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AMT Tech Trends: Sayonara 2020 Part 2

Ben and Stephen wrap up their year in review and segue into some articles and expectations for 2021. Stephen flexes his air fryer he got for Christmas. Ben gets things back on topic by talking about metrology and subtractive manufacturing. Steve...
by AMT
Jan 15, 2021

Release date: 25 December 2020

Episode 41: Ben and Stephen wrap up their year in review and segue into some articles and expectations for 2021. Stephen flexes his air fryer he got for Christmas. Ben gets things back on topic by talking about metrology and subtractive manufacturing. Steve reflects on his “Road Trippin’ with Steve” adventures and his appreciation for Sandvik. Steve then focuses on the future of automation and robotics with the recently announced partnership between Hyundai and Apple. Ben wraps up with teaching computers how to read PDFs. Happy 2021!



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Benjamin Moses: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Tech Trends Podcast where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology, research, and news. I am Benjamin Moses, the director of technology, and I'm here with ...

Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, manufacturing technology analyst.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, welcome to 2020 Episode Two.

Stephen LaMarca: 2020 Episode Two, but we do realize it is 2021. Let's just clear that.

Benjamin Moses: Nothing the same for me, man. This is the same year over and over again.

Stephen LaMarca: That's the worst part, is it hasn't ... Okay. We're only almost half-way through January, but it still feels exactly the same.

Benjamin Moses: And to fair, I mean, it's just a date change. A year change is not that.

Stephen LaMarca: I know. I don't know what I was expecting. It makes me feel like a big dum-dum, because it's like, "Yeah, you really thought a number going up plus one because you made a revolution around the sun is going to change anything?" No. Wrong. 

Benjamin Moses: How was your holidays, by the way?

Stephen LaMarca: People are still up to their same shenanigans. How did my [inaudible 00:00:59]? I would say it went well because I didn't really do anything.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: Best Christmas present?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah?

Stephen LaMarca: I got an air fryer for Christmas.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, man. It'll change your life.

Stephen LaMarca: Best Christmas present ... at least in the recent past.

Benjamin Moses: That's a long pause for that.

Stephen LaMarca: Dude, it's really awesome. Dude, I've made so many mozzarella sticks.

Benjamin Moses: 80% of Amelia's meals are made in the air fryer.

Stephen LaMarca: Nice.

Benjamin Moses: It's hard to go wrong.

Stephen LaMarca: I would imagine as a parent, having an air fryer is probably like having a third parent.

Benjamin Moses: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Once you figure out the settings and how well certain things cook, you can just fire and forget. It's great.

Stephen LaMarca: And you feel all chef-like and sciencey playing with the settings to get it just right, but you know you're not doing anything. It's doing all of the work for you.

Benjamin Moses: It's such a good feeling.

Stephen LaMarca: And you get the good ol' pat on the head because it's like, "And it's healthy because you're not dunking it in boiling oil."

Benjamin Moses: I did the burgers in that once.

Stephen LaMarca: Really.

Benjamin Moses: Just so much fat drained to the bottom. I was like, "I'm eating healthy today." No, it's a dry burger. Oh, man, it was such a good feeling.

Stephen LaMarca: I can't imagine a air-fried burger.

Benjamin Moses: All right. Let's-

Stephen LaMarca: I do use it ... Go ahead.

Benjamin Moses: Go ahead. No, go ahead. Go ahead.

Stephen LaMarca: I do use it to bake a personal pizza every now and then.

Benjamin Moses: Ah, that's cool.

Stephen LaMarca: I'm used to these personal pizzas that I buy from a store. They're supposed to take 30 minutes at 375. When I was using the regular oven, or regular stove, kitchen oven, I would set it to 350 because I think it just cooks it a little bit more thorough and all the way through. So I tried my 350 settings in the air fryer. It's a combination air fryer, toaster oven, so I just set it to bake instead. I tried it in a toaster oven thinking that a toaster oven works the same as a conventional oven.

Benjamin Moses: Nope.

Stephen LaMarca: I didn't realize toaster ovens, at least this thing when it's on toaster oven mode, it cooks so much faster.

Benjamin Moses: That's funny.

Stephen LaMarca: A conventional oven, those pizzas would take a half hour to cook. This thing can cook the same pizza in 10 to 15 minutes.

Benjamin Moses: That's funny.

Stephen LaMarca: It's wild. And I'll even get some burnt ends on it.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. By the way, if you do decide to cook a burger in it, be careful. There's a lot of smoke. That's something we didn't anticipate.

Stephen LaMarca: Okay. Okay. 

Benjamin Moses: Just a heads up, I am not going to do it again, but I recommend you do it.

Stephen LaMarca: I will not be doing that now. I did air fry some beer-battered cod fish filets in it.

Benjamin Moses: That's great.

Stephen LaMarca: It was delicious, but a lot of grease came out of those. I had no idea. You think like, "Air fryer, it can't make that much mess." No.

Benjamin Moses: No, no. It's messy.

Stephen LaMarca: It makes a mess.

Benjamin Moses: The key is finding one that is dishwasher safe. We dishwash it every single day. We use it so much. 

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. The drip tray that we have, or that it has, there's a basket. That's dishwasher safe, and then there's like a baking sheet that fits perfectly in the little sides of the oven, because it's a toaster oven, air fryer combo. And that thing said wasn't dishwasher safe. So I take it out one day, like after the third day of using. So I take it out, I was like, "Maybe it's a good time to hand wash it." Start scrubbing at it, stuff's not coming off. I'm like, "To hell with it. I'm throwing it in the dishwasher. Too bad."

Benjamin Moses: It's going in the dishwasher.

Stephen LaMarca: If something says not dishwasher safe, if it's made out of metal-

Benjamin Moses: It'll be fine.

Stephen LaMarca: ... it's going in the dishwasher.

Benjamin Moses: Just put in the top shelf.

Stephen LaMarca: Sure, it might have some non-stick coating. Whatever. More oil is going make it non-stick.

Benjamin Moses: All right. Last episode we cut our trends in 2020 off a little early. There's two other topics I wanted to talk about.

Stephen LaMarca: A little early? We went on an hour, and we're probably going to go on for an hour again today. But yeah, what topic?

Benjamin Moses: The first one is metrology. That's a key topic for everyone. Everyone loves metrology, but nobody wants to talk about it.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, it's not fair because we do love metrology. Everybody is chasing after the all-mighty micron, to quote Joel [Nightig 00:05:41]. But he ... No, nevermind. Yeah, everybody is chasing after that all-mighty micron. Everybody is going after the tightest tolerances and perfect surface finish and whatnot, and you need metrology to tell you if you've attained that. It almost never pops up in the news. And it's not fair because, like you said, we all love metrology, but nobody ever talks about it, and it's unfortunate. It's just not sexy. It's not a sexy technology, but I love it.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. It's great because in the manufacturing floor, having the confidence that you produced something and knowing that what you produced is correct, that level of confidence going to your customer helps a lot. In the manufacturing floor, it builds a lot of confidence. But in the cost side where it's not perceived as value-add sometimes does kind of put it in a negative light. The couple of trends that I've seen here, that may shift metrology into a value-add scenario in most manufacturing floors. The first one we've seen, it's being integrated into other machine systems. So the ability to quantify something ... A form, shape, whatever the material is ... from other systems has grown quite a bit. Metrology systems attached to other devices, either for motion control or being part of inspection systems of other processes has definitely seen quite a bit of growth.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. Or like you said, an inspection system integrated into a manufacturing system, whether like it's like a CNC machine that can also fully inspect the part in between each process, in between each program of the same part. You see that a lot in closed-loop gear manufacturing.

Benjamin Moses: Right. Yep, absolutely. The other areas of growth we've seen a lot of are vision systems. You have two parallel paths that I've seen for vision systems. One is if I have assembly, verifying that the parts are assembled on there in the general correct orientation. A lot of vision systems can do that. It requires a lot of work. But being able to hold an assembly, take a picture of it, verify that these components are in place, [Semicon 00:08:05] has been doing that for quite a while, but seeing a lot of migration into other durable goods in addition to non-contact measuring. So not having to touch the part, either through vision systems or laser systems also, being able to extract the dimensional information is very beneficial. The last part I've seen is data moving faster and more efficaciously from metrology systems. There's a lot of, say, standards work on what to do with the data and how to transmit that. And that's getting more useful as other systems come into play. So being able to have the dimensional information of a part is incredibly useful on a lot of streams. One is if we look at ... The term digit thread has kind of died down a little bit. But being able to take that data and drive it upstream to the design data to say, "Hey, I want to make this hole. What is my historical accuracy of this type of hole or a feature similar to that?" That's very, very beneficial, and that cascades to better manufacturing processes and cascades into a better part, better assembly for the end user. So being able to transmit or inspect the data to the rest of the engineering systems, that's definitely seen a lot of growth in the past couple years and where we are today. Transitioning from metrology, we talked about integrating metrology into other systems, so tractive has grown quite a bit too. One of the use cases has grown quite a bit is tool probes, right? 

Stephen LaMarca: Sure.

Benjamin Moses: We've seen a lot of that. So being able to verify the tool and the value from verifying your tool, right? So even if you're measuring the tool beforehand, you have a tool pre-setter. But having the confidence that what I put in the tool and what I'm going to cut with is right on, is amazingly useful in the manufacturing world. So transferring that capability into being able to inspect in situation to, after I've done my cut, being able to inspect the part that I have just cut in the scenario that you mentioned. So I can get the data either right then, or it goes right from that machine process to a box that now ships out the door. So moving metrology to point of use. Now, there are risks of that of course. Are you over-restraining it as you machine it versus inspecting it? Do you have coolant? You've got rough environmental conditions, are you controlling the environment to the metrology standards? There's a lot of things involved with that, but that general trend is there. Including metrology as part of subtractive manufacturing processes has grown quite a bit.

Stephen LaMarca: For sure.

Benjamin Moses: The other two trends in subtractive are ease of use and ease of data collection. I've got a part, and I want to get it cutting ships, right? So for the longest time, that's been fairly difficult. You've got to define your stock material, orientation, and tooling.

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, my god. Yeah. 

Benjamin Moses: It's slowly, incrementally getting easier and easier to generate all those subcomponents to get to basically a G-code and cutting ships quicker, right? That process is accelerating, too.

Stephen LaMarca: Thankfully. 

Benjamin Moses: Yeah, thankfully.

Stephen LaMarca: And it's probably a little bit of a hat tip and nod to additive. 

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: What's funny is early 3D printers, especially consumer-grade additive machines like desktop 3D printers and stuff like that. Incredibly easy to use. But then again, they have to be because people at home with a high speed internet connection, desktop computer, flat screen TV, and maybe an inject printer, that's the modern household computational technology. The average person in a home isn't a machinist. You know?

Benjamin Moses: Right. 

Stephen LaMarca: They don't know how. But a lot of 3D printer companies want 3D printers to become a household item, even though it's a little ... This is years ago. Even forget 3D printers. Look at just using a printer. 

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: When you open Microsoft Word ... Is that what it's still called? Microsoft Office, Word, and make a text document, and you click print. It's sent to the printer, and the printer prints it off. Dude, a G-code and an M-code file goes to your printer.

Benjamin Moses: Sure, sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Well, actually the document file goes to the printer.

Benjamin Moses: The printer does it [crosstalk 00:13:02].

Stephen LaMarca: The printer then does all of the cam for you. And it does do cam, it's just two dimensional. But it does all the same stuff that a manufacturing engineer and a machine tool technician have to do when printing a part, or producing a part. It's much more user friendly. And I think it's about time the industry has caught up with not even 3D printers, just regular inkjets, man.

Benjamin Moses: Sure. Sure. I mean, to fair, for those guys that are doing a lot of custom work and very complex work, there's a lot of, we'll call it, tribal knowledge that's required to achieve those high accuracies. 

Stephen LaMarca: Absolutely.

Benjamin Moses: But the comparison of tribal knowledge required to print something via additively, or a 3D printer versus trying to do something subtractively, there's a significant learning curve trying to shift to a subtractive process. It's great to see that that learning curve is getting a little bit shallower. The last thing I want to talk about subtractive is collecting data. Being able to harvest data out of your machine for just factory dashboarding or want to get into advanced analytics or productive maintenance or predictive maintenance, or just understanding is my machine running and how long has it been running. That's getting significantly easier over the past few years. There's a lot more adoption of that technology. The ecosystem of standards have grown quite a bit where being able to implement and deploy these tools has grown easier. Not the easiest things in the world, don't get me wrong.

Stephen LaMarca: Right. No.

Benjamin Moses: I'm not the smartest guy in the world. It'll take me a bit of time. But for where we are today versus where we are when I was a wee little guy, the technology has grown significantly. It's great to see that. The one thing that comes up a lot in discussion of data collection is, where do I store the data? How do I store the data? Cloud versus local configurations. There's a lot of infrastructure questions that get raised on data collection, but those are problems that will kind of solve itself once you start seeing the value from collecting the data.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, let's talk about Road Trippin' with Steve. That was a big highlight for last year. 

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, man.

Benjamin Moses: We talked about the American Precision Museum. What are some other highlights from that series?

Stephen LaMarca: Dude, before I even kick it off with highlights, I'll start with I'm glad to hear that ... And this kind of known, but it's official as of last week and just reassured again today this week. IMTS Network is in the process of putting together the plan ... No, putting together the second season of Road Trippin' with Steve, so I'm really pumped for that.

Benjamin Moses: Awesome. Congratulations. 

Stephen LaMarca: But to do a recap and do some highlights, how did we get here to getting approved for a second season? Went all over New England. My favorite stop, of course, was Vermont. It has a special place in my heart since I went to school there and studies physics up there. The American Precision Museum is the foundation, it's the bedrock to which this entire industry came from. I've waxed poetic on that enough, so let's move on.

I've also hyped up the awesome Jarvis family and them feeding me, shoveling lobster into my mouth when I was up there. That was a great time. A really awesome, family-oriented company that specializes in high-speed steel taps. They are the world's premier producer in high-speed steel taps. Then I went to Autodesk. I've been to ... Come on, buddy. I'm sorry.

Benjamin Moses: Is your dog getting in the way there?

Stephen LaMarca: He's sniffing the mic. Come on. No, no, no. No. Been to Autodesk a handful of times. Been to their West Coast tech center in San Francisco on Pier 9 handful of times. This was my first time last year going to the East Coast tech center in Boston on another pier. I don't really need to speak much more on that. If you've heard of Autodesk, you-

Benjamin Moses: You know Autodesk.

Stephen LaMarca: There's enough people other than me. They don't need me hyping up Autodesk. 

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: But I did not give enough credit, I did not shine enough light on Sandvik.

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: If you know this industry, if you've been to any event in this industry you've seen Sandvik. You've seen Sandvik Coromant and, depending on whether it's Sandvik Coromant or just Sandvik, their red and yellow logo or their blue and white logo. Or is it gray and blue?

Benjamin Moses: No. 

Stephen LaMarca: We know. More commonly we know the red and yellow one.

Benjamin Moses: Sure. Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: But Sandvik, I never really talked about my time at Sandvik enough. I think it's because Sandvik is a little intimidating and in the best way possible, because they do everything.

Benjamin Moses: Everything.

Stephen LaMarca: They are top-dollar company. They're a massive company that is incredibly family oriented, because I think everybody I spoke to at the facility ... Even though it was shut down for COVID, they were still in full operation, just nobody was actually there and the lights were off. Just because it was in the peak of the pandemic when I was visiting. But all of the people I spoke to had been there for decades, even the seemingly young-looking people. And they all have family ties to Sandvik. They had somebody in their family that worked there, and it's just a really supportive company to work for. They do a lot of stuff with the government contracts work. One of the things that recently happened within the past few days that really made me think more about Sandvik. I sat down for dinner, and threw on a movie on Netflix. I watched this movie, Chef. It came out in either 2014 or 2016. And movie Chef, fantastic movie, highly recommend it. It's on Netflix. Watching Chef, and it's about a chef of course. He's the main character, and he's divorced. Him and his ex-wife, they had a son, and his son wants to be more involved in his life. The chef, because he's really passionate about cooking, and he touches people's hearts by his work, by cooking. That's his passion. The son wants to get more involved in it, but his father, the chef, doesn't see it. Anyway, without spoiling too much of the movie, their relationships starts to build. And their first milestone in him and his little boy's relationship getting closer is ... The little boy is doing some roles. He really wants to be involved in the kitchen, and the kitchen's no place for a little kid, but he proves himself to his father. When him and his father are going to buy some kitchen equipment to put together a food truck, while they're picking up a $5,000 fryer and all this other, a flat-top grill for the food truck and spending a lot of money on throwing together this food truck, right as they're about to check out, the chef, the main character, the father says, "Oh, throw that on to my bill." And he points to a six-inch chef knife and gives it to the little kid. It was like, "You're with me now, and this is going to be your first knife."

Benjamin Moses: Cool.

Stephen LaMarca: My nerdy self picked that up right away and I noticed, "Dude, that's not just any six-inch chef knife. That is Victorinox Fibrox." Not an incredibly expensive knife, very affordable and anti-microbial palm or handle. But the Victorinox Fibrox line of kitchen knives uses ... The blade is made out of a stamped sheet steel, and it's a Sandvik steel. Sandvik produces that steel.

Benjamin Moses: That's cool.

Stephen LaMarca: I promised everything would come back to Sandvik. But I was just thinking. I was like, "Dude, it really is wild how Sandvik is evolved in just about everything." I mean, I have a Kershaw pocket knife in my car that has a Sandvik steel. 

Benjamin Moses: Okay.

Stephen LaMarca: There's a handful of tool companies. I think Wiha uses Sandvik. They might not. You'd have to check me on that one.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: That just got me thinking.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. I'm glad your depth of knowledge of knives and knife material goes down to the source company that it came from. That's deep.

Stephen LaMarca: Well, that's what I love so much about this industry. I remember when I first interned here. I saw the opening as an intern here at AMT. I was like, "What the hell is the manufacturing industry?" 

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: And I was so happy to learn, interning here. Now that I've been here for five years now, literally all of my passions come back, come full circle back to the manufacturing industry. It's really just an awesome place to be, and Sandvik is just one of those companies that you have to know.

Benjamin Moses: Absolutely.

Stephen LaMarca: Sandvik, like the manufacturing history, has a piece in every pie. Even your passions, man.

Benjamin Moses: Touching a little bit of everything.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, they're everywhere.

Benjamin Moses: That's awesome. Let's talk about the next big thing. We've talked about Australia potentially taking over the world. Now you've mentioned Hyundai as a company that purchased Boston Dynamics, which of course produces and designed the autonomous little robot dog.

Stephen LaMarca: The robot dog, Spot.

Benjamin Moses: Spot, yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: $80,000 dog.

Benjamin Moses: 75.

Stephen LaMarca: I thought Charlie was expensive.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. So Hyundai has established themselves as if not the world's superpower in robot and automation technology, they've definitely shown they want to be there. And not even through saying it, just in their actions alone. All last year we saw them. Hyundai Motors made their final purchase order for robots outside of the Hyundai organization, the Hyundai corporate chart. They will never buy robots again from anybody else. They are now fully making their own robots. Now, yes, a couple months later they did buy Boston Dynamics. But they didn't buy robots, they bought an entire company, which is wild. Actions like that show that they want to be a robotic superpower. It should be eye opening to other companies. Not just in robotics, but in manufacturing and any kind of technology in general. If you want to be the next big thing, you got to have the energy that Hyundai has, that big Hyundai energy. It's wild. That was 2020. What's going on in 2021? I saw in a Reuters article that Apple has announced that they are going to partner with Hyundai to start production of their autonomous electric vehicles.

Benjamin Moses: That's awesome.

Stephen LaMarca: They're autonomous electric cars. What they really mean is electric cars that have the capability of being autonomous. And if that sounds familiar, who's already doing that? Tesla. That's Tesla's game right there, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors. Apple being another luxury good tech company if you would like Tesla, they want a piece of that pie. They want a piece of that industry, because right now Tesla's dominating it. There are other companies that make electric cars. Chevy makes the Volt. Nissan makes the LEAF. The Volt's a nice car. I'm sure the LEAF is too, that little thing if you want an electric smart car.

Benjamin Moses: Are things still around?

Stephen LaMarca: I think so. If you want a nice electric car, you buy a Tesla.

Benjamin Moses: Sure. Right.

Stephen LaMarca: Apple wants a piece of that pie. Apple wants to flex that Gooci-clad, Instagram influencer muscle. 

Benjamin Moses: Right, right.

Stephen LaMarca: What does Apple do? Apple doesn't make cars. Apple hasn't made a car. So the easiest way to get into an industry like that is instead of going the Tesla route, and this is probably the only area where they didn't go the Tesla route. Instead of trying to make your own car production facility from scratch, you go to somebody else, somebody like Hyundai. Why would you go to Hyundai? The reason is Hyundai has proven themselves to be technologically advanced, even in their automobiles. They're economy vehicles. They're very affordable cars. Even they're base models come packed with features that if you looked at a similarly equipped car made by Mercedes-Benz or BMW, you're talking thousands of dollars of app options added on. A base model BMW or a base model Mercedes-Benz doesn't hold a candle to the technology packed in a base model Hyundai. We're talking a sub-$20,000 car. It's absurd. So Apple saw that tech. Apple saw the production facility for making automobiles. So they were like, "We want this partnership." And how does it work out for Hyundai? Works out perfectly for Hyundai because for the past at least two decades, Hyundai Motors has been trying to establish themselves as a competitive automobile superpower. They make crazy affordable cars that are packed with features, and even their luxury models. They have luxury models like the Genesis. And their sister company, Kia, which is under the Hyundai family, has the K900, the K800. That's like an $80,000 car. They make luxury vehicles. But if you're willing to spend close to $100,000 on ... Even if the car is only $80,000, and it has all the features and luxuries of a quarter-million-dollar car like a Mercedes-Benz Maybach, something like that, at the end of the day people are going to look at it and be like, "That's not a Maybach, though. That's a Kia."

Benjamin Moses: Yes. Yes. You're not going to say, "Wow, that's a Kia."

Stephen LaMarca: It's a Hyundai. 

Benjamin Moses: You're always going to look at it negatively.

Stephen LaMarca: You're not going to wow anybody. "Oh, yeah. I drive a ..." Now, maybe that is your speed. Maybe you're a more humble person and you want all those features, but you don't want to be noticed. In which case, those cars are for you. But, Hyundai wants to be recognized as one of those ultra-premium cars.

Benjamin Moses: Right.

Stephen LaMarca: They also want to flex the muscle, be like, "We don't have to charge you for it, either."

Benjamin Moses: That's true.

Stephen LaMarca: So how are they going to establish? They don't have the brand name. Who does? Apple.

Benjamin Moses: Right. Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: There are people that buy the latest Apple good. Not because they need it, not because they appreciate the technology that goes into it. Just because it's the latest Apple, and they want to flex that they're dumb enough to spend $1,000 on a phone to replace their six-month-old $950 phone. You know?

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: It's a match made in heaven.

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: But anyway. I told you all of that to tell you this. Hyundai, the company Apple, a big edge technology company has done the same thing that Tesla did. What did Tesla do? When they came out with the Model 3, they were experiencing panel gap issues. Which is cute, because panel gap issues haven't been a thing since the '60s, since American muscle cars in the '60s. Nobody's heard of panel gap issues since then. Tesla was having panel gap issues, and it was because they were trying to push out a lot of these Model 3s, which is a very technologically advanced car and they're trying to make it cheap. How do you make it cheap? You have advanced automation manufacture and assemble your vehicle. Tesla needed a lot of robots. The robot OEMS and suppliers they were going to were not delivering. Either they weren't delivering on time, they weren't delivering the number of robots they needed, or they were delivering robots that weren't performing to the performance spec that Tesla needed. What did Tesla do? Straight up bought some robot startups, some small robot companies. Tesla came in there and was like, "I am the captain now. You're not making robots for anybody else. You're making robots for us." Tesla essentially became a robotics company, as well. But because they're so focused on electric vehicles, those robots aren't going anywhere. They're staying internal. Hyundai followed suite, but to a much larger scale. 

Benjamin Moses: Sure.

Stephen LaMarca: Hyundai has taken the page out of Tesla's book and be like, "Let's do this. We're partnering with Apple, and let's do it more."

Benjamin Moses: Right, right.

Stephen LaMarca: Hyundai's become, in the last year, at least gunning to be a robot superpower. And now they're partnering with Apple? Dude, Tesla's got to watch their back. I'm talking a lot about cars, but at the end of the day we're coming back to robotics, and that's the highlight of 2020. That's going to be something to look out for in 2021.

Benjamin Moses: And that is who the interesting partnership are, right? Apple and Hyundai are focusing purely on the car, but you mentioned Hyundai corporate is big and massive, right? They've got robotics. They've got autonomous sections. 

Stephen LaMarca: Huge.

Benjamin Moses: There are a bunch of different subsections. The energy flow always comes back to robotics, right? All the technology, that's I would call the periphery, but realistically it's the end goods of the products. It's very, very advanced. It eventually either trickles back or it starts in robotics. That's not the first company who are doing it. I was looking up Nvidia. Nvidia produces graphics processors for desktops, laptops, whatever. They also produce workstation equipment for those doing analysis, servo-grade equipment. But also they opened up a robotics facility in Washington State to focus in on autonomous robotic operations. The value of further automating or driving decision-making to the lowest level of the process, to the robot itself is a future state that everyone's trying to achieve because it makes agile manufacturing a reality. Right? Being able to describe your process as you're manufacturing the process, so being able to define and create as a part's being created down the process. So the next step is being defined as the previous step is being complete is a potential future state, right? So being able to have the robot make decisions on the fly. Bringing in Apple and Nvidia and all these really cutting-edge companies to drive the intelligence behind some of the decision-making is really awesome. Don't get me wrong. Where we are now, it's amazing. Going to IMTS and seeing how the robots behave by themselves and what we consider semi-autonomous, using the current vision systems, taking a picture, orientating the arm to pick up the part based on that image, it's phenomenal, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.

Benjamin Moses: We've come a long way from having a fixed orientation for 99% of the parts to having fluid orientations and having high success rates of transferring the part to the next station. It's amazing. [crosstalk 00:34:21].

Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, and self-awareness amongst robots, as well.

Benjamin Moses: Absolutely. Yeah, we see vision systems that are looking over the entire cell, so the cell can kind of describe and predict itself and provide safety systems as humans interact within that cell. Awesome, Steve. That was a great article. I got that not quite as sexy, but still very relevant.

Stephen LaMarca: Whatever.

Benjamin Moses: I ran across this through StreetInsider. It talks about extracting data from PDFs. 

Stephen LaMarca: Okay, boomer.

Benjamin Moses: Let's dial it back a little bit. Raw data, data is transmitted differently now than it has occurred 15 years ago. That's an obvious statement. But the value PDFs still exists, right? So being able to transmit a CAD data. If I've got a IGES file ... Hopefully, everyone's moving towards STEP. Transmitting a STEP file from a CAD data, a lot of times there's additional data that you want to incorporate. Say if you've got drawing notes or specifications or processing notes, those are probably going to be covered in a PDF. So being able to transmit that data and being able to ingest that data into a manufacturing process is super useful. That's the first, I'll say, modern use case. But if we dial it back even further where maybe you have legacy parts that only exist as a PDF, so maybe you scanned a drawing or you did a conversion at some point, and it converted into a PDF and that CAD data disappeared, or maybe you created a 2D model. The PDF is now the original source data, and you want someone to make something from that. Being able to convert that 2D PDF into something useful is fairly difficult. In the article, they talk about a couple of people that have stepped through it. There's four or five steps of couriering that PDF into something usable on the manufacturing floor. Which to be fair, it's not the hardest thing to do, but it requires time and attention to make sure that the steps are done correctly and make sure everything's scaled properly. Because now you're converting that raw data and you've got make sure that the one-inch line is truly a one-inch line after all these conversion, right?

Stephen LaMarca: Oh, yeah.

Benjamin Moses: So this company ... And the article covers it, Paperless Parts. It talks about being able to take these 2D PDFs and being able to ingest it directly into their system, and making dynamic measurements or a vectorization and analysis. So being able to take the data ... So if I've got a box or a line, and being able to do quick measurements off that PDF, and then using those measurements for coding and bits right away before you get into your manufacturing system cuts a lot of time out of the upfront process that you can get to chips being made quicker. So I though it was very, very interesting to be able to take not just text PDF but also basically objects on a PDF, converting that into usable data right away as opposed to risk taking in going through converting and importing to a CAD system, verifying the scales are correct, and making sure that the data is robust. There's an interesting quote from ThyssenKrupp on here about the different steps that's required. He's got to take that digital PDF. He pulls it into AutoCAD, transfer it to a programming software, then scaling it. All these multiple steps take away from the operator or the engineer that could be adding value to the system. That's a key takeaway. Getting data quicker so we can continue to add value to the system, as adding value to the part has become more and more important nowadays. I thought that's great.

Stephen LaMarca: That's crazy. It's just wild taking a step back and thinking about just our respective generations. We've both existed before the internet and after the internet. That's already wild in itself. Your daughter, Amelia, is being raised after internet.

Benjamin Moses: Correct.

Stephen LaMarca: She will never know a world without internet. Unless something terrible happens, which I hope doesn't happen. We've seen dial-up. We've seen no dial-up whatsoever. 

Benjamin Moses: Sure. Telnet commands or command prompts.

Stephen LaMarca: Now we've got fiber going into our homes. We've seen both sides of the data transfer story, if you would. It's funny. This article is genuinely funny. We're also a generation that has taught older generations how to open a PDF, and now we're teaching computers how to read PDFs to know what's in there. I don't know. That's just my funny way of looking at it.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah. It shows not only the value of ... So taking a step back even further, right? The PDF, the concept of that PDF has existed for such a long time, and it still continues to add value. Getting to something else that'll last as long and continue to add value to the world and industry, it's pretty absurd to me, right? It's the ability that we're still able to harness value from PDF's data, and we'll probably still continue to generate this type of data for a long, long time. We still, I think, underestimate the written, flat, 2D context, a flat, 2D Word document that gets transferred with our CAD data. I think it'll continue to be value add in the future. Steve. Great episode, man. We covered a lot of different things. We've talked about cutting-edge, autonomous machines. And we talked about PDFs are still going to exist, man. It's still going to-

Stephen LaMarca: Dude.

Benjamin Moses: We're still going to make money off PDFs. It's going to be great.

Stephen LaMarca: This is really awesome. This has been an insightful conversation. How about that turn of events, man? We started this episode totally loathing our existence in 2021. And now, just talking for almost a half hour, I want to say, a little more than a half hour now, it's like now I'm really looking forward to the rest of this year.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: 2021 is going to be great.

Benjamin Moses: Being part of the manufacturing industry is one of the best career moves of my life.

Stephen LaMarca: Ditto.

Benjamin Moses: Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca: Really, I mean that. Yeah. I feel the same way.

Benjamin Moses: Steve, where can they find more info about us?

Stephen LaMarca: AMTnews.org. That's it, right?

Benjamin Moses: Yes, that's it.

Stephen LaMarca: You can really follow even better, better than I can tell you to if you go to AMTnews.org/subscribe.

Benjamin Moses: They get all the info about us.

Stephen LaMarca: You'll get notification when we have a new podcast episode to hear more of this rant, or rambling. You can also read my weekly tech reports that come out every Friday. Yeah, that's the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of the manufacturing industry.

Benjamin Moses: Awesome.

Stephen LaMarca: AMTnews.org/subscribe.

Benjamin Moses: Thanks, Steve. Had a great episode. That was a great episode.

Stephen LaMarca: Thank you, Ben. Have a great rest of your year.

Benjamin Moses: It'll be amazing.

AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology represents and promotes U.S.-based manufacturing technology and its members – those who design, bui ...
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