Tag Archives: Industrial economy

Updates from Georgia Tech

Robot Monitors Chicken Houses and Retrieves Eggs
By John Toon – “Today’s challenge is to teach a robot how to move in environments that have dynamic, unpredictable obstacles, such as chickens,” said Colin Usher, a research scientist in GTRI’s Food Processing Technology Division.

“When busy farmers must spend time in chicken houses, they are losing money and opportunities elsewhere on the farm. In addition, there is a labor shortage when it comes to finding workers to carry out manual tasks such as picking up floor eggs and simply monitoring the flocks. If a robot could successfully operate autonomously in a chicken house 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it could then pick up floor eggs, monitor machinery, and check on birds, among other things. By assigning one robot to each chicken house, we could also greatly reduce the potential for introductions of disease or cross-contamination from one house to other houses.”

The autonomous robot is outfitted with an ultrasonic localization system similar to GPS but more suited to an indoor environment where GPS might not be available. This system uses low-cost, ultrasonic beacons indicating the robot’s orientation and its location in a chicken house. The robot also carries a commercially available time-of-flight camera, which provides three-dimensional (3D) depth data by emitting light signals and then measuring how long they take to return. The localization and 3D data together allow the robot’s software to devise navigation plans around chickens to perform tasks. more>



Updates from GE

Next Stop, Kyiv: Ukrainian Railways’ $1 Billion Deal With
GE Is Set To Dispatch Its Trains Into the Future

By Dorothy Pomerantz – Today (Feb 23, 2018), the Ukrainian government announced it will buy 30 new GE locomotives, which will be built in the U.S. and will arrive in Ukraine for final assembly by the end of the year. The framework agreement, which is valued at over $1 billion, also includes the modernization of existing locomotives in Ukrainian Railways’ fleet, plus additional new GE units over the next decade and a long-term service contract to help maintain them.

The deal is part of a rail-system upgrade the country is undertaking to make sure its $2 billion agricultural sector, which the U.S. Department of Commerce calls “the most promising sector” of the country’s economy, can continue to sell and export the food it produces.

Crucial to this plan: locomotives that work better and don’t break down.

Modernizing a locomotive is like gut-renovating a house, stripping it down to the bare studs and putting in all new walls, stairways and appliances. For Ukrainian Railways, the modernization process will start with the old Soviet-built locomotives that the national rail company has been using for decades.

Workers from GE and local companies will take out the locomotive’s insides, the control system, radiator and engine, until only the bare metal skeleton is left. Then each locomotive will be rebuilt with a shipment of GE equipment, known as a kit. more>


Knee-jerk cynicism is a failure of critical reasoning


Enlightenment Now, Author: Steven Pinker.
The Better Angels of Our Nature, Author: Steven Pinker.

By Thu-Huong Ha – If we see that science and humanism have solved the world’s problems before, Pinker’s argument goes, we’ll see that the problems we face today can be solved again through science and humanism. This hope ought to inoculate us against cynicism.

Despite all this sanguinity, the book also contains plenty of exasperation. Pinker chastises: the mainstream media, liberals bemoaning the state of inequality, white nationalists, communists, anti-vaxxers, social justice warriors, “climate justice warriors,” and Nietzsche.

“Since the time of the Hebrew prophets, who blended their social criticism with fore-warnings of disaster, pessimism has been equated with moral seriousness,” Pinker writes.

“Journalists believe that by accentuating the negative they are discharging their duty as watchdogs, muckrakers, whistle-blowers, and afflicters of the comfortable. And intellectuals know they can attain instant gravitas by pointing to an unsolved problem and theorizing that it is a symptom of a sick society.” more>


What Happens to US NewSpace Industry After ISS?

By Andrew Rush – Just as the early railroads transformed the American West and spurred an economic boom across our then young nation, commercial activity in space is blossoming. Expansion of these activities, especially in-space manufacturing, will expand human activity outward and lead to new American economic booms. While the promise of commercial activities in space may be as vast as the promise of the American West, actions must be taken now in order to stay on the path of converting this promise to economic value.

Much of our current progress in space-based operations such as manufacturing can be credited to the multibillion dollar investment in the creation of International Space Station (ISS) and the designation of the U.S. segment of ISS as a National Lab for conducting space-based research for economic development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

With the direct U.S. support of the ISS proposed to end in the 2025 timeframe, there’s an industry imperative to scale up and accelerate planning for transition from ISS to commercial space stations or other Private-Public Partnership (PPP) models.

If action is not taken, investment in the ISS and the ISS National Lab, private investment in ISS-based activity, and budding space-based products and services will be wasted. more>


‘No Cash’ Signs Everywhere Has Sweden Worried It’s Gone Too Far

By Amanda Billner – “No cash accepted” signs are becoming an increasingly common sight in shops and eateries across Sweden as payments go digital and mobile.

But the pace at which cash is vanishing has authorities worried.

“If this development with cash disappearing happens too fast, it can be difficult to maintain the infrastructure” for handling cash, said Mats Dillen, the head of the parliamentary review.

Sweden is widely regarded as the most cashless society on the planet. Most of the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash; many shops, museums and restaurants now only accept plastic or mobile payments. But there’s a downside, since many people, in particular the elderly, don’t have access to the digital society.

In response, the central bank is considering whether there’s a need for an official form of digital currency, an e-krona. A final proposal isn’t expected until late next year, but the idea is that the e-krona would work as a complement to cash, not replace it completely. more>


Guns and the British empire


Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution, Author: Priya Satia.
An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Author: Adam Smith.

By Priya Satia – In the mid-18th century, advanced areas of northwest Europe and east and south Asia enjoyed roughly comparable life expectancy, rates of consumption, and potential for economic growth. But around 1800, in what scholars call the ‘great divergence’, the power and wealth of the West suddenly and dramatically eclipsed that of India, China and the Ottoman Empire.

The British in particular found vindication for their expanding empire in ideas of cultural and racial superiority.

Concerned about Britain’s aggressive pursuit of empire, Adam Smith presumed that the universal capacity for knowledge-sharing would ultimately right the wrongs of colonialism.

We know that history did not play out that way. Why not? Why didn’t knowledge-sharing equalize the world? Was Smith too generous or naive in believing that it had cultural purchase beyond Europe?

Smith’s naivety in fact lay in his presumption that the emerging political inequalities that he observed would not also shape the spread of knowledge. Like liberal thinkers today, he imagined that knowledge-exchange somehow transpires regardless of power relations.

In reality, in the 18th century, as now, power shaped knowledge-sharing everywhere.

In Britain, for instance, government offices engaged in military supply often prohibited contractors from patenting their inventions: a patent would slow the spread of innovation to other contractors and thus slow the production of urgently needed supplies.

While the British government thus abetted the sharing of know-how within Britain, it actively stifled such sharing abroad.

British industrialists copied Asian textiles and pottery without scrupling over ‘intellectual property’, but could rely on their government to minimize the threat of colonial competition with their own manufactures. more>


Growth Is Back! So What?

By Éloi Laurent – After ten years of real downturns, false starts and speculations on “secular stagnation,” a genuine global recovery has finally materialized.

But does it matter? It all depends on what you know about what Gross Domestic product (GDP) measures… and leaves aside.

GDP actually captures only a tiny fraction of what goes on and matters in our complex societies: it tracks some but not all of economic well-being (saying nothing about fundamental issues such as income inequality); it does not account for most dimensions of well-being (think about the importance of health, education or happiness for your own quality of life); and it says exactly nothing about “sustainability,” which basically means well-being not just today but also tomorrow (imagine your quality of life on a planet where the temperature would be four degrees higher or where there would be scant drinkable water or breathable air).

Consider the US, which is supposed to be growing faster than Europe: stock markets, profits and growth are up, sometimes at historic highs. But stock markets, profits and growth are the holy trilogy of mis-measuring the economy.

Consider another US trilogy: inequality, health and trust and the picture changes radically. Recent data show that income inequality is higher today than it was during the Gilded Age, relentlessly fracturing the American society; that Americans in large numbers have been “dying of despair.” more>


Updates from Boeing

Analyzing the 2017 Orders & Deliveries Race
By Randy Tinseth – For the 6th year in a row, Boeing out-delivered the competition and set a new industry record by pushing 763 airplanes out the door.

At the start of 2017, we set a delivery target of 760 to 765 airplanes. To land in the middle of that target speaks to the dedication of our employees and supplier partners to deliver on the commitments to our customers. You’ve heard me say it before—deliveries matter. It’s the true measure of success, and we nailed it once again in 2017 at the same time we went up on 737 production rate and introduced the MAX.

Our net order total of 912 commercial airplanes was the 7th largest yearly order book in Boeing’s more than 100-year history. Not only was our order book big, it was deep and broad. Our sales team took in orders from 71 customers across the globe. The 737 MAX had another strong year, fueled in part by the MAX 10 launch. And anytime you can book almost 200 twin-aisle airplanes with products clearly preferred by the market, it’s a good year. The sales success we had in 2017 once again confirms our strategy to raise production rates on the 737 and 787 programs. more>


Updates from Siemens

2017 in Review: Best Teamcenter Topics on Enterprise PDM to PLM
By Katie_Dudek – If you’ve been watching the Teamcenter blog, you know we covered a range of topics from enterprise PDM (product data management) to PLM (product lifecycle management) in 2017, with a focus on showing how Teamcenter is easier to use and deploy than ever before … along with the breadth of our portfolio to reach new users!

Best Practices Implementing Workflow
By Susan Zimmerlee – Companies look to workflow on PLM as one of the tools to improve productivity, let’s discuss some best practices that will help ensure that you are focusing on this end goal, and not just making a manual process electronic. more>



If work dominated your every moment would life be worth living?


The Good Life and Sustaining Life, Author: Andrew Taggart.
Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Author: Josef Pieper.

By Andrew Taggart – ‘Total work’ is the process by which human beings are transformed into workers and nothing else.

By this means, work will ultimately become total, I argue, when it is the center around which all of human life turns; when everything else is put in its service; when leisure, festivity and play come to resemble and then become work; when there remains no further dimension to life beyond work; when humans fully believe that we were born only to work; and when other ways of life, existing before total work won out, disappear completely from cultural memory.

We are on the verge of total work’s realization.

What is so disturbing about total work is not just that it causes needless human suffering but also that it eradicates the forms of playful contemplation concerned with our asking, pondering and answering the most basic questions of existence. more>