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The Evolution of the Assembly Line Continues With Robotics

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The Evolution of the Assembly Line Continues With Robotics

Robots are powering the evolution of the assembly line.

Modern manufacturing is built on the assembly line model, but it has changed significantly over the years. Without technological advances, we wouldn’t have easy access to all kinds of products, such as cars or appliances. Robots are at the forefront of manufacturing today. 

Here’s a look at where assembly line tech has been and where it is going in the future with today’s advancements in robotics. 

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The Evolution of the Assembly Line

Imagine trying to paint an entire building. It might take one person 20 hours to finish the job. On the other hand, 20 people could finish it in just one hour. This is the principle behind assembly lines, the manufacturing strategy that has built the modern world. Products are manufactured using a set of standardised parts. The product moves through the process in stages, with a new component added at every one. 

Assembly lines are highly efficient, whether humans or robots are doing the work. In fact, they completely changed the world when they first became popular, resulting in the Industrial Revolution. 

The First Industrial Revolution took off in the mid-18th century in the U.K. and gradually made its way to Europe and North America soon after. It saw the introduction of steam power and advances in textile manufacturing, which would later lead to the widespread use of assembly lines. 

The assembly line really took off in the early 20th century, when Ransom Olds and Henry Ford pioneered automobile assembly line manufacturing. The two competing car companies successfully used assembly lines, although the Ford brand ultimately outlived Oldsmobile. By WWII, assembly lines were a crucial part of manufacturing in virtually every industry. 

These early assembly lines relied on human employees to carry out each step of the process. In the mid-20th century, robots began to revolutionise the manufacturing world. 

The Rise of Robotics

Assembly line manufacturing was undoubtedly a good idea — a team of people could quickly and efficiently put products together. Skilled artisans were no longer required. Plus, assembly lines could make products faster and with better consistency from one unit to another. Since the products used standardised parts, things like guns, tools and cars were also easier to repair. 

However, the assembly line still needed to evolve. That’s why robots were introduced to manufacturing in the mid-20th century. The first successful industrial bot was the Unimate, developed by Unimation Inc. for the General Motors automobile assembly line. It was installed in 1961 at GM’s Trenton, New Jersey, plant. This began the rise of machinery in manufacturing. Today, industrial robots are booming — the global industrial robotics market is projected to be worth USD 81 billion by 2028. 

Robots mark a critical turning point in the evolution of the assembly line. They allow assembly lines to be safer. Worker safety was a major issue in the early Industrial Revolution, especially while child labour remained commonplace worldwide. Robotics means employees no longer needed to handle dangerous parts or tasks. 

Robots improved assembly line efficiency, as well. Manufacturers quickly realised machines could operate with much greater consistency than a human could. Human error could lead to lost revenue and pose a serious safety risk on the manufacturing floor, which was dangerous to begin with. Robots solved these problems. They can perform the same task repeatedly without suffering from fatigue or loss of focus. 

Automated Assembly Lines

Early manufacturing robots like the Unimate were more like mechanical avatars for employees. Workers were still needed to operate them in real-time. Many manufacturing robots still work this way today, but things are changing. Automation is the most recent revolutionary technology in the evolution of the assembly line. 

Computers, programming and AI have enabled manufacturing robots to advance over recent years, removing human operators from the process. Automation adds a layer of intelligence to mechanical robotic systems and allows them to run independently. In many ways, it has unlocked the full potential of robots on the assembly line.

Automation can take several forms. It might be as simple as using an automation software application to programme a robot to run independently. AI could also be used to automate assembly line bots. AI algorithms can use various sensors to collect information about their environment and adjust their actions accordingly. They can also use machine learning to improve performance and learn new skills. These capabilities are invaluable for manufacturers in all kinds of industries. 

For instance, a gardening supply manufacturer may need to package fertiliser into plastic jars. Employees could do this by hand, but that would be expensive and time-consuming. Robots can speed up the process, although it would require some way to ensure precision. Otherwise, fertiliser would be spilt in the process of getting it into the jar, which would waste resources. 

Automation is the key. The gardening supply manufacturer could use AI-powered robots to effectively and efficiently fill their jars with fertiliser. There are many ways to do this. For instance, an AI camera could use computer vision to “see” the jar’s opening and precisely navigate a robotic dispenser over that opening. Similarly, smart automation software could be used to programme the robot to only pour a certain amount of fertiliser or navigate to a precise location over a conveyor belt of empty jars. 

Automation in this situation enables improved quality and reduced labour costs, two of the biggest benefits of automation. Software allows a robot to fill the fertiliser jars without human supervision, so the gardening supply manufacturer can operate with fewer employees and use resources better. Automated robots reduce the impact of human error, strengthen productivity and improve quality consistency.

Machines can perform the same task innumerable times with the same quality consistency. Automation and AI add intelligence to robotic processes, improving precision so results are consistent and satisfactory. 

AI automation is gaining popularity in some of the largest manufacturing facilities in the world. For example, Ford is pioneering an advanced automation AI in its assembly line robots. Ford’s AI robots use machine learning to improve their performance over time, becoming more precise, accurate and dexterous. These capabilities allow manufacturers to save money, operate more efficiently and produce higher quality products. 

Cobots: The Future of the Assembly Line

The evolution of the assembly line is still underway. AI automation is a breakthrough for manufacturing. It is especially important today since many companies are facing labour shortages. In fact, the National Association of Manufacturers estimates that the industry will be short 2.1 million workers by 2030. Automation and robotics are key to filling the gap. 

Manufacturers have realised that robots can’t replace all human employees. Many tasks require creativity and an eye for detail, which people are much better suited for than machines. The assembly line needs a combination of humans and robots to reach its full potential. 

Unfortunately, robots can sometimes pose safety hazards to people. Assembly line bots are often large, powerful machines. Many manufacturers keep them isolated from employees in fenced-off areas. This keeps workers from accidentally straying into a robot’s area of operation and potentially getting injured. However, it isn’t ideal for a robot-human collaborative workplace. 

This is where collaborative robots, or cobots, come in. Cobots are the next evolution of the assembly line and the future of manufacturing. They are specifically designed to work safely alongside humans. For instance, a cobot robotic arm might have sensors that detect where people are standing nearby. Features like this maximise the potential for machines and humans to work together while minimising the risk of injury in the process. As collaborative robots gain popularity, they will help transform assembly lines to meet modern demand, even with smaller teams of employees. 

Assembly Lines Build Our World

The evolution of the assembly line plays a key role in modern technology. This form of manufacturing has allowed countless products to be created in an affordable, accessible way. Without them, only the wealthy could have things like cars, appliances and personal computers. 

Robots are powering the evolution of the assembly line today and into the future. They have made work safer, more efficient, and more accurate and precise.


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Vodafone Ireland turns to Amdocs to drive enhanced customer experience

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Cloud Computing News

Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.


Vodafone Ireland has chosen Amdocs, a provider of software and services to communications and media companies, to transition its infrastructure and application workloads to the cloud, enabling an enhanced customer experience and rapid adoption of the latest 5G innovations.

Under the agreement, Amdocs Customer Experience Suite (CES) will migrate from Vodafone Ireland on-premise to the cloud, providing the Irish operator with greater flexibility and capacity to support its future growth.  

Mairead Cullen, CIO at Vodafone Ireland, said: “Moving to the cloud is a key part of our strategy as we look to become even more dynamic, agile and responsive to our customers’ needs. We have a long-standing relationship with Amdocs and we’re pleased to be collaborating with them on this important initiative.”

Anthony Goonetilleke, group president of technology and head of strategy at Amdocs, said: “By migrating its IT services infrastructure to the cloud, Vodafone Ireland can ensure it has the foundations in place to achieve growth and further enhance the experience of its customers.

“We are excited to be taking such a central role in the company’s cloud strategy.”

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London.

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How to Align Data and Analytics Governance with Business Outcomes

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How to Align Data and Analytics Governance with Business Outcomes

With access to large amounts of data made available to businesses, maintaining and governing the kind of data that is accessible to users have become significantly essential.

Proper data and analytics governance in organizations can help them in achieving on-point data and analytics processes.

The use of data and analytics is increasing across practically all industries. Due to the availability of inexpensive storage alternatives, organizations have access to more data. It’s not surprising that the usage of analytics due to access to extensive data has expanded to every part of the company when you take into account the growing number of user-friendly tools for managing, retrieving, and analyzing data. 

However, a lot of effort goes into managing data and analytics. Thus, organizations must ensure that their efforts are aligned with their business priorities, and the data is accurate in nature and thoroughly secured. Without analytics governance, even if the organization has a good hold on its data governance policies, the advantages of establishing policies and processes to govern the analytics process still stand. As data governance guarantees your business has processes and standards around the use of data, analytics governance provides the same level of oversight to the way analytics initiatives are built and delivered.

Aligning Data and Analytics Governance

Data and analytics governance initiatives must be closely related to organizational strategies. However, businesses frequently base their data and analytics governance processes on data rather than the business. Here are a few points on how businesses can align their data and analytics governance with their business outcomes.

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Trusted Governance

Forming business decisions based on the notion that “all data is equal” is no longer a sound strategy because data and analytics capabilities exist across a company and differ in nature. Instead, create a paradigm of trust-based governance that allows for a dispersed data and analytics ecosystem and is able to help business executives make decisions that are more confidently appropriate to the circumstances.

Digitization

With the essence of developing technology, digitization has taken over almost every business to stay relevant in the market. However, for businesses to gain the best outcomes from the digital space, digitization is essential. And for successful digitization, data and analytics governance must function based on factors like digital ethics and transparency. Therefore, ensuring that the values and concepts of digitization are reflected in the data and analytics governance is crucial to significantly align it with business outcomes.

Data Security

Today, organizations are aware of the potential risks associated with their businesses and securing data has become a necessity. This awareness implies that they address both the threats and the possibilities brought about by data and analytics. Organizations frequently manage risk and market potential independently, and they also do not really prioritize information security when assessing business results. Therefore, data and analytics governance authorities should have interdisciplinary teams capable of making decisions that are well-balanced, giving risk, opportunities, and security the appropriate weight while considering the organizations’ future interests in mind.

 

Today, businesses are aware of the fact that without effective data and analytics governance, their initiatives and investments in data and analytics won’t be able to satisfy important organizational goals like increased revenue, cost reduction, and improved customer experiences. Therefore, aligning it with business outcomes is critical for business success.

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IBM launches new way to partner through IBM Partner Plus

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Cloud Computing News

IBM has developed IBM Partner Plus, a new program that reimagines how IBM engages with its business partners through unprecedented access to IBM resources, incentives, and tailored support to deepen their technical expertise and help speed time to market.

The program is designed to fuel growth for new and existing partners, including resellers, hyperscalers, technology providers, independent software vendors and systems integrators, by putting them in control of their earning potential. IBM Partner Plus is central to the company’s Hybrid Cloud and AI strategy and aims to empower partners to help clients automate, secure and modernize their businesses.

IBM Partner Plus offers partners a transparent, simple and modern experience. By growing technical expertise and demonstrating sales success, participants can progress to three tiers – Silver, Gold and Platinum – which unlock specialized financial, go-to-market support and education benefits. In the new program, badging will become the standardized measure of skills and validated solutions will demonstrate expertise. The enhanced IBM Partner Portal consolidates and tracks all expertise, revenue, and deals globally, offering each partner a clear line-of-site into their progression through the program.

“IBM Partner Plus introduces a new way for IBM to deliver value to new and existing partners by helping them gain skills, grow faster and earn more,” said Kate Woolley, GM, IBM Ecosystem. “We’ve heard from partners that they want a simplified experience that helps them win with clients. I’m confident these changes and our continued investment in our ecosystem will make IBM the partner of choice across the industry, and together we can drive growth for partners, clients, and IBM.”

IBM Partner Plus results from the company’s journey to put partners at the centre of IBM’s go-to-market strategy and act as a growth engine to help capture the $1 trillion hybrid cloud and AI market opportunities. IBM has invested in elevating the role of partners and accelerating partner-led sales by enabling the ecosystem to become a preferred route to market, offering clients an optimal mix of technology, services, and consulting expertise. To drive continued growth, IBM will increase its capacity to support partners by doubling the number of partner-facing brand and technical specialists to help them prospect and win additional client business.

“The new IBM Partner Plus program provides an enhanced experience that sets our company up for success by offering employees access to skills and opportunities, so we can help more clients utilise IBM’s technology portfolio to modernise their operations,” said Bo Gebbie, President, Evolving Solutions. “IBM is more serious than ever about putting partners first. They’ve listened to our feedback, and it is reflected in the new partner experience that makes it easy for us to collaborate, rewards our investments and fuel growth.”

IBM Partner Plus brings all partner types and programs together – whether they sell, build on or with, and/or provide services for IBM technology – into one integrated ecosystem. For example, to help broaden the market opportunity and create new revenue streams for its ecosystem, IBM recently enabled partners in North America to resell IBM products through other cloud marketplaces. This allows for independent software vendors to embed IBM Software from partner marketplaces into their own solutions. All partner sales through the marketplace accumulate towards their progression in IBM Partner Plus. 

Competitive incentives

Partners can advance through tiers to unlock benefits and demand generation programs which could offer them up to a threefold increase in total investment from IBM. The IBM Partner Portal gives partners real-time visibility into the incentives they are eligible for, predictability into potential earnings, and includes an automated deal share engine that helps them surface quality leads. This has improved deal registration and introduced partners to more than 7,000 potential deals valued at over half a billion dollars globally.*  IBM investments in co-marketing campaigns and co-sell support with partners can also help bring solutions to market and generate demand.

Insider access

IBM Partner Plus builds on the successful release of its October badging and selling enablement materials to partners, which has driven more than 15,000 partner enrollments in sales and technical badges. Offering partners the training, enablement, and experiential selling resources available to IBMers at no cost can help better equip them to win with clients. Additionally, access to IBM’s seller tools can help them generate competitive and transparent pricing. Partners can also attend IBM’s quarterly Sales Kickoffs together with IBM sellers, and participate in live training sessions and other global technical advocacy events to help upskill, increase eminence, and engage with technical experts. For new partners, IBM is launching the IBM New Partner Accelerator, which provides onboarding, training, and other benefits during their first six months in the program to help accelerate their path to profitability.

Enhanced support and benefits

Partners can grow skills, develop solutions, and build sales expertise with technologies like AI, security, and cloud on an open hybrid cloud platform by leveraging technical experts from IBM. IBM will also assist partners in the development of minimal viable products, proofs of concept, and custom demos to help them win client business and accelerate growth. In addition, as partner businesses grow with IBM, they can unlock additional benefits designed to help them expand capabilities and find new clients.

PartnerWorld will transition to a new IBM Partner Plus experience on January 4, 2023, with the new incentive program taking effect on April 1, 2023. Registered PartnerWorld members will maintain their current tier through July 1, 2023 and can progress to the new tiering system during this time as they meet criteria.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London.

Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge här.

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