Monthly Archives: June 2020

Weaving harnesses to clothes pegs, smart cards to plaster dowels

Back in my old engineering days I spent a lot of time in factories – usually having a guided tour. Even though I was there to sell something, the factory manager would invariably be very proud of his or her production facility and enjoy showing someone around. I enjoy learning about machines so was a willing participant (besides the fact that it also got me out of having to so actual work!) Back in those days I was selling industrial knives abroad so was looking around factories such as Tayto in Ireland Bosal in Belgium, but the one thing all of these factories had in common was they had a production line with machines using knives.

assembly machines

One of my favourite factories I visited in my engineering time was a newspaper production facility just outside Dublin. Seeing the newspapers flying along above your head was incredible and learning about the machines was fascinating. I also had no idea before about how abrasive paper can be – the cropping knives need to be replaced very regularly! In more recent times, one of my favourite factories I’ve visited has been a brewery bottling facility. Getting your favourite bitter into a can or bottle really isn’t a straightforward as you’d imagine, however, some would argue that no matter the complexity, it’s still worth it!

It’s amazing to think that a lot of the machines you’ll find in a modern factory may not exist anywhere else in the same form. They’re not something that you choose from a catalogue or pick off a shelf. Yes, many are similar but many special purpose machines are actually a bespoke assembly machine that are made to order to do a certain task based on the individual requirements of each factory. And there are some very specialist companies producing these machine too for example, producing assemble machines to make screws for earrings, irrigation drippers, for weaving harnesses, for clothes pegs, for breathalysers, gas lighter valves, smart cards, keys and locks, and plaster dowels. Next time you enjoy your packet of Walkers, think of the amount of work that have gone into the machines that made them for you

Company profile – Aquatique Show

If you’ve ever visited Disney Land, or any other theme park for that matter, you will have seen a water feature. These are anything from small fountains to huge dancing water shows and they’re often loved by the crowds (certainly the younger members of the audience and the older visitors!) But have you ever given a thought to the design and installation of these attractions? Imagine the complexity of the piping, let alone the pump systems and software that control the water and lights. It’s no wonder then that it takes a specialist company such as the Strasbourg based Aquatique Show to produce, install and maintain them.

Aquatique Show were established in 1979 and began presenting 2 to 5 shows per week in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany. Their first exports outside of Europe began in 1989 with an installation for the Bicentenary of Australia. One of their best claims to fame was the creation if the biggest water show in Europe at Futuroscope Park, Poitiers, in France, in 1991, before presenting their aquatic shows throughout the Middle East in 1998 including the Dubai Shopping Festival. In 2001 they made their first installations of water shows in China before the installation of the world’s largest temporary show in Wolfsburg for Volkswagen in 2007.

With a focus on continually producing new and innovative new shows with a focus on new movements, new textures and more powerful lighting effects on their water effects, Aquatique Show continue to be one of the world’s leading designers and producers of water shows. Their amazing water special effect continues to wow crowds throughout the world, with the creation of water effect effect year-on-year. These water features are usually tailor-made, however, there are some standardised displays allowing for more consistent production. For more information see their website.

The world of ultra-sound machines

You learn something new every day in my line of work and today was no exception. We’re all no doubt familiar with ultrasound machines (no jokes about Mancunians, please!) as they’re a common feature in any modern hospital, used primarily as a very quick way to look inside the human body in real-time.

The potential for ultrasonic imaging was first recorded as being recognized by Sokolov in 1939, but techniques of the time produced relatively low-contrast images with poor sensitivity. Ultrasonic imaging, on the other hand, uses frequencies of 2 megahertz and higher meaning the shorter wavelength allows resolution of smaller internal details in tissues.

Ultrasound machines use sound waves with frequencies higher than the upper audible limit of human hearing. According to Wikipedia, “ultrasound is not different from ’normal’ (or audible) sound in its physical properties, except that humans cannot hear it. This limit varies from person to person and is approximately 20 kilohertz (20,000 hertz) in healthy young adults. Ultrasound devices operate with frequencies from 20 kHz up to several gigahertz. Ultrasound is used in many different fields. Ultrasonic devices are used to detect objects and measure distances. Ultrasound imaging or sonography is often used in medicine. In the non-destructive testing of products and structures, ultrasound is used to detect invisible flaws. Industrially, ultrasound is used for cleaning, mixing, and accelerating chemical processes. Animals such as bats and porpoises use ultrasound for locating prey and obstacles. Scientists are also studying ultrasound using graphene diaphragms as a method of communication.

If you own or use a modern medical ultra-sound machine it’s likely that it’ll breakdown at some point or other and you’ll need to get it repaired. For such complex and valuable machines, the probes repair obviously needs to be carried out by experts – one of which is a company called PRS which is based in Lyon, France (a beautiful city I’m very familiar with) who specialise in GE Ultrasound repair