The future of manufacturing will definitely include robots—and the future is now. There are already many automated processes, with more to come.  But how many more robots and automated machines will there be? Will all human factory workers eventually be replaced, or is this just science fiction?

Automation enabled manufacturing’s latest trend known as lights-out production, a term for facilities able to operate without lights and without any human oversight. At the lights out FANUC (factor automated numerical control) facility in Japan, robots are creating other robots.

Not only the lights are off, so are the A/C and heating. The automated workforce operates continuously, without any breaks. Through this automated, lights out process, FANUC creates 22,000 to 23,000 CNC machines monthly.

FANUC, with its 24/7/365 production schedule, is an uncommon production facility. What’s more common is having automated processes occurring during the third shift for a few hours a day—at least as a starting point.

However, before a company even considers lights-out production, automation systems must already be in place. Companies with interest in seeing if lights-out production is a cost-effective option, turn to specialists like Midwest Engineering Systems (MWES) for customized automation solutions and machine designs.

Although lights-out production isn’t for every company, there are some major benefits including the following:

  • Increased product quality
  • Improved throughput
  • Decrease in workplace injuries—especially in hazardous work environments
  • Fills in a skilled worker shortage
  • A decrease in labor costs

Douglas Peterson, general manager for collaborative robots maker Universal Robots, told Automation World the criteria to determine what would work is best for a robot vs. what work would be best for human workers.

“Robots are uniquely suited to any manufacturing task that is dirty, dangerous or dull. If the process doesn’t require human dexterity, mental agility or problem-solving skills, then it can be done by a robot.”

Implementing lights-out production is a complex and difficult process. CNC Cookbook outlines and details the many challenges that can come with starting a lights-out production process, with the largest challenge being perfecting processes.

For example, even with the most cutting-edge technology, if a single process is faulty, the whole system is at risk of failure in an automated environment.  Testing new equipment and ensuring a seamless production process is critical. Having human supervisors and maintenance techs on-site is often recommended.

On the finance side, the upfront costs of lights-out production can be cost-prohibitive for many. Experts say facilities debating a move to a lights-out system should expect a return on their upfront investment within two years. If the gains in efficiency and productivity will pay of the cost of the automated machines and components themselves within 2 years, the investment likely makes sense.

Automation’s popularity grows as lights-out production is becoming more commonplace and less of a novelty. Machines will likely replace many workers who perform more dangerous or repetitive tasks while helping to boost productivity gains and profitability for many manufacturers.

(Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson / Flickr)

Korea enjoys a rich culture, made up of a mixture of deeply historic elements alongside modern aspects like the blossoming K-pop world. Visitors to Korea can enjoy a variety of cultural and modern experiences unique to this fascinating country. Read on for ten fantastically unique products that can only be found in Korea.

K-Pop and Korean Drama Merchandise

K-pop, or Korean pop music and culture, is taking the world by storm, and is largely responsible for the burgeoning popularity of Korean dramas. Television dramas like Descendants of the Sun have enjoyed worldwide popularity, and Korea knows how to capitalize on the unexpected popularity of its pop culture.

K-pop merchandise can be found almost everywhere in Korea, but the real treasures lie in licensed souvenir shops run by major entertainment agencies.

Socks

While socks are certainly not a uniquely Korean item, the prevalence of sock-buying opportunities and the wide range of colors, designs, and characters available undoubtedly is. And they're not just targeted to children, as wearing socks emblazoned with favorite characters or even political figures is commonplace for modern Korean people too.

In fact, sock buying so common in Korean culture that sock vending machines can be found in popular areas of Seoul.

Cute Trinkets and Phone Cases

Much like the "kawaii" culture in Japan, Koreans love anything tiny and cute. Many cute items can be found throughout Seoul and other parts of Korea, from tiny teddy bears and dolls to intricate miniatures on keychains, and trinkets to attach to bags and cell phones.

As an offshoot of Korea's "cute" culture, the selection of cell phone cases available to purchase is almost unrivaled in Korea. The range of cases in the United States is a tiny proportion of what is available in other parts of the world, so it makes sense to bring home a selection of cell phone cases for yourself and as souvenirs for friends and family.

Beauty Products

BB Cream is one of the hottest beauty items on the market today, and by all accounts its popularity will only continue to rise. With BB Cream being a uniquely Korean invention, it is little wonder why people are exporting it in all its forms around the world.

But the Korean beauty market is so much more than BB Cream, with facial packs being another common and inexpensive item in Korea. In addition, a selection of strange and unusual beauty products can be found, from jaw massagers to double-eyelid tape, and antibacterial hand wipes to facial slimming masks.

Hanbok

Back to the traditional, the hanbok is for Korea what the kimono is for Japan. And just like in Japan, Korean men and women still wear their hanbok with pride during celebrations and social occasions. Visitors to Korea can order a custom-made hanbok, however they don't run cheap and can take up to three weeks to made.

As such, a variety of hanbok dolls and teddy bears are available for sale at various places throughout Korea, which have proven to be popular keepsakes.

Soju

Soju is the Koreans' alcoholic drink of choice, and like much of Korean culture, has become so popular overseas that the most well-known soju brand, Jinro, has been known to outsell other popular liquors in the United States.

A clear liquid like vodka, soju is typically made from rice and is considered to be quite bitter to taste, and not as strong as vodka.

Soju was traditionally made from rice, until rice shortages from the mid-1060s until the turn of the century caused the government to prohibit the use of rice in soju distillation. Creators needed to become inventive, and even today soju can be found with a tapioca, barley, wheat, or sweet potato base. The more expensive brands are once again made from rice, and soju that has been aged ten years in oak barrels carries a premium price.

Traditional Korean Masks

Masks have long featured in Korean culture, in royal courts, battle uniforms, ceremonies, and rituals. Today, traditional Korean masks still play a role in re-enactments of traditional plays and ceremonies, and as good-luck charms.

Korean Tea

Korea has a strong tea culture, with a variety of traditional and newer teas available. Meshil (sweet plum tea) and omija (five taste tea) are traditional variants that are still widely enjoyed today, while jakseolcha, an expensive form of green tea made from only the young buds of the leaves, is a firm favorite.

Hanji

Koreans have been making traditional paper, known as hanji, for thousands of years, and the tradition still endures today. Made from the bark of the mulberry tree hanji was traditionally used to over the windows, doors, and walls in Korean houses, but today is more commonly used for artistic purposes including stationery, paper dolls, and lamps.

Folding Fans

Folding fans have long been a part of Korean culture, with their use being considered essential, even in colder weather. Folding fans are widely available for purchase, and have traditionally been used as props in Korean dances and performances, providing shelter from the elements, and even to hide a person's face from onlookers.

Which of these products would you be most interested in bringing home from a trip to Korea? Are there other quintessentially Korean products that should be included on this list? Have your say in the comments below, and please like and share this article.

References

17 Uniquely Korean Items to Buy in Seoul - http://www.gpsmycity.com/articles/73-17-uniquely-korean-items-to-buy-in-seoul.html

A Guide to Cool “Korean” Things to Buy in Korea - http://grrrltraveler.com/countries/asia/korea/cool-things-to-buy-in-korea/

Top 20 Things To Buy In Seoul To Take Home - https://blog.trazy.com/2016/07/07/top-20-things-to-buy-in-seoul-to-take-home/

Top 13 Korean Souvenirs That Friends Will Love You For - https://www.tripzilla.com/buy-souvenirs-south-korea/19531

10 Best Seoul Souvenirs Worth Your Money - http://www.therealtravelers.com/south-korea/seoul/10-best-seoul-souvenirs-worth-your-money/

Top 10 Items to Buy in Seoul - http://english.visitseoul.net/top10/Top-10-Items-to-Buy-in-Seoul?indexSn=1&sectionSn=77

Items to Buy - http://www.lifeinkorea.com/shopping/items.cfm

There are but few things that make life spicy - having to celebrate anniversaries is one of such. From birthdays to marriages, friendship to festive celebrations and even death, there is always this aura around the anniversaries celebrated. Anniversary milestones are not all equal, various anniversaries call for different types of gifts. Meanwhile, one would ask,' what is so special about marking anniversaries?' You do not know right? That memory of the past and how it all started in a positive light is not something to trade with stupidly. It is equally a time to make your spouse, lover or friend feel amazing and letting your actions reflect your inner feelings that they indeed, are the single most important part of your life.

The celebration of anniversaries come in different colors and forms from going to see a movie to going on a vacation, renewing of vows and of course giving of gifts to make it more thrilling.

Gifts ranging from chocolate and champagne, down to long stemmed roses are best to give someone on an anniversary. Does it look expensive? Right,  others may say ' does it worth much to give?' Hell, yes, it does! Knowing how dear, that special person is to you, you would want to go the extra mile to make their day.  Anniversary gifts in a whole give people the chance of remembering past lovely moments and also bringing them into the present, which is true.

Roses with scent are the best to give to a loved one on an important day like an anniversary. Ladies are said to be general lovers of scented roses, taking it as a way of being romantic and touchy- you know that feeling right?  Moreover, if you want to make their day? Roses, carefully arranged with the sweet fragrance of perfume filling the room and candles set to illuminate the way to the gift, are sure the best. I bet you on it.

People have plenty ideas to make their anniversary a memorable and classic one. White cream, pastel pink, mauve colored rose bouquet with wine like most and chancellor, Domain Perignon Vintage, Glenmorangie Whisky, and chocolates, but don't forget the candles with a scent to add more aura to a couple's anniversary dinner, making it romantic and creating an inevitable love in the atmosphere.

In most cases, instead of a store-bought present, give your partner something truly unique, like a digital collection of your favorite songs (or songs that make you think of him/ her), or keep the dying art of handwriting alive by penning an old-fashioned love letter. If you are the creative type, craft an original song, poem or painting that comes from the heart.

Amidst all the gifts to be given to that special one are sweet smelling roses. Roses, especially red ones still stand the test of time creating more ideas of beauty, love, and romance. The color of traditional roses; red, represents passion. Unbelievably, a pink rose may stand for appreciation and grace, a yellow rose may stand for friendship and happiness, while the white rose may stand for innocence.

People say 'your lady will love you more if you get her teddy bears, chocolates, and candles ' but like hell would they appreciate something to be presented with the chocolate and teddies, and that is a ROSE.

So when next you are thinking of what to get for that special one, consider getting a bouquet of rose.

Over this past weekend, I decided to play around with Google’s new app called Auto Draw. It’s a vector based app that responds to your tablet or phone sketch and then creates an icon based on recognition of shapes. For instance, let’s say you need a flower icon for a button on your site or an app you’re developing. Simply draw a flower on your tablet/phone and voila, you got a clean vector icon of a flower that can be easily manipulated and edited with a few clicks on the interface. At least, that’s what the video presented and which was what got me very interested.

The Google Auto Draw app is currently in a beta testing mode where it’s been integrated into the site itself. I found it not as easy to use as the video suggested and tried it on both my iPhone and my iPad. There didn’t seem to be, that I recognized, any ease of use from either device.

My 5-year-old son is a whiz on his iPad so I let him try it out and see if maybe I was a bit too hasty in my critique. He played with it for about 2 minutes and was not in the least bit interested. The shape recognition seems to be lacking in a few areas, but for the most part, it’s very cognitive of what it is you might be trying to draw. The stroke of the lines, curves, and angles are spotless and reminiscent of the Bell System logo from the 80’s. I like that, and it’s a clean and simple rendering that just about anyone can do. In my professional opinion, I think it’s perfect for a less experienced marketing executive looking for fast and inexpensive vector art for a PowerPoint presentation.

I also see Auto Draw being of use to seasoned designers that need instant vector art on the fly. A lot of times I spend valuable minutes looking thru files and folders trying to locate something from a year ago. After testing the Auto Draw app on tablet surfaces, I decided to try it out on my MacMini with a 24” monitor, and it worked so much better. I attest that to the speed if of the processor, video card, and Mighty Mouse. The shape recognition is faster and intuitively accurate, to say the least. It was here where I found the link to download the app itself, and I’ve been using it all week.

It’s a powerful tool in the ever-expanding world of vector based graphics which can be used in print, web building, and multimedia. You can create flow charts to keep your projects organized or for creating visual presentations for clients. However, with the interface being so easy to use, I can’t help but wonder if Google will introduce more apps in the near future putting designers out of work. Honestly, I don’t see that happening but this is definitely a powerful and free vector based app that may sway software developers to follow suit.

Many small business owners set up a website, fill it with content, and then forget about it. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to adopt such a passive approach if you want a successful website that actually generates useful traffic. Luckily, website analytics are an excellent way to drill down into your website for clues on how to make it perform better.

Google Analytics

Back in the day, you may have hired a Magento agency to create a fantastic website. It probably still looks amazing now, but you still need to monitor your website traffic. Analytics make this job so much easier. There is a wealth of detailed information available, and you don’t even need to be an SEO expert to access this information. 

Anyone can open a Google Analytics account. It won’t take long to get your account up and running, and once it is, you can add a tracking ID to any website you own. This allows you to analyse website traffic, and a whole host of other metrics. 

Top Performing Pages

Look at which pages attract the most visitors. Analyse these pages in depth to find out where your visitors are coming from, what keywords they use to find the page, and how long they spend on the page. This information will help you create more of the same. You can also leverage your high-performing pages by adding a strong call-to-action or more prominent ads on these pages.

Visitor Location

Google Analytics offers a geographic breakdown of visitors, so you can see where your traffic comes from, right down to the town or city. This is more useful than you might think; especially if you are looking to expand your business into new areas. You might discover that you already have traffic from a specific country, which indicates your products or services are of interest. 

What’s Your Bounce Rate?

There will always be visitors who click on a page and then click away almost immediately, but if your bounce rate is higher than expected, it indicates you have a problem. Look at page loading speed. If a page takes more than a few seconds to load, this could be the reason why your bounce rate is high. If so, ask yourself what’s causing the problem. Is it your server, or do you have too many graphics and videos on the page? Whatever the underlying cause is, fix it, as it is hurting your website.

Traffic Sources

Where is your traffic coming from – paid ads or organic traffic? This information tells you what is working, and also what isn’t. Check whether traffic is coming from mobile or desktop devices. Again, this is very important for future optimisation. 

If you pay close attention to how visitors interact with your website, your traffic will grow a lot faster.

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