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Technology Development Trend in Industrial Automation
Release time: 2018-04-13

At present, under the trend of Industry 4.0, many automated startup companies have emerged worldwide, but their technological innovation often realizes a niche product and is subject to similar problems such as "kidnapping" by system integrators in disguise; at the same time, I want to bet Investors on the "Automation" track are also confused about how to accurately judge automation startup projects.
To this end, a reporter from Titanium Media in Silicon Valley interviewed Shen Han, an investor in Oculus and a partner of US front-line fund Formation 8, and asked him to give readers an in-depth interpretation of current entrepreneurial trends, problems and solutions in the field of industrial automation.
"Object grabbing" becomes a bottleneck in industrial automation

At present, the world is about to usher in the era of Industry 4.0, and industrial automation, which is one of the main symbols, has become the most popular entrepreneurial direction. According to Shen Han, three types of innovation directions have emerged in the field of industrial automation worldwide.
First, it provides overall solutions for new manufacturing and logistics application scenarios, and adds new technological advancements such as artificial intelligence and data analysis. This field mainly gathers many giants in the automation field such as ABB, Kuka, FANUC, Kiva (acquired by Amazon). Shen Han said,
"But for European and American start-ups, there is a large need for start-up capital in this area, long demonstration and sales cycles, and core technical barriers are often limited, and it is easy to fall into a situation of competing prices and cost-effectiveness. For a large number of SME customers, a full set of "Although the automation solution is attractive, it requires a lot of money and therefore has limited purchasing power."
Secondly, visual recognition technology. Another must-have factor for industrial automation is to "fit eyes" to robots. In the past, industrial robots only need to repeatedly process objects of a preset size. However, with the development of the manufacturing and logistics industries, the position, placement direction, type, shape and size of objects have become more and more diverse, requiring robots to have visual recognition capabilities. At present, this direction is also facing some challenges and opportunities, mainly reflected in whether it can provide customers with the accuracy and precision of identification and satisfactory cost-effectiveness.
Again, object grabbing techniques. In terms of object grabbing, the traditional method is to use vacuum suction cups or mechanical claws to grab objects, such as using vacuum suction cups to adsorb automobile glass windshields. However, there are still a large number of objects that cannot be grasped by traditional methods, such as cloth and fruits. , Flexible electronic devices, etc.
"Fabrics can breathe and deform when encountering vacuum chucks, while flexible PCBs are very easy to be damaged when encountering vacuum chucks, and cannot be grasped by traditional methods. At the same time, the existing object grabbing technology requires high-precision visual recognition to achieve It is relatively high, and currently has not seen a cost-effective visual recognition solution. "Shen Han admitted to Titanium Media.
How to look at industrial automation startup projects?
For investors betting on the "automation" track, in addition to pinpointing the three main areas of innovation, another issue that troubles them is how to look at entrepreneurial projects in the field of industrial automation? In this regard, Shen Han, a successful Silicon Valley industrial automation star Grabit, also gave his own suggestions.
First, products must be standardized and universal. There are many entrepreneurial projects in the field of automation derived from the scientific research results of the founders in the laboratory, but there is a huge gap between laboratory technology and commercialization of products. "Some application scenarios of automation technology are very broad at first glance, but the specific implementation needs to change here for customer A and change there for customer B. If customized products are launched for each segmented scenario indiscriminately, it is possible There will be a situation where a customized version can only sell 5-10 sets a year. R & D must continue to burn money, and sales growth is bound to be slow. Therefore, for automated entrepreneurship projects, product standardization and universality are very critical. "Shen Han That said.
Second, product compatibility must be good and plug-and-play capable. In order to reduce the barrier to entry and achieve scale, a good automation product must be compatible with the production or logistics processes that the customer has already adopted to the greatest extent, and achieve "minimum disruption and disruption." Imagine that if an enterprise has spent huge sums of money on automated processes, it is difficult for it to be rebuilt for a new technology that can effectively improve a certain link.
Third, take control of your own destiny, not just being controlled by system integrators. "At present, because many automation products cannot be standardized and compatible well, they often rely on system integrators for sales. In this way, they become disguised parts. As a VC, I cannot invest in such projects," Shen Han Said, "An automation product that achieves standardization, good compatibility, and plug-and-play should have the ability to get rid of the restrictions of system integrators, direct sales and channel distributors, and maintain cooperation when cooperating with various industry giants but not Dependency status. "