INDUSTRY

MANUFACTURING

INTRODUCTION

While labour-saving automation of manufacturing processes started in the 18th century, it was in 1959 that computer numerical control (CNC) technology was introduced to program machine tools. (In 1970, Nick programmed a drill press using APT, a special-purpose computer language developed at MIT.) The first industrial robot, patented by George Devoi in 1954, was installed by General Motors in 1962. Now there are over 1 million robots installed world-wide, used for such applications as welding, painting, assembly, pick and place for printed circuit boards, packaging and labeling, palletizing, product inspection, and testing – and manufacturing industrial robots.

The most disruptive technology that will decimate jobs in the manufacturing industry is additive manufacturing (often referred to as 3D-printing). This is the technology that builds 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material (which may be plastic, metal, concrete, or human tissue), under the control of 3D modeling software. The technology was invented in Japan in 1981. Besides learning to work with different materials and layering techniques, current research includes varying the location of the x-y axis to change the physical properties of the product, and introducing a 4th dimension – time – in which a 3D-printer can be used to manufacture a 3D object that, when later heated or cooled to a specific temperature, will transform into a different 3D shape.

The initial use of 3D-printing was rapid prototyping (eliminating the need for molds), which significantly reduced and improved the quality of new product design. Now almost any shape or product can be manufactured, including such diverse products as guns, the exterior of houses, and human organs.

Studies have indicated that each industrial robot replaces over 6 shopfloor workers (and that does not include the reduction in supervision and support services) – and that over 8 million workers would have been required in the US if robots were not used. As the functionality of robots continues to expand, there will be manufacturing plants without human workers!

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Ultimaker interview: The future of 3D-printing (Additive Manufacturing – 2018-02 – ZDNet)

3D-printing is moving from instant prototyping to full-scale production in healthcare, aerospace and other industries (Additive Manufacturing – 2018-01 – ZDNet)

How Blockchain is being used in supply management (Blockchain/Supply Management – 2017-11 – TechRepublic)

 

REVIEW THESE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES - AND READ THOSE THAT INTEREST YOU

Nimble, collaborative robots are now doing industry's heavy lifting (Cobots/Robotics - 2019-09 - ZDNet)

Universal Robots, the leader in collaborative robots, has a new cobot capable of lifting a 35 pound payload with a reach of about 35″. The cobot can tackle heavy-duty tasks around humans, safely, reliably and efficiently.

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SEAT employs more cobots in its Mortorell factory – they've got a tedious, but important job (Cobots/Robotics - 2019-09 - Technology.org)

There are many little jobs in car factories that are tedious for people. e.g. attaching lettering to new cars. People use jigs and special frames and equipment to ensure that these badges are glued straight, in a proper location, and with proper pressure to ensure good adhesion. In SEAT’s Martorell factory, two robots will take this task – and they will work with no safety barriers.

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A for-hire welding cobot has been developed amid labor shortage (Welding/Robotics - 2019-09 - ZDNet)

A collaborative robot (the BotX Welder) was developed by Hirebotics to be easily programmed to produce precision parts in small batches for small and medium sized metal fabricators, overcoming a shortage of welders.

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IBM and other companies launch new blockchain network for supply management (Blockchain - Supply Chain - 2019-08 - Reuters)

IBM announced a new blockchain network aimed at improving manual and cumbersome supply chain management. The founders of the network (‘Trust Your Supplier’) include Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Lenovo, Nokia, Schneider Electric and Vodafone.

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The 'Four Horsemen' of the Automotive Apocalypse (Automotive - 2019-07 - Stansberry Research)

The automotive industry is facing one of the most powerful and most varied set of disruptions in the history of capitalism: The decline of the internal combustion engine; The rise of ride-sharing services; The rise of autonomous vehicles; The growing importance of technology in cars.

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Humans working with robots in Amazon's sorting facilities (Warehousing/Robotics - 2019-06 - Wired)

In Amazon’s sorting facilities, a human will grab a flat package, hold its barcode under a red laser dot, and place it on a small orange robot. Hitting a button sends the robot mule to one of 300+ rectangular holes in the floor corresponding to zip codes. When there, the robot uses its own conveyor belt to slide the package down a chute to be loaded manually onto a truck for delivery.

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Robots predicted to take over 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030 (Manufacturing - 2019-06 - CTV News)

A study by Oxford Economics, a private British-based research and consulting firm, forecasts that robots will take over some 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide by 2030, extending a trend of worsening social inequality while boosting overall economic output. Robots have already taken over millions of manufacturing jobs and are now gaining in services, helped by advances in computer vision, speech recognition and machine learning, the study noted. In lower-skilled regions, job losses will be twice as high as those in higher-skilled regions, even in the same country.

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Amazon’s new robot can pack 600+ boxes/hour (Robotics/Warehousing - 2019-05 - ExtremeTech)

Amazon has installed $1+ million robots in its facilities that can pack 6-700 boxes/hour, and wrap packages inside custom-assembled boxes, operating at 4-5 times a worker’s rate. The robots may be installed at dozens of warehouses, eliminating about 24 positions/warehouse.

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3D printing and robots power world's largest furniture maker (Furniture/Additive Manufacturing - 2019-05 - ZDNet)

The world’s largest furniture manufacturer, Ashley Furniture, is using robotics and 3D-printing to expand production in a shrinking labor market, achieving 10% more business with almost 15% less labor.

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Trade organization ICC supports blockchain adoption for 45 million members (Blockchain/Supply Chain - 2019-04 - CoinDesk)

The Paris-based 100-year-old International Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Singapore-based blockchain startup Perlin to improve supply chain processes for its 45 million members (from 130 countries), making the processes more traceable and transparent.

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Automated machine learning technology used to improve additive manufacturing (Additive Manufacturing - 2019-02 - STRN)

Researchers at Purdue U. and USC have developed automated machine learning technology to help improve additive manufacturing by ensuring that parts fit more precisely, and assembly needs less testing and time.

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PepsiCo is "Relentlessly automating" its workforce (AI - 2019-02 - Gizmodo)

PepsiCo is investing its $4.9 billion 2018 annual profits in spending $2.5 billion (mostly on severance payments) to restructure the company by laying off many of its 263,000 employees and automating its warehouse and factory equipment.

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3D-printing could be 100 times faster using light (Additive Manufacturing - 2019-01 - Technology.org)

University of Michigan researchers created a new approach to 3D-printing that lifts complex shapes from a vat of liquid at <100 times faster than current processes, using 2 lights to control where the resin hardens—and where it stays fluid. This enables the resin to be solidified in more sophisticated patterns.

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New high-speed laser 3D-printing method creates objects in one pass (Additive Manufacturing - 2019-01 - Technology.org)

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and UC, Berkeley have developed a new high-speed 3D-printing method (Computed Axial Lithography) which uses projected photons to illuminate the syrup-like resin, creating a continuously shifting video of projections as the vial rotates. Most builds take several minutes to complete, many times faster than existing polymer 3D-printing techniques.

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Robotic procedures in food manufacturing (Manufacturing/Food - 2018-12 - Technology.org)

Robots are being used in food manufacturing for food handling (picking and packaging), quality control, palletizing, and for distribution and supply chain processes. They can also be used to form food, and to cut, slice, and grind food products.

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Self-driving robots modernize materials handling (Manufacturing - 2018-11 - Zdnet)

A rapid shift toward automation in e-commerce distribution centers and manufacturing plants has led to autonomous vision-guided pallet jacks, forklifts, industrial tuggers, and other factory and warehouse vehicles.

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Robots used for pre and post processing of 3D-printing (Manufacturing - 2018-10 - Metal AM)

Swedish start-up Digital Metal is launching a fully-automated production system, using 3D-printing with robots performing pre and post production functions.

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Hybrid additive manufacturing machines integrate 3D-printing with CNC processing for metal products (Manufacturing - 2018-10 - Technology.org)

Hybrid additive manufacturing machines integrate layer-by-layer building with traditional CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) processing and laser cladding for metal products.

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US$150M factory in Shanghai designed for robots to build robots (Manufacturing - 2018-10 - Engadget)

Swiss robotics company ABB is spending US$150 million to build an advanced robotics factory in Shanghai, using robots to build robots. Its YuMi single-arm robots will perform small parts assembly.

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Robots used for pre and post processing of 3D-printing (Manufacturing - 2018-10 - Metal AM)

Swedish start-up Digital Metal is launching a fully-automated production system, using 3D-printing with robots performing pre and post production functions.

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HP launches Metal Jet 3D printing (Manufacturing/Prototyping - 2018-09 - TechRepublic)

Hewlett Packard launched its HP Metal Jet 3D printing technology, designed to deliver mechanically functional parts faster than current systems with the aim of revamping factory production for auto, industrial and healthcare companies. Initial metal focus will be stainless steel.

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Volkswagen is becoming the first manufacturer to use 3D printing for series production parts (Manufacturing/Automotive - 2018-09 - Technology.org)

A Volkswagen car has 6,000-8,000 manufactured parts. Volkswagen became the first automotive manufacturer to use the HP Metal Jet 3D-printing technology suitable for mass production.

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4D-printed products programmed to change shapes (Manufacturing - 2018-07 - Fast Company)

MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab has perfected the use of super-stretchy, 100% silicone rubber, 4D-printing it into air chambers that can be programmed to inflate and deflate at certain times,

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Multi-dimensional printing allows bicycles to be manufactured at your local bike shop (Manufacturing/Bicycles - 2018-07 - Fast Company)

The Silicon Valley start-up, Arevo, is 3D-printing samples of its first generation of bikes. A custom robot prints the company’s carbon fiber-embedded material using a multi-dimensional, environmentally-friendly process that makes them strong. The bikes will be in mass production in 2019.

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Bugatti, HP, Frito-Lay, and Chanel use 3D-printing for prototyping (Manufacturing - 2018-06 - MIT Technology Review)

3D-printing is now part of the entire product life cycle. Frito-Lay uses the lowest-cost printers to print prototype potato chip geometries; Bugatti and Chanel 3-D-print their final products. MIT’s lab has made substantial progress in improving printing speed.

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Combining the latest advances in AI with robots could transform manufacturing and warehousing (Manufacturing - 2018-06 - MIT Technology Review)

Robots from San Francisco’s Osaro have adaptive gripping skills. They can identify objects in front of them, study how they behave when poked, pushed, and grasped, and then decide how to handle them – and the robots continue to learn from experience.

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The software robot invasion is underway (Manufacturing - 2018-06 - ZDNet)

Consulting firm Protiviti’s research shows a growing demand for Robotic Process Automation, which involves the use of software robots to handle any rules-based repetitive tasks quickly and cost effectively.

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Researchers 3D-print electronics and cells directly on skin (Manufacturing - 2018-05 - Technology.org)

University of Minnesota researchers used a customized, low-cost 3D printer to print electronics on a real hand for the first time – Useful e.g. to print temporary sensors to detect chemical or biological agents or solar cells to charge essential electronics. They also printed biological cells on the skin wound of a mouse, leading to new medical treatments for wound healing and skin grafting.

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New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in (Manufacturing - 2018-04 - Technology.org)

In 2017, scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology and the Singapore University of Technology and Design, used a composite made from an acrylic and an epoxy along with a commercial printer and a heat source to create 4-D objects, such as a flower that can close its petals. They have now developed a powerful printer that could streamline the creation of self-assembling structures that can change shape after being exposed to heat and other stimuli, accelerating the use of 4-D printing in aerospace, medicine and other industries. The printer can use different materials to create hard and soft components at the same time, incorporating conductive wiring directly into shape-changing structures.

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Self-assembling materials that can be printed inexpensively and shipped flat (Manufacturing - 2018-04 - ZDNet)

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created a process that allows plastic printed with a cheap 3D-printer to fold itself into predetermined shapes with the application of heat. The material may one day be used to produce flat-pack products that can be assembled quickly with a heat gun.

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Alibaba is trialling a blockchain platform for supply chain tracking (Manufacturing/Supply Chain - 2018-04 - Coindesk)

Alibaba is trialing a blockchain platform for supply chain tracking to counter the spread of counterfeit food and health products. The new pilot program will track international shipments to China from an Australian healthcare supplier and a New Zealand dairy product maker.

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Robot will crawl through pipes to help decommission nuclear facility (Robotics/Maintenance - 2018-03 - ZDNet)

Robots have found a particularly important niche working in radioactive and toxic environments. After the Fukushima disaster, Japanese roboticists have created several robots capable of surviving, if only for a few minutes, inside the compromised reactor cores. Decommissioning the Piketon, Ohio facility will be helped by 2 customized autonomous robots, developed at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, which will identify uranium deposits on pipe walls, costly when done by human workers

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