We jump forward quite some time in this latest instalment of our ongoing series, and we must admit that it was a quite a task trying to pick a single feat of engineering from all of the many options that we could have chosen. In the end though, we settled upon the Panama Canal because…well…you’ll soon see why. Read on to find out more:

Panama Canal Construction


The Panama Canal extends for a full 48 miles, and the basic premise of this colossal undertaking was to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans together using an artificial waterway. The canal bisects the Isthmus of Panama, and is an integral part of the modern maritime trade industry.

Panama Canal


Work on the Panama Canal began in 1881, but it wasn’t until January 7th 1914 when the feat was actually completed. It was France who first instigated the project, but, when this initial effort failed due to mortality rate and problems relating to disease, it took the intervention of the USA in 1904 to see the completion of the canal. 4.5 million cubic yards of concrete were needed in the construction process, and the total amount of excavation material could have easily buried a city.

Panama Canal LocksWhy?

We chose the Panama Canal because, simply put, it’s one of the largest and most difficult engineering feats that mankind has ever attempted. Although most people recognise the ingenuity of linking the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans together, far fewer realise the difficulty that was involved when it came to actually raising the canal. The sea levels upon each coast of the canal are vastly different, and so a plan had to be implemented to overcome this.

When raising the level of the canal, a total of three locks were required to make the venture possible, and these huge structures (with doors that weighed over 700 tons each) were designed to enable a staggering 80 million tons of shipping to pass over the canal on a yearly basis. So did the Panama Canal live up to this lofty goal? You could say that. Today, some 230 million tons of shipping rely on it annually. Wow.

It’s pretty obvious that the Panama Canal is an impressive marvel of modern engineering, but everyday products like our Boston Gear range also make a significant contribution to the discipline as well. We can’t all be building legendary structures, but we all have a need for quality equipment. For more information, contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or email us at


Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we’re carrying on with our series of impressive engineering feats in this latest blog, and in all fairness we could have very possibly called this ‘part two’ of the inaugural feature that we posted last time. However, most of what we covered then was pretty well-known, whereas many of the achievements in this latest list are far more obscure. We’re all for obscure though, so read on for more baffling, and rather forgotten, feats of ancient engineering:

Chand Baori

Chand Baori


A breathtaking stepwell in Rajasthan, Chand Baori is hardly a household name, but it should be. Dedicated to the Goddess of Joy and Happiness, the walls of Chand Baori – sweeping down to 100 feet below the surface – are so steeply sloped that you often can’t even see those standing above.


Chand Baori was built in AD 800 by King Chanda, and legend says that it was finished in a single night using supernatural assistance (which we reckon is cheating).


Given the available technology, Chand Baori is truly remarkable. As well as being an unimaginably deep well, Chand Baori was instrumental in solving huge water issues in this extremely arid region. With more than 3,500 steps on 13 levels, it’s just as impressive as many more well-known feats.





Sacsayhuaman is a walled complex of Incan origin. If you want to see the ultimate in dry stone walls, this place is undoubtedly the definitive holiday destination for you, as the largest of the stones at this rather overlooked fortification weighs in at over 100 tons.


The exact builders of Sacsayhuaman are somewhat difficult to pin down, but it’s likely that the structure was finished around 1508.


The biggest mystery at Sacsayhuaman is just how the Incas moved the stones into place in the first instance. As if that’s not enough to get on with, the stones fit together so closely – despite the lack of mortar – that even earthquakes haven’t been able to shift them. Pretty impressive we’d say.


Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha


A far cry from the garden ornaments you’re probably used to seeing, Leshan Giant Buddha measures in at 71 metres in height, and was carved from solid stone during the Chinese Shang Dynasty. Overlooking a total of three rivers, as well as being the largest Buddha in the world, it also tops the list for pre-modern statues too. Not too shabby.


A monk named Haitong started construction in 713, and it took thousands of workers between 70-90 years to complete.


Discounting the fact that just one finger on this statue is 11 feet long, what really fascinates us is the hair of the Giant Buddha, as this is in fact a cunningly disguised drainage system to shield the statue from water. Given the state of the statue today, we’d say it’s done a pretty impressive job!


Mohenjo Daro

Mohenjo Daro


Monhenjo Daro was one of the largest settlements in the enigmatic Indus Valley civilisation, and prospered for some 1,000 years before it was mysteriously abandoned (after the manner of most Indus Valley sites). Housing around 35,000 residents, this ranks as one of the earliest urban habitations in the entire world, rivalling even those in Egypt and Mesopotamia.


Mohenjo Daro was built in 2600 BC (give or take) in what’s now modern-day Pakistan.


Just taking into account the scale and early construction of Monhenjo Daro would make it impressive, but it’s perhaps most renowned for an innovative plumbing and sewage system. These guys had indoor toilets and submerged sewage drains, whereas the West took until the 20th century to get some of these systems cracked.


We’ll soon be moving away from the efforts of ancient engineers on our blog, but here at Motion Drives and Controls our ingenious power transmission solutions are anything but stuck in the past. Products like our Boschert devices are relied upon throughout the modern engineering industry, so contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or email us at if you’d like to find out how we can be helping you in the here and now.

The engineering industry has been on the go in some form for hundreds, even thousands, of years, and during that lengthy timeframe a wide variety of impressive feats have been achieved. In this, the first of an ongoing series of articles, we’re going to be looking at some of the most impressive engineering projects of all time. Like all things, it pays to start at the beginning, so we’re going to kick things off with some truly ancient, and undeniably exceptional, feats of engineering.

The Aqueduct of Segovia



You may not have heard of this one, but the Aqueduct of Segovia in Spain is undoubtedly a great feat of engineering. Taking the centre stage upon modern day Segovia’s coat of arms, the aqueduct is a work of ancient Rome, and is one of the best preserved monuments of its type.


The construction date of the Aqueduct of Segoiva is uncertain, as no inscription relating to the building date survives. However, most scholars put the aqueduct as a work that took place during the reigns of the Emperors Domitian, Nerva and Trajan, but in any case it’s almost 2,000 years old.


The Aqueduct of Segovia contains more than 160 arches measuring at over 9 metres in height, was built entirely without mortar and – despite its age – is still functioning according to its intended purpose even today. Sure, a few reconstructions have been needed, but that’s highly impressive.





You’ll know Teotihuacan by sight, although maybe not by name. ‘Teotihuacan’ means ‘the place where men become Gods’, and this place was the largest pre-Columbian American city. The Pyramid of the Sun is the most famous structure there, but the complex was actually eight miles squared.


Completed around 100 BC, major monuments in Teotihuacan were still under construction until about AD 250. The city itself endured until somewhere between the 7th and 8th centuries AD, but eventually it was burned down around AD 550.


Teotihuacan consisted of more than 2,000 separate structures, and the Pyramid of the Sun was the third tallest pyramid in the world (around 224 metres high). We’d say that makes the name ‘Teotihuacan’ pretty apt, and it definitely qualifies as mildly impressive, to say the least.


Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal


Literally meaning ‘crown of palaces’, the Taj Mahal is a world famous mausoleum built from stunning white marble. Constructed in memory of the founder’s third wife, the Taj Mahal is the archetypal example of Mughai architecture, ‘the jewel’ of Muslim art and a highly beloved heritage site.


The Taj Mahal took around 20 years to build, and over 20,000 workers were needed to do so. We’re not entirely sure of the exact dates that are in question here, but it’s generally considered to have been completed around 1653. Perhaps not truly ancient then, but we couldn’t leave it out!


Up to 28 varieties of semi and precious stones were used on the exterior of the Taj Mahal, and over 1,000 elephants were needed to bring materials from all over Asia to the building site. Oh, and by the way, the entire building is totally symmetrical. Impressive? This should be the dictionary definition.


The Great Wall of China

Great Wall


Stretching for literally thousands of miles, the Great Wall of China needs little introduction. Contrary to popular belief though, the Great Wall is not actually visible from space, although NASA have seen it under perfect conditions from low earth orbit, so there’s a glimmer of truth to the myth.


The Great Wall was actually built over a period of 2,000 years. The earliest section of the wall goes back to 400BC, whilst the ‘modern’ version probably hails from the 15-17th centuries AD.  The majority of the existing wall is attributed to the famous Ming Dynasty.


Because of its many rebuilds, enhancements and additions, the Great Wall is easily the longest-running engineering project in world history. When you factor in all of the merges and expansions that were needed to meld all the separate ‘walls’ into one, we reckon that’s impressive.


The Great Pyramid

Great Pyramid


Hands down the most recognisable monument on the planet, the Great Pyramid wasn’t built by aliens… and we’re very glad of that fact! If it had some kind of extra-terrestrial assistance involved, we’d have struck it from our list. Needless to say, that would have left one heck of a gap.


The Great Pyramid was finished around 2504 BC, which makes it more than 4,000 years old. For almost all this time, it was also the tallest structure in the world, which isn’t bad considering that we can’t even work out how the Egyptians moved just one of the 2.3 million, tens of tons stone blocks.


5.5 million tons of limestone. 8,000 tons of granite. 500,000 tons of mortar. 30,000 workers. Only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World. Built in as little as 23 years. Just one of more than 100 pyramids in Egypt’s history. Still an example of perfect architectural lines. Yeah, we’re impressed!


Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we’re passionate about the engineering industry, past and present, and that’s exactly why we make the very best power transmission products – like Boschert equipment – available to all of the engineering industry today. You may not be dealing with pyramids, but you still need quality, so if you’d like to find out how we can help you today, to contact us by calling 01926 411 544 or emailing us at

According to the BBC, Members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers have voted the bombe machine their favourite recipient of the Engineering Heritage Award. The Engineering Heritage Awards have ran since 1984 and were designed to celebrate feats of engineering and increase public awareness of engineering both past and present. Members were asked to vote for their favourite artefact from among a total of 99 previous winners of the award, in a new survey designed to mark the 30th anniversary of the awards.

The bombe was a revolutionary code-breaking machine, developed at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing during World War Two, that was instrumental in breaking the German Enigma Code. Indeed, the machine helped to decipher encrypted messages, providing vital intelligence for the allies. Estimates suggest that the development and use of these machines may have helped cut the war by up to two years, saving many lives.


The Engineering and Technology magazine quotes CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust Iain Standen as stating that “I am delighted that the achievements of Turing, Welchman and Keen are being recognised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in this way. The Bombe machine industrialised the process of breaking Enigma, enabling the WW2 Codebreakers to decipher high volumes of messages at speed and while still relevant.”

The Concorde came a close second in the vote and indeed this plane itself was a marvel of technology and engineering when it was introduced back in the 1960’s, capable of achieving staggering speeds of up to 1,300mph.Other prior winners that fared well in the poll included The Rolls Royce RB211 engine and the Mallard locomotive.


Here at Motion Drives and Controls we are passionate about great engineering and technology and are  stockists of a wide range of engineering products for a variety of Industries and applications, such as Boschert chucks and sliding chucks which can help maximise the safety of your factory machinery. For more information about our range of products and services please do not hesitate to contact us and a member of our expert team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.

Some time ago we touched upon the need to attract more women into the UK engineering industry, and indeed the engineering world as a whole has been buzzing with this same idea over the last few months. Plenty of worthy efforts have already been made, but according to the latest studies the enthusiasm of a good many of these campaigns has not been matched by their rates of success.

Women Engineer

‘Girly’ Engineering

The Times Higher Education website reports how attempts to ‘girlify’ engineering are actually extremely unhelpful, and it suggests that such tactics are actually completely missing the real appeal of engineering. Some marketing techniques have tried to raise the attraction of engineering within feminine circles by colouring prospectuses in pink, for example, or even exploring such ideas as the ‘science of lipstick’, but these admittedly clumsy adjustments have been labelled as ‘patronising’.

The Wrong Approach?

Olivia Jones, a chartered engineer, has stated that it is wrong to dress engineering ‘in pastels and pretend that it doesn’t involve maths’. Ms Jones shrewdly observes that this sort of approach could in actual fact be a major part of the problem, as it’s almost like we’re admitting that engineering is an unattractive area and therefore needs to be enhanced in a superficial way. Clearly, there is a real need to move engineering away from being a purely ‘masculine’ profession, but trying to aim for ‘girlification’ is probably not the most effective way to go about this.

What We Should Focus On

Instead, it is proposed that we accept the fact that engineering is not intrinsically disagreeable to women, and take steps to convey the real attractions that are on offer. Creativity, solving people’s problems and engineering effective solutions from an environmental perspective are universally interesting, after all, so it is these things that probably need to be majored upon. Currently, the percentage of females within engineering and technology graduates is waning once again, so obviously the correct balance needed to recruit more female talent has not yet been found.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, devices like our Nexen products are utilised throughout the engineering industry, and so we’d definitely like to see more women coming to the fore within this valuable discipline. Like all things though, it’s probably set to be a process that can’t be rushed, and so whilst you wait for this ambition to be realised you can still depend on us to meet all of your needs in terms of quality power transmission equipment and the like. For further information, please feel free to contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or emailing us at

Nexen LogoHere at Motion Drives and Controls, we’ve spoken at length about many of the brand names that make up the bulk of our stock in the past, but there are still many such companies that we’ve yet to feature. With that in mind, we thought that it was high time to give you a little more information about the Nexen Group, a premium supplier of brakes, clutches and the like that has actually been on the go for an astonishing 112 years.

Horton Manufacturing – The Early Years

Founded in 1902, the Nexen Group was originally born under the name of ‘Horton’; a small manufacturing business which was later purchased (along with its assets) in 1951 by Hugh Schilling Senior and three additional investors. Focusing largely upon the spheres of industrial pneumatics, brakes and clutches, Horton Manufacturing evolved over time to cater for two distinct markets; namely those needing industrial components and those seeking components for diesel vehicles.

The Birth of the Nexen Group

In 1999, Horton Manufacturing finally split into two separate companies, and the industrial products wing – acquired by Hugh K. Schilling Junior – was renamed to bear the moniker that it still carries to this day. Now titled the Nexen Group, the company has always remained true to its roots – hence the continued provision of pneumatic clutch and brake technology – but it has also greatly expanded to incorporate a wide variety of acclaimed product lines.


The Nexen Group Today

Committed to using innovative products to solve each and every customer problem that they encounter, the Nexen Group now serves sectors that are as diverse as the aerospace, tool and solar energy industries, but despite this growth the company remains both privately-held and family-owned. Based in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, Nexen’s state of the art technology is still widely in-demand even today; which is quite some going, considering that they first set up shop more than a century ago.

Our Collection of Nexen Products

The Nexen portfolio at Motion Drives and Controls is as extensive as you could wish to see, with a huge range of products on offer for you to make use of. This assemblage includes Air Champ® clutches and brakes – widely acknowledged as setting the industry standard in this area – but also the Roller Pinion and Roller Pinion Gear systems as well. These latter solutions have revolutionised the options for applications that transfer linear and rotary power, and certainly display that Nexen’s inventive genius is showing no signs of waning. To find out more about our Nexen catalogue, contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or emailing today.

The engineering industry is constantly evolving as new and innovative technologies and materials are frequently developed. Interestingly an ever-growing scientific field is biomimicry which is the study of how nature can inspire engineering. Nature in many respects holds all the answers and for generations has been providing solutions to some of the world’s greatest problems. Here we take a quick look at some of the amazing ways nature has inspired and indeed continues to inspire the field of engineering.

Sticky tape

Geckos have provided a source of inspiration for a new self-cleaning adhesive tape that is able to stick to almost anything, including dusty surfaces. Sticky tape typically becomes less effective over time as it picks up dust and dirt. Yet the self-cleaning ability of gecko’s feet ensures they are able to retain a strong grip over long periods. Gecko’s feet are covered in tiny microscopic hairs that are able to rid themselves of dirt and dust particles due to friction as they drag their toes along a surface. Replicating this process has led to the development of a synthetic material that could recover from contamination in the same way as a dirty gecko foot. It is thought that such a tape could have a wide range of applications in the engineering field, such as in the aerospace and automotive industries.



Birds and their wings have provided a source of inspiration for the aircraft industry since its inception, and it is through the study of how these amazing animals are able to fly that some of the most important flight discoveries were made and airplane design perfected.

birds in flight

Cutting tools

Certain animals such as sea urchins seemingly possess self sharpening teeth that remain sharp despite being worn down. Through the study of these creatures scientists discovered that these organisms have special magnesium calcite crystals on the surface of their teeth  and are also able to manufacture more of these crystals so that as the tooth wears down, it exposes new sharp crystal corners. The researchers predict that these findings could lead to the design of better mechanical grinding and cutting tools.

sea urchin

Here at Motion Drives and Controls we appreciate the powerful impact nature can have on engineering and many of the products and materials used in our industry could not have been developed without the amazing source of inspiration that is the natural world. We are stockists of a range of engineering products such as Nexen brakes for a variety of industrial applications and industries. For more information about our range of products and services please do not hesitate to contact us and a member of our expert team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.

Any initiative or campaign within the UK needs support and backing from influential parties to succeed, and the call to raise the profile of engineering within society is no different. Whilst this campaign has already attracted the backing of many prominent individuals, such as James Dyson, there is a real need to secure support on a more widespread level too, and the Institute of Engineering and Technology is beginning to turn to MPs with greater regularity to achieve that goal.

Science and Engineering

Working with MPs

According to The Telegraph, the Institute is urging MPs to ‘play their parts’ in assuaging the engineering and technical skills gap, specifically by working alongside schools in their local areas. This proposal is part of an ongoing effort to obtain at least 87,000 new UK engineers on a yearly basis, which is a worryingly tall order given the fact that more than 50% of employers are finding it hard to recruit enough technical staff to meet their growing needs.

Almost 60% of companies harbour concerns that an engineering shortage could have drastic and negative consequences upon their businesses, and many more are concerned that the candidates who are available are simply not up to scratch. As a result of this situation, MPs are being targeted as having a crucial role to play with regards to promoting ‘engineering as an appealing career choice to young people’.

Science and Engineering 2

Beating the Skill Shortage

Given the fact that MPs possess the power to involve employers within the UK education system, they are capable of having an unprecedented effect upon how pupils perceive engineering. High school disciplines that relate to engineering, such as science and maths, are regularly viewed as being uninteresting or overly taxing, and it is this barrier that needs to be broken down, both through the contributions of MPs and the engineering industry as a whole.

This latest proposal is just one part of a much bigger initiative to kick-start a new age of engineering in the UK, and a £30 million fund has already been released to assist with this. As well as encouraging young people, this sum of money is also intended to serve as an incentive for female candidates, who are another key ‘resource’ that needs to be utilised by the engineering industry. All such developments take time though, so it may be a while before the fruits of these labours become apparent.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we stock a wide variety of engineering products like Coiltek power transmission solutions, so even though your firm might be experiencing some uncertainty over the shortage of UK engineers, you need have no such doubts over the acquisition of quality products. To find out more about our products and our services, please feel free to get in touch with our experienced team by calling 01926 411544 or emailing

Parent and ChildEngineering as a profession is very much something that is on the minds of UK residents at present. Given the predicted dearth of engineering and technical professionals that is set to hit the UK in a few years time, there is scarcely any wonder that engineering is receiving such widespread coverage, and many people are finally beginning to realise the great opportunity that an engineering career represents.

Parents Approve of Engineering

Of course, the focus of many efforts thus far has been trying to win young people over to the engineering sphere, as until that happens the skills shortage is liable to be a long-lasting one. However, a victory of sorts seems to have been won already, as the parents of many young people have expressed their desires for these children to find suitable engineering jobs in the future.

In a recent poll that targeted parents, engineering ranked behind only a career as a doctor in terms of what parents wanted for their children. Whilst nearly a full half of parents pinpointed a doctor’s career as being the ideal aspiration for their children, engineering was only beaten into second place by a difference of 4%, so clearly parents would be extremely happy to see their children settling into the engineering industry.


The Battle to Win Over Children

A full list of the top ten responses that were given by parents can be seen on the HR Grapevine website, but do the children in question agree with their parents’ plans for their lives?

Put simply, the answer appears to be ‘no’.

From the perspective of a child, the most attractive professions for later life seem to be careers as a police officer, zoo keeper or fire fighter, and hardly 10% saw the possibility of becoming a doctor as appealing. Engineering barely even registers upon the radars of many young people, so the efforts of professionals like James Dyson appear to be targeted in the right place. Dyson has made it his campaign to promote engineering as a desirable career, but there is obviously some way to go. However, in winning over parents, at least the engineering industry can count upon young people receiving some more consistent encouragement in the coming months and years.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, devices like our Boschert products are used and distributed throughout engineering businesses in the UK, so from our perspective it definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing to see more young engineers coming through! Whatever the situation may be though, we’ll continue to supply our quality products to all those who need them, and if you’d like any additional information, please contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or emailing We’ll always be happy to help.

The engineering sector has often gone hand-in-hand with large industrial premises like factories and the like, and factory efficiency frequently depends upon the provision of efficient engineering. Having said that, factory efficiency comes about as a result of a lot of other considerations too, and with a lot of pressure upon all businesses with regards to efficiency, there are many reasons for a factory owner to try and excel in this area. With that in mind, here are a few useful steps that you might take to maximise efficiency, and thereby productivity.


Time Management

Even in heavily automated environments, substantial human presence is often needed, and the efficiency of these staff is paramount to the overall performance of a factory. Because of that, taking every possible step to maximise the efficiency of a workforce is vital. The exact nature of these adjustments can vary between premises, but no matter how efficient your mechanised systems are, your staff need to be up to scratch as well.

Quality Control

Sometimes, several attempts are needed within factories to produce something that conforms fully to the expected standards in terms of quality. If that’s the case, then a lot of efficiency is being surrendered, as such duplicate efforts to ensure quality aren’t exactly good for your costs. High standards of quality might sometimes be fairly finicky to implement, but in the long-term they’ll be well worth it.

Workplace Design

One hugely overlooked facet within factory efficiency is the design or layout of the premise in question. Workstations obviously need to be tailored to their specific purposes, but even things like keeping related facilities in close proximity to one another can have a huge effect. If someone has to traverse a needlessly large distance to fulfil their daily duties, then productivity will naturally suffer, so be sure to take these sorts of things into account.

Equipment EfficiencyFactory

We’ve already mentioned that factory efficiency can depend upon capable engineering, and that’s certainly the case in terms of equipment. Inefficient machinery might be more affordable, but it will have a detrimental knock-on effect upon your business profitability, and it will also need replacing more regularly and may even give rise to safety hazards, so the optimal types of machinery are invariably recommended. The same principle goes for parts replacement too; high quality is always the best route to take.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls Ltd, products like our Boston Gear range are regularly used to achieve equipment efficiency, and they have a proven track-record for increasing the longevity and safety of many machines within food processing factories and the like. To find out more about our services, or to enquire about our full product range, please contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or send an email to

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