Local Report from Shanghai Regarding Its Lockdown

I report regularly on the market research done by Interact Analysis. The CEO provided a thorough background about methodology and analysis convincing me their reports have better data science behind them than what you might get elsewhere.

This report is unique. It’s not a market study. Rather, Jan Zhang, senior research director, lives in Shanghai. She provides an interesting local look at the consequences of the severe lockdown Chinese authorities are using to combat the spread of Covid. I do not envy policy makers who must balance reducing deaths and hospitalizations on once side and living and commerce on the other.

You can read the entire blog post here.

Many in the West will know that there have been some very harsh lockdowns in parts of China, particularly Shanghai where I live. Though restrictions have recently, and extremely suddenly, eased, we are on standby for them to be re-imposed just as suddenly again. I wrote this insight both to talk about my personal experience of these new lockdowns, and to discuss some business and manufacturing impacts that I see.

The impact of lockdown on a personal level

We were locked in our flats since the beginning of April, though after the 3rd week we were allowed to walk around our locality if infections had gone down to zero in the area. But all shops and restaurants were closed. Where support for people was concerned, things were rather disorganized, particularly at first. 

People who were not allowed to work were basically living off savings. There are some policies in place, such as lowering mortgage payments, and our company has been granted free rent for six months, but so far unified central government schemes to support people in need are limited.

Shanghai: Goods piling up at the port are clogging national and global supply chains 

Shanghai has strong, high value, automotive and semiconductor industries. The city is also an important logistics hub, with very large port facilities which are a global gateway for goods coming into China,as well as being a domestic logistics center for the Yangtze Delta area. The port has not been completely shut down during the lockdown, with workers being allowed to continue working, and it is also highly automated, but there has been a shortage of truck drivers to get goods in and out, so there’s a serious logjam of goods which has sent shockwaves through supply chains across the country and indeed across the globe.

Government assistance for businesses has been hit and miss There are policies coming from central government, but it’s a long chain of command filtering down through the provinces and local industries, and it takes time. When we heard about the lockdown at the end of March, we thought it would be for 1-2 weeks. But it’s been very strict, more so than in Wuhan in 2020, even though the virus is much weaker. 

On a personal or business level we weren’t prepared for what was coming. In April and May, companies had to apply for permission to continue functioning and not many were granted permission – about 600 made it on to the whitelist as the first batch of enterprises, to resume work and production, which is a drop in the ocean in a city like Shanghai with a population of over 26 million. And when companies did get permission to resume working, their activities were restricted. 

More companies are beginning to start up again now, but the economic impact has been severe. Shanghai has lost over 60% of GDP during the lockdown, putting a serious dent in the government’s 5.5% GDP growth plan. We are expecting more government support, but it’s all a bit uncertain what shape it will take. Here at Interact we have been fine as we can work from home, but manufacturing has been hit really hard.

Lockdown: Bad for business; bad for people. 

Few positives come out of this for business, beyond making business leaders think carefully about how to maintain productionduring future global shocks. On a personal level, it has affected some people quite badly, with talk of loneliness, frustration and even PTSD. Old people who don’t understand how to use the internet have perhaps been hit the hardest.

For me, I’m just glad it mostly seems to be ending and I’m praying we don’t return to it!

Smart Manufacturing Connected to Regenerative Medicine

  • Rockwell Experience Center at ARMI|BioFabUSA connects Smart manufacturing technology to lifesaving regenerative Medicine.
  • Newly opened New Hampshire center highlights technology needed to mass produce tissues and organs.

I’m digging out from under the avalanche of news picked up during my travels. Plus, I spent several hours today traveling to the Apple Store to visit a genius. My MacBook Air would not power up. That symptom was one of four that popped up on Apple support. Obviously not an unknown problem. So now I’m digging through Dropbox for iPad which only partially synced with Scrivener to write these posts. I hope they don’t have to replace the logic board and destroy all my data! I have played with using my iPad Pro as a primary computing device, so at least it’s set up. Just not as productive as the MacBook.

I’m digging out from under the avalanche of news picked up during my travels. Plus, I spent several hours today traveling to the Apple Store to visit a genius. My MacBook Air would not power up. That symptom was one of four that popped up on Apple support. Obviously not an unknown problem. So now I’m digging through Dropbox for iPad which only partially synced with Scrivener to write these posts. I hope they don’t have to replace the logic board and destroy all my data! I have played with using my iPad Pro as a primary computing device, so at least it’s set up. Just not as productive as the MacBook.

Back to Rockwell Automation. It is a company with many partnerships. This one intersects with my latest interest in all things biology. (And I’ll include the company’s latest tag line.)

Rockwell Automation, the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation, announced the grand opening of the Rockwell Experience Center at the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) in Manchester, N.H. The center recognizes Rockwell’s long-term investment in ARMI, a member-based, nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the bioeconomy of the United States.

The Rockwell Experience Center will help teach ARMI’s members, including physicians and researchers, how to leverage smart manufacturing to scale regenerative medicine products so they can be delivered to more people faster. 

The center includes equipment from Rockwell, Air Science, Cytiva, Festo and HID Global. The focal point of the center is a fully automated Cytiva equipment process train integrated with various Rockwell technologies. These include a distributed control system, a manufacturing execution system, and a digital twin.

“The Rockwell Experience Center demonstrates Rockwell’s longstanding support of ARMI and the role smart manufacturing technologies can play to bring regenerative medicine to scale,” said Blake Moret, ARMI board member and chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation. “ARMI’s work training workers to compete and win in this fast-moving industry is an exciting model for manufacturing and for American competitiveness.”

ARMI is led by inventor Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics and inventor of the Segway human transporter, the first automatic, wearable insulin pump, portable dialysis machines, a water purifier, an all-terrain electric wheelchair and the DEKA-Luke prosthetic arm. Kamen has said he engaged Moret in ARMI’s earliest days, seeing the potential role automation could play bridging the gap between laboratory science and a commercially viable product. 

Private Wireless Boosted

News from the Hannover Messe. Advanced wireless applications continue to make news. Here, Nokia released news about two private wireless applications you all should find intriguing, if not useful

Nokia launches MX Boost for private wireless to optimize reliability and performance for the most demanding industry use cases.

  • Nokia MX Boost for private wireless allows industries to combine available radio technologies and spectrum to meet performance needs of Industry 4.0 use cases that often operate in challenging RF conditions
  • Multiple connectivity paths can be aggregated at the Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) helping boost either throughput, by combining radio links, or determinism, by retaining capabilities of the strongest one
  • MX Boost helps unify disparate radio technologies, such as Wi-Fi and 4.9G/LTE for maximum gains and more advanced industry 4.0 use cases

Using MX Boost, organizations can aggregate radio technologies, such as Wi-Fi and 4.9G/LTE, as well as spectrum, to optimize throughput and improve determinism, which is the ability of the network to guarantee performance, even in challenging radio conditions for real-time applications.

Ah, 5G mentioned.

Adoption of private 4.9G/LTE and 5G is growing, allowing industries to gain new insights and capabilities from their operational data through reliable, secure low latency connectivity of assets. In parallel, legacy assets will continue to be in operation and enterprises need to retain existing wireless connectivity solutions like Wi-Fi. Industries also seek additional options in terms of spectrum use as they ramp-up asset connectivity and need more data capacity.

MX Boost functions at the IP layer, meaning it is very easy to aggregate very different connectivity technologies without complexity, such as combining terrestrial technologies with satellite connectivity, ultimately offering endless combination possibilities. For industrial sites, MX boost also functions with brownfield non-Nokia Wi-Fi or other wireless technologies, allowing enterprises to combine it with private 4.9G/LTE for increased determinism and increased capacity.

And a second announcement.

Nokia expands industrial-grade private wireless solution with Wi-Fi to provide more connectivity options for industries.

  • Nokia adds to its industrial connectivity edge-centric solution portfolio with the Digital Automation Cloud Wi-Fi Solution.
  • New solution unites Wi-Fi 6, 6E for connecting non-business critical use cases and private 4.9G/LTE and 5G to support critical Industry 4.0 applications.
  • Provides same easy-to-use single cloud management interface from which industries can seamlessly manage all their different wireless connectivity layers.
  • Leverages MX Industrial Edge for Wi-Fi management and authentication while Nokia MX Boost will allow companies to fully merge 3GPP and Wi-Fi connectivity to enhance connectivity performance.
  • Nokia DAC Wi-Fi Access Points comes free of charge as part of a competitive as-a- service pricing subscription model.

Nokia DAC Wi-Fi connectivity solution will be available in the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) end-to-end industrial-grade digitalization platform.

With the introduction of the Nokia DAC Wi-Fi solution, organizations can tap into license-free spectrum to augment their private networks and support non-business-critical Operational Technology (OT) workflows, such as deskless workforce instructions and non-critical connections used to access machine maintenance data. These organizations can now take advantage of the Nokia DAC single cloud-based operations and management interface for all connectivity technologies, add plug and play private wireless 4.9G/LTE and 5G for real-time reliable connectivity, or boost capacity with Wifi6 for other connectivity needs. This not only provides flexibility, but also cost efficiencies that come with single platform operations.

Google Cloud Launches New Data Solutions for Manufacturers

This news is a bit old dating from the first of May. Its relevancy maintains its freshness—another look at the major IT companies looking for market in manufacturing. This holds personal interest in that once again I am not invited back to an IT company user conference because they tried a manufacturing vertical without success. (I could have told them, but that story will hold for another place and time.)

Google Cloud has co-developed Manufacturing Data Engine and Manufacturing Connect. These solutions are said to enable manufacturers to connect historically siloed assets, process and standardize data, and improve visibility from the factory floor to the cloud. Once data is harmonized, the solutions enable three critical AI- and analytics-based use cases–manufacturing analytics & insights, predictive maintenance, and machine-level anomaly detection.

Key points:

  • Ford, Kyocera, and Phononic among early customers to enhance data transparency and optimize production with new manufacturing-specific solutions
  • Cognizant, C3 AI, GFT, Intel, Litmus, Quantiphi, SoftServe, Sotec, Splunk, among partners supporting the new solutions

Manufacturing Data Engine and Manufacturing Connect, available today, help manufacturers unify their data and empower their workforce with easy-to-use analytics and AI solutions based on cloud infrastructure.

This continues the discussion I made yesterday about DataOps. The rapid move to data organizations and technology in manufacturing continues to amaze me.

Manufacturing Data Engine is an end-to-end solution that processes, contextualizes, and stores factory data on Google Cloud’s data platform. It provides a configurable and customizable blueprint for the ingestion, transformation, storage, and access to factory data. It integrates key Google Cloud products, including Cloud Dataflow, PubSub, BigQuery, Cloud Storage, Looker, Vertex AI, Apigee, and more, into a manufacturing-specific solution.

Manufacturing Connect is a factory edge platform co-developed with Litmus Automation that quickly connects to, and streams data from, nearly any manufacturing asset and industrial system to Google Cloud, based on an extensive library of more than 250 machine protocols. Deep integration with the Manufacturing Data Engine unlocks rapid data intake into Google Cloud for processing machine and sensor data. The ability to deploy containerized applications and ML models to the edge enables new dimensions of use cases.

Once data is centralized and harmonized by the Manufacturing Data Engine and Manufacturing Connect, it can then be used to address a growing set of industry-specific use cases.

Data holds no value unless it can be analyzed and visualized.

Manufacturing analytics & insights, which helps manufacturers quickly create custom dashboards to visualize key data—from factory KPIs such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), to individual machine sensor data. Integrated with the Manufacturing Data Engine, engineers and plant managers can automatically set up new machines and factories, enabling standardized dashboards, KPIs, and on-demand drill-downs into the data to uncover new insights opportunities throughout the factory. These can then be shared easily across the enterprise and with partners.

US Alliance of Robotics Clusters to Advocate for Industry

Five years ago I would not have predicted so much robotics news and advancements. This is news about organizations collaborating for the advancement of robotics.

MassRobotics, Pittsburgh Robotics Network and Silicon Valley Robotics have formed the United States Alliance of Robotics Clusters (USARC). USARC supports the development, commercialization and scaling of robotics for global good by collaborating with government and industry stakeholders.

Organizations need focus and deliverables. USARC’s list:

●      Increased collaboration and communication across U.S. robotics clusters

●      Enhanced support and success for stakeholders and startups

●      Focused advocacy for the robotics and artificial intelligence industries

With a goal to help meet U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, USARC and its members will support:

·       Sustainability through myriad robotics application including agritech, energy efficiency, recycling and climate change

·       Revitalization of local industry and economic development through the growth of robotics clusters

·       Onshoring more robotics and artificial intelligence businesses and initiatives