Blogs

The opinions of our Editors and Contributors.


Who needs plastic bearings?

Hostile. Harsh. Corrosive. If you’re looking to source bearings for these kinds of environments, then plastic bearings could be the ideal option for your project. But how do you know if it’s time to put the traditional steel bearings to one side and use this alternative material? Here, Chris Johnson, managing director of plastic bearing supplier SMB Bearings explains five applications where plastic bearings could be your next choice.


Bespoke manufacturing

Bespoke production is becoming increasingly achievable for low and high-volume manufacturing. Bespoke products offer adaptability and full customisation as well as security in the fact that individual requirements will be met, especially if the manufacturer has the required specialisms in-house. Here, Stewart Goulding, managing director at mechatronic drive system supplier EMS Ltd explains the things to consider when opting for bespoke production.


Meeting tomorrow’s demands through precision agriculture

In times past, farmers were at the mercy of the elements to determine a successful yield of crops. As the global population grows and consumer preferences evolve, today’s modern farmer must also consider the scarcity of natural resources, the threat of climate change and the growing problem of food waste. Here, Darcy Simonis, Industry Network Leader for food and beverage at ABB, explores the rise of the smart farm and the electrical considerations that accompany bringing farming into the digital age.


Be in control… with the right robot controller

The current trend of robot control is changing with PLC-based solutions offering different benefits and opportunities over the traditional dedicated robot controllers. So, what needs to be considered when selecting the right solution for the application?


Amputee bonds with son thanks to 3D printed bionic hand

For 21 years, Danny Florence has lived with one hand. But when he became a father, he decided to apply for an Open Bionics Hero Arm. With the help of the maxon driven prosthesis he can now build a strong bond with his son.


What’s that in SCADA Claus’ sack?

Jolly ol’ Santa Claus has quite a job coming up this month. Assuming an estimate of 650 million Christian children worldwide, manufacturing one toy for each would mean his factory would need to spit out just over 20 toys a second, every second, all year round. A factory manager could sure learn some tips from this impressive feat. Here, Sean Robinson, service leader at industrial control system specialist Novotek UK and Ireland, picks out some ideal industrial stocking-fillers to help you in competition with this seasonal manufacturing juggernaut.


How to stop a speeding train

After doubts about the future of the UK’s high-speed rail link HS2, the government has said the project will go ahead, although delayed by up to three years, in 2029. The prospect of 250 mph rail travel is again real and, while the brakes have been put on HS2 for now, OEMs and engineers should consider how the trains will function safety. That includes their braking systems. Steve Hughes managing director of power quality specialist REO UK, explains how braking resistors will be crucial for stopping the world’s fastest trains.


Material innovations give bearings a new lease of life

Design engineers have long searched for material coating methods to reduce friction. But, could the restructuring of newly found materials reduce friction on macroscopic scales? Here, Chris Johnson, managing director of EZO bearings supplier SMB Bearings, explains how future surface treatments, including innovations in graphene and graphene related materials (GRM) could enable better, or limitless, bearing wear.


The real secret to choosing maximum bearing load

We’ve all tried it – carrying all our shopping bags from the weekly food shop into the house in one go, just to avoid an extra trip out to collect the rest. Here, Chris Johnson, managing director of specialist bearing supplier, SMB Bearings, explains a different kind of load – and how a bearings ability to deal with it can help maximise bearing longevity.


Developing the future generation

Engineering is a developing industry, with new skills and processes constantly being established. the same is true for talent in the sector, with more businesses opting to hire apprentices and then mould their skills from within the organisation. here, Miguel Millan, apprentice design engineer at precision drive system manufacturer Electro Mechanical Systems Ltd, discusses his apprenticeship experience.


Why the nuclear sector should adopt plug-and-play wireless technology

From Chernobyl to Fukushima, we all know how disastrous it can be when things go wrong in a nuclear facility. The nuclear industry must follow strict regulations for mission critical safety equipment, like radiological monitors, designed to keep facilities operating safely. Here, Gary Bradshaw, director of remote monitoring specialist Omniflex, discusses the role of plug-and-play wireless technology for radiological monitoring.


Avoiding shocks when electrifying rail

The political wind has been blowing towards complete rail electrification for decades now without significant progress, so it’s clearly not a straightforward problem to tackle. If it’s to be done, it needs be done right. Here, Steve Hughes, managing director of power quality specialist REO UK, explains the importance of ensuring the components underpinning electric trains are carefully considered.


Ceramic bearings: Three questions to ask

Back in 2000, scientists discovered zircon in rocks that showed life might have started 500 million years earlier than previously thought. This incredible compound has made a huge impact, as has its oxide, zirconia (ZrO2), used to make full ceramic bearings. Here, Chris Johnson, managing director of specialist bearing supplier, SMB Bearings, explains the three most overlooked factors concerning full ceramic bearings.


What military vehicle OEMs can learn from passenger vehicle production

In contrast to Henry Ford’s model of standardised car production, the introduction of the modern MINI in 2000 shifted customer demands for customisation in passenger vehicles. However, the need for flexible production isn’t solely confined to consumer cars. Roger Brereton of military steering system manufacturer, Pailton Engineering, investigates how military vehicle manufacturers are using flexible production methods to fulfil requirements for customised vehicles.


How chrome steel can fight climate change

Reducing your carbon footprint is like a marathon: dedication and discipline will only get you so far. To get first place, you will need to be efficient in every step you take. Similarly, businesses must strive to be efficient to meet tighter goals to reduce CO2 emissions. Here, Chris Johnson, managing director of SMB Bearings, explains how industry can use advanced chrome bearings to go green and, at the same time, reduce electrical consumption.


Robot revolution in materials handling

In June 2019, Amazon revealed that a new range of robots had been adopted in its sorting and distribution facilities, to replace conventional conveyor systems. Here, Michele Windsor, global marketing manager at robot battery specialist Ultralife Corporation, reflects on how robotics manufacturers may need to re-consider their choice of portable power when improving robot designs.


Precision in surgical robots

It’s 10am and even after a long double shift, robo-doc can perform laparoscopic surgery with ultimate precision. The NHS has begun the process of developing a £50m framework for robotic surgical equipment and it’s clear that robots are set to become an integral part of the tools surgeons use. Here, Graham Mackrell, managing director of precision gear specialist Harmonic Drive UK, explores how robots are improving the lives of patients and doctors alike.


RX3i CPU systems replace, streamline 90-30 controllers

They say time equals money, but what about space? Reducing the size and complexity of plant equipment can achieve space and cost savings. Add smart hardware to the mix, however, and it’s possible to enhance process flexibility and performance. Sean Robinson, service leader of automation specialist Novotek UK and Ireland, explains how a popular replacement for decades-old 90-30 systems is realising the idea that ‘space equals money’.


Why the nuclear industry is turning to COTS systems

Have you ever wondered why your memory stick disappears from the shelves of WHSmith, only to be replaced by a more powerful equivalent after six months? Or why Microsoft Office is sold in a different way to businesses and consumers? Here, Gary Bradshaw, director of remote monitoring specialist Omniflex UK, provides the answer, and explains how things are changing as new COTS equipment makes an impact in the nuclear industry.


Steadying the pharma industry

Whether its medicines that cure diseases or testing and analysis that innovates modern treatment, the pharmaceutical industry saves lives. To ensure that medication has the desired effect, the systems that develop and produce pharmaceuticals must be precise and reliable.


Plug and play technology

When shopping for a new watch, do you prefer a classic face or a smart watch with the latest technology? Sony developed the Wena watch strap so that consumers no longer have to choose one or the other. Similarly, manufacturers no longer have to choose between traditional processes and new technology. Here Jonathan Wilkins, director at industrial automation parts supplier EU Automation explores how plug and play technology can improve productivity.


The rise of recycled bearings

Bearings are circular, much like the economy they are used in. As more customers avoid disposing of bearings needlessly, Chris Johnson, managing director of bearing re-lubricator SMB Bearings, explains the sudden surge in popularity of reusing and recycling ball bearings through relubrication.


How artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things work in harmony

The central nervous system is made up of the brain, the spinal cord and nerves. Your nerves respond to external stimuli, such as temperature or pressure, and transmit signals back to the brain, which decides on the appropriate reaction. In manufacturing, the myriad of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices act as the nerves, measuring parameters and collecting data, but what’s the brains behind the operation? Here Sophie Hand, UK country manager at automation equipment supplier EU Automation, explains how artificial intelligence (AI), might just be the brains we need.


Robotic trends for 2020

From recreational robots such as drones, to critical operational robots in the medical field, robotic technology is changing our daily lives. Here Stewart Goulding, managing director at precision drive system supplier Electro Mechanical Systems Ltd, explores some current trends that are set to appear in 2020.