The age of the smart factory has arrived. Robots, AI and the Internet of Things are taking over processes and machinery, redefining manufacturing and breaking new targets of quality, efficiency, and flexibility. Driving this new era of industrial automation are the innovations of companies creating critical hardware and software. We recently looked at some of the robots set to change our lives. Following are the six case studies of those companies pushing us forward, including examples of their revolution-enabling tech.
Company profile: ABB (Zurich, Switzerland) is a technology leader at the forefront of digitally connected and enabled industrial equipment and systems, most notably robotics. It operates in over 100 countries and employs around 36,000 people.
Innovative tech: YUMI single-arm -small-parts assembly robot solution
Positive impact: Yumi was the world's first truly collaborative robot. Its flexible hands, compact size, and collision-detection software enabled it to work safely alongside humans, carrying out high-precision tasks, such as parts picking, at speed. This new single-arm model is smaller and more agile with lead-through programming for even greater efficiencies.
2. Siemens AG
Company profile: Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich, Germany) is a global powerhouse focused on electrification, automation, and digitalization. As of late 2017, Siemens had around 372,000 employees in more than 200 countries.
Innovative tech: Sinumerik CNC 840D -machine tool handling system
Introduced: 2017 (software)
Positive impact: The Sinumerik 840D latest software 4.8 release has advanced productivity by boosting the speed, precision, and safety of tools with features such as nodding compensation and advanced collision protection. Its superior system flexibility means it can handle everything from milling and turning to grind, laser machining and multitasking machining.
3. Emerson Electric Co.
Company profile: Emerson (Missouri, US) is an electrical multinational company that now focuses on two core business platforms: Automation Solutions and Commercial and Residential Solutions. It has over 10,000 employees globally.
Innovative tech: Plantweb digital ecosystem -a scalable portfolio of standards-based hardware, software, intelligent devices and services
Introduced: 2016 (expanded)
Positive impact: Plantweb is the most comprehensive and integrated Industrial IoT portfolio in the industry. It expands digital intelligence to the entire manufacturing enterprise, increasing operational certainty. More secure and robust than other systems, it offers real-time insights thanks to pervasive sensing technologies.
4. Schneider Electric
Company profile: Schneider Electric (Rueil-MalmaisonÃ?Â¢??, France) is a worldwide specialist in energy management and automation with a global presence in over 100 countries. It develops safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable connected solutions to manage energy and processes.
Innovative tech: High-end Modicon M580 ePAC-Ethernet programmable automation controller
Positive impact: Built for the industrial IoT, the high-end Modicon M580 ePAC offers connectivity capabilities to help companies react faster to information demands in a safe and cyber-secure environment. It delivers an open, transparent, yet fully cohesive, stable and secure system, making it ideal for today's dynamic market.
5. KUKA Robotics
Company profile: Chinese-owned KUKA Robotics (HQ Augsburg, Germany) is one of the leading manufacturers of industrial robots as well as plant manufacturing and system technology. With 25 subsidiaries worldwide, they are considered a pioneer in industrial automation.
Innovative tech: OmniMOVE KUKA Mobile Platform 1500 -logistics vehicles
Positive impact: OmniMOVE drive technology gives manufacturing vehicles precise, unlimited 360-degree maneuverability. The autonomous KMP 1500 moves without tracks and with +/- 5 mm precision accuracy, enabling task flexibility and minimizing floor space needed. Its application is streamlining logistics and processes.
6. Bosch Rexroth
Company profile: Bosch Rexroth (HQ Lohr am Main, Germany) is one of the world's leading providers of drive and control technology. Its products include hydraulics, electric drives and controls, gear technology, and linear motion and assembly technology.
Innovative tech: ActiveAssist assembly assistance system -smart workstation
Positive impact: This intuitive platform makes all information available to all employees at all times. It guides assembly at all stages, indicating errors as well as intervening to correct them. Built for Industry 4.0, it brings greater quality and productivity to manufacturing.