March/April 2012

Automation by the Numbers


December U.S. manufacturing technology orders totaled $519.98 million according to The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) and the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTO program, was up 12.2% from November and up 12.7% when compared with the total of $461.48 million reported for December 2010. With a year-to-date total of $5,508.81 million, 2011 was up 66.4% compared with 2010. These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals of actual data reported by companies participating in the USMTO program.

"USMTO finished its strongest year in more than a decade as manufacturing led the U.S. recovery into 2012," said AMT President Douglas K. Woods. "The 67 percent increase is nearly 20 points higher than forecasters predicted, which is great news in terms of reducing the foreign trade deficit. Manufactured goods represent more than 65 percent of trade, so the rise of U.S. manufactured products will help reduce our reliance on imports and support growth in exports."

-Courtesy of


ARC said Foundation fieldbus accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total digital process fieldbus marketplace in 2011. ARC also predicts ongoing expansion of the market for process fieldbus products and solutions, with continued double-digit growth over the next five years. Foundation fieldbus provides an all-digital communication infrastructure for process automation, with powerful multivariable measurement capabilities, powerful device diagnostics, and the ability to integrate wireless devices across multiple networks. The block structure of Foundation fieldbus is unique, and provides true distributed functionality for implementing control in the field, improved data management, and alarm and alert management.

ARC Analyst Kevin Crisafulli said, "Fieldbus technology has made further inroads into the culture of process automation, despite the negative impact that the global recession had on the market. Manufacturers are beginning to understand that the real value of fieldbus savings and increasing efficiency are more closely related to operating expenditures, which will drive growth going forward."

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5 vs. 20

General Motors (GM) and NASA worked together on a project that has resulted in the development of robotic gloves, according to DailyTech. Astronauts and workers on GM's automotive assembly lines would wear the robotic gloves to help reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries. The robotic glove is officially known as the Human Grasp Assist device and goes by the short name K-glove or Robo-glove. The robotic glove is the end result of research that showed when humans continuously grip a tool fatigue in the hand muscles occurs within a few minutes. The glove is designed to allow the wearer to grip tools longer and more comfortably. Whether operating in space or on an assembly line, workers not wearing the gloves might need to use 15 to 20 pounds of force to hold a tool. However, when wearing the glove, that figure drops to 5 to 10 pounds. The glove design was inspired by the finger actuation system used by Robonaut.