Mouser Electronics, the authorized global distributor with the newest semiconductors and electronic components, and STMicroelectronics (ST), a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, have partnered to create a new resource site highlighting the products, insights and strategies required for smart industry designs.
STMicroelectronics is a technology leader in enabling designs for Industry 4.0, offering the connectivity and sensor solutions needed to create the next generation of smart designs. The new Industry 4.0 content stream includes more than two dozen articles, flipbooks, and product descriptions to support advanced industrial solutions.
The site also features Industrial Sensing Solutions, a recent eBook from Mouser and ST that explores the different types of intelligent sensors and the technical challenges that may arise when using them in designs. Each article and flipbook includes product information for relevant STMicroelectronics products, allowing engineers to quickly identify and learn about the technology needed for Industry 4.0 applications.
Mouser offers a wide range of ST solutions, including several sensors and development kits for prototyping intelligent industrial applications. STEVAL-MKSBOX1V1 SensorTile.box is a ready-to-use development kit with wireless Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable sensor platform to help engineers use and develop apps based on remote motion and environmental sensor data, regardless of expertise level. ST’s STEVAL-BFA001V2B industrial reference design kit makes it easy for engineers to build condition monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions for industrial applications. The easy-to-use kit includes a specialty industrial sensor board as well as a programming and debugging tool.
Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group have inked an agreement to run four research projects focusing on the production of electric vehicles and future mobility technologies.
Specifically, the projects will look at the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and additive manufacturing(AM) technologies. The research initiatives were part of NTU’s vision to develop applications that would be revolutionary, paving the way for next-generation automobile manufacturing. One of the projects, for instance, is to build machine learning algorithms for vehicle image processing, that could be tapped to check the quality of battery electric vehicles. An AI-powered image processing sensor deployed in the manufacturing plant could detect defects and anomalies across the production process, ensuring the safety and reliability of the final product, NTU said.
Another project would explore the integration of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, to customise automotive components for electric vehicles and how these parts could be implemented in small factor operation. This could facilitate smart manufacturing sites capable of building car models that are customised.
The partnership between Hyundai and NTU started last October, when NTU was unveiled as Hyundai’s first academic research partner for their innovation centre in Singapore. The project will steadily begin research work this month and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. The Hyundai research facility focuses on future mobility technologies and together with NTU, Hyundai also planned to run 3D printing competitions in automotive engineering, which they hoped would spur interest in electric vehicle manufacturing and nurture new talent in the sector. NTU students and researchers also would be able to tap Hyundai’s industry experts to exchange ideas.
There are similar projects that Hyundai has partaken in 2021, in view of their carbon neutrality goals. In June, Hyundai teamed up with mobile app platform Grab to drive the adoption of electric vehicles in Southeast Asia. Both companies would explore pilots to ease the use of such vehicles for Grab drivers and delivery partners, such as offering leasing programmes on a “battery-as-a-service” model. The South Korean carmaker in March also announced a partnership with Singapore telco Singtel to develop a system for Hyundai to monitor electric cars driven on the island. The Internet of Things (IoT) platform would provide Hyundai with telemetry, or “automatic data transmission”, on the status and performance of the batteries powering the electric vehicles used the company’s subscription service.
Indeed, multinational automotive manufacturers are gearing ahead into the all-electric future and it seems that this vision of the future, would soon become the present reality.
The metalworking industry is entering a new era where new forces created by the explosion of data, robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), amongst others, are changing the dynamics for manufacturing companies. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
To be successful in this new environment, manufacturers should consider a paradigm shift, focusing on innovation, integration of new technologies, and collaboration with their partners—and even with the competition—to build new solutions and take their production to the next level.
And that’s where key transformative technologies such as big data, analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) come in. Industry 4.0—our nascent industrial generation—represents digitalisation across all operational processes. Industrial IoT (IIoT), in particular, describes an integrated system of systems where sensors and actuators provide specific data such as measurements, timing, and equipment status, all connected and visible throughout the enterprise.
In this scenario, we’ll see the convergence of operations technology (OT) in the factory floor with information technology (IT) in the enterprise, all working together towards a single purpose—a more-efficient, profitable and successful manufacturing operation. With IIoT, companies will be able to view real-time data on their manufacturing processes, and compare performance across their plants, or even shifts within their plants. They can also quickly scale their production up or down; manage their energy consumption; and even manage, troubleshoot and fix their processes and plants, even when they are located in different parts of the world.
Data is what’s powering this. Seamless exchange of data between automated machine processes, including manual assembly, and testing, to name a few, provides clear visibility of the operations of this ‘smart factory’.
According to Mariano Kimbara, senior industry analyst for the Industrial Group of Frost & Sullivan, data will be the new value-multiplier for the factory. “Factory owners will strive to network various aspects of a plant, such as tools, assets, material, people, process, and services, on one digital platform. The level of integration and collaboration will offer customers unprecedented information visibility and subsequently generate value from domains that were generative before,” he said.
Making Use Of Data
Data plays a key role in all of these. As metalworking equipment manufacturers produce more and more sophisticated machines, with multiple sensors providing all the necessary data to ensure the health and performance of the machine, measurement, tracking, monitoring, inspection data—users today, on a daily basis, are grappling with more data than they ever did a decade ago.
With Cisco forecasting more than 50 billion connected devices by 2020, it is expected that there will be a deluge of data coming from these connected systems of systems. Which means a mindset shift is required when it comes to deciding what to do and how to leverage these data to improve your manufacturing operations.
Having all these data from your more sophisticated machines and tooling equipment is good, but the challenge is finding that relevant data that will provide you an actionable intelligence that you can implement to improve your processes.
According to Thomas Jakob of Bosch Software Innovations, this begins with sourcing for data creatively. He said companies can impel a more comprehensive look at information sources by being specific about problems they want to solve or opportunities they want to exploit. This means identifying and connecting the most important data for use in analytics, followed by a clean-up operation to synchronise and merge overlapping data, and then working around the missing information, according to him.
Once the information is in your hands, there are many ways how this will help you in your road to smart manufacturing. First is through preventive and predictive maintenance. Majority of the metalworking machines are now equipped with sensors that collect many different types of data, such as operating time and the conditions of the components and parts. Having these data provides users the knowledge on whether a part is no longer functioning efficiently and therefore needs replacement. Or, if a certain job is more tedious than the previous one, the machine will have to be rested for a slightly longer period than that required of the previous job. These things will help keep your metalworking equipment running efficiently, smoothly, and prevent machine downtime.
According to Bob Gill, general manager for Southeast Asia at ARC Advisory, the proportion of machine tool time actually taken up by cutting metal is generally less than 40 percent and can even be as low as 25 percent. He said that it can be difficult to accurately pinpoint the causes of all that non-productive machining time because most machine shops are performing manual, post-production data collection. In a smart factory, where your machines are constantly releasing production data, you will be able to gain intelligence on the impact of machine stops and tool changes in production, and as such plan more effectively and efficiently to improve machine uptime and utilisation.
Another benefit that you can get out of your smart data is energy usage. Smart machines provide data on their energy usage. Based on this, you will have the information when to ramp up production based on energy demand. Moreover, machines could power down when not in use.
And last but not least, quality control and assurance. With smart data, manufacturers will know whether a particular machine is not performing properly by comparing information about its performance to previous jobs. Or in case there are particular products that are not according to specs, users will be able to trace back where the process ‘faltered’, which resulted to production mistakes.
Industry 4.0 is here—and manufacturing operations can significantly benefit from utilising IIoT, smart data, and analytics. Building the right kind of technologies and expertise to apply them is critical for everyone to be competitive in this new industrial landscape.
Embedded motion control is a major emerging trend that’s being driven by the interconnectedness of many different systems, such as new edge device applications in the Internet of Things and the industrial IoT, as well as other trends such as increasing integration and miniaturisation of systems, and the spread of mobile/wearable consumer electronics – and artificial intelligence. Article by Trinamic.
Several different trends, both application related and user (engineering) related, are working together to spur the increase in embedded motion control. Even before the recent emergence of IoT and IIoT edge devices, many of these trends were already occurring.
Simultaneous increasing miniaturisation/integration and automation: One of the most important trends, and one that influences so many others, is the increasing miniaturisation and integration of systems, components, and assemblies, at the same time they are also being automated. This is also true in new miniature motor types with very small form-factors. Demand for stepper motors overall continues to rise, due in part to a rise in demand for miniature motors, according to a report by P&M Market Research reports. Although industrial machinery has been the largest market segment for stepper motors, said this report, their rising use in medical equipment, desktop manufacturing, or home automation will drive market growth by 2023.
Other applications being enabled by this trend include 3D printing, and IoT-connected devices for consumers. This latter group includes connected home devices such as window shades, blinds, and cameras for smart home systems; environmental controls such as connected thermostats; appliances; robots; drones; automotive; and consumer devices that require stepper motors. For wearables, some examples are small portable insulin pumps containing small stepper motors, which also need a wired or wireless interface and are battery driven, and virtual reality goggles.
Fostered By Industrial IoT
Growing interconnectedness fostered by the IIoT: Networks are growing. Bandwidth is growing. The amount of information exchanged over all networks, including over the Internet, is growing. Global semiconductor and technology companies are placing their highest focus on solutions for networking, for data centres, and high-bandwidth communication technologies – in global telecommunication and media, in industrial control applications, as well as in automotive and home networks.
To keep pace with this development requires more intelligent systems, including motion control and drive solutions at the network edge with standardised APIs and standard interfaces so these systems can understand and communicate with each other.
AI: Artificial intelligence is a trend on the algorithm side, in software and dedicated hardware, and it is a radical change. AI allows for intelligent and autonomous machines, it allows for systems that make decisions based on their available “information” without human control, it allows for learning/adaptive machines, and it allows for interactive machines. Because of AI, new application areas are emerging which will become commodities in a few years, such as advanced robotics in factories and in medical applications, the transportation & delivery industry, or toys. Nevertheless, to actually interact with the real, physical world – transforming digital information into physical motion and vice versa – AI-based systems require smart actuators. Such smart actuators are examples of embedded motion control systems.
Embedded motion control not only means using an embedded system for motion control tasks or implementing the motor and motion control functions in highly integrated microchips. Embedded motion control means more than just motor control. It means the whole motion control system in miniature.
Examples Of Embedded Motion Control
The design of motion control is no longer difficult or complicated: instead, it has become a set of mainstream functions, or building blocks, which can help designers reduce their development overhead. We can now embed functions and sub-blocks physically (motor, sensors, housing, physical interface) and logically (algorithms, communication stacks, dedicated hardware accelerators), combined according to an engineer’s specific application needs.
Examples of increasing integration and miniaturization can be found in Trinamic’s smart stepper controller + driver IC family, such as the TMC5130 / TMC5160 integrated motor driver and motion controller IC. The TMC5072 can even drive two motors directly out of the IC. The TMC8670 dedicated EtherCAT motion controller IC is an example of the highest levels of integration. It’s an SoC with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and a real MCU inside, and includes EtherCAT real-time bus interfaces, protocol stacks, plus servo motor control in a single device.
If you think about all of these trends like AI, IoT, and IIoT, it becomes clear that they are typically located more on the processing and communication side. Nevertheless, many systems need a bridge to the real world. When people think about the IoT, they think sensors and data (the cloud). However, it’s the actuators that give meaning to the IoT and make life comfortable by enabling the physical cloud, which consists of all the physical devices connected to the Internet. Embedded motion control is this bridge that connects the digital to the physical.
Every company requires unique automation solutions for their specific production environment, but businesses can’t redesign facilities for every different process and application. In this article, Niels Ole Sinkbæk Sørensen, General Manager, OnRobot, APAC, explores why it is crucial that companies choose the optimal set of robot accessories to maximise the automation value.
It is crucial that companies choose the optimal set of robot accessories to maximise the automation value. The appropriate accessories can help turn the entire production lifecycle into a seamless process, from purchase and installation to operations and redevelopment.
End-of-arm tooling devices, or EOAT, are usually fitted at the end of a robotic arm to perform a range of tasks. Robot grippers, for instance, can deftly handle various materials, while robust sensors generate alarms to correct a robot’s positioning. Tool changers allow for quick and easy switching from one tool to another. When fitted with these advanced tools, robots become intelligent objects capable of sensing, acting and behaving within smart manufacturing environments.
New-age intelligent robot accessories offer the innovation, expertise and precision that smart manufacturing requires. These technologies, however, are also changing the economics of manufacturing, e-commerce and agriculture as these industries increasingly leverage EOAT’s built-in technology and intelligence to considerably reduce production costs and efforts.
The RG2-FT intelligent gripper.
Increasing Cobots Adoption In Southeast Asia
The global automotive industry is projected to invest US$470 million in collaborative robots (cobots) by 2021, while electronics will invest approximately US$475 million in cobots. Southeast Asia, a powerhouse for the automotive and electronics industries, is increasingly adopting cobots and other lightweight industrial robots to stay ahead of the curve. With increasing robot adoption across the region, demand for modern EOATs will automatically rise, making collaborative automation easy for industries from electronics and automotive to agriculture, carrying out pick and place, machine tending, packaging, testing and other tasks.
Singapore has a strong track record of encouraging companies to adopt smart tools to drive favourable production outcomes and facilitate workforce upskilling.
However, there are still concerns regarding the lower skills level of workers in other Southeast Asian countries. In Thailand, 83.5 percent of the labour pool is unskilled. Meanwhile in Malaysia, low-skilled jobs were 90 percent of the labour market in 2018. EOAT’s smart features, ‘plug and play’ integration and user-friendly design enable even those with no robot programming background to automate applications. This will help existing workers adapt to the new technology easily and address the skills gap in the region.
EOAT for Faster and Smarter Automation Adoption
EOAT enables businesses to take on new applications because robots are more efficient when accessorised with EOAT for custom-tailored solutions. EOAT has a great influence on the robot’s performance and flexibility. In fact, automation process efficiency largely depends on the grippers and other intelligent tools that interface with the robot.
Modern grippers and power sensors show that the potential of intelligent robot accessories is enormous. With collaborative applications, businesses want more than just efficient automation from machines – they also want to access the robots remotely and diagnose problems online. Intelligent EOAT with smart hardware and software helps collect and analyse data to deliver feedback and increase capabilities.
With EOAT, machines will become more compact, smart and self-contained to efficiently run collaborative applications, which makes automation easier and more affordable for businesses.
Choosing the Right Robot Accessories
The tools and accessories fitted on and around robots make or break a robot’s effectiveness.
EOATs communicate two-way information exchanges between tools and robots that enable efficient operations and increase production. For example, some high-precision grippers use built-in technology that allows them to mimic human fingertips. These grippers are used in agriculture to pick and place herbs and other delicate items without damage.
OnRobot’s RG2-FT intelligent gripper, with its ground-breaking sense of sight and touch, is the world’s first intelligent gripper that can see and feel objects using built-in force, or torque sensing.
EOAT push the limits of human interaction – modern grippers are so sophisticated that they can even handle the fragile silicon wafers used in manufacturing computer processors. Force torque sensors help locate and detect an object’s presence for greater accuracy. These grippers are used in those manufacturing processes that require the application of a precise force to achieve high-quality results.
Such applications as surface finishing, packaging and palletising, machine tending, and assembly not only require precision, but also the ability to customise tasks based on batch size and subsequent necessities. This unique capability has also allowed enterprises of all sizes to introduce the right EOATS into their production line.
Modern Industrial Landscapes Require Application-Focused Solutions
Businesses that continue using traditional methods, such as fabricating unique tools for specific manufacturing tasks, are at a significant disadvantage because of the high cost and inflexible nature of this approach. In comparison, grippers, sensors and other flexible application-focused solutions can be customised to handle different shapes, sizes and materials. According to a recent release, material-handling contributed to nearly 42 percent of the robotics EOAT market share in 2018 – the largest of any segment.
These flexible, highly versatile tools can be seamlessly integrated into multiple production environments. Their adjustable features, advanced technology and smooth assimilation will shorten production cycles and reduce downtime. This opens options to other hardware solutions, reducing the cost of robotic solutions and lowering barriers to automation. Ultimately, EOATS will save money.
A Complete Solution
As technology continues driving transformation across industries, companies must consider automation to reduce costs and improve operational flexibility. To achieve this, robotic accessories need to be smarter as they are crucial in carrying out collaborative applications. Bringing intelligent technologies and tools to the forefront allows companies to meet the growing need for industrial mechanisation – and with a shorter learning curve, this empowers all enterprises to dream big with automation.
Drawing on a study of 795 executives from a range of sectors in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas, Sreenivasa Chakravarti, head innovation and transformation group, manufacturing business unit of Tata Consultancy Services shares his insights on strategic decisions involving investing in the Internet of Things (IoT).
An increasing demand for a quality Manufacturing Execution System (MES) for Industry 4.0 clearly manifests itself. The functions and properties an MES system must have are detailed in the VDI guideline 5600. But is that relevant for Industry 4.0? The Future Concept MES 4.0 casts a light on the issue.
Throughout history, materials and advances in material technology have influenced humankind. Now we just might be on the verge of the next shift in this type of technology, enabling products and functions we never believed possible. Contributed by Sandvik Coromant