The opinions of Contributors.

Building security systems lock down continuous uptime

Moviegoers know the danger of a tiny interruption in a building security system. In Oceans 11—and other fictional heists—just a brief flicker on the security centre’s video monitor tells the audience that thieves have infiltrated the system to execute their nefarious plan.

How ready are you for the future of making things?

British manufacturing is booming and suppliers are looking for different ways to add value to their customers and change the relationships they have with them. In this final part of the series, I look at how even the smallest manufacturing company can achieve this through smart, connected devices.

Are IT and OT the new super duo for plants?

Tom and Jerry, Batman and Robin, Mario and Luigi; some of the world’s favourite duos. Many people wouldn’t add information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) to their list of favourite duos, but the convergence of the two has revolutionised the modern factory. Here, Adrian Swindells, director of industrial computing specialist Distec, looks at how plant managers can implement IT and OT together, without any drawbacks.

Improving reliability with outsourced maintenance strategy

Plant maintenance is a highly skilled operation that requires considerable resources for unexpected repairs and long term planning for preventative maintenance programmes. Large scale equipment, such as gas turbines, generators, compressors and large pumps, require specialist knowledge and expertise to maintain optimum performance. Increasingly plant owners are looking to outsource the major elements of equipment maintenance in order to improve reliability and minimise downtime.

Seeing the way to the factory of the future

Around 540 million years ago there was a rapid burst of evolution known as the Cambrian Explosion. One hypothesis for this is that the evolution of vision started an arms race. Complex vision improved the ability of animals to navigate and identify objects; it is now regarded as the most important sense. In industry, machine vision is being incorporated to develop industrial processes further, identify areas of improvement and enable intelligent locomotion within robotics.

Smart manufacturing – the challenges and benefits

Chris Evans, marketing & operations group manager at Mitsubishi Electric explores what is actually meant by 'smart manufacturing' by considering the benefits of adopting the concept and what challenges may lie ahead.

Five innovative uses for PLM

Jigsaw fanatic, Graham Andrew, along with a team of over 200 people, tried to complete a mammoth 33,600-piece jigsaw puzzle in 2016, only to realise there were four pieces missing. With so many people and parts involved, this was a tricky task to undertake and organise, as is often the case in manufacturing. Good product lifecycle management (PLM) can help manufactures get it right first time, and not lose any valuable pieces along the way. Here, Geoff Turner, PLM consultant at Design Rule, explains five innovative uses for PLM that companies can use to help keep projects on track.

Rise of the machines: The future of robotics and automation

As expert manufacturers of engineering parts that help to keep hundreds of different automated processes up and running, electronic repair specialists Neutronic Technologies are understandably very interested in where the future is going to take us. Is it going to take hundreds, if not thousands, of years for us to reach the kinds of automations that are lodged in the imaginations of sci-fi enthusiasts? Or are we a great deal closer to a machine takeover than we think?

Thinking like an engineer

It’s well-known by now that the UK is in serious need of more engineers, and that education plays a significant role in closing this skills gap.

PLCs of the future

An etymological fallacy is an assumption that a word’s current and historical meanings are the same. However, as language evolves, modern definitions do not necessarily resemble original ones. To take an example, ‘lord’ is a compound of Old English ‘half’ and ‘weard’, meaning bread and keeper respectively. This does not make it correct to use lord to refer to someone who bakes or keeps bread, regardless of its roots. ?It is more sensible, therefore, to argue the definition of a word is instead the most recognisable option.

On the efficiency of drive components

There are often the questions about which motor shows the highest efficiency. In particular, when talking about applications with limited power supply, such as a battery driven tool or a solar panel powered satellite. I believe it’s worth expanding the question to the full drive system consisting of controller, motor, gearhead and other mechanics. The table below gives a rough guess about typical efficiencies of different energy converting devices.

Going soft with robotics

One of the first attempts at humanoid robot design took place in 1495, when Leonardo Da Vinci developed the mechanical knight. The robot was designed to make several human-like motions, but it wasn't until the 1990s, when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) invented Kismet, the world’s first sociable robot. The manufacturing industry took inspiration from humanoid robots to optimise productivity.

Mass customisation for industry: Personalisation and production go hand in hand

In 1993, Levi Strauss pioneered the idea of mass customisation by offering custom jeans, but the idea didn’t take off. Changing customer attitudes towards mass marketed products and advances in technology has led to the wider introduction of mass customisation – a way to produce customised products without compromising on efficiency. Here, Mark Proctor, managing director of obsolete industrial equipment supplier EU Automation discusses the potential of mass customisation for the manufacturing industry.

Application matters: advice from the adhesive specialists

Selecting the right adhesive for your application can be difficult, with many different factors that must be considered at the outset. Whilst the type of application influences which type of adhesive should be used - 2k, 1k, flexible, rigid, tape, etc - how it is applied is equally as important. Forgeway’s technical director, Glen Buckley, shares some useful insights into the importance of application, and dispel some common misconceptions.

The data dilemma

Buried deep inside data warehouses and Big Data clouds are some heavy questions and assumptions about the future of the Internet of Things (IoT). Aging data inside, and metadata about IoT devices has its own, unseen built-in bias.

Desperately seeking a safe desktop 3D printer

There are many factors to consider when selecting a desktop 3D printer – speed, material, accuracy, colour capability and, of course, safety. Safety and eco-friendliness of 3D printers have just moved up the feature list in recent years amid coverage about desktop printers setting on fire and exploding. But what constitutes a safe 3D printer?