The sale of robots in North America was up 14% in the first nine months of 2017, but automation additions to manufacturing are not the only trend. Robots such as Adam, which autonomously travels through the warehouse and accurately selects products from the shelves, are getting smarter and offering more mobility.
Bread manufacturer Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe reduced space needs by 50% and hours worked by 30% through a robotic picking solution paired with high-density pallet storage and retrieval, says executive Tony Martin. Automation helped the business manage peak seasonal demand and improve worker safety, Martin says.
Applied Industrial Technologies' pending acquisition of FCX Performance will expand its fluid power segment while increasing its differentiated specialty capacity. "We believe that distributors like FCX Performance and Applied Industrial, through their strong technical selling models, provide customers with solutions that cannot easily be replicated by online competitors," said Jason Kliewer of Baird Acquisition Group.
Employers should simplify the application process and consider incentives such as housing for candidates willing to relocate temporarily, Bridget McCrea writes. Increase retention rates by assuring new hires of their value and assigning fulfilling tasks, says Beverly Kaye of Career Systems International.
Control loop performance monitoring and vibration analysis may be sufficient to monitor equipment rather than more expensive and complex predictive analytics solutions, writes Bob Rice of Control Station.
Manufacturers wanting to be digital innovators should be pursuing the cost-management benefits of automation and the customer expectations of personalization, Brian Irwin of Accenture writes. He notes that they should also be hiring and training their employees in the necessary digital skills while spreading such knowledge throughout their supply chains.
The Triton attack on a Schneider Electric facility in late 2017 breached a firmware vulnerability and is the first instance of a remote-access trojan deployed as a second stage of an industrial facility cyberattack, according to Schneider researchers. Analysts said the attackers, possibly affiliated with nation-state interests, had deep enough knowledge of Schneider's systems to allow reverse-engineered mapping.
Some users may choose not to apply patches for the Spectre and Meltdown processor flaws because the fixes affect performance or may not be needed, Cliff Saran writes. How the industry responds could determine whether processors become a favored target of hackers, he argues.
Manufacturers should apply data to achieve the materials handling equivalent of overall equipment effectiveness, writes Jim Rock of Seegrid. "Starting out with an incremental program will establish a baseline of data for future comparison," he writes.
Pacesetter Steel improved productivity by 30% and achieved a 97% on-time delivery rate by using a digital production scheduling system and digitizing its shipment-tracking process. "Part of the process in any of these 4.0 setups is continually speaking to your people and finding out what they want and what they need," executive Tyler Grahovec said.
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