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Industry, Innovation
In the extremely competitive market of manufacturing technology, innovation is an import asset. Elon Musk once said that the real promoters of success for his automotive and space businesses were the “machines that build the machines”.  SpaceX is able to launch less expensive mission with incredible speed by using scalable processes, as opposed to NASA’s old manufacturing procedures. Even Tesla’s new abnormal Cybertruck design replaces die stamping metal with a more simplified manufacturing method of bending metal sheets. A new manufacturing process that has transformed the approach of making structural parts, called robotic blacksmithing, has created a new division of personalized products

Construction, transportation, mining and power-generation all use metal parts for safety crucial functions.  Most of these parts are produced using methods that haven’t been updated for years. Two of these methods, casting and forging(also known as forming)  require custom molds and dies that can be both expensive in time and money to design and develop. However once these mold are up and running, they can be very effective for reproducing high quality parts, making common parts like nuts and bolts remarkably cheap. After World War II, the rise of digital manufacturing lead to a more agile production cycle. Computer Numeric Controller Machining could cut multiple different parts by booting different programs to the computer. One drawback of this, is it’s relatively low “fly-to-buy” ratio. In order to create a 100-pound component, you might a 1,0000 pound titanium block to carve from. So while computer numeric control machining may lower the time to create parts drastically, it is rather expensive and wasteful. The latest craze in manufacturing is additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Through this process, shapes that were previously impossible to create using machining, like internal passages can be printed one layer at a time.  While this does give manufacturing more flexibility in the parts it can produce, the parts created through this process often falter in strength compared to other methods.

Just like the kneading of dough into a more structured and homogenous object, the constant working of metal by blacksmiths give it unfathomable strength and much like how wood is stronger in the direction of it’s grains, as the metal takes shape, it cultivates directional strength. For swords and other small pieces of metal, this process work amazingly well, but no human blacksmith has the stamina or reproducibility to create parts for aircraft landing gears.  This is where the idea of robotic blacksmithing comes in. Powered presses with interchangeable tools would be able to shape parts by repeatedly and precisely forming a piece of metal. This new approach towards forming could be extremely useful for consistently and efficiently making structural supports for submarines, locomotives, ship and aircrafts.

The original concept of robotic blacksmith, also known as metamorphic manufacturing, was tested by a team of undergraduates at Ohio State University back in 2017. The took traditional computer numeric control milling machine and adapted its software and hardware to handle controlled deformation. There still remains a lot of research to be done before safety-critical parts can be produced using autonomous machine shaping. In order to perfect metamorphic manufacturing, the system must be able to maintain the temperature, condition and shape at each location of the part and decide where to the press the part next to produce the right shape and optimize strength.



Lots of Americans are eager to purchase American made goods over foreign imports, but what they don’t know is that there may be more benefits to this choice than meets the eye. Many businesses and researchers alike are looking into the real effects of the “Made in America” choice and the results they’ve found are astounding. This choice may have a larger influence on the future the future than most would expect. 

Job creation

Simply put, buying American made goods creates American jobs. Not only was there a direct impact on the company producing the product and its employees and owners, but there was also a direct correlation to the companies providing it’s equipment, utilities, inventory and services. 

In order to keep the economy strong and active, money needs to keep moving. Its like blood and when its spent on foreign-made products, it wounds the economy. According to the researchers, purchasing American Made goods has double the impact on the domestic economy compare to foreign made goods. Every time you buy an imported product, its like cutting your neighbor with a small knife. Over time the wound gets bigger and slowly drains more and more money from the economy. It isn’t just about being patriotic, it’s about keeping the economy healthy. 

Lowering your long-term cost

If you’ve ever been on Amazon, or at one of the countless superstores within our country like Walmart, you’ve no doubt seen the tides wave of cheap imported products from China, Vietnam and other countries. These product may every inexpensive but due to their poor quality they don’t last very long. Businesses are using this to their advantage. By creating these cheaper products, they are ensuring that the customer will be back to replace the product sooner which increasing their sales margin. According to the Boston Consulting group, 60 percent of Chinese consumers are willing to pay extra for a higher quality American Made Products than a cheap “Made in China” product 

Better for families

Most foreign countries have far less thorough product safety standards than the United States. This leads to far more recalls and safety issues compared to American Made goods which have to follow strict consumer protection laws.

Year after year, companies continually invest in innovation and research and development. Specifically, there’s been an increasing surge in research for digital technologies, automation and new material and most of these leading companies in innovation are based in Georgia, Chicago, California and New York.

Addressing poor conditions

Those same countries that don’t enforce rigorous product safety laws also don’t enforce the same worker safety and child protection laws seen in Western Countries. This makes it difficult for companies to compete businesses willing to take advantage of their own people for a cheaper cost. In other words, when you buy American made goods, you’re encouraging a higher standard of working conditions. In addition to better product and worker safety laws, U.S regulations are considerably cleaner for the environment too. Every single American Made purchase gives us more control over the future of our economy   and country, which in turn helps us set up the next generation for success as well.

Interested in learning more about American Made Matters? Read about the recent wave of Reshoring


Economy, Industry
With no end around the corner, President Trump’s trade war with China is nearing its third year. Analysts from Wall Street recently stated on August 5th that they only expect this conflict to escalate in the coming years. This was expressed after Trump tweeted that all non-exempt Chinese goods will endure an import tax of at least 10 percent, starting on September 1st. China was quick to respond to Trump’s tweets by devaluing its currency as well as its announcement that China will terminate all American agricultural imports. Hua Chunying, the foreign ministry spokesperson of China stated that these responses were “necessary countermeasures.” Analysts from investment firm Cowen told CNBC that they rated these countermeasures on a scale of 1 to 10 as an 1. The recent actions taken by both nations have proved to analysts that a rapid de-escalation is very improbable.

The Changes Within Chinese Manufacturing

While trade relations have become a heated topic of conversation due to the recent hostility between United States and China, it’s barely a new phenomenon. In 2014, the Boston Consulting Group found that rising labor cost and flagging productivity had made once low-cost countries like Brazil and Russia far less attractive than they had been before. Even China which had once been an oasis of low-cost began to grow into a pricey headache for many supply chain managers in the United States. It wasn’t just rising costs that American businesses had to deal with. They also had to deal with reputational problems like forced labor or intellectual property theft. Since 2010, many businesses have noted these changes and the number of manufacturers that have decided to reshore their operations has increased 10 times over. Lately, companies have begun looking towards other Southeast Asian countries for an affordable alternative to China. According to the American Chamber of Commerce in China, a quarter of the companies currently operating out of China are heavily considering their other options like Thailand and Vietnam.

While there have been multiple overnight shifts in this trade war, the “Made in China” era won’t go down so easily. The transition out of China is a critical process that must be carefully considered and reviewed before jumping into. Some companies have worked with the same manufacturer for decades and transferring that knowledge used to create efficient production can be tough.  This can be exceptionally challenging for electronic companies with complex or complicated products. Regardless of industry or how complex production is, companies also need to take into account the local teams they’ve already established in China.

How to Succeed in Transitioning Production Out of China

New regulations have created further complications when it comes to transitioning out of China. To avoid extra charges, companies need to meet specifics requirements. For instance, a company in Singapore of Indonesia may prove a full tariff if specific materials originate from a facilities in China. Combined with the cost of establishing a new manufacturing process somewhere, these charges and fee can pile up and can damage susceptible companies. Before fully committing to the transition process, companies must a comprehensive assessment of their sourcing strategies and existing relationships, as well as a complete list of materials used for each products to check against current tariff specification. Only then can a company truly ascertain whether transitioning is the most cost-effective step forwards for them. The policies of international trade are now changing faster than anyone could have imagined and it safe to say that no one can tell what President Trump of Xi’s next move will be in this trade war. Today’s best practices might not be here to stay and todays partners could become tomorrows combatants. Supply Chain Managers should try to stay in tune with the different geopolitical tensions and do the best they can to help reinforce flexibility.


Economy, Industry
The Reshoring Initiative is an organization dedicated to spreading the message of returning manufacturing jobs back to the United States. They release an electronic newsletter 6 times through out the year informing people about the recent news in reshoring. Below are three or the most recent article they’ve shared.

Trump’s Trade Wars Winning for America

Alan Tonelson, a columnist for IndustryToday wrote that, according to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, “Many more companies that reported net negative impacts from tariffs were responding by replacing imports with domestic production, not with non-tariffed foreign products. The sample size here is small (46 firms), but 17.4% said they were mitigating the tariff damage by finding new domestic suppliers and another 17.4% were bringing production or processes back in house. Only 10.9% said they were finding new foreign suppliers.”

3D Printing May Disrupt Ports and Reduce U.S. Imports from China, Says Fitch Ratings

In this article, Patrick Burnson offers some interesting foresight into the world of 3D printing. He claims that the rise of 3D printing could decrease global trade, reducing imports from China by 10-25%. He also states that as 3D printing becomes more economically attainable, mass production via 3D printing could be a feasible option for manufacturing parts. This new manufacturing option could shorten supply chains to a more local level thus reducing transportation costs as a result. Finally he affirms that, according to Fitch Ratings, the majority of U.S. imports from China are products that are now well suited for 3D printing thanks to recent advancements in 3D printing technology 

How Total Landed Costs Impact Your Bottom Line

In this Thomasnet Insights article, Marilyn Gettinger helps explains the cost impacts that arise from the Incoterms, the International Commercial Terms and the CBP, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She describes the difference between Total Landed Cost and total cost of ownership and how the latter can be much more comprehensible and understandable.

To learn more about return of manufacturing jobs to the U.S., consider signing up for the Reshoring Initiative’s Newsletter here.


Economy, Industry
Additive Manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, could be revolutionary for the manufacturing industry, helping save a considerable amount of materials, time and cost. Currently, different parts are produced in bulk at factories and then delivered to the consumer. But with the rise of 3D printing, there could be a major switch from the current more centralized model to a distributed model, where factories synchronize and coordinate to fill the specific local manufacturing needs.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Lisbon have joined forces to explore whether or not 3D printing would upset this central model and how it could lead to a more distributed manufacturing industry. They specifically investigated how it would impact the aerospace industry, where this technology and the ability to swiftly produce parts would be extremely appealing compared to amassing a stockpile of them.

“Our results suggest that 3D printing may not be as conducive to distributed manufacturing as some might hope,” says Parts Vaushnav, a researcher in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy. He and his team found that most of the integral parts for the product often need to be processed after materializing from the printer, which can be costly and expensive. They concluded that additive manufacturing would better be applied to non crucial parts that don’t need to undergo this process.

The team states that the dialogue surrounding 3D printing and it’s potential for the manufacturing world has been embellished and magnified in some areas, particularly when it comes to the economics of it. Currently, a company has a choice between closer or farther factories from their consumers, which impacts the cost of shipping and stockpiling. While decentralized 3D printing may reduced this need to stockpile, the cost of this post processing that some parts need to go through may still end up favoring the centralized manufacturing.

There are many forces that could pull additive manufacturing in different directions, so the researchers took a look at the aviation industry, which already uses 3D printing for some of their parts, and used location and cost models to get an approximation on the supply chain costs. They came to the conclusion that the traditional centralized model would still beat out a distributed model when it came to cost effectiveness. The only way the decentralized model would win is if production volumes were to grow or the need or cost for post processing were to decline.

Since the Federal Aviation Administration requires that spare parts be identical to existing ones and that they meet mandatory safety requirements, the team of researchers chose to concentrate on non-crucial spare parts. During the analysis, they made a vital assumption that an assortment of parts could be printer on a particular 3D printer. They deduced that, if the annual production volumes for non crucial spare part were in the tens of thousands, then the distributed model would be better economically.

According to the model, even if 3D printers become faster or less expensive, the reasoning for a centralized model would still remain. The only way that the distributed model can become more profitable for lower production volumes is if the post processing cost could be reduced or eliminated. However these less expensive machines could end up impacting employment. In the end, the researchers concluded that additive manufacturing could have a tremendous potential for good and advocates that companies take it more seriously and not automatically assume that it will lead to distributed manufacturing.


Economy, Industry
Instead of using the traditional manufacturing process, automobile manufacturers have been advancing their development cycles by using 3D printed parts for their prototypes. In the Aerospace Industry, companies are cashing in on the Internet of Things to amass a variety of sensor data to determine various possible part failures or to identify when an engine requires service. In order to revamp traditional development practices, a lot of industries, including the slower ones like shipbuilding, have begun to invest into different 3D modeling abilities like augmented reality, virtual reality and simulations.

Even though companies in almost every industry have begun to invest some time into digital transformation, there is still much more time that needs to be put in to perfect it. The truth of it is that regardless of various press reports and notable users stories, a completely holistic product development process has yet to become the norm and still remains an outlier in today’s market.  Even without looking at newer technologies, Product Lifecycle Management and different approaches towards syncing stakeholders with the engineering process have all failed to live up to their transformational potential.

“If you’re a product company and you want to do digitalization, then your Product Lifecycle Management game needs to be pretty on point” says vice president of CIMdata, Stan Przybylinski. “It’s amazing how many companies adopt these core data and process management platforms with lofty goals and most remain stuck in Product Data Management. Even while vendors add all these new capabilities, the majority of companies are just doing basic blocking and tackling.”

The Problem with Silo Mentality 

Due to complicated technologies, engineering tends to trail behind in the digitalization process compared to other sectors like marketing or sales. The biggest hurdle facing engineering isn’t setting up these new technologies but is actually getting rid of traditional siloed methods towards product data and workflow “Most of the time companies get stuck due to organizational stuff. Organizations are not necessarily structured in a way that promotes optimal collaboration,” says Stan Przybylinski. “Instead, they are still operating as separate functions.” Another large hurdle facing the engineering side of business is their hesitation to share work in progress designs and their tendency to protect their siloed product data.

“With Product Lifecycle Management, we see a lot of complaining that others will see into their department or work product, and that comes from a silo mentality,” says chief architect at Razorleaf, a consultancy specializing in Product Lifecycle Management and engineering-related implementations, Jonathan Scott. “If you work in product definition, you are supposed to work with people in other domains. You need to be in continuous integration mode where everyone is involved in evolving the baseline. Exposing work should not be viewed in a bad way, but in a good way that lets you move ahead.”

Similarly, if transformation is about reformulating old process to boost innovation and trying new business models, then companies have to broaden their objectives past just engineering. There needs to be a smooth continuous data flow that incorporate the entire operational lifecycle. This is where the idea of digital thread can help out greatly.

Similarly to Product Lifecycle Management, there has been a lot of speculation about digital thread could streamline processes greatly and give us countless insights. These insights could lead to predictive maintenance services, innovative products, and custom manufacturing practices. These all sound like great improvements, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of clarity at what digital thread actually is and even less certainty on how to implement this effectively.

Another critical component for successful digital transformation of engineering is called Digital Twin. Much like digital thread, there is uncertainty between different providers as to what it is. Some companies like Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software and Dassault Systèmes see it as a complete 3D portrayal of the product and its behaviors. Others like PTC connect a digital twin with a particular, serial numbered product.

Digital Twin and digital thread aren’t without their flaws though. Sometimes there can be obvious gaps or loose ends in the data flow. For instance, if a company were to create a digital twin of a product and then start collecting specific usage data in the field, sometimes they can’t utilize that data for further iterations because they have no way to deliver that data back to the engineers, creating an ineffective open-loop workflow. In a similar instance, some companies have made great steps towards integrating CAD and software development data, but often handle this data in a separate system. By doing this they create a data flow that isn’t complete or seamless, undercutting the usefulness of digital thread.

“Companies need to focus on how the digital thread connects data used all the way through the lifecycle to generate better decisions and to get upgrades and better products out the door. If engineering is focused on one-off projects, they might improve the customer experience,”says director of marketing at Aras, Mark Reisig.” but if they’re not connecting processes throughout the end-to-end lifecycle, they are not helping the business.”

According to Bertrand Dutilleul, the CIO of french boat manufacturer, Beneteau, it’s looking to shorten development time and aid its boat assembly workers by steering its Product Lifecycle Management foundation to a continuous digital flow of data. Over the next 18 months, they plan to implement PTC’s Windchill Product Lifecycle Management platform. The first six months will focus on converting current boat design into precise assembly instructions. To bolster confidence within the workers using this new digital approach, the following six months focuses on building a new boat to be pushed to the shop floor. Once the flaws are ironed out, this new digital workflow is distributed plant by plant.

“It is very important to have a reference plant—the key to success is selecting the right team for your first project,” says Bertrand Dutilleul.“You need an energetic, visionary project leader to establish momentum and provide continued executive sponsorship.”

After implementing the core Product Lifecycle Management, Beneteau hopes to expand its digital transformation by adding new capabilities like augmented reality. With these new capabilities, Beneteau would be able to help assembly workers with work instructions and they could make it more effortless for their customers to customize their boat designs. With the Internet of Things, Beneteau would be able to better inform themselves on how their boats are used in the real world, which would lead to smarter design decisions for future iterations and preventive maintenance. “These use cases are only made possible by first building a solid foundation through PLM,” says Bertrand Dutilleul

Without first creating a solid Product Lifecycle Management foundation, engineering and manufacturing companies can get caught in periods of idleness by concentrating on acquiring new attractive technologies like 3D printing or Virtual Reality.“Oftentimes, organizations are buying technology with no particular plan,” says Mark Reisig. “They are not looking at the business horizontally and this is where they get stuck.”

Digital transformation is not just about integrating previously siloed data into a new system, it’s also about normalizing various processes throughout the company so that every employee is on the same page. This is no easy task however, because change is almost always unwelcome and will be met with some sort of push back, especially if there are no glarring or blatant problems with the old system.

“The drive to harmonize processes is typically a company perspective,” says the vice president of PTC, Mark Taber. “but engineers doing the work may not be dissatisfied enough, thus are not anxious to change what they do except in incremental ways.”

For already established and successful companies, this transformation can be a huge headache and can cause some major disruptions for their already existing product development practices and product portfolio. “You’re thinking about how you get from here to there, not where you want to be,” explains Jonathan Scott of Razorleaf. “If you have to bring along the baggage of what you’re always done, you’ve got an extra constraint to deal with, and it’s a big one.”

“The projects I see failing never fail for technology reasons. They fail because of change management,” says the CEO of Dassault Systèmes, Guillaume Vendroux. “That can be avoided. The problem of transformation is likely to happen when a business is not engaged. The business needs to engage. It needs to build digitally minded processes in order to leverage the technology to get the value out of it. I see that on a constant basis.”

How to Bring about Change Effectively 

In order to begin to sow the digital thread, Companies need to start dismantling their silo mentality by introducing model-based systems engineering practices. These practices focus on using models to represent a specific product throughout its entire development process, including information like shape, behavior and contextual information. “Systems engineering helps us see across discipline lines by looking at the design and definition of a product while things are still fuzzy,”  explains Jonathan Scott. “Getting everyone in the various disciplines to look up higher in the process is how we become more holistic.”

According to Stan Przybylinski, vice president of CIMdata, another noteworthy breakthrough when it comes to completing complicated initiatives like Product Lifecycle Management is taking advantage of different agile practices.These practices can help dismantle complexity barriers that come with implementing these initiatives, but they may also produce additional obstacles. “The agile methodology allows you make errors and correct them quickly because you learn from the errors.This is the reason why people are using agile,” says Vendroux. “even though if you look on paper, it is significantly more complicated to manage and so therefore costs a bit more. But, it’s so much more powerful at the end of the day.”

By making a product centered view instead of the typical functional view, companies can stimulate and strengthen cross-discipline cooperation. Not only can this create multidisciplinary teams within the engineering sector but it can also extend further beyond to include other role in other areas like supply chain and manufacturing. “You need to create teams with multiple skills that have one common vision for product features,” says Brillio’s head of digital infrastructure, Vinod Subramanyam.

Recruiting a vital executive as a sponsor is just as crucial as team collaboration and new management for getting the essential buy-in. In order to accomplish this, engineering management has to be able to accurate and effective argument for the digitalization process. “So many folks in engineering talk in bits and bytes and that doesn’t help people to understand what they’re talking about,” says Jonathan Scott. “Executives won’t fund what they don’t understand.”

Sometimes the pressure for digital transformation can both come from the higher ups and from down below. That was the case at American professional motorsports organization Team Penske. In 2018, the race team began to integrate a new engineering platform based no Siemens Software’s NX called Teamcenter. After an entire year of migrating legacy data, creating system architecture and end-user training, the race team began to introduce digital twin methodology. With this they were able to iterate through prototypes much quicker, bringing them to life in virtual models and simulations before any physical products were built.

“End users have become aware of what’s possible with digital models, making their daily tasks more straightforward and allowing them to be more effective,” says the design engineering manager for Team Penske, Drew Kessler. “Top management has been pushing for performance increases at a faster rate, which is also enabled by digital methods.”

In order to diminish the time between design and manufacturing, Team Penske plans to incorporate Teamcenter Manufacturing with the build processes. “Having a functional digital twin and using virtual/digital development methods allows us to develop at a rate faster than our competition,” Drew Kessler explains. “Time to market is critical in motorsports—there is a race on the track every weekend, but between the weekends, there is a race to develop and manufacture new parts.”

Ultimately companies need to realize that digital transformation is not a sprint to the finished line, but a marathon to increase productivity incrementally. “You’re talking about people modifying the way they’ve done things before,” says senior vice president of Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software’s Americas’ digital industry software division, Del Costy. “Companies that set a vision and see it through end-to-end get great results identifying new business opportunities and driving profitability—and that’s the holy grail of transformation.”


Economy, Industry
Danica Lause is the owner of Peekaboss, a company that sells hats with a hole for people to put their ponytails through. She’s been manufacturing these hats in China for nearly four years and has faced nothing but difficulties throughout the whole overseas manufacturing process. “I was unable to achieve the level of quality control our brand requires in any of the factories we worked with in China,” says Lause. After realizing the factories were incapable of producing the hats on machines, she tried to have them made by hand, but upon receiving the shipment of hats she found out that the hole placement and the sizing was off for most of them.

Lower labor costs have attracted both fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike to overseas manufacturing, but it does have it’s downsides. Even before Trump’s tariffs, there was already a lot of complications and difficulties with working with overseas companies. Most small businesses don’t have the resources to handle problems like legal disputes or production deadlines. “It’s a vexing problem for anyone,” says John Gray, a professor at Ohio State University’s College of Business. “but being small and offshore makes it harder because large companies will get more attention from the suppliers.” Many of these companies suffer through it but some look towards the US to solve their manufacturing needs. Lause began to look for manufactures in the US to produce her hats and she quickly realized that it’s not as expensive as she thought it would be. She found some engineers who had figured out how to manufacture these hats on machines and in 2016 she moved her facility to Germantown, Wisconsin.

When the CEO of Beyond Green, Veejay Patel was looking for a manufacturer to produce their compostable plastic bags, he naturally chose India, as that was his home country and he had previous involvement in plastics manufacturing there. But earlier this year Patel and his co-owners began to look for manufacturing opportunities in the US. “Quality control was not up to our needs,” says Katrina Hart, coordinator of business development for the Lake Forest, California, company. “Customers were complaining that bags, including those used to contain produce in supermarkets, had slits, making them unusable.” Not only would they improve quality by moving the US but they could also cut back on cost by removing the need to ship them from India to California. This shipping method was not only costing them more money, but it was also contradicting their environmentally friendly message they were trying to preach so they started up production in Lake Forest earlier this year. “This reduced our costs, allowed for a better handle on quality control, and now we are able to contribute to the business and economic success of the community that most of our employees grew up in,” Hart says.

There are other issues besides just quality that arise from overseas manufacturing. A 2017 paper studied some of these problems that medium to small sized business ran into. One case told of a supplier that changed one of the components of their products without even consulting the client. In another, the client had discovered that the supplier had cheaped out and used a thinner fabric for the client’s clothing. This paper quoted on of the executives as saying “What you actually get as your final product doesn’t exactly match what you originally purchased,” These smaller companies have to negotiate with the supplier to get their products as the order them, but most of the time the supplier fights back and they find themselves in a legal dispute that they more often than not can’t win. “It’s harder to get an accord across time zones and cultural and language differences,” says Lee Branstetter, an economics professor at Carnegie-Mellon. This isn’t a problem for large companies because they often have representative at these oversea factories to make sure the product is manufactured as contracted but small businesses don’t have this luxury. All they can do it hope for the best.

Aaron Muderick, owner of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, initially look for a manufacturer in China to produce his putty toy.  The initially batch was produced with no complaint, but after receiving two defective batches Muderick hired a representative to ensure he received a quality product. “It helped things get better but it also reduced the cost savings because that person was getting a piece of the action,” Muderick says. After searching for a new factory to produce his putty, he began to get more and more worried that one of the employees at the manufacturer would steal his putty formula, so ten years ago, he began to produce the putty in house at Norristown, Pennsylvania. “It didn’t feel right in my gut so we ended up going on our own path,” Muderick says. Another issue with oversea manufacturing is that the time and money put into traveling can be burdensome for business owners. This helped persuade Lause to reshore her business back to the US. “I did not wish to spend significant time in China away from my small children, husband, aging parents and life back home,” she says.



Octinion, a robotics engineering company located in Belgium has recently created a robot capable of picking strawberries. It was created to help farmers with the recent worker shortages they are suffering from. 

According the Octinion, in the same amount of time it takes a normal human strawberry picker to pick about 100 lb of strawberries, Rubion, the strawberry picking robot can pick nearly 800 lbs. Rubion is able to accomplish this feat through a pre-programmed dataset in its internal RGB camera and a photonic sensor which lets it recognize and distinguish different wave lengths and from those wave lengths, it can determine if the strawberry is ripe or not. Once the robot decides the berry is ripe, it carefully picks the berry using a soft gripper. It then sorts the berry based on its weight and size. This whole process is quickly executed within five seconds called the five-second picking cycle

“Just like you know what a plump, juicy red strawberry looks like, Rubion can do this mathematically,” says Dr. Jan Anthonis, the CTO of Octinion”looking for the infrared spectroscopic heat signatures given off from a perfect fruit, getting a perfect ‘hit’ every time,”

Strawberries and other fragile and soft fruits are tough to automate because not only does the robot need to be capable of determining between under ripe, over rip and rip fruit, the robot also needs to handle it delicately due to easy bruising. Rubion is proficient in locating, gathering and storing the strawberries all without damaging them.

Automation Technologies like Rubion are gaining popularity fast due to labor shortages in the agriculture industry around the world. Many farms don’t have enough workers to pick all their fruits or vegetables so the remaining produce is usually left to rot. There have been many other attempts from different robotics engineering companies at automatic produce harvest like a robot that can pick 25,000 raspberries in a single day, a robot that harvests apples automatically using suctions and a robot that can cut and harvest lettuce. Likewise, rice farmers in Japan are starting to use robotic ducks to diminish weed growth and pesticides in rice fields 


Economy, Industry

After Egypt’s revolution in 2011, the country has been experiencing power outages due to it’s growing population. Even though Egypt is a large producer of oil, this unstable power supply has made the country less attractive for investors and likewise it suffered economically. In order to reconstruct the nation’s economy, government officials knew they needed a new infrastructure for power generation. They drafted up a plan to build three new power plants to support their growing economy. 

They decided to look towards international partners to help build and finance the project. In June of 2015, Siemens and two companies based in Egypt, Elsewedy Electric and Orascom Construction signed a €6 billion contract to build and develop three gas-fired power plants. The power plants were to be built in Beni Suef, New Capital, and Burullus.

The main goal of this mega project was not only solving the countries huge energy gap, but it was also to train Egypt work force for more technical jobs. “We had built up for each of the power plants a full training center including simulators on different safety hazard situations and use of personal protective equipment” said the head of Siemens Professional Education for the Middle East and Africa, Ahmed El Saadany. 600 recruits were put through a 6 month training period in Egypt and Germany. Usually a job of this size would take 4 to 5 years to complete but due to Elsewedy and Orascom‘s dedicated task force they were able to complete it in a record breaking time of 27 months.

The three sites were all constructed with similar designs but certain geological features forced some variation between the three sites. The Beni Suef and Burullus are both located near bodies of water, the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea respectively so they are able to use water cooling for the plants. The New Capital Facility, located in the desert couldn’t rely on water cooling, so they designed one of the worlds largest air-cooled condensers for the site.

The equipment for the three sites was obtained from different manufacturers around the globe. The gas turbines were made in Siemens Factory in Berlin and have 61% more efficiency when in combined cycle mode. This increased efficiency offers heavily reduced emissions and fuel savings for the site compared to other turbines available. Each site has the capabilities of generating up to 4.8 GW of power from natural gas or oil as a backup. The three new Siemens power plants adds 14.4 GW of power to their total capacity, increasing it from 11 GW to 25.4 GW.


In an effort to raise road safety, a new prototype for an airless tire was produced by Michelin, an automotive tire company in partnership with General Motors.

The prototype, called Uptis needs to be tested and approved before they become commercially available.  We expect to see them on models in 2024 at the earliest.  The partnership has plans to test the Uptis in Michigan on the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle within the year.

The Uptis prototype was created with two main objectives in mind. The first was to give the drivers of the road another layer of safety by eradicating the chance of flat tires or blowouts. The second was to reduce environmental harm by limiting the need for replacement or spare tires.

Uptis was first revealed in 2017 as Vision. The project hoped to develop the mobility of the future that would incorporate features like airless, 3D printed and renewable or bio sourced materials 

According to Michelin, the airless tires can work with all types of vehicles from autonomous self driving cars to all electric cars and many other applications.

The composite material that the tires are made of and the architecture removes the need for compressed air so the tires have an almost non-existent level of maintenance. There are around 200 million tires that are thrown away annually due to flat tires or penetrations from road hazards. Uptis removes the need to replace these 200 million tires, helping the environment by saving the raw materials used to make spare tires.


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