Highly Automated Microfactories for E.V. Start-Up

Highly Automated Microfactories for E.V. Start-Up

A developer of electric vans and buses bets that smaller is cheaper. UPS seems to agree.

Automobile production and assembly line have been intrinsically linked for more than a century. Volume production justifies the high capital investments. Nevertheless, Arrival, an E.V. start-up, believes that highly automated microfactories are the way to go to produce small volumes of delivery vehicles. The production relies on flexible robots able to perform a variety of tasks. This unproven approach is appealing to UPS, BlackRock, Kia, and Hyundai. Time will tell whether it can actually produce quality output at a lower cost.

 


Video Spotlight: Gigafactory vs. Microfactory


This post is based on The New York Times article, An E.V. Start-Up Backed by UPS Does Away with the Assembly Line, by N.E. Boudette, April 21, 2021, and the YouTube video, Gigafactory? How About Microfactory? Arrival Rethinks How an EV is Built, by Undecided with Matt Ferrell, December 22, 2020. Image source: REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo.

1. Why is the assembly line the process layout of choice for car manufacturing?

Guidance: The primary process characteristics of car manufacturing are repetitiveness (low variety) and high volume. In order to produce the required volume, resources Continue reading

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Robots: Why Can’t They Just Get Along?

Robots: Why Can’t They Just Get Along?

March 8, 2021

Robots at Singapore’s Changi General Hospital are learning much needed communications skills.

The hospital uses about 50 robots from eight different manufacturers to perform a variety of tasks including assisting with surgery, cleaning, monitoring COVID isolation patients, and overseeing patients’ rehabilitation exercises.  Unfortunately, these robots could not communicate with each other, and hallway traffic jams occurred several times a day.

Two robots moving towards each other in a hallway would meet and freeze up, not knowing how to navigate around an object or person.  They would be stuck there in limbo until a hospital worker arrived to get them back on track. Open Robotics’ free software programs now help the robots communicate better with each other.  This promising approach is much needed as more and more robots enter the workplace.


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This post is based on the Wired article, As Robots Fill the Continue reading

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Flippy the Fry Cook

Flippy the Fry Cook

March 1, 2020

The new and improved Flippy the robotic fry cook will probably see greater implementation.  Its price has been cut in half, bringing it down to $30,000, while improved capabilities give it more versatility.  Specifically, Flippy’s programming has been upgraded as part of this improved flexibility.  Flippy utilizes AI to manage its tasks.  Flippy has already been used at Caliburger’s Pasadena restaurant, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and at Chase Field in Arizona.

Creator’s hamburger robot takes a different approach.  Creator’s goal is to make a gourmet burger that would be affordable, making it available to a large audience.  Using quality ingredients, the company is aiming for the $6 price point.

Creator has built into this robot processes and techniques that differentiate its burger from the vast majority of fast casual restaurants.  For example, it uses the Blumenthal method of making burgers.  This method uses a vertical grind method for the meat that creates an extremely tender and juicy hamburger.  Most chefs find this technique very difficult, and is not used in fast casual restaurants.  Creator’s robot has perfected this method.  Additionally, the robot slices many of the ingredients, Continue reading

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