Optimation Blog

Bill Pollock

Recent Posts

Ektachrome, Twinkies And Polaroid – Iconic Products Resurrected

Posted by Bill Pollock on Mar 21, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Some products are just too significant to die.  Or so it would seem.  A few that come to mind are Wonder Bread, Twinkies, the Polaroid Camera and now Ektachrome film.  A question we might ask is if the product was so great in the first place why did it disappear from the marketplace.  And what makes companies believe that if they reinstate a previously failed product it will succeed the second time?  Reasons may vary from situation to situation.  And it may be a matter of timing.  Although it isn’t a single brand, the sale of vinyl records is one example of the rebound of what appeared to be an obsolete product. Sales of vinyl in 2016 reached a 25-year high.  More than three million LPs were sold in 2016, the highest number since 1991.  Spending on vinyl outstripped that spent on digital downloads.

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Topics: Manufacturing, Trends

Web Based Manufacturing Processes

Posted by Bill Pollock on Mar 16, 2017 4:05:39 PM

Many efficient, high-speed manufacturing processes are implemented using roll-to-roll manufacturing that processes a web based product.

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Topics: web handling, training

Manufacturing in Rochester – From the Perspective of Time

Posted by Bill Pollock on Mar 7, 2017 2:10:31 PM

The byword of the presidential campaign and the new administration has been creating manufacturing jobs in the United States.  But even before the change in leadership in Washington there was a push to create manufacturing jobs, save the automobile industry, provide funding to create apprenticeships and new qualified tradesmen. 

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Topics: Manufacturing, Trends

Service as a Product/Product as a Service

Posted by Bill Pollock on Mar 1, 2017 10:14:31 AM


There has always been an element of service as a product but it is accelerating in recent years and may become the dominant method of delivery for sophisticated goods over the next several years. The question being asked by manufactures is, do consumers want a “thing” or do they want the service that the product delivers? Do consumers want to buy a device and use and maintain it or would they prefer to pay for the actual use they get from it?  A traditional example of this was the car lease. Consumers get a car to use and effectively pay for the miles they drive. The repair and maintained costs are covered in the lease fee paid. The same concept can now be applied to almost anything a consumer uses.  As the Internet of Things has become more robust it has made it possible to monitor more closely the operation and failure of appliances, and to do predictive and preventive maintenance. 

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Topics: Manufacturing, Trends, Internet of Things

Automation – Job Eliminator or Job Creator?

Posted by Bill Pollock on Feb 20, 2017 3:59:53 PM

In a quote attributed to Warren Bennis over a decade ago, it was stated that “The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching any of the equipment.”  Perhaps the future he visualized is very near. 

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Topics: Manufacturing, Automation

Going Green and the Trump Energy Policy

Posted by Bill Pollock on Feb 7, 2017 2:10:27 PM


There is a lot of heated debate about everything Trump. The Trump energy policy is certainly one of the more heated parts of the debate.  From one side of the debate come Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post.  Rolling Stone ran a headline that simply said “Trump’s Energy Policy would be a Nightmare.”  The Huffington Post joined in.  As they put it, “The earth, and the US economy, needs a President who understands that going green is the single most effective domestic business plan available to him and that burning more fossil fuels, while rolling back clean air and water regulations, will turn us into Beijing or Delhi.”  Not everyone takes such a pessimistic view.  Spencer Dale, group chief economist at BP, says that “U.S. energy policies under new President Donald Trump are unlikely to have a big impact on global action to curb a rise in greenhouse gas emissions or to be a big game changer.”

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Manufacturing Trends 2017 –Adaptive Analytics

Posted by Bill Pollock on Jan 31, 2017 10:31:29 AM

For the past decade and more there has been steady progress toward greater and greater use of advanced automation in manufacturing. While Manufacturing 4.0 and the Internet of Things are new in their implementation, they were preceded by continuing and steady improvements in process control systems, SCADA and historians which have been in place for decades. Capturing process and product data from the plant floor and using analysis techniques such as SPC has been the manufacturing model for decades.  One of the challenges has been dealing with the massive amount of data available to use, storing, analyzing, and using the results to meaningfully improve quality and throughput.

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Topics: Manufacturing, Trends, Smart Factory

Using Digital Twins in Manufacturing

Posted by Bill Pollock on Jan 23, 2017 3:38:50 PM

I saw an interesting article this week. It was about a vote taken in the European Union by a committee which would grant certain human rights to robots. While this does not apply directly to the subject of digital twins in manufacturing it is very much related to the topic. In both cases it becomes clear that more and more sophistication is being applied in artificial intelligence and computer programming. We have come a very long way since 1996 when IBM’s Deep Blue was first able to win against a human chess master. 

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Topics: Manufacturing, Trends

Manufacturing in 2017 - Reshoring, Newshoring and Nearshoring

Posted by Bill Pollock on Jan 18, 2017 8:00:00 AM

When we are dealing with technical issues we often like to revert to TLMs, FLMs and RCBs.  Somehow it makes us feel more connected and in the know than others. TLMs are “three letter mnemonics,” FLMs are “four letter mnemonics,” and RCBs are “really cool buzzwords.” 

Reshoring, newshoring and nearshoring are RCBs that have come into our lexicon in recent years. I did a bit of a survey and while most people know what offshoring is and many are aware of reshoring, it seems that far less are aware of the trends beginning in nearshoring and newshoring.

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Topics: Manufacturing, Trends

Manufacturing Trends in 2017

Posted by Bill Pollock on Jan 3, 2017 12:16:49 PM

Where will the road take us and how will manufacturing change in 2017?  We may or may not remember the predictions for 2016.  Some of them happened in 2016; some are still on the list for 2017; some just weren’t as dynamic as anticipated and didn’t have the expected impact.  Technology moves quickly and trends change.  As we begin the new year it’s interesting to take a look at the leading trends, predictions and expectations for 2017.  MAPI, the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation took a look at manufacturing in the US and stated that manufacturing production should increase by 3% in 2017.  We know that most of this increase in production will be based on advances in technology and not increases in manufacturing employment. Innovation, automation, and increases in productivity will continue to be the bywords. 

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Topics: Manufacturing, Trends

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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