Telsa is planning to build an enormous “Gigafactory” in order to make cheaper batteries for electric cars. Via IEEE Spectrum.
Tesla Motors plans to build a huge U.S. battery factory capable of supplying 500 000 electric cars annually by 2020. The $5-billion “Gigafactory” is expected to produce more lithium ion batteries in 2020 than all the lithium-ion batteries produced worldwide in 2013—a huge step on the road to driving down the cost of battery packs and mass-market electric cars.
A completed Gigafactory running at full production capacity in 2020 would allow Tesla, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, to have an annual battery cell output of 35 gigawatt-hours. The Gigafactory’s initial launch in 2017 would coincide with Tesla’s plans to introduce a lower-cost, mass-market electric car in the same year, according to The Wall Street Journal. But lower lithium-ion battery costs could also open the door for new power storage opportunities beyond electric cars.
“By the end of the first year of volume production of our mass market vehicle, we expect the Gigafactory will have driven down the per kWh cost of our battery pack by more than 30 percent,” said a Tesla Motors press release…
Those who cast doubt on Africa’s rise often point to the continent’s lack of manufacturing. Few countries, they argue, have escaped poverty without putting a lot of workers through factory gates. Rick Rowden, a sceptical development pundit, says, “Apart from a few tax havens, there is no country that has attained a high standard of living on the basis of services alone.”
Yet a quiet boom in manufacturing in Africa is already taking place. Farming and services are still dominant, backed by the export of commodities, but new industries are emerging in a lot of African countries.
Thandika Mkandawire, a Malawi-born expert, and Dani Rodrik, a Princeton economist, argue that growth is bound to fizzle because of a dearth of factories. But they may be too pessimistic. Manufacturing’s share of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa has held steady at 10-14% in recent years. Industrial output in what is now the world’s fastest-growing continent is expanding as quickly as the rest of the economy. The evidence, big and small, is everywhere.
H&M, a multinational Swedish retail-clothing firm, and Primark, an Ireland-based one, source a lot of material from Ethiopia. General Electric, an American conglomerate, is building a $250m plant in Nigeria to make electrical gear. Madecasse, a New York-based chocolatier, is looking for new hires to add to its 650 workers in Madagascar already turning raw cocoa into expensively wrapped milky and nutty bars. Mobius Motors, a Kenyan firm started a few years ago by Joel Jackson, a Briton, is building a cheap, durable car for rough roads.
Domestically owned manufacturing is growing, too. Seemhale Telecoms of South Africa is planning to make cheap mobile phones for the African market. Angola says it is to build its own arms industry, with help from Brazil. African craftsmen are making inroads in fashion. Ali Lamu makes handbags from recycled dhow sails on the Kenyan coast and sells them on Western websites.
Many of these businesses are beneficiaries of growth outside the manufacturing sector. The spread of big retail shops encourages light industry. In Zambia a surprising number of goods in South African-owned supermarkets are made locally; it is often too expensive to transport bulky stuff across borders.
A construction boom is fostering access to high-voltage power. The spread of mobile telephony, including mobile banking, helps small suppliers struggling with overheads. IBM, an American computer giant with an eye on Africa, goes so far as to say that “software is the manufacturing of the future”. Consumers will still want to buy hardware, but growing local demand is creating a market for African app and software developers.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a super-expensive and technologically complex futuristic fighter. Magellan Aerospace, the Toronto based Lockheed-Martin supplier working on the plane, uses a fancy mechanical arm with a milling tool in their machine shop to make the tails for one variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. Maneuverability is key for milling tools, as they trim excess material away from parts, and need to do it with precision and from the closest angles. America’s next fighter is being built by Canada’s current generation of robots.
This conceptual design for tiny windmills is adorable and could potentially be very useful. Via Wired.
Imagine a world where your iPhone was out of juice and there wasn’t a Lightning cable for miles—wouldn’t it be great if you could just blow on your phone to bring it back to life?
Professor J.C. Chiao and Dr. Smitha Rao of the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a new windmill technology that could shake up the power industry and make emergency recharges possible. Unlike the industrial giants that sit in off-shore windfarms, these diminutive devices measure just 1.8 millimeters at their widest point and ten could fit on a grain of rice.
These windmills would be instantly recognizable to Van Gogh, but the itty-bitty blades are examples of a thoroughly modern class of of device called Microelectromechanical Systems, or MEMS. These micro machines are widely used in electronics manufacturing, an average smartphone contains at least half a dozen, but the brittle silicone assemblies are typically reserved for static applications. Advances in nickel-alloys add durability to the structures and open up a variety of applications, including assemblies with highly dynamic parts.
Harley tore down the existing plant and built a new one. Unlike most factories I’ve seen lately, the new plant in York has people everywhere. There are no robots on the main assembly line (they have various peripheral jobs); instead, hundreds of workers, operating in teams of five or six, manually build each motorcycle. This seemed like an expensive way of doing business, but Magee said that experienced, skilled workers, unlike robots, can constantly adjust to new information. The York plant makes four basic styles of motorcycle, but each has an array of customizable options. There are around 1,200 different configurations, and a new bike starts its way through the production line every 80 seconds. Virtually each one is unique, and workers have no idea what’s coming 80 seconds later. Surprisingly, robots can’t adjust on the fly like that.
Human beings can also solve thorny problems that lead to major inefficiencies, like that plastic piece that took an extra 1.2 seconds to install. Dettinger and a small team quickly came up with a fix — a tiny plastic latch needed to be set at a different angle — and saved Harley millions. (On the day I visited, he solved two other problems.) In fact, his entire job is to continuously monitor his small section of the production line and search for better ways to make motorcycles. There are 150 problem-solvers like him in the factory.
The Vault dug up this cool map from 1919 showing industrial activity in New York City. While manufacturing in New York City has greatly declined since then, companies like Adafruit continue to keep it alive and thriving. We are proud to be one company that continues to manufacture our products in NYC!
This map, printed by the Merchants’ Association of New York in 1922, shows industrial activity in the city, as reported to the 1919 Census of Manufactures. The map was meant as a promotional tool—beige areas represent areas “available for industrial development”—and to boost the city’s profile in the larger business community.
In the upper right-hand corner of the map, a box lists the “lines” (or types of manufactured goods) in which New York’s factories competed. In 1919, this list shows, New York produced more than 50 percent of total national output in 12 lines of manufacture, and was competitive in many more.
Harris points out that although factories tended to move outward into the boroughs after 1919, before WWII the city did retain many factories in its central core, bucking the nationwide trend of suburbanization of industry. In 1940, 60 percent of New York workers had manufacturing jobs.
In recent years, the city’s economy has rested on the service and financial industries. While manufacturers still do set up shop in the city, the scope of their activities is specialized. According to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, industry now provides just 16% of private-sector jobs. New York still produces garments, textiles, and printed material, and has increased production of packaged foods, but city factories tend to be smaller and to employ fewer workers.
In the late December 2013. we moved to a 3000 square meter office space. A new era for MikroElektronika starts right now. Two years ago, when our CEO announced that we acquired a location for the new headquarters, we knew that a lot of work had to be done before we move in. We worked as hard as we can, confident that this energy and dedication to create the extra funding for the construction works, will bring us a bright future. It took two years and incredible managing skills to get it done just the way we imagined. Our CEO was involved in every single detail when it comes to choice of materials, certifications, design, room organization, colors, furniture, air conditioning, parking lot, restaurant, and hundreds of other aspects. We demanded only the best, and getting it wasn’t a matter of money. It was all about communication skills and countless hours of hard thinking about every single detail, over and over again.
By understanding the manufacturing process you will be able design PCBs that can made more easily and cheaply. Designing boards that fit within industry standard specifications gives you two advantages: you keep down the cost of your end product, so that it will sell better; and you improve its long-term reliability, so that your customers will keep on coming back to you. And when you want to push the boundaries of technology (and who doesn’t?) you can sit down with your chosen board manufacturer and discuss your requirements knowing where he is coming from.
Gizmodo has an interesting tale out of the GM factory: they are now putting RFID tags in the bolts on assembly lines to make sure everything is fit together correctly.
Inside the head of GM’s “data bolt” is an RFID memory tag and a coiled antenna. The brainy bolts are installed on each engine block and cylinder head at the beginning of the machining process. Scanners check the bolts during nearly 50 separate machining processes, ensuring that previous steps were completed successfully and marking the current step as completed. If an RFID scanner detects a part that was improperly machined, it’s kicked off the assembly line for inspection.
Unfortunately, you won’t find these data bolts under the hood of your car — they’re removed once engine assembly is completed and re-used. Still, one can’t help but wonder if RFID-tagged fasteners will start appearing in hardware stores. Maybe someday, we’ll say “so-and-so is smart as a doornail.”