Sunday, October 15, 2017

Interesting News in Engineering, IoT, PLM, Industry 4.0, and Telecom - Vol 6

These 48 news stories caught my attention last week. These stories are across automotive, aerospace, drones, software, telecom, medical devices, AR/VR,  IoT, and PLM.


New business models are evolving in the car industry. Porsche will start a “subscription service” for customers that could give them access to a number of their sports cars and SUVs, from $2,000 per month. (Read here). Volkswagen plans to reduce the size of its European dealer network and introduce online sales as it adjusts to changing buying habits. (Read here).

Vehicle recalls continuing to make the news. Fiat Chrysler recalls 470,000 vehicles for restraint defect. (Read here). Mercedes will recall over 350,000 vehicles in China with Takata airbags. (Read here).

Even Tesla is not spared of vehicle recall problem. Tesla recalls about 11,000 Model X sport utility vehicles due to possible issues with their second-row fold-flat seats. (Read here). Tesla’s trouble doesn’t end there. Tesla fired hundreds of employees in past week. (Read here).

There is a race to build EV charging infrastructure. Shell has agreed to buy NewMotion, a Netherlands-based provider of more than 30,000 private home electric charging points for EVs as well as 50,000 public sites. The move is the biggest yet by “big oil” into the electric vehicle refueling market, which is forecast to grow dramatically in the coming years. Earlier this year France’s Total bought Dutch company PitPoint, which provides natural gas refueling for vehicles as well as operating a number of EV charging points in Europe. (Read here). ABB has submitted a bid to provide 4,500 charging points as part of the Indian Government’s tender to procure electric vehicles. (Read here). Fortum partners NBCC to set up EV charging infra in projects in India. (Read here). Groupe Renault has acquired a 25 percent share in smart charging company Jedlix, a Dutch start-up launched by the Eneco Group that specializes in sustainable charging of electric vehicles. (Read here).

Beijing's green car push helps Chinese battery makers reign. Technologically strong Japanese, South Korean rivals fight to stay relevant. Team China had a share of just over 60% of the global market by volume followed by Japan 20% and Korea 10%. The top five vendors are all Chinese. (Read here).
How to develop a business case of EVs in the country where fuels costs are as cheap as they could be. Well, give consumers free charging. Dubai to give free charging, Salik for electric cars. Incentives hoped to boost electric car ownership in the emirate. (Read here).

More EV rollout announcements. VW to roll out electric trucks, buses in $1.7 Billion projects. Electric trucks for local deliveries will probably exceed a 5% market share by 2025, according to the head of the VW Truck & Bus division. That compares to a forecast of about 25% for battery-powered cars. (Read here). BMW is looking to form a joint venture with Great Wall Motor in China, which could focus on electric vehicles. (Read here).

Volkswagen Group's plan to cut costs by creating a new parts business could unlock funds for its move to electric vehicles and herald an eventual spin-off that could transform its profitability. (Read here).

More cities and countries come up with their ban on combustion engine cars. Paris plans ban on combustion-engine cars by 2030. (Read here). The Dutch government confirms plan to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. (Read here).

Even Uber is doing its bit. Uber drivers will be banned from using vehicles that are not a hybrid or fully electric in London from 2020, as part of a plan to help tackle illegal levels of air pollution in the capital. Uber’s 40,000 licensed drivers in London will be offered grants of up to £5,000 towards a hybrid or fully electric car. (Read here).

A bunch of announcement by GM. General Motors is working on a self-driving truck platform called the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS). The modular platform will have self-driving capabilities and will be able to run on unpredictable, off-road terrain. It could be used in many different ways from acting as logistical support to emergency, backup power generation and as plain utility trucks. (Read here). General Motors boosts self-driving car credentials with the acquisition of lidar startup Strobe. ( Read here).

Baidu plans to mass produce Level 4 self-driving cars with BAIC by 2021. This shows how new-age technology companies will partner with OEMs and not necessarily rivals. (Read here).

End users are also developing plans for autonomous vehicles. US Postal Services plans to work autonomy into its 228,000-vehicle fleet. Those plans are already in motion: The post office has partnered with the University of Michigan to build what it’s calling an Autonomous Rural Delivery Vehicle, which it wants to launch on 28,000 rural routes nationwide as early as 2025. (Read here). U.S. chipmaker Nvidia, German supplier ZF and logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL have partnered to deploy a test fleet of autonomous electric delivery trucks starting in 2018. (Read here).

Tier-1s are also developing their autonomous platforms. Panasonic aims to launch autonomous driving system in 2022. (Read here). Magna has struck a deal with BMW, Intel, and Mobileye to bring a new self-driving platform to the automotive market by 2021. (Read here).

While the world is doubling down on autonomous driving investments, one person betting against it is Warren Buffet. Warren Buffett had invested in the largest truck-stop chain in North America, Pilot Flying J. The company has 750 locations across the U.S. and Canada and more than $20 billion in revenues.  This would not be a good investment if Buffett believed that autonomous trucks were close to becoming a reality. This is because at every stop, truck drivers buy not just fuel, but food and other goods.  No truck drivers mean no ancillary sales. (Read here).


Seven more companies have joined the list of customers for data analytics services from Boeing AnalytX, bringing the total of contracts signed this year to 223. Boeing AnalytX is part of the aircraft manufacturer’s drive to capitalize on the growing demand for after-market services ranging from maintenance to cost-saving efficiencies. When Boeing Global Services was reorganized as a separate business unit last year, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said he was aiming to triple the company’s revenue from aviation services to $50 billion annually. 800 people in Boeing work for AnalytX. (Read here).

Dassault Aviation, the French maker of Rafale fighter jets, may build its business aircraft in India, in a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push to encourage local manufacturing. Building the Falcon 2000 planes in India would cut costs while ensuring quality and execution that meets standards. It bid for a defense contract worth $11 billion to supply 126 Rafale aircraft and eventually won an order for only 36 planes last year. India had initially agreed to buy all the 126 jets under a long-delayed deal, even mandating Dassault to build some of them locally. (Read here).

Honeywell spins off units worth $7.5 billion in sales, keeps aerospace. Honeywell might make acquisitions in aerospace now it has money from the sale of other businesses. (Read here).

Safran and Emirates sign Airbus A380 component maintenance contract, further strengthening their long partnership. (Read here).

British weapons maker BAE Systems said it would eliminate almost 2,000 jobs as its new chief executive comes to grips with a dearth of military plane orders and the need to lower costs. (Read here). It looks a jinx week for UK manufacturing. PSA will cut 400 Vauxhall jobs in the UK; says production not competitive compared with France. (Read here).

Australian defense firm was hacked and F-35 data stolen, DOD confirms. Aerospace engineering service providers should bump up their cybersecurity practice. (Read here).


Amazon files a patent for deploying exclusive drones in India. The firm says the proposed drones can also be used to identify other such objects, along with aircraft, plying within Indian skies. (Read here).

Drone with Event Camera takes first autonomous flight. Event cameras work differently than conventional ones. Instead of recording what a scene looks like, event cameras record how a scene changes. Point them at a scene that isn’t moving, and they won’t show you anything. But as soon as there’s motion, event cameras show you just that motion on a per-pixel basis and at a very high refresh rate. (Read here).

Software/ High-Tech

Alibaba is launching a $15 billion drive to build overseas research hubs as the deep-pocketed firm looks to compete with global leaders in e-commerce, logistics and cloud technology. (Read here).


Airtel is buying struggling Tata Tele In India and is getting a billion-dollar business for free. It’s a win for Chandra (Tata Sons Chairman) who wanted to non- performing businesses. Speculation is rife whether it will involve more media and telecom businesses of Tatas such as Tata Sky, Tata Communications. Even TCS could benefit from more telecom business from Airtel.  (Read here).

Qualcomm confirms filing of a lawsuit against Apple in China to halt the manufacture and sale of iPhones. (Read here).

Medical Devices

An electronic bandage may heal chronic wounds. (Read here).

Tech Mahindra to set up dedicated center for Terumo BCT. As Terumo's global Innovation and Development (I&D) partner, Tech Mahindra will provide medical device engineering services. (Read here).


Neurosurgery is one of the most complex and difficult specializations that surgeons can take. With this particular area, having accurate information on what needs to be operated on. A new augmented reality (AR) system called GLOW allows surgeons to get a better view. (Read here).


Salesforce takes another shot at IoT. Salesforce announced a new IoT initiative called IoT Explorer Edition designed to help customers make sense of IoT data and put it to work. Salesforce is calling a “low code” way of generating IoT business workflows. Non-technical personnel can supposedly pick and choose processes and connect to different devices and sensors to create some type of automated workflow. (Read here).

Dell Technologies launched a new IoT division to integrate products and services across the company, as well as new tools to speed up implementations, and it plans to invest $1 billion in R&D over the next three years. Dell is betting that edge analytics will be more important than cloud analytics in IoT. (Read here).

Intel Launches new IoT solution to help companies quickly and securely onboard connected devices. (Read here).

Remember a decade back every major country and state (at least Indian state) was formulating its IT policy and consulting firms minted millions in developing their IT policies (Some still do). It now looks IoT is the new IT, and many countries and states will formulate their IoT policies. Indian state Telangana has formulated its IoT policy which aims to attract investment and create jobs. The state wants to do that by becoming a buyer of IoT product/services, an enabler of the ecosystem with labs/ clusters and trainer by encouraging IoT ready workforce. (Read here).


Terumo BCT has selected the PTC Windchill Quality Management solution to support the company’s continuous improvement initiatives for quality systems and processes around the world. (Read here).

Apple acknowledges swelling of iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus and says that they are looking into the problem. Why am I putting this in PLM? Because, it highlights the business problem of traceability which PLM ISVs and service providers are trying to solve. (Read here).

Kobe Steel said that about 4 percent of the aluminum and copper products that it shipped from September 2016 to August 2017 were falsely labeled as meeting the specifications requested by customers. Products with falsified data were shipped to about 200 companies including Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Mazda. Automakers have been seeking more advanced products to cut weight while retaining strength and versatility. This is a harsh reality for Japanese steel companies: the need to provide higher quality metals to compete.  This is another use case of product and supplier traceability which PLM can solve. (Read here).