So What Happened: Turning Off the Lights at Navistar, March of the Androids, Royal Ketchup Headache

Editor’s note: Welcome to So it happened, our editors’ views on events unfolding in the world of manufacturing deserve special attention. This will regularly appear in the members only section of the site.

Companies pledge to buy technology that helps people with disabilities

Intel and Merck are among 20 companies that joined the Provide access initiativesa program of Disability:IN that encourages businesses to buy and sell technologies and products and services that are accessible, usable and inclusive for people with disabilities.

Disability:IN has partnered with over four hundred companies to create long-term business and social impact through its disability inclusion benchmarking tool, the Disability Equality Index (DEI).

“More than 32 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is still a lack of accessibility to technology and other products and services, which continues to create barriers for people with disabilities in employment and society,” Jeff Wissel, director of accessibility for Handicap:IN, said in a statement. “This is a critical step in creating an inclusive workforce, customer base and supply chain.”

The first 20 signatories and future members of the Procure Access initiative aim to identify barriers faced by technology buyers and sellers and to promote information sharing on accessibility gaps and roadmaps.

Adrienne Selko

turn things off

There are all kinds of ways to reduce costs and energy use in manufacturing, and Navistar Inc. uses many of them. Efforts by the truckmaker, now part of Volkswagen’s Traton Group since last year’s merger, include participation in demand response programs, utility discounts, scavenger hunts utilities and other Department of Energy programs. Several factories receive training on the ISO 50001 standard, a standard focused on energy management.

The focus on energy management, and in particular energy efficiency, is nothing new for the manufacturer, says Terri Sexton, head of environmental and energy affairs at Navistar, but it is expected to accelerate with the Traton merger and European perspectives on climate change. and the durability that comes with it. (Traton is based in Germany.) The EU has set a long-term climate-neutral vision and emissions targets. Additionally, earlier this year Navistar CEO Mathias Carlbaum said sustainability will be a priority at Navistar.

Sexton shared his insights at the Ohio Manufacturers Energy Conference, held earlier this month, with a talk focused on energy efficiency. She noted that historically, energy reliability rather than efficiency has been a focus of manufacturing operations. It’s a mindset that has been a barrier to greater efficiency gains, she suggested. The same goes for some who think that energy efficiency is expensive. Rising energy prices could change this perception.

Sexton’s advice: “Integrate energy efficiency into [operations]part of the product and quality and production.

And don’t forget the simple solutions. “Turn off your devices when you’re not at work. It’s common sense, but you’d be amazed at how much energy is used during production versus non-production. Sometimes it’s pretty much the same thing.

To learn more about Navistar’s Operational Excellence journey, attend the Manufacturing and Technology Show in Cleveland, October 18-20. Navistar Executive Vice President Mark Hernandez will detail how the company is using its new San Antonio plant as a test bed for many IIoT and Industry 4.0 technologies.

Jill Jusko

For my part, I welcome our Robotic Overlords

Are we finally ready for the robotic future imagined by Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick? Will we soon have C3P0-type protocol droids to assist us in daily life? A few companies are pushing in this direction.

Next week, Tesla plans to unveil the latest version of Optimus, its humanoid robot for assembly lines. And, based in Austin, Texas Apptronilk recently signed a deal with NASA to commercialize its experimental line of person-shaped machines.

Apptronik’s early models have the unique feature of making Boston Dynamics’ creepy robot dogs feel friendly in comparison. The Draco and Hume models are robots that only have legs (Wallace and Gromit fans, imagine the short film “The Wrong Trousers” for reference). Dreamer and Astra aren’t as bad, representing the human upper torso and head.

Valkyrie, which is part of a NASA research project, is their combined model of upper and lower human halves, and it is more realistic.

“The robots we’ve all dreamed of are now here and ready to release into the world,” said Jeff Cardenas, CEO and co-founder of Apptronik. “These robots will first become tools for us here on Earth and ultimately help us to go beyond and explore the stars.”

For anyone paying attention, yes, robots helping us explore the stars was the plot of a dystopian sci-fi classic. blade runner.

Tesla’s Optimus robot, unveiled as a concept about a year ago, represents years of effort to solve a long-standing automation problem in the auto industry. General Motors began using industrial robots, Unimate, in 1959, and robots now handle most welding, painting, and sealing operations in automotive factories. But people are much better suited for the final assembly of the vehicle – connecting wires and hoses, applying trim, installing seats, etc.

Unlike painting with its chemicals or body welding with its heat or stamping with its sharp edges, the final finish and assembly is human friendly. Robots excel at repetitive tasks, but the final assembly is highly variable, which keeps the human mind engaged.

It’s a lesson Tesla CEO Elon Musk learned the hard way when he launched his Model 3 electric vehicle.

Initially, Tesla tried to automate final finishing and assembly as much as possible, and the robots weren’t up to the task. Production fell significantly behind schedule and the company had to set up additional assembly lines under tents in its parking lots to handle the work. The operations required men, not machines.

Or maybe not? Optimus robots could work alongside people in these finishing and assembly areas, using their human forms to do what traditional industrial robots could not: reach into tight spaces, bend around small openings and manipulate a wider range of tools.

Will these new humanoid robots be practical, affordable or effective? Are we going to link them to computer systems? We could use the cloud and call the Skynet system. What could go wrong?

Robert Schoenberger

Insects on an industrial scale

Does industrial insect farming have its day in the sun? (Or would it be more likely in the shade?)

We’re not about to proclaim ourselves experts in this area of ​​food economics, but we couldn’t help but notice back-to-back funding announcements this week. First, Singapore-headquartered Nutrition Technologies said it raised $20 million from a group led by PTT Ventures and comprising six other companies, including Sumitomo Corp. Then Paris-based Innovafeed said it secured $250 million in backing from the Qatar Investment Authority and a handful of others, including agribusiness giant ADM and Cargill.

The Innovafeed team plans to use some of its new revenue – this was the company’s Series D – to build a 280-job factory in Decatur, Illinois, where it plans to start to produce 60,000 tonnes of protein per year in 2024. -the former company will produce black soldier fly protein for animal and plant use and, later, for human food.

The involvement of big names in these funding rounds (including Temasek, Singapore’s public investment company) makes it clear that this is not a flash in the plan or an unproven test. Nutrition Technologies executives say the market will be worth around $340 million this year, but will reach $1.3 billion by 2027. Add to that the fact that industrial insect production fuels many aspects of safety. food, clean energy and sustainability more broadly and it’s likely we’ll be seeing a lot more titles soon.

Geert De Lombaerde

Royal Re-Do: Twining’s and others to change UK labels after Queen Elizabeth II’s death

In what I.W. Editor Robert Schoenberger called “probably the only manufacturing story reacting to the Queen’s death” that a variety of food and drink companies will have to change their labels after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in the early of the month.

Twining’s tea, Gordon’s gin and Heinz ketchup are among the companies displaying the British Royal Coat of Arms on their UK packaging. The coat of arms features a lion and a unicorn – symbols of England and Scotland, respectively – and the words ‘by appointment with Her Majesty’, and only companies that hold a Royal Warrant are permitted to display it on their UK packaging. These warrants expire on the change of monarch, according to the Royal Warrant Holder Association website, although companies can continue to use the label for two years before having to apply for one under the new king.

However, the change is unlikely to affect packaging as much in the US as it does overseas – where the British Heinz ketchup bottle depicts arms, the US version simply shows the company name and slogan “57 varieties”.

According to the RWHA, the tradition of royal charters for the British monarch’s favorite manufacturers dates back to around the 12th century, when Henry II granted one to the Weavers’ Company. Since then, the monarchy has traditionally issued warrants to companies allowing them to represent the arms in return for providing services or products to the royal household.

—Ryan Secard

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