In the nautical disaster movie, “The Perfect Storm,” three weather fronts converge off the coast of New England to create one of the fiercest storms in U.S. history. A similar convergence is occurring in the manufacturing world today. It’s called Industry 4.0 and it promises to transform the way that engineers design and build products over the next two decades.
Cell phones, tablets, GPS devices and other mobile electronics are smaller, thinner, lighter and more powerful than ever. Wireless Internet connections, RFID and Bluetooth have become essential features of these devices, necessitating highly complex transmission mechanisms.
PETROLIA, CA—Victor Scheinman, the Stanford engineering professor whose electrically powered, computer-controlled robot would become the Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly (PUMA) robot, has died at age 73.
Walk into any modern assembly and packaging facility, and the conveyor systems may very well resemble roller coasters at an amusement park—going up steep inclines, moving down drops, and twisting and turning around equipment and machinery as they transfer product from one area of the plant to another.
In every manufacturing industry, tradition is becoming less important. Companies no longer assume that what worked in the past will be enough to keep and gain customers. Instead, they look to the latest technology to improve manufacturing processes, optimize product quality and expand their customer base.