Blogs

The opinions of Contributors.


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.


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.


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’.


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.



Building a digital twin

Research company Gartner predicts that half of large industrial companies will be using digital twins to improve productivity by 2021. Here Jonathan Wilkins, director at industrial automation parts supplier EU Automation, explains the important factors that manufacturers should consider when building a digital twin.


Weighing up the hybrid bearing debate

The best cyclists have a very special mindset, which allows them to focus on the bike and the road, without distraction, ignoring tailwind, overlooking the rain, appreciating the uphill. These escapes from reality are often beneficial, but there are some misconceptions in cycling that aren’t as helpful. Here Chris Johnson, managing director of bike bearings specialist, SMB Bearings, reveals a few home truths about hybrid bearings


Smart factories just got a whole lot smarter, and it’s about time...

As Industry 4.0 drives the adoption of cutting-edge machines, robots and sensors in manufacturing, network technologies that facilitate their communications to create an interconnected smart factory become even more crucial. Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) offers a key tool to futureproof industrial Ethernet for the Factories of the Future.


Three emerging technologies to transform manufacturing in 2019

A new report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has revealed the top ten emerging technologies that have the potential to positively disrupt our economy in 2019. Here Sophie Hand, UK country manager at automation parts supplier EU Automation, discusses the three of them that are most likely to impact the manufacturing sector.


Gripper tech: challenges and opportunities

UC Berkeley has developed a machine learning algorithm that enables a robot to determine which gripper is best to use for a particular object. The ambidextrous robot is therefore able to pick up objects of different shapes and sizes. Recent technological advances mean that robots can now perform many of the tasks we traditionally associate with the human hand. Here Sophie Hand, UK country manager at automation parts supplier EU Automation, outlines the considerations for design engineers when developing gripper technology.


Make an impact in the real world with Digital Twins

Models so accurate they’re a digital twin of the product you’re creating can help you throughout the design and development process. 1D models can help you determine the best architecture for your multi-physics system, 3D models can help you design into the details, and testing can help you improve modelling realism. Combining all the three technologies gives you the highest possible accuracy while making design decisions.


The importance of growing the manufacturing workforce

An issue that has been concerning professionals in the manufacturing industry is the lack of a skilled workforce. While Brexit will end free movement, meaning fewer skilled EU workers will move to the UK, the truth is that a skills shortage already existed before 2016. Employers are in dire need of skilled manufacturers and engineers to combat the current gap, which continues to worsen as older employees retire and not enough properly trained young people enter the industry.


Why we should be happy to embrace edge computing

The benefits of taking the large amount of repetitive data created by machines and automated systems and processing it locally are huge. Edge computing takes the pressure off existing networks, data storage, potentially costly cloud services and software applications. Data is turned into useful information closer to its point of origin and more importantly, in real time.


Focussing less on tech and more on impact is key to success in Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0. The industrial internet of things. Digitalisation. Smart manufacturing. The fourth industrial revolution. There are dozens of different names for the uptake in connected technologies and the convergence of IT and OT systems taking place in industry at the moment. One thing most people do agree on, however, is that it’s tech-driven. But should this really be the case? Here, George Walker, managing director of industrial automation expert Novotek UK and Ireland, makes the case for goal-driven digitalisation.


Are wearables the answer for an ageing population?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that by 2050, the worldwide population over 60 will have doubled to reach two billion people. With most age-related illnesses beginning at the age of 50, it’s clear that this will have an impact on the world’s medical services. Here, Neil Oliver, technical marketing manager of global battery manufacturer Accutronics, looks at how wearables could help medical services manage the long-term health conditions that an ageing population brings.


Are bearings really such a bad investment?

Explosive growth in the offshore wind sector and aggressive renewables targets in India are expected to drive a ten-year CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 12.2% in Asia Pacific. Here, Chris Johnson of bearing supplier SMB Bearings explains why, quite frankly, you should set no store in this information whatsoever.