Reminders

Manufacturing Value Chain

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Robots and the related technology is such a hot market right now. IDC projects the market for robotics and related technology and services to reach over $207 billion by 2021, a CAGR of 22% from 2016-2021. The bright future of this market is not going unnoticed by the venture capital community that has continued to inject cash into this growing market.


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The market for robotics is rapidly growing, which is leading to the emergence, and subsequent maturity, of mobile service robots across a broad range of industries, applications, and use cases. Mobile service robots are gaining ground in areas such as manufacturing, logistics and distribution, hospitality, healthcare, retail, and more. As the market for these robots continues to evolve and these devices are being used in new ways, it becomes important to take a look at what it means to be an autonomous mobile service robot and evaluate the differences relative to the term “autonomous and mobile.”


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As the market for robotics continues to grow, innovators are capitalizing on this growth by developing components, in this case an end effector, that help to give robots a boost in terms of their capabilities. It is such innovations that are capturing the attention of the VC and private equity communities, where 2016 saw an increase of over 100% in the value of investements to robotics related companies reaching over $1.8 billion and 3x increase in the number of deals. The money that is flowing into the robotics market is certainly helping to fuel innovations, such as the RightPick, that are making robotics a viable technology in a broader range of industries and use cases.


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The Human Touch in Smart Manufacturing

By John Santagate

Smart manufacturing, industrie 4.0, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have been the focus of manufacturing initiatives lately. A big part of these ideas is to "connect" the manufacturing process through the use of sensors and connected equipment. With smart manufacturing, it is all about leveraging these connections to deliver a more granular level of understanding about the manufacturing process through data capture and analytics of the manufacturing equipment. But what about the processes that are conducted by human hands? As much as manufacturers continue to automate the manufacturing process through robotics and automation equipment, many environments and processes still require a human physically putting something together or physically doing something. Traditionally, these processes would be "disconnected" and managed largely through paper. To address the challenges associated with managing, analyzing, and optimizing such processes, a start-up out of Somerville Massachusetts has developed a technology that augments the human operator to deliver digital transformation of the human element of manufacturing.


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10 Predictions for Worldwide Supply Chain

By John Santagate

Over the next decade, IDC expects that a majority of manufacturing industry growth will accrue to those companies that engage successfully with their consumers. The number will vary by industry, with those companies that are inherently consumer facing seeing a much larger percentage of growth being tied to consumer engagement and those that are not seeing less growth. But in all cases, the ability to be "relevant" to consumers will be critically important to the majority of manufacturing segments. This does not mean new business models necessarily, though there will be many such examples, but it does mean transforming the business from one focusing on products and customers (retailers, resellers, etc.) to one also focusing on consumers.


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Integrated supply chain execution and fulfillment is a very hot topic among manufacturing and retail supply chain professionals. Supply chain executives understand that the key to achieving world class supply chain execution is delivering an integrated approach that enables a seamless flow of material and data across the supply chain coupled with alignment of business processes.


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SHARP Announces the Intellos A-UGV Security Robot

By John Santagate

The rapidly growing market for robotics continues to attract new entrants as both demand for high quality robots increases and the technology to deliver robotics improves. The latest company to announce entry into the space is Sharp. Sharp has introduced a new division focused on robotics, Sharp Robotics Business Development (SRBD), and has come to market with its first offering focused in the field of security. The Intellos Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV) is a rugged mobile robot designed to augment security staff with an abundance of sensors, cameras, and the capability to traverse rugged terrain.


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Over 190,000 people from all over the World, including President Barack Obama, converged on Hannover, Germany, April 25th through 29th for the 2016 Hannover Messe industrial conference. This years event consisted of over 5,200 exhibitors spread across 17 conference halls broken down into 5 focus areas: Digital Factory, Energy, Industrial Automation, Industrial Supply, and Research & Technology.


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I recently visited the HQ of Rethink Robotics and came away completely impressed with the company, the robots, and the potential for this company to transform the manufacturing industry, especially the low and mid-market manufacturers that were previously unable to make the investment in robotics. The market for robotics is expected to increase significantly over the coming years (16.8% CAGR forecast through 2020), with many vendors, such as Rethink Robotics, innovating and bringing robotics to areas of the market that have been left under served in regards to robotics.


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iRobot to Sell Off Military Unit

By John Santagate

iRobot, maker of the Roomba, has entered into a deal to sell off its military robot unit for up to $45million in order to focus on its core business of consumer robots. The company has been providing consumer robots since it first introduced the Roomba in 2002, but its roots go back to 1991 with the release of its first robot Genghis which was designed as a space exploration robot. As a well known maker of consumer robotics, perhaps the sale of its military unit has more to do with the future direction of military robotics and the potential for negative perception should those robotics become weaponized.


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