Skip directly to content

Manufacturing - automation of manufacturing process

Harvard researchers the first to 3D print an organ-on-a-chip

Researchers at the Harvard Wyss Institute were the first to 3D print an organ-on-a-chip resembling a human heart which can be used to test drugs. The organ-on-a-chip has integrated sensors that automates the collection of data from the device, making it easier and more precise to measure its performance. This new method allows for the automated and mass production of organs-on-a-chip, leading to faster drug screening. Its 3D printing system can also be programmed to print other organs-on-a-chip such as the lung, gut, vascular system and more. The Wyss team plans to print 10 organ-on-a-chips and connect them to simulate the human body. 

Key Takeaway: 

Researchers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute have produced the first 3D printed organ-on-a-chip, a heart chip, with a system that can lead to the mass production of other organs-on-a-chip, resulting to faster screening of drugs without the need to test on animals or humans.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 27, 2016

Reebok pioneers 3D-printed shoes with Liquid Speed

Reebok introduced a new way to produce shoes that involves 3D printing the outsoles, creating rubber shoes that perform better and respond more flexibly to movement than traditional shoes. The 3D printing process allows the shoes to be produced without creating separate molds, an expensive and time-consuming process that is an industry trademark for 30 years. The novel method is the highlight of Reebok's plans to open a Liquid Factory in Rhode Island early next year. The factory will showcase a lab that will experiment with new manufacturing techniques. The company is selling 300 of the initial Liquid Speed designs at its website. The news is a confirming trend of footwear manufacturers bringing production back to the US.

Key Takeaway: 

Reebok is innovating how it manufactures its shoes by employing 3D printing techniques; it just introduced a new footwear that has 3D printed outsoles and is planning to build a Liquid Factory dedicated to new manufacturing methods by next year.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 24, 2016

SAP to channel more than $2 billion to its Internet of Things business

Software company SAP will invest €2 billion ($2.24 billion) in its Internet of Things business to capitalize on the growing market which is estimated to expand to €250 billion by 2020. It will be used in developing solutions for the enterprise over the next five years, intensifying marketing and sales efforts, and building IoT labs around the globe. SAP already has two solutions commercialized. The first connects business equipments to monitor efficiency, while the second includes features of the first service plus automated executions and advanced controls. A third, which SAP plans to develop could provide machine learning and predictive analysis. The investment will also be used to establish IoT labs possibly in Berlin, Johannesburg, Munich, Palo Alto, São Leopoldo and Shanghai, which will be open to customers, partners and startups interested in Industry 4.0 and IoT technologies.

Key Takeaway: 

SAP, realizing the huge market opportunity for Internet of Things, will invest more than $2 billion in its IoT business to accelerate the development of IoT solutions for companies and increase collaboration between customers, partners and startups.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
September 28, 2016

Computer processor makes robots faster at motion planning

Researchers at Duke University have made a computer processor that enables robots to plan their motion in real time while consuming less power. The system scans thousands of possible obstacles in the environment and selects the safest path available. While commodity graphics processors take up to a second for robots to plan their movements and consume 200-300 watts of energy, the researchers' processor does the work in less than a millisecond and uses less than 10 watts. Such low power consumption translates to greater energy savings when implemented in manufacturing floors with thousands of robots. The team started a spinoff company called Realtime Robotics to commercialize the technology.

Key Takeaway: 

Duke University researchers have developed a computer processor that speeds up motion planning for robots by 10,000 times, which can make them more flexible at navigating around complex environments.

Publication Date: 
June 20, 2016

Foxconn factory displaces 60,000 factory workers for robots

Sixty thousand workers at a Foxconn factory in Kunshan were reportedly replaced with robots, according to the South China Morning Post. A government survey found that as many as 600 companies in Kunshan also have similar plans. Foxconn stated that it is automating repetitive manufacturing tasks but will maintain a significant portion of its Chinese workers. Kunshan is an electronics hub that is home to 4,800 Taiwanese companies. Two-thirds of its population is comprised of migrant workers. In Dongguan in Guangdong province, 505 factories have invested $430 million on robots since September 2014, potentially displacing thousands of workers. In the US, fast food workers rally to increase their wages to $15 an hour, to which former McDonald's USA CEO Ed Rensi said is enough to get companies to consider robots. In the UK, 35% of jobs are at risk of automation in the next 20 years, according to an Oxford-Deloitte study.

Key Takeaway: 

At a Foxconn factory in Kunshan, China, 60,000 workers were displaced for robots, with many more companies in the area considering to follow; this may be the beginning of an overall automation trend that could also affect workers in non-manufacturing countries such as the US and UK.

Market Disruptions: 
Publication: 
Publication Date: 
May 25, 2016

Pages