The opinions of Contributors.

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?

GUEST BLOG: Understanding non-contact colour measurement

Colour measurement sensors have been used for several years in R&D and production environments. However, in recent years significant improvements in measurement speed and accuracy have created many more uses for these sensors. Therefore, in order to successfully utilise the benefits that modern colour sensors can offer, it is important to understand how sensors measure colour, says Stephen Smith, product sales engineer at Micro-Epsilon UK.

GUEST BLOG: Outsourcing partnerships that prosper

Manufacturers now consider ‘outsourcing’ as a partnership, rather than a supplier relationship. Stephen Dyson, product manager, at Proto Labs explains why outsourcing projects with trusted partners makes sense.

GUEST BLOG: UK suppliers mitigate ‘Brexit risk’ for manufacturers

UK-based producers of plastic goods would benefit from operating in a more secure and lower-risk raw material supply chain if they switched to locally-based suppliers, thereby lessening the potential of impact of Brexit, claims Keith Freegard, director of Axion Polymers.

GUEST BLOG: Using paper based 3D printing in the development of a new 3D printer

In Star Trek, a replicator is a machine capable of creating objects and the term became synonymous with 3D printing during an era of hype in the 3D printing industry. This was also fuelled by the Rep Rap project which conceptualised the notion of a printer printing itself. Today I am not going to talk about self-replicating machines or use catchy phrases about replicating but I will focus on how paper based 3D printing technology was used to prototype parts of the ARKe 3D printer during the design phase of development.

GUEST BLOG: Transforming everyday user experiences with QTC force-sensing technology

The way we interact with machines has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Ever since the iPod burst onto the scene, device manufacturers have been continually attempting to deliver more intimate experiences for those using their products. And it’s not just about consumer electronics: everything from our cars to our heating controllers has been touched by this human-machine interface (HMI) transformation.

GUEST BLOG: Proactive vs reactive obsolescence management

With industrial obsolescence speeding up, it is vital for manufacturers to have some level of obsolescence management strategy in place to mitigate the risks of obsolescence. Companies can implement strategies that are proactive, reactive or a mixture. Here, Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of obsolete parts supplier EU Automation discusses the benefits of a proactive obsolescence management strategy for manufactures.