Manufacturers Wish For Open Additive Manufacturing Ecosystems

Manufacturers Wish For Open Additive Manufacturing Ecosystems

Originally 3D printing, aka additive manufacturing, seemed more a Maker’s machine and novelty with possible future applications. “Printers” were developed for one material, and one company sold the package. I did not think deeply about the machines but continued to watch developments.

The first constraint I discovered for widespread manufacturing adoption was holding tolerances. Researchers and engineers have tackled that problem.

A recent survey of manufacturers revealed that virtually all (99%) manufacturing executives surveyed believe an open ecosystem is important to advance 3D printing at scale. While 85% of manufacturers reported that industrial-scale AM has the potential to increase revenue for their business.

However, the research sponsored by 3D printing / additive manufacturing company Essentium and said to be conducted by an independent global research firm also reported that 22% said their 3D printing efforts have resulted in vendor lock-in that limits flexibility. Note that Essentium manufactures open systems. I have witnessed and written about the value of open ecosystems as a fulcrum for fostering innovation. I don’t know enough to endorse Essentium, but I do endorse the concept.

According to Essentium, the industrial AM market has been dominated by closed systems where customers are locked into vendors’ hardware, processes and materials. As the technology obstacles around economics, scale, strength and speed of production fall away, the number of manufacturers using 3D printing for full-scale production has doubled compared to last year (40% in 2019; 21% in 2018). Manufacturers are now demanding open ecosystems to overcome system inflexibility and use the materials of their choice – 50% of companies said they need high quality and affordable materials to meet the growing demand for industrial 3D printed parts.

An open additive ecosystem will see more partnerships focused on giving customers greater control of their innovation, more choice in materials, and industrial-scale production at ground-breaking economics. Market demand for Essentium’s open 3D printing ecosystem, developed in collaboration with multinational chemical company BASF and 3D software developer Materialise NV, is a clear indication that an open ecosystem approach is addressing unmet needs in the industrial additive market.

Blake Teipel, CEO and Co-founder, Essentium, said: “At Essentium, we strongly believe that an open ecosystem will be key to the evolution of Additive Manufacturing. Being locked into proprietary solutions that limit flexibility and choice is no longer an option if 3D printing is to become a serious contender as an industrial process for end-use products. An open market focused on developing new materials and better and faster machines is the only way for manufacturers to unlock new applications and new business opportunities. With this approach, the future belongs to the customer, not to the OEM.”

162 managers and executives from large manufacturing companies across the world completed the survey on their current experiences, challenges and trends with 3D printing for production manufacturing. Participants included a mix of roles and were from companies across industries including aerospace, automotive, consumer goods and contract manufacturing.

Cobot and Mobile drive robot market growth

Cobot and Mobile drive robot market growth

I have received three different robotic market research reports from two different research firms. Both of these firms seem to do the work that it takes. I’ve done some private contract research and analysis and have an grasp on the work it takes. These reports have major agreements and a few different takes. The short take is that we finally have momentum in new forms of robotics–and that is a good thing.

[Note: In moving this post from my text editor this morning, I inadvertently had left the setting as “publish” instead of “draft”, therefore you received an email with no link. Oops. Sorry.]

Cobot Market Growth

Cobot Market to account for 30% of Total Robot Market by 2027 according to market research firm Interact Analysis.

  • The growth rate of collaborative robots is leading the robotics industry
  • Logistics will surpass automotive to be the second largest end user of cobots by 2023, with electronics in first place
  • In the next five years, the fastest growing regions for collaborative robot shipments will be China and the USA

Market intelligence firm Interact Analysis has released a new market report – The Collaborative Robot Market – 2019 – which indicates strong and sustained growth for the collaborative robot industry.

In 2018, global revenues from cobot production exceeded $550 million. This was almost a 60% increase over 2017; and over 19,000 cobots were shipped. Interact Analysis forecasts that revenues for cobots will reach $5.6 billion in 2027, accounting for almost one third of the total robotics market, and that <5kg and 5-9 kg cobots, popular in small to medium-sized industrial settings, will represent the majority of sales in 2023.

Material handling, assembly and pick & place will be the three biggest applications of collaborative robots. But these functions, which accounted for 75% of cobot revenues in 2018, will drop to below of 70% total revenues by 2023, as other functions for cobots are developed. The use of cobots in non-industrial applications will play a significant role in the coming years – in sectors such as life sciences, logistics, and the hospitality sector. In part this is because they are flexible and easy to set up, making them attractive to smaller companies which may not have previously considered using robots.

Labour shortages and the drive to improve efficiency mean that China will be the fastest growing region for cobot shipments. The demand for simple, cost-effective, entry-level robots, together with different regulations surrounding industrial equipment in China has fuelled the growth of Chinese cobot manufacturers who only supply their local market. This has arguably distorted the market figures. Interact Analysis has responded to this by including in its report two data sets, one with and one without the impact of China. It is important to note, however, that growth outside of China is still forecast to rise at a CAGR of over 30% in the next 5 years.

Maya Xiao, lead analyst on cobots for Interact Analysis, says: “The collaborative robot market is still relatively immature, but Interact Analysis has identified clear potential growth areas, both in industrial and non-industrial settings, enabling manufacturers to respond effectively, and take full advantage of what we predict to be an area which will occupy a significant market share in the coming years”.

Robot Market Declines then Rebounds

  • Automotive and smartphone production declines played a significant part in 2019 slowdown
  • New applications, lower prices and wider use cases will lead to a significant upturn by 2023
  • China shows its strength, both domestically and in attracting external investment

Market intelligence firm Interact Analysis has released a new market report focusing on the industrial robot market. The research outlines reasons to be positive in the sector, despite an immediate, short term decline in revenues.

The report goes into detail around specific headwinds that have challenged growth within the sector, including the slowing global economy, trade wars and uncertainty in the global automotive industry. Compared to 2017, where revenues associated with industrial robots increased by 20%, forecasted declines of 4.3 per cent in 2019 have caused some concern.

Jan Zhang, research director at Interact Analysis, said: “Automotive and smartphone production declines play a significant part in this downturn. As the largest end-user segment for industrial robots – accounting for over 30% share of revenues – any downturn in this area is always keenly felt in automation and robot investment.

“Despite this, however, there are reasons to be optimistic. Long term drivers, both for industrial robots and for automation as a whole, remain very strong. Growth is expected to pick up on 2020, and then accelerate further in 2021 due to new industry applications, lower prices and wider use cases.”

The report’s findings, based on interviews with all leading robotics companies (as well as a wide selection of innovative robot start-ups, system integrators and component suppliers), highlight the importance of new robot types in fuelling this growth. In particular, cobots – collaborative robots – which work alongside humans are finding favour in industries not traditionally associated with the use of robots. Among those industries identified are food and beverage, logistics, packaging and life sciences.

“Growth in these industries can’t fully compensate for the decrease in the automotive industry, but it does warrant optimism for the future,” said Jan.

A central element to the report’s findings is the impact China is having on the global industrial robot market in 2019. While Japan remains the largest producer of industrial robots, with an estimated 45% of total production, there has been significant growth in production capacity and output in China. This can be attributed a number of factors, including Chinese vendors entering the market and inward investment from traditional industrial giants like ABB, Fanuc, KUKA and YASKAWA.

Jan added: “While it is true growth of industrial robot revenues has slowed down, the reasons for this are clear and, for the most part, beyond the control of the vendors. Despite this, however, there is evidence that the industry is diversifying and putting the foundations in place for significant future growth, making this one of the more exciting spaces to operate in.”

Mobile Systems Drive Robot Market Growth

Robotics Industry Set for Seismic Change as Growth Shifts from Fixed Automation to Mobile Systems in Enterprise.

Of the 8 million robots shipped in 2030, nearly 6 million will be mobile.

The robotics market is set to transform over the next 10 years, based on the most comprehensive robotics tracker yet released by global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research. There will be enormous growth across all subsectors, highlighted in a total market valuation of US$277 billion by 2030. That growth will not be distributed evenly, however. By 2022, the burgeoning mobile robotics space will start to overtake the traditional industrial robotics market. Currently, mobile autonomy is concentrated in material handling within the supply chain, but mobile robots are set to touch every sector of the global economy for a wide range of use-cases.

“Everyone talks about self-driving passenger vehicles, but mobile automation is far more developed in intralogistics for fulfillment and industry,” said Rian Whitton, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “The automation of material handling will see huge segments of the global forklift, tow truck, and indoor vehicle market consumed by robotics vendors and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that bring indoor autonomy.”

Amazon Robotics is the leader that has driven growth in mobile robotics for the last 7 years since their acquisition of Kiva Systems. With an estimated 256,000 automated guided vehicles deployed to date, Amazon holds close to 50% of material handling robot market share and is broadening its portfolio of robot subtypes with autonomous mobile robots for transport and delivery. Other major Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) developers like Quicktron, JD.com, Geek, and Grey Orange are deploying thousands of robots yearly, while Automated Mobile Robot (AMR) developers are just beginning to scale up. Brain Corp. has deployed 5,000 systems primarily in retail, and BlueBotics has deployed some 2,000 robots for intralogistics in and around the supply chain. Meanwhile MiR, an AMR company acquired by Teradyne in 2018, is beginning to achieve growth rates in excess of the company’s other robotics acquisition of major cobot developer, Universal Robots.

The distinction between AGVs and AMRs can be contested, but AMRs do not require external infrastructure to localize themselves and are built with sensors and cameras to self-navigate their environments. Currently, AGVs represent the majority of mobile robot shipments, but by 2030, this will change. While there will be 2.5 million AGVs shipped in 2030, the total shipments of AMRs will reach 2.9 million in the same year. This is due to the declining costs of superior navigation and the desire to build flexibility into robotic fleets. “Many new verticals, like hospitality, delivery, and infrastructure, will demand systems that do not require external physical infrastructure to move about. While AGVs will thrive in intralogistics for fulfillment, especially in greenfield warehouses, AMRs solve the challenges faced by many end-users by offering incremental automation that does not require a complete change of environmental infrastructure,” Whitton explains.

In a major example of automation extending to new and important vehicle-types, the shipments of automated forklifts are set to grow from 4,000 in 2020 to 455,000 in 2030, with a CAGR of 58.9%. Meanwhile, the revenue for all mobile robotics is expected to exceed US$224 billion by 2030, compared to US$39 billion for industrial and collaborative systems.

Leading the way in mobile robotics are French manufacturer Balyo (which partnered with Amazon), Seegrid (who have sold over 800 units) and a number of smaller actors that are just beginning to scale. This opportunity is leading vehicle manufacturers such as Toyota, Yale & Hyster, and Raymond to partner with robotics companies to offer automation to manufacturers. Given the global shipments for forklifts is close to 1 million, half of all shipments could be automated by 2030.

Another significant sector for mobile automation will be maintenance and cleaning. There are already over 5,000 autonomous floor scrubbers in U.S. retail stores and commercial buildings. With Softbank’s deployment of mobile cleaners for offices being rolled out in Asia and the United States, cleaning robots will become a common sight within the service economy.

Even more esoteric form factors, like quadrupeds, are expected to increase significantly for data collection purposes, particularly for real estate, construction, and industrial inspection. ABI Research predicts that quadrupeds, exemplified by vendors like Boston Dynamics, Zoa Robotics, ANYbotics, and Ghost Robotics, will increase to 29,000 yearly shipments by 2030.  “As mature sectors of the robotics industry achieve growth more in line with established technology markets, mobile robotics are set to create lasting transformative effects across the supply chain and will become increasingly ubiquitous throughout the global economy,” Whitton concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Commercial and Industrial Robotics market data report. This report is part of the company’s Industrial, Collaborative & Commercial Robotics research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights. Market Dataspreadsheets are composed of deep data, market share analysis, and highly segmented, service-specific forecasts to provide detailed insight where opportunities lie.

Manufacturers Wish For Open Additive Manufacturing Ecosystems

How Competitive is Your Manufacturing Business?

Buzz words could well be the story of the year–digital twin, digital transformation, internet of things, industrial internet of things, digital thread, smart manufacturing, Industrie 4.0, etc. and ad nauseum.

I spoke to a couple of hundred elementary school students this morning about my career path of technology, liberal arts, and writing (not in those exact words, of course). In preparation, I pulled out Volume 1, Issue 1 of Automation World from June 2003. [Note: I left there in 2013 to pursue my own thing. I have no idea what they do anymore. The entire team that put this together, except for a sales person, has left. That’s the way of the world.]

I had a theme to the 10 years I was Editor of the magazine. It wasn’t just to put words between ads. Or just regurgitate product news. It was

How do you apply technology intelligently in order to make your business more competitive–more successful?

Back to today’s buzz words (marketing words?) of the year. Really, these reflect technologies and sometimes strategies that are worthless unless applied to make your business stronger.

Let us not lose sight of the goal!

Manufacturers Wish For Open Additive Manufacturing Ecosystems

Vision Inspection Powered by AI

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is not necessarily the dystopian technology portrayed in books and movies. Although neither artificial or intelligent, AI can be a powerful tool in the engineer’s kit.

Recently Carl Palme of Neurala chatted with me introducing the company and what it means by AI in its vision systems. We both have some sheet metal work in our backgrounds, so we found common cause with one of the powerful applications—finding small surface anomalies.

There is also company news. In short:

  • IHI Corporation Selects Neurala to Enable Industrial Visual Inspection and Analysis Powered by AI
  • One of the Largest Global Heavy-Industry Manufacturers Partners With Leader in Automated Visual Inspections to Build Vision AI-Powered Industrial Solutions

AI-powered visual inspection pioneer Neurala announced a partnership with IHI, one of the largest manufacturers in the world.

IHI is a leading producer of aircraft engines and turbochargers for vehicles and industrial machines, along with additional transport-related machinery and more. Neurala’s automated visual inspection platform will be deployed as a key component of IHI’s workflow, improving manufacturing optimization and enabling more efficient industrial inspections.

“Automation is an area of critical focus as we further strengthen our reputation as the leading manufacturer of transport-related machinery worldwide,” said Ms. Nobuko Mizumoto, Director of IHI Corporation. “Today, we are collecting data on our workflow that needs to be carefully analyzed. AI-assisted data analysis is the future of manufacturing processes, and Neurala has the industrial and manufacturing inspection expertise we require in an AI solution. As we lead IHI into Industry 4.0, we are proud to partner with Neurala to deploy a reliable AI that can function in settings that are subjective and change rapidly, without requiring any downtime on our production lines.”

IHI will leverage Neurala’s automated visual inspection platform to review product and workflow processes, cementing its reputation as a leader in safety and efficiency. AI-powered inspections allow manufacturers to accelerate new initiatives without sacrificing a gold standard of quality workmanship. IHI will use Neurala’s Brain Builder, the first cost-effective AI tool that allows users to build, deploy and analyze custom vision AI solutions with instant feedback on performance. Brain Builder simplifies the process and reduces the time to deployment in subjective settings, using on-the-fly learning to increase accuracy as the user adds data.

“We are thrilled to partner with IHI as we illustrate the critical role AI will play in manufacturing, improving efficiency in a field in which optimization is essential,” said Massimiliano Versace, co-founder and CEO of Neurala. “We look forward to building upon our strong presence in the APAC region through an industry leader like IHI. IHI selected Neurala to bolster its offerings as the industrial sector continues to evolve; our partnership will demonstrate the value of implementing AI to solve challenges of visual inspection on factory floors and to improve automation.”

Neurala is the company behind Brain Builder: a SaaS platform that dramatically reduces the time, cost and skills required to build and maintain production-quality custom vision AI solutions. Founded in 2006, Neurala’s research team invented Lifelong-DNN (L-DNN) technology, which reduces the data requirements for AI model development and enables continuous learning in the cloud or at the edge. Now, with customers in the industrial, drone, robotics, and smart devices verticals, Neurala’s technology has been deployed on 53 million devices globally.

Manufacturers Wish For Open Additive Manufacturing Ecosystems

Camera-Based Quality Control System for Flat Sheet Industries

Years ago I dabbled in machine vision integration. It was fun and creative. My customers and I did some pretty cool quality control applications. So I maintain a liking for the technology even though the price of the hardware plummeted and ease-of-use skyrocketed. So, I bring you this interesting news.

Honeywell is collaborating with Papertech to develop and market TotalVision, a connected, camera-based detection system for the flat sheet industries. The system enables customers to identify and resolve defects on the production line, improving quality and efficiency. The fully integrated total quality control solution is designed for flat sheet and film processes in which surface detection and production break monitoring capabilities are critical for competitive success. This new solution is designed for paper, pulp, tissue, board, extruded film, calendaring, lithium-ion battery, copper and aluminium foil producers.

Combining Honeywell’s ExperionMX technology with market-leading Papertech’s TotalVision defect detection and event capturing capabilities, the solution provides a single-window operating environment for all aspects of process and quality control. Customers benefit from faster root cause determination of runnability and quality problems, thereby saving significant time in lost or downgraded production. When integrated with connected offerings such as Honeywell QCS 4.0, system data and analytics can be accessed anytime, anywhere, from any device.

“Honeywell represents an ideal collaborator for Papertech as our industry-leading WebInspector WIS and our WebVision web monitoring system (WMS) single platform TotalVision camera system seamlessly integrate with Honeywell’s quality control systems for a range of industries,” said Kari Hilden, CEO of Papertech Inc. “We look forward to working with the global Honeywell team and their customers.”

Honeywell will continue to support existing camera system users with parts and services, while offering an easy migration path to the new solution. Given the collaborative nature of the agreement, customers can choose to take a single party, single-window approach or to engage with Honeywell and Papertech separately.

“As the world moves from plastic to biomaterial-based packaging, and from hydrocarbon-based transportation to electric vehicles, flat sheet producers are under increased pressure to ensure output consistently meets a variety of performance and safety requirements,” said Michael Kennelly, global business leader for sheet, film and foil industries, Honeywell Process Solutions. “By bringing together Honeywell’s core strengths of measurement, control, connected applications and services in flat sheet production with Papertech’s leadership in web monitoring and inspection systems, we uniquely provide customers with that capability along with industry-beating lifecycle costs.”

Papertech is the global industry-leading machine vision system supplier for a range of web-based production lines with more than 1200 TotalVision installations in 42 countries. It is part of the IBS Paper Performance Group, a company with a more than 50-year history in delivering papermakers a full range of proven machine efficiency and product quality optimization solutions.

For more information visit Honeywell Quality Control Systems and Papertech TotalVision solutions.

Manufacturers Wish For Open Additive Manufacturing Ecosystems

The Salesforce Economy Bolsters Manufacturing Cloud

Salesforce recently began reaching out to me. I found a (to me) surprising connection to industrial / manufacturing applications beyond CRM and the like. In general, more and more applications are moving to the cloud. In Brief: New research finds The Salesforce Economy will create more than $1 trillion in new business revenues and 4.2 million jobs between 2019 and 2024. Salesforce ecosystem is on track to become nearly six times larger than Salesforce itself by 2024, earning $5.80 for every dollar Salesforce makes.

Financial services, manufacturing and retail industries will lead the way, creating $224 billion, $212 billion and $134 billion in new business revenue respectively by 2024.

Salesforce announced new research from IDC that finds Salesforce and its ecosystem of partners will create 4.2 million new jobs and $1.2 trillion in new business revenues worldwide between 2019 and 2024. The research also finds Salesforce is driving massive gains for its partner ecosystem, which will see $5.80 in gains for every $1 Salesforce makes by 2024.

Cloud computing is driving this growth and giving rise to a host of new technologies, including mobile, social, IoT and AI, that are creating new revenue streams and jobs that further fuel the growth of the cloud — creating an ongoing virtuous cycle of innovation and growth. According to IDC, by 2024 nearly 50 percent of cloud computing software spend will be tied to digital transformation and will account for nearly half of all software sales. Worldwide spending on cloud computing between now and 2024 will grow 19 percent annually, from $179 billion in 2019 to $418 billion in 2024.

“The Salesforce ecosystem is made possible by the amazing work of our customers and partners around the world, and because of our collaboration we’re able to generate the business and job growth that we see today,” said Tyler Prince, EVP, Industries and Partners at Salesforce. “Whether it’s through industry-specific extensions or business-aligned apps, the Salesforce Customer 360 platform helps accelerate the growth of our partner ecosystem, and most importantly, the growth of our customers.”

Because organizations that spend on cloud computing subscriptions also spend on ancillary products and services, the Salesforce ecosystem in 2019 is more than four times larger than Salesforce itself and will grow to almost six times larger by 2024. IDC estimates that from 2019 through 2024, Salesforce will drive the creation of 6.6 million indirect jobs, which are created from spending in the general economy by those people filling the 4.2 million jobs previously mentioned.

“The tech skills gap will become a major roadblock for economic growth if we don’t empower everyone – regardless of class, race or gender – to skill up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Sarah Franklin, EVP and GM of Platform, Developers and Trailhead at Salesforce. “With Trailhead, our free online learning platform, people don’t need to carry six figures in debt to land a top job; instead, anyone with an Internet connection can now have an equal pathway to landing a job in the Salesforce Economy.”

Industry Economic Benefits of the Salesforce Economy

Specifically, Manufacturing industry will gain $211.7 billion in new revenues and 765,800 new jobs will be created by 2024.

Salesforce’s multi-faceted ecosystem is the driving force behind the Salesforce Economy’s massive growth:

  • The global ecosystem includes multiple stakeholders, all of which play an integral part in the Salesforce Economy. This includes the world’s top five consulting firms, all of whom have prominent Salesforce digital transformation practices; independent software vendors (ISVs) that build their businesses on the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform and bring Salesforce into new industries; more than 1,200 Community Groups, with different areas of focus and expertise; and more than 200 Salesforce MVPs, product experts and brand advocates.
  • Launched in 2006, Salesforce AppExchange is the world’s largest enterprise cloud marketplace, and hosts more than 4,000 solutions including apps, templates, bots and components that have been downloaded more than 7 million times. Ninety-five percent of the Fortune 100, 81 percent of the Fortune 500, and 86 percent of Salesforce customers are using AppExchange apps.
  • Trailhead is Salesforce’s free online learning platform that empowers anyone to skill up for the future, learn in-demand skills and land a top job in the Salesforce Economy. Since Trailhead launched in 2014, more than 1.7 million Trailblazers have earned over 17.5 million badges; a quarter of all learners on Trailhead have leveraged their newfound skills to jump-start their careers with new jobs. Indeed, the world’s #1 job site, included Salesforce Developer in its list of best jobs in the US for 2019, noting that the number of job postings for that position had increased 129 percent year-over-year.

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