Optimation Blog

Machine Safety, Machine Guarding and The Gotcha Stick

Posted by Bill Pollock on Feb 7, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Getting employees to follow the rules, even rules that keep them safe, is difficult. For some segments of the population this seems impossible.  Everyone knows, for example, that talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous, and against the law in most states. But a large percentage of the population continue to talk on a handheld phone while driving anyway. This is even more true of texting and driving.  And accidents and deaths continue. 

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Topics: Safety, Machine Guarding

Biomass Goes High Tech at Alfred State College

Posted by Bill Pollock on Feb 1, 2018 9:02:41 AM

Wide grassy path through field of fading wildflowers and scrub trees by woods at end of October in northern Illinois, USA.jpegAt Optimation we’ve been engaged in many renewable energy projects over the past few decades.  Early on much of the focus was the production of ethanol as an alternate fuel.  Most of the early production was from corn.  Many states, like New York, mandated that commercial gasoline be blended with ten percent ethanol.  There were some unintended consequences of these original plants.  The large demand for corn, to convert to ethanol, caused disruptions in the food supply.  There were also unanticipated maintenance issues for many using ethanol blended gas to power lawn mowers and other small engines.   

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Topics: Education, Energy

Web Handling Problems? Don’t Treat Your Web Conveyance Equipment Like Your Car

Posted by Pete Sherer on Jan 30, 2018 11:23:00 AM

Have you ever experienced a problem with your automobile, where you hear an unusual noise, or feel a different dynamic (a hesitation or a loss of power), and wonder if your trusty transport is going to leave you stranded at the side of the road? 

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Topics: web handling

Is your Roll-To-Roll manufacturing line operating on the level? Literally?

Posted by Pete Sherer on Jan 23, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Here’s a good conversation starter:  Stop what you are doing and look around you for anything and everything that is a thin film or sheet made of paper, plastic or metal. In my office space I have a calendar (paper), a computer display (film), a crumpled wrapper of a roast beef sandwich (metal foil), sticky notes (paper), office memos (paper), a trash can liner (plastic)…you get the idea.  Products like these, manufactured from the noted raw materials (metal, plastic, wood) are all around us, within the touch of our finger tips.  They are so commonplace that we don’t give much thought as to how they were made, and what some of the challenges might have been to convert the raw materials into something useful for us.

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Topics: Equipment, web handling

Risk Assessment & Mitigation in Project Management 

Posted by Steve Beyer on Jan 9, 2018 3:13:56 PM

BusinessCaseForProjects.jpg

It’s that time again—looking at our practices to find areas for improvement. Today’s subject is project management: risk assessment and mitigation. Risk is a big deal here at Optimation. We are managing not only our own risk, but also that of our partners, suppliers, and clients. It’s a form of stewardship, that is, caring for the well-being of assets entrusted to us. Very often our clients hire us explicitly to help manage their project risk. This can come in the form of scope, schedule, or budget dimensions, each of which poses its own unique challenges to a client's ability to achieve their goals when undertaking capital projects.

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Topics: Project Management

The American Revolution and the American Industrial Revolutions

Posted by Bill Pollock on Dec 6, 2017 7:30:00 AM

I am a registered member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Two of my ancestors were enlisted as privates in the Pennsylvania Militia and fought in the Revolutionary War under General Washington.  Before enlisting in the army, they were farmers.  This was true of most others who fought with them.  At the time of the revolution, America was primarily an agricultural society.  Farms and farmers were the primary producers of wealth for the colonies.  Manufactured goods were imported from England and paid for with the currency gained from the sale of farmed commodities. 

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Topics: Trends, Internet of Things

The Art of Effective Project Communication

Posted by Steve Beyer on Nov 30, 2017 8:35:03 AM

Communication is one of the most significant factors in any kind of venture. Whether it's operating a business or executing a capital project, communication among team members and between stakeholders is critical. Clarifying understanding, enabling trust, and building confidence, are just a few of the critical benefits of optimized communication. This blog post is intended to explore the application of effective communication, specifically in capital projects.

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Topics: Communication, Project Management

Networking – no wires required…

Posted by Dan Hayden on Nov 27, 2017 12:04:15 PM

Today’s process industry is comprised of many intelligent control systems, connected via some wired or wireless network to allow process information to be viewed and controlled by an operator interface. Earlier this month, Optimation participated in a Process Solutions User Group put on by Rockwell Automation located in Houston Texas. This event consisted of over 1000 colleagues and software and equipment experts, who joined together for this event to discuss where they are going with new products, and solicit feedback from users regarding successes and challenges faced in current releases.

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Topics: Rockwell, Controls, Batch

The Remarkable Pace of Technological Change

Posted by Bill Pollock on Nov 17, 2017 11:00:28 AM

I live in an underground house on a dirt road, three miles from pavement. A quarter mile down my road is a cemetery. About a hundred individuals are buried there, including soldiers who died in the civil war, and a woman named Thankful Reminton.  The abstract of deed for my property shows that two hundred years ago Thankful owned the property I own now.  Thankful died in 1889 at the age of 88.  She lived the last 35 years of her life as a widow and raised ten daughters and a son, many who predeceased her. She lived in an era that was different from ours and we may wonder how they were able to do what they did with so few of the modern inventions and current technology. 

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Technology, Automation and Employment

Posted by Bill Pollock on Nov 14, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Robots, and the dream of intelligent working robots have been with us for a very long time.  As early as 1495, Leonardo da Vinci designed the first humanoid robot.  It was designed to sit up, wave its arms, and move its head via a flexible neck.  There were hundreds of other robots designed over the next five hundred years.  In 2003 NASA used twin robots as Mars rovers.  Robots were used in industry for activities like welding and painting automobiles.  But until recently most robots were fairly simple, single application, machines.  But it is only because of rapid advances in artificial intelligence that robots are advancing to the potential uses we now visualize. If robots can learn, improve and “think” in ways similar to humans, they can take on a whole new set of challenges.  And, as part of this evolution, robots are also taking on uncannily human-like appearances. The future of robots now appears unlimited.  A robot recently advanced one step closer to human status, when it was granted citizenship to Saudi Arabia.  

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Topics: Manufacturing, Trends, Automation, Robotics

Welcome to the Optimation Blog

Tips, tricks and trends

The goal of this blog is to be helpful to readers by providing useful information about applications in industrial engineering, design and skilled trades, as well as industry knowledge. We're passionate about manufacturing in the United States. We have a little fun with it too.  

 

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