By Jane Finlayson; Head of Advanced Manufacturing; EMA A lot has changed in recent months. Not only have we had a change of government, and with it a change in policy direction, but we have also seen the establishment of Advanced Manufacturing Aotearoa (AMA). Led by Catherine Lye, AMA is tasked with working with key sector partners - including unions, researchers, educational institutions, industry organisations, and Māori and Pacific manufacturers – to gather information and supply feedback on the practical steps that can be taken to further develop the manufacturing sector. The AMA is an important initiative that we hope will be supported by the new government. It is industry-driven and independent, representing manufacturers across Aotearoa New Zealand. This positions it to deliver enormous benefit to the manufacturing sector at a scale not realised previously. The EMA is proud to support the AMA, alongside our other partners across the country. As the newly appointed Head of Advanced Manufacturing at the EMA I am looking forward to working closely with Catherine and the AMA to advance the interests of the manufacturing sector. Since taking up my new role, I have enjoyed the opportunity to attend regional manufacturing action group meetings, in Waikato, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Auckland and I’ve met with a wide range of innovative manufacturers who have adopted technology to enhance their businesses and improve productivity. Clearly the past year has been challenging for many manufacturers. The global economic slowdown, rising costs, supply chain constraints and critical skills shortages have all combined to create a difficult environment for the sector. This has been reflected in the steady decline of the BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI), which has sat below 50 since March. This indicates manufacturing activity in New Zealand has been contracting throughout much of […]
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The new OnRobot food-grade Soft Gripper is able to pick a wide array of irregular shapes and delicate items in food and beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals production, as well as manufacturing or packaging Automation just got easier for food and beverage and other “clean” applications such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals that need to handle items from eggs to fruit, to bottles or irregular-shaped containers. The flexible OnRobot Soft Gripper uses three interchangeable silicon-moulded cups in star and four-finger configurations to pick up almost any small object under 2.2kg with a delicate, precise touch. The electric Soft Gripper is food-grade certified (complies with FDA 21 CFR for non-fatty items and EC 1935/2004) and unlike traditional vacuum grippers, it requires no external air supply, so it can reduce both cost and complexity. “Our new Soft Gripper is challenging existing solutions for picking hard-to-grasp, delicate and odd-sized items,” says CEO of OnRobot, Enrico Krog Iversen. “Unlike proprietary solutions, the Soft Gripper offers seamless integration with most collaborative robots and light industrial robots through our One System Solution.” OnRobot’s award-winning One System Solution is a platform that provides a unified mechanical and electrical interface between leading robot arms and any OnRobot end-of-arm tooling (EoAT). The One System Solution has been newly expanded to include integration with robots from ABB Robotics and Hanwha Precision Machinery. Now, users of those robots can take advantage of the unified mechanical and electrical interface of any OnRobot product, for easier integration and faster ROI. While the Soft Gripper is ideal for food and beverage applications, it also provides flexible, delicate gripping for manufacturing and packaging. Soft Gripper Features: Up to 2.2kg payload based on shape, softness and friction of items to be handled Grip dimensions ranging from 10mm-118mm depending on cup used FDA certification Flexible, interchangeable silicon cups Ideal […]
Socrates and his student, Plato, are a perfect example of how good leaders are shaped by observant students. Here, Darcy Simonis, industry network leader for food and beverage at ABB, explains what can be learned from global manufacturing leaders such as China. China, a leader in mass production, has firm plans to build upon its proud history by investing in the robotics and automation industry. However, because labor is plentiful, mass production is not always automated in China at present. Because China’s working-age population is falling significantly, labor costs are increasing by 15-20 per cent year on year, compared to only 1.6 per cent in the US. This opens opportunities for automation across all economies. In 2014, the International Federation of Robotics announced that China was buying more robots than any other country each year, partly due to government funds as part of China’s five-year plan to develop intelligent manufacturing. This trend has continued, in 2015 China bought more robots than every European country combined. Generally speaking, Chinese manufacturers are choosing to buy robots from the same global suppliers as other countries, including ABB, despite there being a number of small Chinese robot manufacturers. “This trend is driven by the Chinese Government´s 2025 initiative to support automation. The country aims to become a leader in automation globally,” explained Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics, in February 2017. Given the clear manufacturing focus in several governments’ foreign policies, including UK and US policy, it’s clear that the progress China is making in automating mass production is something that many countries aspire to. But there is also a clear reciprocal relationship, just as there is with Plato and Socrates, which is allowing countries around the globe to benefit from technological advances. History Mass production became possible because technology and […]
Robotics Plus, a world-leading robotics and automation company developing innovation to unlock new levels of productivity in some of the world’s most labour-intensive food and fibre value chains, has won an ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Award. The awards celebrate innovation, growth and impact of emerging businesses in Australia and New Zealand. Robotics Plus was founded in 2013 by Steve Saunders and Dr Alistair Scarfe with a simple goal in mind: to improving the quality, productivity and sustainability of the horticultural and other primary industry supply chains. The company’s R&D efforts focus on automation, vision, robotics and AI, to solve the growing challenges in the primary industry globally such as: labour shortages, sustainability for growers and producers, pollination gaps and yield security. Steve Saunders, Chairman and Founder of Robotics Plus, says: “It’s an absolute honour for the team to receive an ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Award. It is validation of the hard work of a lot of people over a number of years and celebrates our innovation, culture and diversity. “Receiving such a prestigious award provides a valuable opportunity to showcase Robotics Plus to the world. We would like to recognise our fantastic partners and collaborators in the commercial, research and Government sectors, without them this would not be possible.” Robotics Plus CEO Dr Matt Glenn says the company is experiencing strong growth on the back of increasing demand for its world-first platform technologies. “Over the last 18 months Robotics Plus has launched two commercial products, entered the US and European markets, completed a US$10M Series A investment with Yamaha Motor Company and grown from a team of 12 to over 50. We also have a number of new products in the pipeline and expect our growth to continue at the same rate for the foreseeable future. “We’ve been able to […]
Konecranes, specialising in the manufacture and service of cranes and lifting equipment, has implemented Siemens’ digital innovation platform to accelerate its product development process and connect product and performance data together. The company is using MindSphere, the open, cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) operating system, and the Teamcenter portfolio, the world’s most widely used digital lifecycle management software, to leverage the digital twin and reduce the number of physical prototypes, which helps to increase efficiency and decrease product validation time. The Konecranes proof of value is one of the first implementations of IoT to develop a framework that connects and synchronizes the virtual (engineering design, analysis and simulation) and physical (testing and operational reliability) worlds. The product design process is currently based more on an engineer’s experience and generally shared assumptions than measured facts from existing products. These assumptions often lead to non-optimised designs that are over engineered. With an integrated digital twin platform, there is major potential in speeding up the product development process, reducing prototypes, increasing traceability and thus improving quality and reduce development cost. Today design, simulation and prototype testing organisations operate in their own silos, often using out of date processes for their work. At Konecranes, a digital twin was utilised as the communication approach between all three organisations to review data and provide feedback around engineering, simulation and testing intent. Using the Siemens platform for digital innovation, Konecranes has been able to connect the data from all of these organisations to create one 360 degree view of how prototypes are running and performing, and correlating requirements to, real world performance data. A closed-loop digital twin framework using IoT and product lifecycle management (PLM) technologies can lead to faster design issue resolution and shorter prototyping phases by leveraging virtual sensor data in product simulations to provide […]
Ask any business owner or board-level executive involved in manufacturing about the demands of growing a business, and they would probably readily agree that it’s tough. Apart from juggling various elements to keep the business on a growth trajectory, there are the endless administration tasks. Regularly producing reports, quotes, estimates, proposals, plans and invoices can be daunting, and may even negatively impact on productivity. However, the challenge no longer needs to be overwhelming thanks to technology. Speech recognition is now more accurate, more powerful, and more usable than ever before, and it can help facilitate the growth of a business. Adopting a desktop speech recognition solution – like Nuance Dragon Professional Individual for the PC – can improve a business’s everyday performance and productivity. Save time producing documents Dragon does the typing for you as you speak and, as we talk three times faster than we can type, the productivity implications are considerable. Dragon quickly and accurately turns your spoken words into text. It lets you put your voice to work to easily dictate and edit documents, proposals, reports and more. With Dragon you spend less time producing documents, and more time on activities that boost the bottom line. Plus, as Dragon works with all Microsoft Office applications, you can also create spreadsheets and presentations by simply using your voice. The solution also lets you speak to send emails, and as it’s compatible with popular web browsers, you can also deploy Dragon to search the web and use social media with unparalleled speed, ease and comfort. Dragon rewards the user by helping you gain precious time. Work that may have taken hours – typing a large document or clearing your inbox – can now be achieved faster and without the need to type, and the time saved can be allocated […]
The opening of a new multi-million dollar production line in Waikato will see a significant proportion of the New Zealand’s still bottled water packaged in recycled plastic bottles, according to manufacturers. The new production line at the country’s largest water bottling facility in Pokeno is capable of producing 220 million bottles made from recycled PET (rPET) plastic annually. NZ Drinks director Kyle Osborne says the move is part of their long term journey towards a more sustainable product. “As New Zealand’s largest bottled water producer we felt it was our responsibility to introduce the latest raw material and manufacturing technology as an important step towards creating a more sustainable industry. “In theory, there is no limit to the number of times the plastic from a bottle of water can be recycled into new products – what we are missing in NZ is the infrastructure necessary to achieve this. “Currently the economies of scale needed to introduce a suitable recycling facility are not there and Kiwis simply don’t consume enough of this type of product to make it viable – which leaves us out of step with bigger international markets such as Australia,” he says. NZ Drinks director Tony Vesper says the use of rPET should become the standard for still bottled water in this country. “With annual sales across our portfolio increasing at 139%, our Pure NZ label is the country’s fastest growing still water brand and will now be packaged in 100% recycled plastic bottles. “We first introduced recycled plastic into some of our ranges two years ago but the new line will allow us to continue to expand production of bottled water in recycled packaging, while at the same time substantially improving efficiency by reducing the weight of rPet used per bottle. “The new line uses the latest […]
Three women form most of the University of Waikato delegation to the Engineering Interactive Computing Systems conference (EICS) to be held in Lisbon, Portugal from 26-29 June. Software engineering doctoral students Jessica Turner and Sapna Jaidka, and lecturers Dr Judy Bowen and Professor Steve Reeves, will be presenting papers at this specialised international engineering conference. The University team is strongly focused on the methods, techniques and tools to improve safety-critical devices (which are mainly used in the medical field). About 100 attendees are anticipated at the conference which covers all engineering aspects in the design, development, deployment, verification and validation of interactive systems.