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Innovation
A year ago, a lithium-ion battery facility in Hornsdale, South Australia was able to stabilize the region’s precarious power grid  and saved around $40 million during the process. The facility was able to accomplish this outlandish feat with the help of Tesla’s Powerpack batteries. Thanks to battery storage, global electricity grids are able to better accommodate the fleeting nature of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. But for these renewable resources to work on a large utility scale, they require an enormous amount of battery storage. After the overwhelming success of Hornsdale, which was the world’s largest Lithium-ion battery at the time, Tesla has already begun work on a new battery specifically designed for utility scale projects called Megapack.

Arriving at the site fully assembled, the Megapack aims to provide an easy installation process and greatly reduce the complexity of large-scale battery storage, while still providing up to 3 megawatt hours of storage and 1.5 MW of inverter capacity. According to Tesla, “Using Megapack, Tesla can deploy an emissions-free 250 MW, 1 Gigawatt hour (GWh) power plant in less than three months on a three-acre footprint—four times faster than a traditional fossil fuel power plant of that size.”  The Megapack can also reduce the loss incurred from converting to AC current by connecting directly to the solar energy’s DC output.

In order to monitor and control the Megapack systems, Tesla designed a software called Powerhub, which each system connects to. The system, according to Tesla, is “…an advanced monitoring and control platform for large-scale utility projects and microgrids. Powerhub can also integrate with Autobidder, Tesla’s machine-learning platform for automated energy trading.”  More than 100 GWh of energy has already been dispatched in global electricity markets by Tesla’s customers using Autobidder. Through a combination of server-based and over-the-air software updates, Tesla plans to continue improving the Megapack, much like Tesla’s famous electric vehicles.

A Megapack is currently planned to be installed in the upcoming Moss landing Project with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The Megapack will be able to store excess energy from renewable resources like solar or wind and then disperse that stored energy when the local utility grid can’t provide enough power. This will offer an alternative option to the natural gas “peaker” that is currently used to support the grid’s peak loads.

According to Tesla, “We took everything we know about battery technology to enable the world’s largest energy projects. A 1 Gigawatt hour (GWh) project provides record energy capacity—enough to power every home in San Francisco for 6 hours.

Wanna learn more about Tesla’s endeavors in renewable energy? Check out the Tesla Power Wall.
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Innovation
In 2017, the founders of FarmWise, a Silicon Valley based startup, had an idea for a new method of removing weeds for large farms without the use of chemicals. The result was an autonomous weeding robot that offered a huge benefit to most of the Midwest and is currently working in farms across the United States.


“We wanted to build an automated machine for farmers,” said the co-founder of FarmWise, Thomas Palomares. “We saw the labor challenges, the problems with chemicals and all the regulations around them, and we had an idea to help.” In December of 2017, he and his friend Sébastien Boyer formed their startup and started conducting a seed round of funding. With the 5.7 million dollars they raised, they began to design and build their prototype. The prototype was able to differentiate between weeds and crops as it drove over the field and pull out weeds, leaving the crops unscathed. Once the working prototype was built, they began to conduct the initial test in California.

While the initial tests were a huge success, they started to run into a bit of hurdle. They machines were working perfectly, but they had no way to mass produce them. “We had a big challenge – getting everything ready for a huge scale-up of machine-making,” Palomares said. “That meant all aspects of scaling – not just manufacturing, but support, shipping, hardware, and more as machines hit the fields.”

Through PlanetM, a Michigan based partnership that connects companies with automotive manufactures, FarmWise was able to partner up with Roush Industries, a design and manufacturing firm based in Detroit that has a lot of experience in auto racing. “We’ve been known for many things over time,” said the CEO of Roush, Evan Lyall. “Now we specialize in product development, commercialization, and engineering consultation.” FarmWise’s concept of an automated vehicle wasn’t completely new to Roush. They had previously worked on a self-driving automobile for Google’s Waymo project, about a decade ago. “We have other things in the works in a similar vein as well – but those are confidential,” Lyall said.

Roush was exactly what FarmWise needed. “This was a great opportunity for FarmWise to make use of Roush’s capabilities,” said Lyall. “We can serve as a bridge between low and super-high production volume. As they get big, we can help them move to automated systems, and move their manufacturing to scale.”

“This is a very exciting partnership and exchange of knowledge,” said Palomares. “It’s giving us exposure into what it takes to make long-lasting products for harsh environments. Roush already had an extensive knowledge of what works – and it’s impossible to re-invent everything.”

Another important partnership for FarmWise was with the farmers themselves. “We’ve been working with farmers from day one,” Palomares explained. “We’ve shared what we’re doing and we’ve been getting their feedback on a daily basis. We wanted to make sure we’re building a machine they want, and that they’re willing to pay for.”

The framing partnership was a new experience for Roush. “This is an interesting example of how the world is changing,” Lyall said. “From our end, we’ve seen it before in automotive, aerospace, and defense – the increasing use of automated vehicles. Now we’re seeing it in agriculture.”

“We’re proud of the partnership,” Lyall stated. “It’s great to help make tech come to life quicker, in a way that will benefit all of us.”

As FarmWise begins to scale-up their production, they are conducting a final review of their designs and manufacturing process. Their goal for this year is to produce around a dozen automated weeding machines. “We’ve got their supply chain all set up,” said Lyall. “The scale-up will offer an opportunity to continue to refine it.”

FarmWise is continuing to refine things from their side as well. “This is what it means to bring innovation together with knowledge in a given field,” Palomares said. “We’re building new technology on top of existing things that already work very well. We don’t have to disrupt everything.”

Once they get their autonomous weeder in full production, FarmWise plans to apply their technology to other farming applications. One idea they’re currently considering is automating fertilization for different crops. For the moment, both companies are very pleased with their partnership and how it was able to bring together very different skill sets from very different parts of the country. “This is just a great example of Silicon Valley and the Midwest working together,” said Lyall. “It’s the California technology startup FarmWise bringing their expertise to bear on a common farm problem, and then taking advantage of the industrial knowledge in the Midwest for manufacturing.”

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Industry, Innovation

Due to cutting edge technologies that would have resembled something from science fiction to early astronauts, landing humans on another planet may be closer to a reality than we think. NASA has stated that it has plans for a manned mission to Mars, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and questions that need to be answered to accomplish this feat. These questions aren’t just about how to get there, but more importantly how to live there. NASA believes that 3D printing could be crucial to our success in creating Mars Colony and here’s why.

Shelter

One of the most important things the astronauts are going to have to build for themselves once they arrive is shelter. Earlier this year, AI Space Factory was award $500,000 by NASA for their design of a structure that could be 3D printed from basalt,   a natural volcanic rock found in abundance on the surface of Mars. When extracted and mixed with a renewable bioplastic obtained from plants in a hydroponic garden, the rock can create a 3D printing filament similar to polylactic acid. The resulting structure would be able to provide protection for all sorts of natural environmental dangers on Mars like violent dust storms, harsh temperature swings, and extreme radiation.

Food

After constructing your 3D printed house, you’ll need to make sure you have a consistent food source. You’ll be able to obtain some nutrients from the hydroponic garden mentioned above, but that won’t be enough to meet all your nutritional needs. Packing enough food and keeping that food fresh for the 32 month space trip and the subsequent years on Mars is an unrealistic task and the dry arid environment of Mars won’t help this problem any further. 3D printing food is still in it’s early stages of development, but with the right advancements, it could be a potential solution to this food shortage issue. Currently, researchers have only been able to create small chocolates and candies, but hopefully in the future, they’ll be able to print a whole meal, helping astronauts get the nutrients they need for their lengthy space trip.

Medicine

In order for this Mars mission to be a success, We need to plan for any kind of accident or sickness that could arise. Bioprinting has seen some huge growth in the recent years. With bioprinting, astronauts would be able to us bioinks to 3D print artificial organs and other body parts. Currently, researchers are trying to perfect this equipment for us in a low gravity environment.  They’re hoping to be able to replicate everything from skin tissue to bone cartilage. In addition to bioprinting, 3D printing could offer another medical advantage in printing specific medicine or prescription. 

Tools

Creating a colony on Mars would take a lot of equipment and that equipment is bound to break, especially on the rough terrain of Mars. This is where additive manufacturing could help out. It wouldn’t seem all too likely for the early stages of the colony, but further down the road it would make sense to bring 3D printers capable of printing with different types of materials and printing in different atmospheric conditions to Mars. These printers could use the planet’s natural resources to print a variety and help solve a lot of spare part and maintenance problems.

Problem Solving 

Regardless of which additive technology you’re using, weather it be additive construction, bioprinting or additive manufacturing, 3D printers are, at their core tools for solving problems. Many companies today have started using these wonderful machines to solve countless problems, like Pfizer Corporation, a pharmaceutical lab in Connecticut. They used their 3D printer for many different uses like creating a fish-food dispenser to help mix the proper amount of fish with the drug they were testing, test tube holders to hold them in specific orientations, a tablet for counting pills that was easier to use the previous tablet they had. They were able to solve problems and make improvements to situations that normally they would have to just accept. Being able to do this on Mars with the hydroponic gardens or rovers would be an incredible tool and there’s no doubt that 3D printing will be insanely valuable to a Mars Colony. 

Wanna find out more about the latest in 3D printers? Learn about how S-Squared 3D Printers made a 500 square foot house using additive construction.

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Innovation
S-Squared 3D printers started out as a desktop 3D printer manufacturing company in 2014. While the company still continues to produce and sell its AFP-1728 and AFP-512 models, shipping about one each month, they recently starting looking into bringing additive manufacturing to the world of construction.

“We met with one of our current partners who wanted to, as we sometimes describe it, spit out a house. We wanted to scale up full force with it.”

Anderson is confident in his teams ability to undertake this additive construction feat. He believes his team has both the construction and engineering skills necessary to solve such a challenging problem. Running a remodeling and construction company for the past 10 years, Andersen has been able to gain valuable construction experience as a contractor. Likewise, James Michel has built over a thousand units over the past 15 years as a residential and commercial contractor. On the engineering side of things, Robert Smith, the co-owner of the company, has built many CNC machines and even developed the company’s original desktop 3D printers. Mario Szczepanski, longtime friend of Robert Smith, has been an engineer for over 35 years, dealing with mechanical, optical and electrical systems.

Switching from printing small plastic to printing a 500 square foot house is no easy task. The main problem is that the plastic components used in 3D printing are incapable of generating a structure of that size in a timely manner. “The entire machine is made out of aluminum and stainless-steel construction,” Andersen stated. “We’re using very accurate parts, linear rails. We’ve developed our own gear ratios to hold up the large gantry.”

SQ3D recently filled a patent for their Autonomous Robotic Construction System. Anderson wasn’t able to go into all the details behind the extruder and cement mixture, due to the proprietary nature of the technology, but he was able to state that they weren’t able to manually mix the cement due to the large quantity and reactivity of the mixture, so they had to use a large volumetric mixer. They also had to modify the cement pump being used too.

The key to additive construction is creating the perfect cement mixture. That’s why SQ3D developed their own mix, to ensure that they got the right drying speed and flowing rate for the mixture. Too fast of a flow rate or too slow of dry time makes it harder for the cement to support the following layers.

Instead of printing the walls and other elements off site and then assembling them on location, like the largest additive construction company WinSun does, SQ3D is concentrating of generating the whole structure at the construction location. After developing its own slicing software, SQ3D is able to create a printable tool path code from a 3D model.  Due to the different printing properties of cement and the industrial scale of the machine, a completely unique and new extruding process was required for the ARCS.

Long Island’s First Fully 3D Printed House 

The structure generated in Long Island is far from being called a “home”. There were no plans for anyone to actually live in it and the structure was already demolished by SQ3D. The structure was a test run for the ARCS to see how well the cement would layer and if the building would hold together once finished and it was a huge success. Not only did the building withstand compression tests of over 6,000 PSI, which is double the amount required for residential houses, it’s also the largest structure the firm has produced. Furthermore, since the concrete is sealed, the structures produced by the ARCS are both fireproof and waterproof.

Since we’re still in the early stages of additive construction, there has yet to be any common place standards put into place for the industry. According to Andersen, we should see some standards being introduced within the next two years and he hopes SQ3D plays some part in the process. Andersen added that they aim to get a trademark for their material infill pattern, which can have a considerable effect on the structural integrity of a 3D printed structure or object.

Automating the Construction Process

Having successfully 3D printed a house, SQ3D is going to be focusing its efforts on automating the construction process further. With the printing process itself already almost completely automated, the company plans to automate the mixing process for the cement next. The firm plans to do this by using integrated sensor in a silo with pump attached to it.

SQ3D believes that additive construction could not only make homes stronger while also using fewer materials, but it could also result in fewer work related injuries and fatalities. By automating the construction process, you could remove the need to have to put workers in danger by only requiring a handful of engineers to oversee the process. “Worldwide, about 3,800 deaths and about 700,000 injuries occur annually in the construction field,” Andersen said. “Those are real lives being affected. Having this whole process automated could prevent .”

Beside furthering the automation process, SQ3D plans to look into different reinforcement techniques, like adding fibers to the concrete to help support it. Down the line, the company is also interested in looking into geopolymers to be used in place of concrete. The reason they want to get rid of concrete all together is because concrete production accounts for 8 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. To put that in prospective, if it were a country, concrete would be the third largest contributor of CO2 emissions right behind China and the United States.

Guinness World Records is currently assessing the 3D printed home to conclude if the structure is truly the largest building 3D printed on site, but SQ3d has already begun working on an even bigger project. They’re next test is going to be a 1,800 square foot permitted home, which Andersen stated is definitely going to “shatter any 3D printing records.”

Wanna learn more about the latest in 3D printing? Find out what researchers at Ames Laboratory were able to accomplish with additive manufacturing. 
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Innovation
The Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University have partnered together to create a new method to print metal traces of softer materials. The researchers were able to recreate this method multiple times on jello and even on delicate materials like rose petals.

Through undercooled metal technology, the Engineers were able to create this monumental step forward in 3D printing by using microscopic oxide shells that trap the liquid metal below its melting point. In order to fill these infinitesimally small shells, which are only about 10 microns in diameter, the researchers used a tungsten microprobe. When cracked, by ether dissolving them with chemicals or using mechanical pressure, the metal trickles out and solidifies, creating a line of conductive metal.

The metal used inside these tiny capsules is a Field’s Alloy composed of bismuth, indium, and tin. Through vigorous testing, the researchers found that these capsule have been able to create a conductive line on almost everything, from a hard slab of concrete to a small delicate leaf.

The research team believes that this technology could have some astonishing applications in the future, like sensors that monitor crops performance, building integrity or even medical conditions. Some recent tests made by the team of engineers include a remote control created on a piece of paper, electrical contacts for solar cells and a successfully printing on a model of a human brain. Elon Musk’s latest venture, Neuralink, may have some competition when it comes to its brain sewing machine.

What originally began as a teaching exercise three years ago has grown into a fully fledged project, with researchers eagerly trying to figure out the limits of this technology and what to print it on next. Their next big tests they’re planning to print on are ice cubes and biological tissues, with he later hopefully being less crucial tissue.

Wanna learn more about the latest in 3D printing? Find out how S-Squared 3D printers 3D printed a 500 square foot house using additive construction.

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Innovation
The LMADIS, or the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System, is the Marine Corps newest successful reaction to enemy drones. With the ability to attach itself to the Marines’ MRZR all-terrain vehicles, it looks more like a mad max vehicle than an anti-drone system used by the United States Marine Corps. Once attached the LMADIS’ objective is simply, target and take down drones.

These vehicle are designed to operate in pairs, with one supplying command and control, and the other deploying the actual system. Not long ago, the take down of an Iranian drone was attributed to the LMADIS. The drone was flying above the extremely confrontational Strait of Hormuz, when it was shot down within a thousand yards of a Navy warship.

Using a radar in conjunction with a system of cameras, the LMADIS can scan the air and distinguish between US or enemy aircrafts simultaneously. Being able to  differentiate between friend and foe is a very important quality, as the US Army utilizes lots of drones for surveillance. One of their newest technologies is the Black Hornet pocket drone, which can fit in the palm of your hand.  Once the unmanned aircraft is verified as a threat by the LMADIS, it sends out a series of radio frequencies that can concurrently jam its communication capabilities and cripple its electrical equipment, causing the aircraft to crash.

While both the 22nd and 13th Marine Expeditionary Units have trained on the LMADIS, the system is only in use by the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They are currently using this system with their ground-based assault vehicles, but there are plans to begin using it within the Navy and testing has begun on multiple different ships.

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Innovation
Autonomous vehicles may be a lot closer than people think. They probably won’t be commercially available with the next couple of years, but they could be the transportation of the future, driving commuters to work, running errands for the lazy or busy and safely shipping drunks from the bar to the comfort of their own house.

There are a lot of questions people have about these autonomous vehicles, like for one what will they look like? Will they be similar to the machines we currently used to get ourselves from point A to point B? Protean Electric an automotive technology company may have an answer. They’re aiming to change the game by redefining the auto’s wheelbase.

The “global intelligence mobility market” is estimated to reach a mind boggling 1 trillion dollars in just 6 years according to Protean.  They plan to cash in on some of this money by developing a new wheelbase that provides full rotation around the wheel’s vertical axis as well as integrated steering and obedient kneeling.

A ProteanDrive hub motor with a mini double wishbone suspension connected to a 360 degree rotation steering arm could provide all these impressive features in one simple package. As announced by Protean, a Protean Pd18 unit will power each ProteanDrive, capable of providing each wheelbase with 107HP of torque.

Protean hasn’t announced a price for the ProteanDrive yet, but with the 1 trillion dollar market cap approaching in 2025, Protean should be giving more details about the ProteanDrive soon.
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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.”

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Industry, Innovation
Most of today’s drones are designed for basic aerial photography, but there are some that have been recently outfitted with flamethrowers. Designed by Throwflame, the TF-19 Wasp was made for industrial or agricultural use to remotely and safely ignite ground or aerial targets. By using the TF-19 drones, companies can safely remove debris from power lines, eliminate insect nests, and create remote agriculture burns. The TF-19 Wasp has an ignition range of up to 25 feet and a fuel capacity of one gallon, giving the drone a torching time of about a minute and a half. Throwflame designed the drone off of the DHI S1000 which offers a five pound payload capacity. The DJI S1000 then connects to a rail attachment which allows for flamethrower use.

Interested in reading about other real world drone applications? Check out FLIR Systems’ Black Hornet pocket drone.
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Innovation
The Apollo program and the moon landing is one of man’s greatest feats in history. It took a lot man power and innovation to reach it, but what people often forget is just how our expedition to the stars impacted us on the surface. Many consumer or medical products got their start from scientist or engineers in the Apollo Program. Here is a list of some of the products we owe to the Apollo Program


Athletic Shoes

Most running shoes today feature some sort of air compression system to enhance comfort and efficiency. This air compression technology first appeared on the market in the 1980s when a shoe company called Avia partnered with Al Gross, an aerospace engineer that work on the design of the spacesuits for the Apollo Program. Due to bellows in the joints, the spacesuits were able expand and compress when the wearer moves, allowing the designer to manipulate the amount of flexibility in the suit. Gross helped modify this idea for Avia’s shoes. They added a pressurized shell to the sole of the shoe which they called a “compression chamber”.  Borrowing the bellows from the spacesuits, the shoe’s compression chamber has rows of horizontal bellows to supply cushioning and columns of vertical bellows to provide stability. Similar cushioning technology is found in most shoe brands today.

Cordless Power Tools

The first cordless power tool was revealed in 1961 by Black & Decker, however it wasn’t until the Apollo program where cordless power tools really started to the shape. NASA had begun to work with Black & Decker to design and develop lightweight, cordless power tools for use in space. Some of the innovations that emerged from this partnership included a rotary hammer drill, a zero impact wrench, most of today’s electric drills and screwdrivers, battery powered precision medical instruments and a handheld vacuum cleaner called the Dustbuster

Dialysis

One particular Apollo project would eventually lead to a huge innovation in dialysis treatment. That project was to find a way to purify water for space missions. A chemical process was soon discovered by Marquardt Corporation to solve this problem, and they quickly realized it could be appealed to dialysis fluid to increase efficiency. The company went on to create a dialysis machine that uses sorbent dialysis. In sorbent dialysis, instead of disposing of the dialysis solutions after removing urea from human blood, the solution is purified and put back into the machine. Sorbent Dialysis helps limit waste, improve energy efficiency and provide more freedom of movement to dialysis patients.

Digital Image Processing

Before the Apollo Program began, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was working on digital image processing to enlarge and enhance photos of the moons. Since then digital image processing has been incorporated into many different space programs and other industries. NASA’s work in this field lead to many advancement in medical imagery like MRIs and CAT scans.

Fire-Resistant Clothing

In 1967, three people died due to a fire on the lunched of Apollo 1. After that NASA set out to create fire-resistant materials for their spacesuits and vehicles. The Monsanto Company delivered a suit that was coated with Durette, a chemically treated fabric. These fire resistant materials and the breathing apparatus designed for the spacesuits were the basis for the safety material used by soldiers and firefighters 

Insulation

One problem the Apollo program had, was trying to find a lightweight material for the landing modules that could also shelter astronauts and equipment from heat and infrared radiation. They eventually settled on a plastic, vacuum-metalized foil laid over a core of propylene or mylar. This insulating material was not only perfect for use in space but also had a variety of different applications back on earth like food packaging, safety blankets, photographic reflectors and insulation for modern homes.

Memory Foam

In 1966, NASA contracted Charles A. Yost, an aeronautical engineer at Systems Dynamics Group to come up with a method to increase the likelihood of pilots and passengers surviving crashes. He ended up creating a polymeric foam material to line the seating of the spacecraft. This open-celled material was capable of absorbing high energy shocks and vibrations while not sacrificing malleability and softness. Many people know this foam as memory foam and is available commercially in many high end pillows.

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