Category Archives: Product

Updates from Siemens

Electronics manufacturer controls its production with plant simulation
Siemens Manufacturing Karlsruhe uses the Plant Simulation solution in the Tecnomatix portfolio within the framework of its continuous improvement process
Siemens – Electronics can be produced in Germany at competitive market prices only as long as the manufacturing process is continuously improved. For this reason, the Siemens Manufacturing-Karlsruhe (MF-K) plant introduced the Plant Simulation solution in the Tecnomatix® portfolio to support the company’s continuous improvement process. Today, not only are production lines simulated before they are built, but workers actually control daily production using the software.

“Our mission is 100 percent quality, 100 percent delivery performance and 100 percent waste-free,” says Bernd Schmid, plant manager at Siemens MF-K. “That means we want to manufacture our products with as few resources as possible. This requires that the manufacturing processes operate how we envision them to. Plant Simulation is a big help to that end.” For its consistent use of simulation software, Siemens MF-K was recently named one of the winners of “100 Places for Industry 4.0 in Baden-Wuerttemberg.” The jury of experts recognized the company for practical concepts that intelligently combined production and value chains.

Siemens MF-K is a prime example of the challenges that manufacturing companies are mastering with the help of Industry 4.0: a high degree of variance, continuously shrinking batch sizes and fluctuations in order volume that are increasingly difficult to predict.

For example, the plant manufactures 125,000 industrial personal computers (PCs) per year, but the average batch size per order is a mere 1.8. From 90 million different possible variations to choose from in the configurator, approximately 10,000 are actually used. The life of an industrial PC generation is 2.5 years − short compared to the proven SIMATIC controllers, but long compared to industrial communications where a new product has to be produced every two days. more>

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Updates from Siemens

BAR Technologies uses Siemens Digital Industries Software solutions to create a new class of sport yacht
Siemens – With an optimized hull and dynamically adjusting foils that enable greater efficiency over a wider range of speeds, it’s a boat designed for both performance and comfort. The Princess Yachts R35 was made possible by BAR Technologies, which uses highly specialized techniques and processes when designing an America’s Cup racing yacht. BAR Technologies is now offering its unique expertise to customers across the marine industry.

Princess Yachts first approached BAR Technologies with the aim of creating a completely new design that would attract people who had not previously considered buying a boat. The new design was to be an entry-level purchase: a day boat that was exciting yet easy to drive. Paul Mackenzie, director of product development at Princess Yachts, explains: “We have a very high percentage of return customers and once they are in the Princess family they tend to move up our range, so introductory boats have always been important. However, most people who buy a Princess are already boat enthusiasts. We were looking to expand our potential market, closing the gap between boat owner and car owner, with a product that could be positioned alongside a super car.”

Simon Schofield, chief technology officer at BAR Technologies, adds “Our brief was to devise a technically driven design with increased efficiency and accessible performance, yet retain the luxury and quality that Princess is known for. The digital modeling and simulation tools and techniques that we have established over several years were critical to the fulfillment of the brief.”

The integrated virtual environment at BAR Technologies uses solutions from Siemens Digital Industries Software. These include NX™ software for product design,Teamcenter® software for data management and the Simcenter™ software portfolio, which includes Simcenter™ Nastran® for engineering analysis and Simcenter STAR-CCM+® software for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis. more>

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France’s Tech Tax: What to Know

By Andrew Chatzky – French lawmakers just voted for a digital services tax that takes aim at two dozen large tech companies, including several high-profile U.S. brands. The move caused bipartisan dismay in Washington, and the White House has threatened retaliatory tariffs. But more countries could soon follow France’s lead.

On July 11, France’s Senate passed what’s come to be known as the “GAFA tax”—so called because it is seemingly designed to target Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. It slaps a 3 percent tax on revenues earned by digital services firms that have total yearly revenues of more than $845 million and yearly sales in France of more than $28 million.

Few such French companies exist, leading to U.S. complaints of unfair treatment.

U.S. leaders have long complained about the European Union targeting American tech champions. The EU counters that regulation is needed to protect consumers’ privacy, avoid monopolies, and make sure Silicon Valley giants pay their fair share of taxes.

However, the bloc has so far failed to agree to EU-wide rules for taxing them.

The problem is that tech companies can put their offices in low-tax jurisdictions, such as Ireland or Luxembourg, and pay little in taxes, even as their revenues have surged across the EU. Brussels says that these companies end up paying taxes at less than half the rate of traditional businesses. But opponents of an EU tax, including Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, say that taxes on revenues rather than profits are unfair and would make the EU economy less competitive. more>

Updates from Siemens

Bearings manufacturer meets stringent accuracy requirements while improving productivity
Siemens – Humankind has been trying to improve the mobility of people and materials by reducing friction between moving parts for centuries. The creators of the pyramids and Stonehenge were able to move massive structures by placing cylindrical wooden rollers beneath great weights to reduce the coefficient of friction and the force required to move them. These world wonders were made possible by some of the earliest known applications of bearings.

Modern bearings with races and balls were first documented in the fifteenth century by Leonardo da Vinci for his helicopter model. Since then, the design, mobility and precision of bearings have developed dramatically in many application domains. In the semiconductor and medical device industries, miniaturization and increasing product complexity have revolutionized motion systems and their components. The precision and accuracy of motion systems are highly dependent on bearings assemblies and how they are integrated into systems. Precisie Metaal Bearings (PM-Bearings) is one of only a few manufacturers in the world that provide high-precision linear bearings.

PM-Bearings specializes in the design and manufacture of high-precision linear bearings, motion systems and positioning stages, and supplies the high-end semiconductor, medical device and machine tool industries. The company was founded in 1966 as a manufacturer of linear bearings, and has expanded to include design, manufacturing and assembly of custommade multi-axis positioning stages with complete mechatronic integration. Located in the Netherlands at Dedemsvaart, the company employs 140 people and supplies customers worldwide.

The company’s products range from very small bearings (10 millimeters in length) up to systems with footprints of 1.2 to 1.5 square meters with stroke lengths of one meter. The portfolio encompasses linear motion components including precision slides, positioning tables and bearings stages. PM-Bearings is part of the PM group, along with other companies specialized in hightech machining. Its global customer base extends from Silicon Valley to Shenzhen.

To maintain a competitive edge, PM-Bearings knew that complete control of the product realization, from design to delivery, was essential. This is why the company chose a comprehensive set of solutions from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens PLM Software. These include NX™ software for computer-aided design (CAD), Simcenter™ software for performance prediction, NX CAM for computer-aided manufacturing and Teamcenter® software for PLM to make certain that all stakeholders use the same data and workflows to make the right decisions. more>

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Why Autonomous Vehicle Developers Are Embracing Open Source

By Chris Wiltz – GM Cruise is turning loose its tool for autonomous vehicle visualization to the open source community for a wider range of applications, including robotics and automation. But its only the latest in a series of similar developments to happen over the course of the year.

This time the General Motors-owned Cruise is open-sourcing Webviz – a web browser-based tool for data visualization in autonomous vehicles and robotics. Webviz is an application capable of managing the petabytes of data from various autonomous vehicle sensors (both in simulation and on the road) and creating 2D and 3D charts, logs, and more in a customizable user interface.

Cruise is making that tool available to engineers in the autonomous vehicle space and beyond. “Now, anyone can drag and drop any [Robot Operating System (ROS)] bag file into Webviz to get immediate visual insight into their robotics data,” Esther Weon, a software engineer at Cruise, wrote in a Medium post.

Difficulties in testing autonomous vehicles have played in a key factor in major automakers rethinking their timetables on the delivery of fully-autonomous vehicles. Simulation is becoming an increasingly common solution in the face of time-consuming real-world road tests. But simulation comes with its own challenges – particularly around data and analysis. A robust autonomous vehicle is going to have to be intelligent enough to navigate and respond to all of the myriad of conditions that a human could encounter – everything from bad weather and road hazards to mechanical failures and even bad drivers.

To create and train vehicles to deal with all of these scenarios requires more data than any one company could feasibly gather on its own in a reasonable time frame.

By open sourcing their tools, companies are looking to leverage the wider community to take part in some of the heavy lifting. more>

Updates from Siemens

Gruppo Campari: Brand spirits leader digitizes its business operations with the SIMATIC IT suite
Using Siemens technology, Gruppo Campari has created a unified repository for all product specifications and increased the efficiency of product development and manufacturing processes
Siemens – With so much talk about securing the Italian control of key businesses, a few companies play offense and take the Italian lifestyle and “Made in Italy” all over the world. Among them is Gruppo Campari, which closed 26 acquisitions in the spirits industry in the past two decades to become the world’s sixth player, with over 50 premium and super-premium brands. Besides aperitifs of international renown (Campari, Aperol), the portfolio includes bitter liqueurs (Averna, Cynar, Braulio) and spirits (Skyy, Grand Marnier, GlenGrant, Wild Turkey, Appleton). In 2016 the group exceeded €1.7 billion in consolidated revenues, with most sales in Americas and the Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa (SEMEA) region.

With each acquisition, Gruppo Campari needs to integrate new products, plants and assets into its operations management systems. Recent examples include J. Wray & Nephew, a company with more than 2,000 employees producing Jamaica’s 225-yearold top rum Appleton Estate, Grand Marnier in France acquired in 2016 and Bulldog London Dry Gin in 2017. Currently, the group operates 58 sites: 18 owned factories, 22 co-packers and 18 distribution centers, counting up to thousands of materials and specifications.

The turning point for the management of such a complex and constantly evolving organization came in 2012. Until then, Gruppo Campari had maintained an unstructured approach to the management of product specifications, which were created locally using Microsoft Word documents or Microsoft Excel® spreadsheets. Besides creating documents in different formats and languages, there was no standard workflow for document authoring and validation, and information was shared via email or phone.

In 2012, the Group launched an extensive digitalization of operation processes, selecting SIMATIC IT Interspec from Siemens PLM Software, a configurable solution for product specification management in process industries, and embracing the Siemens “digitalization” philosophy.

SIMATIC IT Interspec allows the company to develop, configure and manage all product specifications (raw materials, intermediate and finished products and packaging materials), storing all specifications in a single, controlled data repository. more>

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Updates from Siemens

By Maria M – The foundation of smart manufacturing is an integrated platform that unites the domains required to engineer, manufacture and deliver today’s smart products. Smart manufacturing is a digitalized development strategy that is particularly critical for the electronics industry. Today it’s considered a must have and no longer touted as state of the art or nice to have, cost prohibitive, functionality.

Smart manufacturing is for every company, any size large and small and no longer thought to apply only to high volume production. It is in fact the perfect solution for high mix, low volume manufacturers. Providing them with the agility and flexibility they need to be most efficient and adaptable to change.

To take full advantage of smart manufacturing all processes from printed circuit board (PCB) design and factory floor optimization to incorporating customer feedback in new designs must be included. This approach has been shown to reduce time-to-market by up to 50 percent, shrink development costs by as much as 25 percent and enable electronics companies manufacturing processes to yield near-perfect results.

Most electronics manufacturers have digitalized their operations in a piecemeal fashion over time. Their digital landscapes have expanded as the technologies and their business cases have evolved, and manufacturers have applied solutions for a range of individual functions.

To truly reap digitalization’s potential benefits, electronics manufacturers need integrated smart manufacturing solutions that break down the silos. Such solutions use product lifecycle management (PLM) technologies to link design verification, manufacturing planning and process engineering, allied with electronics-specific manufacturing execution systems (MES) that unite production scheduling, production execution, and manufacturing analytics. more>

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The unlikely origins of USB, the port that changed everything

By Joel Johnson – In the olden days, plugging something into your computer—a mouse, a printer, a hard drive—required a zoo of cables.

If you’ve never heard of those things, and if you have, thank USB.

When it was first released in 1996, the idea was right there in the first phrase: Universal Serial Bus. And to be universal, it had to just work. “The technology that we were replacing, like serial ports, parallel ports, the mouse and keyboard ports, they all required a fair amount of software support, and any time you installed a device, it required multiple reboots and sometimes even opening the box,” says Ajay Bhatt, who retired from Intel in 2016. “Our goal was that when you get a device, you plug it in, and it works.”

But it was an initial skeptic that first popularized the standard: in a shock to many geeks in 1998, the Steve Jobs-led Apple released the groundbreaking first iMac as a USB-only machine.

Now a new cable design, Type-C, is creeping in on the typical USB Type-A and Type-B ports on phones, tablets, computers, and other devices—and mercifully, unlike the old USB cable, it’s reversible. The next-generation USB4, coming later this year, will be capable of achieving speeds upwards of 40Gbps, which is over 3,000 times faster than the highest speeds of the very first USB.

Bhatt couldn’t have imagined all of that when, as a young engineer at Intel in the early ’90s, he was simply trying to install a multimedia card. The rest is history, one that Joel Johnson plugged in to with some of the key players. more>

Updates from Adobe

I Can Get Paid for Bike Helmet Art?!
By Jordan Kushins – There’s so much freedom to be found on a bike: hop on, start pedaling, and go go go. But before setting out, adults have an important decision to make: to helmet or not to helmet. Danny Sun understands that despite the fact that strapping one on can literally save your life, helmets can be a tough sell for adults. “I know I work on a product that no one really wants to wear,” he says.

Sun is an art director at Bell, a longtime leader in the motorcycle and bicycle helmet field. He and senior designer Anne Mark have been adorning bike helmets—specifically, “mid-price-point helmets for average everyday riders,” she says—with colors, graphics, finishes, and more for more than a decade. They regularly collaborate with companies such as Disney, Lucasfilm, and Marvel, and produce custom lines for major big-box clients. The full-time job of a helmet designer requires far more than digital creative skills; here’s what it takes to make it in the challenging, curvilinear world of helmet art.

Personal reasons for going without headgear varies, but often, it’s an image thing. “There’s a whole generation who feel like helmets are really dorky,” says Sun.

In the quest to get as many riders as possible opting in, helmet designers have got to offer options that cater to that wide range of potential customers. It’s about finding a balance, but also pushing the boundaries a bit on what might spark a potential purchase—but also joy. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Retailers: A better algorithm could increase online sales by 76 percent
By Brian Wallheimer – Brick-and-mortar stores use rows of candy, lip balms, and magazines in the checkout aisles to entice shoppers into making additional purchases. Online shopping sites suggest add-on products for the same reason.

New York University’s Xi Chen, MIT’s Will Ma and David Simchi-Levi, and Chicago Booth’s Linwei Xin have developed an algorithm for these online offers that could help retailers raise the number of such impulse purchases. Their study, which involved a collaboration with Wal-Mart’s online grocery division, indicates that if an algorithm were to consider the retailer’s inventory, it could nearly double add-on sales.

The algorithms behind online add-on offers can be sophisticated, drawing on shoppers’ habits and preferences. But they can also be tricky to tailor, as customers don’t always have to register accounts to purchase products online, and they may shop for a wide variety of items. Moreover, retailers can have trouble figuring out what a shopper actually needs. If a shopper buys five T-shirts, a store might suggest other T-shirts for her to buy, when what she really needs is shorts.

Wal-Mart’s online grocery platform makes add-on suggestions that are based on only the items in the customer’s current shopping cart—and it tries to use those to identify what a shopper might be missing. Say someone has purchased cereal but not milk. The algorithm would offer that customer milk, either at full price or possibly discounted.

But the method has a flaw, the researchers say: it doesn’t take inventory into account. more>

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