Engineering companies struggling to find and keep talented young workers

engineering graduates
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To anyone looking for work, it might sound strange to hear that some sectors of the economy are struggling to find and retain workers, but that’s the situation many engineering companies find themselves in. 

Finding, educating, training and retaining talented young people is not just a dilemma for engineering companies in one region or country, it’s a global issue.

But, paradoxically, while companies in some countries say there’s a problem finding engineering graduates, in other countries such as India, large numbers of engineering graduates are reportedly not having much luck finding jobs.

In those countries where there is a shortage, such as Germany and maybe the US, it’s not at crisis levels yet, but it’s a complication that large industrial companies are trying to alleviate in a variety of ways.  Continue reading Engineering companies struggling to find and keep talented young workers

Opinion: Is digitalisation the key to remote plant operation?

3d printing

By Eric Duchesne, SVP technology experts for Total, who will be addressing at the ERTC Ask the Experts conference in Cologne on 20-21 June 

There have been many advances in the field of digitalisation in recent years.

As the industry moves towards remote operation it is plant optimisation and integrity management which will provide the tools to enhance safety and anticipate potential problems within the plant, ensuring that the right human assets and replacement parts are available when required.

Today, there’s lots of talk about big data, but before we start to consider how we use big data we can dramatically improve the performance of our plants through the more effective interpretation of data that already exists. We need to become proactive rather than reactive.  Continue reading Opinion: Is digitalisation the key to remote plant operation?

Elsevier launches four new academic books about robotics

library books

Elsevier has launched four new books in the area of robotics. 

The publisher says the books are “ideal” and “perfect” resources for researchers and practitioners in the relevant sectors.  Continue reading Elsevier launches four new academic books about robotics

NarrativeWave claims first of its kind IIoT platform


Today, large industrial assets, such as airplane engines and gas turbines, generate data through sensors.

In fact, there are around 6 billion connected sensors in the world today and by 2020, more than 20 billion sensors will be connected worldwide, according to Gartner.

During a commercial airline flight, data such as the engine’s health and status is sent to diagnostic engineers to be closely analyzed.

Approximately 1,000 gigabytes of data are generated per flight and with over 100,000 flights per day, this equates to over 100,000,000 gigabytes of commercial flight data every day.

That is what you call BIG data.

While big data can be a curse to manage, it is becoming the most critical asset. Continue reading NarrativeWave claims first of its kind IIoT platform

UK-based robotics and automation systems designer Tharsus expands operations

Steve Flowers and Glen Aitchison at NetPark
Steve Flowers and Glen Aitchison at NetPark

Tharsus Group, a 50-year-old UK-based designer and manufacturer of automation and robotics equipment, has expanded its operations by opening a new office in County Durham, in north England. 

The Northumberland-based business, which delivers commercial robotics and automated solutions to some of the world’s leading companies, opened an office at the North East Technology Park (NetPark) in Sedgefield, as part of an initiative to widen its access to the North East’s talented pool of engineering professionals.

The new office will primarily be used as a base to develop the software that is essential to the operation of Tharsus’s robotic solutions. It will also be a centre for further expanding the company’s core knowledge of robotics, in line with its 2017 business strategy.  Continue reading UK-based robotics and automation systems designer Tharsus expands operations

Reality ain’t what it used to be: The Sword of Damocles gets a reboot

Leroy Spence, head of sales development at industrial spares supplier EU Automation, looks at how AR and VR are changing the world of manufacturing

The Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens and even Google Cardboard are a far stretch from the first virtual reality headset, created in 1968 by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland.

The concoction was called the Sword of Damocles and, because of its formidable size and weight, had to be anchored to the ceiling so it didn’t crush the user.

Almost 50 years later, we are only now seeing VR and augmented reality being used in manufacturing environments.  Continue reading Reality ain’t what it used to be: The Sword of Damocles gets a reboot

Daimler develops ways for industrial robots and factories to save energy under Areus project

Saving energy has been a serious preoccupation of many industrial companies for many years, but especially in recent years with prices of fuel fluctuating and public concern about the environment growing. 

In the auto manufacturing sector, which buys the most number of industrial robots and uses vast amounts of energy, companies such as Kuka have been looking to make their automation systems more energy efficient.

Now, in the European Union, a project called Automation and Robotics for European Sustainable Manufacturing, or Areus, says it has developed the components of an energy-efficient automobile production system of the future.  Continue reading Daimler develops ways for industrial robots and factories to save energy under Areus project

Top five causes of PLC control system failure


Boulting Technology has released an infographic to help engineers mitigate problems with programmable logic controller (PLC) based control systems. The handy guide highlights the top five causes of failure and can be downloaded free from the Boulting Technology website

PLC-based control systems are invaluable to a manufacturing or processing business because they control and regulate critical production systems and processes.

A failed control system can cause significant plant downtime and is likely to be extremely costly; it can also create a hazardous situation when the system is controlling a critical process.  Continue reading Top five causes of PLC control system failure

Robotiq launches community for robotics professionals

robotiq dof

Robotiq has launched an open community – called DoF – where industrial automation professionals can share their know-how and get answers to accelerate their robotics projects. 

DoF, which stands for degrees of freedom, is meant as a medium for sharing ideas and solving automation problems, says Robotiq.

Samuel Bouchard, CEO of Robotiq, says: “We realized that the know-how is locked in the head of automation engineers who can’t talk to each other because they are far apart, focused on making their factory run.

“This is why we created this online community, to bring industrial automation pros together so they can help each other with their automation projects and stop reinventing the wheel on their own.”  Continue reading Robotiq launches community for robotics professionals

National Instruments launches new version of LabView

national instruments labview

Latest version of LabView features 500+ new supported instruments, five new 64-bit add-ons, supports improved Python integration

National Instruments, a provider of platform-based testing systems that enable engineers and scientists, has launched LabView 2016 system design software.

NI says it empowers engineers to simplify development and effectively integrate software from the ecosystem into their systems.

The latest version of LabView introduces new channel wires to simplify complex communication between parallel sections of code. Available on both desktop and real-time versions of LabView, the channel wire method helps improve code readability and reduces development time.  Continue reading National Instruments launches new version of LabView

Dassault Systèmes to acquire CST

Dassault Systèmes has entered into an agreement to acquire Computer Simulation Technology, a provider of electromagnetic and electronics simulation, for approximately €220 million. 

With the acquisition of CST, based near Frankfurt, Germany, Dassault Systèmes will complement its industry solution experiences for realistic multiphysics simulation on the 3DExperience platform with full spectrum electromagnetic simulation.

CST’s Studio Suite software is used by designers and engineers at more than 2,000 leading companies in the high-tech, transportation and mobility, aerospace and defense, and energy industries to evaluate all types of electromagnetic effects during every stage of electronic system design processes.  Continue reading Dassault Systèmes to acquire CST

How motion systems transform airline seating from cramped into comfortable

actuators and airline seats


As the demand for air travel keeps on growing, so does the needs of the passengers that come aboard.

Aero planes tend to have very limited space for which much of the facilities have to be fitted in and made to the standards that the customers are willing to pay for.

As such, engineers are tasked with figuring out how best they bring about that element without compromising on the size of the air craft and safety among others, while maintaining the economic aspect of the airline owners.  Continue reading How motion systems transform airline seating from cramped into comfortable

A new dawn of car tech: customization through software, not hardware


Three ways entrepreneurs can bring the rate of progress we’ve seen in computing and communication to car tech.

Throughout much of early-to-mid 20th century, cutting-edge design and technology found its way into cars. Following the invention of the integrated circuit, chips and bits started displacing pistons and gears in the hearts and minds of engineers.

Silicon Valley’s gravitational force began stripping Motor City of its talent, compounding with the success of every tech startup. Not long after the birth of the Internet, Silicon Valley experienced unencumbered prosperity, while Detroit struggled to hold on for dear life.

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Tend claims ‘world’s first’ hardware-agnostic cloud platform for industrial robots

A startup company in the US, founded by a group of computer and artificial intelligence experts, claims to have launched the world’s first cloud robotics platform which can be made to work with any industrial robot or device. says its cloud environment – which is being offered as an online software-as-a-service, on a monthly subscription basis – can connect and work with any brand of robot and can also hook up such things as smartphones and other devices, such as webcams.

This means that any brand of robots can be made to do any number and variety of tasks – the data for which is stored in the cloud – without having to be tended to by a human. The group have demonstrated the system by programming the robots to perform 3D printing tasks.

In exclusive comments to Robotics and Automation News, Mark Silliman, CEO, says the company has been in “stealth mode” for some time (possibly because of paranoia about security) and this information is only being released now.

Silliman says: “ makes cloud robotics for machine tending a reality. It’s compatible with both Universal Robots and Rethink robots, as well as many more soon.”  Continue reading Tend claims ‘world’s first’ hardware-agnostic cloud platform for industrial robots

‘Nobody understands me,’ moans Industry 4.0

imeche Factory_Automation_Robotics_Palettizing_Bread

Only 8 per cent of UK manufacturers have a significant understanding of Industry 4.0 processes despite 59 per cent recognising that the fourth industrial revolution will have a big impact on the sector, according to a new report published today by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO in association with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

As the increasing use of automation, data exchange, technology and wider supply chain communications driven by Industry 4.0 provides both huge opportunities and threats to UK manufacturing, there remains a “gaping hole” in the education and understanding of Industry 4.0, says the report.

According to the BDO/IMechE study, increased productivity, better data analysis, increased competitiveness and lower manufacturing costs are the top ways in which Industry 4.0 will affect UK manufacturing. Continue reading ‘Nobody understands me,’ moans Industry 4.0