Blogs

The opinions of our Editors and Contributors.


No magic wand

Recent high-profile events have proved sobering for those making the argument for increased automation as a safety measure. The most significant of these has been the case of Boeing’s 737 MAX, which has suffered two tragic and catastrophic crashes resulting in extensive loss of life and the grounding of the aircraft.


The role of energy harvesting sensors in the factory of the future

Despite being named among the world’s smartest animals, most ground squirrels spend around nine months of the year in hibernation. Perhaps this is evidence that rest and recuperation provide the energy needed to work efficiently. Here Sophie Hand, UK country manager for global automation parts supplier EU Automation, explores how energy harvesting sensors could improve manufacturing plant operations.


The growing need for lower-volume bespoke manufacturing

Welcoming 3,700 exhibitions from 63 countries, Bauma is the world’s leading trade fair for construction. No surprise then, that visitors witnessed a plethora of new technologies launched at the 2019 show. In this rapidly-changing market, Roger Brereton, head of sales at Pailton Engineering, explains why mid-level volume, bespoke manufacturing in the tier-two realm is increasingly important to allow for these innovations.


How to make Valyrian steel

Valyrian steel is one of the few known substances that can kill the monstrous White Walkers in Game of Thrones (GoT). The secret to forging Valyrian steel, however, is seemingly lost in the Doom of Valyria and so creating new Valyrian steel weapons has been deemed impossible. Luckily the show’s fictional threat is no real-life concern but here, Ben Smye, head of growth at materials search engine Matmatch, explores the materials that inspired GoT’s Valyrian steel.


Is your supply chain compliant?

Hyundai and Kia had to recall 1.4 million cars globally in April 2017 because engines were prone to stalling and failure, increasing the likelihood of a fatal crash. This case highlights the importance of ensuring that your entire supply chain is ISO/TS 16949 compliant. Here, Chris Johnson, managing director of automotive bearing specialist SMB Bearings, explains why quality assurance is essential, even for the smallest of automotive components.


Ceramic bearings are opening new avenues of research

The global ceramic bearings market set to grow at a CAGR of around eleven per cent between 2017 and 2023, with lab equipment representing a key application for this growth. Chris Johnson, managing director of ceramic bearing specialist SMB Bearings, examines the link between ceramic bearings sales and the output of successful scientific research.


Don’t believe the hype

The Gartner Hype Cycle will be a concept familiar to many of those reading this. For those unfamiliar with it, however, it is a branded graphical presentation developed and used by the American research, advisory and information technology firm Gartner to represent the maturity, adoption, and social application of specific technologies. The hype cycle provides a graphical and conceptual presentation of the maturity of emerging technologies through five phases.


The benefits of UV curing optical adhesives

Canada Balsam — distilled sap from the balsam tree — was one of the first materials to be used as an optical adhesive. Whilst of high optical quality, its poor thermal and solvent resistance caused it to be superseded during World War II by more robust materials. To meet the production and performance requirements of optics applications, engineers are often turning to UV curing adhesives. Here Peter Swanson, managing director of adhesives specialist Intertronics, explains the factors to consider when choosing an optical adhesive.



Pharmaceutical manufacturing: the cold truth

Low-temperature reactions are widely used in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Temperatures of approximately -80°C are sufficiently cold for most cGMP requirements, but as Chris Johnson, managing director of miniature bearing supplier SMB Bearings explains, these extreme temperatures create design challenges for machinery components.


The end game of the automation pyramid

With structures of over four thousand years old, Egypt boasts some the oldest pyramids in existence. The history of automation’s pyramid however, a diagram representing the integration of technologies in industry, dwarfs in comparison. Could this engineering concept be coming to an end? Here, Stefan Reuther chief sales officer at COPA-DATA, explains why IT/OT convergence will lead to the collapse of the automation pyramid.


What can machine vision do for quality?

During the First World War, manufacturing processes became more complex as the widespread introduction of mass production came into play. Ahead of his time, business magnate Henry Ford recognised the limitations of the methods being used in mass production and the subsequent varying quality of output. Here, Stephen Hayes, managing director of automation specialist Beckhoff UK, explains how machine vision will improve quality assurance (QA) across every stage of production.


Four questions to ask before choosing a drivetrain for heavy industries

When it comes to performance and durability, not all power and motion transmission solutions are created equal. Harsh environmental conditions in certain markets, such as the metallurgical and marine sectors, can heavily damage the drivetrain. In these cases, exceptional performance, durability and reliability are essential.


An Industrial Renaissance

Speaking at the group’s Solidworks World Event in Dallas, Texas, Gian Paolo Bassi, CEO of Dassault Systemes’ CEO Solidworks harked back to the 15th century and the invention of the printing press. He did this to illustrate just how fundamental the changes taking place in industry currently are and the consequent need for a completely new paradigm to cope with that.


More robots, more problems

Relax; count backwards from ten, the robot will see you now; these are hardly the reassuring words you need to hear while in the operating theatre. The surge in surgical robots is coming, but with more robots comes more problems. Harmonics and electromagnetic interference are just two factors that are detrimental to safe working environments when operating that need to be eradicated. Here, Steve Hughes, managing director of power quality specialist REO UK, explains the need for a robust infrastructure when using these devices.


The changing face of design and research

The relationship between design and research is changing. From Bell Labs onward, in-house corporate research was once a major method for companies to invest in creating long-term value. But that approach is changing as more large companies increasingly rely on acquisition of venture-funded companies for innovation rather than in-house R&D. With a maturing start-up ecosystem, large companies with money to spend can let investors and founders take innovation risks first, rather than taking those risks themselves.


Time to start getting over Brexit?

Times are changing for the UK and its place in manufacturing, globally. Whilst the politicians still have yet to agree a set source and it is unclear what the exact nature and repercussions of Brexit will be, it’s clear that manufacturers and supply chains as a whole are starting to take urgent steps to mitigate risks. Whatever the deal (or no deal) it’s almost inconceivable that there’s not going to be any disruption in the coming months and years. So, what can we do about it?



The benefits of UV curing in 3D modelling

Design teams test the aerodynamics of a Formula 1 car by putting a prototype in a wind tunnel. Using a full-size model in the testing process can be expensive and time-consuming, so development engineers often use smaller scale 3D models during testing - but how can they be sure that the prototype will be up to scratch? Here Simon Gibbs, product specialist at adhesive supplier, Intertronics, explains how design engineers can benefit from UV curing when 3D printing prototypes.


To CNC or not to CNC?

The capabilities of 3D printers are growing, and engineers are now using the equipment to print food, houses and even human organs. In industry, both 3D printing and CNC machining allow manufacturers to rapidly produce complex, strong and lightweight parts but sometimes it can be difficult to know which technology will better suit an application. Here Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director at obsolete industrial parts supplier EU Automation discusses the applications for CNC machining and additive manufacturing.


Mobility-shaped careers

Transport needs to be – and, realistically, can be – re-modelled around the potential of intelligent mobility technologies into a new ecosystem: a host of options for transportation made available as part of an integrated, managed system, and all founded on more use of autonomous vehicles and networks of sensors and information-sharing. Our existing transport system, by comparison with this future vision, is looking time-consuming, inefficient, bad for the environment and reliant on fallible humans for safety.


3D printing the future of aircraft

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is not a new concept. First conceived in the late 1980s, it’s only in recent years that it has taken flight. Additive manufacturing is used in daily life, but developments are making it more accessible for other industries to use the technology, including aviation. Here, Benjamin Stafford, materials science expert at materials search engine Matmatch, explores the future relationship of aviation and additive manufacturing.


Investing Time

In the February issue of Eureka, there is a feature detailing the work of the Productiv Group in Coventry in helping technology developers take their ideas from the drawing board to production. This is essentially achieved by combining the roles of venture capitalist, design consultancy and manufacturing premises.


Five tech trends to watch out for in manufacturing in 2019

2018 marked a turbulent year for manufacturers, with UK output declining amidst an uncertain business and economic landscape. In light of this, Graeme Wright, CTO for manufacturing, utilities, and services at Fujitsu UK, shares his five technology trends to watch out for in manufacturing in 2019.


Bloodhound's back

Upon reading his own obituary, Mark Twain famously once said that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated. Well, the Bloodhound project would now be justified to say something similar.