Tanida Ruangsawat/Dreamstime and Suthiporn Hanchana/Dreamstime
Collaboration Dreamstime Agreement © Suthiporn Hanchana 124871680

5 for Friday: The Power of Collaboration; a Collaboration Around Power; and the Cost of Designing for Reliability

Nov. 10, 2023
Machine Design takes a look at the past week, and a look ahead to the issues facing the design and manufacturing sector.

1. The Power of Collaboration

We have entered an interesting era in the manufacturing community. The last two decades have featured mergers and acquisitions that reshaped a large part of the supply landscape. Now we’re getting at least a notice a day about new partnerships and collaborations between major players from different sectors.

There is no single solution on the plant floor, and with the rapid acceleration of technology adoption, there are many suppliers and strategies that cross industries. It is easier, less expensive and less risky to find a partner in another discipline that can bridge a gap in your solution.

For example, Sharon Spielman reports this week about the partnership between Rockwell Automation and Microsoft around generative AI: She notes it comes “in response to challenges posed by the skilled labor shortage in the industrial sector, which has led to decreased productivity, according to a press release issued by the companies. By harnessing the potential of generative AI, the companies aim to enhance the workforce’s capabilities and streamline processes, addressing the long-term structural challenges faced by industry.”

The value is a simple one: Microsoft gets access to new markets with a technology that Rockwell cannot easily or cost-effectively create on its own. Rockwell has the market depth to make such a collaboration a seamless integration. The end-users are going to win as these types of collaborations become the industry norm.

2. A Collaboration Around Power

Another partnership is driven by the shift toward non-fossil fuels and resources. SICK and Endress+Hauser say they have identified opportunities to contribute to a sustainable power supply while assisting customers in meeting sustainability targets.

The venture will jointly market and enhance SICK’s flow and analyzer technologies as well as provide customers with support throughout the value chain concerning climate and environmental protection, energy transition and the hydrogen economy.

Climate change and carbon-neutral manufacturing remaining a tangible goal for many companies—even if the deadlines for such goals are many years off. Still, the efforts in this area are gaining steam (if you’ll pardon the expression), and there will be many more of these collaborative efforts in the future as manufacturers struggle to match their operational aspirations to the realities of their process.

3. Designing For Reliability—At a Cost

Reliability is expected from every manufactured product, but achieving reliability in an age of changing technology and increased product complexity can prove to be a challenge.

That was the conclusion of a new survey released by global electronics manufacturer Molex. Its survey of 750 manufacturing design and systems leaders found it difficult to achieve a balance between reliability and cost management. It also found the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), simulations and advanced analytics is creating a new opportunity to design and build reliability into finished products.

The full article can be found here, and the message is clear: Designing for reliability is another lofty and noble goal, but it faces headwinds from maintaining a profitable operation.

4. Watch Where You’re Walking: It’s a Robot

We’ve written a lot of articles about cobots, including several articles about mobile industrial robots. A new Machine Design article takes a look at how those mobile robots are not just moving down the aisles of distribution centers, but across the manufacturing floor in discrete industries as well. Article author Tara Van Geons notes, “The real-time data, enhanced safety and adaptability of these mobile autonomous robots signal an industrial automation transformation. As their capabilities expand and technology advances, mobile autonomous robots may play an even more central role in manufacturing efficiency and production.”

5. Milling Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone has time to pick up five quick tips, and here are five good ones on CNC milling. From adding thin walls to raised text to “non-threadable” holes, subtractive manufacturing such as CNC milling is not without its mishaps. This article spells out some quick ways to keep from making these common mistakes.

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