Business-to-business manufacturers must have the right technical infrastructure and analytics platforms to effectively sell directly to consumers, writes Randy Woods of Valtech North America. The "Amazon Effect" requires companies to provide transparency throughout the supply chain by providing search, personalization and real-time delivery information, he argues.
Boise, Idaho-based Prefab Logic is leading the way on $102.5 million in prefabricated housing units in nearby Nampa. A 400,000-square-foot factory, which will be operational next year, will use automated volumetric modular manufacturing to create 1,600 units annually.
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Industrial robots may boost productivity, but as more of them are put in use and connected to the Internet, cybersecurity risks are rising, experts say. "There's no concept of antivirus for your robot," says Yossi Naar, co-founder of Cybereason, a Boston-based company that focuses on cybersecurity services for connected devices, "so protection tends to be very lax to nonexistent."
Xometry has introduced Xometry Supplies, a marketplace where manufacturers can order tools and equipment with same- or next-day shipping. "One of the most important things we can offer is to expedite how manufacturers buy a sheet of aluminum or a drill bit," says Xometry Supplies President Drura Parrish.
Industrial companies should be getting ready now for how artificial intelligence will affect decision-making, lead times and inventory management, writes Jonathan Wilkins of EU Automation. "AI does not only hold potential for machine builders but also for resellers and distributors of industrial equipment," he explains.
Manufacturers can't use artificial intelligence to optimize equipment without access to consistent data on failures and other aspects of performance, writes Manifold Chief Technology Officer Sourav Dey. Dey recommends identifying a specific problem and ensuring sensors and other tools are in place to gather relevant data.
Dell is well on its way to achieving its goal of incorporating 100 million pounds of reused materials into its computers and other products by 2020, doubling the original goal of 50 million pounds, which it realized in 2017. "We've made a really good run at making electronics recycling convenient and easy, but there is an opportunity for the entire IT industry," Dell's Scott O'Connell said.
General Electric's foray into additive manufacturing presents an example of the communication and collaboration needed for a successful smart factory, Tony Kontzer writes. Manufacturers can attract the best possible workers for smart factories by making manufacturing more appealing and striving toward a culture of ongoing improvement.
Manufacturing production rebounded strongly in December after some softness in the prior three months, jumping 1.1% for the month. Over the past 12 months, manufacturing production has risen 3.2%. More importantly, manufacturing capacity utilization soared from 75.8% in November to 76.5% in December, the best reading since November 2014. Meanwhile, total industrial production rose 0.3% in December, inching down a bit from the 0.4% gain in November. On a year-over-year basis, industrial production has risen 4% -- a solid reading -- and total capacity utilization edged up from 78.6% to 78.7%, which was the highest since January 2015. Read more.