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.
"Unintended consequences." Sounds harmless, guilt-relieving, “not-our-fault” kind of language. On the surface it's a simple-enough statement, declaring that there were outcomes to some actions taken that (usually) ran counter to the intent of the project, and generally they were not desired. In other words, "some bad things happened that we did not expect."
One of the most efficient ways for an engineering services company to work with a client is by having an Engineering Services Contract or some type of “Blanket Order” in place. At some companies, it can take longer to get a purchase order than it does to complete the actual work that is requested. Having a blanket order or an engineering services contract in place streamlines the process and allows work to be authorized and initiated quickly.
Topics: Engineering Services
At Optimation, we describe our company in terms of our ability to provide turnkey solutions to the manufacturing segment. Our solutions and services can start early in the project process, as we are able to assist our clients in investigating a variety of technologies that might help them with their production challenge or problem. We generally receive a problem statement and some User Requirements from our contact at the client company. We respond to the customer’s needs with a Concept Design phase, which includes performing a technology assessment. Our Media Conveyance Facility stands ready to offer Development Engineering and modeling to predict behavior for products that are built on flexible webs, for example. Once a preferred technology is selected, a manufacturing platform or machine configuration is generated that answers the client’s User Requirements (the first steps of our Project Process). We then invite our client to participate in a Concept Design review to validate our work product so far.
Thinking back to an industry report I read, I recall a condition that still plagues many companies operating in today’s manufacturing markets: Change, Complexity, and Costs -- our "3-C's". These factors are so dynamic in ways and at speeds previously unequaled that I wonder how can our clients keep up with such challenges while achieving their goals and maintaining their advantages? Let alone exceeding those same goals and increasing their differentiating values?
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.
When challenging and important manufacturing tasks get tackled, risks abound. Materials choices, volatile material handling methods, confined space working areas, complex machinery, and many more factors and conditions apply pressure to safe and efficient work. We can take lessons from past events and near-misses and remind ourselves to study our practices to ensure that corners are not cut and best practices are employed to assure workplace safety.
The first week in October was designated as National Manufacturing Week in the United States. President Trump made a proclamation, as President Obama did before him. Friday of National Manufacturing Week is proclaimed Manufacturing Day. Manufacturing Week and Manufacturing Day are a celebration of modern manufacturing to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. In Rochester, we held some activities planned to help with this celebration. The Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association held an open house for high school students featuring displays and sessions showing them the opportunities that are available in manufacturing and encouraging them take the math and science classes needed to be eligible for these professions. Optimation participated in this event which was held at Eastman Business Park. Over 300 high school students participated.
In today’s economy, it is difficult for some companies to justify a large headcount. There is constant pressure from the top to keep headcount down, but the argument back is that the employee is needed because they have a specific skill or expertise. Unfortunately, the particular skill that they have is not required 100% of the time and thus some companies hold on to employees just in case something happens. Or they let go of the resource and have to figure out how to accomplish what that person did or fill the gap of their missing expertise. This creates a dilemma within the organization. Should they carry this extra person, train someone else in that area of expertise, or are there other job functions that the employee could perform if they were cross trained in another area? Many times, none of these options are efficient and sometimes even not practical.
Topics: Engineering Services
Fifty years ago, manufacturing in the US was strong and manufacturing jobs accounted for over 25 percent of total employment. In addition to the jobs for production operators on the factory floor, major US manufacturing companies had large research divisions and engineering departments, internal construction divisions and maintenance departments. They were self-sufficient and outsourced very little. Self-performance was one of the tools they used to develop proprietary products, support quality of these products, meet schedules on aggressive time to market for these products and make certain they could manufacture in sufficient quantities to meet market demand.