Hannover Messe ended last month, but DirectIndustry e-magazine wanted to use this 17th issue to take another look at the highlights of the biggest industrial fair in the world.
Last year, we titled one of our stories “The Rise of Cobotics”. What’s the situation one year later? Our journalists wondered if collaborative robots were still invading the factory floor. They found that a new kind of war is underway: the low-cost cobot war. This confirms that the expected ‘cobolution’ is really taking place.
Since the United States is this year’s partner country, we asked ourselves what industry 4.0 meant on the other side of the Atlantic.
And for the first time this year, we gave 2 innovative companies our I-novo Award. Scroll down to discover the winners!
Watch our exclusive report. Last year, during our special coverage of Hannover Messe, we titled one of our stories “The Rise of Cobotics.” What’s the situation a year later? Are cobots still invading the factory floor? Are they still a hot topic in the industry? The answer is yes, and the technology keeps improving....
Watch our exclusive report. The low-cost war is raging in cobotics! At Hannover Messe, new players presented cobots at unbeatable prices. Competition is getting tough, especially for those who first introduced inexpensive cobots.
Industry 4.0 has proven a popular theme again among European companies at Hannover Messe this year. But the picture appears different in the United States, where the term is barely uttered. However, that doesn’t mean America is lagging behind.
Defining Tomorrow’s Factory
Industry 4.0 is a collective term used in...
Marketing Manager Serge Buechli talked to Directindustry e-magazine about the new smart all-in-one LED and connector line.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What prompted you to design with this range?
Serge Buechli: The design was inspired by customers enquiring about preventing mismating connectors. At LEMO, in the past, we have used various coloured bend reliefs that are assembled to the connector to identify which is which. The halo LED gives an additional indication as the colour appears only after mating, informing the user if the cable set up is correctly or not.
Some of our customers were already using such a setup with LEDs on their enclosure, to inform users what and when to connect. This new solution allows the designer to source all-in-one LEDs and connectors, also making the design of the enclosure simpler. It is an ideal solution for critical applications, for example in high end equipment or healthcare equipment.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How does it fit in with your other ranges?
Serge Buechli: The LEMO halo LED connector is a metallic circular connector, it is based on the existing B series connector and is fully compatible with existing connectors of the B series range. This means that many existing connectors of the LEMO range with various contact configurations can be used with the halo LED connector.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What are its special features?
Serge Buechli: LEMO’s speciality is making high quality connectors and custom connector solutions. With the halo LED connector, LEMO can also work with customers’ specific needs, for example colour requirements. If the connector is to be used in sunlight, then we can consider using some stronger luminescence LEDs or adjusting LED power to the environmental lighting – indoors in a laboratory, for instance. The halo LED features a homogeneous LED illumination made of multiple individual LEDS.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What additional features are available as part of the new IAC – Intelligent Active Connector program?
Serge Buechli: Later this year, we will also be presenting active connectors that include electronic chips, permitting us to push the design even further for our customers: allowing a limited number of uses (for medical applications), for example, or counterfeit protection or even associating a unique pair of plug and socket connectors. These will have a unique match, no other connector could be used, allowing precise handheld calibrated equipment to be used for its sole purpose. All these features can display dedicated information to the user with the help of the halo LED connector.
German company Keyence won the i-NOVO Tech Award 2016 at Hannover Messe for its Agilista-3000 Series high-resolution, 3D inkjet technology printer.
Sven Friedrich, Senior Area Sales Manager 3D-Printer, talked to Directindustry e-magazine about its ease of use and unique features.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What are the key features of the Agilista 3D Printer?
Sven Friedrich: The Agilista achieves high-resolution printing through inkjet technology. This means it is not just limited to design checks but can also support a wide range of applications, such as assembly capability and functionality checks. It can be installed without any need for construction.
The water-soluble support material is easy to remove simply by soaking models in water. Furthermore, the printing material is temperature resistant up to 100 deg C.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How does it work?
Sven Friedrich: Four printing heads with small nozzles apply drops of a liquid resin layer by layer on to a printing plate. The printing head moves in the x- and y- direction while the printing plate moves the z-direction. The printing unit is equipped with a UV lamp that directly cures the single layers.
Both materials (model and support material) are applied at the same time, the software automatically calculates the necessary support structures. After the printing process has finished the model does not need any post treatment and the support material can be removed simply by putting the model into water.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How did you come up with the concept for the product?
Sven Friedrich: The R&D department at Keyence was using 3D printers of former generations from other suppliers to develop their own products. Soon the engineers realized that their requirements could not be fulfilled with these machines. Model accuracy and the ease of handling of the printer had to be improved.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What differentiates it from other 3D printers?
Sven Friedrich: It can be operated from any workplace through simple computer software, and can be integrated into a company network without the need for a separate computer.
Keyence is the only company that offers the fully water removable support material for inkjet technology. Other products need chemical additives or heat to remove the support material.
The model material is waterproof so printed models can be used in water or in a moist environment. Our printing material for a permanent resistance of 100 deg C temperature is the only one currently on the market for inkjet technology.
At Hannover Messe, DirectIndustry e-magazine met with Dominik Boesl, Corporate Innovation Manager at KUKA, to talk about the major challenges facing robotics in coming years. From the four robotic revolutions to “robotic governance,” what will be tomorrow’s robotics?
DirectIndustry e-magazine: You’ve called cobotics the second robotics revolution. What’s next?
Dominik Boesl: We believe there are 4 revolutions in robotics. The first one is what we have been doing for 40 years—how to weld and glue a car together as fast as possible. This is industrial automation with big machines that work in a cage.
Tomorrow, the robot will come to the workpiece.
Cobotics is the second revolution and it has just started. We took the robot out of the cage and we have the technology to safely interact with it.
The third revolution will be when the robots become mobile. So far, the work pieces are coming to the robot. Tomorrow, the robot will come to the workpiece. We are already sliding into this phase because we have robots with mobile platforms.
The fourth revolution will be when perception and cognition come into play. So far, robots can navigate freely. But they’re programmed. It’s smart but not to the point that it can watch what I’m doing and reproduce it.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Should we fear a system where humans are no longer in charge?
Tomorrow, I will just have to intervene if I don’t want something to happen.
Dominik Boesl: I strongly believe the human has to stay in control, and will. People won’t accept the system if they are no longer in control. But it is true that more and more things happen automatically. Today, I have to tell the machine what to do. Tomorrow, I will just have to intervene if I don’t want something to happen. But we have to ask ourselves, What’s a robot? Is it going to be my colleague? My competitor? Or just my screwdriver?This is why we at KUKA are committed to driving sustainable robotics and push this idea of robotic governance to ensure continued human control of the robots we build.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Do you think we might rewrite the Asimov’s laws,* or apply new laws of robotics?
Dominik Boesl: The assumption behind Asimov’s laws is that the system decides autonomously. That’s not the case. The human is still making the decisions. The robot does what I asked it to do. So Asimov’s laws don’t apply. What do we want to achieve with robotics? We have to come up with something like a robot manifesto with guidelines. For example, at KUKA we are not working on robotics that is part of, financed by or part of military systems. It is a very important commitment. This is what I mean by sustainable robotics.
*The Asimov Laws
The three Laws of Robotics are a set of 3 rules introduced by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov in his 1942 short story Runaround:
*A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
*A robot must obey the orders given by human beings, except when such orders would conflict with the First Law.
*A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…