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Recent weeks have witnessed the announcement of the latest winner of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

This prestigious award is a global £1 million prize, which celebrates the achievements of engineers responsible for ground-breaking feats of innovation that are of global benefit to humanity. As such, the award is also designed to be the “Nobel prize for engineering”.

This year’s winner is Professor Robert Langer, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who was recognised for his pioneering work on drug delivery systems, microchip implants and tissue building.

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Professor Langer is the head of the largest academic engineering department in the world, and to date his work has been cited over 170,000 times; making him the most cited engineer in the world.

Professor Langer is undeniably a worthy winner, and according to the BBC it’s believed that as many as 2 billion people across the world have been touched in some way by the technologies developed by him and his team.

Back in the 1970s, despite facing huge scepticism from the medical establishment, Professor Langer pioneered the design of special polymer microspheres, capable of slowly releasing medications in a controlled way in order to treat conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

More recently, Langer’s work has included the development of special implants designed to release a specific dose of a given drug over a period of years. Remarkably, these also have the potential to be controlled remotely by wireless signals.

This is only the second time that the prize has been awarded. The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering was created back in 2013 as a way of celebrating engineering and highlighting Britain’s pre-eminence in this important field. The previous winners of the prize were the 5 pioneers of the internet; including developer of the World Wide Web, Tim Burners Lee.

In addition to celebrating the achievements of some of the world’s most talented engineers, the prize, which is a UK initiative, was also established with the hopes of inspiring more young people to become engineers.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we’re proud to be a part of the engineering industry here in the UK and welcome initiatives such as this; designed to highlight the groundbreaking achievements made by engineers across the globe.

We’re suppliers of a fantastic range of engineering products, including an array of high quality Boschert devices. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today by giving us a call on 01926 411 544 and a member of our expert team will be happy to assist you with your enquiries.

Metamaterials are an innovative new breed of artificial material, designed to have special properties which are not found anywhere else in nature.

Here, we’ll take a close look at these amazing materials and see how they are helping engineers to take steps towards achieving revolutionary feats, such as invisibility.

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For generations, the concept of invisibility has captivated the human imagination and has been a common feature in works of science fiction and, of course, Harry Potter too.

In recent years, scientists and engineers have made great headway in developing so-called invisibility cloaks, which (as the name suggests) are capable of cloaking objects so that they are no longer visible.

In order to be truly invisible an object must accomplish two things. Firstly, it has to be able to bend light around itself, such that it casts no shadow, and secondly it must produce no reflection. Hence, developing materials capable of cloaking objects so they appear invisible will depend on our ability to manipulate light.

In order to achieve this rather impressive feat, scientists have been developing special materials, known as metamaterials, which are specially engineered to have properties that do not occur naturally.

These metamaterials have a variety of special properties; for example, they are able to interact with light and sound in unusual ways. Some of these even have the ability to bend electromagnetic radiation such as light around an object, making it appear as if the object isn’t even there!

The tiny structures that make up metamaterials are arranged in complex geometric patterns, in which the spacing between elements is smaller than the wavelength of light. Thanks to this design, they are capable of guiding light around an object, much in the same way that a rock diverts water in a stream. These materials are also capable of bending light backwards in a process known as negative refraction.

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Early metamaterials were only capable of interfering with long wavelength radiation, such as microwaves.

Whilst metamaterials capable of fully cloaking objects on the visible spectrum have yet to be developed, we are now closer than ever to seeing this achieved, and some have even claimed that invisibility cloaks will be a reality in our lifetime.

It will be interesting to see what further exciting developments will be made using metamaterials in the years ahead, and also how this will impact on the field of engineering.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we’re passionate about engineering and are suppliers of a wide range of engineering products including Boston Gear solutions. For more information about our range of products and services, please don’t hesitate to contact us by giving us a call on 01926 411 544 and a member of our expert team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.

The great bridges of the world are among the highest achievements in the engineering industry, requiring extensive planning, particularly in terms of safety, as well as ideas surrounding structure and design. One of the most famous bridges in the world is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA. The Golden Gate Bridge is among engineering’s greatest accomplishments, spanning approximately 1.7 miles across the stretch of water between San Francisco and Marin County, and taking over 4 years to build. Read on to find out more…

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Nowhere to cross

Before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, travellers were restricted to using a ferry if they wished to travel between San Francisco and Marin County, with a trip taking just under half an hour. With San Francisco being the largest city in America that was still serviced primarily by ferries for the transportation of both people and cargo, there was a lot of demand for a bridge to be built.

High winds and strong currents

Many believed that building a bridge across the Golden Gate would be impossible due to frequent high winds and strong currents, as well as the substantial distance across. Engineers were posed with a significant challenge when establishing plans for the bridge, having to carefully calculate how the bridge would be structured in order to weather the extreme conditions, as well as planning how construction could take place in such a dangerous and unpredictable environment.

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Construction

Beginning in January 1933 and ending in April 1937 (and costing over $35 million), the Golden Gate Bridge was constructed by the McClintic-Marshall Construction Company and overseen by Joseph Strauss, who is credited as coming up with the innovative idea of movable safety netting to protect falling workers; an excellent example of safety engineering. The bridge was constructed using approximately 1.2 million steel rivets and finished ahead of time and under budget, opening on May 27, 1937.

The Golden Gate Bridge is truly an impressive feat of engineering, and is one of the most famous structures in the world. It is these feats that show how remarkable the engineering industry can be. However, smaller feats still require quality materials. If you are looking for quality drives and transmission equipment from Boschert and other manufacturers, contact Motion Drives and Controls today on 01926 411 544 or email sales@motion.uk.com.

Despite managing to avoid another recession in 2014, Europe is forecasted to have a slow manufacturing growth in 2015.

Due to decelerated export growth and a lack of government funding, experts expect European manufacturing to grow only 2% throughout 2015. In this blog post we’ll be looking at why this growth will be so slow and what this will mean for manufacturers in Europe.

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Compared to some of the previous recession-hit years, 2014 was an okay year to be in manufacturing. A wage rise in the middle of the year kept consumer expenditures good and firms generally had a positive outlook on the growth that they would experience.

However, the growth that European manufacturing is facing is still not expected to reach the levels that everybody will have been hoping for. A lack of monetary input from European governments lead to a decelerated export growth as demand from Russia, the Middle East and Asia fell. Another cause of slow growth in European manufacturing in 2014 is the lack of jobs created. Although some were created, job creation was not at a level that anybody had hoped for.

 

With all this being said, the future of manufacturing in Europe is not set in stone. Elections that are being help in countries such as Denmark, Finland, Poland and Spain in 2015 will almost certainly impact the manufacturing growth. The results of these elections could possibly have an effect on the Trans-Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership that would help to increase exports from Europe. The Russia-Ukraine conflict will also pose a risk and the sanctions placed on Russia may be altered.

 

So what impact will this slow growth have on manufacturers? Well, the effects won’t be catastrophic. Although the growth is slow, there still is somewhat of a growth and this means that things are still heading in the right direction. Manufacturers may still have to work hard to sell products, and may not be hiring as many people as they would like to, but they’ll certainly have a better time than during the recession. With the ability to increase the growth mainly in the hands of politicians, manufacturers will simply have to grit and bare this slow growth until it speeds up.

 

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we have a brilliant range of high quality engineering products, including some excellent Boston gear devices. For more information about the products that we supply, please don’t hesitate to contact us today on 01926 411 544 and a member of our team will be happy to help you.

There have been many majorly impressive feats of engineering throughout history, but perhaps the most acclaimed should be those feats that save countless lives. Engineers are the ‘problem solvers’ of the world, and as such they’re frequently called upon to tackle pressing or hazardous issues. Many notable life-saving feats of engineering might be extremely welcome in the areas where they are being used, but the world at large recognises them to a lesser extent. So it is with the Dutch Delta Works. Good thing that our series is here to set the record straight! Read on to find out more…

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The Need for a Sea Defence

Historically, the estuaries of the rivers Rhine, Scheldt and Meuse have been prone to flooding for centuries, and people who live in the localities around these waters have usually had to co-exist with these problems as best they can. However, back in 1953, a major flood in Holland was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1,800 people, and it became clear that a sea defence system could no longer be avoided. The obvious solution was to block the Antwerp and Rotterdam estuaries and minimise water in the dyke systems; a simple concept, perhaps, but far more complex in reality.

The Construction Process

Fundamentally, the entire coastline of the area needed to be adjusted to attempt this feat, and the fact that this project was embraced is all the more amazing given the fact that parts of it are designed to combat a one-in-ten-thousand year surge. In Britain, the Thames barrier can claim to be equipped for a one-in-one-thousand year emergency, but the scale of the Dutch undertaking is off the scale. What’s more, the amendments need to be ongoing, as rising sea levels are still expected.

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Until the climax of the Second World War, no action was taken, but once this obstacle was cleared a number of estuaries were dammed, major flood risk areas were shielded in ‘ring areas’, the lengths of some dykes were reduced and others were even turned into freshwater lakes. It took 50 years of construction for the works to be declared as finished, although actually another decade or more was needed to truly draw a line under the project. A long old haul, but well worth the time and effort.

Engineering is undoubtedly at its best when it’s serving in a life-saving capacity like this, but that’s not to say that the ordinary and everyday technical problems that it solves are unimportant. Power transmission solutions from manufacturers like Boschert do this on a daily basis, and at Motion Drives and Controls we’re ideally placed to provide a broad range of these devices. If you’d like to find out more, please contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or email sales@motion.uk.com.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we are passionate about engineering and like to keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from this exciting field. A topic we have touched upon on before is the issue of the impending engineering skills crisis. This issue has created a large amount of debate within the engineering community, and remains a hot topic within this important field.

According to a number of reports this week, there have been fresh concerns regarding the future of engineering here in the UK. As reported by the BBC, new predictions suggest that the UK economy could miss out on as much as £27 billion a year, over the next decade; if not enough young people train to become engineers.

These concerns were raised in a report titled ‘The State of Engineering’, produced by Engineering UK. The report, which is produced on an annual basis, includes a detailed analysis of the engineering sector here in the UK and provides plenty of food for thought. For example, the report also highlights that as many as 55,000 jobs will need to be filled each year in order to meet the demand for workers with engineering skills.

Luckily, there are a number of new initiatives currently in play aiming to help tackle this problem, by encouraging more your people to consider a career in engineering. For example, the Science Museum in London recently announced the launch of a new exhibition designed to inspire the next generation of engineers. The exhibition titled ‘Engineer Your Future’ aims to bring engineering to life for young people through a series of interactive displays and exhibits.

Other initiatives include the ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers’ programme which works alongside employers, businesses, and industry leaders, to help schools integrate engineering into the current curriculum. It is hoped that this coordinated approach will have a much greater impact helping to drive forward real change.

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It remains to be seen what the future will hold for the engineering industry, though there’s no denying that this highly dynamic and innovative field will continue to make a vital and growing contribution to the economy here in the UK.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls we are suppliers of a range of high quality engineering products, including Boston gear devices. For more information about our range of products, please do not hesitate to contact us today, by giving us a call on 01926 411 544, and a member of our expert team will be happy to assist you with your enquiries.

On behalf of everyone here at Motion Drives and Controls, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our valued customers a very happy New Year. Whatever the future may hold, we hope it brings you every success, and we’re certainly looking forward to a great 2015.

However, it’s definitely a case of ‘business as usual’ for us, and so we’re cracking on with our ongoing series by looking at a collection of artificial islands. In essence, what we have here is a genuine man-made archipelago, which makes you wonder why more people haven’t heard of it. Dubbed ‘The World Islands’, this quirky construct looks pretty impressive to us. Read on to find out more…

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The World Islands

In actual fact, the World Islands have been around for a good long while in some form, but the project is not yet complete. That makes this particular feat the first development that we’ve chosen which isn’t finished. The project was first envisioned as 300 separate islands which would form the rough shape of a world map, but global finance problems in 2008 caused the initiative to founder. In the last few months, the BBC reported that construction was once again under way, so it may not be all that long before something like the finished product begins to be realised.

The Construction

But what about the engineering techniques? Well, the existing islands are made from dredged up sand, and the expanses themselves range in size, with the largest island being 42,000 square metres. However, 386 million tons of reclaimed rocks are also used in the World Islands – a number that tops even the cubic metres of sand – and the entire archipelago is shielded by a breakwater in the shape of an oval.  Some early reports claimed that the World Islands were in danger of sinking back into the sands, and complications have dogged the scheme, but it’s hardly the only artificial island in Dubai.

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The Palm Islands

If you haven’t come across the World Islands, then the Palm Islands may ring a bell. The Palm Jumeirah islands are in a finalised state, although further additions are planned, and the construct uses very similar methods of engineering to the ongoing World Islands. A total of 16 quarries were needed to supply the necessary rocks, and the resulting  materials could build a wall that would stretch three times around the world! Shaped like a palm tree – hence the name – the Palm Islands have also had to overcome numerous issues relating to erosion and the installation of various utilities (like pipelines). The Dubai artificial islands haven’t been free of controversy, but, even taking that into account, they remain genuinely impressive undertakings.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we love to see engineering used in creative ways, and we like to think that our Boschert products and the like are similarly remarkable in their own small way. If you’re an engineer and need professional solutions for power transmission and the like, then we’re the ideal place to come, so contact us by calling 01926 411 544 or email at sales@motion.uk.com and we’ll be happy to help.

Burj Khalifa 3Back again after a short interlude, our series on impressive feats of engineering jumps all the way to the present day in our latest feature. We’ve spent a fair bit of time exploring engineering feats in ancient times, and touched upon a reasonably ‘recent’ innovation (in the great scheme of things at least!) in the last instalment of this series, but there are plenty of very up to date things to talk about as well. To emphasise that engineering is very much part of the present and not just the past, we’re going to look at one of the engineering marvels of our modern age; namely, the Burj Khalifa.

The Tallest Man-Made Structure

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest man-made structure in the entire world, and, although the initial construction processes for the building began a decade ago, it was only finished in 2010. As you might expect, something that is 6 years in the making is going to be very special indeed, and so it proved. Located in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa represents a genuinely new way to build. Don’t believe us? Well, to put it into context, the pretty recent norm was for high-rise buildings and the like to measure in at around the 15,000 foot mark; the Burj Khalifa stands tall at a frankly ridiculous 2,700 feet.

Burj Khalifa

Construction and Testing

The Burj Khalifa depends upon what is known as a buttressed core. This is essentially a central section with repeated buttresses going up the length of the tower. However, the real engineering know-how behind the Burj Khalifa can be seen with regards to how the tower adapts to environmental factors. At such a colossal height, any slight change in wind or temperature can be a major issue. As a result, every situation was simulated thoroughly before construction began.

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The Whole Burj Khalifa Project

Over 40 wind tunnels were used to calculate how the Burj Khalifa should react when under strong winds, but what you may not realise is that these same tests also had to be applied to the machinery (like the cranes) that were required in the construction process. With so much attention on the structure itself, it’s easy to forget that the cranes needed to be just as impressive in scale, and even the elevators were engineered to move nearly 4 times faster than standard variants.  All told, we reckon that the entire Burj Khalifa project – not just the finished structure – should go down as an impressive feat of contemporary engineering.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we’re very used to working with the UK engineering industry, so we know that a good number of smaller scale feats of engineering are always flying under the radar on a daily basis. They may not make the headlines, but they’re still important, and they require the very best products and components to be successful. If you have a need for high quality solutions like Boston Gear devices, contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or email sales@motion.uk.com.

Throughout history engineering has been at the forefront of innovation and has led to important breakthroughs in a number of different industries and fields. The engineering field is also constantly evolving as it explores new avenues of research and design. Interestingly, according to a new report from the Institute of Engineering and Technology there are a number of key sectors predicted to drive engineering in the future, which will likely create the most opportunities for the next generation of engineers here in Britain.

One of these key areas is the robotics industry. Robots have played an important role in our society for decades, and, for example, have formed a key part of a number of manufacturing industries conducting automated processes, such as the food production and car manufacturing industries. According to this new report, robots are set to become a bigger part of our future and the race is on to develop the next generation of smart robots, with the ability to help solve many of the problems we face in our world today.

According to The Telegraph, the biggest opportunities for engineers in this developing field are thought to lie in automating manufacturing processes. For example, the car industry here in the UK currently uses almost half the number of robots employed in Germany and Italy, and as such has a long way to go to catch up with its competitors.

As outlined in the report, globally the robotics market is worth €22 billion worldwide, and this figure is set to grow to up to €62 billion by the year 2020. The growth of the robotics industry will place a considerable demand on skills, and a substantial number of engineers will be required to take a leading role in robotics research in addition to working with robots in the field. The European Commission estimates that 75,000 new jobs in the field will be created throughout Europe by the year 2020.

Interestingly the government has already designated a sum of £35 million to aid in the creation of centres dedicated to robotics and autonomous systems, and a further sum of £16 million has already been invested in university-based robotics programmes in an attempt to secure the UK’s role in research in this field.

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Reports such as this highlight the exciting new avenues the engineering industry will likely explore in the future. Here at Motion Drives and Controls we are passionate about engineering, and are suppliers of a great range of engineering products including Boschert devices. For more information please do not hesitate to contact us and a member of our friendly team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.

This week has been a proud one for the engineering industry. As you may already know, this week’s news has been full of reports regarding the groundbreaking Rosetta rocket, which was the first craft to ever land successfully on a comet, in what was a historic moment for space exploration.

It has taken over 10 years, however the European Space Agency Rosetta spacecraft finally reached its destination on Wednesday, having travelled billions of miles through our solar system. The Rosetta is on a mission to unlock some of the mysteries of the evolution of our solar system, and will be the first craft to undertake an extensive exploration of a comet. It is hoped that the mission will help reveal whether or not comets could have brought water to the earth and thus helped to kick start life on our planet. The craft will also aim to uncover some of the secrets of these icy giants, which have fascinated us for thousands of years.

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This revolutionary piece of precision engineering was a collaboration between contractors from the US in addition to 14 different European countries. The British engineering industry was also heavily involved in the mission, playing a vital role in its success, and many organisations and companies here in Britain were used to build many of the space craft’s systems and components.

According to The Telegraph the UK is recognised worldwide as a leading manufacturer of space vehicles and hardware, and this sector is also growing rapidly. The article quotes Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of the ADS (the trade body which represents the aerospace, defence security, and space companies here in Britain) as stating that the mission was the result of “high precision engineering – a skill in which the UK retains real competitive advantage over other parts of the world. We can produce sophisticated technology and engineering that is incredibly reliable.”

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Here at Motion Drives and Controls we are proud to be a part of the engineering industry here in the UK and are passionate about great feats of engineering. We are a leading distributor and systems integrator of drives and transmission equipment for the engineering industry here in the UK as well as across Ireland and continental Europe. For example we are suppliers of a great range of products including Boston gear products to meet your requirements. For more information please do not hesitate to contact us and a member of our expert team will be happy to help you with your requirements.


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