Category Archives: Science

Updates from Siemens

Bearings manufacturer meets stringent accuracy requirements while improving productivity
Siemens – Humankind has been trying to improve the mobility of people and materials by reducing friction between moving parts for centuries. The creators of the pyramids and Stonehenge were able to move massive structures by placing cylindrical wooden rollers beneath great weights to reduce the coefficient of friction and the force required to move them. These world wonders were made possible by some of the earliest known applications of bearings.

Modern bearings with races and balls were first documented in the fifteenth century by Leonardo da Vinci for his helicopter model. Since then, the design, mobility and precision of bearings have developed dramatically in many application domains. In the semiconductor and medical device industries, miniaturization and increasing product complexity have revolutionized motion systems and their components. The precision and accuracy of motion systems are highly dependent on bearings assemblies and how they are integrated into systems. Precisie Metaal Bearings (PM-Bearings) is one of only a few manufacturers in the world that provide high-precision linear bearings.

PM-Bearings specializes in the design and manufacture of high-precision linear bearings, motion systems and positioning stages, and supplies the high-end semiconductor, medical device and machine tool industries. The company was founded in 1966 as a manufacturer of linear bearings, and has expanded to include design, manufacturing and assembly of custommade multi-axis positioning stages with complete mechatronic integration. Located in the Netherlands at Dedemsvaart, the company employs 140 people and supplies customers worldwide.

The company’s products range from very small bearings (10 millimeters in length) up to systems with footprints of 1.2 to 1.5 square meters with stroke lengths of one meter. The portfolio encompasses linear motion components including precision slides, positioning tables and bearings stages. PM-Bearings is part of the PM group, along with other companies specialized in hightech machining. Its global customer base extends from Silicon Valley to Shenzhen.

To maintain a competitive edge, PM-Bearings knew that complete control of the product realization, from design to delivery, was essential. This is why the company chose a comprehensive set of solutions from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens PLM Software. These include NX™ software for computer-aided design (CAD), Simcenter™ software for performance prediction, NX CAM for computer-aided manufacturing and Teamcenter® software for PLM to make certain that all stakeholders use the same data and workflows to make the right decisions. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Why banning plastic bags doesn’t work as intended
Benefits of bag regulations are mitigated by changes in consumer behavior
By Rebecca Stropoli – As well-intentioned bans on plastic shopping bags roll out across the United States, there’s an unintended consequence that policy makers should take into account. It turns out that when shoppers stop receiving free bags from supermarkets and other retailers, they make up for it by buying more plastic trash bags, significantly reducing the environmental effectiveness of bag bans by substituting one form of plastic film for another, according to University of Sydney’s Rebecca L. C. Taylor.

Economists call this phenomenon “leakage”—when partial regulation of a product results in increased consumption of unregulated goods, Taylor writes. But her research focusing on the rollout of bag bans across 139 California cities and counties from 2007 to 2015 puts a figure on the leakage and develops an estimate for how much consumers already reuse those flimsy plastic shopping bags.

This is a live issue. After all those localities banned disposable bags, California outlawed them statewide, in 2016. In April 2019, New York became the second US state to impose a broad ban on single-use plastic bags. Since 2007, more than 240 local governments in the US have enacted similar policies.

She finds that the bag bans reduced the use of disposable shopping bags by 40 million pounds a year. But purchases of trash bags increased by almost 12 million pounds annually, offsetting about 29 percent of the benefit, her model demonstrates. Sales of small trash bags jumped 120 percent, of medium bags, 64 percent, and of tall kitchen garbage bags, 6 percent. Moreover, use of paper bags rose by more than 80 million pounds, or 652 million sacks, she finds. more>

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Why Autonomous Vehicle Developers Are Embracing Open Source

By Chris Wiltz – GM Cruise is turning loose its tool for autonomous vehicle visualization to the open source community for a wider range of applications, including robotics and automation. But its only the latest in a series of similar developments to happen over the course of the year.

This time the General Motors-owned Cruise is open-sourcing Webviz – a web browser-based tool for data visualization in autonomous vehicles and robotics. Webviz is an application capable of managing the petabytes of data from various autonomous vehicle sensors (both in simulation and on the road) and creating 2D and 3D charts, logs, and more in a customizable user interface.

Cruise is making that tool available to engineers in the autonomous vehicle space and beyond. “Now, anyone can drag and drop any [Robot Operating System (ROS)] bag file into Webviz to get immediate visual insight into their robotics data,” Esther Weon, a software engineer at Cruise, wrote in a Medium post.

Difficulties in testing autonomous vehicles have played in a key factor in major automakers rethinking their timetables on the delivery of fully-autonomous vehicles. Simulation is becoming an increasingly common solution in the face of time-consuming real-world road tests. But simulation comes with its own challenges – particularly around data and analysis. A robust autonomous vehicle is going to have to be intelligent enough to navigate and respond to all of the myriad of conditions that a human could encounter – everything from bad weather and road hazards to mechanical failures and even bad drivers.

To create and train vehicles to deal with all of these scenarios requires more data than any one company could feasibly gather on its own in a reasonable time frame.

By open sourcing their tools, companies are looking to leverage the wider community to take part in some of the heavy lifting. more>

How the marvel of electric light became a global blight to health

By Richard G ‘Bugs’ Stevens – Light pollution is often characterized as a soft issue in environmentalism. This perception needs to change. Light at night constitutes a massive assault on the ecology of the planet, including us. It also has indirect impacts because, while 20 per cent of electricity is used for lighting worldwide, at least 30 per cent of that light is wasted. Wasted light serves no purpose at all, and excessive lighting is too often used beyond what is needed for driving, or shopping, or Friday-night football.

The electric light bulb is touted as one of the most significant technological advancements of human beings. It ranks right up there with the wheel, control of fire, antibiotics and dynamite. But as with any new and spectacular technology, there are invariably unintended consequences. With electric light has come an obliteration of night in much of the modern world; both outside in the city, and indoors during what was once ‘night’ according to the natural position of the Sun.

Life has evolved for several billion years with a reliable cycle of bright light from the Sun during the day, and darkness at night. This has led to the development of an innate circadian rhythm in our physiology; that circadian rhythm depends on the solar cycle of night and day to maintain its precision. During the night, beginning at about sunset, body temperature drops, metabolism slows, hunger abates, sleepiness increases, and the hormone melatonin rises dramatically in the blood. This natural physiological transition to night is of ancient origin, and melatonin is crucial for the transition to proceed as it should.

We now know that bright, short-wavelength light – blue light – is the most efficient for suppressing melatonin and delaying transition to night-time physiology; meanwhile, dimmer, longer-wavelength light – yellow, orange, and red, from a campfire or a candle, for example – has very little effect. Bright light from the Sun contains blue light, which is a benefit in the morning when we need to be alert and awake; but whether we are outdoors or indoors, when bright, blue light comes after sunset, it fools the body into thinking it’s daytime.

The current ‘lightmare’ traces back to the 1950s, when a road-building frenzy, including construction of the Interstate Highway System, aimed to solve the problem of congestion in the United States. But the roads turned out to increase congestion and pollution, including light pollution, too. In retrospect, the result was preordained: build a bigger freeway, and more people will use it to the point where there is more congestion than before the new road.

To understand the phenomenon, economists developed the idea of induced demand – in which the supply of a commodity actually creates demand for it. So the more roads one builds, the more people drive on them, and the more that congestion results. more>

Updates from Siemens

Well control equipment: Metal hat, Fireproof coveralls… CFD
nullBy Gaetan Bouzard – In the Oil & Gas industry, the integration of possible risk linked with well control — such as subsea plume, atmospheric dispersion, fire and explosion — is critical for minimizing impact on the entire system or on operations efficiency, and for ensuring worker health and safety. Risk to system integrity must be prevented at the design phase, but also addressed in case hazards happen along equipment lifetime or system in operation.

Last September 25th, Mr. Alistair E. Gill, from company Wild Well Control demonstrates the value of advanced structural and fluid dynamics mechanics simulation for well controls, emergency response and planning, as part of a Live Webinar organized by Siemens and Society of Petroleum Engineers. In this article I will try to summarize his presentation. To have more insights feel free to watch our On-Demand Webinar.

To be honest when talking about well control for Oil & Gas industry, people usual conception is that some disaster happened and guys wearing protections are trying to light off a big fire. Actually companies such as Wild Well Control are using modern and innovative techniques as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation to support practical team on a well control incident trying to keep asset integrity at the same time.

Mr. Gill provides several examples to demonstrate simulation techniques that were used from

  • Subsea plume and gas dispersion modeling to understand where hydrocarbons go in the event of a blow out
  • Radiant heat modeling in case of a fire
  • Erosion modeling
  • Thermal as well as Structural analysis

There is basically three major categories of simulation used, starting with everything related to the flow within the well bore, looking at kick tolerance, dynamic kill or bull heading; next anything to do with 3D flow using CFD simulation which is the main focus of this article; finally structural analysis using Finite Element modeling. more>

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Scholarly publishing is broken. Here’s how to fix it

By Jon Tennant – The world of scholarly communication is broken. Giant, corporate publishers with racketeering business practices and profit margins that exceed Apple’s treat life-saving research as a private commodity to be sold at exorbitant profits. Only around 25 per cent of the global corpus of research knowledge is ‘open access’, or accessible to the public for free and without subscription, which is a real impediment to resolving major problems, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Recently, Springer Nature, one of the largest academic publishers in the world, had to withdraw its European stock market floatation due to a lack of interest. This announcement came just days after Couperin, a French consortium, canceled its subscriptions to Springer Nature journals, after Swedish and German universities canceled their Elsevier subscriptions to no ill effect, besides replenished library budgets. At the same time, Elsevier has sued Sci-Hub, a website that provides free, easy access to 67 million research articles. All evidence of a broken system.

The European Commission is currently letting publishers bid for the development of an EU-wide open-access scholarly publishing platform. But is the idea for this platform too short-sighted?

What the Commission is doing is essentially finding new ways of channeling public funds into private hands.

At the same time, due to the scale of the operation, it prevents more innovative services from getting a foothold into the publishing world. This is happening at the same time as these mega-publishers are moving into controlling the entire research workflow – from ideation to evaluation. Researchers will become the provider, the product, and the consumer. more>

Updates from Ciena

SD-WAN Gets (More) Real for Service Providers

By Kevin Wade – Interest in Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), which is designed to offer enterprises cohesive end-to-end visibility and control of their multi-site WAN, continues to grow. Although SD-WAN was originally envisioned to give enterprises a ‘DIY’ approach to WAN management, most industry analysts and experts agree that managed SD-WAN services are the predominant consumption model for enterprises today, and into the foreseeable future.

The trend toward managed SD-WAN services is good news for service providers, many of which were initially cautious that SD-WAN might reduce their revenues and/or weaken their relationships with key business customers. To the contrary, SD-WAN services have emerged as a rapidly growing new source of revenues, as well as one that offers service providers new opportunities to improve the customer experience.

I’ve been following the SD-WAN movement closely since nearly the beginning, and have been pleased to see some recent developments that signal the increasing maturity of SD-WAN services.

Without a doubt, SD-WAN services are becoming more established and accepted. And while Blue Planet isn’t inherently an SD-WAN solution, the deployment of SD-WAN services is one of Blue Planet’s biggest drivers and most common use cases. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Gruppo Campari: Brand spirits leader digitizes its business operations with the SIMATIC IT suite
Using Siemens technology, Gruppo Campari has created a unified repository for all product specifications and increased the efficiency of product development and manufacturing processes
Siemens – With so much talk about securing the Italian control of key businesses, a few companies play offense and take the Italian lifestyle and “Made in Italy” all over the world. Among them is Gruppo Campari, which closed 26 acquisitions in the spirits industry in the past two decades to become the world’s sixth player, with over 50 premium and super-premium brands. Besides aperitifs of international renown (Campari, Aperol), the portfolio includes bitter liqueurs (Averna, Cynar, Braulio) and spirits (Skyy, Grand Marnier, GlenGrant, Wild Turkey, Appleton). In 2016 the group exceeded €1.7 billion in consolidated revenues, with most sales in Americas and the Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa (SEMEA) region.

With each acquisition, Gruppo Campari needs to integrate new products, plants and assets into its operations management systems. Recent examples include J. Wray & Nephew, a company with more than 2,000 employees producing Jamaica’s 225-yearold top rum Appleton Estate, Grand Marnier in France acquired in 2016 and Bulldog London Dry Gin in 2017. Currently, the group operates 58 sites: 18 owned factories, 22 co-packers and 18 distribution centers, counting up to thousands of materials and specifications.

The turning point for the management of such a complex and constantly evolving organization came in 2012. Until then, Gruppo Campari had maintained an unstructured approach to the management of product specifications, which were created locally using Microsoft Word documents or Microsoft Excel® spreadsheets. Besides creating documents in different formats and languages, there was no standard workflow for document authoring and validation, and information was shared via email or phone.

In 2012, the Group launched an extensive digitalization of operation processes, selecting SIMATIC IT Interspec from Siemens PLM Software, a configurable solution for product specification management in process industries, and embracing the Siemens “digitalization” philosophy.

SIMATIC IT Interspec allows the company to develop, configure and manage all product specifications (raw materials, intermediate and finished products and packaging materials), storing all specifications in a single, controlled data repository. more>

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Updates from Georgia Tech

He Quieted Deafening Jets
By Ben Brumfield – In 1969, the roar of a passing jet airliner broke a bone in Carolyn Brobrek’s inner ear, as she sat in the living room of her East Boston home. Many flights took off too close to rooftops then, but even at a distance, jet engines were a notorious source of permanent hearing loss.

For decades, Krishan Ahuja tamed jet noise, for which the National Academy of Engineering elected him as a new member this year. Today, Ahuja is an esteemed researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, but he got his start more than 50 years ago as an engineering apprentice in Rolls Royce’s aero-engine division, eventually landing in its jet noise research department.

Jet-setters had been a rare elite, but early in Ahuja’s career in the 1970s, air travel went mainstream, connecting the globe. The number of flights multiplied over the years, and jet engine thrust grew stronger, but remarkably, human exposure to passenger jet noise in the same time period plummeted to a fraction of what it had once been, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ahuja not only had a major hand in it, he also has felt the transition himself.

“In those days, if jets went over your house and you were outside, you’d feel like you needed to put your hands over your ears. Not today,” said Ahuja, who is a Regents Researcher at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and Regents Professor in Georgia Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Trouble-to-Resolve: Assure Layer 3 Service Performance in Minutes
By Don Jacob – Service provider networks have come a long way from the flat networks of yesteryear. Today, they are highly complex with multiple hierarchies and layers, while running a plethora of services and technologies. Providers use the same underlying network to cater to different applications, ranging from financial applications to streaming video, each with its own unique performance and fault-tolerance requirements.

In this complex scenario, how can service providers assure performance of their Layer 3 services, to verify that services are being delivered and ensure customer satisfaction? Take the case of a service provider who’s providing MPLS services to hundreds of customers. Let us look at how the network engineer managing a service provider network handles a routing issue without a routing analytics solution.

Today, when a customer raises a ticket for a reachability or service delivery problem, the provider manually analyzes the issue, making their trouble-to-resolve process long and time consuming.

To start with, if the customer raises the trouble ticket while a connectivity issue is in progress, the first thing the provider needs to know is the routing path taken by the service. This requires the network engineer finding the source router and then running a traceroute from that router to determine all the hops along the path. Once the routers along the path have been identified, they would then log into each router to understand its performance.

This process is repeated on all routers along the path until the problematic router or link is identified. more>

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