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Factory Automation Witnesses Steady Growth

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Today, it is hard to imagine industrial production processes being implemented without automation systems. Industrial or factory automation is a vast field that involves simultaneous working of software, machinery, software, and information systems to achieve increased production, superior quality, lower cost, increased flexibility, and higher accuracy. It has three levels namely supervisor level, control level, and field level which intercommunicate between them. The first level involves the use of systems such as industrial PC (IPC), human machine interface (HMI), and WLAN. Within the control level, there is the use of automation systems such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), HMIs, and field bus (CAN). The field level describes the equipment such as sensors and actuators such as magnetic valves, servomotors, power switches, and more interacting with a micro PLC or remote I/O system.

There has been a steady growth in the factory automation market in recent years. It is expected to reach billions by 2025. A surge in need for high product quality, the expectation of high reliability in high volume production, progression in technology, the maturity of the industrial processing technologies, and growing need for mass production with reduced operation cost are the factors responsible for the rapid development of the industry.

The concept is gaining acceptance from various industries owing to its numerous benefits. Manufacturers from all over the world are implementing automatic systems in manufacturing and other processes in order to stand out from the market competitiveness. For instance, Kontrol Energy, a Canadian company providing smart energy solutions and technologies, and Toyota Tsusho Canada Inc. (TTCI), the trading arm of the Toyota Group recently announced a partnership with the aim of scaling their solutions across a large customer base. Tempo Automation, an electronics manufacturer for prototyping formed an agreement with Lockheed Martin, an aerospace and defense company to expand software automation. Dassault Systèmes, the European software company partnered with Swiss-Swedish robotics firm ABB to develop software for industrial processes. Some other developments took place recently, including the Japanese motorcycle firm, Yamaha Motors’ recent announcement of showcasing several factory automation technologies at Hannover Messe 2019 which will be held from April 1 to April 5. Another is industrial automation solutions company, Omron Automation Americas’ announcement to exhibit advanced technology for flexible manufacturing, traceability, and more at the Automate Show that will be held in Chicago from April 8 to 11 2019.

Kontrol Energy and Toyota Tsusho Partnership

In March 2019, Kontrol Energy and Toyota Tsusho formed an agreement to offer smart factory technology solutions to OEMs in the automotive industry to increase production, manage energy, improve operating efficiencies, and reduce operating costs via digitization, real-time data analysis, and machine learning. This can be achieved by the integration of Kontrol’s Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and software products with Toyota Tsusho’s operating improvement platforms and power generation products for the North American automobile and parts OEMs. According to the agreement, Kontrol offers the designing and monitoring software, quality assurance, and technical support to TTCI and its clients. It also does the designing and installation of building automation systems and heating and ventilation equipment. On the other hand, Toyota Tyushi obtains customers and carries out engineering, deployment, and after-sales services with clients.

Tempo Automation Forms Contract with Lockheed Martin

Tempo Automation formed a contract agreement with Lockheed Martin in March 2019. The reason behind the latter choosing the former is that Tempo greatly focuses on their software automation technology to develop a digital thread from creation to delivery. Its software links several operations of finished PCB assemblies such as order processing, parts sourcing, factory operations, shipment, and more. Tempo’s automated processes facilitate quick quotation, development, and delivery of high complexity printed circuit board assemblies. The company’s customer base can minimize the time for production and launch and obtain useful information throughout the manufacturing process, leading to superior technology in finished products.

Dassault Systèmes Collaborates with ABB

The aim of the partnership between Dassault and ABB is to develop software for digital industrial solutions based on the integration of the firms’ PLM and automation software products. The collaboration combines ABB’s Ability platform and Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and develops on the firms’ strong installed base, deep domain expertise, and global customer access. Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO at ABB said that the alliance would help best serve their customers and drive innovation and customer value, as well as transform their value chain to tap the enormous opportunities of industrial digitalization.

Yamaha Motors Showcases Factory Automation Technologies

At Hannover Messe, which is the world’s leading trade show for industrial technology, Yamaha Motors will be demonstrating technologies such as the Linear Conveyor Module LCM 100, a linear motor-based transport robot and the fast and precise SCARA robot. The products are aimed at facilitating increased productivity and variability on production lines, thereby providing the best solutions for factory automation. The LCM 100 can quickly transport work pieces and can be assembled directly on the slider, which reduces the transfer time drastically. The robot can change the stop position and process similar operations. The SCARA robot ‘YK 400 XR’ greatly helps in shortening the cycle time of the coating process.

Omron Automation Americas Exhibits at Automate Show

At the Automate Show, Omron Automation will be exhibiting many of the world’s cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for traceability and flexible manufacturing. The products are aimed at aiding manufacturers to enhance productivity, flexibility, and human-machine interaction. The company plans to present its Factory Harmony exhibit, a multifaceted display offering a vision of the manufacturing floor of the future. The demos show ways in which machines can interact effectively with humans on the factory floor. Other robotic solutions to be exhibited include the company’s TM Series collaborative robot, which is a flexible machine designed to facilitate human-machine collaboration, and the LD Series mobile robots that are designed to transport substances easily throughout the factory. Both the products are aimed at aiding companies to cater to the burgeoning need for customization without totally reconfiguring their production lines.

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Peru should help more young vulnerable people into work

MD Staff

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Peru’s remarkable economic growth since the 2000s and policies targeting the most vulnerable young people have helped boost the youth employment rate. Peru should now focus on improving job opportunities for low-skilled youth, young women and indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth, according to a new OECD report.

Investing in Youth: Peru says that the youth employment rate today is higher than both the average of OECD countries and many Latin American countries. But many challenges remain.

Income inequality is high and poverty has risen recently. A large share of the youth workforce with a lack of the right skills and a sizeable informal sector hinder the transition to a more productive, better-paid and better quality jobs for Peruvian youth.

Young people with tertiary education face an even higher risk of unemployment than their less-educated peers. In 2017 their unemployment rate was 14.6%, compared to 8.7% for people with a secondary education degree and 7.3% for unskilled youth.

 The situation of limited employment opportunities for many youth also translates into low levels of well-being. Close to 34% of Peruvian youth affirm that they find it difficult, or very difficult, to get by with their present household income. This compares to an OECD average of about 20% and places Peruvian youth towards the worse-off end of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Today’s high proportion and number of youth in the Peruvian working age population is set to decline in the near future. Without action, the opportunities to benefit from the growth dividend associated with the demographic bonus will fade away, according to the report.

To help more young people into work, the OECD recommends that Peru:

Strengthen social dialogue with unions, civil society and employers in order to improve labour market policies that reduce the dualism of the labour market between permanent and temporary contracts and encourage employers to hire young workers.

Ensure that business incentives, such as tax breaks for small firms, do not discourage them from expanding and hiring young workers.

Expand and increase the efficiency of the public employment services (PES) by strengthening recruitment and training programmes for caseworkers.

Continue efforts to increase the enrolment and learning performance of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Engage in ambitious policies to tackle the vulnerability of young Peruvian women.

Combat discrimination against indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth; and

Boost job opportunities for rural indigenous youth by implementing a nationally co-ordinated strategy to help rural populations engage in new and more profitable entrepreneurial activities.

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New safety and health issues emerge as work changes

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Changes in working practices, demographics, technology and the environment are creating new occupational safety and health (OSH) concerns, according to a new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Growing challenges include psychosocial risks, work-related stress and non-communicable diseases, notably circulatory and respiratory diseases, and cancers.

The report, Safety and Health at the heart of the Future of Work: Building on 100 years of experience * , is being published ahead of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work , which is marked on April 28th. It reviews the ILO’s 100 years of work on OSH issues, and highlights emerging health and safety issues in the world of work.

Currently, more than 374 million people are injured or made ill every year through work-related accidents. It is estimated that work days lost to OSH-related causes represent almost 4 per cent of global GDP, in some countries as much as 6 per cent, the Report says.

“As well as more effective prevention for established risks, we are seeing profound changes in our places and ways of working. We need safety and health structures that reflect this, alongside a general culture of prevention that creates shared responsibility,” said Manal Azzi, ILO Technical Specialist on Occupational Safety and Health.

Looking to the future, the report highlights four major transformative forces driving changes. It points out that all also offer opportunities for improvements.

First, technology, such as digitization, robotics, and nanotechology, can also affect psychosocial health and introduce new materials with unmeasured health hazards. Correctly applied it can also help reduce hazardous exposures, facilitate training and labour inspections.

Demographic shifts are important because young workers have significantly high occupational injury rates, while older workers need adaptive practices and equipment to work safely. Women – who are entering the workforce in increasing numbers – are more likely to have non-standard work arrangements and have a higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

Thirdly, development and climate change give rise to risks such as air pollution, heat stress, emerging diseases, shifting weather and temperature patterns that can bring job losses. Equally, new jobs will be created through sustainable development and the green economy.

Finally, changes in the organization of work can bring flexibility that allows more people to enter the labour force, but may also lead to psychosocial issues (for example, insecurity, compromised privacy and rest time, or inadequate OSH and social protections) and excessive work hours. Approximately 36 per cent of the world’s workforce currently works excessive hours (more than 48 hours per week).

In the light of these challenges the study proposes six areas on which policy makers and other stakeholders should focus. These include more work on anticipating new and emerging OSH risks, adopting a more multidisciplinary approach and building stronger links to public health work. Better public understanding of OSH issues is also needed. Finally, international labour standards and national legislation need to be strengthened, something which will require stronger collaboration between Governments, workers and employers.

By far the greatest proportion of current work-related deaths – 86 per cent – come from disease. In the region of 6,500 people a day die from occupational diseases, compared to 1,000 from fatal occupational accidents.

The greatest causes of mortality are circulatory diseases (31 per cent), work-related cancers (26 per cent) and respiratory diseases (17 per cent).

“As well as the economic cost we must recognize the immeasurable human suffering such illnesses and accidents cause. These are all-the-more tragic because they are largely preventable,” said Azzi. “Serious consideration should also be given to the recommendation of the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work , that occupational safety and health be recognized as a fundamental principle and right at work.”

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China needs further reforms to make growth sustainable, greener and more inclusive

MD Staff

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The Chinese economy continues to slow as it rebalances, with headwinds including trade frictions and the weakening global economy undermining exports and creating new uncertainties. Policy should focus on long-term strategies to move the economy towards greater domestic consumption and services, enhancing economic efficiency and ensuring that future growth is sustainable, greener and more inclusive, according to a new report from the OECD.

The latest OECD Economic Survey of China looks at the factors behind the economic slowdown as well as policies that can boost the quality of future growth and ensure that it is more equitably distributed. Despite the slowdown, the Survey projects growth above 6% this year and next, and sees continuing convergence with more advanced economies.  

The Survey, presented in Beijing by OECD Deputy Secretary-General Ludger Schuknecht, underlines the rising financial risks from high corporate debt and recommends that China prioritises the creation of a single product and labour market to boost productivity and inclusiveness.

“China continues to be the major driver of world economic growth and convergence with advanced economies continues, despite the slowdown,” Mr Schuknecht said. “Yet China is at a crossroads, facing serious domestic and external challenges to maintaining its strong position over the long-term. Policy should seek to ensure a better functioning economy that delivers stable and inclusive growth for all.”

The Survey underlines the need for more balanced trade and investment. Policy should aim to further lower import tariffs and dismantle non-tariff barriers and barriers on the entry and conduct of foreign firms, in particular requirements to form joint ventures or transfer technology.

While much has been done to address financial risks, China’s ongoing fiscal stimulus should avoid directing credit to state-owned enterprises and local governments, the Survey said. Debt ceilings should take into account sub-national government revenues.

Prudent fiscal policy should channel funds to areas where returns are highest, such as education, health and social security systems, while avoiding misallocation of capital by allowing banks to better price risks. Risk perception could be sharpened by orderly defaults. The quality, coverage and timeliness of fiscal reporting can be improved, the Survey said.

The Survey sees wide scope to improve efficiency across the economy, notably by reducing the internal barriers that hinder product market competition and labour mobility. Strengthening the rule of law, restricting the power of administrative departments and providing clear and detailed implementation rules limiting their discretionary powers would reduce protectionism at the local level. Anti-monopoly rules and enforcement can be strengthened and public procurement processes could be made more transparent, technology-neutral and open to all players.

Other measures to boost economic efficiency highlighted by the Survey include stronger protection of intellectual property rights; gradual removal of implicit guarantees to state-owned enterprises, allowing them to default; and reduction of state ownership in commercially-oriented, non-strategic sectors.

To ensure equal opportunities, the Survey recommends China to distribute more evenly high-quality education and health care in order to reduce incentives to move to mega-cities. Gradually easing restrictions on access to public services for city residents without the hukou (residency permit) and eventually delinking service provision from the hukou would also help improve equity. Centralised financing of key spending items, such as wage bills in education and health, reforms to the floor and ceiling for social security contributions and wider tax reform should be pursued.

To make growth greener, the Survey suggests China enforce environmental regulations more strictly, raise fines for polluters and boost environmental taxation, particularly on fossil fuels. Putting an end to the construction of coal-fired power plants and increasing investment in pollution treatment facilities, urban water treatment and rural sanitation is also necessary.

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