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Hypertherm Launches Venture Capital Arm For Advanced Manufacturing Technology

Hypertherm Launches Venture Capital Arm For Advanced Manufacturing Technology

Hypertherm, has announced the formation of Hypertherm Ventures, a new corporate venture capital (CVC) arm, to foster greater interaction with the technology venture community.

Encompassed by a goal of helping advanced manufacturing deliver positive change to the world, Hypertherm Ventures is seeking partnerships with universities, startups, entrepreneurs, and early stage companies to commercialise advanced manufacturing technologies in strategic interest areas. Those areas include industrial cutting, welding, and thermal processing; robotics and automation; machine learning and augmented intelligence; industrial Internet of Things; additive manufacturing /3D printing and nanotechnology.

“Just as we began 50 years ago with an invention that made plasma cutting commercially viable for the first time ever, we look forward to supporting other entrepreneurs as they work to bring their inventions to life,” said Nathan Pascarella, Hypertherm Ventures’ business development manager. “If you are an entrepreneur or leading an early stage company in advanced manufacturing within our strategic interest areas, Hypertherm Ventures would love to hear more about you and your business.”

Hypertherm believes its experienced leadership team, combined with a wide range of advanced manufacturing process experts proficient in lean, Six-Sigma, and similar methodologies will benefit entrepreneurs and early stage companies. In addition, Hypertherm can support venture partners through its expertise with advanced technology development, engineering, complex supply chain management, global service and distribution networks, as well as a track record of marketing and selling new products.

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Stanford Researchers Develop Framework To Train Robots

Stanford Researchers Develop Framework To Train Robots

Bender is one of the robot arms that a team of Stanford researchers is using to test two frameworks that, together, could make it faster and easier to teach robots basic skills. The RoboTurk framework allows people to direct the robot arms in real time with a smartphone and a browser by showing the robot how to carry out tasks like picking up objects. While SURREAL speeds the learning process by running multiple experiences at once, essentially allowing the robots to learn from many experiences simultaneously.

“With RoboTurk and SURREAL, we can push the boundary of what robots can do by combining lots of data collected by humans and coupling that with large-scale reinforcement learning,” said Mandlekar, a member of the Stanford research team that developed the frameworks.

Humans Teaching Robots

Yuke Zhu, a PhD student in computer science and a member of the team has explained that by utilising a smartphone app, robots can be taught to perform tasks through a system that the team has developed. For example, by opening the app on his iPhone and waving it through the air, he was able to control the robotic arm – like a mechanical crane in an arcade game – and perform a simple pick-and-place task that involves identifying objects, picking them up and putting them into the bin with the correct label.

Although to humans, the task appears to be easy. But for the robots of today, it’s quite difficult. Robots typically learn by interacting with and exploring their environment – which usually results in lots of random arm waving – or from large datasets. Neither of these is as efficient as getting some human help. In the same way that parents teach their children to brush their teeth by guiding their hands, people can demonstrate to robots how to do specific tasks.

However, those lessons aren’t always perfect. When Zhu pressed hard on his phone screen and the robot released its grip, the wooden steak hit the edge of the bin and clattered onto the table. “Humans are by no means optimal at this,” Mandlekar said, “but this experience is still integral for the robots.”

Faster Learning In Parallel

These trials – even the failures – provide invaluable information. The demonstrations collected through RoboTurk will give the robots background knowledge to kickstart their learning. SURREAL can run thousands of simulated experiences by people worldwide at once to speed the learning process.

“With SURREAL, we want to accelerate this process of interacting with the environment,” said Linxi Fan, a PhD student in computer science and a member of the team. These frameworks drastically increase the amount of data for the robots to learn from.

“The twin frameworks combined can provide a mechanism for AI-assisted human performance of tasks where we can bring humans away from dangerous environments while still retaining a similar level of task execution proficiency,” said postdoctoral fellow Animesh Garg, a member of the team that developed the frameworks.

The team envisions that robots will be an integral part of everyday life in the future: helping with household chores, performing repetitive assembly tasks in manufacturing or completing dangerous tasks that may pose a threat to humans.

“You shouldn’t have to tell the robot to twist its arm 20 degrees and inch forward 10 centimeters,” said Zhu. “You want to be able to tell the robot to go to the kitchen and get an apple.”

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Interview With Mr. Gary Cantrell, SVP & CIO Of Jabil

Image: Gary Cantrell, SVP & CIO, Jabil
Image credit: Chuck Vosburgh,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr. Gary Cantrell, SVP & CIO of Jabil regarding his views on the associated technologies, challenges and future of manufacturing in Asia.

1.Could you provide us with an overview of the latest technologies shaping the manufacturing industry in Asia?

This is a really exciting time for the manufacturing industry as manufacturers discover how new technologies can play a critical role in transforming and improving functions along the value chain. In fact, IDC confirmed that investments in Internet of Things (IoT) are largely led by manufacturing and transportation industries.

Three particular technologies stand out and these are likely to dramatically alter the manufacturing landscape globally. They are:

  • Additive Manufacturing: this technology is maturing rapidly and enabling mass customization, smaller lot sizes and reduced capital outlays. It will enable us to customise product designs for our customers, vary locations and increase speed of production.
  • Connected Factories (aka Digital Factories): connecting equipment throughout the factory will enable new levels of efficiency and improve factory productivity.
  • Automation and equipment self-optimisation: although still early in the maturity cycle, these technologies will provide the information to plan and control manufacturing real time by predicting unplanned events and automatic adjustments to prevent outages. These technologies will significantly alter the current human-machine interface in the factory.

2. What do you think are the main challenges when it comes to the digitalisation of manufacturing processes in Asia?

The equipment variation – both in terms of age and technical currency – will be a great challenge.  In order to digitise the factory, we need to get data to and from the machines for analysis and control. Older equipment, which is not equipped with such features, will require investment in upgrades in the short-term.

This also brings in the issue of cost. New equipment and the peripheral technology required to support the connected factory and automation – such as edge computing, wide area networks and time-sensitive local area networks – require significant investments in time and money.

3. How do you think these challenges can be overcome?

These challenges can be overcome with machine connectivity. In particular, getting data to and from older machines is a challenge and a great deal of innovative work is ongoing to improve both the connectivity and cost challenges. The same is true for aspects of the peripheral costs with the maturing of technologies like software defined networks and edge computing.

More importantly, as we learn the true efficiencies achievable with these technologies, the business cases for investing will become compelling. As these technologies get deployed, we will also learn where we can free-up people to do more value added work and what skills will be required for these new roles.

4. With the digitalisation of manufacturing, how will supply chains evolve to keep up?

Our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools will become more integrated with real-time visibility:

  • Connectivity: connecting customers, manufacturer and supplier systems, enabling visibility across the ecosystem, will help ensure continuity in driving materials velocity and on-time delivery with less manual effort.
  • Smart Planning: enabling digital transmission and receipt of customer forecasts, auto validation and synchronization of forecast, and advanced statistical analysis will allow teams to plan and manage better. Combined with integrated production scheduling and performance tracking, in the future, we will be able to efficiently manage customer’s product cycles.
  • Smart Purchasing: intelligent Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) filtering, enhanced digital interchanges with electronic commits into manufacturing systems can help improve overall purchasing process such as order quantities, product cycles, etc.
  • Smart Warehouse: improved velocity and availability through end-to-end connection will enable us to manage inventory and logistics.

5. In your opinion, what are the trends that will shape the industry for the next 5 to 10 years?

I believe that the continued development of additive manufacturing will dramatically change the way we design, manufacture and develop products. Although this may vary by industry, the potential for additive manufacturing to improve speed, quality and cost will result in significant shifts in our manufacturing processes.

Even more impactful are the areas of factory automation, machine self-optimisation and the application of artificial intelligence. In a mature vision of these technologies, it’s easy to envision ultra-lean factories managed remotely which self-correct and optimise the manufacturing process.

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Industrial Robots Projected To Dominate Manufacturing Industries

Industrial Robots Projected To Dominate Manufacturing Industries

JAPAN: The new World Robotics Report shows that a new record high of 381,000 units of industrial robots were shipped globally in 2017 – an increase of 30 percent compared to the previous year. This means that the annual sales volume of industrial robots increased by 114 percent over the last five years (2013-2017). The sales value increased by 21 percent compared to 2016 to a new peak of US$16.2 billion in 2017.

“Industrial robots are a crucial part of the progress of manufacturing industry,” says Junji Tsuda, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “Robots evolve with many cutting-edge technologies. They posses abilities in vision recognition, skill learning, failure prediction and AI, and offer a new concept to man-machine-collaboration plus easy programming and so on. They will help improve the productivity of manufacturing and expand the field of robot application. The IFR outlook shows that in 2021 the annual number of robots supplied to factories around the world will reach about 630,000 units.”

Top Five Markets In The World

There are five major markets representing 73 percent of the total sales volume in 2017: China, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Germany.

China has significantly expanded its leading position with the strongest demand and a market share of 36 percent of the total supply in 2017. With sales of about 138,000 industrial robots (2016-2017: +59 percent) China´s sales volume was higher than the total sales volume of Europe and the Americas combined (112,400 units). Foreign robot suppliers increased their sales by 72 percent to 103,200 units, including robots produced locally by international robot suppliers in China. This is the first time that foreign robot suppliers have a higher growth rate than the local manufacturers. The market share of the Chinese robot suppliers decreased from 31 percent in 2016 to 25 percent in 2017.

Japan´s manufacturers delivered 56 percent of the global supply in 2017. This makes Japan the world´s number one industrial robot manufacturer. The export rate increased by 45 percent (2016-2017). North America, China, the Republic of Korea, and Europe were target export destinations. Robot sales in Japan increased by 18 percent to 45,566 units, representing the second highest value ever witnessed for this country. A higher value was only recorded in the year 2000 with 46,986 units.

The manufacturing industry of the Republic of Korea has by far the highest robot density in the world – more than 8 times the global average amount. But in 2017, robot supplies decreased by 4 percent to 39,732 units. The main driver of this development was the electrical/electronics industry that reduced robot installations by 18 percent in 2017. The year before, industrial robot installations peaked at 41,373 units.

Robot installations in the United States continued to increase to a new peak in 2017 – for the seventh year in a row – and reached 33,192 units. This is 6 percent higher than in 2016. Since 2010, the driver of the growth in all manufacturing industries in the U.S. has been the ongoing trend to automate production in order to strengthen the U.S. industries in both domestic and global markets.

Germany is the fifth largest robot market in the world and number one in Europe. In 2017, the number of robots sold increased by 7 percent to 21,404 units – a new all-time record – compared to 2016 (20,074 units). Between 2014 and 2016, annual sales of industrial robots stagnated at around 20,000 units.

Robot Use By Industry Worldwide

The automotive industry remains the largest adopter of robots globally with a share of 33 percent of the total supply in 2017 – sales increased by 22 percent. The manufacturing of passenger cars has become increasingly complex over the past ten years: a substantial proportion of the production processes nowadays require automation solutions using robots. Manufacturers of hybrid and electric cars are experiencing stronger demand for a wider variety of car models just like the traditional car manufacturers. Furthermore, the challenge of meeting 2030 climate targets will finally require a larger proportion of new cars to be low- and zero-emission vehicles.

In the future, automotive manufacturers will also invest in collaborative applications for final assembly and finishing tasks. Second tier automotive part suppliers, a large number of which are SMEs, are slower to automate fully but we can expect this to change as robots become smaller, more adaptable, easier to program, and less capital-intensive.

The electrical/electronics industry has been catching up with the auto industry: Sales increased by 33 percent to a new peak of 121,300 units – accounting for a share of 32 percent of the total supply in 2017. The rising demand for electronic products and the increasing need for batteries, chips, and displays were driving factors for the boost in sales. The need to automate production increases demand: robots can handle very small parts at high speeds, with very high degrees of precision, enabling electronics manufacturers to ensure quality whilst optimising production costs. The expanding range of smart end-effectors and vision technologies extends the range of tasks that robots can perform in the manufacture of electronic products.

The metal industry (including industrial machinery, metal products and basic metals industries) is on an upswing. Share of total supply reached 10 percent with an exceptional sales growth of 55 percent in 2017. Analysts predict an overall growth in demand in 2018 for metals, with ongoing high demand for the cobalt and lithium used in electric car batteries. Large metal and metal product companies are implementing Industry 4.0 automation strategies, including robotics, to reap the benefits of economies of scale and to be able to respond quickly to changes in demand.

Automation Degree By Robot Density

85 robot units per 10,000 employees is the new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industries (2016: 74 units). By regions, the average robot density in Europe is 106 units, in the Americas 91, and in Asia 75 units.

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Interview With Mr. Ashish Pujari, GM & VP Digital Supply Chain & Manufacturing – Asia Pacific & Japan at SAP

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with  Mr. Ashish Pujari, GM & VP Digital Supply Chain & Manufacturing – Asia Pacific & Japan at SAP on his views on the future of supply chain networks and manufacturing technologies.

1.Could you provide us with an overview of the latest technologies shaping the manufacturing industry and its associated supply chain networks in Asia?

Manufacturing has already begun to go ‘smart’ with Industry 4.0, where we see automation, intelligent machines coupled with smart sensors and IoT devices embedded along the production line. The future of production will not only be fully automated and connected but also have the ability to self-diagnose issues and optimise production capability. In this regard we see the possibility of an automated end-to-end supply chain, fully managed by smart manufacturing robots, driverless cars/drones and digital shop assistants.

With the tremendous volume of data becoming available, manufacturers will be able to optimise operations quickly and react accordingly to areas that require attention. For instance, the need to regularly conduct machinery maintenance, which typically causes a halt in production and incur cost, is no longer required with smart sensors notifying operators when maintenance is needed.

What sets the manufacturing and supply chain advancement rate of Asia apart from the other regions is the amount of expected IoT investment with IoT playing the critical role in making the above initiatives possible. According to IDC, Asia comes up on top in terms of IoT spending (US$291.7 billion) having accounted for more than 40 percent of the total worldwide expenditure this year with these connected devices being largely used for manufacturing operations.

2. What do you think are the main challenges when it comes to the digitalisation and integration of supply chains with manufacturing processes in Asia? With the digitalisation of manufacturing, how will supply chains evolve to keep up? How do you think these challenges can be overcome?

Traditionally, companies approached supply chain management in terms of increasing efficiency and driving down costs. In a complex, globalised, digital economy, the supply chain of yesterday is not up to the task of meeting constantly shifting demand and increasingly complex supply networks. For a digital economy, what is needed is a digital supply chain that is characterised by its ability to be fast, nimble and intelligent enough to profitably serve segments of one. This is however, just one half of the picture with the other half being the demand chain

Industry 4.0 solutions and new manufacturing techniques (such as addictive manufacturing) play a strong role in sustaining a strong demand chain where the production of products is based solely on demand. The decrease in waste and obsolescence will lead to an overall reduction in cost for organisations.

Upon digitalising the supply and demand chain silos, the main challenge will be to connect the both of them in a seamless manner. The integration of demand and supply chain synchronizes the key processes in terms of front-end development, product planning, product design, procurement, manufacturing, sales and marketing, maintenance activities based on customer needs as process routines. The first step manufacturers must take is the establishment of a digital core in order to handle the tremendous volume of data becoming available and translate them into actionable insights. Next, a top-to-bottom, soup-to-nuts approach that brings each application under the same umbrella must be taken. This is typically done with the assistance of a technology solutions provider that offers solutions for both silos and a proven track record of successful implementation.

3. In your opinion, what are the trends that will shape the industry for the next 5 to 10 years?

Supply chain sustainability becomes good business:  Cost efficiency and sustainability can now be achieved simultaneously with the help of technology. In an ideal world, manufacturers will see all of their products end up in a customer’s hands. In reality, the overproduction of products leads to unwanted and unused products being dumped at the bottom of a landfill. By digitalising the supply chain, manufacturers will be able to increase sustainability by reducing or even eliminating over-production and standing inventory. Not only does this reduce overall cost, it also saves our environment. At the same time, having end-to-end visibility enables businesses to tap on the shared economy network and achieve seamless connectivity across the entire supply chain. For example, working with third-party delivery services to cover last-mile delivery.

Rise of the Intelligence Enterprise: To reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 fully, we expect to see more organisations transforming into Intelligent Enterprises. An Intelligent Enterprise effectively uses data assets and machine learning to automate routine tasks, to achieve desired business outcomes faster and with less risk. To this end, businesses need to invest in three key areas – an intelligent suite, intelligent technologies and a digital platform. SAP’s solutions are designed to help businesses leverage these and transform into an a smart, best-run Intelligent Enterprise.

Connecting the physical and digital world through Digital Twins: The attachment of IoT sensors to assets and equipment will enable organisations to connect them within a network and form “digital twins”. This will provide businesses total visibility as products are designed, manufactured and deployed with real-time data sharing between customers and suppliers.

In today’s context, this is important because businesses are facing increased competition and need to meet the expectation of shorter product cycles, accelerated responses times and flexible manufacturing. At the same time, customers expect fully configurable, smart products too. Through leveraging embedded intelligence from the data of a fully connected network, businesses will be able to make better decisions and break new ground with open innovation.

Blockchain goes mainstream: Blockchain can positively impact everything from warehousing to delivery to payment due to its ability to increase the efficiency and transparency of supply chains. There is no dispute in the chain regarding transactions because all entities on the chain have the same version of the ledger and records on the blockchain cannot be edited. Due to such offerings, it comes as no surprise when IDC predicted that blockchain spending will grow at a CAGR of 81.2 percent and hit a total spending of US$9.2 billion in 2021.

Delving deeper into the distribution and services sector, we foresee strong interest from the pharmaceutical industry in the adoption of blockchain. Fake drugs are a US$30 billion problem and according to the World Health Organisation, one in 10 drugs sold in developing countries are fake or substandard, leading to thousands of deaths. Bogus drugs are a growing threat as increased pharmaceutical trade, including Internet sales, open the door to sometimes toxic products. With blockchain, the flow of stolen or counterfeit pills entering the supply chain and causing harm to patients can be stopped.

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EuroBLECH 2018: Post Show Review

EuroBLECH 2018: Post Show Review

The 25th International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition, EuroBLECH 2018, ended last week after four successful show days. A total of 56,301 visitors from around the world came to Hannover to get an overview of the latest innovations and digital technologies for sheet metal working and to invest in new manufacturing machinery. A total of 1,507 companies from 40 countries exhibited at this year’s show.

“There was a great atmosphere at the show, with an excellent mood on the exhibitor side as well as the visitor side. Many exhibitors presented themselves this year with even more impressive stands. They showcased an enormous variety of new machinery and innovative solutions, and many of these were, once again, demonstrated live at the exhibition stands”, said Evelyn Warwick, EuroBLECH Exhibition Director, on behalf of the organisers Mack Brooks Exhibitions. She also added that, “there was a noticeable technological advancement within the last two years. Many exhibitors demonstrated how well the industry is prepared for digitalisation and how these new technologies can be used within a manufacturing environment.”

“We are very pleased with the positive results of EuroBLECH 2018, which, compared to the previous exhibition, attracted a consistently high visitor number across the four show days from Tuesday to Friday. Therefore, EuroBLECH 2018 ends with a record floor space of 89,875 net square metres and a sustainable visitor figure, which of course is also due to the booming industry. Many exhibitors reported positive sales figures”, concluded Warwick.

A total of 58 percent of exhibitors came from outside Germany at this year’s show. This represents a further increase in international attendance by four percent. The preliminary results of the exhibition survey show that 37 percent of visitors came to EuroBLECH from outside Germany, resulting once again in good international visitor attendance. Major visitor countries, next to Germany, included Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, India, Great Britain, Poland, Austria and Belgium.

A great majority of the visitors came from the industry (73 percent), followed by visitors from workshops, trade and services. The most important sectors visitors belonged to include engineering, sheet metal & products, steel and aluminium construction, the automotive industry and its suppliers, electrical engineering, iron and steel production as well as rolling mills and heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.

97 percent of the visitors were also from the trade and besides the high number of international visitors, the exhibition could, once again, register a high percentage of visitors from the top management with decision-making and buying capacity. The percentage of visitors involved in decision-making was almost consistent at 79 percent.

The preliminary results of the exhibition survey show that both exhibitors and visitors at this year’s EuroBLECH were highly satisfied. The visitors praised the comprehensiveness and international range of the products on display as well as the quality of the exhibition stands and the many live demonstrations of digital processes. The exhibitors praised the qualified and international audience with its high percentage of decision-makers. The exhibitors also stated that they had made a large number of new business contacts. More than 70 percent of all exhibitors stated on-site that they intended to exhibit again at the next EuroBLECH in 2020, which will take place from 27 – 30 October 2020 at the Hanover Exhibition Grounds in Germany.

In addition to EuroBLECH, Mack Brooks Exhibitions is organising a range of sheet metal working exhibitions in different markets: the next BLECH India will take place from 25 – 27 April 2019 in Mumbai. AsiaBLECH 2019 will be held in Chengdu City from 20 – 22 November 2019. The first BLECH France is taking place from 21 – 23 January 2020 in Paris, France.

Winners Of The EuroBLECH 2018 Online Competition

Once again, EuroBLECH put innovative technologies and a professional audience in the focus with this year’s EuroBLECH Online Competition. “Step into the digital reality” was the theme of the awards and the winners were chosen online by the sheet metal working community. The winners were officially awarded with a trophy on the second day of the show.

TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG won the award in the category “Digital Transformation” for their indoor localisation system, Track&Trace, which is based on Ultra Wide Band Technology (UWB) and can determine the unambiguous position of markers in real time with the help of satellites.

In the category “Best Start-Up”, Fractory Solutions OÜ from Estonia received the award for the development of their on-demand sheet metal manufacturing platform Fractory.co which streamlines the outsourcing process. Through this platform, customers can get instant quotes and lead times by uploading a CAD drawing which makes the ordering process ten times faster and more economical.

Q-Fin Quality Finishing received the award in the category “E-Mobility”. They presented their “F200 XL” which was designed for the deburring, grinding and edge rounding of very small, light sheet metal parts.

Further information about EuroBLECH as well as new videos and pictures of the show are available on the show website: www.euroblech.com.

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Dyson To Manufacture “Made-In-Singapopre” Electric Cars By 2021

Dyson To Manufacture “Made-In-Singapopre” Electric Cars By 2021

SINGAPORE: Dyson has announced yesterday (23 October) that it will be entering the electric car market and the company intends to begin manufacturing its first electric car from a facility in Singapore by 2021. The British company is currently known for its bladeless fans and bagless vacuum cleaners, but with a shift towards automobile production, the company will be developing a high technology manufacturing facility with robotic and automation systems. Additionally, a team of 400 people have been assembled and will look towards spending £2 billion (S$3.6 billion) on the project to take on the likes of Tesla and other automotive giants.

Reasons for the this venture into the automotive industry include the company’s readiness to re-enter the industry after initially abandoning a project on diesel particulate filter systems in the 1990s. As mentioned by Jim Rowan, CEO of Dyson, “the decision of where to make our car is complex, based on supply chains, access to markets and the availability of the expertise that will help us achieve our ambitions,” he has also added that, “[Dyson’s] existing footprint and team in Singapore, combined with the nation’s significant advanced manufacturing expertise, made it a frontrunner. Singapore also offers access to high-growth markets as well as an extensive supply chain and a highly-skilled workforce.”

In a Facebook post, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has commented that Sir James Dyson, who is the founder of Dyson, had informed him that the company had decided upon Singapore as a manufacturing hub because of the country’s expertise in advanced manufacturing, global and regional connectivity and the quality of research scientists and engineers within the country.

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Trade War Threatens China’s High-Tech Industries

Trade War Threatens China’s High-Tech Industries

CHINA: The trade war has reduced output growth for China’s high-tech industries such as its robotics and integrated circuits sector with reports showing a slide in figures since September.

Although as recently as May, the country had reported that industrial robot production was rising by over 30 percent on the year, since June, growth has withered to single digit figures and it was reported to be 9 percent in August. This was prior to July’s tariffs whereby the robotics industry was hit with an additional 25 percent of tariffs. Integrated circuits have also experienced a similar downward trend with growth reported to be just 5.8 percent in August which is half of the observed growth in July. Additionally, the country has witnessed a reduction in the production of automobiles since July, with the decline widening to 4.4 percent in August.

That being said, China’s economy as a whole is still healthy in accordance to September’s statistics, with industrial production increasing overall and retail sales of consumer goods experiencing a growth, while the decline in the growth rate of investment in fixed assets decreased. Mao Shengyong, a National Bureau of Statistics spokesperson, has stated that the Chinese economy is highly adaptable with a capacity for mitigating external risk. This builds upon the local government’s efforts to develop infrastructure projects so as to boost the economy.

Regarding the trade war, China’s manufacturers have already signaled their concern, especially as manufacturing export orders from Guangdong Province experienced a dip to below 50 in June for the first time in two and a half years, with the figure remaining below 50, at 49.3 for August. This has spurred the local Communist Party’s Central Committee to expand local demands through fiscal policies in July as well as direct projects to the public.

In August, the central government had approved a proposal to improve subways in Suzhou, where many overseas-affiliated export companies are located. Thus, enabling infrastructural developments in the region which is aligned to the government’s infrastructural push.

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Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Machine Advisor Unlocks The Potential Of Data For Asia’s OEMs

Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Machine Advisor Unlocks The Potential Of Data for Asia’s OEMs

SINGAPORE: Amid the rapid digitisation of manufacturing, machine builders (OEMs) need to provide a better service to improve their customers’ agility and market responsiveness. Therefore, Schneider Electric has presented its EcoStruxure Machine Advisor, a platform that allows OEMs to track, monitor and fix machines remotely as well as enable operators to predict and execute preventive maintenance schedules and improve machine availability.

Real-time Operational Awareness Is A Competitive Advantage

Driven by rapid adoption of connectivity, mobility, cloud computing and big data analytics, digitisation in manufacturing has a huge potential. According to a 2015 McKinsey survey, by 2025 digitisation will reduce time to market by 20 to 25 percent, optimise expertise by 45 to 55 percent, and reduce machine downtime by up to 50 percent.

In this ultra-competitive environment, OEMs need solutions that will improve the connectivity of their machines, giving them real-time operational awareness, and access to their machines in order to optimise their operational efficiency while developing new business opportunities such as in their services business. These benefits need to be passed on to operators, while guaranteeing safety and data security.

Maximising The Value Of Data With EcoStruxure Machine Advisor

Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Machine Advisor is able to convert data into key insights for machine builders. “With EcoStruxure Machine Advisor, OEMs gain real-time remote access to their machines, allowing them to add and modify new services to each installed machine at any production site worldwide,” explained Xing Jian Pang, industrial commercial vice president, global OEM and Asia Pacific, Schneider Electric. The device is also able to provide a fully connected framework for reliable machine operation through three key functionalities:

  • Track: OEMs can visualise the location of all their machines, with real-time access to documentationand history, such as bill of materials, manuals, maintenance logs and task management schedules.
  • Monitor: The cloud-based software allows OEMs to collect and visualise machine data in real time,giving a comprehensive analysis of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), widgets for performance against key KPIs and other trends, and dashboards to monitor machine availability and output quality.
  • Fix: A service enabled by a mobile app to facilitate maintenance and operations with contextualinformation, the help of step-by-step procedures and remote expertise by leveraging augmented reality. Furthermore, this service also provides remote access to the engineering software in the cloud, enabling service technicians to use “Software-as-a-Service” to always have the right version and libraries by hand.

While these functionalities allow OEMs to improve customer satisfaction and innovate with new service offers, EcoStruxure Machine Advisor also gives immediate benefits to operators by leveraging the EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor app. This allows the EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor to put real-time information at their fingertips, whenever and wherever it is needed. Additionally, the custom application can improve operational efficiency with augmented reality, enabling operators to superimpose the current data and virtual objects onto a cabinet, machine, or plant.

EcoStruxure Machine Advisor pilots

The EcoStruxure Machine Advisor has been piloted successfully with many OEMs in Europe and Asia. In Taiwan, Leadermac, a manufacturer of four-side moulders, has incorporated the technology as a digitised solution to improve its service offers and the company is now able to execute early diagnosis and preventive maintenance of its machines, and sell better-connected, more flexible, more efficient and safer machines.

“EcoStruxure Machine Advisor is the future,” said Leadermac president, Michael Chang. “It helps OEMs like us provide better services, such as remote preventive maintenance, alarm monitoring, tooling usage and IoT applications.”

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ABB Opens GIS Facility In Indonesia

ABB Opens GIS Facility In Indonesia

ABB has built a high voltage gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) manufacturing facility in Tangerang, Banten. The facility which was inaugurated by Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto during its opening, is projected to have 170 kilovolts of gas-fueled electrical panels that will be utilised to distribute electricity from power plants to end users such as factories, housing complexes and commercial areas in order to feed increasing demands for power.

As mentioned by Minister Airlangga Hartarto during his inauguration speech, GIS demand in Indonesia is projected to increase to 150 sets annually as the country works to attain a power capacity of 35 gigawatts and 46,000 kilometers of network transmission by 2019. Claudio Facchin, president of ABB’s power grids division, has also said, “during the early stages of operation, the plant is expected to fulfill around a third of Indonesia’s GIS demand” and it is expected to increase its capacity by around 6.9 percent per year, with the potential to have its products exported to meet global demand.

Additionally, through this facility, ABB will not only help to create jobs and contribute to Indonesia’s FDI, the company could also help to sustain local auxiliary industries as a 2012 legislation has mandated that all power infrastructure developments in the country has to source a portion of its components locally. This facility in Tangerang is the fourth plant in Indonesia that ABB has opened in the past three years as part of a US$30 million investment plan and its contains approximately 25 percent local content for its components. This exceeds local government requirements of at least 14.3 percent local content for high voltage GIS facilities. Minister Airlangga Hartarto, has commented that, “by establishing this plant here in Indonesia, ABB is enabling the local manufacturing industry to contribute more to the national GIS demand.”

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