Top 10 digital factories: General Motors
When it comes to widespread adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies, General Motors (GM) - while looking to accelerate its adoption of advanced technologies - has taken a more selective approach.
“There will be technology that will transform our business,” commented Dan Grieshaber, Director, Global Manufacturing Integration, GM. “But we won’t do it just because we can.” Grieshaber calls this approach smart manufacturing, where the company is harnessing certain aspects of Industry 4.0 such as data, artificial intelligence and robotics to drive efficiency, productivity, quality and safety. “We’ll apply it where it works best, and is needed most, and integrate the new technologies with existing ones,” added Grieshaber.
Dating back to 1961, GM became the first automotive manufacturer to harness robotic technology, today the company has between 800 and 1,200 robots in a single assembly plant, working with the likes of Fanuc to further develop its collaborative robotics’ capabilities.
GM has also been working with NASA and Bioservo Technologies to develop what is known as the ‘Robo-Glove’. THe technology gives the user a stronger grip to use tools more safely and comfortably, reducing repetitive injuries. Pressure sensors in the glove detect the grip motion and synthetic tendons automatically retract to pull the fingers into a grip, holding them until the sensor is released.
In addition, GM is harnessing drone technology to perform equipment inspections in environments where it might be unsafe or time consuming for maintenance employees.
Within many of its manufacturing facilities, GM has adopted 3D printing technology to create on-demand parts to assist employees. The printed parts - which can also be sent to suppliers for mass production - have saved $300,000 for the company over 24 months, at its facility in Lansing, Michigan.
Advanced software design
Leading the industry into a new generation of vehicle lightweighting, GM has over the last two years been harnessing advanced software design technology, to develop its components. Partnering with Autodesk, GM has been harnessing cloud computing and AI-based algorithms to rapidly explore multiple permutations of a part design.
The technology generates hundreds of design options based on goals and parameters set by the user who can then determine the best part design option that fits those requirements.
“This disruptive technology provides tremendous advancements in how we can design and develop components for our future vehicles to make them lighter and more efficient, said Ken Kelzer, Vice President, Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems, GM. “When we pair the design technology with manufacturing advancements such as 3D printing, our approach to vehicle development is completely transformed and is fundamentally different to co-create with the computer in ways we simply couldn’t have imagined before.”
For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.