Tag Archives: Manufacturing

Updates from Georgia Tech

Pioneer of Modern Electronics
By Michael Baxter – The smartphone you peer into, the LED bulb in your desk lamp, the Blu-Ray player that serves up your favorite film – all are here largely because of Russell Dupuis, a professor in electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech.

That’s because an essential component of their manufacturing traces back to a process that Dupuis developed in the late 1970s, a process that ushered in a new breed of mass-produced compound semiconductors. These electronic components – particularly those forged of elements from columns III and V in the periodic table — can operate at extremely high frequencies or emit light with extraordinary efficiency. Today, they’re the working essence of everything from handheld laser pointers to stadium Jumbotrons.

The process is known as metalorganic chemical vapor deposition, or MOCVD, and until Dupuis, no one had figured out how to use it to grow high-quality semiconductors using those III-V elements. Essentially, MOCVD works by combining the atomic elements with molecules of organic gas and flowing the mixture over a hot semiconductor wafer. When repeated, the process grows layer after layer of crystals that can have any number of electrical properties, depending on the elements used. more> https://goo.gl/eG2G8e

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Make Chips Do More and Last Longer with Embedded FPGA


By Geoff Tate – The cost and the time to design ASSP/ASIC/SoCs keeps rising.

Also, customers are demanding more flexibility in chips so their systems can be upgraded for critical changes (such as protocols/standards), which increases the useful life of their systems and increases their ROI.

For example, in data centers, customers are now seeking reconfigurability. Rather than a fork-lift upgrade when standards evolve, data centers want programmable chips so they can upgrade the data center’s ability during the life of the center without touching the hardware. This also gives the data center the option to customize for added competitive advantage. As Doug Burger of Microsoft said at a recent talk at FPL 2016, (Re)Configurable Clouds will change the world with the ability to reprogram a datacenter’s hardware protocols: networking, storage, security. Adding FPGA technology into the mix is a key in doing this. Embedded FPGA technology is now available to increase performance while lowering cost and power.

Another example is microcontrollers. In older process nodes such as 90nm where mask costs are cheap, a line card can have dozens or hundreds of versions. This offers each customer the small differences in, for example, the number and types of serial interfaces (SPI, I2C, UART, etc). However, now that leading edge microcontrollers are moving to 40nm where masks cost $1M each, microcontroller manufacturers need a programmable way to customize their chips and offer multiple SKUs. Adding this capability also opens the path for their customers to customize the MCUs themselves, similar to how they now write C code for the on-board processors. There are a few microcontrollers today, such as Cypress’ PSoC, which offer some limited customizability. However, only embedded FPGA can provide more and scalable customizability. more> https://goo.gl/9xx7sC

Updates from GE

GE Just Turned the World’s Most Powerful Jet Engine Into A 65-Megawatt Power Plant
By Tomas Kellner – GE is taking the world’s largest jet engine and turning it into a power plant. The machine’s beating heart comes from the GE90-115B, which is the largest and most powerful jet engine, capable of producing 127,900 pounds of thrust, according to Guinness World Records. The electricity generator, which GE calls LM9000, will be able to generate a whopping 65 megawatts — enough to supply of 6,500 homes — and reach full power in 10 minutes.

The technology is also a good example of what GE calls the GE Store — the system of sharing technology, research and expertise among its many businesses. Today, aeroderivatives power towns and factories but also oil platforms and ships. more> https://goo.gl/dSwnhF

America Is Still Making Things

By Alana Semuels – So-called advanced manufacturing, which is highly specialized and requires a facility with computers, is actually expanding. The U.S. economy will need to fill 3.5 million skilled manufacturing jobs over the next decade, the White House says. This is an industry that employs skilled and educated workers such as engineers and scientists. It’s also an industry that adds significant value to the economy.

Of course, the U.S. has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, and those losses have reverberated across the country. The scale of those losses has overshadowed areas of growth—but there has been growth.

A key point often missed in the debate over whether it’s trade or automation that has displaced American jobs. Automation and trade are deeply entwined phenomena; trade increases pressures to automate or export simple jobs, but also incentivizes the U.S. to specialize and create more high-paying jobs.

The catch is that traditional manufacturing workers don’t have those advanced degrees, and can’t get those jobs.

Unskilled jobs in the industry have been disappearing for decades as technology and globalization have made them obsolete. Yet technology is also enabling new types of jobs that provide a career for people who know how to use it.

The hard part is what happens to everyone else. more> https://goo.gl/cyCLkE

Updates from GE

GE At 125: These Pioneers Helped Shape The Way We Live [Video]
By Tomas Kellner – GE will be 125 years old in 2017, and the company has shaped many aspects of modernity we now take for granted.

Over the last few years, we’ve visited pioneers such as Nick Holonyak, who developed in GE labs the first LED that emitted visible light, Joseph Sorota, who helped build the first American jet engine at GE Aviation, and Arnold Spielberg, who designed the computer that ran the first version of BASIC, the programming language that helped launch home computing.

For good measure, we throw in a profile of Don Wetzel, who used GE jet engines to build the world’s fastest jet-powered train. Take a look. more> https://goo.gl/qZjOj8

Five ways the Maker Movement can help catalyze a manufacturing renaissance

By Mark Muro and Peter Hirshberg – Amid the hoopla of celebrating a deal to save 800 jobs at a Carrier Corp. factory in Indiana last month, President-elect Donald Trump promised to usher in a “new industrial revolution
“—one that sounded as much like a social awakening as a manufacturing one.

There is another way to think about touching off an industrial revival in America that brings back economic growth, opportunity, and decent jobs for blue-collar workers.

That approach would embrace the Maker Movement as a deeply American source of decentralized creativity for rebuilding America’s thinning manufacturing ecosystems.

An authentic social movement of hackers and tinkerers, the Maker Movement has grown increasingly consequential in recent years as a new generation of designers and entrepreneurs has employed online tools, 3-D printing, and other new technologies to “democratize” manufacturing and reinvigorate small-batch production and sales.

What is true of industry clusters is true of the Maker Movement. The most robust ecosystems start out in self-organized fashion; only later do more intentional initiatives make sense. more> https://goo.gl/7jYeFL

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Updates from GE

By Mark Egan – As the approaching winter solstice shrouded Oslo in gloom and darkness last month, the workers at a GE factory located in the Norwegian capital found their cheer in a bright green robot known affectionately, if not officially, as “Hulk.”

The facility, which belongs to GE Healthcare, makes contrast media — the fluids doctors inject into patients to highlight organs during X-ray and CT scans. But last year a swell in orders set off by an increased demand from global customers was starting to tax the muscles of some workers. “We experienced an increase in injuries and sick leave,” says Fadi Fetyan, lean manufacturing leader at the Oslo factory.

Fetyan says that as each 6.5-pound box of contrast media came off the production line, a worker would lift it, turn sideways, lean over and place it on a pallet for shipping. A worker had to perform that physical operation seven times per minute, or as many as 3,150 times during an 8-hour shift. The repeated twisting and leaning motions caused back, shoulder and neck aches as well as hand and wrist problems.

That’s when Fetyan started thinking about help. As lean leader, he is a key player in making the factory smarter while lowering costs. So he proposed bringing in a collaborative robot — or cobot.

He reached out to FANUC, a Japanese company that specializes in building robots that automate factories, which had just the machine he needed. The robot’s first trip was to GE Healthcare’s Advanced Manufacturing Engineering (AME) lab in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The lab typically tests new automation technologies designed to make machines and factories work more efficiently. more> https://goo.gl/jDdEZC

Updates from GE

What’s Next For GE In 2017: Changing The Game With A Digital Industrial Strategy
By Timothy Cheng -Every December, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt hosts a meeting with analysts and investors to walk through the company’s strategy and financial goals for the upcoming year and review major wins from the past year. This year, Immelt discussed GE’s transformation into the world’s largest digital industrial company and his plans to lead the digitization of industry and revolutionize how we make things by adopting 3D printing and other additive manufacturing technologies.

Highlighting past achievements, Immelt pointed to plans to merge GE’s Oil & Gas unit with Baker Hughes to create Baker Hughes, a GE Company. “The Baker-Hughes deal makes us one of the three big players in oil and gas,” Immelt said. “This is a good deal for investors in the right time.”

The combination will create a $32 billion fullstream oil services business — based on 2015 combined revenues — with operations in over 120 countries. He also noted that it’s been a year since GE’s acquisition of Alstom’s power and grid business — its largest single deal in history. He said that the integration of Alstom with GE’s energy businesses has already driven growth and synergies across the portfolio — on track with projections and growth targets. “Alstom and Baker Hughes are good deals and they add to the company strategically and financially,” Immelt said.

In addition to Alstom and the Baker Hughes announcement, Immelt said that GE has continued to expand its digital and additive manufacturing capabilities — the two key technologies the company is using to unlock new ways of working with customers and suppliers. more> https://goo.gl/WX0KGw

Updates from Georgia Tech

The Health Informatics Revolution
By John Toon – Using massive data sets, machine learning, and high-performance computing, health analytics and informatics is drawing us closer to the holy grail of health care: precision medicine, which promises diagnosis and treatment tailored to individual patients. The information, including findings from the latest peer-reviewed studies, will arrive on the desktops and mobile devices of clinicians in health care facilities large and small through a new generation of decision-support systems.

“There are massive implications over the coming decade for how informatics will change the way care is delivered, and probably more so for how care is experienced by patients,” said Jon Duke, M.D., director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Health Analytics and Informatics.

“By providing data both behind the scenes and as part of efforts to change behavior, informatics is facilitating our ability to understand patients at smaller population levels. This will allow us to focus our diagnostic paths and treatments much better than we could before.”

Georgia Tech’s health informatics effort combines academic researchers in computing and the biosciences, practitioners familiar with the challenges of the medical community, extension personnel who understand the issues private companies face, and engineers and data scientists with expertise in building and operating secure networks tapping massive databases.

“It takes all of these components to really make a difference in an area as complex as health informatics,” said Margaret Wagner Dahl, Georgia Tech’s associate vice president for information technology and analytics.

“This integrated approach allows us to add value to collaborators as diverse as pharmaceutical companies, health care providers, large private employers, and federal agencies.” more> https://goo.gl/63pIZd

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Updates from GE

By Mark Egan – Called FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) in industry parlance, the floating facility is on a course to revolutionize the energy industry. Prelude will process natural gas at sea, where it is pumped from underneath the ocean floor — a process that normally takes place on land.

While Prelude is a giant, it’s still much smaller than a land-based plant, which creates special challenges, says Mike Peterson of GE Oil & Gas. His business unit is building and testing a key component for the FLNG facility called the dynamic flexible riser. These high-tech pipes bring the gas up from the seabed before it is cooled to around -160°C (almost double the lowest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica) and turned into liquid.

The risers have been designed to withstand some of the harshest weather and sea conditions imaginable. They are being built and tested in GE’s facility in Newcastle, U.K.

“They are like very fancy garden hoses,” Peterson says. “We build them from layers of metallic and polymer components. Each weighs around 320 tonnes and must be capable of functioning for 25 years through thick and thin.” more> https://goo.gl/meiZsO