Tuesday, April 27, 2010

McGill University Uses Simio 3D Modelling Software

The Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University has joined Simio's academic programme, which offers the company's 3D modelling software to schools at no charge. Simio awarded a USD29,700 (GBP19,310) grant to the Desautels Faculty of Management. The NSERC Create Program, which will benefit from the grant, is set improve the collective capacity of the six partner universities in Canada for training doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows who could become significant contributors to healthcare research, practice and policy making.

McGill University is now one of more than 120 universities worldwide to join Simio's academic programme. The Simio Academic Edition software has no model size limits and includes discrete and continuous modelling, object library development and 3D animation. Trainees at the university will be able to model systems using intelligent objects and the software's direct connection to Google's 3D Warehouse. The intelligent objects are built by modellers and may be reused in multiple modelling projects.

These objects can be stored in libraries and shared. Simio's connection to Google's 3D Warehouse gives access to a free online library of thousands of graphic objects, providing students with the ability to solve real-world problems in visually rich environments.
Datron MV-1500 Machines Awkward-Shaped Workpieces

The new MV-1500 CNC machining centre from Datron Technology is suitable for machining non-standard-shaped workpieces. With a vertical clamping surface, it enables the machining of components measuring up to 1m in height. This 'drop-down' area is at right angles to the horizontal table, which measures 1,500 x 500mm. This latest addition to the range of Datron large-format CNC machining centres is suitable for the milling of both standard- and awkward-shaped components - especially the latter - where robust clamping is available on both tables.

Exceptionally tall parts or housings can be clamped onto the vertical T-slotted clamping face, with other parts for machining at the back of the machine on the horizontal table. Alternatively, parts with an overhang can be positively clamped so that, for example, end faces can be machined. Built with the trademark granite table - offering high precision, accuracy and stability, particularly against vibration - the Datron MV-1500 can be equipped with a range of spindles capable of operating at speeds of up to 60,000rev/min.

The same Datron design principles have also been applied to the MV-1500 to ensure a small footprint (2.25 x 2.4m). Optional extras include a surface-mapping/position-finding optional probe (either Datron or Renishaw), Datron vacuum clamping plates and a 30-position tool changer. Indexers are also available to increase the machine's capability for up to five-axis operation with fast 3D CNC control.

A full tooling package is available from Datron, but the MV-1500 is also compatible with other tooling. The MV-1500, priced from GBP60,000, is said to be simple to install. Datron provides full commissioning and training. The company also offers a full service and applications support to assist the customer in all aspects of programming and machining; turnkey packages are available on request.
Cedrat To Provide Training Sessions On Actuators

Cedrat Technologies has announced that places are still available for its training sessions, which are due to take place on 17 June, following Actuator 2010. Two parallel sessions - one about piezoelectric actuators and the other about linear magnetic actuators - will be held in the Congress Center Bremen. The courses are open to engineers and PhD students who want to know more about these actuator technologies.
Ondrives Adds Precision Bevel Gears To Portfolio
Ondrives has added straight-cut precision bevel gears to its precision gear range. Ondrives' straight-cut bevel gears are made to Quality Grade 7f24 DIN 3985, with other Quality Grades available on request. Standard materials are 817M40T steel and 303 stainless steel, with 805M20 case-hardened steel also available. Ratios are 1:1 as standard, with 2:1 available.

Tapped holes, pin holes and keyways can be added as standard modifications for a nominal charge. Complete specials to suit customer drawings are also available. The technical department welcomes the chance to quote for these as one-off prototypes or volume orders. Scheduled deliveries can also be easily accommodated where required.



WEG has developed a control panel that monitors the ventilation circuits, temperature, humidity, lighting and feeder lines at Plasson's factory. Plasson manufactures equipment and sells services for aviculture. The system ensures better use of feed ration, optimises environmental requirements and delivers higher quality and productivity. WEG has an exclusive team for sales, engineering and assembly of control panels for the OEM machine-building segment, partnering with customers to provide complete solutions that improve quality and reliability and increase speed and throughput.

In these partnerships, WEG's team works closely with customers' engineering and development teams to analyse applications and suggest and specify improvements that make individual projects feasible, in both technical and commercial terms. After this first phase, a prototype is assembled and tested by the customer. When everything has been finally approved, WEG begins series supply. Plasson asked WEG to standardise the environment control panels and feeders that it manufactures and supplies. The objective was to improve the reliability of the systems, provide the ideal environmental requirements and increase productivity in breeding chickens and turkeys.

'The major benefits we are enjoying as a result of our partnership with WEG are the reliability of the products and the standardisation that we have been able to achieve by using them,' said Gilberto Franke Hobold, general director at Plasson. 'In addition, because WEG was able to provide a weekly delivery schedule for the control panels, this improved our logistics and helped us with stock reduction. 'WEG's flexibility was a great advantage in this partnership. 'At any stage of the project where we wanted something different, WEG was always listening to our requirements and careful to develop what we actually needed,' Hobold added.
Namtec And NAMRC Plan Two-Day Nuclear Conference

Namtec (National Metals Technology Centre) and NAMRC (Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) are planning a two-day conference at the Oulton Hall Hotel in Leeds on 29-30 June. The Nuclear: Metals and Manufacturing Conference features a full itinerary of high-profile speakers from the nuclear industry and will focus on the current drive towards Generation III+ nuclear power stations in the UK.

The aim is to provide delegates with an insight into the huge opportunities for the UK's materials and manufacturing supply base, while giving companies the chance to network and engage with nuclear vendors and Tier 1 suppliers. Keynote speakers are from EDF Energy, the National Nuclear Laboratory, Areva, the University of Manchester, the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol; and Corus, Westinghouse, Sheffield Forgemasters, AMEC, Fusion Energy and NAMRC. The cost for the two-day conference is GBP595 plus VAT, which includes accommodation and conference dinner on 29 June. Anyone interested is advised to book early to avoid disappointment.

City Technology's Ecosure electrochemical sensor detects the silent escape of invisible carbon-monoxide gas from faulty or badly adjusted heating devices. Ecosure is the sensor of choice for the majority of carbon-monoxide detector manufacturers because of its performance, stability, reliability and extended operational life. It is also used in multi-sensor fire detectors to improve their detection reliability and reduce their false alarm rates.

Ecosure is a two-wire electrochemical sensor with inbuilt filtering that protects it from poisons, interfering gases and dust, minimising the possibility of false alarms. Its stability means that instrument manufacturers do not have to provide complex compensation circuitry. The sensors are manufactured in an automated manufacturing facility and comprehensively tested at each intermediate stage during the production process. As a result, the standard deviation in the output of individual sensors is extremely small, again enabling instrument manufacturers to simplify their instrument designs, thereby reducing time to market and improving manufacturability.

In addition to its stability and false-alarm immunity, the sensor quickly responds to the presence of carbon monoxide, reaching T90 in less than 20 seconds. It is mechanically robust, can be installed in any orientation without affecting performance and operates from -10C to +50C with continuous relative humidity ranging from 15 to 90 per cent. More than 10 million households rely on Ecosure.

Monday, April 12, 2010

SGS Seminars Describe Different NDT Certification

SGS recently organised two seminars on personnel certification in the field of non-destructive testing (NDT). Held in the City of Manila, Philippines on 16 March 2010; and in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on 18 March 2010, the seminars were designed to introduce different certification systems. NDT is essential to many industries, including control of welding quality, industrial parts and safety assurance of pressure vessels and pipelines. However, the competence of those carrying out NDT is a vital pre-requisite.

Only qualified personnel can perform a satisfactory inspection, interpret the test results and make critical judgments. Correct certification presents objective evidence of the knowledge and skill level of the person conducting an inspection and therefore confirms whether or not he is qualified. Many certificates are misinterpreted, which leads to people inspecting welds and other products without being suitably qualified.

Seminar attendees were given the chance to take an in-depth look into the world of certification of personnel working in the NDT business. The participants were encouraged to take an active part in the discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of both in-house certification and centrally managed certification schemes such as the well known PCN-certification scheme. Topics included the specific information that should be included on a certificate and what it means to be qualified. The need for high quality, pre-examination training has been emphasised.

Statistics have proven that, when taking examinations directly without attending the pre-examination accredited training, the percentage pass rate is dramatically reduced and many candidates are likely to be unsuccessful. Finally, to end the seminar, individual questions were clarified. Attendees can from now on be more critical about the certificates they review and be better at specifying the required personnel. The seminar was given by Jason Scott, director of the SGS Training and Certification School in China.
Parker Shows Nitrogen-Gas Generators At Total

The Domnick Hunter Industrial Division of Parker Hannifin will be showcasing its latest technology at Total Process and Packaging 2010, held on 25-27 May at NEC Birmingham. On show at the event will be a selection of the company's cost-effective industrial nitrogen-gas generators, which have been proven to increase productivity and profitability in the process and packaging sectors.

The company will be exhibiting its latest Midigas and Maxigas onsite nitrogen-gas generators, designed to provide alternatives to traditional nitrogen sources. These technologies are suitable for use in a range of applications in the process and packaging industry, including modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP), purging, blanketing and pressure transfer. Producing on-demand nitrogen gas from compressed air onsite, the high-performance Midigas and Maxigas ranges are suitable for small-to-medium and medium-to-large nitrogen requirements, respectively.

As a result, customers using the gas generators can make significant reductions in the cost of using nitrogen, with a fast payback on a generator of between 12 and 24 months, and ongoing savings of up to 90 per cent thereafter. In addition, the on-demand functionality of the Midigas and Maxigas generators allows users to overcome the environmental issues associated with road transport of bottled gas and the unpredictability of fluctuating gas prices, while operating from a small compressor facilitates low energy consumption. The systems are fully automatic, making them easy to set up and operate, with the production of nitrogen being determined by the demands of downstream processes.

This greater degree of control helps to limit waste and reduce overall energy consumption, while considerably extending the operating life of the unit, which is typically in excess of 10 years. Similarly, maintenance costs are low, with only routine maintenance required, while the modular design of the Midigas and Maxigas systems enables the installation to be extended as and when nitrogen requirements increase.


Contract-packing specialist Flexpac has called upon Atlet to help optimise performance and efficiency in its new warehouse. The warehouse features a mixture of single- and double-deep racking served by an Atlet ATF ride-on extending fork-reach truck. It offers a combination of storage capacity, load selectivity and throughput to support Flexpac's business. Flexpac has a number of customers in the consumer goods and toiletries sectors, for which it packs promotional, gift and retail transit items needed to support marketing and advertising campaigns. Flexpac was based in north London for many years but in 2007 relocated to Iver, close to the motorway network, when it had outgrown its previous site.

The new warehouse was an empty shell and this allowed the business to devise a materials-handling operation matched to its specific requirement. For many of its larger customers, Flexpac works in batches using items supplied in multiple palletised loads. The aim is to hold stock for as short a time as possible and the main requirement, from a storage and handling perspective, is to ensure enough items can be held on site to maintain throughput and meet delivery schedules. Flexpac approached a number of potential lift-truck suppliers for suggestions on warehouse configuration.

Atlet proposed a combination of single and double-deep racking; this led to 756 pallet locations on four levels arranged along three aisles. An aisle along one side of the warehouse is completely double deep, a central aisle has double-deep racking down one side and single-deep down the other and the third aisle is single-deep only. Duplicate bulk loads are generally stored in the double-deep areas, while individual pallets and items that need to be accessed more often are kept in the single-deep sections. Andrew Holmes, managing director at Flexpac, said: 'We wanted to design the racking to utilise the maximum space.

'Atlet was the only supplier to suggest double deep. 'If you're dealing with lots of different products you wouldn't necessarily go for double deep, but many of our pallets are the same, so this combination works well,' he added. With double-deep, two rows of racking are built along the side of the aisle and pallets placed one behind the other. This helps maximise utilisation of available space and is especially useful when the pallets contain identical products and there are no issues with load selectivity or stock rotation. Going completely double-deep and keeping aisle width to the minimum would have allowed Flexpac to store even more pallets in the warehouse.

But retaining some single-deep racking and widening the aisle slightly provides better load flexibility and helps optimise throughput during peak periods. The racking is located at the rear of the building with a marshalling area in front and a mezzanine along one side of the warehouse. This provides space for the main activities of packing and preparation at ground and first-floor level. In this type of warehouse, pallets are handled using a special type of reach truck with extending forks that can access the rearmost rows of racking. Atlet suggested its compact ATF extending fork-reach truck. The choice of the stand-on version made sense in this situation because operators need to get on and off relatively frequently, which would be less convenient on a seated variant.

The truck is typically used sporadically to move pallets between storage and packing areas, so ease and speed of access are more important and help to promote productivity. Like any single-truck operation, one of the biggest fears is downtime. There is some seasonality in the business, with the busiest period coming in late summer, as customers prepare stock for delivery in time for their Christmas and New Year promotions. This means the truck can be used much more heavily between August and October. The truck's on-board diagnostic computer helps engineers to anticipate any issues before they impact on truck performance.

Atlet provides call-out service support and completes a six-monthly routine maintenance check. The wider aisles in the single-deep area of the warehouse allow the company's counterbalance truck, normally used in the marshalling area and to load and unload transport vehicles, to act as a second handling option during busy periods and as a backup for the reach truck. Even so, in the two years since the Atlet truck was delivered, there has not been a problem.
Deburring Centre Runs Parts De-Rusting Service

Deburring Centre is offering to de-rust parts as a sub-contracting service. Thermal deburring is Deburring Centre's main operation and works by oxidising burrs. The by-product, in the case of steel parts, is an iron-oxide powder - rust - which lightly dusts the parts. If this is left on the parts (for some steels as little as two hours) then, in any moist atmosphere, it can start to etch into the surface and cause major quality issues.

To combat this, Deburring Centre has a 'pickling' plant that is used after thermally deburring steels. The pickling consists of sending the parts through a phosphoric-acid bath to remove the oxide/rust; they then pass through two water washes; and finally a light dewatering oil that gives an indoor shelf life of four months. Phosphoric acid is an industry standard in the de-rusting of parts.