What You Don’t Repair You Destroy graphic

What You Don’t Repair You Destroy

Posted on October 22, 2015

Critical maintenance failings that risk the long-term health and productivity of British manufacturing are highlighted in a recent report published by Bosch Rexroth UK. The report, What You Don’t Repair You Destroy, catalogs a series of problems affecting manufacturing maintenance practices that threaten productivity, efficiency and competitiveness.

Published in conjunction with the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET), the report surveyed 300 engineers in a variety of roles from manufacturing director through to maintenance engineer. Key findings include 71% of engineers describing their maintenance practices as reactive or planned; 50% stating that maintenance training budgets have stagnated or decreased in recent years and that the majority of maintenance engineers receive only five days training or less every year.

Alastair Johnstone, managing director of Bosch Rexroth UK, said: “We have been concerned for some time that maintenance practices and skills have not kept pace with advances in machine complexity. “This report suggests that UK manufacturing is walking a tightrope, with dated maintenance practices and budgetary constraints posing a critical risk to the long-term health of our manufacturing base. More strategic maintenance, such as condition monitoring and preventive maintenance techniques, are the exception rather than the rule. He added: “This report is, of course, a snapshot. There are outstanding examples of maintenance practices in British manufacturing, you only need to look at the car industry as a prime example of that. But, it is vitally important that the rest of the industry follow suit and take a longer-term view of maintenance and its positive impact in order to safeguard the UK’s impressive productivity statistics which are, rightly, celebrated.”

The report covers keys areas of maintenance, including resource, planning and monitoring, critical machinery, obsolescence and training and includes verbatim quotes from engineers who took part in the research, which detail their concerns about the role of maintenance in manufacturing and the challenges faced on a daily basis.

College Transforms Facilities, Reduces Energy Costs by 42% graphic

College Transforms Facilities, Reduces Energy Costs by 42%

Posted on October 22, 2015

Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation, announced the installation of a campus-wide energy efficiency initiative at Salem Community College in Carneys Point, N.J. that will reduce the college’s annual energy costs by 42 percent or $296,000. The $5.3 million project is funded via New Jersey’s Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) and marks the first higher education institution in the state to complete an ESIP project.

Salem Community College faced a number of challenges including outdated mechanical systems and lack of a strategic maintenance program. The college also needed to provide backup power to keep its public safety, IT and campus operations running during power outages. This partnership approaches energy management holistically, addressing both the supply side of energy through a solar power purchase agreement and natural gas procurement, as well as improving the demand side of energy through more than a dozen energy conservation measures.

“We are deeply committed to providing the best educational environment for our students, and this includes the quality of our facilities,” said Dr. Michael Gorman, President of Salem Community College. “This project will improve indoor air quality and temperature control, provide new virtual computer labs and advance our goal of approaching net-zero energy status. By partnering with Schneider Electric, we can achieve all this with no impact on taxpayers.”

The ESIP project incorporates a variety of upgrades to enhance comfort across seven facilities while reducing energy consumption including:

  • Mechanical upgrades
  • Lighting retrofits and upgrades
  • Intelligent building automation system
  • Water conservation measures
  • Window tinting
  • Building weatherization
  • Plug load control
  • IT upgrades
  • Solar power purchase agreement
  • Natural gas procurement
An O-Ring Primer graphic

An O-Ring Primer

Posted on October 20, 2015

Technology is always moving forward, but some things stand the test of time. One of those things is the O-ring, which was first patented in 1896.

What is an O-ring?

A O-ring is a doughnut-shaped loop designed to prevent the passage of liquids or gases. It’s one of the simplest precision mechanical pieces ever produced, and continue to be one of the most widely-utilized sealing products.

O-rings can be made from plastic or metal, but for the purposes of our blog, we’ll focus solely on rubber – or elastomeric — O-ring design.

An O-ring, also known as a “torus,” works in tandem with the glands in which they are installed. The gland is normally cut from the metallic hardware, and works with the O-ring to seal. The gland and the O-ring must be designed together to insure top performance.

How does an O-ring seal?

Seals prevent fluids from escaping through the gaps in mating pieces of hardware. The O-ring sits in the middle of a gland when it’s at rest, but as pressure begins to rise in the sealing system, the O-ring shifts to the opposite side of the pressure.

Because the material is soft, the O-ring is mechanically squeezed to plug the hole between the two mating hardware pieces.

Limitations of O-ring use

“Although it has been stated that O-rings offer a reasonable approach to the ideal hydraulic seal, they should not be considered an immediate solution to all sealing problems.”

That was D.R. Pearl of the United Aircraft Corp. in 1947, in a paper presented at the S.A.E. annual meeting. Pearl wrote those words almost 70 years ago, but distinct limitations remain for using O-rings as a primary seal. These limitations include:
Rotary speeds above 1,500 feet per minute
Improper mating hardware design
Incompatible temperature, pressure and fluid chemical compatibility

source: http://www.gallagherseals.com/

The Best Curve for a Winder

Posted on October 16, 2015

David Roisum’s blog posts are always worth reading. Here’s his latest:
The most useless general winding question you can pose is what is the best ‘curve’ for a winder. By this I presume someone is struggling with winder troubles and has the Polyannish thought that some magic (tension) curve will make life better (sometimes it might). They may even be more specific as to ask for a taper, or whether or not a constant tension, constant torque or linear taper is best. So, here is the skinny.

First, which defect are you trying to reduce? Note that most winding defects are not even sensitive to any of the winder TNT knobs because they are machine design or maintenance or operational defects. Second, presuming that we do have a tightness related defect, it is unreasonable to expect that one curve would work well for two or more different defects. Third, it is unreasonable to expect that one curve would work well for two or more different materials.

So, here is the short of what might take two days of explanation, such as my video-on-demand course in winding. You must first be absolutely clear which defect and subspecies you are trying to fix. Next, you must know whether that subspecies is a tight, loose, roll-structure or other class of defect. Then, you move ALL of your knobs (not just tension or taper) in the appropriate direction as far as possible. You must also consider whether the winding machine is making this worse than necessary (such as not being in good mechanical condition or not calibrated so that settings can drift). You must also consider how much web quality (i.e., profile variation cross the width) makes this worse. ALL tightness related defects (tight, loose and roll structure) are sensitive to machine and web quality.

China robot sales to triple by 2018 graphic

China robot sales to triple by 2018

Posted on October 16, 2015

Reuters reports that China is trying to modernize its industrial production and has identified robotics as a major area for growth amid labor shortages and fast-rising wages.

The world’s second-largest economy still has far lower robot penetration than other big industrialized economies – just 36 per 10,000 manufacturing workers versus 478 in South Korea, 315 in Japan, 292 in Germany and 164 in the United States.

Frankfurt-based IFR said in a statement that annual robot sales to China would jump to 150,000 by 2018, up from 57,000 in 2014. “The robotics industry is exhibiting rapid growth – completely unperturbed by the current economic fallow period experienced by other areas of Chinese industry,” China Robot Industry Alliance Secretary General Song Xiaogang said in IFR’s statement.

China’s robot market is still dominated by foreign players like ABB, Kuka and Yaskawa but China is encouraging its own robot makers with subsidies and the number of Chinese robotics firms is growing fast. Few of them have their own technology and struggle to compete on price alone, but in the long run the domestic robot industry is expected to become a leading force.

More Robots Means More Jobs graphic

More Robots Means More Jobs

Posted on October 13, 2015

Packaging World reports that data contained in a new white paper from The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) argues with the perception that increasing the use of robots causes higher rates of unemployment in the U.S.

The white paper, “Robots Fuel the Next Wave of U.S. Productivity and Job Growth,” uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a wide range of manufacturing firms to document how and why increasing the use of robots is associated with increased employment.

Key statistics from the A3 white paper show that during the non-recessionary periods—1996-2000, 2002-2007, and 2010-2014—general employment and robot shipments both increased. Since 2010, the robotics industry in the U.S. has grown substantially. Even during this period of record-breaking robot sales, U.S. employment increased.

“We are seeing concrete shifts in the factors that resulted in cuts to the U.S. manufacturing workforce over the past few decades,” says Jeff Burnstein, President of A3. “Manufacturing automation increasingly provides the flexibility in the variety of tasks robots perform to drive improvements in overall product quality and time to market.

“One of the biggest challenges we now face is closing the skills gap to fill jobs. Robots are optimizing production more than ever, increasing global competitiveness and performing dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks that enable companies to create higher-skilled, better-paying, and safer jobs where people use their brains, not their brawn.”

Notes the paper, as companies seek to bring manufacturing operations stateside while remaining cost-competitive, they continue to turn to automation to help lead the new wave of productivity and job growth in the U.S.

Says Geoff Escalette, CEO of faucet-maker RSS Manufacturing & Phylrich, “The whole premise for our company is to bring manufacturing back to this country, and our new robot fits perfectly with that master plan. Our robot not only makes it possible to increase production speed without buying additional CNC machines, but also helped us open up 30 percent more capacity on existing machinery.”

96% of Manufacturers Expect Their Products “Connected” by 2018 graphic

96% of Manufacturers Expect Their Products “Connected” by 2018

Posted on October 12, 2015

According to IDC Manufacturing Insights, connected products are not only top of mind but proliferating across manufacturing segments.

As manufacturers move down the path toward creating products that have inherent connectivity to support added functionality, they also open up the possibility for many new types of aftermarket opportunities, what IDC refers to as connected services.

The report, IDC PeerScape: Manufacturing Practices to Launch a Successful Connected Service Initiatives, presents five best practices culled from research and conversations with manufacturers in the past year. It indicates manufacturers are increasingly turning to services as a means to improve profits, increase customer satisfaction, and differentiate from competitors. Connected services leverage connected products to unlock the data-captured insights coming off the products.

According to the new report:
– By 2020, onboard service revenue will grow at double the pace of product-related revenue.
– It is no longer a question of whether manufacturers need to offer connected services but what services they should offer and how quickly they can launch them.
– Connected services will redefine the manufacturer’s role and cumulative value throughout the customer life cycle.

According to the report, to date, many of the plans for connected service are in the ideation/development phase because of the significant amount of change required in processes, functional alignment, and technology to support a comprehensive connected service operation. Early adopters have been successful in launching some of the less disruptive connected services such as product monitoring and are using these as test beds for more complex initiatives.

Federal Grant to Help Farmers Accurately Predict Crop Yield, Manage Resources graphic

Federal Grant to Help Farmers Accurately Predict Crop Yield, Manage Resources

Posted on October 9, 2015

The National Grape & Wine Initiative (NGWI) announced today it helped secure $6 million over four years in federal funding for research to develop and apply new technologies to transform the way grapes are grown throughout the United States.

Funding comes from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which just released the first continuation grant installment of $2,357,674.

Led by award-winning scientists Drs. Terry Bates of Cornell University and Stephen Nuske of Carnegie Mellon University, the research project will focus on using technology to create digital maps that will allow farmers to zero in on the conditions within their vineyards and significantly enhance their ability to predict crop size, according to Jean-Mari Peltier, president of NGWI.

This project will build on the work of an industry funded pilot project that demonstrated tremendous promise in developing tools for precision vineyard management,” Peltier said. “We believe it will lead to the commercialization of hardware and software that will benefit growers of wine, juice, raisin and table grapes, nationwide.”

Employing both novel and off-the-shelf sensor technologies, the industry pilot project has resulted in the ability to create digital management maps of soil, canopy and the crop. Of particular note is the new prototype crop estimation tool, which can be attached to common vineyard equipment and takes thousands of images per minute, providing a far more accurate view of grape clusters.

“It is impossible to overstate the value this technology will provide in improving grape farmers’ ability to apply the right management practices at the right time and right place in their vineyards,” said Peltier. “Our goal is to increase vineyard production by 20 percent and decrease vineyard variability by 30 percent.”

The combined data holds the promise of providing a wealth of information to farmers, including data about crop yield, soil conditions, irrigation and fertilization needs; canopy growth and the color and maturity of grapes. Additionally, digital mapping can help farmers balance quality and quantity of their crops; manage and direct harvesting operations; and help them pinpoint the varying soil conditions and needs throughout their vineyards. “This project exemplifies what the specialty crop industry has been looking for from SCRI,” said John Aguirre, President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, and Chairman of the NGWI Board. “Because of grower involvement from day one, it reflects an industry-driven research agenda to ensure the outcome will be relevant and valuable to the nation’s grape growers and ultimately American consumers.”

Pepsi’s New Package Nods to Back to the Future Fans graphic

Pepsi’s New Package Nods to Back to the Future Fans

Posted on October 8, 2015

Speaking of packaging, Pepsi has officially confirmed the long-awaited creation of Pepsi Perfect – the soda Marty McFly orders in the second installment of one of the most beloved trilogies in motion-picture history. The fantastical cola, made famous by the film, will officially be available on October 21, 2015, paying homage to the date Marty McFly travels to in the future.

“Pepsi fans asked and we heard them loud and clear,” says Lou Arbetter, senior director of marketing, PepsiCo. “The Back to the Future trilogy was as big a moment in pop culture history then as it is now, 30 years later. We are excited to be part of this moment and to bring fans something only Pepsi could deliver – and there’s no need to wait – the future is now!”

Pepsi will make the future a reality on October 21, 2015 and unlock limited quantities of Pepsi Perfect, available for purchase online while supplies last. Fans located in the U.S. can get their hands on 1 of 6,500 Pepsi Perfect bottles, each outfitted in a special collectible case. The 16.9 oz. bottles will contain Pepsi Made with Real Sugar and will sell for $20.15.

While the clock counts down to October 21, New York Comic Con ticket holders will step into a Pepsi Perfect world as they enter the Javits Center on Thursday, October 8. From sponsoring a Back to the Future focused panel to creating a Café 80’s inspired booth featuring a DeLorean and Wild Gunman arcade game, Pepsi Perfect will bring to life the magical world created by Back to the Future Part II.

The End of Open Heart Surgery? graphic

The End of Open Heart Surgery?

Posted on October 8, 2015

I just read about a new specialized catheter that can fix holes in the heart using a biodegradable adhesive and patch, eliminating the need for open heart surgery in animal studies.

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Karp Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital jointly worked on the project and recently published their findings in the Science Translational Medicine.

Although the patch was created last winter, researchers wanted a way to deliver the patch without open heart surgery. That’s when the catheter was created.

The catheter device utilizes UV light technology and can be used to place the patch in a beating heart.

According to a press release, the catheter is inserted through a vein in the neck or groin and directed to the defect within the heart. Once the catheter is in place, the clinician opens two positioning balloons: one around the front end of the catheter, passing through the hole, and one on the other side of the heart wall.

The clinician then deploys the patch and turns on the catheter’s UV light. The light reflects off of the balloon’s shiny interior and activates the patch’s adhesive coating. As the glue cures, pressure from the positioning balloons on either side of the patch help secure it in place.

Finally, both balloons are deflated and the catheter is withdrawn. Over time, normal tissue growth resumes and heart tissue grows over the patch. The patch itself dissolves when it is no longer needed.

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