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

Data Scalability and Automation Challenges Addressed

According to ESG’s April 2022 The State of DataOps survey sponsored by HighByte, 97% of organizations face data integration challenges. One of the most common integration challenges is the inability to apply automation to processes or workflows, as reported by 28% of respondents.

Industrial software company, HighByte, addressed this problem by adding templates and expanding connectivity to leading data lakes and warehouses with HighByte Intelligence Hub version 2.4.

I’ve been bullish on the utility of DataOps and HighByte’s approach to solving the problems of data. This news relates to the latest version of its Intelligence Hub—version 2.4. 

This version enables users to scale data operations projects faster with less effort across a wider range of connections. The release introduces several new features, including instance and input templates, custom conditions, global functions, and parameters that enable users to define common, reusable components within the Intelligence Hub to improve its speed of deployment and maintainability. The latest release also includes new native connections to leading data lakes, warehouses, and sources, including Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, Microsoft Azure Blob Storage, and Modbus.

“The Intelligence Hub will enable us to simplify our data architecture, making our data both easier to manage and more accessible to a wider audience through a unified namespace,” said Hayden Lovett, Global CI Engineer Specialist at Scholle IPN. Now part of SIG, Scholle IPN is a global leader in innovative sustainable packaging solutions. “With the new templating capabilities and custom conditions in the Intelligence Hub, we can rapidly create and manage modeled performance and OEE data for our machines. The ability to merge data from many sources will make new use cases possible, like precisely measuring how quickly machine issues are resolved and who performed them. It’s a powerful tool.”

To learn more about the release and see a live demonstration of the software, please register for the webinar, “More Data, Less Clicks: Automate Your Industrial Data Operations with Templates and Event Flows,” on June 29, 2022 at 11:00 AM ET. 

Lithium Ion Battery Market Is Moving Into Surge Mode

Market size research reports usually evoke a yawn from me. However, I like the methodology and rigor of Interact Analysis. It’s still a guess, but much data underlies the analysis from this group. Senior Analyst Maya Xiao recently took a look at the lithium ion batter market. You can read the entire report. Following are some highlights. I need to mention that battery manufacturing was also highlighted by Honeywell at its conference as it seeks to lead in new batter technology. Stay tuned in case there is a disruption.

The global Li-ion battery market is moving into surge mode. According to our newly released Li-ion battery database, global shipments in 2021 equated to 476.3 GWh, amounting to a 72.6% increase on 2020, and that wasn’t a blip. We’ve identified it as being part of a longer-term trend.

We’d expect that demand is driven by electric vehicles, but there are other demands for batteries.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the electric vehicle sector that is driving demand for Li-ion battery technology. In 2021, EV battery shipments accounted for 354.5 GWh, representing 74.4% of total battery shipments and a phenomenal year-on-year increase in EV battery shipments of 90.2%. But the increase of shipments in the same period to the energy storage sector (ESS) was even more marked – 113.3%. Accounting for 11.8% of total battery shipments, ESS is way behind the EV sector in terms of demand, but the huge 2021 increase is a clear pointer to sustained future growth. Meanwhile, consumer electronics (CE) battery shipments totalled 65.5 GWh, representing 13.8% of total shipments, a year-on-year increase of 6.3%.

This is where market analysis gets tricky—the famous 5-year projection demanded of these firms.

We estimate that global demand for li-ion batteries will rise to over 1.6TWh by 2026, representing a 5-year CAGR of 27.9%. The share of shipments to EV manufacturers will remain stable, standing at 75.9% of the total, but there’ll be growth in demand from the ESS sector, with shipments forecast to total 312.4 GWh, accounting for 19.2% of all battery shipments: a 5-year CAGR of 40.9%. CE battery shipments are expected to total 81.3 GWh over the 5-year period, with a CAGR of 4.4%.

What types of battery technology will prevail over the next few years?

The market share of different Li-ion battery technologies is changing. Back in 2018, lithium cobalt (LCO) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries accounted for over 50% of the global market. But LCO’s share has steadily declined over the past three years, in line with the decline in growth of the consumer electronics sector. Conversely, the demand for high quality nickel-cobalt-aluminium oxide (NCA)/ nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) batteries from the electric vehicle and industrial energy storage sectors has exceeded supply, which is why many battery makers announced plans to expand production capacity between 2018 and 2020. We forecast that the market shares of LFP batteries and NCM/NCA batteries will be evenly divided by 2026.

Indoor Private 5G Network

A couple of years ago, Apple announced a 5G network-ready iPhone. Consumer-oriented Apple pundits with the first evaluation units wrote of great disappointment with the speed and bandwidth of 5G. Much of the power and potential of 5G had little to do with that, however. Check out the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a non-cellular 5G standard that circumvents the carriers. This news takes a similar idea in a different direction.

Betacom began in 1991 as a technology partner for cellular carriers. It has developed a private fully managed 5G network. The ability for industrial plants and manufacturing sites to bring the speed and bandwidth of 5G privately for within their areas can be a game-changing networking infrastructure.

This news reports a partnership of Betacom and the Digital Manufacturing and Cybersecurity Institute and the National Center for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing (MxD). It will provide the organization’s Chicago headquarters and Factory Floor Lab with a private 5G network. The network, one of the US’s first indoor private 5G deployments, will serve as the foundation to develop and enable technologies that power Industry 4.0. 

Industry 4.0 is a tech-powered revolution with the capacity to bring manufacturing back to the United States. The automation which sits at the core of the movement can concentrate supply lines closer to customers, reduce the need for manual labor in manufacturing, drive new business models and refine traditional business models to deliver next level goods and services. The high speed and low latency of private 5G networks, combined with strong security protocols, enable IoT deployments that drive manufacturing, warehousing and other environments to stronger productivity gains and optimal efficiency.

Everything-as-a-Service seems to be the trend du jour. Betacom touts 5G-as-a-Service.

Betacom 5G-as-a-Service is a game changer for many U.S. enterprises with access to cost-effective, high-performance 5G networks designed, deployed, and managed by one of the most trusted names in wireless networking. Betacom has a long and successful history of wireless deployments in mid-to-large enterprises leveraging carrier-class equipment and expertise to meet users’ most pressing connectivity needs. 

Everything these days requires partnerships and ecosystems. This installation is no different.

The MxD network is being deployed by Betacom in combination with its partners Airspan Networks Inc., a subsidiary of Airspan Networks Holdings Inc. (NYSE American: MIMO), which is providing the new 5G radio access network, and Druid Software, which provides the 5G core software. Network design and deployment is conducted by Betacom, with network management delivered via its modern cloud-based Security and Service Operations Center (SSOC) built on Zero Trust security design principles.

Universal Robots Adds 20 kg Industrial Cobot

The summer solstice sun was still rising three hours after my first robot press event from Automatica in Munich, Germany, when I tuned into the second robot press event. Universal Robots, the Danish manufacturer of collaborative robots (cobots), has announced that it will add a new 20kg cobot to its product range. Called the UR20, the cobot boasts an all-new design.

The UR20 features an entirely new joint design that will allow for faster cycle times as well as the ability to handle heavier loads. Its 1,750 mm reach has been designed to work to the full height of the standard Euro-pallet while its small footprint will allow companies to achieve more within their existing production space.

In addition to palletizing, Universal Robots expects the UR20 to be used for welding, material handling, machine loading and machine tending, as well as for innovative solutions created by its extensive partner ecosystem.

“This is not just a bigger version of our existing cobots; it’s the cobot redefined,” says the company’s President, Kim Povlsen. “The UR20 is the most innovative cobot we have produced and the latest evolution in 17 years of technical experience in the robotics industry. Our expert engineers have completely re-engineered the arm while retaining the same intuitive user interface we have long been celebrated for. The benefits of the UR20 are significant, from faster cycle times and the ability to handle heavier loads, to greater reach with a small footprint. We’ve also incorporated advanced software enhancements, giving users unprecedented motion control capabilities.”

The company launched the world’s first commercially viable cobot in 2008 and has since built an ecosystem of more than 1,100 integrators, distributors and independent partners creating components, kits and applications for its cobots. The company has sold more than 50,000 cobots and has drawn on the knowledge gained through its established customer base in the design of this latest product.

The UR20 is expected to be available for pre-order in late Q4 2022 and will begin shipping in Q2 2023.