Achieving Maximum Flow with Minimal Costs


Shop Talk

Capturing this week's zeitgeist

In preparation for July 4, take a look at how fireworks are made.

Kaizen Blitz

  • 📊 Survey Says
    • TIME and Statista released the World’s Most Sustainable Companies list for 2024 topped by Schneider Electric!
    • Eclipse Ventures drops “Quantifying the Career Opportunities Enabling the Industrial Evolution”
  • 🏆 Golden Part
    • MakinaRocks received the Minister of Science and ICT Award at the ‘2024 Korea AI Awards’ ceremony
  • 🏢💸 Corporate Frontier
    • Ironspring Ventures doubles down on digital industrial innovation with $100M Fund II.
    • OSS Ventures secures €8.5M with plans to support 5 startups annually.
  • 🙊 False Start
    • 🪫 Eramet, BASF cancel plan to invest $2.6 billion in nickel-cobalt refining complex in Indonesia.

Assembly Line

This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.

AI is touching your food—maybe most of it—by solving the food industry’s unique supply-chain challenges

📅 Date:

🏭 Vertical: Food

🏢 Organizations: HowGood, Plus One Robotics, AWS

Using AI to get your products from point A to point B is a growing solution to logistical hurdles, but in no other industry does it feel as nuanced as the food supply chain. That supply chain includes everything from natural agricultural and weather-related challenges to grow ingredients to inventory management and product shelf life: The end consumer needs that item to stay fresh long enough to cook it and eat it, be it at home or at a food service establishment.

Erik Nieves, cofounder and CEO of Plus One Robotics, explains, he has seen AI greatly reduce the time-to-shelf for several products. Part of that is with robotics, like his, that automate packaging systems in warehouses with the help of machine learning and 3D computer vision. The robots can hang out longer in a cold freezer to package temperature-controlled goods and also handle more manual labor than a human, even with a forklift. They are getting pretty good, he says, at detecting different types of fruit and adjusting their gripper strength to avoid bruising a ripe pear.

By analyzing historical sales data, AI is giving food distributors more insight into what is selling when—and informing its purchase orders accordingly. A 2022 study by the World Wildlife Fund found that AI software offered a 14.8% reduction in food waste per grocery store.

Read more at Fortune

Slashing Sanding Time by 80% at EsVata

Apple plans to automate 50% of iPhone assembly using AI and robotics

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: Apple, DarwinAI, Drishti

According to a new report, Apple is working on automating its iPhone assembly lines, aiming to reduce the human workforce by up to 50% in the coming years. This decision, driven by both operational challenges and the pursuit of greater efficiency, has far-reaching implications for the tech giant’s supply chain and the global labor market.

Apple’s automation strategy involves reviving and investing heavily in previously shelved projects due to high upfront costs. These efforts have already started to bear fruit, particularly in the production of the iPhone 15, where a significant amount of the assembly process has been automated. Peter Thompson, Apple’s vice president of operations, has been pivotal in these efforts, working closely with manufacturing partners like Foxconn, Luxshare Precision, and Pegatron.

Apple’s automation efforts have been bolstered by strategic acquisitions, such as DarwinAI and Drishti. DarwinAI specializes in inspecting components like printed circuit boards for defects, while Drishti provides technology to identify production bottlenecks in real-time. These acquisitions have enhanced Apple’s capability to implement and manage automated processes more effectively.

Read more at iTD

Giant presses to build cars around the world

AMGPT: a Large Language Model for Contextual Querying in Additive Manufacturing

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing, Large Language Model

🏢 Organizations: Carnegie Mellon University

Generalized large language models (LLMs) such as GPT-4 may not provide specific answers to queries formulated by materials science researchers. These models may produce a high-level outline but lack the capacity to return detailed instructions on manufacturing and material properties of novel alloys. Enhancing a smaller model with specialized domain knowledge may provide an advantage over large language models which cannot be retrained quickly enough to keep up with the rapid pace of research in metal additive manufacturing (AM). We introduce “AMGPT,” a specialized LLM text generator designed for metal AM queries. The goal of AMGPT is to assist researchers and users in navigating the extensive corpus of literature in AM. Instead of training from scratch, we employ a pre-trained Llama2-7B model from Hugging Face in a Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) setup, utilizing it to dynamically incorporate information from ∼50 AM papers and textbooks in PDF format. Mathpix is used to convert these PDF documents into TeX format, facilitating their integration into the RAG pipeline managed by LlamaIndex. Expert evaluations of this project highlight that specific embeddings from the RAG setup accelerate response times and maintain coherence in the generated text.

Read more at arXiv

New Product Introduction

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

POSCO gears up for carbon-free steelmaking with hydrogen

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: POSCO

POSCO on Monday unveiled a pilot facility, which produces steel using only hydrogen instead of fossil fuel, for the first time. The process, so-called hydrogen reduction (HyREX) steelmaking, can dramatically reduce carbon emissions, according to the POSCO Holdings Inc. unit. Production costs, power supply are key issues for POSCO to succeed in the hydrogen reduction steelmaking business.

The facility, which manufactures up to 24 tons of molten iron a day, emits only 400 kilograms of carbon per ton, much lower than the emissions from the steelmaking process using fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.

Read more at Korea Economic Daily

INEOS takes steps to prevent one million tonnes of waste going to landfill each year by becoming the world’s first polymer producer with state-of-the-art technology for developing recyclable flexible films

📅 Date:

🏢 Organizations: INEOS, Hosokawa Alpine

INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe has become the first polymer producer in the world to successfully commission a new pilot line that it will use with customers to co-develop recyclable flexible packaging films. The multi-million Euro investment could help to prevent around one million tonnes of waste from being sent to landfill each year.

The state-of-the-art technology, supplied by Hosokawa Alpine, heats and stretches polymer films to improve their physical and barrier properties, enabling them to be used in different product applications.

Read more at INEOS

Researchers at ETH Zurich develop the fastest possible flow algorithm

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Network Optimization

🏢 Organizations: ETH Zurich

Imagine you are using the European transportation network and looking for the fastest and cheapest route to move as many goods as possible from Copenhagen to Milan. Kyng’s algorithm can be applied in such cases to calculate the optimal, lowest-cost traffic flow for any kind of network – be it rail, road, water or the internet. His algorithm performs these computations so fast that it can deliver the solution at the very moment a computer reads the data that describes the network.

Using the algorithm, computing time and network size increase at the same rate – a bit like going on a hike and constantly keeping up the same pace however steep the path gets. A glance at the raw figures shows just how far we have come: until the turn of the millennium, no algorithm managed to compute faster than m1.5, where m stands for the number of connections in a network that the computer has to calculate, and just reading the network data once takes m time. In 2004, the computing speed required to solve the problem was successfully reduced to m1.33. Using Kyng’s algorithm, the “additional” computing time required to reach the solution after reading the network data is now negligible.

Read more at ETH Zurich News

Business Transactions

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

Sila Raises $375M to Deliver Titan Silicon™ for Auto Series Production

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Sila, T Rowe Price

Sila, a next-generation battery materials company, announces it has raised $375 million in a close of its Series G round led by existing investors Sutter Hill Ventures and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., with participation by new outside investors as well as existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Coatue, Perry Creek Capital, and others.

The funding will secure the completion of the company’s Moses Lake plant in Q1, 2025, enabling the delivery of its Titan Silicon anode material to auto customers in Q4, 2025. Mercedes-Benz and Panasonic, as well as three additional customer contracts yet to be publicly disclosed, have been secured and will be fulfilled through Sila’s Moses Lake manufacturing facility.

Titan Silicon was the first commercial next-generation silicon anode technology to enter the market in 2021. Today, it delivers up to a 20-25% energy density improvement over the industry’s best performing graphite cells, enabling automakers to deliver unmatched EV performance, dramatically increasing vehicle range and reducing charge times – pivotal to addressing consumer concern in switching to electric. Future releases of Titan Silicon will drive improvement of up to 40%, recharge times to less than 10 minutes, and lower the $/kWh cost of batteries.

Read more at Business Wire

Bright Machines Raises $126M Series C Funding to Propel Manufacturing Into Software-Defined Era

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Bright Machines, NVIDIA, Jabil

Bright Machines, an innovator in intelligent, software-defined manufacturing, announced it has raised $126M in Series C funding, with $106M in equity led by investment from funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and participation from NVIDIA, Microsoft, Eclipse, Jabil and Shinhan Securities, and with $20M in venture debt from J.P. Morgan. This brings the company’s total amount raised to more than $400M. The capital will be used to launch product innovations, expand its software stack for increased assembly flexibility, and grow strategic relationships with ecosystem partners.

Read more at PR Newswire

Li Industries Closes $42M in Series B Funding, Announces New Investors

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Li industries, General Motors

Li Industries announced the successful closing of its Series B funding round with an additional $6 million commitment from investors. The new investors include General Motors (GM) Ventures, DNX Ventures, and Tech Energy Ventures. This latest investment brings the total size of the Series B round to $42 million and increases Li Industries’ total funding to date to over $50 million.

Li Industries plans to expand its 10,000 tonne recycling facility and further develop its cutting-edge recycling technologies. The company is dedicated to addressing the environmental challenges posed by end-of-life batteries and production waste, transforming them into valuable resources in a cleaner and more cost-effective manner.

Read more at PR Newswire

Formic Raises $27.4 Million to Bring Automation to More Manufacturers

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Formic, Blackhorn Ventures

Formic, a provider of Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) automation for U.S. manufacturers, announced it has raised another $27.4 million in Series A financing led by Blackhorn Ventures with participation from Mitsubishi HC Capital America, NEC, Translink Capital, Alumni Ventures, FJ Labs, Lux Capital, Initialized Capital and Lorimer Ventures. This new funding brings the total Series A round to more than $52 million since January 2022.

With the new financing, Formic plans to:

  • Expand its fleet of standardized equipment to provide more automation to more manufacturers, offering rapid deployment and shorter lead times (75% of Formic customers are automating their material handling processes for the first time)
  • Increase its network of support experts across the U.S., enabling even faster customer response while continuing to uphold industry-leading maintenance service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Enhance its equipment-agnostic robotic automation software that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) for motion planning, predictive maintenance and system design, as well as more intuitive customer interfaces and dashboards

Read more at Business Wire

Travertine secures $8.5 million to reduce waste and emissions in mining, fertilizer, and cement production

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Travertine, Holcim

Travertine Technologies, Inc. announced the closing of its $8.5 million financing to commercialize a novel electrochemical platform that enables carbon-negative production of fertilizer and critical elements like lithium and nickel while eliminating chemical waste. The financing was co-led by Holcim MAQER Ventures, with participation from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and venture capital firms Clean Energy Ventures and Bidra Innovation Ventures.

Travertine has successfully upcycled sulfate waste from major fertilizer and mining companies across the globe in its fully-integrated, continuous-flow pilot and is currently focused on engineering and scale-up for a first commercial demonstration plant.

Read more at PRWeb

Rivian and Volkswagen Group Announce Plans for Joint Venture to Create Industry-Leading Vehicle Software Technology and for Strategic Investment by Volkswagen

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: Rivian, Volkswagen

Rivian Automotive and Volkswagen Group have announced their intention to form an equally controlled and owned joint venture (JV) to create next-generation electrical architecture and best-in-class software technology.

The partnership is anticipated to accelerate the development of software for Rivian and Volkswagen Group. It is expected to allow both companies to combine their complementary strengths and lower cost per vehicle by increasing scale and speeding up innovation globally. Rivian’s proven in-market zonal hardware design and integrated technology platform are expected to serve as the foundation for future SDV development in the JV that will be applied to both companies’ vehicles. Rivian plans to contribute its electrical architecture expertise and is expected to license existing intellectual property rights to the joint venture.

Read more at Business Wire

Spirit AeroSystems Announces Acquisition by Boeing in $8.3 Billion Transaction

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Acquisition

🏢 Organizations: Spirit AeroSystems, Boeing

Spirit AeroSystems announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement under which The Boeing Company will acquire Spirit for $37.25 per share in Boeing common stock (subject to the collar described below). At $37.25 per share, this represents an equity value of approximately $4.7 billion and an enterprise value of approximately $8.3 billion including Spirit’s last reported net debt. The price of $37.25 per share represents a 30% premium to Spirit’s closing stock price of $28.60 on February 29, 2024, the day before Spirit and Boeing issued press releases confirming they were in discussions regarding a potential transaction.

Read more at PR Newswire