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Manufacturing's Winner And Loser: Smart Business Moves; Carelessness And Corruption

This week we have winners who have developed an optimization algorithm to reduce energy consumption and increase productivity in industrial robots. This week's loser played a role in a devastating disaster that has been in the news for over two weeks.

This week we have winners who have developed an optimization algorithm to reduce energy consumption and increase productivity in industrial robots. This week's loser played a role in a devastating disaster that has been in the news for over two weeks.

Winner

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed an optimization algorithm to increase the functionality of industrial robots while reducing wasted energy consumption. 

The optimization tool can coordinate several robots in the same area to ensure smooth functioning and reduce risk of collision. 

“We simply let the robot move slower instead of waiting for other robots and machines to catch up before carrying out the next sequence. The optimization also determines the order in which the various operations are carried out to minimize energy consumption – without reducing the total execution time," said Professor Bengt Lennartson, who initiated the research together with General Motors and other partners.

The initial test results indicate a 15 to 40 percent reduction in energy consumption, but further testing is required to get more accurate energy savings estimates. 

These robots consume energy even when they're not moving, so reducing energy use is a smart fiscal move. The algorithm also smooths out the industrial process as a whole, making it a smart business move and earning these researchers the title of this week's winner. 

Loser

Ruihai Logistics owns the warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that faced a massive and deadly explosion on Aug. 12. Many are calling this explosion China's worst industrial disaster in recent years, with at least 145 deaths recorded.

Investigations on what caused the explosion have focused on how the warehouse gained permission to handle the sodium cyanide around other chemicals despite the proximity of the warehouse to residential areas and roads.

The investigation also found the warehouse was storing more chemicals than it was equipped to handle and improperly stored some in loading zones. 

Read the latest news on the Tianjin disaster and investigation here.

Because of the illegal possession and storage of these extremely hazardous chemicals, the disaster caused devastation to the public and responders. This carelessness and highly likely corruption has earned Ruihai Logistics the loser title of the week and sets a what-not-to-do example for warehouses everywhere — cutting corners is dangerous and deadly.

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