In a regular Friday spot, this is the Reading Room, a weekly roundup of what we’ve been reading, watching and listening to. You can see these updates even more regularly if you follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Wow, the COVID-19 story is moving so fast we could produce a “Reading Room” on it every day. Suffice to say, it’s a huge story, occupying many people as they grapple with the disruption to their production, their supply chain, and even their day-to-day lives.
- The only piece on this topic I am recommending this week is in EPSnews. “On the Front Line: Tech Companies Weigh in on Covid-19”, offers insight from numerous tech executives. Barbara Jorgensen has done an exceptional job covering the issue.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be exploring what Covid-19 will mean in terms of redesigning supply chains, better management tools and techniques, mitigating risk in the future, manufacturing geographies and much more. Anyway, I am sure most of you are across the issue and are reading plenty, so let’s see what else the manufacturing press is talking about this week:
- Let’s start with some good news from viruses. According to WIRED, “The Next Generation of Batteries Could Be Built by Viruses”. Angela Belcher found a way to turn nature’s zombies into a tiny assembly line. But creating a new power cell might be just the beginning.
- Also in WIRED, “This Clever Robotic Finger Feels with Light”. The nerves in human fingertips are great at sensing things. For robots, learning to touch is more complicated. Robots already have us beat in some ways: They’re stronger, more consistent, and they never demand a lunch break. But when it comes to the senses, machines still struggle mightily
- IndustryWeek asks “How Can Mixed Reality Fit into Production?”, as they look at the technology’s potential to move beyond engineering and frontline tasks. Once viewed as purely futuristic, immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are transforming manufacturing workflows as business leaders recognize the value of visualizing complex data dimensionally and supporting more information-rich experiences.
- Amy Feldman in Forbes, tells us that “As Factories Struggle With How To Automate, Ready Robotics, Spun Out Of Johns Hopkins, Raises $23 Million For Robotic O/S”. Ben Gibbs was working in Johns Hopkins University’s office for licensing and commercialization of intellectual property when he teamed up with Ph.D. robotics researcher Kel Guerin on the technology that became Ready Robotics in 2016. Their idea: Software that could power industrial robots, with an easy-to-use dashboard, enabling even small- and mid-size manufacturers to get the productivity benefit of robotic arms.
- The Wall Street Journal tells us that “Panasonic to End Tesla Partnership That Makes Solar Panels in Buffalo”. Japanese company says it will stop production in May and exit the factory by September.
- From the pages of EMSNOW, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give one article this week a shout out. It’s this month’s “Icons of Industry – Pamela J. Gordon” someone I count as a friend as well as a colleague. One of the nicest people in the industry!
Webinar of the week: COVID-19 is a tragic and harsh reminder of the fragile nature of supply chains, and the need for those supply chains to be more robust and agile. This is not the first supply chain disruption and it won’t be the last, but what are the visible and hidden costs of disruption. Traditional supply chains are horribly outdated and no longer fit for purpose. A new digitally-first solution is desperately needed. To explore these issues, I will be moderating a webinar on March 12th, entitled “The Hidden Costs of Supply Chain Unpredictability” with guests Ron Keith of Supply Chain Resource Group, and Jean Olivieri of Fictiv.
Upcoming event: There are a few major events that set agendas for the entire year. CES, World Economic Forum, Hannover Messe and SXSW (or South by South West). Keynotes present diverse, visionary speakers who deliver the most powerful new ideas in the ever-evolving worlds of film, culture, music and technology. These speakers are the center of the SXSW Conference and exemplify the spirit, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial drive that SXSW cultivates. The Tech Industry and Enterprise track always contains exceptional thought leadership and inspiration.
Read more, watch more, hear more, know more – that’s the SCOOP!