BROUGHTON, UK—Like a cartoon space alien with a dome-like skull, an Airbus Beluga transport plane arriving from Madrid drops from the sky above this village 200 miles northwest of London and taxis to a stop with its front end tucked inside a large building off the runway. Its bulbous forehead pops open to disgorge massive wing panels—98 feet long and 20 feet wide—that will soon be assembled by sophisticated robots and about 800 people into the largest carbon-fiber composite wings now built for commercial aviation.
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.
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.
Today’s typical automobile features nearly 100 exterior and interior sensors, with the number likely to increase in the near future. Those located on the outside (axle load, steering angle, blind spots, air temperature, etc.) require special protection from the elements and unique production methods.
One way for a manufacturer to enter a new market is through acquisition. However, one downside of the strategy is that the manufacturing assets you acquire do not always mesh perfectly with how you like to do things.
ATLANTA—Adidas will be opening a factory in Atlanta in 2017 where shoes will be produced entirely by robots. In a press release, the company outlined how the factory, dubbed the Speedfactory, will allow the company to manufacture shoes faster while bringing production closer to U.S. consumers.