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The Leading Source for Manufacturing News and Insight


According to Boeing, nearly 74 percent of the more than 2,800 votes cast were against union representation.


In this episode, improving industrial maintenance with drones and trapping waste energy to power wearables.


A Norwegian-African cooperative project is currently developing a wireless network of sensors tasked with preventing mine explosions.


The Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet has lots of rock-crawling power, plus the sort of luxury you might expect in a Rolls-Royce.


The U.S. investments include $214 million to build five new high-tech plants, adding about 2 million square feet of new manufacturing floor space.

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The Leading Source for Manufacturing News and Insight


On Thursday, TransCanada said it had filed an application with the state commission that regulates oil pipelines.


The previous record was held by Russia, which sent 37 satellites into orbit in 2014.


A takeover of GM’s European division, which include the Germany-based Opel brand and Vauxhall in Britain, could threaten thousands of jobs in the U.K.


According to Boeing, nearly 74 percent of the more than 2,800 votes cast were against union representation.


In this episode, improving industrial maintenance with drones and trapping waste energy to power wearables.

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Medrobotics® Closes $20MM Financing To Expand Into General Surgery And Build Next Generation Robot System

RAYNHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Medrobotics Corp., a medical products company, today announced closing a

$20 Million Preferred Stock financing. Existing Medrobotics shareholders

participated in the round. Proceeds will be used to fund the Company’s

expansion into new surgical applications, such as single-port general

and gynecological surgeries, and to develop its next generation Flex®

Robotic System with more fully robotic instrument options.

Medrobotics will continue to pursue scarless ENT, colorectal and

gynecological procedures to be performed through natural body orifices

with the world’s first and only commercially released steerable and

shapeable robotic surgical products. Additionally, the Company will

develop the Flex® Robotic System for single port abdominal

applications for a variety of difficult to reach procedures in general

surgery, urology, and gynecology.

The Flex® Robotic System has been cleared for ENT procedures

in the United States and internationally. Last year, Medrobotics became

the first robotic company to obtain regulatory clearance for minimally

invasive, flexible robotic products for colorectal procedures in Europe

and Asia. The Flex® Robotic System is now the first robotic

surgical platform offering the ability to access hard to reach anatomy

in both otolaryngology and colorectal procedures without the limits

imposed by straight rigid instruments.

About Medrobotics

Medrobotics Corporation (

is a privately funded medical device company headquartered in Raynham,

Massachusetts. The Company manufactures and markets the Flex®

Robotic System, the world’s first robotic surgical platform with a

steerable and shapeable robotic scope. The Flex® Robotic

System offers surgeons the unique ability to navigate complex anatomy

minimally invasively and operate in hard-to-reach anatomical locations

that might otherwise be inaccessible with straight, rigid surgical

tools. The Company’s is committed to providing more patients access to

advanced, minimally invasive surgery. Medrobotics received FDA clearance

for the Flex® Robotic System in July 2015, and the CE mark in

March 2014. The System is not yet cleared for colorectal applications in

the US.

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Manufacturing | NIST

At a time of opportunity and challenge for U.S. manufacturing, NIST is working with industry and universities to develop essential measurement capabilities and to forge precompetitive collaborations that help U.S. manufacturers overcome shared technical obstacles. A partner to the U.S. manufacturing sector for more than a century, NIST has a proven track record in delivering useful tools and technical assistance that existing manufacturers and aspiring start-ups need. Timely technical assists from NIST can help the nation’s manufacturers to invent, innovate and create new products and services more rapidly and more efficiently than their competitors around the world.

NIST Laboratory Programs collaborate with industry, academia, and other government agencies to develop the measurement and standards solutions to accelerate the development of the next generation of manufacturing technologies. A few key areas of NIST activity include Materials Genome Initiative, emerging technologies, and smart manufacturing (see links on left).

The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) facilitates and accelerates the transfer of manufacturing technology in partnership with industry, universities and educational institutions, state governments, NIST and other federal research laboratories and agencies. Find out  more about MEP.

Manufacturing USA consists of linked Manufacturing Innovation Institutes with common goals, but unique concentrations. Here industry, academia, and government partners are leveraging existing resources, collaborating, and co-investing to nurture manufacturing innovation and accelerate commercialization. Find out more about Manufacturing USA.

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Решение для автоматизации облачных процессов VMware vRealize Automation


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Investment Opportunities in Automated Economy

When will the jobs return? That’s been the question in this glacially slow recovery.

The answer? Many of jobs won’t be coming back, and that’s painful news for all of us.

Job creation ebbed for years before the 2007-2008 recession and is likely to fall far short of what it was in previous decades.

Low consumer demand is one reason. Companies have no reason to hire if people aren’t buying their products, and recession-wracked Europe, our biggest consumer, isn’t consuming as much.

Yet there’s another reason for weak job creation that isn’t talked about as much. Automation, aided by new technologies, is increasingly replacing labor, changing workplaces and altering the economy in fundamental ways.

For evidence of this trend, just look around your house, your office (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) and the nearest shopping center.

o IPhones, iPads, and other devices are changing the way we shop, communicate and get news and information, disrupting old labor-intensive industries, such as newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service, while creating new ones that generally employ far fewer people.

o Online banking, brokerage and mortgages are increasingly making it easier for consumers to never set foot in a brick-and-mortar bank.

o Movie-downloading services such as Netflix and Redbox have hastened the demise of video stores.

o Self-checkout aisles at stores and gas stations have eliminated thousands of retail jobs.

Truck drivers’ jobs might soon be on the line too. Experiments with computer-driven vehicles have had vastly improved results in the past several years. In 2005, computer-driven cars could go only a few miles. Recently, Google-operated cars went thousands of miles without a mishap, and California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a bill to allow them on the state’s highways.

As technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate, new jobs are created but not fast enough to replace the jobs that are disappearing. This is creating hardship for millions of Americans.

“At some point in the future — it might be many years or decades from now — machines will be able to do the jobs of a large percentage of the ‘average’ people in our population, and these people will not be able to find new jobs,” writes Martin Ford in his eye-opening book Lights in the Tunnel, which can be downloaded for free. This book details the challenges that we face and offers some possible solutions, including shorter work weeks, job sharing, and eliminating payroll taxes so employers have less incentive to replace workers.

David Autor, an economist at MIT, points out that the job market has been “hollowed out,” with the jobs in the middle — clerks, administrative positions, factory workers — disappearing. At the same time, high-wage jobs have been created in computer programming and biotech. Low-wage, automation-resistant jobs in such industries as food service and health care are doing just fine.

While government officials can and should worry about how to create more good-paying jobs, investors who have long suffered from a sideways stock market can profit by seeking out companies on the leading edge of the automation phenomenon.

Examples include Rockwell Automation, which makes industrial systems; Irobot, a maker of automated tools such as vacuum cleaners and floor washers; Aerovironoment, which manufactures unmanned aircraft and other vehicles, and NCR, a great example of an old-line firm that morphed from mechanical cash registers to ATMs and automated check-in systems.

Another approach to finding investment opportunities stemming from the automation trend is to look for stocks with high sales to employees. A recent survey by Bloomberg calls attention to some companies with high sales-to-employee ratios. Among them: Apple, eBay, Microsoft, Amgen and Google.

Every industrial revolution has been accompanied by new technology that underpins the innovations, and that is also fertile ground for investors seeking growth. Microchips, computer storage, optical drives, LCDs, fiber optics and nanotechnology are just a few of the innovations that are driving the new economy.

Green energy is another trend that’s here to stay. The list of these companies is long but worth investigating for investing ideas.

The good news is that the United States has enormous capacity to supply needed goods and services (with less labor than ever before, which means higher productivity). Jobs are being replaced, to be sure. However, every scenario that Ford envisions won’t necessarily come to pass. Innovators in the global and U.S. economies will doubtless find new ways to make money.

This could mean that today’s manufacturing jobs will be increasingly supplanted by more service jobs. For example, all of the new automation equipment will need servicing. One thing that seers of the high-tech future typically fail to envision is technology needs a lot of work to keep it running.

Whatever the future holds along these lines, investing in old-line firms that are labor intensive seems to be an increasingly bad bet. Such companies tend to be mature, which typically means low-growth potential and low investment returns. By focusing on high-revenue companies that harness automation, however, you’ll be looking to the future. And after all, investing is all about the future.

Yet it’s important to keep in mind that the future never unfolds as neatly as even the best seers predict — even when they’re basically right. The key is to keep abreast of economic developments to see new niches of investing opportunity developing as a result of the automation trend.

On a brighter economic note, this investment will spur general economic growth that, for all we now know, could ultimately produce new jobs in areas that now we can’t even conceive.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Ted Schwartz, a certified financial planner, is president and chief investment officer of Capstone Investment Financial Group. He advises individual investors and endowments, and serves as the adviser to CIFG UMA accounts. Because Schwartz has a background in psychology and counseling, he brings insights into personal motivation when advising clients on how to achieve their wealth management goals. Schwartz holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Oregon State University. He can be reached at

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Robots on the rise in the workplace

Technology has always been one of the great drivers of the U.S. economy, constantly creating jobs and eliminating some in the process. But recently, MIT professors tell Steve Kroft, technology has been eliminating more jobs than it creates — a net loss that poses a danger to the delicate economic recovery. Kroft’s report on this technological revolution, often characterized by advanced robotics, will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

“Technology is always creating jobs. It’s always destroying jobs. But right now the pace [of destroying them] is accelerating,” says MIT professor Eric Brynjolfsson. “So as a consequence, we are not creating jobs at the same pace that we need to.”

Fewer Americans on a percentage basis are holding jobs now than 20 years ago. Some examples include the elimination of sales clerks and bank tellers by cash machines and Internet shopping. Says Brynjolfsson, “There are lots of examples of routine, middle-skilled jobs that involve relatively structured tasks…that are being eliminated the fastest,” he tells Kroft.

The irony is that the economy is growing. “Our economy is bigger than it was before the start of the Great Recession,” says Andrew McAfee, also of MIT. “Corporate profits are back. Business investment in hardware and software is back higher than it’s ever been. What’s not back is the jobs.”

One reason for this was automated warehouses, which surprised McAfee. The economy is making plenty of goods, but requires a lot less people to store and ship them. “There are heavily automated warehouses where there are either few or no people around,” he says.

Kroft visits a huge warehouse in Devens, Mass., where about 100 employees work with 69 suitcase-size robots that navigate the massive facility, moving product from shelf to shipping point faster and better than humanly possible. Customer orders are transmitted from a computer to wifi antennas that direct the robots to the merchandise, guiding them across an electronic checkerboard with bar codes embedded in the floor panels. Once the robot arrives at its destination, it picks up an entire shelf of merchandise and delivers it to the packing station. It then speeds off to its next assignment. The small orange robots are in many facilities across the country.

Bruce Welty, who runs the warehouse, points to one of his workers and tells Kroft, “In a typical warehouse, she would have to walk from location to location [to make] a number of totes…the innovation here is that the product comes to her.” Welty estimates that to do the same amount of work with just people, he would need to hire one and a half persons for each robot, so the robots allow him to operate with less than half the amount of people such a facility would normally employ.

McAfee sees this trend of technology eliminating jobs continuing for some time “When I see what computers and robots can do right now, I project that forward for two, three more generations, I think we’re going to find ourselves in a world where the work as we currently think about it it, is largely done by machines,” he tells Kroft.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Manufacturing in America: US Set for a ‘Manufacturing Renaissance’

In the next five years, the U.S. will experience a “manufacturing renaissance,” according to a new analysis.

As wages in China increase, flexible work rules and government incentives in the U.S. will make America one of the cheapest places to manufacture goods in the developed world, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analysis suggests.

“If the trend plays out, I think you’ll see manufacturing growing and expanding in the U.S.,” said Michael Zinser, one of the authors of BCG’s analysis on manufacturing. “What we’re expecting is that companies will step back and rethink their networks, rethink their supply chains.”

Chinese wage rates likely will continue to grow by 15 to 20 percent year over year, Zinser said. When the increase in wages is combined with the increasing value of the yuan, the wage gap between the U.S. and China is narrowing rapidly.

“China is no longer expected to be the default low-cost manufacturing location for those companies who are looking to supply the U.S. market,” Zinser told ABC News. “What we would expect to see is a convergence in terms of the wage rates to what we’re seeing in the U.S. today.”

Harold Sirkin, lead author of the analysis on manufacturing, expects the convergence to occur “by around 2015.”

“As a result of the changing economics, you’re going to see a lot more products ‘Made in the USA’ in the next five years,” said Sirkin.

Romain Wacziarg, an economics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, sees other factors involved.

“I agree that it’s possible that manufacturing will come back, but I don’t think it’s due to rising costs in China,” he said. “I think it’s due more to the depreciation of the dollar … not that wage costs are rising in China and not the U.S.”

Currently, according to BCG, U.S. workers are three times more productive than their Chinese counterparts. But Wacziarg said the increase in wages indicates an increase in producitivy.

“It’s more expensive to use a unit of labor there [China],” he said, “but that unit of labor is getting more productive.”

As wages in China rise, Zinser said, some companies may decide to manufacture in the U.S., though others will look for lower wages in other countries.

But one of the advantages U.S. manufacturers have, according to BCG, is that the work force is becoming more flexible.

Kevin Sauder, president and CEO of Sauder Furniture, recently started sourcing component parts regionally, a process his purchasing team called “insourcing.”

“Supporting local and American jobs is one factor that gets considered,” Sauder told ABC News. “It’s not the main factor, but it’s one thing that gets considered. All things being equal, we would always prefer to go with a regional manufacturer. … Using regional components improved our ability to be flexible in new product development.”

The change allowed the company to get more contracts, Sauder said, because it was able to build prototypes more quickly for stores such as Walmart and Ikea because the component pieces arrived weeks earlier.

“Opportunities like that are worth a little extra money for the flexibility and speed,” said Sauder. “I think that’s where local and regional manufacturers do have an advantage … flexibility and speed to market.”

Even though the U.S. manufacturing sector maybe be poised for a comeback, Zinser cautioned that it did not mean China is on the decline.

“China is going to continue to be a major global player,” said Zinser. “China is still a large market and many companies are going to want to continue supplying that market.”

U.S. consumers should expect industries such as construction equipment and appliances to be impacted first, he said, while industries such as textiles and consumer electronics may never be affected.

“Where you have lower labor content as an overall percentage of your total costs and more modest volumes, we’d likely see those types of industries certainly having an impact sooner,” Zinser said. “For industries where you have very high volumes, higher labor content … we would expect that those are likely to stay in lower-cost environments.”

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Japan’s robotics startup ZMP Inc hopes to list in coming months: CEO | Reuters

TOKYO Japanese robotics startup ZMP Inc hopes to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the coming months, after a delay late last year due to client information being leaked on to the internet, the firm’s founder and CEO told Reuters on Friday.

Despite the delay in its initial public offering, worth up to $82 million, ZMP remained on track to develop a self-driving taxi in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, CEO Hisashi Taniguchi said.

The company was ironing out internal security issues after it discovered some client information had been leaked to the public days ahead of its listing, Taniguchi said.

“We’re developing our security systems in-house, which will take some time, but this is not the sort of thing that takes a year to develop,” he said.

“When we’re happy with our security system, then we’ll re-submit our listing application.”

Taniguchi said ZMP will push ahead with developing self-driving taxis, despite losing its partnership last month with gaming software developer DeNA Co. DeNA paired up instead with Nissan Motor Co to develop services for autonomous driving cars.

“At the moment our (taxi) plans are on track. We started testing on public roads last year, so we don’t want to rush anything,” he said.

ZMP has developed an automated driving system based on laser and stereo cameras, which it plans to use in fleet vehicles and also sell to automakers and mobility service providers.

In a country famous as much for its auto industry as its fascination with robots, ZMP is one of a few domestic start-ups developing self-driving cars to compete against foreign firms including nuTonomy in the United States and China’s Future Mobility.

ZMP also makes drones and automated dolly carts.

($1 = 112.6300 yen)

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Randy Fabi)

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This creepy robot is powered by a neural network


The humanoid robot “Alter” is displayed at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.

P Photo/Koji Sasahara

It has a mask-like, yet eerily expressive face and a body made up of gears and wires. This humanoid robot called “Alter” is powered entirely by a neural network that gives it the ability to move by itself.

Yes, it is as creepy — and as fascinating — as it sounds. The robot is on display to the public at Japan’s National Science Museum, where it’s unnerved visitors by moving its arms around, gesturing to the crowd jerkily, without any human operator or remote control directing its actions.

How does it work? The robot, designed by a team lead by Takashi Ikegami of the University of Tokyo and Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, runs on a “central pattern generator” that has networks that act similarly to neural systems in the body, according to Engadget. These networks give the robot the ability to generate its own movement.

Of course, if you watch the video of Alter in action, it’s clear that the robot doesn’t come close to moving as fluidly as a human. That being said, its agency over making its own movements creates the powerful illusion that it is a living being.

To add to the creepy factor, Alter has some musical chops. The robot was also programmed to “sing” — maybe it’s more like a hum — in deep, resonant notes. The robot’s voice is tied to sine waves, or mathematical curves that represents clear, repetitive oscillations, which correspond to its finger movements.

But despite the neural networks that give it the illusion of life, this robot can’t think on its own. Maybe that’s next?

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.