Holy Robot Land…

Earlier this week, I took 30 venture professionals on a three day technology mission to Israel sponsored by the State of Israel’s Ministry of the Economy and the UJA Federation of New York (#ujatech).  We met with the leaders of Israel’s tech scene, as well as many promising startups.  Relevant to this blog, we spent a day at the new cyber security hub in Beer Sheva hosted by EMC. While IT security is a high priority in this data-driven world, industrial IoT (especially autonomous cars) is the hottest new sector in the desert. In addition to cyber, the land of milk & honey is flowing with automation…

Teva is a global leader in generic pharmaceuticals and one of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies of the world. Headquartered in Shoham Israel, Teva operates in 60 countries and has 47,000 employees worldwide.  My delegation visited their Jerusalem factory that is almost fully automated. Built on four floors the warehouse uses robots, RFID and computer vision to move raw materials to the production lines. Human workers have been promoted to a QoS role, while the industrial machines pick, place, and distribute compounds into capsules for global distribution.

teva robotThe automation rose out of the demand to handle more than 1000 warehouse orders per hour and store more than 75,000 pallets; a task that could only be achieved by a robust and fully automated solution. Teva partnered with Unitronics as the systems integrator for the automated portion of this project.

Automation tasks include: automated truck loading/unloading conveyors, automated shrink-wrap machinery, pallet changers and more. The picking system consists of 15,500 automated locations for totes, an automated picking machine (A-machine), 6 goods-to-man stations, and automated closing lines  The material flow throughout the entire center is done by a decentralized control system controlled by PLCs. Cranes, lifts, conveyors and special machines are all connected by a network of dozens of Unitronics Vision570™ and Vision1040™ PLCs. The automated cranes move at a very high speed and with precise levels of accuracy within the millimeter. Each of the pallet cranes executes approx. 50 movements per hour and each of the tote cranes executes more than 400 movements per hour. The whole system is also built in controlled temperature and humidity conditions that have been planned and tested according to strict FDA regulations.

teve craneIn addition to the cranes and belts, Teva uses a gravity-based distribution network to feed powder compounds to factory floors. These compounds are processed into specific machines that output 300,000 pills an hour.  When seeing the scale of this automation firsthand it is no wonder why Teva consistently outperforms competitors, with 20% net profit.

As the sun set on Jerusalem, I marveled how this small land continues to lead the world into the next industrial age.

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