October 29, 2010
A couple of magazine articles caught my eye this week.
First, Assembly Magazine has their annual ”Assembly Plant of the Year” issue. One of the runners-up is the Waseca, Minnesota, plant operated by Itron, Inc. Itron manufactures smart meters for gas, water, and electric utilities. They implemented a lean initiative a few years ago and they are realizing the benefits. I’m proud to say that Quickdraw is a part of that of that ongoing success, providing lean workcells based on our modular MR Conveyor in both automatic and manual processes. The article can be found at http://www.assemblymag.com/Articles/Feature_Article/BNP_GUID_9-5-2006_A_10000000000000907446 . You can read more about Itron’s approach to lean and Quickdraw’s role in an article in Plant Services magazine.
The other article that I’d like to bring your attention to is from Machine Design magazine, where Lanny Berke writes a column on industrial and product safety. He is part way through a three part series of columns related to the safe implementation of conveyors in factory settings. After reading his case studies, all I can say is that I’m glad that we take the approach of using compact, modular conveyors with safe, low-power drives, as opposed to long conveyors driven by a single, very powerful motor. The second article of the series (and a link to the first) can be found at http://machinedesign.com/article/don-t-make-these-conveyor-safety-mistakes-part-2-of-3-1021 .
September 21, 2010
Please click on the invitation below if you’d like to receive free registration to the expo.
We invite you to bring your part or pallet to the Quickdraw booth and give it a test ride on any of our conveyor models. There’s nothing like a real world demonstration to get a good feel for the advantages that our conveyors can offer.
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I recently had a need to record some temperature data. I figured that I’d get a digital thermometer and manually record the data that I needed. Then I stumbled upon the MicroLite by Fourier Systems. I was surprised by the price (well below $100.00) and impressed with the features of this data logger. It has an LCD display, a built-in USB connector, a wide range of sample times, it’s IP68 rated, and the configuration/analysis software is free. It’s working out great for my needs. Check it out.
September 13, 2010
Quickdraw offers models and drawings through the 3D Content Central service. Users can select a conveyor model and configure the length, drive location, and other features. A preview of the configuration is then shown. The configuration options can be updated on the fly, for example if the user wanted to see the difference between belt drive and direct drive. Once the preview shows the proper configuration, the user can then download the conveyor in a number of different formats ranging from 3D models and 2D drawings in a variety of CAD software formats (e.g. SolidWorks, Pro-E, AutoCAD, etc.) to images in PDF or TIF file formats. Sign up is free, and if you can use an existing account if you’ve signed up through a different supplier’s site.
I stumbled upon this list of Ten Lost Technologies, which documents technologies and processes that mankind understood at one time, but we can’t replicate today. The list includes the technology to make the famous Stradivari Violins, high strength Damascus Steel, and something called The Antikythera Mechanism. The latter being a bronze mechanism dated to the 1st or 2nd century BCE believed to chart the astronomical positions of the sun, moon, and other planets. Though its true purpose is still not fully known, some believe it might be the earliest example of an “analog computer.”
The item on the list most surprising to me was the inclusion of Apollo/Gemini Space Program Technology. The article mentions that the technology isn’t necessarily lost, it’s just obsolete because it’s no longer compatible with modern technology. Examples of the technology still exist, but the record keeping was somewhat lax because of the fast pace of the program, and we likely no longer understand the “hows and whys” of some of the technology.
It made me think of other technologies and techniques that aren’t truly lost, but are no longer necessary. Like setting the timing and gapping the points on a car, adjusting rabbit ears on a TV, using a typewriter, cleaning an LP record, manually de-gaussing a computer screen, or wedging a matchbook above an 8-track tape in a car stereo to keep it from jumping tracks. It won’t be long before young people won’t know what many of those phrases mean, let alone have any idea of how to do them or even know why they would be necessary.
September 7, 2010
This month, Quickdraw is launching a monthly email newsletter. We’ll be featuring product highlights, interesting applications, a distributor spotlight, and general Quickdraw news such as future tradeshows, new products, and other developments. If you would like to be on the newsletter mailing list, just click here.
If you have any ideas for content that you’d like to see in the newsletter, leave a comment here, or send me an email.
In my last blog post (LINK), I referenced a development in the field of electric vehicles. It’s an interest of mine that really developed when General Motors announced their Chevy Volt concept car. (News of the land speed record was brought to my attention by the website www.gm-volt.com) Concept cars seldom get slated for actual production, but public reception was so great that now the Chevy Volt is less than two months from showing up in dealer showrooms.
The car is an extended range electric vehicle (EREV). From an overnight charge, it has sufficient battery capacity to offer 40 miles of typical driving without using any gasoline. Once beyond the range of the battery, an internal combustion engine starts up–not to power the car (as the ICE in the Toyota Prius works), but rather to drive an electric generator. The generator will charge the battery and power the electric motor, which continues to provide the force to propel the car. The fuel tank will power the car for an additional 300 miles. In this way, the Volt offers the economy of driving on electric power but without the fear that your trip might exceed the range of the car’s battery. It also gives GM the flexibility to offer a variety of range entender power platforms. In the future, the generator, currently powered by a normally aspirated four cylinder gasoline engine, could be powered by a turbo-diesel, an ethanol powered ICE, or even a hydrogen fuel-cell, without affecting the electric drive configuration of the vehicle.
I can’t wait to test drive one!