Elon Musk is one of the first customers of Tesla’s Solar Roof

Elon Musk is one of the first customers of Tesla’s Solar Roof

Aug 3, 2017

by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge Tesla has started installing the first of its Solar Roofs, and Elon Musk is among the initial customers. The Tesla CEO said on a call with investors last night that he and JB Straubel, the company’s CTO, have both installed the solar power roofs on their homes. Musk even claims that two photos released in Tesla’s letter to investors (seen below) are of one of their houses (though the home looks a little small for Musk). “I want to emphasize there’s no Photoshopping on the roof. That is actually how it looks,” Musk said. “It was, ‘take some pics with your phone and send them over.’ That’s what we’re talking about here. Not some special lighting conditions, pro-photographer situation.” There was no update on when customers outside of Tesla will start getting their roofs installed. Preorders were opened on Solar Roofs back in May, and deliveries are supposed to begin later this year. Musk said installations would start slow and then ramp up “exponentially” as the installation process is simplified and production increases. It’s a similar pattern to what Tesla is doing with car deliveries, as the first of its Model 3s went to Tesla employees, too. Musk also seems to suggest that Tesla is using these initial installations to help refine the product. “This is version one,” he said of what was installed on his home. “I think this roof’s going to look really knockout as we just keep iterating.” The Solar Roof product was announced less than a year ago, in October 2016. The product is designed to resemble a normal roof, but contain solar panels hidden among regular tiles. That way, homeowners can get the benefits of switching to solar power, without having the drawback of putting large and often unsightly solar panels on or around their home. The product is also designed to connect to Tesla’s Powerwall, a large battery meant to store enough energy to power a home. Of course, for the benefit of all of that, you’re looking at a pretty expensive up-front cost on a...

AI Will Amplify The Manufacturing Workforce

AI Will Amplify The Manufacturing Workforce

Jul 5, 2017

By Jeff Kavanaugh, Manufacturing Business Technology Every day, we hear of new examples of artificial intelligence (AI) being used to support, or supplant, the human workforce. Many of these discussions revolve around consumer-facing situations. However, the AI wave could have an even larger impact on the manufacturing sector, with its complex processes and machine-to-machine interactions spanning products and assets, within factories and across global supply networks. This was highlighted in a recent study that investigated the approach of senior decision-makers in large organizations toward AI and its future applications. Consider the digitization of factories. Flush with data from a sensor-enabled landscape, they’ve had a chance to join the ranks of the information intelligentsia and effectively drive rich floor output. Unfortunately, some in the manufacturing sector have ignored or even denied the disruptive impact of digital technologies. It took leaders like GE to envision how the Industrial Internet could become real for manufacturers.  Smart Manufacturers are Automating Data According to Oxford Economics, the Industrial Internet, with its connected sensors, represents more than 60 percent of the gross domestic product for the top 20 national economies. So for those using data automation to make more informed decisions, the opportunity — and also competition — is exploding with the emerging Industrial Internet binding products, equipment, and systems in a web of communication. Eventually, Industrial IoT will permeate global supply chains, allowing manufacturers to accelerate product launch, coordinate demand-supply planning, and optimize production, in ways not possible without such advanced collaboration. Currently, the Industrial Internet is still in early development, but early adopters are seeing anecdotal successes as proof of concept projects continue to mount.  Smart Manufacturers Can Automate Processes, too The recent Infosys study, Ampliyfing Human Potential: Towards Purposeful Artificial Intelligence, surveyed 1,600 IT and business decision-makers from organizations of more than 1,000 employees with $500M or more annual revenue and from a range of sectors. The research was carried out in the U.S. and six other manufacturing and industrial nations. It found companies planning to or currently using AI technology, such as robotics, anticipate a nearly 40 percent boost to their organization’s revenue by 2020. The economics of investing in robotic efficiencies is not lost on manufacturers. An example is...

Reshoring Initiative: Automation is Not the Bad Guy

Reshoring Initiative: Automation is Not the Bad Guy

Jun 22, 2017

By Anna Wells, Industrial Equipment News Automation has long carried the blame for the outflow of jobs from the manufacturing sector, but the Reshoring Initiative says that it is actually key to job growth in the U.S. The Reshoring Initiative is reporting that, for the first time in decades, more manufacturing jobs are returning to the United States than are going offshore. According to a recent press release promoting the Reshoring Initiative’s 2016 Reshoring Report, the combined reshoring and foreign direct investment (FDI) trends grew by over 10 percent in 2016, adding 77,000 jobs and exceeding the rate of offshoring by about 27,000 jobs. “The 2016 results bring the total number of manufacturing jobs brought back from offshore to more than 338,000 since the manufacturing employment low of February 2010,” said the release, adding that there are still “huge opportunities and challenges to bringing back all the 3 to 4 million manufacturing jobs cumulatively lost to offshoring.” Secretly, I’ve always wondered if these kinds of stats were a little overhyped – playing into our desires to latch on to a feel-good story with a positive trajectory. But when the Reshoring Initiative takes a deeper dive into the “whys” of reshoring, they make a pretty compelling case that is clearly resonating. Some of the reasons they cite for the ramp-up include things like proximity to customers, government incentives, skilled workforce availability and “ecosystem synergies,” which I take to mean that intangible of culture that drives so many successful businesses. Transportation equipment remained the strongest industry, accounting for nearly 40 percent of total jobs returned, and plastics/rubber and furniture saw the largest increases in industry ranking. Preliminary 2017 data trends are looking to be at least as good as 2016, but it certainly begs the question as to how we can sustain this activity over time. The Reshoring Initiative believes that government plays a big role, but also, in a recent e-newsletter, has pointed to an unlikely champion: automation. For years, automation has been carrying the blame, rightfully or not, for the outflow of jobs from the manufacturing sector. But the Reshoring Initiative takes a different tact, going so far as to say that automation is...

Michelin’s concept tire comes wrapped in “rechargeable”…

Michelin’s concept tire comes wrapped in “rechargeable”…

Jun 16, 2017

“Michelin’s concept tire comes wrapped in “rechargeable” 3D-printed treads” By  Aaron Heinrich, New Atlas Aside from trotting out a new tread pattern every year or so, you might think there’s not a lot manufacturers could do to improve the humble car tire. But advances in materials, sensors and manufacturing techniques are opening up new possibilities. Michelin is exploring this potential with its Vision concept tire that is airless, 3D printed, equipped with sensors, biodegradable, and not just a tire, but a tire and wheel in one.   Unveiled at a global symposium on urban mobility challenges it hosted this week in Montreal, Canada, Michelin’s Vision tire is constructed using 3D printing technology. This enables an airless interior architecture that mimics alveolar structures (such as the air sacs of the lungs) that is solid in the center and more flexible on the outside, resulting in a tire that is immune to blowouts or going flat. The core of the tire, which also functions as a wheel and can be reused, would be made from organic materials that are bio-sourced and biodegradable. 3D printing allows the amount of rubber tread applied on the outside of the tire to be optimized to meet the specific needs of the driver while keeping the amount of rubber required to a minimum – and the tread can even be topped up, or “recharged,” when it wears down or the driver is headed for different road conditions. Although the Vision’s tread would still be made mostly of rubber, Michelin is envisioning the day when materials such as straw or wood chips could be used to make butadiene, a key ingredient in making synthetic rubber today. The condition of the tires would also be monitored in real time using embedded sensors. The owner would receive information about the tire’s condition and possibly use an accompanying app to make an appointment to change the tread for a particular use, like going skiing. Michelin isn’t saying when any of these innovations will be implemented, let alone when the Vision might be available for purchase, but Mostapha El-Oulhani, the designer who headed the Vision Project, said the promise of the concept tire is within reach....

What role will robotics and 3D printing play in the future…

What role will robotics and 3D printing play in the future…

Jun 15, 2017

“What role will robotics and 3D printing play in the future of manufacturing?” By Nell Walker, Manufacturing Global Digitalisation is taking over the manufacturing world, forcing traditional fossil-fuelled methods out of the way and improving the flexibility of processes globally. IIoT and Industry 4.0 are a looming presence spurring businesses to adopt advanced automation solutions in order to hasten production, lower manufacturing costs, and remain competitive. Top Technologies in Advanced Manufacturing and Automation, 2017 is part of business consultancy Frost & Sullivan’s TechVision Growth Partnership Service program. The study covers the technologies of robotic exoskeletons, metal 3D printing, computer integrated manufacturing, nano 3D printing, collaborative industrial robots, friction stir welding/solid state joining, magnetic levitation (Maglev), composite 3D printing, roll-to-roll manufacturing and agile robots. These are expected to have the most impact across a variety of market segments, including automotive, healthcare, consumer electronics, aerospace and transportation. “Developments in 3D printing materials, metal inks, printing techniques and equipment design are driving the global uptake of metal 3D printing,” said Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Ranjana Lakshmi Venkatesh Kumar. “R&D can enhance metal 3D printers’ ability to print high-strength, lightweight prototypes and parts at low costs, making these printers highly relevant in the aerospace and automotive sectors.” The robotics market has also experienced huge advancements recently, and collaborative robots have the highest impact. “Collaborative robots are gaining traction due to their ability to work alongside humans, ensure worker safety and integrate with existing environments,” noted Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Varun Babu. “R&D efforts to improve the level of interactivity and customization will bolster the adoption rates of collaborative robots, particularly in automotive, aerospace, logistics and warehousing, healthcare, and consumer electronics industries.” Robotic exoskeletons and agile robots are also important developments of note. The former is a wearable device that can increase strength and mobility of the wearer, and the latter are small robots which offer superior agility, efficiency, and uptime. Overall, with greater government support and deeper convergence, advanced manufacturing and automation solutions will surely be the cornerstones of Industry...