TechHub: PPG in on Autonomous Vehicles, Walmart’s Robots & Oil News

PPG Partnering with University of Michigan for Autonomous Vehicle Research

PPG and the University of Michigan are partnering up to test coatings for autonomous vehicles, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

The company will work with Mcity, a public-private partnership that operates a test facility for autonomous vehicles, connected-vehicle systems and related technology.

PPG is developing coatings to improve functionality and enable broad deployment of autonomous vehicles. Examples are an exterior that enhances vehicle visibility to radar and light detection and ranging, and easy-to-clean coatings to help prevent obstruction of sensors.

“Specialized coatings will play an integral role in the development of safe and reliable driverless vehicles,” said Gary Danowski, PPG vice president of automotive OEM coatings, in a statement. “We are enthusiastic about this partnership and are always actively seeking additional R&D partners as we continue to explore new possibilities in emerging vehicle technologies.”

The research will be conducted at Mcity’s test facility — a 32-acre site at the University of Michigan’s north campus that consists of roads and traffic infrastructure, intersections, sidewalks, fire hydrants and simulated buildings with obstacles like construction barriers and pedestrian crash dummies.

Walmart Tests Automation to Scan Shelves, Free up Time

Robots are no longer a rare thing to see in factories — Amazon alone uses more than 45,000 — but now they’re moving into stores, too. Walmart has recently deployed shelf-scanning bots in more than 50 stores across the U.S., using them to check things like inventory, prices and misplaced items according to the Verge.

The robots won’t cost Walmart employees any jobs, and it saves them time from carrying out tasks that are predictable, repeatable and manual.

The bots are produced by California and Pittsburgh-based Bossa Nova Robotics, and are about two-feet tall with an extendable tower containing lights and sensors for scanning shelves.

In addition to saving workers time, the data the robots collect will help Walmart improve efficiencies in stores nationwide.

“If you think about trying to go through a facility with all these different [items] and figure out if your prices are accurate, it can be very time-consuming,” John Crecelius, Walmart’s vice president of central operations, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “From our perspective, when you’re doing things like this you’re trying to improve your service to your customers and trying to make things simpler and easier for your associates at the same time.”

U.S. Oil Industry Ramping Up Production

A large upswing in U.S. shale production is pushing the oil output towards 10 million barrels daily, with projections to increase to 11 million by 2019 — a level which would rival Russia, the world’s current top oil producer.

The impacts have been astronomical, cutting the nation’s oil imports by a fifth over a decade, providing high-paying jobs in rural communities and lowering consumer prices for domestic gas by 37-percent from a 2008 peak, according to Reuters.

“It has had incredibly positive impacts for the U.S. economy, for the workforce and even our reduced carbon footprint” as shale natural gas has displaced coal at power plants, said John England, head of consultancy Deloitte’s U.S. energy and resources practice.

The next phase of shale output growth depends on implementing advancing technology to enable squeezing more oil from each well.

Companies are putting sensors on drill bits to more precisely access oil deposits, using artificial intelligence and remote operators to get the most out of the equipment and trained engineers.

TechHub: Ford’s Vision for Smart Cities, 4 Digital Trends for 2018 & More

Ford’s Vision for Smart Cities

Ford Motor Company’s President and CEO Jim Hackett announced a range of mobility solutions, like autonomic vehicles and connected systems, centered around Ford’s idea of ‘the Living Street.’

The ideas are a connected, autonomous and ethically fair city that blends mobility and transport into cities instead of letting it stick out according to Forbes.

 

 

Ford is making a commitment to be a bigger part of smart cities; “Together we can create cities where density and diversity give life, they’re not in competition. It’s not about cities getting smarter, it’s about humans having a better day,” said Hackett.

Ford is also partnering with Lyft, Domino’s Pizza and Postmates with their self-driving vehicles to serve the ‘underserved,’ offering delivery service for dry cleaners, flower shops and corner grocery stores.

As a society, we’re moving into a time where the safest car is one without a driver. The logistics are being finalized to make this a reality, with Ford taking a big step to remain relevant by moving beyond the vehicle as different options are emerging.

4 Digital Trends Manufacturing Should Watch for in 2018

Industry Week details the top four digital trends most likely to affect manufacturers in 2018:

1. B2B manufacturers will embrace the Internet of Things

Industrial manufacturers have struggled to understand how to harness the power of IoT to create new business models and increase customer satisfaction — but that will change in 2018. A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that manufacturers will see three key drivers of IoT in the coming years:

Predictive maintenance

Companies will save time and money as IoT-enabled equipment undertake self-maintenance and alert managers to developments. Deloitte predicted this trend will “optimize maintenance tasks in real time, maximizing the useful life of manufacturers equipment while avoiding disruptions to operations.”

Self-Optimizing Production

Over the coming year, more manufacturers will develop systems that will allow a new level of product optimization. Companies will be monitoring and optimizing production processes in real time through interconnected factories and supply chains, initiating automated adjustments to enhance efficiency and cut down on waste.

Automated Inventory Management

Smart warehouses and connectivity are revolutionizing the way manufacturers capture and use key data, offering richer insights into inventory and supply chain. Businesses will be increasingly tracking the location and condition of inventory in route and in the warehouse. This will expedite reponse time, reduce inventory and enhance production time.

2. The rise of “cobot” production

2018 will bring smarter, safer and less expensive “collaborative robots” to replace bulkier, more dangerous traditional industrial robots. The International Federation of Robotics projects that “cobot” shipments will increase significantly — with the U.S. and China taking the lead in adoption rates.

3. Blockchain comes to manufacturing

Blockchain typically brings to mind cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, however the technology creates a system for seamless digital information to be stored, recorded and distributed without being falsified or copied.

It’s predicted to play a large role in other industries, like manufacturing, as a more trustworthy way of building digital relationships. It has the ability to build a trusted relationship between partners and customers, allowing blockchain to be used to register, certify and track goods within the supply chain to reduce risk.

4. Cyber security risks increase

2017 was the year of cyber threats, with experts believing 2018 will be even worse as the number of IoT devices and sensor technology increases. This poses a huge challenge for those in the industrial IoT space, forcing manufacturers to embrace cyber-physical systems to mitigate risk on operations in this increasingly vulnerable time. Advances in AI and machine learning are offering solutions to predict and ward off cyber attacks.

Kodak to Launch Cryptocurrency “KODAKCoin”

Kodak is joining in on the cryptocurrency frenzy — causing stock shares to more than double after announcing their plans according to Bloomberg.

The “photocentric cryptocurrency” aims to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management, currently a difficult task in the digital age where photo ownership is easily robbed.

The shares rose 119%, boosting Kodak’s market value to $289.5 million as of January 9th.


TechHub: Industry 4.0 and the C-suite, AI and Big Data in 2018 & More

The Problems Industry 4.0 is Solving for the C-suite

Industry 4.0 generates a lot of hype — making it easy to forget the essential purpose of implementing the technology; running and growing the business.

C-suite executives rarely interact directly with this smart tech, but that doesn’t make it any less vital for businesses, according to Forbes.

It improves customer service, achieves operational efficiencies, innovates for the future, reduces risk, meets standards and regulations while improving company management. Let’s not forget the most important challenge — meeting the expanding demand for increased agility, speed, predictability and quality.

The demand never ends, creating an arms race to serve the customer the way they want while maintaining cost-effective production.

“What used to take generations is happening at a very rapid pace now,” says Erik Nistad, director of ITS for Mondelez International, in Forbes.

As a consumer products company, Mondelez must produce different products in different packages to serve different customers throughout the globe – all with the same high quality, he says.

In China, for example, customers want green tea-flavored Oreos. In developed countries, the company sells big packages of cookies; in developing countries, it sells smaller packages to customers with less discretionary income.

Meeting that variation drives the need to do localization and customizations. What was previously a “black box” to the C-suite, the factory is now the core in a demand-driven supply chain. Plants are more predictable, reliable and responsive in order to meet the needs of a changing market.

New approaches to product development are now possible thanks to digital transformation, creating an intelligent infrastructure that seamlessly connects design, manufacturing, automation and the supply chain.

Learn more about Industry 4.0 and starting your digital transformation.

Penn State’s Smart University Transformation: Webinar News

Large universities in the U.S. are faced with the increasingly emergent problem of updating their building’s aging infrastructure, with many campuses housing buildings built in the 1800’s.

Digital JourneyAs the 10th largest university in the U.S., Pennsylvania State University is a highly competitive institution. When it came time to upgrade their dated infrastructure across their expansive campus, the stakes were high.

Resources were right and the project couldn’t wait, forcing the Penn State IT and Plant Services departments to put a plan in action — fast.

Join GrayMatter and Tempered Networks on January 11, 2:00 PM EST for a webinar that will take attendees through the project details.

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5 Ways Big Data & AI Will Impact 2018

Companies dominating the life sciences world have begun to embrace the opportunities of Big Data & AI, with predictions to really make a difference in 2018.

Notable progress in drug development and the quality of insights produced at the research stage are a result, however opportunities to utilize the data for larger gains continues to grow, according to Forbes.

Here’s five major ways Big Data and AI will impact life sciences in 2018:

industry 4.0

One

The environment in the US will be increasingly hostile to high drug prices. This will make it essential for life science firms to defend their research budgets and profit margins by utilizing robust data and clearly demonstrate the value of their products.

industry 4.0

Two

Life science firms have had a hard time improving the speed and quality of bi-directional learning between patients and the drug discovery process due to poor data access and quality issues. As new best practices in data strategy are created, the industry continues to move towards the value unlocked by such translational medicine to accelerate.

industry 4.0

Three

Risk and inefficiencies continue to be life science supply chains’ biggest challenge. The employment of new technologies, such as blockchain, offers the potential to radically improve levels of control and quality measurements. Overall costs for infrastructure dramatically reduce as a result.

industry 4.0

Four

New branches of science are deepening our knowledge of genomics — the study of structure, function and mapping of DNA/ genes — creating opportunities for utilizing AI to gain previously impenetrable insights. Although still at the research stage, it’s predicted these techniques will impact fields such as oncology.

industry 4.0

Five

With all of the different fields of study opening up, at the end of the day the most important is the economical impact. Accessing and analyzing the right data to deliver sustainable business value remains the central purpose for life science firms.

Whatever the coming year holds, one thing is beyond doubt: Exciting new ways to create value and improve patient care await those firms willing to exploit the data tools and techniques that are now emerging.

TechHub: Budweiser & SpaceX making beer for space, holographic 3D printing & manufacturing news

SpaceX and Budweiser making beer for space

When man reaches Mars, Budweiser wants to make sure there will be beer.

The Anheuser-Busch beer is backing a research project for SpaceX to send barley seeds — one of beer’s key ingredients — on a round trip mission to space.

3d printing

source: Anheuser-Busch

This marks the first step in research to aid their goal of creating beer on Mars.

There will be analysis of how the seeds react once exposed to a zero-to-low gravity environment, and whether they will germinate, according to the Washington Post.

The experiment will add insight on the production of barley and how to better grow crops back on Earth.

Mike Roberts, the deputy chief scientist at Cape Canaveral’s Air Force station, manages the station’s research lab and vets which cargo is worthy of making the risk and expensive voyage to space.

“With global warming and other things coming our way, there’s drastic changes for our access to nutrients,” he said to CNN Tech.

The barley seeds will stay at the space station for one month before being sent home for analysis.

Budweiser has several other logistical and physical challenges to overcome such as brewing a beer that’s 90% water on a planet that’s low on water and high in salt — resulting in a bitter product.

Another challenge is growing hops on the Red Planet, where sunlight isn’t as abundant. Also, the experience of drinking beer would differ than on Earth — altering taste.

The good news is NASA’s goal is to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, giving Budweiser more than a decade to figure it all out.

The launch is set for Friday, Dec. 15 at 7:35 AM PST / 9:35 CT / 10:35 EST.

View a live stream of the launch below:


Holographic 3D printing produces objects in seconds, not hours

3D printing has advanced manufacturing, medical research and countless other fields. Despite these breakthroughs, the tech has one prominent flaw: the time it takes to produce their designs.

Additive manufacturing works by creating an object in microscopic layers, one at a time, sometimes taking hours or days to complete.

A new holographic printing technique cuts this time into a fraction, creating the entire design in seconds, says TechCrunch.

3d printing

Weak beams of light work to intersect in a predetermined pattern in holographic 3D printing. Source: TechCrunch

Light-based 3D printing techniques typically use lasers to cause a layer of resin to harden in the shape of the desired design, but also layer by layer.

Instead, the newly innovated holographic 3D printing shines multiple weaker lasers through the resign, which aren’t powerful enough to cure unless they all intersect.

The technique carefully overlaps weak beams of light, sound or radiation to expose a chosen volume to a critical amount while leaving other areas largely untouched, according to the article.

The advantages to this are being able to produce structures with other structures moving inside of them, like gears in a gearbox. It also allows for the printing of multiple objects simultaneously — like a bunch of dice.

Commercial applications for this technology are still a ways away, but it’s a big step in the right direction for 3D printing.

Manufacturing boom soaring into 2018

2017 was a great year for manufacturing, and according to experts 2018 will continue to drive even more growth, capital spending and hiring for the industry.

The Tempe-based Institute for Supply Chain Management, who surveys manufacturing and executives on sentiments towards the economy, said their latest survey data shows expectation of growth next year, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.

“Manufacturing purchasing and supply executives expect to see growth in 2018. They are optimistic about their overall business prospects for the first half of 2018, with business continuing to expand through the second half of 2018,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

This momentum would extend the current economic expansion that began in mid-2009 after the last recession and real estate crash.

Economic sentiment has helped stock markets a series of record highs this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both closed up Monday hitting all-time highs of 24,386.03 and 2,659.99, respectively, according to CNBC.