3D printing with the flexibility of subtractive detail work. But has it lived up to its promise?

Some manufacturers are building cargo ships to control shipping costs amid a resurgence in freight rates.

Kaizen Blitz

  • 📊 Survey Says
    • McKinsey’s innovative approach to cost reduction at climate tech companies.
  • 🏆 Golden Part
    • Krones delivers a new bottling line rated at 120,000 cans an hour, a new speed record for Yanjing Group.
  • 🏭💰 Behemoth Factories
    • 🔋♻️ Princeton NuEnergy (PNE) broke ground on the USA’s first commercial-scale lithium-ion battery direct recycling facility.
    • 🔋♻️ Green Li-ion has launched the first commercial-scale plant that produces battery-grade materials from recycled lithium-ion batteries.
  • 🏢💸 Corporate Frontier
    • Fujitsu begins impact investing to address the challenge of solving social issues and to achieve a sustainable society.
    • AWS announced a $230 million commitment for startups around the world to accelerate the creation of generative AI applications.
  • 🏛️📜 Industrial Policy
  • 🙊 False Start
    • 🚙🪫 BMW said it had canceled a 2 billion euros order for battery cells for its electric vehicles with Northvolt.

Assembly Line

This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.

Autonomous Transport Vehicle Revolutionizes BMW Plant

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Material Handling, Autonomous Mobile Robot

🏢 Organizations: BMW, Aitonomi, PEFRA

BMW Group Plant Regensburg has implemented an autonomous transport vehicle, enhancing digitalization and automation in its manufacturing processes. This innovation is a significant stride towards the intelligently connected BMW iFACTORY, with the driverless platform truck autonomously transporting press tools and steel blanks, boasting a payload capacity of up to 55 tonnes. The vehicle’s navigation, facilitated by state-of-the-art sensor technology, ensures precise and autonomous movement within the production facilities, operating at four kilometers per hour.

Read more at Self Drive News

How to Train an Object Detection Model for Visual Inspection with Synthetic Data

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Jenny Plunkett, Nate Bradford

🔖 Topics: Machine Vision, Visual Inspection

🏢 Organizations: NVIDIA, Edge Impulse

Edge Impulse is an integrated development platform that empowers developers to create and deploy AI models for edge devices. It supports data collection, preprocessing, model training, and deployment, helping users integrate AI capabilities into their applications effectively.

With NVIDIA Omniverse Replicator, a core extension of NVIDIA Omniverse, users can produce physically accurate and photorealistic, synthetically generated annotated images in Universal Scene Description, known as OpenUSD. These images can then be used for training an object detection model on the Edge Impulse platform.

Taking a data-centric approach, where you create more data around the failure points of the model, is crucial to solving ML problems. Additional training and fine-tuning of parameters can enable a model to generalize well across different orientations, materials, and other relevant conditions.

Read more at NVIDIA Developer Blog

Remote site evaluations: upgrading automotive manufacturing facilities for EVs

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Facility Design

🏢 Organizations: NavVis

For manufacturers, a significant factor to resolve is the weight of EVs. Electric vehicles are on average 20%-30% heavier than their combustion engine equivalents due to the lithium-ion batteries and the more robust components required to handle this additional weight.

The extra weight of EVs can place significant pressure on conveyors when handling multiple vehicles in a production line. Over the long-term, this will inevitably slow down production, resulting in inefficiencies, rising costs, and delays in time-to-market. Consequently, one of the biggest challenges facing manufacturing facilities is reinforcing conveyors with steel to enable them to operate as efficiently under heavier loads.

Using NavVis Digital Factory Solution, for example, building managers can gain a complete 3D survey of their facilities and the precise spatial data inside at a global scale, eliminating the need for physical assessments before engineering works can begin.

Read more at NavVis Blog

Automating Circuit Board Design Using Reinforcement Learning

Improve your industrial operations with cloud-based SCADA systems

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Ryan Dsouza, Oscar Salcedo

🔖 Topics: SCADA, Cloud Computing

🏢 Organizations: AWS, Inductive Automation

There are several advantages of cloud-based SCADA systems, such as reducing the need for installing and maintaining expensive server hardware and software on premises and making your industrial data available wherever and whenever you need it. Cloud-based SCADA systems are increasingly important in IIoT and Industry 4.0 because they provide the automation, data collection, analysis, analytics, machine learning, and connectivity necessary to improve processes and operations. With cloud-based SCADA systems, customers have easier access to the data and can use cloud services to manage and analyze the data at scale.

Ignition is an integrated Software Platform for SCADA systems by Inductive Automation. The Inductive Automation partner solution deploys Ignition, a solution by AWS Partner Inductive Automation, to the AWS Cloud. The partner solution enhances availability, performance, observability, and resilience of SCADA applications. It provides both standalone and cluster deployment options of Ignition on Amazon EC2 Linux instances. Both options are designed to be secure and highly available, configured with best practices for security, network gateway connections, and database connectivity.

Read more at AWS for Industries

A Clean, Green Way to Recycle Solar Panels

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Emily Waltz

🔖 Topics: Recycling

🏢 Organizations: 9-Tech

Inside a shipping container in an industrial area of Venice, the Italian startup 9-Tech is taking a crack at a looming global problem: how to responsibly recycle the 54 million to 160 million tonnes of solar modules that are expected to reach the end of their productive lives by 2050. Recovering the materials won’t be easy. Solar panels are built to withstand any environment on Earth for 20 to 30 years, and even after sitting in the sun for three decades, the hardware is difficult to dismantle. In fact, most recycling facilities trash the silicon, silver, and copper—the most valuable but least accessible materials in old solar panels—and recover only the aluminum frames and glass panes.

The founders of 9-Tech say they have a better way. Their process is a noisy one involving a combustion furnace, an ultrasound bath, and mechanical sorting, the vibrations of which shake the floor of the modest freight container where they have been testing their operation for nearly two years. The company uses no toxic chemicals, releases no pollutants into the environment, and recovers up to 90 percent of the materials in a solar panel, says Francesco Miserocchi, chief technology officer at 9-Tech.

Read more at IEEE Spectrum

New Product Introduction

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

Copia Unveils Industrial DevOps Platform to Boost Manufacturing Efficiency, Minimize Disruption

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: Copia Automation

Copia Automation, empowering companies to gain continuous quality control and streamlined production, launched the Copia Industrial DevOps Platform, a cloud-based Git solution that serves as an operational technology (OT) control center. The platform provides a clear view of all code within industrial operations to eliminate unexpected disruptions resulting from coding errors.

Amazon recently deployed Copia’s technology at its warehouses and expects an 80% reduction in unexpected downtime due to unapproved control changes — a significant increase in the scalability of code improvements — and a 25% improvement in high-severity issue resolution time.

Read more at Copia Blog

Cognite Atlas AI™ Delivers Specialized Industrial Agents, Virtual Employees Tailored to Provide Domain-Specific Insights and Automate Complex Industrial Tasks

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: Cognite

Cognite, the globally recognized authority in Data and AI for industry, announced Cognite Atlas AI™, an industrial agent workbench that extends Cognite’s Industrial DataOps platform, Cognite Data Fusion®. This strategic offering is a culmination of Cognite’s extensive Industrial DataOps and innovative generative AI capabilities. Cognite Atlas AI’s low-code industrial agent builder will enable industrial organizations to use generative AI to carry out more complex operations with greater accuracy, including workflow automation and decision-making support, accelerating efficiencies that can generate tens of millions of dollars in business impact.

Powered by Cognite’s unique combination of industry-tailored AI product capabilities, specialized industrial domain knowledge, and industrial generative AI delivery expertise, Cognite Atlas AI delivers everything necessary for asset-heavy organizations to orchestrate industrial agents on top of their private data, including:

  • A library of pre-built industrial agents, as well as a low-code agent builder
  • A Semantic Industrial Knowledge Graph with Context Augmented Generation (CAG)
  • Industrial use case-tailored autoLLM capabilities to identify the best Large Language Model, Small Language Model, or Custom Language Model for any given industrial agent
  • Easy deployment of industrial agents into Cognite Data Fusion®, Microsoft Copilot, proprietary applications, or other third-party applications

Read more at Cognite Press

Canon develops high-performance materials for perovskite solar cells to improve substantial durability and mass-production stability

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: Canon

Canon Inc. announced that it has developed a high-performance material which is expected to improve the durability and mass-production stability of perovskite solar cells. The company will further develop the technology and aims to initiate mass production in 2025.

The key characteristic of this material is its ability to cover the perovskite layer thickly while maintaining a high rate of photoelectric conversion efficiency, which has been difficult with conventional materials. The material can be coated at a thickness of 100-200 nm, whereas the conventional coating layer is several tens of nm*. Through joint research with Professor Dr. Tsutomu Miyasaka, inventor of the perovskite solar cell and faculty member at Toin University of Yokohama, a performance evaluation was conducted, the results of which verified its potential to improve the durability of perovskite solar cells and showed promise in advancing the stability of mass production. It is anticipated that solving these hurdles will help contribute to more widespread use. “By adding a layer of this newly developed high-performance material to the layer structure of these cells, we can expect to solve the issue of mass production,” said Professor Miyasaka.

Read more at Canon News

TDK successfully developed a material for solid-state batteries with 100-times higher energy density

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: TDK Corporation

TDK Corporation successfully developed a material for CeraCharge, a next-generation solid-state battery with an energy density of 1,000 Wh/L, approximately 100 times greater than the energy density of TDK’s conventional solid-state battery. TDK’s technology is aimed at a solution that can be utilized in various wearable devices, such as wireless earphones, hearing aids and even smartwatches, with the goal of replacing existing coin cell batteries.

Read more at TDK News

Business Transactions

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

Vecna Robotics Closes $100 Million in Series C Funding to Streamline and Automate Warehouse Workflows

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Vecna Robotics, Tiger Global

Vecna Robotics, the leader in flexible material handling automation solutions, announced the close of its Series C round at $100 million, with $40 million in new funding including equity and debt, that nearly doubles the company valuation from the previous round. Tiger Global Management, Proficio Capital Partners, and IMPULSE participated in the round.

The cash infusion will be used to fund new workflow-specific innovations that enable the company to deliver rapid ROI to cost conscious warehouse operators served by the $165 billion pallet-moving autonomy market. To support its rapid expansion, the company also announced the appointment of Michael Helmbrecht as Chief Operating Officer.

Over the past year, the company has combined cloud software updates and investments in its PivotalTM Command Center to help customers like GEODIS, FedEx, Caterpillar, Shape, and others, realize upwards of 70% performance improvements in ground-to-ground warehouse workflows like case picking, packaging, and cross-docking. In addition to these improvements, the cash infusion will support the launch of innovative, next-generation platforms that will help the company provide more deployment flexibility and reach into new workflows that are in high demand, while being able to continue delivering operator cost savings from day one.

Read more at Business Wire

GrayMatter Raises $45M Series B to Accelerate its Unique AI-Powered Robotics Solutions for Manufacturing's Hardest Problems and Unique Challenges

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: GrayMatter Robotics, Wellington Management

GrayMatter Robotics, an AI-powered robotics leader empowering humans with intelligent automation, announced $45 million in Series B funding. Wellington Management led the round, which also included NGP Capital, Euclidean Capital, Advance Venture Partners, SQN Venture Partners, and other existing investors 3M Ventures, B Capital, Bow Capital, Calibrate Ventures, OCA Ventures, and Swift Ventures.

With the new capital, GrayMatter, founded in 2020 by SK Gupta, Ariyan Kabir, and Brual Shah, is actively hiring for a wide range of roles to meet customer demands, expanding its Los Angeles headquarters, and accelerating the development and deployment of its next-generation AI-powered robotic solutions.

GrayMatter’s technological advancements continue to set new industry standards. Its proprietary GMR-AI™ technology enables robots to self-program and adapt to high-mix manufacturing environments, providing consistent quality and reducing cycle times. Over the past two years, GrayMatter Robotics has deployed robots across North America in aerospace, defense, specialty vehicles, marine, recreation, and general manufacturing industries, processed over 7.5 million square feet of product surface area, and holds ten patents.

Read more at PR Newswire

M2X Energy Announces $40 Million Series B Financing to Accelerate Commercial Operations

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: M2X Energy, Conifer Infrastructure Partners

M2X Energy Inc., an end-to-end developer of modular, transportable gas-to-liquids systems that economically produce low-carbon methanol from stranded methane, announced a $40 million Series B financing round led by Conifer Infrastructure Partners. Also participating in the round are the existing Series A investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Eni Next, Add Ventures by SCG, and Autodesk Foundation.

The funds will be used to accelerate the in-house manufacturing and deployment of M2X’s first commercial fleet of low-carbon methanol production systems. Prior to the Series B funding round, M2X successfully conducted multiple field deployments, which de-risked its patented chemical process technology, and demonstrated the benefits of replacing economies of scale with mass manufacturing and automation to rapidly mitigate methane emissions from otherwise stranded, highly distributed sources. M2X has already established 10,000 square feet of turnkey manufacturing space capable of constructing multiple systems in parallel, and initiated equipment orders to accelerate go-to-market and fleet expansion. On the commercial front, M2X is actively sourcing biogas feedstocks to produce biomethanol, which aligns with regulatory certification schemes and customer demand. M2X expects to deploy its first commercial systems and deliver low-carbon methanol, including biomethanol, under long-term offtake agreements in early 2025.

Read more at Business Wire

Molten Industries Raises $25M Series A to Produce Clean Graphite and Hydrogen and Onshore Battery Supply Chains

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Molten Industries, Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Molten Industries, a fast-growing American start-up that converts natural gas into clean graphite and hydrogen, has announced the successful close of a 25 million dollar Series A financing round. The raise was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), with new participation from Sozo Ventures, Mark Heising, and Steelhead Capital. Existing investors also participated in the round, including Union Square Ventures, 50 Years, J4 Ventures, Moai Capital, UVC Partners, Jane Woodward, and Peter Attia. Molten will use this funding to build its first modular commercial reactor in Oakland and become a leading producer of graphite for lithium-ion batteries and clean hydrogen to decarbonize the chemical and steel industries.

Read more at Business Wire

LD Carbon Closes $28M Investment to Scale Production of Sustainable Carbon Black and Pyrolysis Oil

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: LD Carbon, Toyota

LD Carbon, a leading producer of recovered carbon black, closed a $28M Series C funding round led by Toyota’s growth fund, Woven Capital, with participation by Meritz Securities, Investwith, Industrial Bank of Korea, Hyundai Motor Group ZER01NE, Elohim Partners and New Main Capital. LD Carbon will use the investment to scale operations to recycle end-of-life tires and material from end-of-life vehicles into recovered carbon black and pyrolysis oil through pyrolysis and material recovery technology, which in turn can be used to create new automotive parts and tires. The investment will advance LD Carbon’s mission of accelerating the circular economy while delivering material cost and carbon savings to global customers.

Manufacturing carbon black is a highly polluting process, generating 25 million metric tons of CO2 annually, while another 1.6 million metric tons come from the 28% of all waste tires that are burned — the combined CO2 equivalent of more than 9M passenger vehicles. LD Carbon’s pyrolysis and material recovery process uses patented recovered carbon black manufacturing technology to provide nearly 100% recovery of waste tires, providing an environmentally safe option for recovered carbon black (“rCB”) and developing pyrolysis oil.

Read more at PR Newswire

Liquid Instruments secures $12M in funding to expand manufacturing

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Liquid Instruments, Breakthrough Victoria

Liquid Instruments, a leading innovator of reconfigurable test instrumentation, announced that it has secured a new round of funding totaling $12 million, led by a $10 million investment from Breakthrough Victoria, with other investors including Lockheed Martin Ventures, Acorn Capital, and Powerhouse Ventures. This funding will enable Liquid Instruments to significantly expand its manufacturing operations in Australia, establish a new office in Melbourne, and scale its global operations while supporting regional economic growth.

Founded in Australia in 2014, Liquid Instruments develops reconfigurable test and measurement devices to support and accelerate critical scientific research and development in a range of applications, from optics and photonics to aerospace and defense. The company’s flexible Moku platform leverages the processing power and versatility of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to integrate a complete suite of test instruments — from bench essentials like an oscilloscope to advanced tools like a lock-in amplifier — into a single, compact device. Liquid Instruments’ technology is rooted in decades of fundamental research at leading Australian universities, as well as the Australia-based ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States.

Read more at Business Wire