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Tech Trends: Fun Safety

Ben and Steve cry about inflation taking everything from them! Mostly just joy riding and cheap fast food, though. Benjamin says the Navy is indeed putting metal AM machines in their ships. Stephen claims cobots are better for tool wear measurement...
Jul 15, 2022

Episode 75: Ben and Steve cry about inflation taking everything from them! Mostly just joy riding and cheap fast food, though. Benjamin says the Navy is indeed putting metal AM machines in their ships. Stephen claims cobots are better for tool wear measurement. Ben talks about how robots are still changing how warehouses are designed and built, regardless of how much better they’re getting, and he brings up ways to keep humans safe from robots and facilities secure from cyber threats. Steve closes with some support for exoskeletons and not just from them.

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Transcript

Benjamin Moses:          Hello everyone, welcome to the AMT Tech Trends podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology, research, and news. Today's episode is sponsored by AM Radio. I am Benjamin Moses, the director of technology, and I'm here with-

Stephen LaMarca:         LaMarca, Stephen, tech analyst.

Benjamin Moses:          Steve, I don't know why I'm reading from a sheet of paper for the intro. I know my name, I know my title.

Stephen LaMarca:         You know it. Listen, I remember those first few episodes that we did, the ones that didn't even air. The ones that we were doing for practice, and for research, and figure out how viable this was going to be as a AMT product. Even three months into our first few episodes- no, a year or two in, we were still struggling with our names. No, do not give yourself- and plus it looks official having the paper in front of you.

Benjamin Moses:          I'm officially a news guy now.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yes.

Benjamin Moses:          Inflation. We were briefly chatting about that earlier.

Stephen LaMarca:         Okay.

Benjamin Moses:          I feel-

Stephen LaMarca:         So like, all right, people listening, please don't close the podcast just yet. Hear me out, because nobody wants to hear about all this negativity. But you know inflation's pretty high right now.

Benjamin Moses:          I bet.

Stephen LaMarca:         It might be the highest it's been in my lifetime.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         Honestly, I don't know because when I was younger, like we're talking before twenties, I really didn't care. I had no money anyway.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         So the reported inflation rate for the US is like between 7.9 and 8.6%.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         My best friend's super conservative dad is like, you think it's 8.6 you're kidding yourself, it's more like 12 to 16. Have you bought a back of potato chips recently? Cape Cod potato chips have went up a dollar in price and they went down in size from eight ounces to seven and a half ounces. I was like, dude save your money. I'm the last person who should be telling you to not be so peckish.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         But how about you just don't buy potato chips.

Benjamin Moses:          There's a scenario where this has affected me.

Stephen LaMarca:         Okay.

Benjamin Moses:          So Tuesday nights are is our-

Stephen LaMarca:         It's the snacks, man. It is snack- it should affect the peckish-ness.

Benjamin Moses:          Tuesday night is our fast food night of the week. So it helps logistics because Amelia has gymnastics.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          So I'm running home to get dinner and then get her to gymnastics on time, which is a headache. So we just get fast food and just call it- that's the only time we get-

Stephen LaMarca:         It's a treat.

Benjamin Moses:          It's a treat, right?

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          She gets a nice dessert-

Stephen LaMarca:         I see it as a treat. You see it as, oh this is easy.

Benjamin Moses:          -and she picks the location of the fast food based on the dessert she wants, so she's already plotting. A week ago, the bill for three of us, $30 for fast food.

Stephen LaMarca:         Wow, yeah. It's crazy man.

Benjamin Moses:          So the price increases on inflation there. It's hitting hard.

Stephen LaMarca:         Don't ask me how I know. I got a lot of experience with how much fast food's gone up though. From the college days.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         And like the early, like 2010s when I'd go out with my high school friends when I'd come back in town.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         We just like, we'd do a $5 baller.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Which was two McChickens, two McDoubles, and maybe like a small drink.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Because you're at the restaurant because you don't want to be driving at that hour, especially after what you've done. You want to sit in the restaurant so you get free refills. So just get the small. $5.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Two burgers, two chicken sandwiches and a drink.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         These days, if you did the same thing, that's probably $12.

Benjamin Moses:          I enjoy everyone's dollar menu, by the way. I don't order meals. I just go-

Stephen LaMarca:         Do they still exist anywhere? Not even McDonalds.

Benjamin Moses:          It's shady, so they have like a two for three menu.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          So I mean, I don't think it's a dollar menu anymore. And plus I question food that's a dollar now that I know a few things.

Stephen LaMarca:         Fair enough, yeah. You know, I should probably be questioning more food that I put in my body. But anyway, I did run across some more interesting numbers, just looking at the inflation percentages. To sort of like mellow things out, if you think we've got it bad.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Which there's a lot of people who think we've got it bad, and we do, I'm not trying to like offset that, but Argentina is at 68.5% inflation right now. These are 2022 numbers.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Venezuela, guess.

Benjamin Moses:          A thousand.

Stephen LaMarca:         Okay, no 96. Almost a hundred, you may as well say you're at a hundred percent inflation right now. Turkey is at 68.4. But it's not all bad around the world.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         Some of the countries on the low- I'm sure there's also a negativity to a low inflation, but I don't know what that's like right now.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         But on the low end, there's Ecuador and Bolivia, which are like 2.7 and 2.8, respectively. Malaysia is at 2.8, Australia, the big robot guys, big ship builders, big manufacturing right now, 5.2. So that's what big manufacturing, advanced manufacturing implementation does for you. If we had more manufacturing going on, just saying, we'd have a lower inflation rate. Israel is that 3.7, but that's because of American christians love giving them all the money. Saudi Arabia is at 2.4, Japan 1.9.

Benjamin Moses:          Wow.

Stephen LaMarca:         They make the best vehicles, that explains it. I'm sorry.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure, but-

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm not going to mention the last one. We don't like them.

Benjamin Moses:          Has this affected your hobbies? You recently talked about something that you did.

Stephen LaMarca:         So I never thought it would.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         And I took pride that all of- I like being a pompous jerk. And I like saying that, I'm not a [inaudible 00:05:40] I don't buy regular gas, I buy premium.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Premiums-

Benjamin Moses:          That's expensive.

Stephen LaMarca:         You think regular gas is spicy right now? Premium gas is up there. And admittedly, I am driving my car less.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         I am not going for as many joy rides.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm not taking the long way home anymore or the long way to work.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm taking direct routes now. It kind of say- however, amongst the highest gas prices that we've had in as long as I've been alive, I went to my first track day.

Benjamin Moses:          Oh congratulations.

Stephen LaMarca:         And I burnt the gas going nowhere and it was amazing.

Benjamin Moses:          Nice. What track did you go to?

Stephen LaMarca:         I went to Dominion Raceway.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's around where King's Dominion is, go figure.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         So north of Richmond, but you have to take 95 south. It's around Fredericksburg. I think the actual county is Woodford, Virginia.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         Like the bourbon, but in Virginia instead of Kentucky. I'll be honest, going back to being a pompous jerk.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         I didn't expect much from the track.

Benjamin Moses:          Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:         Because I'm like, I play a lot of Gran Turismo.

Benjamin Moses:          It's not a well known track.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's never been in Gran Turismo, I've never heard of it before.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Even though it's relative- like less than two hours away from here.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         So I was like, this isn't going to be fun, but it's only a hundred dollars. Let's go for a little bit. It was awesome. It's probab- the professionals there, the people that work, there were incredibly professional.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Safety first oriented.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Which you would hope they would be, but also really awesome good old boy gear heads too.

Benjamin Moses:          Of course.

Stephen LaMarca:         With just the safety first mentality.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         I will say the track was incredible.

Benjamin Moses:          Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:         Just everything that you- like super technical.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         A really long front straight, high speed sweepers, hair pins. They have something for everybody.

Benjamin Moses:          Nice.

Stephen LaMarca:         I would say that the elevation change of the track wasn't that extreme, but you know, beggars can't be choosers.

Benjamin Moses:          Were there any blind hills? I don't like that. I think there's one.

Stephen LaMarca:         I don't think there was, maybe there was one small blind hill.

Benjamin Moses:          Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:         But it wasn't too- we're not talking like the corkscrew at Laguna Seca.

Benjamin Moses:          That's fair, okay.

Stephen LaMarca:         And what else? Oh, it did have- what I really liked about the track, is going there having never been on a track before and knowing my weaknesses in performance driving.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         I greatly dislike decreasing radius turns.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah, that's fair.

Stephen LaMarca:         Like turns that get tighter as you go through them.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         I became really comfortable with them.

Benjamin Moses:          Oh good.

Stephen LaMarca:         And at least I learned this one instance of a decreasing, but it was cool. As much as I push the video game experience, I've never been good at decreasing radius turns in video games. I feel like I got really good at this one, decreasing radius turn at this track. I-R-L and in real life. It was just a blast. It was a hundred dollars for what was called a track attack.

Benjamin Moses:          Nice.

Stephen LaMarca:         So it wasn't like an open track day. There was no passing allowed.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         There was no tech inspection required, no required to wear a helmet because everybody was following- I think 25 cars showed up. So they needed three pace cars. They split up the 25 car pack.

Benjamin Moses:          Okay.

Stephen LaMarca:         And they had three pace cars and the first group that I was in, you basically do- you go out for, they say five laps, but it's really seven laps.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         The first lap is like a warmup lap, getting used to the track, getting used to being back on the track. Even if you know the track. Just getting things up to temperature.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Then five laps of a good pace.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         More than enough for me.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         I mean, there were corvettes and modern BMW M3s and M4s there.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         My car can't keep up with that stuff. So even though they're doing like a gentle jog around the track.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         I am pushing it in my car and it was a blast for me. I'm sure it was really boring for them, but it was great for me.

Benjamin Moses:          As long as you have fun.

Stephen LaMarca:         I ran all the curbs. I spent a hundred dollars on that track attack.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm going to use the whole track.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         I loved- I went with Dayton and his younger brother Taron, and I was like, dude, I'm running curbs. All I care about today is running curbs.

Benjamin Moses:          Good.

Stephen LaMarca:         I do it all the time in video games, never done it IRL, I'm running curbs today. But yeah, so you go out for a warmup lap, then you do five laps at a good pace, and then one cool down lap.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Cool down laps are very important.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         I will say this one thing that I learned riding motorcycles, especially doing group rides.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Also applies to track days in a car if you're in the back of your pack you definitely work harder-

Benjamin Moses:          Oh yeah, that's fair.

Stephen LaMarca:         -than the front, and you don't experience enough of the positives of the cool down lap.

Benjamin Moses:          Fair,

Stephen LaMarca:         Because the cool down lap, a lot of people think- I certainly went into this track day thinking that the cool down lap was to allow the engine to cool down.

Benjamin Moses:          Nope,

Stephen LaMarca:         No, it's allowed your brakes to cool down.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Because if you're pushing the brakes really hard, which you are on a track, and then you come into the pit and come to a complete stop. If you don't do a cool down lap, especially with street pads and rotors, the pads and rotors can actually fuse together.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         And glue themselves, and then it leaves a really nasty mark on the rotor.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         That feels like you have warped Rotors.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         And so the cool down laps necessary, and you don't get nearly as much of that if you're in the back, because you're pushing it to keep up.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah, right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Especially if there's fast cars directly behind the pace car.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         Then the pace car's being pressured to go faster to make sure that they're not bored and you as the slow car like me. Well, me in the slow car is I'm really pushing it just to keep them in sight.

Benjamin Moses:          Nice.

Stephen LaMarca:         But it was a blast.

Benjamin Moses:          Good.

Stephen LaMarca:         And we did three stents of those five lap sessions, so well worth a hundred dollars.

Benjamin Moses:          Nice. I'll have to keep that in mind. I recommend doing some auto crosses at some point, too. Those are a blast.

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm not going to do an auto cross.

Benjamin Moses:          All right. Tell us about our sponsor today.

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm not going to spend an entire day of my weekend to drive for 15 minutes in a parking lot with cones.

Benjamin Moses:          All right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Or maybe I'll do it because I could use some learning experience with the mechanics and the technicals. Today's sponsor is AM radio. AM radio is the new podcast from Additive Manufacturing Media. Join editors Pete Zelinski, Stephanie Hendrixson, and Julia Hider as they share stories of companies succeeding with 3D printing today, talk about emerging trends, and discuss the future opportunities and potential for AM in the context of the larger manufacturing landscape. New episodes are published every other week. Subscribe now on apple or wherever you listen to podcasts tune into additive.

Benjamin Moses:          Thanks, Steve. The first article I have is actually on additive.

Stephen LaMarca:         Heard up.

Benjamin Moses:          It's from Popular Mechanics. The Navy is using 3D printers to turn warships into weapon factories. That's a little misleading. So the military has been doing a lot of experimentation with additive, particularly printing as close to point of use as possible. So they put a, they call it high speed printer, but they have a printer on a USS Essex, which is an amphibious assault ship. What they're experimenting is printing replacement parts or drones. So this warship is used for amphibious assaults by the Marines, and it's operated by the Navy, and they're thinking of extending the service life. So all the equipment and all the supplies, I think it has to support 5,000 troops for 30 days or something like that. So that includes all their accessories and support equipment.

                                    So I think they're testing out if a blade on a drone breaks, right? How do you replace that? And so instead of having basically 30 days worth of drone parts, just print it as needed. So this raises a very interesting question because one, physically printing on a ship is very interesting because the ship is moving, right? So then you have to isolate the movement of the ship versus the printer. So there's a lot of logistics and mechanics involved to support just the process, the printing. There's also the larger ecosystem of how do you get the data and the information to the ship, right?

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          Are they storing stuff locally? I'm sure they have broadband connection for the ship. The communications probably pretty solid, but where are they, and what are the rights managements for storing this information?

                                    And secondly, what's the economy for supporting this? Are they paying someone? Obviously they're paying for the printer, but who owns the IP for recreating this part on the machine. So this is a very interesting article about- at the very tactical level of doing some stuff very forward. This raises very interesting questions on, data rights management, and the economy, and cybersecurity, right?

Stephen LaMarca:         Right.

Benjamin Moses:          They're doing- and these are drones and they're the [inaudible 00:14:51], but if-

Stephen LaMarca:         It starts with drones.

Benjamin Moses:          Right, but how do they securely transfer this information? How do they know that the part that they're printing is the correct part? Because we have talk about cyber security attacks where they're printing. They're attacking parts by embedding flaws into the parts to see if they can make defects, and so they fail in the field and things like that, so.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          This creates a very good technology demonstrator of all the enabling technologies that have to be dragged along with being able to do this. I thought it was a very good article.

Stephen LaMarca:         I think it's awesome for two reasons. Number one, we had that article not too long ago about it was Optomec, that secured a contract to at least research 3D printing metal AM and to repair or produce the titanium blisks to be used in the F35.

Benjamin Moses:          That's right.

Stephen LaMarca:         So military application. Then on top of this, I remember one of the first phone calls I fielded working for AMT was this good old boy who had this machine shop full of collectible, antique, maybe not antique, but old manual machine tools.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         And he was trying to offload some LeBlond lathes. And he pulled them from a warship.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         An old warship, like world war II era warship. So the Navy, when you speak about ship, like onboard a Naval vessel for metal AM, it's cool because the Navy's not new to this.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         They've been- all Naval ships, at least us Navy ships, have some sort of machine shop onboard, and it's cool that they are implementing additive. So, sure implementation has been really tough with a lot of actual manufacturers, but sometimes the military does stuff first to get other people to accept it and open up to it.

Benjamin Moses:          Right, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         And additive might be the case for that. The other cool thing is speaking to that, it would be really sick to somehow find out a hundred years from now, a hundred plus years from now, there are military surplus metal additive machines that people are just trying to get rid of.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah. That's fair. That'd be interesting prominence to the equipment that you're purchasing.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah, I mean-

Benjamin Moses:          Tell me about Cobots. You got one on tool wear measurement?

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah. I got a great article from Metrology News, they never disappoint.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Cobot increases efficiency in tool wear measurement. So this Cobot implementation is a robotic arm that is designed to increase the efficiency of tool wear measurement. The arm is equipped with a laser that is used to measure the wear on cutting tools. The laser is able to take measurements of the tool wear at a rate of one measurement per second. Which isn't the highest, but it's still pretty quick. The information is then sent to a computer that analyzes the data and provides a report of the tool wear. So let's start with the role of tool wear in the machining process. Tool wear is a huge topic because it's one of the primary concerns with any shop of any size or level dealing with trying to save money.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         How can we make the tool last longer?

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         How can we continue to produce parts that pass inspection and get as little defects as possible in the name of saving money and making profit?

Benjamin Moses:          Well, also just to add, I mean it's about our process confidence level, right?

Stephen LaMarca:         Sure.

Benjamin Moses:          So you know your tool is going to degrade, but when does it degrade and when does it shift to making a bad part, right? So it's about process capability too.

Stephen LaMarca:         And a quote that I pulled from that I really like is, "Tool where plays a crucial role in the machining processes. It affects tool costs for companies and has a-", and I liked this part because it literally has a direct impact on surfaces. I just thought that was fun.

Benjamin Moses:          That's fair.

Stephen LaMarca:         Another thing positive about this clamping and unclamping is no longer necessary. The Cobot system can be moved directly up to the machine tool. Therefore, the technician does not have to unclamp tools and materials separately. Then, this kind of plays into focus variation, allows highly precise measurements. By combining the products of several companies that make the system, high resolution 3D data sets can be generated. Which allow users to make measurements in the micro and nanometer range.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         I liked that because obviously that's very good for tolerance and accuracy. Which is something that is a great, as you and I know, is a great weakness for robots.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         There's only one company that we know of, that anybody knows of, that publishes accuracy for their robot arms.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Or robots in general, and it's not good. It's not a good number.

Benjamin Moses:          But it's published.

Stephen LaMarca:         The fact that it's published shows that they can consistently achieve that number, which is at least they're the benchmark.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         If you can do better, then publish it, and say that you can beat them.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         But accuracy's not a strong point for robots is what I'm trying to get at. Along comes optical measurement.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's okay, the robot doesn't need to be accurate because the laser is.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         And the camera is.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         So it's a happy marriage.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah, and only just the underlying technology to achieve that, but the improvement to the shop floor, right. So if you're doing- I mean, if you have a tool probe-

Stephen LaMarca:         Right.

Benjamin Moses:          -so when you put in the first tool for the first time and check to see what the profile is and the actual diameter of the cutter and things like that.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          Getting to the concept of the first part correct is very interesting, and there's a lot of underlying technologies that say, everything I predicted and I'm going to start cutting chips, and I have like 90% confidence that the part is going to be correct. Carry that to the life of- or the entire lot size. So from part zero to part 100, having that same confidence throughout the process. So being able to say, after 10 parts let's check the check the cutter, does it need to be changed, right? This is super important. I mean obviously everyone that's cutting is super important, but if you get into super alloys or very difficult materials.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah. And the robot may know how to use the camera better than a human can.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         So sure, I know I mentioned in the happy marriage between the camera, the high resolution camera, laser and the robot, you'd think that the high resolution camera and the laser is saving the robot.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Because it does bring accuracy to the robot, which does not have any accuracy, but the robot actually makes the camera better because let's say you need a really small camera to fit in that tight space. And that smaller camera only has a focal range of adjustment that's so long. Guess what the camera can move.

Benjamin Moses:          That's right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Because it's on a robot.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         And the robot can move certainly more precisely than a human can.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         So-

Benjamin Moses:          There's a lot of [crosstalk 00:22:04].

Stephen LaMarca:         It's a really benefit system.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah. We're looking forward to see how that propagates through the rest of the industry. So I've got a couple articles they're kind of quick before we get to yours Steve. So I've got one on robots aren't done reshaping warehouses. So it's an article from New York Times, and it talks about the further growth of automation, particularly with warehouse robots, but the overall larger concept of automation. They have a couple of key points that they brought about.

One, they talk about the pace of change for the technologies for automation itself. So the past couple of years have driven a lot of demand for automation. So our automation members within AMT- and integrators, they've talked about the level of demand has only increased over the past couple of years, much more than previous years. And going into the pandemic, they're like everyone else very concerned about potential drop offs in the market. But no, they were able to sustain and produce above their previous plans, and they've only seen continued growth from there. So there's a need from the market for automation. Some of the supply chain issues have hurt their ability to produce, but overall, they still see a high market demand for automation.

There's been a couple of shifts that The New York Times talks about and the cost of some of the underlying technologies have dropped significantly. So being able to produce a piece of equipment that has some type of intelligence. So to your point, robots in general, accuracy and repeatability can be tough, right? Especially for something that's more flexible or not grounded to status-

Stephen LaMarca:         Well precision and repeatability, robots are the best at.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         But accuracy getting to the exact point where you want to be the first time and the only time, no.

Benjamin Moses:          Right, but so now there have- now a lot of technologies that allow close loop. So it doesn't have to rely on the structure and the motors, but allow us to say, I'm going here. Did I achieve there, right? So vision capability, machine learning to support that has been able to permeate the market a little bit better. Then also they talk about the intent of designing the warehouse. So the past couple years, the warehouse was actually designed around what's cabled for warehouse robots, right? So really bright lights, tracks on the floor, how things are stored on shelves. You also continue to see that trend, especially if that's all they do. Like FedEx or Amazon or Walmart, if all they have is just warehouse and they're supporting basically product placement and fulfillment, there's going to be a high level of design around the warehouse itself.

There's a significant shift for more flexible robots. If I have an old factory that maybe there's no air conditioning, maybe it's like a hundred degrees and a normal day. Obviously you don't want employees digging around trying to find parts.

Stephen LaMarca:         Right. One of the biggest users of build- we're one of the biggest culprits, better said, of just making a brand new factory, a perfect factory for whatever robot you have to be able to do its job, Amazon.

Benjamin Moses:          Right? Exactly.

Stephen LaMarca:         Amazon lives by the Amazon mentality.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Of just buy a new one.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Just whatever, buy a new one. Amazon does the same thing with their own factories.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         There's Detroit and New York all have these old warehouses being-

Benjamin Moses:          Repurposed.

Stephen LaMarca:         -repurposed, or just abandoned entirely.

Benjamin Moses:          Well they need to be repurposed.

Stephen LaMarca:         They need to be repurposed. And why not just make a better robot that can use that old factory instead of going somewhere and tearing up a bunch of land to make a big building with no windows.

Benjamin Moses:          I have two-

Stephen LaMarca:         Nerd.

Benjamin Moses:          -points from the article. One is a quote, "Instead of designing a whole warehouse around the robots, you can build robots that are able to operate in our terms, in our space, in our environment.". So I thought this was a very important shift in kind of mentality. Now I wouldn't say it's a hundred percent there, but it's definitely shifted there.

The other idea that they talk about is the technologies related to automation. So there's huge companies that are investing ton of it, right? So the analogy that they have is, Netflix was the first, but now it's not the first, right? So there's- Netflix was a pioneer in video content.

Stephen LaMarca:         Right.

Benjamin Moses:          If you turn around now, Netflix is obviously a pioneer in creating new content. They have a huge volume of content, but in terms of video content distribution, there's a ton of other players. And so we're seeing a, let's say a catch up, we'll call it in terms of the affordability and the ability for other groups not to be a billion dollar entity to purchase and implement automation. Particularly warehouse automation that is state of the art. So those are very- a couple of interesting takeaways. Good job, New York times.

Stephen LaMarca:         This is cool.

Benjamin Moses:          I appreciated that.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah, really good. This is pretty good for New York times.

Benjamin Moses:          And the last one I have is real quick. It's from Tech Crunch and they talk about a startup. It's a company called FORT. And what they're doing is-

Stephen LaMarca:         Fort?

Benjamin Moses:          F-O-R-T.

Stephen LaMarca:         Okay.

Benjamin Moses:          For some reason, capitalized, I don't know what the deal is.

Stephen LaMarca:         Sure.

Benjamin Moses:          It's working to keep humans safe from industrial robots.

Stephen LaMarca:         Oh, I get it now.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah. So they're providing a piece of equipment like wireless emergency stops, wireless controllers-

Stephen LaMarca:         A wireless e-stop?

Benjamin Moses:          Right. So-

Stephen LaMarca:         Why is that not a more common thing?

Benjamin Moses:          I don't know.

Stephen LaMarca:         I love that.

Benjamin Moses:          So the takeaway for me is, their focus is human safety. Which is great, but in the article they talk about cyber security principles to enable high reliable communication to and from, and between machines over [inaudible 00:27:40].

And I think that's an underlying principle that I'm very interested in because now they're talking about, wireless communication and making sure that obviously no one can penetrate that wireless communication, or hijack it, or override it, because now it's a human safety- it's a critical feature of the automation. So not only are we obviously stepping towards making industrial robots more safe, which is great, but also the underlying technology of a secure means to achieve that. So I really appreciate their steps towards including cybersecurity as part of their design package for what they're producing.

Stephen LaMarca:         That is cool. they think about both the securities.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         I love that. You said human safety, which is great.

Benjamin Moses:          So we do have another article about humans in general.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          So you got one that talk about-

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah. So admittedly, this is a two year old article. It came from like July 28th of 2020, whatever. I promise I'll get to why it's relevant now. Well, not necessarily relevant now, but how it was shot across my bow.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         From forconstructionpros.com, Hilti unveils the EXO-01 wearable exoskeleton.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         So back in 2020 Hilti unveiled its new EXO-01 wearable exoskeleton at the National Safety Council Congress and Expo. The device is designed to help workers lift heavy objects with less strain on their bodies.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Key words. The exoskeleton is made of lightweight materials and is adjustable to fit a variety of body sizes. It includes sensors that monitor the user's body position and movement and provides feedback to the user to help them lift objects safely and efficiently. Maybe you can wear it at the gym. It'd be a little expensive for a gym membership. The device is powered by batteries and Hilti says it can be used for up to eight hours before needing to be recharged.

Benjamin Moses:          That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca:         Cool. That's that's really all you need to know. If you want to learn more about this just Google the EXO-01 wearable exoskeleton by Hilti. What I want to talk about is, I recently became aware of this because of something I saw on LinkedIn.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm scrolling through LinkedIn and I see a video because on social media videos play automatically for some reason, but they don't have any sound.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         So there's this dude wearing this Hilti exoskeleton and he's demoing it, what he can do. And he's holding like something big, heavy, like impact driver, whatever it is in one hand and constantly lifting it up and down. And this guy shows no strain. No fatigue whatsoever doing this. It's wild.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm not listening to any words he's saying.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         And I find- immediately the first comment I see, because naturally you see something like this and it's like, let's look for some negative comments.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         Did not disappoint first comment that I see, which was clearly from somebody else that did not listen to the words. And even if they did, they probably couldn't understand them. I hate sounding like an old person, but this guy was probably really young.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         And he was like, I've got experience or I'm a construction worker. He's probably been a construction worker for three weeks. I've been working my whole life with heavy equipment and power tools. And I can say that you can save your money if you just work out this already existing technology called muscle. And it is just like, dude, you're missing the point.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's the fact that there are jobs at, not just construction jobs, but jobs at Boeing. I remember when we went to Boeing and I know I can't stop talking about this, I apologize. There are these jobs at Boeing that require humans to handle these big, heavy rivet guns.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         And they have to work in a partnership. So they work with another human who is doing the same thing on the opposite side of the wall of the fuselage to them. So they can't see them, but they're working on the opposite side of this plane's wall.

Benjamin Moses:          Right, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         And they have to do the exact same motion at the exact same time and do it for seven and a half hours a day let's say, maybe more.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Especially since everybody wants that OT. But this takes a toll on their bodies.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         And they're expensive workers, and just like construction work, construction workers are paid a lot.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         You know why construction workers are paid so much?

Benjamin Moses:          They take a beating.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's because they take a beating, because they can't do that their whole life.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Sure, will you make more than somebody that's fresh out of college, that's working an office job, and has student loan debt, and is making half as much as you are? But they can work in that same office job with zero promotions, their entire life.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Without any fatigue on their body whatsoever, other than mental.

Benjamin Moses:          That's true, but there's no robot for that.

Stephen LaMarca:         There's no robot or automation to help with that. Well, there's automation to help with that, but it's not explicitly designed for that.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         And that's what this stuff is designed for.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah. You know that raises a couple of good points, right? And in terms of where we are in understanding technology, when we get to assemblies, there's still a level of finesse that requires a human input. Like your scenario with the riveting, and just putting parts together. Sometimes automation may not be the best solution or unachievable, so.

Stephen LaMarca:         Yes.

Benjamin Moses:          There's always a need for humans. Even as far as technology will get us today in the next bunch of years, humans are still much more capable, much more resilient in a lot of ways.

Stephen LaMarca:         It's not even that there's always a need for humans. It's that there's, in few cases, there is a need for humans full stop.

Benjamin Moses:          Right.

Stephen LaMarca:         Not always, but there still is a need for humans.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         If robots, and robots have come a long way.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         If robots still aren't good enough to do these human roles. Instead of trying to design the robot to do this role, why don't you design the robot to make the human better?

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah. and I think that's a growing design principle. So a couple years ago I read a couple of research reports and they talked about human fatigue as a design principle. So when you're designing your industrial process, right, you're looking at throughput, you're looking at quality, you're looking at reducing number of steps, you're embedding as much as you can to reduce the seven layers of waste. But they also started thinking about, okay if a human has to pick this up, how much strain is on their hands, right? How much strain is on their back, just shuffling parts in their process.

I think that's a growing idea and a growing concept that we need to be able to quantify the impact on humans and understand that, are we going to ask them to do this six hours out of the day? Take away time for meetings and breaks and stuff like that. And what's their toll on the body as opposed to, what's the toll on your piece of equipment? We just talked about tool wear. The underlying principle, what's human wear? And how do we start quantifying that?

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          So I think there's some really interesting ideas. Unfortunately that construction dude probably is always going to miss the point.

Stephen LaMarca:         He's young, you know?

Benjamin Moses:          And there's always-

Stephen LaMarca:         I'm still there.

Benjamin Moses:          There's always an audience of this technology is- we always did it before. We can keep doing it that way. That's not the point. The point is we want to do stuff faster, better, smarter, and there is technology. That's going to get us there. I think Hilti's massive, right?

Stephen LaMarca:         Yeah.

Benjamin Moses:          So they're being able to get to that point. And there's a lot of other exoskeletons out there. We briefly mentioned obviously the one from Aliens that hopefully someday will exist.

Stephen LaMarca:         Oh yes. The Caterpillar P5000 Power Loader. Caterpillar's a real company, even though Alien and Xenomorphs and Weyland-Yutani Corp are not real, caterpillar's real. And they might- and the P5000 Power Loaders not real yet, but the keyword's yet.

Benjamin Moses:          Do you think they are reserving that part number for the future?

Stephen LaMarca:         So I don't think they have. I genuinely don't think they have, but they should.

Benjamin Moses:          They should. I think there should be a bookmark saying don't use this just yet.

Stephen LaMarca:         Every day we get closer to them needing that trademark more and more. But I will say this, I will close that article with this thought.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Hilti also makes regular power tools.

Benjamin Moses:          Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:         Like not just manufacturing equipment, they do both.

Benjamin Moses:          Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:         But I'll tell you this, seeing this kind of innovation, the next time I have to go to Home Depot or Lowes for a power tool, I'm getting a Hilti.

Benjamin Moses:          Oh wow.

Stephen LaMarca:         I don't see this kind of stuff from Black and Decker.

Benjamin Moses:          Fair.

Stephen LaMarca:         Or Milwaukee or Craftsman. Craftsman's not even made in the US anymore.

Benjamin Moses:          That's unfortunate.

Stephen LaMarca:         Hilti though, at least they're innovating in the US.

Benjamin Moses:          That's true. Steve, where can they find more info about us?

Stephen LaMarca:         AMTonline.org/resources. Go there to listen to more episodes just like this, or subscribe to my weekly tech report.

Benjamin Moses:          That's a good point.

Stephen LaMarca:         Our weekly tech report, excuse me. Ben writes them every now and then.

Benjamin Moses:          Every now and then I pitch in, when I'm tired. All right everyone.

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