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Improved tools for better print automation
We know that there are a lot of opportunities to use data to improve the scheduling workflow in additive manufacturing. We’ve known it since we started.
Now we’re taking the new steps towards that promise.
The first step is to make it easier to select parts. We know what needs to be manufactured, and pretty much everything about it.
That we should be able to pre-select and even sort the parts that need to be manufactured based on the device you’re targeting.
So, in the next week, we’ll be releasing our new run/build page.
It’ll let you filter the parts’ list based on the machine that you’ve selected, and default sorts them by “Due Date”. Now all you’ve got to do is to select the parts you want to make, and we’ll make sure they’re properly nested (2D, 3D coming soon), tell you when it’s likely to start, how long it’ll take and how much room you have.
To learn more about our Additive Production Accelerator (APA) and how it can help boost your business, visit our website.
The Road Ahead
- Auto-nesting – We’re working on the ability to give you the most efficient builds based on your part backlog. Since good nesting/packing is usually driven by the computing resources/time available, making a selection and then packing is not the way to go. Instead, our multi-threaded packing approach intends to do this in the background, based on all the part’s features (such as material, workflow, due-date, quality requirements etc) that you’ve entered previously, and iterate through thousands of potential variations before you’ve ever logged on. That way, by the time you do, you have a one-click option to get the most efficient build possible.
- Machine-code creation – As mentioned last month, moving nested builds directly on to the machine is the next step in automating the workflow. We can achieve that by working with the OEMs to create the build on the fly. That’s also a project we are starting this year, and are looking for partners – especially if you have EOS machines.
Automation is being employed to solve many of the challenges of the present day. In a sense, it is liberating us humans from menial or even dangerous tasks in favour of more stimulating exercises. For example, putting your life in the possibly dangerous environment of an ammunition factory was the only way for poor families to sustain themselves. Robotics and other technologies are not only putting unsafe jobs out of the list, are increasing productivity considerably. There are also societal changes that we are only now starting to foresee. Analyses show that certain dynamics are going to shift as demographic and economic factors evolve. For example, a number of countries with an aging population will need an increase in caregivers. Automation is already bringing to market solutions for human-machine relationship robots to take care of this. This trend is putting under the spotlight how technology is making certain jobs obsolete, inflating the already present preoccupation of joblessness. However, studies conducted by automation technologies show that however permeating these are, humans will not only always be required for complex and open-ended tasks, the new framework brought about by automation will create new jobs, such that never even existed before.
Robots Have Replaced Humans in 25% of China’s Ammunition Factories
Speaking with the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Xu Zhigang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shenyang Institute of Automation, said that nearly 25% of China’s ammunition factories have had their human workers replaced with “smart machines.” Interestingly enough, China didn’t turn to AI simply because it wants to lead AI adoption. It was instead because the factories were lacking in people who actually wanted to work in such dangerous environments.
Keep reading here.
Can Robots Tighten the Bolts on a Rickety Caregiver Sector?
In 15 years, the percentage of the population over 65 will more than double in Europe, Japan and the U.S. A tenfold increase in care workers will be required, at a time when the sector is relentlessly shrinking. At first glance, this could be a perfect opportunity for robots to fill a genuine social need—entrepreneurs and tech evangelists frequently talk of machines tackling the “dangerous and demeaning work” of carrying and cleaning patients.
Read the full article here.
Could Self-Driving Trucks Be Good for Truckers?
Uber does not believe that self-driving trucks will be doing “dock to dock” runs for a very long time. They see a future in which self-driving trucks drive highway miles between what they call transfer hubs, where human drivers will take over for the last miles through complex urban and industrial terrain. […] Basically, if the self-driving trucks are used far more efficiently, it would drive down the cost of freight, which would stimulate demand, leading to more business. And, if more freight is out on the roads, and humans are required to run it around local areas, then there will be a greater, not lesser, need for truck drivers.
“If you believe the [automation] narrative that’s out there today, it is especially counterintuitive,”Alden Woodrow, the product lead for self-driving trucks at Uber, says, “because the more self-driving trucks you have and the higher utilization they have, the more jobs it creates.”
Read the full article in the Atlantic.
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Automation is a process that’s being on-going for the past 40 years to take ever more complex tasks and have machines take over. This means that a lot of manual, repetitive tasks have been handed over to robotic arms and minds, freeing the humans to do something more elevated, and possible more stimulating. This will constitute a monumental impact on society, with as many as 800 million workers projected to be displaced by 2030. Nonetheless, there are a few key issues in the way of that vision: skill gaps make it hard to change careers, our social systems aren’t suited to support workers through these new shifts and this phenomenon could accentuate present issues that we are pressing to eliminate, like gender and racial discrimination in the form of pay gaps. For its promises of utmost freedom, there are a few angles to iron out before it becomes reality, creating a suitable environment to guarantee innovation and social welfare (like Sweden!).
Automation Could Displace 800 Million Workers Worldwide By 2030, Study Says
A coming wave of job automation could force between 400 million and 800 million people worldwide out of a job in the next 13 years, according to a new study. A report released this week from the research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company forecasts scenarios in which 3 percent to 14 percent of workers around the world — in 75 million to 375 million jobs — will have to acquire new skills and switch occupations by 2030.
“There are few precedents” to the challenge of retraining hundreds of millions of workers in the middle of their careers, the report’s authors say.
Read the full article here.
How Robots Could Make the Gender Pay Gap Even Worse
A new report published Thursday suggests that robots could make the gender pay gap even worse, stoking existing fears and uncertainty around the concept of automation. In a paper titled “Managing automation Employment, inequality and ethics in the digital age,” the Institute for Public Policy Research argued that a greater share of jobs that women hold—46.8% versus 40.9% for men—have the technical potential to be automated since female workers are more likely to hold low-skill “automatable” occupations. Paired with women’s underrepresentation in high-skill occupations that may be complemented by technology, that means that automation could exacerbate gender inequality.
Read more here.
The Robots Are Coming, and Sweden Is Fine
Sweden’s famously generous social welfare system makes this a place not prone to fretting about automation — or much else, for that matter.
Mr. Persson, 35, sits in front of four computer screens, one displaying the loader he steers as it lifts freshly blasted rock containing silver, zinc and lead. […] He is cognizant that robots are evolving by the day. Boliden is testing self-driving vehicles to replace truck drivers. But Mr. Persson assumes people will always be needed to keep the machines running. He has faith in the Swedish economic model and its protections against the torment of joblessness.
“I’m not really worried,” he says. “There are so many jobs in this mine that even if this job disappears, they will have another one. The company will take care of us.”
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When you say autonomous one most commonly thinks of self-driving cars. Nonetheless, the movement to make robots survey and act on their own precedes driving around no-hands. Autonomous robots have the ability to adapt to various scenarios within their scope of purpose and, as such, are being developed for a host of different applications. What is largely proceeding out of the spotlight is an ever-increasing presence within plants and other work environments of robots that are providing the tendrils for the factory-wide brain of the IIoT. These robots can sense their environment, be in constant and instantaneous exchange of information with central processing systems and execute complex directives, managing the necessary sub-steps on their own. Adidas has created a factory that uses autonomous robots to drive on-demand sneaker production. Menial tasks can be done effortlessly and efficiently by robots that, through machine vision, can see and analyze their targets and act according to their AI directives. This is why Château Clerc Milon, renowned wine producer, has implemented robots to take care of vineyards. Autonomous robots are perfect for scenarios in which unfaltering machine vision and pattern recognition enable them to see what the human eye wouldn’t catch. Like for rediscovering long-lost ’50s prototype jet fighters out in the ocean.
Inside Adidas’ Robot-Powered, On-Demand Sneaker Factory
Called Speedfactory, the facility would pair a small human workforce with technologies including 3-D printing, robotic arms, and computerized knitting to make running shoes—items that are more typically mass-produced by workers in far-off countries like China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
“What we enable is speed,” said Gerd Manz, vice president of Adidas’ innovation group. “We can react to consumer needs within days.”
Read the full article at Wired.
Bordeaux: Robot vineyard worker impresses at Clerc Milon
Château Clerc Milon, under the same ownership as Château Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac, has tested a prototype vineyard robot named ‘Ted’ to help with soil cultivation and weeding in its vines.
Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s MD, Philippe Dhalluin, said, ‘We see robotics as an effective solution for the future.
‘As well as helping to make our vineyard work less arduous and respecting the soil, it will reduce our dependency on fossil energies and the harm caused by traditional agricultural machinery.’
Read more here.
Autonomous sub finds long-lost supersonic aircraft from the 50s
Fraunhofer is reporting that one of its DEDAVEs [unmanned submersible] has located a couple of sunken flight models of a famous Canadian jet fighter, the Avro Arrow. Billed as “the world’s first autonomous underwater vehicle [AUV] to be developed from the outset with a view to series production,” the DEDAVE is designed to be easily manufactured on an assembly line, and thus relatively inexpensive to buy. At less than 700 kg it’s also quite light for an AUV and can travel autonomously for up to 20 hours on one charge of its eight batteries, diving to a maximum depth of 6,000 meters.
Read more about the discovery here.
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Automation technologies are starting to take hold in many environments of our daily lives. It’s not just the factory floor, the whole world is getting permeated by tech that makes short work of menial tasks. But how is this changing the way we think about these spaces? The factories of the future are often envisioned as highly technical spaces, with every nook and cranny tailored to the task at hand, aimed at making it easiest for the robots in place to do their jobs. However, most advanced automation technologies at our disposal are capable of navigating complex environments, react according to outside stimuli and thus safely traverse almost any workspace they find themselves in. Cobots (collaborative robots), autonomous vehicles or even Amazon warehouse handling and dispatch robots are perfect examples of this. The interesting dichotomy here is in how we can optimally plan spaces, public, private or industrial, to drive performance and flexibility. Does flexibility go in the way of peak performance layout? Or are intelligent, adaptable systems going to be the best option to keep operations agile?
The checkout line’s death knell
We’re all only about ten years away from sauntering into stores, grabbing whatever it is we want, then quick-stepping out like we stole it. It’ll be possible because many shops will be ringed with machine vision-enabling cameras and sensors that keep tabs on what you take while inside and then charge it to the corresponding app as you leave.
Read the full article (and watch the great video!) here.
Walmart is ‘secretly’ testing self-driving floor scrubbers, signaling that more robots are coming
Walmart has been quietly testing out autonomous floor scrubbers during the overnight shifts in five store locations near the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. A spokesperson for Walmart told FOX Business that the move, which was first reported by LinkedIn, is a “very small proof of concept pilot that we are running” and that the company still has a lot more to learn about how this technology “might work best in our different retail locations.”
Read the full article here.
Cities Should Not Design for Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous cars are likely to be better off relying on each other than on fixed infrastructure. As autonomous vehicles capture a larger share of road traffic, they will be able to crowdsource extremely-detailed, real-time maps of urban roads. Each member of the network will benefit from the information provided by other vehicles and would likely provide its own data in exchange for access.
Read the full article here.
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There’s been massive outcry recently regarding the shift in automation employment in various industries, threatening nearly 40% of jobs by 2030. Factories are quickly implementing new automated systems for warehouse management, manufacturing and most menial tasks. Taking away manual jobs from the market, many are complaining it’s eroding the economy as a whole in the process. In fact, some countries are relying on industries that are seeing a massive shift to automation, effectively truncating and undermining their workforce. This is most dangerous to those regions struggling to rise above the poverty line, where traditional factories are being replaced by automated performance power-houses. Nonetheless, the data is showing automation is not characterizing unemployment as we feared. This is all the more pronounced in those countries where institutions have been put in place to enable the pursuit of more future-oriented occupations. If we look back at ATMs in the ’70s, we will see a decline in the number of employees per branch but the new system encouraged companies to build more and more branches, mitigating the effect. All in all, while automation is having an impact on unemployment per se, new possibilities are being created to make a smarter, more efficient system possible while keeping the economy machine churning.
This Economic Model Organized Asia for Decades. Now It’s Broken
Today, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Myanmar are in the early stages of climbing that ladder—but automation threatens to block their ascent. Instead of opening well-staffed factories in these countries, Chinese companies that need to expand are building robot-heavy facilities at home. “The window is closing on emerging nations,” says Cai Fang, a demographer in Beijing who advises the Chinese government on labor policy. “They will not have the opportunity that China had in the past.”
Keep reading at Bloomberg.
The rise of robots in the German labour market
Although robots do not affect total employment, they do have strongly negative impacts on manufacturing employment in Germany. We calculate that one additional robot replaces two manufacturing jobs on average. This implies that roughly 275,000 full-time manufacturing jobs have been destroyed by robots in the period 1994-2014. But, those sizable losses are fully offset by job gains outside manufacturing. In other words, robots have strongly changed the composition of employment by driving the decline of manufacturing jobs illustrated in Figure 1. Robots were responsible for almost 23% of this decline. But they have not been major killers so far when it comes to the total number of jobs in the German economy.
Read the full article here.
Chill: Robot-related job loss won’t be that bad (probably)
[…] the ATM was highly disruptive. You’d be tempted to equate this disruption with job loss, as fewer employees at bank branches meant thousands were suddenly without jobs.
But you’d be wrong.
Since ATMs made it much cheaper for banks to operate, it led to a boom, of sorts, in building new branches. From 1989 to 2004, banks opened 43% more physical locations than it did in the period before ATMs — leading to more jobs in banking, consequently.And that’s not even considering the additional skilled laborers needed to install, configure, and maintain over 400,000 ATMs installed nationwide since the 70s. Or, there’s the drivers and guards needed to fill them. There’s those who work in customer service, laborers who man the assembly lines, parts companies responsible for the pieces within them, ISPs (and their employees) who keep them online, security experts who lock down the network from hackers, and so on.
Read the full article at The Next Web.
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Automation is bringing about transformation to today’s manufacturing in many shapes and forms. Giants like McDonald’s are having a revival in productivity (and profits) thanks to smarter food handling systems. Similarly, renewal projects of power plants across the US employ automation to slash the number of employees considerably. Flexibility and performance find a match in Fraunhofer Institute’s new SelfPaint system, which enables factories to automate painting of individual objects.
Automation key to McDonald’s revival
Fast food giant McDonald’s has seen a significant rise in second quarter profits. This is being put down to new ways of working and automation, leading to increased productivity. McDonald’s net income leapt by 28% to $1.4B in the second quarter, Business Times reports. This predicted increase in growth is attributed to a continuation of technology designed to aid manufacturing automation and with McDonald’s further application of digital technology to automate the customer experience.
Read the full story at Digital Journal.
SelfPaint tech automates painting of one-off objects
German and Swedish scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute are developing a system known as SelfPaint, which will allow robots to figure out how to paint individual objects. It could reportedly reduce paint use by 2%, energy consumption by 15%and production time by 5%. First of all, a 3D scan of the item is performed. Next, the path that the robot will travel while painting is mapped out. The painting process itself then takes place, followed by an inspection to check that the coating of paint is thick enough.
Read all about SelfPaint at NewAtlas.
Automation Is Engineering the Jobs Out of Power Plants
Gone are many of the mechanics, millwrights, and welders who once held high paying jobs to keep coal-fired power plants operating. […] the extensive use of analytics and automation within natural gas-fired power plants means that staffing levels can be cut to a fraction of what they were a decade ago. On August 1, Michigan-based DTE Energy revealed plans to spend almost $1B to build a 1,100-MW gas-fired power plant. When the station enters service in 2022, it will replace 3 existing coal-fired units that currently employ more than 500 people. Job openings at the new gas-fired plant? 35 full-time employees, says a DTE spokesperson.
Check out the full analysis on IEEE Spectrum.
Over the course of the last century, manufacturing has begun a downward dive in reputation, leading to less interest in the industry as a career path and, consequently, to broader ignorance in its developments, but there are ways to fix that. As a result, the industry is experiencing a skill-gap in its prospecting professionals who are not being prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. This is apparent in AM, as businesses are still encouraged to “work with the willing, and go from there”, but a lot of projects are starting to deal with this lack in education. Automation is engulfing the production pipeline and many businesses are not sure where to even begin investing their time and resources to start embracing IIoT and other smart technologies.
How to Fix Manufacturing’s Poor Image
U.S. manufacturing suffers from an important image problem that undermines its competitiveness, according to a new survey released on July 13 by Deloitte, along with the Manufacturing Institute. Only 50% of Americans think manufacturing jobs are interesting and less than 30% are likely to encourage their children to pursue a career. However Americans have not yet given up hope on the industry and in fact are overwhelmingly optimistic for its future […] much needs to be done to make sure that the public, including educators and those in a position to guide talent to the industry, understand the facts, the report concludes.
Read more about the findings in the Deloitte report here.
Overcoming the Additive Manufacturing Skill Gap
How does a company owner find experienced talent in an industry that’s only a few years old? This is the problem early adopters of Metal Additive Manufacturing are trying to solve. […] Indeed, additive is already playing an important role in the advanced manufacturing world, but there’s an unresolved pain-point felt across the industry; a small pool of skilled AM professionals, trying to satisfy the workforce needs of a rapidly growing industry.
Read the full article here.
Automation in the Warehouse: Asset or Obstacle?
Automation is a powerful tool and comes in many shapes and forms. In the warehouse, automation is generally used to make gains upon existing processes by improving efficiency, speed, reliability, accuracy and (eventually) cost savings. Gone are the days of thinking that paper-based processes are enough. Automation is at everyone’s disposal, yet investing in it doesn’t mean it will solve every goods-handling issue or be the right fit. Humans are still better at a lot of things.
Read more on smart automation deployment here.
As always, we hope to see you next week for another edition of the News-In-Review! In the mean time, our Twitter feed will keep you topped up on AM and IIoT related news, so check that out as well!
This week we are going to take a look at what automation is doing to our current socio-economical global landscape. It has pervaded the news with its most face-value effect of taking over manual human jobs, which it undoubtedly is: what the public is missing is a clear overview of the far-reaching effects. For example, automation will be able to provide a cushion for the ageing demographic of those countries who are dragging the economic growth. Presently, automation technologies and IIoT are bringing more to the table than raw workforce, exposing unconventional growth vectors to businesses. Automation is also hinting at a possible future in which jobs could be erased, urging a new definition of the individual’s social and economic contribution.
Robots May Help Defuse Demographic Time Bomb in Germany, Japan
Japan and Germany may be sitting on a ticking demographic time bomb where aging populations begin to drag down economic growth. Good thing they’re also prime candidates for robot revolutions. Increased automation and more use of robotic technology in these manufacturing powerhouses could help cushion the impact, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Moody’s analysts wrote in the report this month:
“To the extent that robots can undertake activity that require labor, they will compensate for the negative impact that a slower growth in labor force would have otherwise had on growth.”
Read more about it on Industry Week.
Driving Unconventional Growth through the Industrial Internet of Things
The IIoT has been heralded primarily as a way to improve operational efficiency. But in today’s environment, companies can also benefit greatly by seeing it as a tool for finding growth in unexpected opportunities.
In the future, successful companies will use the Industrial Internet of Things to capture new growth through three approaches: boost revenues by increasing production and creating new hybrid business models, exploit intelligent technologies to fuel innovation, and transform their workforce.
Read the report by Accenture.
Technology Will Erase Jobs—But Also Make Everything Cheap or Free
At Singularity University’s Exponential Finance Summit in New York this week, [Peter] Diamandis talked about the broad and specific trends he believes are leading to a demonetized world. […] The counterbalance to technological unemployment, Diamandis said, is the demonetization of living—in other words, pretty much everything we need and do in our day-to-day lives is becoming radically cheaper, if not free, and technology’s making it happen.
Read the whole article at SingularityHub.
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