Blogs

The opinions of our Editors and Contributors.


How micromotors can be used in the agricultural industry

Agriculture is a demanding and developing industry. One farming tractor can now do in a day what used to take 100 people, a week. While the industry is literally, reaping the benefits of demand, this does provoke concerns over pesticide use and soil health. However, farming robots are paving the way to help overcome these concerns.


COVID-19: Ventilator Crisis

COVID-19 is taking the world by storm. With talks of UK lockdown being just days away, it is a very unsettling time for everyone. If you were to tell me last year that in the first few months of 2020 there would be roaring Australian bushfires, climate emergencies, US trade tariff wars and a deadly virus spreading across the globe – I wouldn’t have believed you.


Getting the UK up to speed with EVs

You’ve doubtless heard of the UK Government’s plans to ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from the year 2035. That’s less than 5,500 days left to run out and buy that gas-guzzling SUV you know you shouldn’t, but it also means the days remaining to electrify the UK’s road network are rapidly running out. Here, Steve Hughes, managing director of power quality specialist REO UK, points out some potential potholes on the road ahead.


Bearings are crucial to reducing noise in factories

The health and safety executive (HSE) estimates that 170,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result of exposure to excessive noise at work. Here, Chris Johnson, managing director of low-noise bearings supplier, SMB Bearings explains how small changes in the machine design process, can have a huge effect on workers’ eardrums. Machine builders should take note.


Collaborative or cooperative – Which type of robot suits your application best?

Robots are becoming increasingly easy to use, more economical and suitable for a higher number of industrial applications. As human operators and robots increasingly share a common space in the manufacturing environment, the choice between a collaborative or cooperative machine is naturally being given more consideration. Barry Weller, product manager at Mitsubishi Electric, looks at the key features of collaborative and cooperative robots and how to quickly identify the best system for an intended application.


How robots are changing the brewing industry

Munch’s most famous work, The Scream has four versions in three different mediums. Each variant is unique yet unmistakably recognizable. Historically, brewing has been a mix of art and science, but with beer in high demand, optimising the brewing process for a consistent product is key to meeting customer requirements. Here, Tatjana Milenovic, group vice president for ABB’s Food and Beverage division explores the application of robotics in a brewery setting.


What are the ultra-low friction grease options?

The F1 in Schools competition sees students from around the world compete to design and race the fastest miniature car model. The UK took home the world champion title at the 2019 world finals in Abu Dhabi, but what can design engineers learn from this success? Here, Chris Johnson, managing director at specialist bearing supplier, SMB Bearings, explores the design options for ultra-low friction applications.


Amputee bonds with son thanks to 3D printed hand

Danny Florence lost both legs, a hand and most of his fingers, after contracting meningitis at the age of 5. For 21 years he managed adequately with one hand, but when Danny became a father, he realised it had an impact on the bond he had with his son.


The road ahead for commercial vehicle design

Time magazine has announced its Person of the Year for 2019 as Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who has inspired a global movement to fight climate change. This is a poignant reminder that sustainability and environmental issues will be high on the global agenda in 2020, and the commercial vehicle sector is no exception. Here, Roger Brereton, head of sales at steering system manufacturer Pailton Engineering, explains three commercial vehicle design trends to look out for this year.


Top-level lessons from REO UK’s R30 e-book

In November 2019, power quality specialist REO UK celebrated 30 years of excellence in electrical engineering by releasing its book, R30: The past, present and future of power, on Amazon Kindle. Here, Steve Hughes, managing director of REO UK and author of R30, shares some of the top-level insight explored in the book.


Smart bearings: The demise of slow-comotives

According to the TUC, the average rail commute in the UK takes an average of 2 hours and 11 minutes, each day. Also add to the equation that, last year, more than one third of trains failed to arrive at stations due to technical faults, and you’re left with one very miserable commuter. Chris Johnson, managing director of industrial bearing supplier SMB Bearings, considers the future adoption of smart bearings and their impact on Industry 4.0 and the UK.


Improved dental tools will provide faster treatment for patients

If you’ve ever suffered from a toothache, you know that the pain it causes can be life-disrupting. Alarmingly, there are growing numbers of people across the UK waiting for dental treatment in pain. The increasing sophistication of micromotors is having a major impact on dentistry, leading to faster and improved treatment. Here, Stewart Goulding, managing director at mechatronic drive system supplier EMS Ltd explains how micromotors are improving patient care.


Encoderless safety: drive-integrated safety without an encoder

What is the goal of functional safety? To minimise the risks posed by technical equipment to humans and the environment. Machine tools, for example, can endanger operators and technicians with tools that rotate at high speeds. Drive technology that ensures the required safety functions without encoders offers the user various advantages, says Mark Checkley of KEB.


Busting electric vehicle myths

Following a surprise break into the electric vehicle (EV) market, Dyson’s £2 billion project came to the end of the road in October 2019. As the famed maker of vacuum cleaners and hair dryers failed to find a way to make its project commercially viable, is the EV hype fizzling out? Here, Simone Bruckner, managing director of power resistor manufacturer Cressall Resistors, busts some of the myths in EV uptake.


UPSs and SPDs: A powerful duo in the fight against power outages

Batman and Robin, Mario and Luigi, Wallace and Gromit. In film, the role of the sidekick is crucial in aiding the protagonist to achieve their overall goal. Here, John Mitchell, global sales & marketing director at supply, installation and repair specialist CP Automation, explains the necessity of protecting uninterruptable power supply (UPS) systems with a surge protection device (SPD) that accounts for transient surges.


Would you like a side of mould, Sir?

When former Prime Minister, Teresa May, proclaimed that she wasn’t opposed to scraping off mould from the top of a jar of jam and eating the product underneath, it sparked a conversation about what mouldy foods were safe to eat. Here, group vice president food & beverage at ABB, Darcy Simonis, looks at the advancing methods food producers are using to monitor the safety of their products.


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.