JV Utilises Deep Learning & Edge Computing To Make Factories Smart

Hitachi is aiming to utilize deep learning and edge computing technologies to make machines intelligent, in order to improve productivity. In pursuit of this, it has formed an automation joint venture with industrial robot and factory automation company Fanuc and AI-startup Preferred Networks.

Intelligent Edge System will utilize AI technologies in the social and industrial infrastructure field. It will develop fast, real-time control systems for network-connected industrial robots and machine tools. These control systems will leverage deep learning AI technology to become smarter over time as linked machines manufacture products.

Preferred Networks will use its deep learning AI technology to process information more efficiently and speed up data analysis. This is hoped to boost production line productivity and allow robots to recognize things and adjust their moves accordingly. Robots will also be able to automatically take on the task of an adjacent robot on the production line in case it breaks down.

Edge computing will help the initiative by handling the task at the edge of the network instead of centrally processing data. This will let machines on the production line process the massive amount of data, such as the movement of mechanical hands, on the spot.

Preferred Networks has already applied its AI expertise for Toyota Motor and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone. Toyota Motor invested in the startup for the development of autonomous vehicles that can learn various driving conditions by processing data by themselves rather than relying on cloud computing.


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Frost & Sullivan Experts Identify Key IoT Innovations Bringing Smart Factories to Life

Frost & Sullivan Experts Identify Key IoT Innovations Bringing Smart Factories to Life

Frost & Sullivan Experts Identify Key IoT Innovations Bringing Smart Factories to Life

Artificial intelligence, cloud manufacturing, cyber-physical systems, and smart sensors among technologies that will drive factories of the future.

Frost & Sullivan’s analysis, “Industrial IoT Driving Manufacturing Innovations”, reveals the most impactful technologies that are transforming factories into a smarter environment through the whole platform of connectivity.

With cyber-physical system advancements transforming the manufacturing sector, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will create a high impact in the near future. The whole concept is advancing in terms of functionalities and user-friendly software solutions, enabling multiple applications to serve the rapidly changing demands of end users in diverse industries.

Ranjana Lakshmi, TechVision Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, explained:

“The ability of IIoT to provide real-time data and perform monitoring and tracking functionalities will lead to smart factories of the future that are fully connected, eco-friendly, and driven by improved productivity and efficiency. IIoT establishes a strong connectivity between the operational and digital platforms.”

Highlights of this analysis include:

  • Key technologies and influencing trends include: hybrid sensors, predictive analytics, wearables, digital twin, mass customization, 3D printing, edge computing, collaborative robots, asset monitoring, smart grids, and natural processing language;
  • Both batch production and mass customization of products are achievable by adopting the concept of IoT, advanced technologies and solutions;
  • High investment is evident for companies focusing in developing data monitoring systems, security and smart equipments;
  • Implementation challenges includes: device footprint, need for increased security, and lack of awareness;
  • Standardization of communication networks has been gaining importance. Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are key technology platforms in IIoT and enabling technologies include: sensor fusion and analytics;
  • Some of the companies disrupting the market include 3D Signals, Denodo Technologies, Pivotal, Stanley Black & Decker.

“Self-powered sensors, collaborative infrastructures and other advanced IoT technologies are all going to play a significant role in driving the concept of connected, smart factories of the future,” said Lakshmi. “Manufacturers must have an awareness of these new technologies and seek ways to incorporate them into their systems to increase the company’s productivity, competitiveness, and future likelihood of success.”

For further information on this analysis, please visit: http://frost.ly/263

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IoT Business News

Interview: Frank Piller on people, smart factories and Industry 4.0

nalysis: Frank Piller on people, smart factories and Industry 4.0

Professor Frank Piller talks Internet of Business through the workshop he’s preparing for our Internet of Manufacturing event in Munich in February. 

Analysis: People, smart factories and Industry 4.0

Professor Frank Piller

At many manufacturing companies, the time for IoT pilots and experimentation is over. Technologies have been chosen, business models have been defined. The challenge now is people-focused. In other words, it’s time to help employees get productive in smart, connected factories.

That’s the view of Frank Piller, professor at RWTH Aachen University in Germany and co-founder of the Smart Customization Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor Piller will be chairing a workshop at the Internet of Manufacturing event in Munich on 6-8 February and he’s keen, he says, to get attendees thinking about these people issues. Even if their own organisations are still piloting and experimenting with IoT technologies, he adds, it’s never too early to think how the workforce will get the most from them, in terms of boosting efficiency and becoming more productive.

Read more: Analysis: Four smart factory trends to watch in 2018

People, process and technology

It’s worth bearing in mind, after all, that getting workers to accept and adopt new technologies can be the hardest aspect of any technology deployment.

“Absolutely!” Piller agrees. “That’s always true – and there are some really interesting new challenges emerging as we start to think about the role of people in smart factory of the future. Some people say that algorithms are better decision-makers than humans, so we should outsource decision-making to machines. Others say that humans can exercise better critical judgement and should therefore be cooperating with algorithms.”

And then there’s the issue of robots, he adds: many organisations will need to decide how to allocate tasks between humans and robots, based on whether they’re complex, repetitive, error-prone, dangerous and so on. In many cases, robots and humans will collaborate on tasks – and human workers will need to become accustomed to working side-by-side with robotic colleagues and perhaps even helping to programme them.

Read more: Analysis: A manufacturer’s guide to IoT monetization

Job for humans, jobs for machines

Piller’s research work takes him to many factories worldwide every year. But, he says, “in all the smart factories I’ve visited, I can tell you that there are always humans there – always! I’m not seeing 100% automated factories.”

“There are jobs for humans and jobs for machines,” he continues, “and it’s really important for manufacturing companies to carefully consider how they can best combine human expertise, experience and knowledge with automation.”

The aim of his workshop, he says, is to get attendees thinking about these issues, hearing how other companies are tackling them and leaving the event with the start of a plan for preparing and skilling staff for the Industry 4.0 era.

Our Internet of Manufacturing event is coming to Munich on 6-8 February 2018. Attendees will get the chance to learn more about how connected technologies open up new paths to increased productivity and profitability for industrial companies. 

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Internet of Business

Digitalist Flash Briefing: Smart Factories, Smart Cars, And Smart Drivers

Everyone is talking about self-driving smart cars that are always connected. But where do they come from? Smart factories enabled by the automotive industry’s digital transformation.


  • Amazon Echo or Dot: Enable the “Digitalist” flash briefing skill, and ask Alexa to “play my flash briefings” on every business day.
  • Alexa on a mobile device:
    • Download the Amazon Alexa app: Select Skills, and search “Digitalist”. Then, select Digitalist, and click on the Enable button.
    • Download the Amazon app: Click on the microphone icon and say “Play my flash briefing.”

Find and listen to previous Flash Briefings on Digitalistmag.com.

Read more on today’s topic


Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Cardiff researchers to lead ‘chatty’ factories project

Cardiff researchers to lead 'chatty' factories project

University researchers in Cardiff are working on £1.5 million project to develop connected products that can converse with the chatty factories in which they were created. 

Imagine a bike helmet that could send a text message to your smartphone to say that it had developed a crack. That information could then be instantly sent to the helmet’s manufacturer, too, alerting the manufacturer of the problem and enabling it, if necessary, to adjust its processes and improve the next batch of products.

This idea of people, products and production processes being intrinsically connected is the vision of a brand new £1.5 million project that is being led by scientists at Cardiff University.

Set to run for three years, the project aims to tap into the emerging IoT industry and the increasing numbers of everyday items that can ‘talk’ with each other, to find new uses for those conversations in smart product design processes. 

Read more: Smart streetlights may mean big savings in Cardiff

Chatty Factories

Dubbed “Chatty Factories”, the project aims to help companies aiming to build and sell connected products to save significant amounts of time and money that might otherwise be spent on consumer research, concept design, prototyping and manual labour on the factory floor.

The researchers believe that connected technology is the answer to inefficiencies in manufacturing. By embedding sensors into daily products, they believe that it’s possible to improve product designs based on data from users. In other words, there’s really business value to be had from the ‘chatty’ transfer of data that goes on between people, products and factories. 

Principal investigator Dr Pete Burnap, from Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics, said this technology could be game-changing for manufacturers.

“The current manufacturing process is limited by the inability to quickly and continuously refine product design based on a consumer’s experience, and simultaneously re-skill the human and robotic processes on the factory floor,” he said.

The idea of using real-time data from sensors has already made huge waves in industries such as aviation, although it’s not used for generating new products.

Read more: Smart factories to add $ 1,500bn to global economy by 2022, says Capgemini

Much work to do

Over the next few years, the researchers will develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology capable of handling large datasets. They’ll also look at ways sensors can be included in everyday products.

At the same time, they’ll be watching the latest advances in cyber security, too, in order to create safe, secure and robust processes. 

Funded by by UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research (EPSRC), the project also involves scientists from the University of Edinburgh, University of Nottingham, Lancaster University and Bath Spa University.

“If manufacturers are creating high-end bikes worth thousands of pounds, but they are not being used as they are intended, how do we update the fabrication issues and reshuffle the factory floor between shifts, telling human and robot workers how to alter their duties within minutes?” asked Burnap.

“Our new method will enable manufacturers to sense the experience of the product, building something based on its actual use, rather than its intended use.”

Read more: Survey: UK consumers wary of smart home products

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