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Industrial Automation

The Industrial Automation Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about machine control, information and intelligence, motors and drives, instruments, sensors and networking. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Watch Adidas Create the Next-generation of 3D Printed Shoes

Posted April 24, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

In a partnership with start-up Carbon, Adidas is developing the next-generation of athletic shoes featuring 3D printed midsoles. The process, a type of additive manufacturing called Digital Light Synthesis, mixes digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to create durable polymeric footwear.

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MES Rises as Automakers Embrace Flexibility

Posted April 06, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Henry Ford might be gobsmacked at how today’s production lines are more about customization than standardization. Supporting that evolution are software tools known as manufacturing execution systems. These tools provide real-time data for analysis, and also help to make the line’s flexibility possible.

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Machine Learning and Big Data Offer Massive Potential

Posted March 12, 2017 12:00 AM by Designerz
Pathfinder Tags: Big Data RS Components

You may not realize it, but your interactions on the internet are being leveraged as the information sources used to make decisions in a variety of very clever software-based systems. Leading tech firms – such as Google and Netflix – regularly leverage user-specific search and activity data to feed algorithms that ultimately streamline and enhance customer deliverables. The result being that you gain an online experience customized to your tastes.

Interestingly, if we replace ‘user-specific data’ with ‘machine/process-specific data’ it quickly becomes clear that the same Big Data approach – coupled to machine learning – has the potential to revolutionize industry. The problem is that even simple manufacturing cells can generate huge amounts of data. So how do you make sense of it all and – more importantly – then use it to your advantage?

This is where AI and machine learning will step in. By distinguishing relevant data from noise, defining logical connections and correlations and removing any non-connectable data, AI can quickly provide pertinent information upon which decisions can be made. Feed it even more historical data and it will make even better decisions.

This isn’t a pipe dream either. AI and machine learning can be catered for, now, by any company running any solution. Indeed, adding data-gathering capabilities to even the ‘dumbest’ manufacturing operation is relatively straightforward and can be achieved with a very palatable financial outlay. In the very near future this data will (more than likely) be fed to subscription-based services that will securely collect, collate, translate and deploy solutions and answers that will not only allow users to make better decisions, but will also create the next industrial paradigm.

Luckily Big Data does not need big pockets. At RS Components, we already have many initiatives in place to both cater for the demands and exploit the benefits of the Big Data-driven manufacturing economy. Even the most basic manufacturing data – especially when leveraged intelligently – can make a huge difference and the path to adoption is already wide open and incredibly well supported for applications of any size, and at a sensible budget.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from RS Components.

1 comments; last comment on 03/13/2017
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Molecular Imaging Hack Makes Cameras "Faster"

Posted December 23, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Super temporal resolution microscopy (STReM), which uses a rotating phase mask to encode fast dynamics in each camera frame, allows scientists to view and gather useful information about fluorescing molecules at a frame rate 20x faster than typical lab cameras allow.

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3 comments; last comment on 12/24/2016
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How Technology Evolves Money

Posted November 30, 2016 10:41 AM by HUSH

Our financial futures are closely tied to the rise of automation and electronification. Considering this is CR4, this won’t come as a surprise. Technology has always heavily influenced not only what people spend on, but also how they spend.

But the changes to society’s financial institutions are happening much more quickly than some might expect. Here are two examples:

McDonalds Kills Cashier (Jobs)

Lately, the National Burger Factory, a.k.a. McDonald’s, has begun eliminating cashier jobs in states where the minimum wage is expected to soon hike up to $15 an hour, and will continue to do so in 2017. Those states are New York, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington.

McDonald’s, the second largest employer in the world as of 2012, argues it can’t afford to pay workers $15 an hour. To begin cost cutting, restaurant patrons make orders at a kiosk and wait at a table while humans cook and deliver the food. According to Glassdoor, the average cashier wage is $8.53. The McDonald’s closest to me is 24/7/365. Employing just one cashier at a time for one year for an always-open restaurant costs nearly $75,000 annually. Considering this, it is actually surprising that kiosks haven’t happened sooner.

McDonald’s has had increased competition from fast casual burger joints like Five Guys and Shake Shack in recent years. The company has noticed that customers who order from kiosks tend to order more food, in addition to the cost savings it offers. Once other fast food restaurants start to rollout order kiosks, the entire burger cooking and packaging task is next to be automated. The technology has existed since the 1990s, but has been waiting for the moment when economies of scale finally made the technology commercially viable.

No Krona For You

Sweden is preparing to be the first country that eliminates physical currency in favor of digital currency.

For nearly 150 years Sweden’s currency has been the krona, which translates as crown in English. It was also Denmark’s and Norway’s currency up until World War I. As a U.S. dollar can be exchange for 100 pennies, a Swedish krona can be exchanged for 100 öre.

Yet Sweden is currently reforming its currency. Since the 1970s, Sweden has been reducing the amount of öre coins it prints, first ceasing production of 1 and 2 öre coins, then 5 and 25 öre denominations were eliminated, and then the 10 öre coin. In 2010, the last öre coin, the 50, was retired from use. Next, the country is requiring all 1, 2 and 5 kronor coins to be of a new, updated design. Old designs will no longer be considered tender after June 30, 2017.

Slowly but surely, the country is now phasing out the use of banknotes. It has eliminated 1,000 and 10,000 kronor notes, and forced the country to adopt new designs of other notes, lest they become worthless as well.

Since 2009, physical money circulation in Sweden has fallen 40%. Swedes instead utilize credit cards, typically armed with microchips, or smartphones with apps linked to accounts that pay via near-field communication readers.

Most Swedish banks refuse to accept or deal in physical tender, as it adds too much labor or incentive for robbery. Banks also charge negative interest rates in Sweden, so the more money a person has in their electronic account, the more the bank is making. The government supports reducing the need to regulate and print money, and tax evasion is almost impossible when all funds can be electronically audited. Merchants won’t have to keep tabulate physical currency or worry about dishonest employees.

It seems consumers are the only ones seeing the potential downsides, with omnipresent purchasing surveillance one of the most prominent issues.

Both of these examples present how technology is reshaping our relationships with money. In one instance it changes how some people earn their money, in the other how people can use their money.

Is it possible that changes to the fundamental idea of money are next?

14 comments; last comment on 12/02/2016
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