The opinions of our Editors and Contributors.

A fading dream

The news that Bloodhound Programme Ltd has entered administration will have saddened – but perhaps not surprised – many of us who have followed the project over the years.

Cutting complexity at the edge

The edge is top-of-mind for many IT and OT professionals across a wide range of industries and sectors. This interest is driven by the need to use data more effectively to maintain operations, optimise performance and increase uptime.

Winning spirit

On October 4, the annual British Engineering Excellence Awards luncheon took place in London. As ever, it provided a heartening insight into the world class innovation and invention that exists in the UK engineering sector, with some truly outstanding entries from whom the very best were chosen as winners.

Addressing aging workforce issues with new technologies

Perhaps the world’s best predictive maintenance system is in place at a large petrochemical complex in the Ship Channel area of Houston. This system, however, isn’t a piece of software. Instead, it’s a reliability and maintenance engineer, let’s call him Carl, with 40 plus years of experience. His story was related to me at a recent industry event, and he’s responsible for optimising maintenance of 150 critical pumps.

Industrial robots access AI via the cloud

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a cloud-based solution for pro-active maintenance based on the AI platform within IBM Watson, which enables the smart analysis of operational data to predict and highlight future maintenance requirements.

The decommissioning dividend

The cover story of Eureka’s September issue looks at the programme to decommission the UK’s legacy nuclear power plant, with particular emphasis on the opportunities this creates for engineering innovation.

3D printing materials: Sustainable or not?

Among the various innovations that the profession of design engineering has experienced in recent times, the marvel of Additive Manufacturing (AM) is perhaps the one with the most influential nature. Here, Melissa Albeck, CEO of online materials database Matmatch, explores the latest developments in the industry and how environmentally sustainable AM actually is.

Facing up to cyber threats

The advent of Industry 4.0 has meant that connectivity is increasingly a given in new component design. The ability to relay and feed back information about its performance and conditions now has to be factored into many design processes, posing greater challenges than ever for design engineers.

Design matters…

It would be nice to think that the value of design to the UK’s economy would not need highlighting. However, the reality is that it is often a misunderstood concept and consequently underappreciated.

Industry must step up on technical education

The first 52 colleges and post-16 providers to teach new ‘T Levels’ were named on 27 May. T Levels are courses, which will be on a par with A levels and will provide young people with a choice between technical and academic education post 16.

Is the Medical Device Regulation a threat to additive manufacturing?

When the European Union’s (EU’s) Medical Device Regulation (MDR) was first introduced in 2017, it set in motion a three-year countdown to its full application in 2020. The MDR could drastically impact the way that medical devices are made in the EU, particularly those that are produced using additive manufacturing (AM). Here Bryan Austin, general manager of global engineering company, Renishaw’s Medical and Dental Products Division gives his advice on how companies in the AM industry should handle the MDR.

Electrifying vehicle technologies

Despite appearing to be a modern phenomenon, the first electric vehicle took to the road in 1832 and in 1899, outselling all other available options, including steam and gasoline powered vehicles. Since 1935, with the invention of the internal combustion engines, gasoline-powered vehicles have become the popular choice. This changed in 2016, which saw a record in the sale of electric vehicles worldwide, with 750,000 cars sold.

Disruption is the new normal

In the technology sphere, ‘disruptive’ can sometimes seem an overused term. So much so, in fact, that it almost feels rare to encounter a new product or technology that isn’t instantly labelled ‘disruptive’ in its publicity material.

How thin cell batteries are revolutionising industry

In 2011, Chinese engineers claimed to have made the world’s first shrinking device. While it may sound like it came from a film, the device only creates the illusion of a smaller object, rather than actually shrinking it. Illusions aside, it is clear that devices in the electronics sector are continuing to get smaller. Here, J.D. DiGiacomandrea, applications engineering manager at global battery manufacturer Ultralife Corporation looks at how thin cell batteries are revolutionising a number of industrial sectors.

Should robots pay taxes?

Robot tax? A tax on robotics is as absurd an idea as a tax on pencils. As Britain’s political parties discuss a potential tax on automation and robotics, Nigel Smith, managing director of Toshiba Machine partner, TM Robotics, explains why slowing down the machine economy would lead to a productivity disaster.

How will surgical robots change hospital power requirements?

In January 2018, the NHS invited companies to tender for a contract to provide £300m worth of surgical robots to surgeries across the UK. With it now only a matter of time before robots become commonplace in UK hospitals, Steve Hughes, managing director of medical power component manufacturer REO UK, explores the power demands they will bring with them.

Ones to watch: electric vehicles, intelligent workplaces and next-gen robots

There’s been a lot of flux in the UK manufacturing industry. We have seen the positives of emerging technologies, a renewed commitment to the government’s Industrial Strategy and the CBI reporting the industry ended last year on a high with strong orders on the book. However, automation of jobs has left workers in many industries feeling nervous about the future and we saw output fall unexpectedly in February, the first decline in almost a year.

Bridging the skills gap with automated engineering

According to the State of Engineering Survey by Engineering UK, the industry requires 265,000 new skilled entrants annually in order to meet demand by 2024. Here, Martyn Williams, managing director at industrial software provider COPA-DATA UK, examines Britain’s engineering skills shortage and explains how automated engineering can redefine the role of the manufacturing engineer and ultimately bridge the skills gap.

What now for driverless vehicles?

The recent death in Arizona of a woman after being hit by a self-driving car operated by Uber has inevitably cast a shadow over this area of technological development. In no small part this is because it is precisely the sort of incident the safety systems in such cars are supposed to make virtually impossible.

Robotics boom creates components shortage

A global surge in robotics manufacturing has created a shortage of common industrial components required for other industries, according to suppliers. For example, the increased demand for bearings for use in robots has created significant delays in the supply of bearings for other industry sectors. Specialist bearings distributor SMB Bearings has experienced this first hand and is making investments to address the shortage.

Bringing military medical devices into the 21st century

In the 15th century, soldiers injured in battle were left on the battlefield for two to three days until their condition either stabilised or they died. Since the efforts of surgeon Ambroise Paré in the same century, one of the forerunners in improving medical treatment for injured soldiers, the care that soldiers receive today is much safer, quicker and well organised. Here, Neil Oliver, technical marketing manager of professional battery manufacturer Accutronics explains how portable and wearable technology is supporting the future of military medical devices.

The ultimate light-weight military vehicle

The sheer variety of military vehicles currently out for tender demonstrates the lack of consensus on military vehicle design at present. However, it does also highlight the willingness of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to push the envelope, contributing to the development of high-tech, well-armoured and incredibly agile military vehicles. It is because of this that, steering system specialist, Pailton Engineering was determined to meet an unusually difficult specification of a particular military vehicle OEM.

Taking a closer look at tantalum

Last month, comic book fans flocked to cinemas as Black Panther hit the screens. Underpinning the film’s plot was fictional metal vibranium, which powered the titular hero’s kingdom of Wakanda. Interestingly, this metal was, in part, inspired by tantalum. So, what of the marvellous metal’s real-life counterpart? Here, Heiko Wildner, refractory metals specialist for materials comparison site Matmatch, examines the value and considerations of using tantalum.

Innovation needs protection to thrive

As modern British innovators go, it is fair to say that Trevor Baylis CBE perhaps exemplified a certain archetype. With his invention of the wind-up radio, he perfectly represented the independent, self-motivating – perhaps idiosyncratic – inventor and rose to deserved fame as a result.