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Apple, Inc. Is About to Expand U.S. Manufacturing, but It’s…

Apple, Inc. Is About to Expand U.S. Manufacturing, but It’s…

Jan 13, 2017

“Apple, Inc. Is About to Expand U.S. Manufacturing, but It’s Not What You Think” By Evan Niu, Fox Business Too bad we’re not talking about iPhone manufacturing. Expanding domestic manufacturing is the popular thing to do right about now, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office in just 10 days. We’ve already seen a handful of domestic companies cave to the political pressure, altering investment plans to focus on U.S. facilities in some cases. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has also been dragged into the debateOpens a New Window., for better or for worse. Well, the Mac maker is now reportedly looking to expand its operations in Mesa, Arizona, and begin “high-tech manufacturing,” according to government documentsOpens a New Window. first noticed by Business InsiderOpens a New Window. yesterday. Apple is looking to assemble data center cabinets at the facility, and they would be destined for use in Apple’s other data center facilities around the world. The company currently assembles data center gear at each respective site, but this move would consolidate the assembling in Mesa. Finished equipment will be shipped to other Apple data centers within the U.S., according to the...

Robot Would Assemble Modular Telescope — In Space

Robot Would Assemble Modular Telescope — In Space

Jan 12, 2017

By Design-2-Part Magazine  BELLINGHAM, Wash.—Enhancing astronomers’ ability to peer ever more deeply into the cosmos may hinge on developing larger space-based telescopes. A new concept in space telescope design makes use of a modular structure and an assembly robot to build an extremely large telescope in space, performing tasks in which astronaut fatigue would be a problem. The robotically assembled modular space telescope (RAMST) design is described by Nicolas Lee and his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in an article published in July by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems (JATIS). Ground-based telescopes are limited by atmospheric effects and by their fixed location on the Earth. Space-based telescopes do not have those disadvantages, but have other limits, such as overall launch vehicle volume and mass capacity. Design of a modular space telescope that overcomes restrictions on volume and mass could allow telescope components to be launched incrementally, enabling the design and deployment of extremely large space telescopes. The design detailed by Lee and his colleagues in “Architecture for in-space robotic assembly of a modular space telescope,” focuses primarily on a robotic system to perform tasks in which astronaut fatigue would be a problem. “Our goal is to address the principal technical challenges associated with such an architecture, so that future concept studies addressing a particular science driver can consider robotically assembled telescopes in their trade space,” the authors wrote. The main features of the authors’ proposed architecture include a mirror built with a modular structure, a robot to put the telescope together and provide ongoing servicing, and advanced metrology technologies to support the assembly and operation of the telescope. An optional feature is the potential ability to fly the unassembled components of the telescope in formation. The system architecture is scalable to a variety of telescope sizes and would not be limited to particular optical designs. “The capability to assemble a modular space telescope has other potential applications,” said Harley Thronson, senior scientist for Advanced Astrophysics Concepts at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in a press release. “For example, astronomers using major ground-based telescopes are accustomed...

U.S. Manufacturing: It’s Not Your Granddad’s Grubby Factory

U.S. Manufacturing: It’s Not Your Granddad’s Grubby Factory

Jan 10, 2017

By Harold Sirkin, Forbes American manufacturing is either on the cusp of a remarkable renaissance or in the throes of a long-term death spiral. And there’s plenty of data and anecdotal evidence to satisfy both views. Although BCG generally sees the needle moving in the right direction, we’ve noted with concern the sharp slowdown in U.S. manufacturing productivity, which for years had been increasing at more than 4% per year, but now is moving in reverse, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) illustrates here. We’ve also noted the need for skilled workers. According to BLS’s October 2016 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (the so-called JOLTS report), released in December, the U.S. had approximately 322,000 manufacturing job vacancies. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sees the skilled labor shortage existing for years to come. NAM has projected that U.S. manufacturers will need an additional three-and-a-half million workers over the next 10 years; but more than half of these jobs—as many as two million—may go unfilled, NAM believes, because employers can’t find workers with the proper skills. In addition to the 322,000 manufacturing vacancies reported by BLS, another 197,000 vacancies existed in transportation, warehousing and utilities (an interesting combination), the first two of which are essential cogs in the manufacturing supply chain. This, too, is likely to continue, say those in the know. The trucking industry trade group—the American Trucking Associations—for example, sees the current truck driver shortage—about 48,000—increasing more than three-fold, “to almost 175,000,” by 2024. The picture painted by such statistics and projections is quite a downer. But fortunately, it doesn’t square with what’s taking place in the new world of advanced manufacturing. For a better sense of this new world, I invite your attention to a recent report by Mark P. Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Mills argues that manufacturing has changed so dramatically in recent years that the world of the BLS number crunchers and the world of contemporary manufacturing are in some ways in parallel universes. Instead of accounting for 12% of GDP, as is commonly reported, Mills believes manufacturing “likely” accounts for as much as 30% of GDP....

Ford Sees Trump Delivering Tax Reform to Help U.S. …

Ford Sees Trump Delivering Tax Reform to Help U.S. …

Jan 9, 2017

“Ford Sees Trump Delivering Tax Reform to Help U.S. Manufacturers” By Keith Naughton, Bloomberg Ford Motor Co., fresh from canceling a Mexico factory Donald Trump criticized, expects the incoming president to deliver on promises of tax reform that will benefit U.S. manufacturers. “The environment is probably the best it’s been in quite some time to actually have tax reform,” Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive officer, said Friday at CES, formerly the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas. “There’s going to be a more favorable business environment for U.S. manufacturing because of Donald Trump.” Fields has been trying to make peace with Trump after the president-elect made Ford a frequent target on the campaign trail. On Tuesday, Ford canceled plans to build a $1.6 billion car plant in Mexico and said it will expand a Michigan factory and add 700 jobs. After having turned his ire toward General Motors Co., Trump tweeted words of praise for Ford and later scolded Toyota Motor Corp. for a planned factory south of the border. Fields said he is looking for Trump to deliver a more competitive tax code, which would alter Ford’s investment decisions. He rejected the idea that the incoming president is disrupting the auto industry. “A more positive environment for the manufacturing industry is good for the economy,” Fields told reporters following his remarks. “We’ll see if he can deliver on that. But we’ve delivered our early vote of confidence.”...

Technology: The Job Shop Differentiator

Technology: The Job Shop Differentiator

Jan 6, 2017

By Dan Janka, President, Mazak Corporation Featured on AdvancedManufacturing.org Contract manufacturers, aka job shops, are the heart and soul of US manufacturing. Their survival and success are imperative. Ensuring this hinges on a willingness to embrace productivity-enhancing technologies that will foster growth and differentiate them from the competition. For many big OEMs and suppliers, the latest technologies center around highly sophisticated machine tools and systems, monitoring capabilities and automation. But do these same high levels of technology apply to smaller job shops? Most people would agree that the needs of a five-person shop with three machines and a high mix of low-volume jobs will vary greatly from those of a huge production facility with over 50 machines. And, all those systems are fully automated, connected for process monitoring and running job contracts that involve hundreds, if not thousands, of parts and that span several years. There is a need to shift more focus on the job shops and supply them similar advancements but scaled to their facilities and individual manufacturing needs. To accomplish this, many of today’s manufacturing technology suppliers offer all-encompassing—but scalable—technology platforms that take into account the needs of both large and small shops. When we speak of advanced machines and systems designed specifically for job shops, that by no means involves the dumbing down of technology. Instead, it translates into affordable and effective solutions. Case in point are the simple yet innovative machines designed and built at our plant in Florence, KY. These machines offer job shops capabilities ranging from full simultaneous five-axis milling to complete multitasking with twin turning spindles, milling and Y-axis off-centerline machining. These are the same capabilities found on the industry’s more sophisticated machines, Mazak’s included. But through component engineering and redesign, we were able to develop cost-effective machines without sacrificing performance or reliability. Probably the most effective way high-level advanced manufacturing technologies make their way to smaller shops is through machine tool CNCs. Today’s controls are more powerful and capable than any of their predecessors. They provide small shops numerous advanced capabilities, including connectivity and real-time machine monitoring without the need of any additional special equipment. Shops need simple solutions that drive productivity and minimize downtime....

Tesla’s Gigafactory starts mass producing battery cells

Tesla’s Gigafactory starts mass producing battery cells

Jan 5, 2017

By Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch Tesla’s massive Nevada Gigafactory has started producing lithium-ion battery cells in mass capacity, with the aim of supplying products including the upcoming Model 3 electric vehicle and the Powerwall 2 home energy supply unit, and the Powerpack 2 commercial solar energy storage product. It’s a big step for the automaker, since production volume of the batteries it produces with partner Panasonic will be a key choke point in terms of ramping production and making good on Model 3 delivery timelines. The Gigafactory officially held its grand opening last year, but its focus thus far has been on assembling prior products like the original Powerwall, and preparing the facility for production of next-gen products at scale; Panasonic and Tesla’s new jointly designed cylindrical 2170 cells in particular, which is aimed at optimizing performance for cost in a form factor that can be used both at home and in vehicles. Production of the 2170 for qualification, which is to say for testing and quality assurance purposes ahead of mass production, started in December. Starting today, cells made in the Gigafactory will be used in production Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 unit, and the aim is to start building battery cells destined for Model 3 cars starting in the second quarter of 2017. Tesla says it aims to have capacity ramped to the point where its production of lithium-ion cells tops 35 GWh/year, which is almost at the current electric battery production capacity of all the world’s suppliers combined. While the Gigafactory is operational, it is far from complete – the design Tesla used allows it to open different phases for business as construction finishes on each, which is what will help them use it to build production batteries now, but also scale to much greater production capacity over time. At the current stage, the factory is under 30 percent done, yet still manages to occupy 1.9 million square feet, Tesla says, with interior operational space of 4.9 million square feet total because of how it’s using different floors. The Gigafactory is looking to not only satisfy Tesla’s growing demand in terms of volume, but also drop the individual cost of batteries through se of automated production capacity,...