MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY, ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION
Machina Labs | March 20, 2023
Machina Labs today announced that the United States Air Force (USAF) has awarded Machina Labs $1.6M to advance and accelerate the development of its robotic technology for manufacturing of metal tooling for high-rate production of composites.
Higher vehicle production rates in comparison to current rates is anticipated as experts project that the airline industry will need to triple its fleet to about 60,000 airplanes over the next 20 years. With respect to military applications, there is a similar drive towards balancing mission agility, sustainment, and vehicle cost; giving rise to emerging air vehicle concepts like the Low-Cost Autonomous Collaborative Platforms (ACP) program where there is a higher tolerance over limited life and loss of vehicles during operations.
In addition, Advanced/Urban Air Mobility (AAM/UAM) vehicles have received considerable commercial traction in recent years. These highly automated, on-demand passenger and air cargo vehicles are anticipated to have production rates in the tens to hundreds of thousands per year. Lightweight, high-strength composite structures are a key enabler for achieving these goals. As such, the factory throughputs of advanced composite structures have to be increased and their production cost lowered.
Machina Labs’ AFWERX Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI) contract will be focused on metal tooling for a fast-cure, out-of-autoclave (OOA) composite processing route. Through its previous contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Machina Labs has validated that its tools have vacuum integrity, are dimensionally stable once thermally stabilized, and are thermally more responsive than conventional metal tools.
Composite tooling, depending on the materials selected and the tool size, could cost more than $1 million per tool and require 8-10 months of lead time. These costs and lead times for composite tooling do not support referenced increased manufacturing goals.
“Machina Labs has demonstrated that its large-envelope, two-robot, incremental sheet metal forming technology can be used for manufacturing of metal tooling for composites resulting in dramatically reduced tool costs and time-to-market of composite parts,” according to Craig Neslen, Manufacturing Lead for the ACP Program at AFRL. “At the same time, given that no part-specific hardware is necessary for manufacturing of the sheet metal tools, it is possible to not only fabricate the tools expeditiously, but to quickly accommodate design changes when necessary.”
Machina Labs uses robots the way a blacksmith uses a hammer to creatively manufacture different designs and material, introducing unseen flexibility and agility to the manufacturing industry. The company’s manufacturing platform combines the latest advances in robotics and AI so great ideas can quickly and affordably turn to reality and businesses can benefit from rapid iteration to bring more innovative products to market, faster.
“We are pleased to advance our work with USAF in order to advance composite tooling for a wide variety of applications,” according to Babak Raeisinia, Co-Founder and Head of Applications & Partnerships at Machina Labs. “Keeping inventory of tooling is expensive. I believe technology will free up capital and allow organizations such as USAF to transition to an on-demand tooling model.”
Machina Labs combines the latest advances in AI and robotics to deliver finished metal products in days – not months or years – and gives customers unprecedented time to market and competitive advantage. Robotic sheet forming is the first process enabled by Machina’s patented manufacturing platform. Using material- and geometry-agnostic technology, the platform outperforms traditional sheet forming methods that rely on custom molds or dies.
About Machina Labs
Founded in 2019 by aerospace and automotive industry veterans, Machina Labs is an advanced manufacturing company based in Los Angeles, California. Enabled by advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics, Machina Labs is developing Software-Defined Factories of the Future. The mission of the company is to develop modular manufacturing solutions that can be reconfigured to manufacture new products simply by changing the software.
ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION, PROCUREMENT & SUPPLY CHAIN
Optoro | March 13, 2023
Optoro, the market leader in retail returns and reverse logistics technology, and Locus Robotics, another leading player in autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for distribution centers and fulfillment warehouses, have recently entered into a partnership to deliver an automated software and robotics solution for handling high volumes of retail ecommerce returns.
The leading robotics automation system of Locus allows seamless up and down scaling in response to fluctuations in demand, enabling operators to speed up returns processing, minimize restocking issues, and reduce personnel expenses. The Locus system offers high-volume, round-the-clock operations in both single-level and multi-level mezzanine settings, and it automates a huge amount of e-commerce.
Growing e-commerce inevitably leads to a rise in returns as customers increase their purchases. In 2022, US retail sales brought in $816 billion, and e-commerce sales brought in $212 billion. Both of these numbers were up more than 100% from 2019. Reverse logistics encompasses a wide range of functions, including returns management, warehousing, sales, logistics, finance, recycling management, disposal of end-of-life products and environmental compliance, as products are returned, refurbished, repaired and recycled.
Amena Ali, Chief Executive Officer at Optoro, remarked, “Partnering with Locus enables us to deliver a proven robotics automation solution that is well positioned to meet the high throughput demands of today’s return centers.” She further added, “Together, we can help retailers move inventory faster and more efficiently through the supply chain, cut costs, minimize their environmental impact, and improve the customer experience.”
(Source – GlobeNewswire)
Al Dekin, Chief Revenue Officer at Locus Robotics, stated, "Returns and reverse logistics have historically been high-volume, high-cost functions that are typically quite complicated. We believe our partnership with Optoro will provide 3PLs, retailers, warehouse operators, and others a repeatable, efficient, and proven solution.”
(Source – GlobeNewswire)
Founded in 2010, and headquartered in Washington, Optoro is the leader in returns technology for retailers and brands. With the help of data science, it automates decisions in real-time to make the returns process better for customers, businesses, and the environment. It connects a simple online returns portal to the warehouse's processing and resale software, offering robust solutions to improve results at every step of the returns process. Major retailers and brands like American Eagle, Best Buy, Staples, and IKEA rely on Optoro's technology to turn returns into a strategic advantage and facilitate sustainability efforts throughout the supply chain.
NuScale Power | March 10, 2023
On March 9, 2023, NuScale Power Corporation, a leading proprietary and innovative advanced nuclear small modular reactor (SMR) technology provider, announced that it has placed the first upper reactor pressure vessel (RPV) long lead material production order with Doosan Enerbility, a world-class manufacturing and engineering company.
As scheduled, the order was made at the end of 2022 for the materials required to begin producing the first NuScale Power Modules, which are anticipated to commence commercial operation in 2029 at the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems' Carbon Free Power Project. The companies will produce more modules with comparable delivery schedules for future NuScale VOYGRTM SMR power plant projects.
NuScale and Doosan started an effort in April 2022 to complete manufacturing the forging dies for the upper RPV in preparation for the long lead order. The new LLM order is comprised of heavy forgings, steam generator tubes, and welding material for six upper RPVs. The anticipated overall weight of the components for six higher RPVs exceeds 2,000 tonnes.
In addition to Doosan, NuScale is strengthening its supply chain preparedness by working with its extensive network of world-class suppliers and manufacturers in the United States and internationally.
NuScale's President and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins commented, “Finalizing and submitting this order to our valued partner, Doosan, showcases NuScale’s transition to the manufacturing phase of our modules and highlights our advanced position in the market to deploy our SMR technology to customers by the end of the decade.” He further emphasized, “Our strong relationships with experienced partners like Doosan demonstrate NuScale’s robust global supply chain and positions us to meet the growing interest for NuScale VOYGR power plants that we are seeing around the world.”
(Source – Business Wire)
About NuScale Power
NuScale Power Corporation is a leading advanced nuclear small modular reactor (SMR) technology solutions provider. Its innovative SMR technology involves modular designs allowing easy installation and scalability, making them ideal for small and medium-sized power applications. The company's flagship product is the NuScale Power ModuleTM, which has a capacity of 60 MWe and can be combined to create larger power plants. In 2020, the company received approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its SMR design, making it the first and only SMR technology to receive such approval in the United States. With its cutting-edge technology and commitment to innovation, NuScale Power Corporation is well-positioned to play a leading role in the future of clean energy.