The Future of the Value Network

Eric Green, VP of User Experience, Advocacy, & Marketing at DELMIA, Dassault Systèmes discusses the future of the Value Network originally published in Machine Design, March 2019.  

Here’s an excerpt:

The world of making is changing, and businesses are digitally transforming from mass production to mass customization as consumers’ demand individualized, emotional experiences. New technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are starting to significantly impact how products or experiences are designed and manufactured.

Meanwhile, social apps, Big Data, and the Cloud are creating opportunities to interact with and understand the consumer in totally new ways. So how do we bring these new data streams and technologies together to produce meaningful business insights?

The key to leveraging the power of these new technologies and the data they generate is finding a way to connect individuals, machines, and processes across the entire manufacturing supply chain, which can now reach from raw materials to consumer interaction. This broader expanse requires shifting away from a linear supply chain to a dynamic network, which enables synchronization and integration of all manufacturing operations and supply chain activities. Achieving this requires digitalization of information and a platform that enables this level of collaboration.

Read the article in its entirety originally here:

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How Are Robots Changing Warehousing and Distribution?

Starting with Amazon

Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world. In 2018 it came second only to Walmart, and that is in large part due to the tens of thousands of robots it utilizes in its warehouses. As of Jan. 1, 2017, more than 30,000 robots were being used for order fulfillment in its facilities around the globe. Adding robots to its fulfillment chain has saved the company millions of dollars since their introduction. According to reports, in addition to saving time and reducing the space needed for warehouses, introducing robots to its supply chain has saved Amazon nearly $22 million.

The Kiva robots that the retail giant is using were not inexpensive — Amazon bought the robotics company in 2012 for $775 million.

Robotics seems to be working well for Amazon, but it isn’t the only company that is utilizing this resource for distribution logistics.


Amazon might have 30,000 robots in its warehouses, but it still has roughly 230,000 human employees. Mujin’s warehouse in Tokyo doesn’t have any employees at all. The warehouse prototype showcased at a trade show in Tokyo is designed to automate a warehouse through the use of robotics completely.

During the showcase, robotic arms were used to unload a mockup of a shipping container and move products throughout the prototype warehouse. The display wasn’t perfect — one of the demo boxes was damaged during the performance — but the proof of concept is clear. Mujin is working toward full warehouse automation for both Japanese and international warehouses.

Fetch Robotics

AMRs — autonomous mobile robots — are becoming more popular in warehouse and distribution industries. Fetch Robotics, based in San Jose, California, has developed a series of collaborative AMRs for use in warehouses. These modular robots use cloud-based software to control the robots as they move throughout the facility, tracking inventory and moving it as needed.

Fetch’s AMRs are currently being used around the world. A DHL distribution center in the Netherlands, a Mahle Behr facility in the U.S. and RK Logistics in San Francisco have all adopted Fetch’s AMRs.


We might have all dreamed of being Iron Man at one time or another, but while robotic exoskeletons might not be able to fly, they’re starting to appear in warehouses and distribution centers around the globe. These robots do have to be worn by a human, but when paired with an operator, the exoskeleton enables people to lift incredible weights while protecting them from lifting and repetitive stress injuries.

Overexertion is one of the leading causes of work-related injuries in the world, costing companies more than $49 billion every year. Exoskeletons that exist currently have carry capacities of around 200 pounds. Implementing this kind of robotic technology is expensive, but it potentially saves companies millions of dollars in the long run.

Applications of Robotics

Robotics can be applied to nearly every step of the production process, from assembly and welding to computer manufacturing and material handling. They’ve been part of the manufacturing industry for decades, since the first robotic arm was patented in 1954. It’s only in recent years that the technology has advanced enough that we can incorporate it into warehouse logistics.

Material handling, in this case, can work to protect employees from overexertion injuries and increase operational efficiency, whether your warehouse is leaning toward a lean operating model or is merely trying to increase productivity.

Robotics in warehouse and logistics are still in their early stages of innovation, but the strides that have been made thus far are promising. Logistics robots aren’t perfect yet, and they may never wholly replace warehouse workers, but they could prove to be useful tools for increasing warehouse efficiency.

With e-commerce becoming one of the most significant sources of retail sales in the world, retailers will need to make changes to keep up with the demand. Once these logistics robots are ready for large-scale applications, they will likely change the face of warehouses and distribution.

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Preparing to Integrate IIoT: How can controls, automation, and instrumentation help with integration and use of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies? (Part 2)

This is the second of a two-part series on the integration and use of IIoT technology.

Potential Challenges and Hurdles  

Integrating new technologies into existing environments can present unique challenges to overcome. While connecting legacy equipment and systems offers potential big benefits and is an important step in the IIoT initiatives at many industrial companies, the hurdles to implementation can be notable in the process.

Having said that, many companies are making important strides in this area. How are they doing it? One of the challenges they faced in the presence of legacy machines was the lack of connectivity built into legacy machines. Companies are now adding stand-alone sensors and cameras to existing environments and devices to monitor and collect data about performance and health in new ways, like attaching the sensors directly to the existing devices and connecting new gateways to securely collect and transmit the data, which is then analyzed and used to help boost various areas of the business while preventing failure and downtime.

One of the lingering questions being, If legacy machines don’t have sensors and automation controls built into them today, how can they be attached in a cost-effective manner? The following answer would enable teams to begin measuring things like vibration, temperature, climate, dust in the air and other factors that are useful for quality environments where the machines are deployed. Cameras also can play a big role, enabling the monitoring ability of team members through a common platform to tap open a video and get a real-time sense for where a machine is and how the operation is functioning.

Platform Strategies

With the increased integration of global intelligent manufacturing, companies are turning to IIoT architecture as the core of the platform strategy to ease integration. Various companies are designing solutions as a three-layer architecture, offering neither an IIoT platform nor simply an industrial cloud platform, yet a fully connected system.

●      Bottom Layer: this would include various hardware products with interconnectivity capacity, like gateways and more.

●      Intermediate Layer: this would take care of edge point control.

●      Upper Layer: this would comprise various applications, analytics, and services for decision making capabilities.

The system works together and these three layers are not mutually independent. The reality is that IIoT only can be realized through intercommunication of these three layers regarding information, data, communications, and applications, and in these cases, software platforms at the operating system level are needed to support and connect the three-layer architecture.

Conclusions and Next Steps

As more hardware devices go online, more opportunities abound for engineers to assist with the integration and novel use of controls, automation, and instrumentation across industries. Following the simple steps of assessing company assets and capabilities, to reviewing potential benefits and ways to ease integration can benefit the whole enterprise.

Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing about your unique experiences and ideas for the integration of IIoT today.

Continue the conversation by joining our DELMIA Communities on 3DSwYm. Membership is free.

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Learn. Connect. Innovate. Join Us at the DELMIA Community Summit!

You asked and we listened! We are now expanding our DELMIA Community Summit beyond customers to include those who are interested in learning more. Join us at the DELMIA Community Summit May 16th at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. This event brings together DELMIA customers, DELMIA technical experts, partners and more for a day of networking, sharing and innovation. Who doesn’t need that? Participating DELMIA customers will get even more immeasurable benefits: the opportunity to knowledge-share and learn how other customers are using DELMIA solutions; the benefits they have achieved; plans for future innovation, and much more. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to experience live solution demos and engage with DELMIA professionals through interactive sessions and networking events.

Need another reason to attend? As you know, a digital experience platform allows manufacturers to visualize and control in the virtual world what cannot be seen in the real world. In fact, our digital experience transforms supply chains into digital value networks and empowers the talents of the workforce of the future by capturing, delivering and re-using knowledge and know-how to enable new categories of sustainable solutions. To keep the pace of the industry, manufacturers need to be faster, more integrated and more agile than ever. Our DELMIA experts will show you how.

Be a part of one of our biggest events and take advantage of the opportunity to network with a plethora of industry influencers. Don’t miss out! Join us for innovative key topics including DELMIA 2019, DELMIA Digital Manufacturing, DELMIA Manufacturing Operations Management, and DELMIA Planning & Optimization.  

The DELMIA COMMUNITY SUMMIT will be co-located with the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE FORUM, which will take place May 13-15 at Caesars Palace. Take advantage of these two events to learn how to evolve your company in a global Industry Renaissance.

Check out the agenda and Register today!

Join our DELMIA Communities on 3DSwYm to connect with DELMIA users and technical experts.

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Preparing to Integrate IIoT: How can controls, automation, and instrumentation help with integration and use of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies? (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part series on the integration and use of IIoT technology.

As advances in technology make it more cost-effective to deploy IIoT, industries will need to acquire a strategic approach to integrating new sensor data with pre-existing data environments.

Now, more than ever, industries are seeking simple integrations with controls, automation, and data analytics visualization software to harness the power of the Industrial Internet of Things and realize attractive operational and competitive benefits for their business.IIoT can unite people and systems on the plant floor with those at the enterprise level, and enable users to get the most value from their automated systems while reducing technological and economic limitations. To ensure successful deployment of the IIoT, industrial organizations can benefit from embracing new network design infrastructures, including developing a reliable framework that supports collaborative work processes across functional lines, as well as between internal and external resources.

New systems to integrate IIoT

Processes, digital devices and business systems can support implementation of the Industrial Internet of Things, from small companies new to the IIoT potential up to large industries that can benefit from adding new sensors into their present systems for internal and external assets. From laying the foundations to help guide future technology investments to easing the integration of the current systems with new controls, automation and data processing benefits, there are ways to help smooth the process and transition for getting the desired results. When looking at new systems for IIoT implementation, it is recommended to examine the following seven areas for benefits:

  • Assess the Baseline: Look at assets, processes, data collection, analytics, and real-time visibility to assess the ability to predict and detect issues and opportunities; for example, what type of sensors, cameras and other instrumentation is available to make use of available data tracking potentialities?
  • Boost the Capabilities: Use machine learning, Big Data, and automation technologies to create an über-system that can accurately and consistently capture, analyze, and transmit data with visualized dashboards for operations management.
  • Integrate the Potential: Employing open integration and communications technologies can help connect data from varied sources on the way to extracting meaningful value for decision-making. This can include software that brings high fidelity data from disparate operational sources to people in all corners of a clients’ enterprise – wherever, whenever and however it is needed.
  • Consolidate Data: Look to centralizing data in the Cloud with new applications that connect multiple disparate systems, applying higher level analytics and leveraging expertise with the benefits of being physically remote from the operating site.
  • Make it Visual: Consider employing cloud-based applications that add value, such as advanced process control (APC) monitoring, condition-based monitoring (CBM), enterprise data historians, mobility solutions, and planning and scheduling tools. This new instrumentation can help facilitate real-time decision making plus allow long-term data tracking for precise adjustments.
  • Re-define Teamwork: With these new controls and automation tools, look to define how functional groups can work together and how to enable smart collaboration across the organization using IIoT advantages; this may include sharing data in operations, maintenance, system reliability, supply chain management, and other potential synergies.
  • Make Alliances with the Experts: Stay flexible with new updates and demographic changes using technology tools and collaborations with third-party experts that understand industrial automation, process data, and control-related issues across the enterprise. Traditional information technology (IT) providers may not offer that depth, and the potential for niche integration consultants is ripe for growth.

Continue the conversation by joining our DELMIA Communities on 3DSwYm. Membership is free.

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