Jan 10 2018

LIBERATING DESIGN – Retailers and designers begin to embrace 3D printing

Early adopters praise 3D printing for enabling greater design freedom, cost savings and faster production times. These advantages are now starting to move beyond the shop floor, and into the shop.

If you want to take up jogging to improve your health and fitness, you’ll probably head to a sports shop and buy a pair of running shoes. But if those shoes are hard on your feet, give you blisters or just aren’t comfortable, you’re unlikely to be running for very long – and you may never buy that brand of running shoes again.

To ensure that its buyers are happy users, adidas is piloting 3D printing technology to create tailor-made trainer midsoles that support and cushion the precise contours and pressure points of each individual’s feet. Currently a prototype, the company’s Futurecraft 3D concept was created in cooperation with Materialise, an additive manufacturing software and services specialist based in Leuven, Belgium.The idea is that one day you will be able to walk into an adidas store, hop onto a treadmill, run a bit and be able to order a 3D-printed custom-built running shoe with midsoles that conform to a scan of your foot.“From the very start with 3D printing, the promise of the technology has been enabling freedom of design – to make objects aesthetically better and to allow objects to be optimized for the function they perform instead of the manufacturing process, as evidenced in our partnership with Adidas,” said Alireza Parandian, corporate business development manager for wearables at Materialise. “Freedom of design can also be taken to its highest degree – i.e., individualization.”


Unlike traditional manufacturing, which involves cutting away portions of solid materials to create a part, most additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, uses computers and 3D modeling software to build up products layer by layer from various materials, such as plastic, nylon, epoxy and resins or even sheets of paper, into finished products.

The technology is being harnessed to create products for a range of consumer goods industries, including wearables, housewares, eyeglass frames, jewelry, luggage and toys, as well as orthopedics and medicine – and the list is growing rapidly as the use of 3D printing expands into homes and offices. Additive manufacturing experts envision the day when, for example, a consumer with a defective vacuum cleaner part can simply log onto the company’s website, download the CAD file and 3D print a replacement part.

The rapidly expanding field keeps companies like Arcam, based in Mölndal, Sweden, which specializes in electronic beam melting (EBM) machines used mainly in the aerospace and orthopedic implant industries, in continuous evolution.“We started off as a supplier of 3D printing machines to create prototypes, but have become more of a supplier of machines for the shop floor,” said Magnus René, Arcam’s president and CEO.

“Our customers are using our machines for real production applications, which is opening the eyes of other companies and making them understand they can use this method for their own manufacturing. More and more people are realizing additive manufacturing can be a viable production method.”

Read the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2018/01/liberating-design-retailers-and-designers-begin-to-embrace-3d-printing/

Dec 27 2017

Stephane Rolland

The Value of Simulation for Collaborative Robots – Part I


There are many online videos of collaborative robots cookingpancakes, serving a cup of tea or mixing cocktails, but it is difficult to find serious information about the simulation of these Collaborative Robots, or Cobots. But from an industrial point of view, keep in mind the production fundamentals: Human safety, ergonomics, performance, quality, offline validation, installation set-up, and training. How does Simulation integrate these concepts and result in the best compromise?

Collaborative robots perform tasks without human interaction

What is Cobotics?

Wikipedia defines a cobot, or co-robot  (collaborative robot) as a robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast with other robots which are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance.

Other basic definitions include:

  • Humans working with a robot or vice versa
  • Humans working with a robot not protected by materialized fences
  • Humans assisted by an articulated and motorized actuator

Natively secure robots enable collaboration with humans without the need for fences

Examples of Cobotic Applications


Loading / Unloading End Effector or Tooling – for this process, the human and cobot perform the same task in a shared workspace, which is the value provided by a collaborative environment.






Hand Guiding – Lift Assist – Load Positioning – the human is assisted by an articulated and motorized actuator in a shared workspace. This type of collaborative task reduces the frequency of repetitive actions and allows for a better working condition.





The Value of Simulation in Cell Layout Design


Secure Accessibility for both humans and robots

Simulation enables users to detect possible collisions, even during a simple process. In this scenario, the simulation illustrates a possible collision between the cobot and the product being produced (the seat) To avoid the collision, the operator simply needs to move the seat onto the conveyor. Now the issue is easily corrected, resulting in a shorter ramp-up of the production phase.




Secure human tasks using ergonomics validation

Ergonomics simulation provides the relevant tools to ensure that workers avoid injuries and have the best working conditions. This allows non-ergonomic experts to easily see how workers will perform their tasks.






Human / Robot interaction validation

Simulate in real time  the collaborative tasks between humans and robots.

Simulations and demos help to demonstrate the human and cobot interaction. Take the simple process of a turbo being mounted on an engine. This picture shows the human doing the most complex tasks involving flexible parts such as air hoses. The cobot is positioning the turbo, which would be tiresome for the human. By placing the turbo at an optimized position, the human can perform his tasks in a comfortable position.

Optimize production capacity

In this turbo mount use case, despite the narrow shop floor surface, the simulation validates the cobot / human interaction to include takt time verification.


Human Safety Compliance


Human safety is one of the most critical challenges as cobots are not fully protected by fences. The Industry has produced safety standards such as ISO/TC 15066, which is dedicated to cobot installation. Thanks to the immersive experience, Simulation takes this important safety standard into account.

This picture shows the obvious danger faced by the operator even when working with an “intrinsic secure cobot”. For workers, eyes remain the most critical risk, as simple contact from a cobot can dramatically damage human eyes.





The second picture simulates a work cell station with immaterial walls that reduce the speed when the operator’s hands approach the cobot, or completely stops it when he gets too close. These types of use case simulations are possible and can be validated thanks to the Virtual Commissioning environment. More on Virtual Commissioning, which is the process of using simulation technology to test plant changes before actual changes take place, in a future article in this series.





In a future blog, I’ll elaborate more on the Virtual Commissioning environment as well as additional benefits in Cobot Simulation.



Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2017/12/the-value-of-simulation-for-collaborative-robots-part-i/

Dec 18 2017

Megan Nichols

How to optimize your production planning and scheduling to save time and money

Modern life is complicated — and you don’t need further complications if you do business in the manufacturing sector. Flying by the seat of your pants works in some industries, but if your company is a vital cog in the supply chain of an important product, you can’t afford ad hoc production or slapdash scheduling. You need a plan.

With immediate customers, as well as end users, relying on the efficiency of your operation, it makes good sense to invest in robust production planning. Manufacturing concerns and the supply chain workers who power it all can save ample time and money by getting organized in a new way.

Here’s why it’s so essential – and how you can get started with five of the most important elements of production planning.


It’s true you can’t plan for every contingency life might throw at you. But don’t believe for a moment that you can’t prepare yourself for certain types of demands and problems, even if you can’t foresee with perfect clarity when they’ll appear or how severe they’ll be.

Forecasting properly can help you avoid duplication of effort or conflicting demands for limited production equipment. For example, you should have a visual system that delivers notifications when your users inadvertently create scheduling conflicts. For instance, without some kind of oversight in place, some of your production equipment might end up double-booked during peak activity times.

That’s the kind of snag your operation probably can’t afford. Worse, it’s a setback that will leave the other parties that depend on you in the lurch.

Inventory Control

You are almost certainly familiar with the concept of lean manufacturing, which is nothing more or less than making the most efficient use of your resources.

Lean manufacturing is a kind of inventory control that’s helpful in making sure you don’t produce more of a given product than is necessary at any time. It also helps make use of limited storage space, since you won’t need to store inventory for overly long periods. You can make what you need, send it out to your customers, then spool up your manufacturing processes again next time an order is placed or demand spikes.

Thanks to automation and ever-more-advanced assembly technologies, manufacturing tends to run more efficiently than ever these days — but even the most finely tuned machines are a waste if you’re not planning ahead.


Think of the tasks you perform daily in your personal life. There’s a good chance you tried multiple techniques before you landed on the one that works perfectly for you. Now you unload the top rack of the dishwasher first. You dust the bookshelves before you vacuum the floor. You apply tire black to your treasured workhorse only after you’ve chamoised it dry in the summer sun.

The point is, whether you were conscious of it or not, you have standardized most of the trivial tasks you busy yourself with in an average day. And you did it because some processes fall to pieces if they’re done in the wrong order, at the wrong time or by the wrong personnel.

Standardization may well lie at the heart of planning and scheduling for manufacturing businesses. You can’t plan ahead if you don’t know how long critical tasks will take — and you won’t know that until you’ve dialed in a repeatable, reliable, predictable and efficient process.


When you commit to taking scheduling and planning seriously, you open up new ways to make the best and most efficient use of your physical infrastructure, including the very equipment you use to produce your products. Anticipating periods of heavy use is vital, since it helps you, for example, more evenly spread out your electricity use and anticipate which machines will be in use and when.

It may also help you improve the longevity of your equipment. During busy seasons or periods of peak activity, running your machines full-bore all week because you didn’t manage your time well could dramatically reduce their expected lifespans and lead to premature failure. Planning ahead for seasonal changes in the weather is also critical for businesses in certain parts of the world, since keeping your equipment properly cooled saves time, money and energy.

Instead of relying on chance, scheduling your jobs in advance and plotting your equipment use can help you spread the workload across your production facilities as much as possible and gives you a greater degree of control over which machines are running at any given time.

Worker Training

Manufacturing is not without its dangers — your facility potentially has a number of ungainly machines working to satisfy demand. As a result, worker training is hugely important if you want to maintain the safety of the people in your employ and protect your reputation.

Additionally, as we already touched on above, manufacturing is wildly more efficient when workers know what’s expected of them. Plus, quality control is far easier to police when your processes are predictable and repeatable.

Part of creating a predictable process involves developing and communicating best practices, tolerances, error margins and acceptable levels of waste — and all of those variables filter back directly into your approach to worker training. You can’t train your workers to perform standardized work if you don’t have standards in the first place.

Plus, even the most well-intentioned worker can set you back if they don’t have accurate expectations about how long each of your manufacturing steps should take or whether they’re up against specific tolerances or regulatory guidelines that are unique to your industry.

Don’t Suffer From Lost Profits or Unnecessary Delays

In case it’s not obvious by now, planning is the key to the solvency and continued success of your business. And it’s not just profits at stake, either — inefficient production workers are unhappy workers. Employees want and expect clear expectations and well-communicated benchmarks to hold themselves to and test themselves against. Planning is key.

Observing what works and what doesn’t, having a strong sense of priorities and communicating well — not just with your employees, but also everybody else in your supply chain — are the keys to successful planning.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2017/12/how-to-optimize-your-production-planning-and-scheduling-to-save-time-and-money/

Dec 13 2017

Guillaume Vendroux

How do we put the human into our manufacturing process?

The human starts and ends the manufacturing process—when consumers order a product to make and deliver; and today, these consumers want individual, personalized experiences of their “own.”  Now in our Experience Economy, transforming mass production into personalized mass customization emphasizes the human even more as companies strive to deliver unique, one-to-one experiences for everyone.

With digitalization bringing real-time visibility more and more into processes and operations, work teams and managers have the information needed to empower collaboration and augment human creativity to succeed. Digitalization enables capturing the data that characterizes what’s happening on the shop floor, which means there is perfect visibility and understanding at every point in time. This is about engaging teams, creating autonomy and having timely, contextual, global information to anticipate issues and take corrective actions.

Throughout product creation and manufacturing, digitalization enables workers and managers to know where they stand across the operation, their performance and the performance of their colleagues upstream and downstream. Using automation to reduce repetitive production tasks—both physical (with machines and robots) and business (capturing data)—workers are freed to intervene at various points where they can add value. This increases worker engagement. Jobs become more interesting, more impactful, with more autonomy; and they become more actionable, with better focus on adding value.

This transformation means getting people the skills to succeed in this new business and manufacturing world. People will be positioned differently; roles will change. Workers on the shop floor will become more engaged in day-to-day planning, and managers will become more facilitators to ensure execution that produces results. Getting operations and teams to adopt this strategy requires embracing a comprehensive vision across the entire enterprise. That requires somebody high up in the business—the CEO or COO—to champion this new way of working as one that will provide value.

Companies need to articulate the value of the transformation and explain the benefit. The reality is that this kind of change will span several years because transformation takes time to bring a company from where it is to where it needs to go. To encourage results, a strategy should favor quick, small increments of improvement to promote change. Often organizations start with enthusiasm, but as times goes by people become less involved. So this transformation must be business-focused at a core level, and demonstrate success.

There is leading-edge technology, know-how, fun and creativity in executing the manufacturing world of tomorrow. Digitalization creates a modern manufacturing domain where the human comes to the fore, providing high quality, creative experiences for consumers and ensuring a long, interesting professional life for workers.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2017/12/how-do-we-put-the-human-into-our-manufacturing-process/

Dec 06 2017

BIG PROFITS FROM BIG DATA: Platforms create another potential revenue stream with platform-generated data

Platforms collect data from many sources, with multiple benefits for the platform provider and member companies. The data they generate can enable the platform company to make smart business decisions while opening new markets to its members. Whether a platform operator chooses to analyze the data itself or sell it to others for analysis, the data represents money to be earned.

Deere & Company is the Moline, Illinois, manufacturer of iconic John Deere farm tractors and other heavy machinery. It makes most of its US$26 billion annual revenue in the traditional way, by selling or leasing equipment to farms and construction firms.

Yet, this conservatively managed firm launched digital platform myjohndeere.com in 2013 to forge a direct connection with farmers. Originally established to give John Deere equipment owners access to spare parts and other company offerings, myjohndeere.com is providing the company with another rich source of potential income: big data.

Lubbock, Texas, USA – March 15, 2016: A John Deere tractor is plowing a barren field for future crops. As the tractor moves, dust and dirt can be seen behind the tractor. Vertical lines radiate from either side of the tractors. The tractor’s shadow can be seen. Photo shot from high angle viewpoint.

For example, Deere has installed internet-enabled sensors on its tractors to record and transmit data on fuel consumption and other metrics useful to farmers. Deere also sells monitoring equipment called Field Connect, which collects additional data on soil moisture, temperature, wind speed, and rainfall. The data from the sensors is then made available to farmers on the platform.

“We’ve never had that data before,” said Geoffrey G. Parker, a professor at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, who has studied the Deere platform and co-authored Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You. “Think of the tractor like a Mars rover capturing data.

”The primary use of the farming data, Parker said, is to help individual farmers improve productivity on their farms. But the data also could be a valuable commodity in itself for agricultural companies, which could use the data to shape their investment strategy. “If Deere aggregated data across enough farms and sold the data stream, it would give a pretty good idea of what is going to happen in next year’s agricultural output, which puts one at a huge financial advantage,” Parker said.

Continue reading the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2017/12/big-profits-from-big-data-platforms-create-another-potential-revenue-stream-with-platform-generated-data/

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