6 min read

Which companies are at the forefront of the digitalisation of industry? 


Industry 4.0, the age of the smart factory, has arrived. Robots, AI and the Internet of Things are taking over processes and machinery, redefining manufacturing and breaking new targets of quality, efficiency and flexibility.

Driving this new era of industry automation are the innovations of companies creating the critical hardware and software. We recently looked at some of the robots set to change our lives. Here are six case studies of those companies pushing us forward, including examples of their revolution-enabling tech.

1. ABB

Company profile: ABB (Zurich, Switzerland) is a technology leader at the forefront of digitally connected and enabled industrial equipment and systems, most notably robotics. It operates in over 100 countries and employs around 36,000 people.

Innovative tech: YUMI single-arm – small-parts assembly robot solution

Introduced: 2017

Positive impact: YuMi was the world’s first truly collaborative robot. Its flexible hands, compact size and collision-detection software enabled it to work safely alongside humans, carrying out high-precision tasks, such as parts picking, at speed. This new single-arm model is smaller and more agile with lead-through programming for even greater efficiencies.

“YuMi makes collaboration between humans and robots a reality. It is the result of years of research and development, and will change the way humans and robots interact.”

Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO, ABB

Source: abb.com

2. Siemens AG

Company profile: Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich, Germany) is a global powerhouse focused on electrification, automation and digitalisation. As of late 2017, Siemens had around 372,000 employees in more than 200 countries.

Innovative tech: Sinumerik CNC 840D sl – machine tool handling system

Introduced: 2017 (software)

Positive impact: The Sinumerik 840D sl latest software 4.8 release has advanced productivity by boosting the speed, precision and safety of tools with features such as nodding compensation and advanced collision protection. Its superior system flexibility means it can handle everything from milling and turning to grinding, laser machining and multitasking machining.

“The end-to-end digitalisation approach taken by Siemens encompasses not only hardware but also software along the entire value chain from design to machine tool application, enabling our customers from the machine tool industry to achieve a significant boost to their productivity.”

—Uwe Armin Ruttkamp, Head of Machine Tool Systems

Source: siemens.com

3. Emerson Electric Co. 

Company profile: Emerson (Missouri, US) is an electrical multinational company that now focuses on two core business platforms: Automation Solutions and Commercial and Residential Solutions. It has over 10,000 employees globally.

Innovative tech: Plantweb digital ecosystem – a scalable portfolio of standards-based hardware, software, intelligent devices and services

Introduced: 2016 (expanded)

Positive impact: Plantweb is the most comprehensive and integrated Industrial IoT portfolio in the industry. It expands digital intelligence to the entire manufacturing enterprise, increasing operational certainty. More secure and robust than other systems, it offers real-time insights thanks to pervasive sensing technologies.

“In 1997, Emerson revolutionised the automation landscape with Plantweb, the first field-based digital plant architecture. Now, we are doing it again by harnessing the power of Industrial IoT to give customers the technology foundation for Operational Certainty.”

—Peter Zornio, Chief Strategic Officer, Emerson Automation Solutions

Source: emerson.com

4. Schneider Electric

Company profile: Schneider Electric (Rueil-Malmaison‎, France) is a worldwide specialist in energy management and automation with a global presence in over 100 countries. It develops safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable connected solutions to manage energy and processes.

Innovative tech: High-end Modicon M580 ePAC – Ethernet programmable automation controller

Introduced: 2016

Positive impact: Built for the industrial IoT, the high-end Modicon M580 ePAC offers connectivity capabilities to help companies react faster to information demands in a safe and cyber-secure environment. It delivers an open, transparent, yet fully cohesive, stable and secured system, making it ideal for today’s dynamic market.

“The M580 ePAC is on the frontier of the next generation of PACs that leverage open and fast Ethernet communications.”

—Mark Williams, Director, Plant Solutions Competency Center

Source: schneider-electric.com / everspin.com

5. KUKA Robotics

Company profile: Chinese-owned KUKA Robotics (HQ Augsburg, Germany) is one of the leading manufacturers of industrial robots as well as plant manufacturing and system technology. With 25 subsidiaries worldwide, they are considered a pioneer in industry automation.

Innovative tech: OmniMOVE KUKA Mobile Platform 1500 – logistics vehicles

Introduced: 2017

Positive impact: OmniMOVE drive technology gives manufacturing vehicles precise, unlimited 360-degree manoeuvrability. The autonomous KMP 1500 moves without tracks and with +/- 5 mm precision accuracy, enabling task flexibility and minimising floor space needed. Its application is streamlining logistics and processes.

“The new mobile platform KMP 1500 is our answer to the increased demands made by the manufacturing industry on shorter response times and greater flexibility in the manufacturing process. It permits flexibility in production that was previously inconceivable.”

—Jonas Glimdén, CEO, KUKA Nordic

 Source: kuka.com

6. Bosch RexRoth

Company profile: Bosch Rexroth (HQ Lohr am Main, Germany) is one of the world’s leading providers of drive and control technology. Its products include hydraulics, electric drives and controls, gear technology, and linear motion and assembly technology.

Innovative tech: ActiveAssist assembly assistance system – smart workstation

Introduced: 2017

Positive impact: This intuitive platform makes all information available to all employees at all times. It guides assembly at all stages, indicating errors as well as intervening to correct them. Built for Industry 4.0, it brings greater quality and productivity to manufacturing.

“The [ActiveAssist] open software solution is another building block on the road to the factory of the future in which employees are supported in their tasks by connected solutions.”

—Bosch Rexroth PR

Source: boschrexroth.com / publicnow.com

The innovations of these and other leading companies are not only helping advance Industry 4.0  but also accelerating wider change and progress, bringing our digital future, and all the possibilities it brings, closer.