Sunday, October 1, 2017

Interesting News in Engineering, IoT, PLM, Industry 4.0, and Telecom - Vol 4

These 41 news stories caught my attention last week. These stories are across automotive, aerospace, rail, IoT, drones, industrial equipment, VR, software, 3D printing, PLM, and telecom.


·       EV momentum is continuing. Tata Motors bags contract to provide 10,000 electric cars in India's first electric car tender. Mahindra and Nissan also bid for this contract. Pricing is very aggressive about $15 K with 5- year warranty. The price is 25% lower than the electric car in Indian market with a 3-year warranty. (Read here). In another news, Tata Motors has decided to cut its platform from six to two for the cost benefits. (Read here). It looks the savings in traditional business will be useful in EV business.

·       Vacuum Tycoon James Dyson to roll out an electric car by 2020. He plans to spend $2.7 billion in R&D. While most of other EV projects are using lithium-ion batteries in their current models, Dyson said its car would use solid-state batteries that are smaller, more efficient, easier to charge and potentially easier to recycle. (Read here).

·       Toyota is forming a JV with Mazda and Denso for research in EV technologies. (Read here).

·       California considers its own ban on combustion-engine cars. (Read here).

·       ABB is active in EV charging market. ABB will deliver 117 electric vehicle charging stations to German utility EnBW. Power utilities such as EnBW, tech start-ups and oil majors are vying to become dominant players in the fast-growing business of charging stations. (Read here). ABB powers Volvo’s electric bus in the UK with its OppCharge. (Read here). ABB has joined Northvolt's project to build Europe's largest lithium-ion battery factory in Sweden to cater for an expected rise in demand for electric cars. It will rival Tesla's Giga Factory in scale. (Read here).

·       BMW is set to offer a pad to wirelessly charge the car. (Read here).

·       Daimler has agreed to acquire German ride-sharing company flinc. (Read here).

·       Ford, Lyft will partner to deploy self-driving cars. Lyft has 9% investment from GM. Lyft is developing an open platform where self-driving cars from different companies can be deployed. It already has a similar partnership with Google's Waymo and (Read here).

·       The second order impact of EV will be the mineral shortage. EV push could lead to a copper shortage, says BHP. EV requires 4X copper than combustion engines. (Read here). VW moves to secure cobalt supplies in the shift to EVs. Cobalt is a vital component of rechargeable batteries. In Dec 2015 Cobalt was at $10 a pound and now it is $30 a pound.  VW will need about $2 billion of Cobalt purchases every year in its electric push. (Read here).

·       Google has accidentally disclosed in court proceedings that it has invested $1.1 Billion in self-driving technology up to now. There are over 35 self-driving projects going on, and then there is spend by tier-1s, startups and other enterprises. We are easily talking about $50 Billion already invested in self-driving tech, and it is just getting started. (Read here).

·       VW boosts 2018 warranties to 6 years/72,000 miles from earlier three years/36,000 miles. This extended warranty to build its perception of quality in consumers. (Read here).

·       Delphi Automotive is split into two companies Aptiv and Delphi Technologies. Aptive  will focus on electronics and self-driving business ($12 billion), and Delphi Technologies will focus on traditional powertrain business ($4.5 billion.) (Read here). Last year another automotive tier-1 Johnson Controls spinoff its automotive seating business as Adient. This spinning off of Tier-1s in automotive is in contrast to recent mergers of tier-1s in aerospace (Rockwell Collins with UTC) and ( Safran with Zodiac). I guess automotive tier-1s are more prone to the disruption than aerospace tier-1s.


·       Smart metering firm Itron plans to acquire IoT networking company Silver Spring Networks in an $830 million deal. (Read here).

·       TrenItalia has invested €50m in an IoT project which it expects to cut maintenance costs by up to €130m annually, to increase train availability, and improve customer satisfaction ratings. SAP is the IoT, platform partner. (Read here).

·       One manufacturer which has started becoming aggressive in IoT is Hitachi. It has launched a new business entity Hitachi Vinatara to combine its IT and OT capabilities. (Read here). Hitachi also launched its first commercial IoT platform offering Lumada. (Read here).I see a few similarities with how GE started its digital journey by combining its entities in GE digital and investing in IoT platform a few years back. 

·       HCL opened an IoT operations center for Philips in Bangalore to manage its smart lighting. Philips manages 22 million connected light points. (Read here). 

·       Accenture, JSR, and NTT begin work on a PoC for a smart industrial complex. The aim is to develop a connected worker platform that collects and analyzes data and recreates experienced worker’s capabilities. (Read here).


·       Elon Musk unveils plans to use SpaceX's mega-rocket to travel anywhere on Earth in under an hour. (Read here). So this guy will disrupt aerospace too. (Read here).

·       Boeing has set up a new airplane program office to move one step closer to a decision on a “New Mid-market Airplane” — but still short of launching the proposed jet, often referred to as the 797.  The concept is a twin-aisle airplane seating 220 to 270 passengers with a medium range of 5,500 to 5,700 miles. Significantly bigger than the single-aisle 737 and with much less range than a 787 Dreamliner, it would be targeted to open up new international routes, such as connecting cities around Southeast Asia or less-traveled transatlantic routes such as Washington, D.C., to Budapest. The aircraft will have a composite fuselage.  Boeing earlier unveiled a timetable in which design work would happen in late 2018 through 2020. It would then build the aircraft components in 2020-1, assemble the new plane in 2023, and fly it for the first time in 2024, with the new aircraft ultimately entering service in 2025. The company predicts a market for more than 4,000 of these planes. (Read here). Its a good news for few aerospace engineering service providers which are eagerly waiting for new airplane programs for growth.

·       Rolls Royce chairman predicts that Chinese-made jet engines are coming soon. (Read here). In another news this week. China and Russia agree on initial wide-body engine research. The engine, if it emerges, will be an alternative to a turbofan from GE or Rolls-Royce for the aircraft. (Read here).

·       Boeing will invest $33 million for a majority stake in a joint venture with COMAC that will oversee the U.S. planemaker's new 737 completion plant in China. (Read here).
·       The U.S.has backed Boeing in its challenge to Bombardier, recommending an enormous tariff (219.63%) on sales of the Canadian firm's C Series jetliner. (Read here). This is a huge blow to Bombardier. The only consolation for Bombardier this week is the order for 50 of its high-density Q400 turboprop aircraft from Indian carrier, SpiceJet. The deal is valued up to  $1.7 billion. (Read here).
·       Now electric aircrafts are also in discussion. EasyJet is backing plans to develop commercial passenger aircraft powered by electric batteries instead of conventional aero engines in collaboration with a Wright Electric. These aircrafts are proposed to carry about 220 passengers on the short-haul route with the range of 335 miles. (Read here).
·       Dubai has officially started testing flying taxis. (Read here).


·       Drone network takes on hospital-to-hospital deliveries in Switzerland. (Read here). Mercedes-Benz Vans teamed up with e-commerce startup Siroop, and drone logistics provider Matternet to kick off a pilot in Zurich of its van-based drone delivery concept. (Read here).

Software Product Engineering/ Internet

·       Google Chrome now lets you browse the web in virtual reality (VR). This can accelerate the adoption of VR to mainstream users. (Read here). Apple is betting on augmented reality (AR) and looks Google is betting on VR more. Good news is that more content will be required in both AR and VR and will create work in engineering and content creation.

·       BlackBerry, yes BlackBerry, is making a comeback as a software company. (Read here)


·       Alstom, Siemens to merge rail businesses to counter China's CRRC. After the merger, the combined sales of the entity will be $18 Billion. In contrast, the CRRC has annual sales of $35 billion. (Read here).

Telecom/ Semiconductor

·       Broadcom Avago GPS chip technology breakthrough to deliver inch-level accuracy for smartphones. The new chip will have the accuracy to 30-centimeters compared to the accuracy to 5-meters GPS chips offer today. Your Google maps will be more accurate. (Read here).

PLM/ Cad software

·       Dassault Systemes acquires Exa, a fluid flow simulation ISV for $400 million. (Read here)
·       Dassault Systèmes and SIE Partner to Simplify the Certified Aircraft Cabin Completion Process. Read here)

3D Printing

·       Airbus has achieved a 3D printing first with the installation of a 3D printed titanium bracket on a series production commercial aircraft. This marks a milestone for additive manufacturing in aerospace. While airplane makers have been using 3D printed parts for quite some time, largely for components inside the cabin, equipping airframes with metal parts produced via additive manufacturing is new. (Read here).

Industrial Equipment

·       ABB to acquire GE Industrial Solutions for $2.6 billion. This will strengthen ABB’s #2 global position in electrification and also result in cost synergies of $200 million. One of the interesting rationale is that ABB will invest in R&D in modernizing GE's solution portfolio. Mergers are good for engineering services when operational synergies are invested in R&D. (Read here).