News briefs for the week check out BMW asserting the first-ever Factory in a Box as an add-on to its manufacturing traces, cobots braving gamma rays to make medical radioisotopes, extremely dexterous, deep-sea cobots saving human divers from harsh environments, ABB does it once more with one more acquisition for AMR management, and Mujin Robotics and Accenture companion in hope of jumpstarting robot-AI automation in Japan.
Mobile manufacturing simply obtained an fascinating increase in what’s being hailed by carmaker BMW as a Factory in a Box, which is actually a small, robot-driven manufacturing facility (with a number of industrial robots or cobots) that may simply be crated up and shipped wherever on the globe.
First conceived of and developed in Sweden in 2007, Factory-in-a-Box Solutions for Availability and Mobility of Flexible Production Capacity, was an answer for the conclusion of “mobile and reconfigurable production capacity on demand.” Three key options of the system have been mobility, flexibility, and pace.
BMW lately (2024) used the idea for a real-world utility by producing the world’s first Factory in a Box for its door meeting manufacturing line (see video).
The carmaker claims: “Factory in a Box, the world’s first modular plug & play process equipment for door sealing applications. Developed in collaboration with AyTec Automation, it ensures a quick startup at our plants.”
Cobots, labs & gamma rays
Cobots have been working their manner into a variety of laboratories and demonstrating superb leads to practically each utility. One of the most recent is at Argonne National Laboratory (Chicago) on a federal authorities undertaking to see how greatest to soundly pace up the manufacture of medical radioisotopes by incorporating cobots, synthetic intelligence (AI) and machine studying (ML).
Medical radioisotopes are these radioactive supplies used significantly for imaging, prognosis and remedy of assorted medical situations. With thousands and thousands of radioisotope remedies yearly needing preparation, gradual, costly, and oftentimes harmful manufacturing processes have been the norm. Some radioisotopes are nonetheless made primarily based on applied sciences used because the Nineteen Forties.
In apply, a radioisotope fabricated from Iodine-131 travels all through the physique and localizes within the thyroid gland. Because it’s radioactive, its presence might be detected. It’s a radioactive tracer that detects a goiter, which is an irregular progress of the thyroid gland.
As a consequence, in lots of circumstances, the demand for these rising isotopes is much past the accessible provide. This limits the speed of progress in creating these superior most cancers remedies. That’s why the combination of cobots and synthetic intelligence into the manufacturing of radioisotopes holds a lot promise.
As Argonne physicist Jerry Nolen sees it: “Just by gaining the ability to do the manipulation of the sample from across the room means that we can safely handle samples up to 10 times as radioactive. This dramatically increases our ability to produce these valuable and necessary isotopes.”
6-axis, subsea cobots
Some cobots are being constructed for subsea adventures, like these from the comparatively new (2016) Sydney, Australia-based Reach Robotics. The Reach X, for instance, is a watertight, 6-axis, underwater manipulator with 3D imaginative and prescient that may dive to 1,000 ft and has end-effector gripping accuracy of 0.39 of an inch (<1cm). …It’s dexterous gripper expertise can swiftly unzipper a duffle bag on the ocean flooring.
With 75% of the globe’s floor coated in water, and with the world’s largest island/continent—Australia—surrounded by similar, Aussie subsea cobots ought to have an odds-on likelihood at doing pretty nicely as business merchandise. And certainly, the corporate has risen shortly. Between its two founders (2016) and at this time’s 50 workers (2024), Reach Robotics has constructed a consumer listing of personal companies, authorities, and better training, in over a dozen vertical industries.
A Reach specialty is that its cobot arms are purposefully engineered for “ultra-subsea dexterity” in order that they will carry out duties usually meant for human divers. According to its founders, that’s exactly the corporate’s mission: “extending human reach into harsh environments by creating tough, durable, advanced manipulation and perception systems.”
ABB Robotics does it AGAIN!
Suddenly, ABB Robotics is an autonomous cell robotic (AMR) phenom! And all of it since 2018! While simply since final week, it TWICE jumped up a couple of notches in management for new-age mobility in “smart” AMRs. Timely plan brilliantly executed.
In addition to the AMRs, ABB will get a facet profit: ABB now has a cell platform for its cobots.
Last week, What’s New in Robotics? reported on the ABB acquisition trifecta of Intrion (2018), and ASTI (2021), that vaulted ABB into AMR prominence; after which the January addition of Sevensence (2024) vaulting it additional into management in “smart” AMRs.
Now comes this week’s acquisition of software program developer MeshMinds (2024) for AI, Industrial IoT, and machine imaginative and prescient. Together, Sevensense and MeshMinds will construct out a brand new R&D hub for modern automation. Those two shall be joined by Austrian-based Bernecker & Rainer Industrie-Elektronik (B&R), acquired by ABB in 2017 that produces industrial PCs and manufacturing facility automation units designed to extend productiveness.
Growth via acquisition for ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation enterprise is how the corporate intends to catapult itself into management place in what ABB calls “next generation flexible automation”.
Sami Atiya, president, ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation Business was greater than happy: “AI-powered robotics and automation have the power to transform industries,” he stated, “providing businesses with greater flexibility and intelligence amidst critical global trends and workforce challenges.”
ABB’s total boss since 2020, Björn Rosengren, promised extra acquisitions: “Some of the company’s growth will come through acquisitions [maybe 5 to 10 a year] notably small to medium-sized ones to help divisions strengthen their market positions.”
AMR’s have been a lot wanted at ABB. The marketplace for autonomous cell robots (AMRs) is anticipated to develop by round 20% per 12 months as much as 2026, based on ABB estimates, increasing from $5.5 billion in 2023 to $9.5 billion by 2026.
This fee is quicker than the one anticipated for typical mounted robots, the place ABB sees annual progress of 8%.
Mujin Robotics and Accenture to jumpstart automation in Japan
Recent analysis in Nature and from the Oxford Martin School painting Japan’s industrial automation efforts as ranging wherever from lagging to stagnating. Graeme Mcdonald at Citigroup factors out the perfect automated factories in Japan are people who make robots: “Production at some of Japan’s leading robotics companies is already nearly fully automated.” But automation doesn’t lengthen a lot past robotics.
Now that synthetic intelligence (AI) and machine studying (ML) have begun to converge with robotics, Japan’s limitations have turn out to be evident: Japanese robotics lags as AI captures international consideration, reads a header in a current Nature article.
“AI and robotics are not separable,” says Minoru Asada, an emeritus roboticist at Osaka University. “Big changes happened, and we could not catch up.”
The consensus on Japan, robots, AI, and automation is that the “country’s automation research might need a renewed focus.” Enter Mujin Robotics and Accenture partnering with a plan to ascertain a “new paradigm” in automation in Japan. Mujin Robotics might be Japan’s greatest instance of an AI-driven robotics vendor, and naturally, Accenture is a Dublin-based data expertise companies and consulting big to principally the Global Fortune 500, with revenues for 2023 of $64.1 billion. The article in AIThority states it plainly: Accenture and Mujin Establish Joint Venture to Bring AI and Robotics to the Manufacturing and Logistics Industries.
The new enterprise, known as Accenture Alpha Automation, will assist Japanese corporations automate their administration infrastructure with data-driven options that seamlessly mix operational information from manufacturing and logistics operations with administration information. The three way partnership is owned 70% by Accenture and 30% by Mujin.
“Mujin provides intelligent automation solutions for industrial sites. Its intelligent robotics platform enables companies to deploy industrial robotics systems without the typical complex advance settings and integration, including motion settings and peripheral equipment, often required for other robotics systems.”
With its East Asian opponents, China and Korea, nicely forward of Japan in AI convergence, Accenture Alpha Automation will want a mighty effort to get Japan again into the sport.