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The past and the future
1st Quarter 2012, News & events


All the best for the new year, may it be a good one for all our readers.

A crystal ball

It is always fun at the start of a new year to see what predictions have been made for the future but I often wonder about the accuracy of these forecasts. So it was with great interest that I came across some predictions published in 1900 by an American engineer called John Elfreth Watkins about what the world would be like in 2000. He began the article with the words: “These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible,” and 10 of his predictions were startlingly accurate. They included the advent of digital colour photography (photographs will be telegraphed from any distance); mobile phones (wireless telegraph circuits will span the world); television (man will see around the world); and tanks (huge forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of express trains).

Inspired by Watkins, the BBC recently came up with its vision for 2112. Futurists give a 100% chance to the following ‘strange, almost impossible’ ideas: we will be able to communicate through thought transmission; we will be wired to computers to make our brains faster; nanorobots will flow around our bodies fixing cells and recording our memories; we will have nuclear fusion; and we will be able to control the weather.

I am not sure I want to be around for some of these, but there are some new technologies which are going to be a reality in the very short term. One of these is 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, which is set to revolutionise the world of manufacturing, which we cover in our story on ‘How to print a control valve’.

Nothing but the best

BMG Hydraulics chooses only the best when it decides whom to represent. Our ‘Cover Story’ is about BMG’s latest range of hoses and fittings from the world class RYCO Hydraulics.

A rich harvest

Agriculture is our industry feature in this issue and we have a story about the winning entry in the Pneudrive Challenge, which is sponsored by Festo and SEW-Eurodrive. The top team from Stellenbosch University delivered an impressive design for a high speed, accurate and selective apple packing machine designed to improve the marketability of boxed apples. The students noted that Festo’s fin gripper, which we also feature, would be ideal for this application. There is another one about how Sauer-Danfoss upgraded an entire range of combine harvesters to a propel system based on its H1 pumps.

Virtual flying

We have plenty of features on drives, including one on new torque motors from Siemens and another on inverted tooth conveyor chains from Tectra. A complete eye opener to me was Simulflight’s flight simulator, which uses a PC-based controller from Beckhoff Automation to manage the challenging I/O requirements. Having tried it out myself I can vouch that the flying experience is completely realistic.

Pneumatic conveyors and valves

At a SAFPA technical evening last year Dr Stephen Meijers from ELB Engineering gave a fascinating talk on pneumatic conveyors and we cover this for those who did not make the talk. On the subject of pneumatics we also cover valves from Axiom Hydraulics and Pneumatic Electric Control Systems (PECS).

Miniature hydraulics

On the hydraulics side we have an advanced electrohydraulic cylinder from Parker Hannifin. We also describe a new research area called mesofluidics, or miniaturised hydraulics. This is the application of millimetre to centimetre sized hydraulics to problems that require substantial amounts of power to be generated and applied in a limited space, and researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA have shrunk the technology down by orders of magnitude.

A new electronic newsletter

We are introducing a new guest column called Fluid Power Tips by international columnist Josh Cosford from The Fluid Power House in Canada. The first one is printed in this issue and will be followed up in our electronic newsletter, Newsbrief. This now has a new format which we hope will be more readable and easily accessible. In future our online Newsbrief will go out monthly and will contain the features and news published in the most recent hard copy of Motion Control, which is also now available in e-book form, complete with electronic page turning. Having also recently been dragged into the world of tablets, I would like to mention that both these can be accessed on Blackberry, Android, Kindle or iPad. To subscribe to Newsbrief at no cost please send an e-mail to brianj@technews.co.za

Kim Roberts, Editor


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Further reading:

  • The machines are talking: tomorrow’s manufacturing
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    The Zest WEG Group is positioning itself to become a regional hub of WEG, with subsidiary company Shaw Controls set to become the number one panel builder and systems integrator in Africa,” says Louis ...
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    Letaba Industrial Pumps, a division of the Set Point Group, has recently donated 12 positive displacement and centrifugal industrial pumps worth R100 000 to Ithemba Institute of Technology’s FET College. ...
  • PneuDrive Challenge focuses on food and beverage
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    SEW-Eurodrive and Pneumax, co-sponsors of thePneuDrive Challenge, have announced that students will need to design a ‘game changer’ for the food and beverage industry in 2015. By challenging young mechanical, ...
  • BMG acquires Klep Valves
    1st Quarter 2015, BMG - Bearing Man Group, News & events
    BMG has extended its operations in the fluid technology sector with the recent acquisition of Klep Valves. “This strategic acquisition follows an 18 month period where Klep Valves supported BMG in our ...
  • Parker Hannifin signs agreement with Oilserv
    1st Quarter 2015, Parker Hannifin (Africa), News & events
    Parker Hannifin has signed a strategic agreement with Oilserv Group, which will ensure the distribution of Parker products for the oil and gas, power, food and beverage and industrial markets in the West ...
  • Festo’s bold strategic decisions
    1st Quarter 2015, Festo, News & events
    Festo South Africa had an exciting year in 2014, engaging in some bold strategic moves. The company has a long-term perspective that recognises the importance of developing, maintaining and expanding ...
  • Festo hosts WorldSkills mechatronic finals
    1st Quarter 2015, Festo, News & events
    The WorldSkills competition is an international platform that promotes the importance of skilled workers and the need for them in industry. Festo supported the WorldSkills 2014 competition by hosting ...
  • Cyber Junkyard contest 2014
    1st Quarter 2015, Siemens Industry Automation & Drives Technologies, News & events
    The 2014 Siemens Cyber Junkyard Challenge was won by the team from the College of Cape Town. Participants built an automated coffee bean roaster which has already secured commercial attention. The RGB52 ...
  • Hytec on the doorstep of gold mining
    1st Quarter 2015, Hytec (Afripower), News & events
    Hytec’s partnership with Tramtrade has positioned the group in the centre of Carletonville-Westonaria’s gold mining hub. As the official distributor of Hytec’s hydraulic, pneumatic and drive control products, ...

 
 
 
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