Optimation Blog

Bill Pollock

Recent Posts

In Search of IIoT Demand

Posted by Bill Pollock on May 15, 2018 12:03:12 PM

 This post originally ran in the Automation World CSIA Blog.

Recent advances in technology have made it possible for manufacturers to build processing lines that will create products faster, cheaper and of higher quality. Many of the new technologies have moved so quickly that they are considered disruptive in the changes they make to manufacturing processes. But new technology doesn’t come without a cost.

Read More

Topics: Manufacturing, Trends, Internet of Things, IIoT

Boston, The BAA and Lessons We Can Learn

Posted by Bill Pollock on Apr 23, 2018 1:30:40 PM

Monday April 16, 2018 was Patriots Day in Boston. The weather was abysmal; 37 degrees, pouring rain, headwinds of up to 20 miles per hour. It was the worst weather ever for a Boston Marathon. But the BAA and Bostonians were determined to make it one of the best marathons ever. I arrived in Hopkinton on a school bus like twenty thousand other runners.  By the time we got there the field was already standing mud.  We squeezed into a large tent along with thousands of others.  Inside volunteers were doing what little they could to make runners comfortable. They gave us a sheet of Mylar to sit on and some energy gels. We weren’t out of the rain long before it was time for the 45-minute walk to the starting corrals and the run to downtown Boston.

Read More

Skid Systems, SCADA AND IIoT

Posted by Bill Pollock on Mar 14, 2018 3:02:46 PM

At Optimation we design and fabricate many skid systems. These systems are used by manufacturers for a broad variety of applications. Skids can be built as carts, in frames, in shipping containers or trailers. They can be built as prefab production lines units that can be bolted together to form larger systems. Physical layout can be tailored to the complexity, geography and environmental conditions the skid needs to perform in. Some are mounted indoors in factory conditions, others may ultimately be located in the arctic, or on an offshore oil platform. Applications also vary. Some are used for chemical delivery or small scale chemical processing. Others have been used for hydrogen distribution, high pressure test systems, food processing or testing medical devices. Skid systems have the advantage of being built in a shop in controlled conditions and then installed in remote or challenging locations.     

Read More

Topics: Skid Systems, Controls

Would George Washington Celebrate National Engineers Week?

Posted by Bill Pollock on Feb 23, 2018 12:12:36 PM

By the time I was nine or ten I knew I was going to be an engineer. By then everyone in my family, and everyone else, I knew also knew I was going to be an engineer. I have three brothers. They all became engineers. Maybe there is something genetic about becoming an engineer. Or perhaps it is environmental and we are taught from an early age. I am not certain about the cause, but I do know that I have enjoyed the practice of engineering from the time I began my career until now.  There is something exciting about cause and effect, about creating things that work, and about applied science in general. 

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.   

Read More

Topics: Education, Energy

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. 

Read More

Topics: Trends, Internet of Things

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. 

Read More

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.  

Read More

Topics: Manufacturing, Trends, Automation, Robotics

Optimation Partners with Gas Technologies to Fabricate Methane-to-Methanol Plants

Posted by Bill Pollock on Oct 17, 2017 3:00:48 PM

Gas Technologies LLC. located in Walloon Lake, MI. has an NGL production facility set up in North Dakota and they are producing NGLs.  Present production is at the rate of 600 mscfd. They anticipate a ramp-up of this rate by year-end and will shortly set up an adjacent Mini-GTL plant at the North Dakota site. Their goal is to change the world of gas flaring by making a huge reduction in the amount of gas flared.

Read More

Topics: Skid Systems, Oil and Gas Industry, Energy

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.  

 

Subscribe to Email Updates