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2020 ends on a positive of sorts 02/12/2020

One way or another 2020 is a year that none of us is going to forget in a hurry. For the manufacturing sector, while Brexit dominated the first couple of months, it was soon to be overshadowed by COVID-19. Furlough, lockdown and social distancing became part of the vernacular and businesses tried, with varying degrees of success, to adjust to the ‘new normal’.

While many companies shone through with their ability to be agile, for many the conditions proved simply too difficult and are sadly no longer trading. It’s not all bad news though – as I write, approval has been granted for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine to begin rollout next week, bringing the promise of something that, dare I say it, feels like it could represent the beginning of the end of the COVID crisis.

And, although the consumer goods industry appears to still be in the doldrums, according to the latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index, growth in the manufacturing sector improved throughout November.  Rates of growth in output and new business accelerated and the downturn in employment slowed. The upcoming end to the Brexit transition period meanwhile led to rising levels of input purchasing, stockpiling of raw materials and stronger gains in new export business as EU-based clients brought forward orders.

The Index tracked a marked divergence between different sectors within manufacturing. The intermediate and investment goods industries both registered robust and accelerated growth of output. In contrast, the downturn in the consumer goods sector continued, with back-to-back decreases in both production and new business.

The overall volume of incoming new business rose during November, albeit to a slightly lesser extent than the prior survey month. Manufacturers saw higher inflows of new work from overseas, in part boosted by EU clients bringing forward purchases before the Brexit transition period ends. There were also reports of higher intakes from Asia and the US.

The upcoming end to the Brexit transition period also affected the trends in purchasing, stocks and supplier lead times. Input buying volumes increased to the greatest extent since March 2019, mainly to achieve the steepest growth in stocks of purchases for over a year.

Higher levels of input buying also increased the pressure on already strained supply-chains, leading to raw material shortages and a marked deterioration in vendor performance. Longer supplier lead times were also linked to the ongoing effect of the pandemic, tighter restrictions (including renewed lockdowns), transport disruptions and shipping delays.

Manufacturing job losses were recorded for the tenth consecutive month in November. Reductions to staff headcounts were attributed to redundancies, cost reduction initiatives, staff restructuring, natural wastage and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was despite business optimism about the year ahead rising to a six-year high. Input cost inflation accelerated to a two-year high in November. Companies responded by raising their average selling prices to the greatest extent in the year-so-far.

Of course, we’re still waiting to hear what form the Brexit deal will take, if indeed there is a Brexit deal, so any data can only really be viewed as a snapshot, rather than indicative of any particular trend. With this in mind, let’s hope that 2021 ends up being notable for stability - although I for one am not holding my breath!

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Foundry pilots digital dosing optimisation 02/12/2020

INTERNATIONAL ALUMINIUM die casting business, Alupress, is piloting a new data-driven solution to improve productivity at its Hildburghausen foundry site in Germany.

The automotive parts specialist, which also has locations in Italy and the US, has adopted Monitizer Refill Monitor from StrikoWestofen to optimize metal supply for its dosing furnaces.

Developed by StrikoWestofen in partnership with Norican’s in-house Digital Lab, the solution uses sensor data to continuously check furnace fill levels against the metal consumption of the die casting process. It then presents the analysed data as informative online dashboards which clearly show in real time when each furnace will need refilling, with which alloy and the amount of metal required.

“When we heard about Monitizer Refill Monitor we could see it offered an innovative solution to a number of practical challenges we face”, explained Enrico Sonnefeld, head of maintenance at Alupress Hildburghausen.

“Our melting furnaces are located quite a distance from our die casting halls. To accurately check the real time fill levels of our 32 dosing furnaces takes time, and the logistics involved mean there is always a risk of refilling with the wrong alloy, overfilling or underfilling. As well as being unproductive, these factors can also result in undesirable stop/starts, for instance if melt is not ready, downtime and also problems further down the line with casting quality – in particular if fill levels have dropped too low.”

As part of the pilot, 8 of Alupress’ dosing furnaces have been connected to the Monitizer Refill Monitor solution, including 5 Westomat furnaces from StrikoWestofen and 3 from a third party.

“This was actually one of the things that impressed us about this innovation”, added Enrico, “because the data collection mechanism used is supplier agnostic, we can connect any of our furnaces to Monitizer Refill Monitor. We also didn’t need to have any pre-existing digital infrastructure or IIoT experience.”

A key feature of the system is that the dashboards are completely tailorable to show, at a glance, the information that is going to be most valuable to the particular foundry. This includes setting colour codes – green, amber, red – to indicate priority actions required. The level of customisation is something Alupress has already taken advantage of.

Florian Kulawik, Development Engineer at StrikoWestofen, commented: “Alupress has configured its dashboards to display overall furnace fill level as a percentage, and also the exact time left until the furnace is at 40% capacity, as refilling before this point produces optimal results in terms of melt quality and for continuous production. Clear colour coded indicators change as the threshold is reached. The dashboards can be accessed in the melt shop and are displayed on a dedicated monitor in the production hall. The forklift operators responsible for transferring the liquid metal from the melting furnace to the production hall also have securely authorised access to this real time data via a tablet in the vehicle to ensure optimal fill levels are maintained.”

The pilot project is ongoing but Alupress has already seen the benefits of real time data monitoring. Enrico said: “Since the solution was installed our dosing furnaces have been in continuous use because at any single point in time, we can see what’s needed to optimise the process. What’s more, because the solution is completely scalable, we know it will be an easy job to expand the number of furnaces – old or new – connected as and when required. It’s great.”


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Vital handling and storage virtual conference set for next week 24/11/2020

HANDLING AND Storage Solutions Live is a free-to-attend virtual conference, which takes place on 1 December 2020, where delegates will enjoy four hours of CPD-accredited content.

You can register to attend the event for FREE at https://events.streamgo.co.uk/HSS-Live/

Each session will be delivered live and will explore innovation as the supply chain transforms. Delegates will also be able to take part in an interactive Q&A as part of each presentation.

Delegates can take part from the comfort of their own home/workplace and will receive a certificate to award them 4 CPD hours for attending. The presentations will offer key takeaways on the following topics:

  • Best-in-class efficiency
  • Resilience in warehousing and logistics
  • Safety in material handling
  • Flexibility to adapt to fast changing circumstances
  • Make the most of warehouse space

The agenda for the event is as follows:

Time Title Synopsis Speaker

The "New normal" AMRs in a time of disruption

The 2020 pandemic has brought significant changes to logistics industry worldwide. Whether these adjustments are viewed as challenges or opportunities, they all point to one realisation: there’s no going back. As companies work through these shifts, one thing is clear – fulfillment robots are adding stability and productivity to a bursting supply chain.

In this presentation you’ll learn:

  • Post-pandemic market dynamics, consumer trends, and labour patterns within the logistics space
  • How industry leaders are turning the latest hurdles into an opening for growth with automation
  • How robots leverage your current employee base to get more goods out the door faster

Denis Niezgoda, Vice President Europe, Locus Robotics

10:30-11:30 Saving space and boosting productivity The unstoppable rise of e-commerce has not only led to an increased demand for warehousing but also packaging. Martin McVicar, MD of forklift manufacturer Combilift, explains how the company’s products have enabled a major packaging supplier to optimise its warehouse space whilst keeping up with its ever growing production schedule. Martin McVicar, MD, Combilift

‘Off the Shelf’ automated solutions within 3 months

The impact of the current pandemic on the supply chain industry is immense. Coupled with the expected long-term shift in buying behaviour, it is clear that warehouses and distribution centres need fast solutions – without increasing labour.

Webinar attendees can discover how solutions such as AutoStore and CarryPick can be delivered in as little as three months. Shane Faulkner, Head of Sales for Swisslog in the UK is encouraging businesses across Europe to join the event.

“With pre-defined layouts, these automated storage and retrieval (ASRS) technologies can be adapted as demand changes and can be installed in existing buildings” he says. “Depending on the project specification, it is even possible for the flexible systems to be rented or leased to preserve liquidity exactly when you need it.”

“Staying flexible enough to respond to changing market requirements is essential,” Shane continues. 

Swisslog’s online event will review how automated storage solutions need to be scalable while maximising space and performance.

Shane Faulkner, Head of Sales, Swisslog

Aftershock and pre-Peak

The initial shock of the pandemic has now passed but logistics is now entering its Peak season. Kevin Mofid, Head of Industrial Research, Savills discusses the logistics property landscape, demand trends and implications for warehouse and logistics managers.

Kevin Mofid, Head of Industrial Research, Savills

Do the detail in eFulfillment

D2C was a growing trend before the pandemic knocked out much of the High Street for months on end. The growth of D2C makes warehouse process accuracy more important than ever. But many retailers and brands think buying a system to cope is enough. Nick Fox, Head of Logistics - Europe, at fashion retailer Theory argues that the real work is ‘doing the detail’ and making sure IT and warehouse operations knit together effectively.


Nick Fox, Head of Logistics - Europe, at fashion retailer Theory


Chairs closing remarks

Simon Duddy, HSS Editor

HSS Live takes place on 1 December 2020. You can register to attend the event for FREE at https://events.streamgo.co.uk/HSS-Live/

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IP&E Live: Full line-up here! 13/11/2020

TAKING PLACE on Tuesday 17 November, the inaugural IP&E Live online seminar will feature a packed programme of presentations aimed at anyone with an interest in industrial maintenance and reliability. You can gain on-demand access the presentations after the event by registering.

As well as information from event sponsors Omicron and Megger, there will be presentations from the United Kingdom Lubricants Association (UKLA), the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), and British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), as follows:

 - Verifying Criticality of Industrial Power Equipment, presented by Florian Fink Product Manager, Omicron - The motto of industrial power grids is ‘production must run!’, as unplanned production stops can cause serious stress and expense. By analysing the grid, we can detect issues with critical equipment in advance to prevent potential power outages that cause production to stop. In this paper, we will give sample use cases to show how the grid can be hardened against outages through monitoring critical equipment with asset management and smart testing solutions.

 - Electrical Testing of your Critical Motors, presented by Mike Herring, Regional Sales Manager, Megger - Electric motors are critical assets in many Industries and environments. Whilst vibration analysis, acoustic analysis, thermography and oil analysis are technologies that are commonly employed as part of a predictive maintenance programme, the motor’s winding is often given little consideration, other than a simple insulation resistance test, and perhaps a phase to phase winding resistance test.

This seminar will investigate the benefits and limitations of these two electrical tests, and discuss the additional tests that will help improve the detection of developing insulation faults. We will also look at dynamic motor testing, which is used to help understand condition of the entire driven system – power supply, motor and the load, simply by analysing the voltage and current of the three phases.

- Are you working safely with metalworking fluids? presented by Matt Bloomer, UKLA and Fiona McGarry, HSE -Metalworking fluids (MWF) can cause occupational asthma, occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis and dermatitis. This webinar will improve your ability to manage the health hazards from MWF. It is aimed at health and safety managers, factory managers and engineers and will include:

• A case study of an HSE investigation

• A summary of the requirements for protecting the health of workers

• An outline of the guidance published by UKLA and HSE

• A summary of the testing which must be performed on metalworking fluids, to maintain its quality and prevent risks to health

- Through Life Engineering Services, presented by James Selka, CEO, MTA - Through Life Enginnering Services (TES) is a set of tools and techniques, business thinking and network behaviour that enables reliable and predictable improvement of value in-use and also enables reliable and predictable reduction of cost in-use.

This session will explain how TES will increase the in-use value and reduce the in-use cost of long life engineered assets to the benefit of the user and provider.

- Importance of Thorough Examination of Lifting Equipment, presented by Benjamin Dobbs MSc BEng Hons, Head of Technical Services at The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association - This session will cover


• Approved codes of practice

• Competent persons

• Defined scopes of examination

• Supplementary testing in support of an examination

• Written schemes of examination

Pressure Systems Regulations and Training, presented by Roy Brooks, Technical Development Officer at British Compressed Air Society (BCAS).

All attendees will receive CPD points. Register to attend for FREE at https://events.streamgo.co.uk/IPE-Live

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Kickstart for Manchester SMEs 11/11/2020

MANUFACTURERS IN Greater Manchester are being invited to start 2021 with a fully-funded programme aimed at enhancing manufacturing excellence and enabling growth.

Made for Manufacturing will empower leaders from small, medium and large businesses across the city region to improve their quality of service and product, ensure better lead times, and reduce their overall business costs.    

Run by GC Business Growth Hub, the second Made for Manufacturing programme launches in January, with applications open now to manufacturers who are focused on improving efficiencies and growing their workforce.    

The group-based course will take place over a 10-week period. It offers tailored advice and support from expert speakers, peer-to-peer learning, plus one-to-one support from an expert Manufacturing Advisor based within the Hub, part of the Growth Company.

What sets Made for Manufacturing apart from more time-intensive courses is that it is delivered in short dynamic online sprints; this enables leaders to identify opportunities and put them into practice quickly without halting business momentum.

Its combination of virtual tours looking at good industry practice, workshops and engaging practical activities enables manufacturing leaders to hold a mirror to their company – and commit to actions that will lead to continuous improvements.

Andy Mosley, Print Manager at Manchester Manufacturing Group Ltd, one of the businesses in the first programme, said: “We hope the course will help us to benchmark our current procedures against industry best practice – identifying processes that fall short, then using the techniques learned to implement and make the necessary changes.

“We’re looking at finding brand new ideas to take away to further improve ‘right-first-time, on-time delivery’, product quality, waste management and environmental impact, whilst also helping us to strengthen communication within the company.”

Programme manager and manufacturing advisor, Nick Brandwood, said: “One of the major benefits of Made for Manufacturing is that it enables manufacturers to build a support network with other high calibre business leaders on the course.

“Having the support of alumni who share the same passion will be most valuable as these businesses look to the future, after a turbulent year for the industry.

“Anyone interested in taking part should get in touch soon because we have just 10 places that will go quickly. There’s no better way to start 2021 than by showing you your business really is Made for Manufacturing.”  

Over the past five years, GC Business Growth Hub’s Manufacturing Team has worked with 600 manufacturing companies, delivering a £20m-plus increase in sales and supporting the creation of more than 300 jobs.  

Made for Manufacturing sessions are designed to share ideas, offer support, and pinpoint practical actions as a prelude for manufactures to return to the shop floor, engage with their teams and deliver long-lasting improvements.

The 10-week programme begins w/c 11 January and ends in May. Businesses have until 27 November to apply at businessgrowthhub.com/madeformanufacturing

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Boots ramps-up ecommerce packaging performance 06/11/2020

UK HEALTH and beauty retailer, Boots UK, has significantly enhanced ecommerce packing performance by deploying two Quadient fit-to-size automated packing machines. An unforeseen benefit from the investment was the ability to respond swiftly and efficiently to the doubling of online orders following the COVID-19 lockdown.

Boots is the UK’s largest pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer with over 2500 stores; the business supports a vast customer base across its omni-channel operations. Boots.com is a fast-expanding part of the business, supported by an advanced ecommerce fulfilment centre in Burton. Preparing online orders for home delivery or in-store collection demands highly efficient order picking and packing processes. Critically, during peak these systems must be flexible and agile enough to cope with a huge increase in order volumes, and this can place a great strain on the packing area, where manual labour is traditionally increased during peak to cope with demand.

Tracey Clements, COO for Boots in the UK and Ireland, says: “As consumers are spending more time online, we are seeing tremendous year-on-year growth on Boots.com and to meet the growth of online sales and customer expectations, we had to innovate the way that our supply chain works, and the answer was automation.”

The dual challenge

Faced with the dual challenge of recruiting more and more people every autumn for peak season and a shrinking pool of available labour, in 2019 the business decided to look at the potential to boost productivity by increasing the level of automation used in the packing operation. A simple mechanise packaging system was in use for the majority of off-peak orders, but the system did not offer the flexibility or capacity needed for Black Friday and peak season. In addition, a large number of manual packing benches were necessary to fulfil the volume of orders received during the peak season – a major financial and administrative commitment.

Ian Murfin, customer relationship manager at Boots, explains: “In order to support the fast growth in online sales, we wanted a solution that would increase efficiency, boost capacity and enhance the productivity of our labour force. We realised packaging technology had become much more sophisticated, offering far greater performance, speed, accuracy and importantly, reliability. And that’s exactly what we needed to increase capacity.”

High-velocity, fit-to-size packing innovation

After a review of the latest packaging technology available, Boots took the decision to invest in two state-of-the-art automated packing machines from Quadient that tailor-make parcels at high-speed. Quadient’s CVP Impack is unique in that it has the potential to construct bespoke individual cardboard boxes to the exact size of an ordered item at the rate of up to of 500 boxes per hour – combining multiple items, as required.

The CVP Impack measures, constructs, tapes, weighs and labels each parcel in one seamless process. The operator simply places the item(s) to be packed onto the machine and scans the order. The system identifies the order and automatically conveys the items to a 3D scanner to measure and calculate the minimum box size required. The cardboard is then cut and folded to create a snug fit around the goods and tape is applied on just two sides to secure the box. Then an in-line scale checks the weight against the order and, finally, the box is automatically conveyed to a label printer where a carrier compliant label is created and applied. The whole process, from start to finish, takes just thirty seconds with a custom made box configured every seven seconds.

Adam Coventry, head of warehousing for Boots.com, comments: “At our Dot Com warehouse we have created a hi-tech and fully automated operation for goods in and out. We have the safety of our colleagues, efficiency, and sustainability at the core of what we do. Every year we pick, pack and ship over 43 million products to our customers.

“Once the items have been picked by the cobots they arrive at our CVP Impack packaging solution – the latest addition to our high tech warehouse operations. This has genuinely revolutionised the packaging process for Boots.com, reducing the need for extra packing stations and increasing the items packed to up to 500 items an hour per machine, helping us to meet the high demand for online orders.” He adds: “We are able to use 100% recycled Boots branded cardboard and no longer need to use any additional filler material.”

The installation of the two CVP Impack machines took place in late September 2019, just in time for the Black Friday season, and both machines were designed for dual operator feed, the first to be supplied to the UK market. Having two operators per machine facilitates a seamless and continuous flow of orders, from order-totes arriving, to complete, perfectly sized packages, weighed and labelled, ready for despatch.

Peak benefits

“We were impressed by the speed and efficiency with which the two Quadient machines performed over the Black Friday peak,” says Murfin. “The CVP Impack machines have delivered significant cost and environmental benefits too, with reduced material use and volume savings on transport.”

In fact, following the installation of the two CVP Impack machines, Boots has also been able to reduce the transport journeys – a significant cost saving and environmental benefit. The business is also expecting to buy around 30% less cardboard for the same volume of packages produced by the pre-existing system.

There are important customer benefits too. By creating custom sized packaging for each order, the customer receives a compact, right-sized box, which is more convenient to carry, eliminates ‘consumer distress’ over wasteful packaging and delivers a positive environmental message. A further advantage of the fit-to-size cardboard packaging is a snug fit to the product, which prevents items moving around, providing better protection without the need for bubble-wrap or void-fill.

However, perhaps the most unforeseen benefit of the investment in Quadient technology has been Boots’ ability to respond efficiently to the sudden demands placed upon the business through the boom in online orders following the Coronavirus lockdown.

“With a surge in ecommerce orders, up 100% since the lockdown, and a dramatic change in order profiles, the agility and speed with which the CVP Impack machines can create individually-made packs have proved their worth in abundance,” says Murfin. “And critically, this unexpected challenge has been met without needing to scale up the operation, which would have been extremely difficult at this time, with all the complications of social distancing.”

He adds, “The core driver for this investment was increased operational efficiency – and we certainly achieved our goal.”

Clements, concludes: “The customer experience is extremely important to Boots, so as we continue to see high demands online, we know that packing automation is not only supporting our supply chain but also ensuring that we can continue to meet the needs of all our customers so they receive the same care outside our stores as they do within.”

A short video of Quadient’s CVP Impack at Boots.com is available here: https://packagingbyquadient.com/customers/case-study-boots/

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First all-in-one PC from Raspberry Pi 11/11/2020

THE GLOBAL technology company from Electrocomponents, OKdo has announced availability of Raspberry Pi 400, an all-in-one personal computer, created by Raspberry Pi and based on the popular Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer.

Recalling the design of the early home computers that inspired a generation of children to become engineers, Raspberry Pi 400 takes the form of a keyboard. Users simply plug in a USB-C based power supply, mouse and micro-SD card configured with a suitable operating system, such as Raspberry Pi OS, to start exploring the world of computing and electronics.

At the heart of Raspberry Pi 400 is the 64-bit BCM2711 system-on-chip, which integrates a quad-core Arm Cortex-A72 CPU running at 1.8GHz, and a VideoCore VI graphics processor supporting OpenGL ES 3.1 and Vulkan graphics, H.264 and H.265 video, and sophisticated image processing capabilities. 4GB of LPDDR4-3200 DRAM provides space for the most demanding use cases.

Raspberry Pi 400 provides a rich variety of connectivity and interfacing options: two USB 3.0 ports and a single USB 2.0 port for peripherals; two micro-HDMI ports, supporting up to 4k resolution; Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac wireless networking and Bluetooth 5; and a standard 40-pin GPIO port, supporting Raspberry Pi HAT expansion boards.

"At OKdo, we believe Raspberry Pi 400 will bring all of the strengths of the Raspberry Pi platform and community to an entirely new audience," said Richard Curtin, OKdo’s SVP of Technology. "The convenience of a PC, housed in a keyboard, that requires no self-assembly and is ready to go out-of-the-box removes one the few remaining barriers to adoption for Raspberry Pi."

Raspberry Pi 400 is available on its own, or as part of a kit containing a power supply, a mouse, an HDMI lead, a 16GB micro-SD card with Raspberry Pi OS preinstalled, and a copy of the Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide. English (UK and US), French, Italian, German and Spanish keyboard variants, with accompanying translated Beginner’s Guides, are available at launch, with more to follow over the coming year.

Raspberry Pi 400 will be available across Europe, the US and Canada from 2nd November, with availability being extended to include India, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa shortly afterwards.

For more information and to pre-order Raspberry Pi 400 from OKdo, visit: https://www.okdo.com/p/raspberry-pi-400-computer-uk/

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Pharmaceutical regulations & manufacturing 29/10/2020

PHARMACEUTICAL MANUFACTURING must achieve high standards to ensure the strength of the active ingredients, quality, and purity of the final products. These standards are enforced by regulatory authorities to ensure safe and effective products for patients. The controls and checks are far more stringent than even the food industry because minute changes in the recipe can have serious consequences for patients.

Since it is virtually impossible for a medical or pharmacy professional, much less the consumer, to tell if a product is safe, or if it contains what it is supposed to contain,  professions and patients expect every batch of medicines to be produced to a high level of precision and safety. Hence, the responsibility for ensuring consumer safety, lies firmly with the manufacturer, where it relies on industry-accepted Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to maintain drug safety and efficacy.

Regulatory authorities inspect pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities worldwide, including facilities that manufacture active ingredients and the finished product. These inspections follow a standard approach and are conducted by highly trained staff. The regulatory authorities will also relies upon reports of potentially defective drug products from the public and the manufacturer. They will often use these reports to identify sites for which an inspection or investigation is needed. Most companies that are inspected are found to be fully compliant with the GMP regulations.

The task for the manufacturer of complying with the regulations and producing the reports is immense. Numerous complex machines and skilled employees need to be organised through the manufacturing process, which needs precise and properly recipe management. Recipe management prescribes the actions, machine parameters and documentation required to convert input materials into high-quality medicines.

In many cases this documentation is paper based, which leads to inefficiencies, potential errors, and unnecessary regulatory risks. Every time a new drug or batch is produced, a recipe with process steps and machine parameters needs to be created. Once a recipe is created, it needs be approved by multiple stakeholders. This is a time-consuming process due to the fact that not all the stakeholders will be located in the same part of the premise and often workers cleanroom garments have to be changed.

After all approvals are obtained, an operator may have to manually enters the confirmed machine parameters from the recipe into the machines. A single machine may require up to several hundred parameters! And it can have a completely unique interface, for which operators need to be specifically trained.

The whole process must be repeated for every machine, even if there are many machines of the same type with the same production parameters. It goes without saying, that this manual and repetitive work is inherently error prone. Each deviation results in more reporting, lost production time and even the destruction of an entire batch.

For each batch, the recipe data used must be archived – typically on machines or on paper. However, dispersed data storage on machines and in paper archives results in high risk of data loss, inadequate audit trail and security, violation of data integrity and GMP compliance issues. Furthermore, it makes the preparation of recipe data for reports and analyses confusing and time consuming.

Fortunately, all of these challenges can be solved with the introduction of a centralised recipe management solution, such as MePIS RM. This is a configurable software solution that digitalises all the steps in the recipe management process. It enables the creation and execution of workflows for all stakeholders, secure electronic exchange of recipe data between stakeholders and machines, and central recipe storage – all while fulfilling GMP regulations.

Furthermore, the manufacturer benefits from shorter lead times, no deviations caused by manual input errors and a huge time saving in the whole production process.

For more information about the digitalisation of recipe management with MePIS RM in your production, contact info@iiotek.com


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New method of manufacturing micromotor windings 29/10/2020

THE RESULT of seven years of research and development, industrial start-up and mechatronic pioneer, Mirmex Micro Motor, has announced availability of a new method of manufacturing high-power density electric micromotor winding.

Constructed from flexible printed circuits and developed using artificial intelligence (AI), the micromotors are reported to feature unmatched performance and maximum precision. They can be up to 50% more compact, 70% more dynamic, with 3 times fewer heat losses and assembled 10 times faster than most of the existing solutions using conventional windings made from copper wire.

Designed for use in high performance industrial and surgical precision powered tools, active prostheses, aerospace, and robotics, the motors are fully customisable thanks to Mirmex Motor’s proprietary software developed in-house. The motor production is greatly simplified which results in a quicker manufacturing time with reduced tooling costs – an impossible process using traditional copper coils.

Mirmex Motor's technology is primarily applicable to slotless permanent magnet motors, whether used as synchronous machines or as Slotless Brushless Direct Current (SBLDC) machines. These devices have existed for 40 years but have not seen significant innovation since their inception. While traditional high-performance coils are extremely complex to design, manipulate and manufacture, the company's innovation meets the demands of users looking for increased performance and the convenience of compactness.

Flexible printed circuit boards provide new possibilities

Mirmex Motor develops motors differently: instead of winding the yarns individually, never-seen-before winding topologies are created and printed on strips of flexible printed circuit board (PCB) material. These proprietary patterns are designed using AI algorithms and, once wound, the overlapping layers form an electric motor winding, achieving performance far above the competition.

As a result of its research, Mirmex Motor has been able to implement an automated process for the creation of winding topologies and validate the printing on flexible materials of winding patterns that are impossible to reproduce traditionally. The coils made on these flexible circuits provide unparalleled performance to the motors in which they are associated.

These new patterns offer immense possibilities that go beyond the mere shape of the windings. By varying the size, patterns, thickness or interconnections of the conductors, the achievable coils can transcend the capabilities of the micromotors. The design of the ideal motor depends on its use, its environment, and its constraints. The Mirmex Motor software develops the best composition on a case-by-case basis and is easily adaptable to a variety of situations due to the flexibility and high degree of design freedom offered.

University born research & innovation

This new micromotor technology is the result of several years of research which began in 2013 at UCLouvain, Belgium's leading French-speaking university. In 2017, the team founded Mirmex Motor to continue the development of its solution and closed fundraising and subsidies of several million euros from local investors and the European Commission. Mirmex Motor is now entering the ever-growing micromotor market with a production capacity of 100,000 windings per year.

“This represents a huge leap forward for the micromotor industry,” said Cedric Van Rossum, CEO of Mirmex Motor. "Feedback from industry professionals has proven that our solution is well above market standards. We have great ambitions for our micromotors and for our innovative game-changing technology.”


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How welders deal with magnetism in the component 29/10/2020

DEALING WITH magnetism in components is one of the most complex tasks in welding technology. In its latest whitepaper, EWM AG shows how to overcome this challenge. Users will find tips and tricks for degaussing components as well as instructions for reliable welding in practice.

Magnetism in components can quickly become a challenge for the welder, often affecting the quality of the end result. It leads to a deflection in the arc and instability that facilitates droplet detachment, spatter and irregular sidewall fusion. The end result subsequently requires a high amount of post-weld work, costing even more working time. But how does degaussing workpieces help to achieve high-quality, reproducible and cost-efficient results? EWM AG provides practice-oriented answers to this question in the latest whitepaper, exploring the subject in scientific detail. The authors take information from practice-oriented examples and make this available to readers for their everyday work.

If you are interested in reading the whitepaper you can request it for free at https://www.ewm-group.com/microsites/degauss

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