New Fanuc Software Platform

Fanuc Robotics by SPI Automation

Our robotics manufacturer partner, Fanuc,  recently announced a new software platform to customize industrial robots with software applications.

[Article below originally appear on Business Insider 4-29-16] Japan-based robotics manufacturer Fanuc announced last week that it is releasing a new platform for customizing industrial robots with software applications. Other robotics suppliers will be able to use the Fanuc Intelligent Edge Link and Drive (FIELD) System to download new applications on their robots in the field, much like downloading an app on a smartphone, The Wall Street Journal reported. Fanuc will seek to gain revenue from software developers using the platform to build applications for robots, similar to how Alphabet and Apple charge app providers using the Google Play and iOS app stores. The company hopes that the platform will become an industry standard for manufacturers looking to develop software for their industrial robots. Fanuc developed the platform in collaboration with Cisco, Rockwell Automation, and Preferred Networks. Cisco and Rockwell will provide networking and security to securely connect robots to the platform. They will also provide computing power to process data generated by robots. Preferred Networks will provide machine-learning capabilities that will help deliver automation and artificial intelligence applications to robots using the platform. While there are a number of standard protocols for automating industrial systems in existence, Fanuc’s platform could provide a standard for making factories fully automated and digital, combining robots with big data and artificial intelligence to optimize the robots’ performance. Such a platform could quickly accelerate the adoption of industrial robots and digital technologies in the manufacturing sector. The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing business models, increasing output, and automating processes across a number of industries. But no other sector has been more impacted by this technological revolution than manufacturing. Manufacturers across all areas —automotive, chemical, durable goods, electronics, etc. — have invested heavily in IoT devices, and they’re already reaping the benefits. Manufacturers utilizing IoT solutions in 2014 saw an average 28.5% increase in revenues between 2013 and 2014, according to a TATA Consultancy Survey. John Greenough, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on the IoT in manufacturing that forecasts device shipments, analyzes the investments made by manufacturers on IoT solutions, and examines the return on investment that manufacturers are witnessing from their IoT solutions. Further, it looks at the common IoT use cases in manufacturing, including asset tracking, control room consolidation, predictive maintenance, autonomous robots, augmented reality, and additive manufacturing. Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Investment in the IoT by manufacturers will translate to billions in spending. We estimate that global manufacturers will invest $70 billion on IoT solutions in 2020. That’s up from $29 billion in 2015.
  • Manufacturers are currently using IoT solutions to track assets in their factories, consolidate their control rooms, and increase their analytics functionality through predictive maintenance. Many IoT solutions are still basic, but we expect manufacturers to eventually implement more complex technologies, such as autonomous robots and augmented reality (AR) tools.
  • There are four top barriers that will create challenges for manufacturers as they begin to upgrade to the IoT. These barriers include the increasing threat of a cyber attack, difficulty determining ROI, technical difficulty integrating the IoT into a factory, and reluctance to implement automation, which would result in job losses.

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