The Robots Are Coming, but Not the Way You Imagined

The Robots Are Coming, but Not the Way You Imagined

Dec 17, 2018

Industrial robots are driving improvements in productivity, quality, and flexibility that are helping U.S. manufacturers to compete globally. At the same time, they’re spurring the growth of a new ecosystem of jobs, from mechanical design to AI-based computer vision. By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine The robots are coming—that much is true. But manufacturers, by and large, don’t see them as the job-stealing invaders of the workplace that many people have imagined. It’s not that robots don’t excel in performing many tasks formerly done by people. It’s just that people also excel in certain areas where robots aren’t up to the task. And  in the manufacturing realm, industry leaders and company officials who have integrated robots into their plant’s operations say that their impact stretches well beyond the work that they’ve proven to do so well.   “These machines are going to have a huge impact into the broader economy,” said Tom Galluzzo, founder and chief technology officer of IAM Robotics, in a presentation at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Next Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in June. “They’re going to empower people to do the things that we’re innately better at—the creative thinking skills. And I think that’s where our employers have to take responsibility—to educate people and to empower them to do those kinds of creative thinking.” In manufacturing, people can focus on higher-level work because industrial robots are known to perform repetitive tasks with greater precision than their human counterparts. Manufacturers who use robotics in printed circuit board assembly, for example, often report greater peace of mind knowing that the robots are maintaining high quality while increasing the productivity of their operations. Sam Hanna, president of Quality Manufacturing Services, Inc. (QMS), a provider of electronics manufacturing services in Lake Mary, Florida, said that QMS has added robotics to its operation when a reasonable return on investment has justified the investment. The company has invested heavily in late-model surface mount pick-and-place equipment, a key contributor to quality as electronic components and packages continue to shrink in size. “We get consistent output, the machines never get tired, and they’re certainly faster than humans,” said Hanna. “The precision we can get out of machinery is far better than we can get out of...

MFG Day Motivates Youth to Pursue a Career in…

MFG Day Motivates Youth to Pursue a Career in…

Oct 24, 2018

“MFG Day Motivates Youth to Pursue a Career in Manufacturing” By Michele Nash-Hoff, Saving U.S. Manufacturing Since 2012, thousands of manufacturers around the country open their doors to inspire and recruit the next generation of manufacturers on Manufacturing Day (MFG Day), which was held this year on Friday, October 5th.    MFG Day is produced by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute. MFG DAY had ambitious goals: “to change public perception of manufacturing, inspire students to pursue manufacturing careers, and strengthen the future of manufacturing by avoiding the talent shortage on the horizon.” According to the MFG Day website, “We wanted to correct the idea that manufacturing involved repetitive, unskilled tasks that happened in dark, dirty factories — a ridiculous idea to anyone who has actually worked in manufacturing — and show people what manufacturing really looks like.”   Those of us in the industry know that today’s manufacturing jobs are high skilled, and take place in clean, well-lit, technologically advanced facilities. The problem was that there was no way to know whether perceptions were changing until Deloitte became a sponsor of MFG DAY in 2015 and conducted surveys of attendees.    The results of the survey of 2015 showed: 81% of students emerged “more convinced that manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding.” 62% of students were “more motivated to pursue a career in manufacturing”  The 2016 survey results showed that the percentages rose to 84% and 64% respectively.   The 2016 Deloitte report said, “Projections indicate that roughly 600,000 people attended MFG DAY events in 2016 and that 267,000 of them were students. That means that nearly 225,000 students walked away from their MFG DAY 2016 event with a more positive perception of manufacturing, according to Deloitte’s findings…. Based on the 267,000-student attendance figure, that’s potentially 171,000 new members of a next-generation manufacturing workforce.”   The Deloitte surveys showed that “71 percent of student attendees both years said that they “were more likely to tell friends, family, parents, or colleagues about manufacturing after attending an event,” meaning that they weren’t just convinced — they were inspired.”   This year, the MFG Day website listed 2,739 events planned across the...

Report Highlights How the Manufacturing Landscape Is Set…

Report Highlights How the Manufacturing Landscape Is Set…

Sep 19, 2018

“Report Highlights How the Manufacturing Landscape Is Set for ‘The Next American Industrial Revolution’ “ By Quality Magazine OYSTER BAY, NY — The manufacturing landscape is about to change and change in a big way, announced ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm. The debate over if digitization will impact this market has passed, according to ABI Research. The key questions that should be asked by all involved in this market now are: When will these changes happen? What do I need to do to prepare for this? And finally, which horse do I bet on in terms of technological investment? ABI Research had seven analysts from its Industrial research group on-site at the IMTS 2018 (International Manufacturing Trade Show) conference in Chicago, and their observations have been compiled into four brief reads: “The Next American Industrial Revolution: Key Takeaways from IMTS 2018 and Hannover Messe USA.” There are several emerging technologies that look set to enable manufacturers in developing markets to remain competitive. Some noteworthy findings from the whitepaper include: Additive manufacturing is on the cusp of being able to demonstrate its applicability for scale deployment.  Generative design promises to reduce wastage, speed design processes, and revolutionize material usage. Virtualization, visualization, and digital twins are set to reduce machine downtime and machine commissioning time as well as improve the efficiency of all aspects of part and product manufacturing, from start to end. Cobots and autonomous material handling robots are set to enable a more efficient and zero touch environment that not only optimizes the shop floor but also extends beyond the line to both ends of the process in the warehouse and eventually into the logistics supply chain. AI (Artificial Intelligence), sensorization, connectivity, and IoT (Internet of Things) will be key to optimizing productivity. However, they are currently being held back by conservative attitudes toward data management and connecting machines. This will change as the market pressure mounts. “These technological advancements hold the promise of enabling a cleaner, more efficient, and relevant manufacturing sector for developed markets. The innovation outlined in the ‘The Next American Industrial Revolution’ paper will spill over into the supply chain, and the two market segments will be characterized by...

Taking IIoT to the Edge

Taking IIoT to the Edge

Jul 25, 2018

By Jeff Reinke, Industrial Equipment News (IEN) Edge computing’s ability to supply real-time, plant-floor data will continue to drive it forward. The Industrial Internet of Things has unlocked a number of opportunities that the manufacturing sector can now leverage in streamlining operations, improving quality and cutting costs. However, perhaps the most unique benefit of the IIoT has been the ability to customize the application of these technologies according to the needs and preferences of a specific enterprise – even as the number of solutions falling under the scope of IIoT continues to expand. To discuss one such example, IEN recently sat down with John Fryer, senior director of industry solutions at Stratus, to discuss best practices for leveraging IIoT capabilities with Edge Computing strategies.  Jeff Reinke, IEN Editorial Director: The concept of a connected enterprise has been around for a while, but what do you think were the driving factors that brought the term “Internet of Things” into manufacturing’s lexicon? John Fryer, Senior Director of Industry Solutions, Status: Firstly, we should not forget that “connectivity” and “analytics” have been key components of industrial automation implementations since the first uses of digital controls over 40 years ago. PLC’s have been used to control plant floor activities in many industries, but often in isolated silos. The key elements of the “Internet of Things” are ubiquitous connectivity, almost unlimited computing power and advanced analytics, often using machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies. The advent of the Internet has driven exponential growth in digital connectivity, primarily in human to machine interaction. In recent years, this has been extended to machine-to-machine interaction and the introduction of machine learning to enable automated control of “things”. Perhaps the best examples are self-learning thermostats in homes, which can also be connected to safety systems, such as fire alarms.  Providing plant-wide connectivity with standard technologies, such as Ethernet (or variants) and using the Internet Protocols (IP) enables interconnection of disparate systems, both within the plant, and between plants and Enterprise systems. This makes it easier to deploy additional computing power at the Edge, within a plant, or in the Cloud, and to apply analytic and machine learning technologies to improve a whole range of production and business processes....

Smart manufacturing technology is changing business…

Smart manufacturing technology is changing business…

May 30, 2018

“Smart manufacturing technology is changing business processes” By Jim O’Donnell, TechTarget The future is here: AI enablement and smart manufacturing technologies are transforming business systems today, according to technology futurist Jack Shaw. Imagine a scenario where a plane in midflight from Paris to Boston gets a signal from an embedded sensor in an engine fuel nozzle that indicates excessive wear. Once the plane lands, it will need to be taken out of service for hours or even days as the airline locates and installs a replacement part. The entire process is time-consuming, expensive and inconvenient for passengers and crews. But thanks to smart manufacturing technology and AI-enabled business processes and systems, there is a better way, according to technology futurist and consultant Jack Shaw. The digital transformation to an AI-enabled business ecosystem is happening now, Shaw said in a presentation at the Smart Manufacturing Experience conference this month in Boston. An autonomous self-contained process Rather than the current costly and time-consuming process, the smart manufacturing technology ecosystem encompasses a self-contained and autonomous parts replacement process. To start the process, industrial IoT (IIoT) smart sensor circuitry in the engine’s nozzle triggers the aircraft’s autonomous maintenance system, which then messages the airline’s global maintenance system that the part will be needed when the plane lands in Boston, Shaw said. The airline’s global procurement system is notified. It scours thousands of websites to identify Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified parts suppliers, negotiates the terms with the supplier’s AI-enabled order management system and executes a smart contract to procure the part. Once the procurement contract is authorized, a design file of the fuel nozzle part is downloaded to a 3D printer located near the Boston airport. The entire process — from the identification of a part defect to the design download to the 3D printer — takes less than four minutes and requires no human intervention, according to Shaw. But the smart manufacturing technology and AI-enabled ecosystem is not finished. Automatic procurement processes identify and select technical engineers who are experienced with replacing this particular part and available to do the work. The technical engineer who installs the part then uses augmented reality (AR) goggles that display a 3D video of the entire replacement process directly on...