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5 for Friday: This Week, We Cover Everything—The Whole KITT and Kaboodle

Oct. 13, 2023
Machine Design takes a look at the past week, and a look ahead to the issues facing the design and manufacturing sector.

1. That Voice in Your Car

We’re going to start today with me showing off my inner trivia geek. Williams Daniels played superhero spoof “Captain Nice” in the 1960s, surgeon Dr. Mark Craig on “St. Elsewhere” in the 1980s and teacher/mentor Mr. Feeney on “Boy Meets World” in the 1990s. While he was doing “St. Elsewhere,” he also was the voice of the talking car KITT on “Knight Rider”.

All of this (well, some of this) ties into a discussion Editor-in-Chief Rehana Begg had with Ron Di Carlantonio, who has developed an “advanced intuitive conversational assistant” for automotive, consumer electronics and AI-driven manufacturing solutions.

Talking to your machines—and having them talk back—is an important step forward as we take the baby steps toward the fuller utilization of artificial intelligence.

And KITT stood for Knight Industries Two Thousand.

2. The Democracy of Coding

In the same discussion, Di Carlantonio mentioned the challenges with getting all this information to the right places requires coding, a skill limited in many cases to certain people with certain skill sets. Adopting no-code or low-code capabilities are better aligned with the changing needs of the workforce.

“Today, you have one person—the expert—who programs it. You’re basically tied to what he can do or she can do, and you’re limited,” Di Carlantonio pointed out. “What if everybody on the plant floor could tell the machine what to do, and what if a designer could communicate with the machine to tell it the part it wants to make, and it could be conversational?”

3. Batteries, Technology Power the Future

The success of electric vehicles and a greener world also depends on battery technology. As a new Machine Design article from Diana Garcia of ABB Robotics notes that manufacturing batteries at the volume needed to power the future with use these new technologies to create efficiencies.

“The future of smart measurement technology offers new opportunities for battery manufacturers to increase the accuracy, efficiency and quality of the battery production process,” Garcia writes in the article. “Advanced sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms can enable real-time monitoring of critical production parameters. This real-time data can be analyzed and used to identify bottlenecks, improve quality control and optimize production.

4. Sodium-ion vs. Lithium-ion

The composition of batteries also must change to meet new demands across the manufacturing spectrum. One such comparison is between sodium-ion (Na-ion) and lithium-ion (LFP) batteries, Article author Anton Zhukov notes there are still some issues to be determined.

“Similarities in specific energy between Na-ion and LFP cells make sodium-ion batteries potentially well-suited for applications currently using LFP battery packs, such as industrial batteries. Such applications include EVs, e-buses, industrial and off-highway vehicles, stationary storage, marine and rail transport, and power tools,” Zhukov writes in the article. “However, it remains to be seen whether the actual performance of batteries on a pack level differs significantly from what is reported on a cell level. We will need to see Na-ion battery packs’ performance in real life to confirm their data on the number of cycles before degradation, loss of capacity in extreme cold and hot conditions, and other specs.”

5. Functional Safety Webinar

Safety is the core principle in every manufacturing operation. Understanding the standards around safety is also essential. In an upcoming webinar sponsored by Schmersal and presented by Machine Design, EHS Today, Plant Services and New Equipment Digest, we’ll look at ISO 13849, which covers functional safety and performance levels.

Join Devin Murray from Schmersal on Wed., Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. EST as he provides an overview of what the ISO 13849 standard is, when and how to use it, how it relates to machine safety in the United States and a look at misconceptions surrounding the standard.

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