Rise of The Cattle

In a recent article on the website, Beef Magazine, the idea of managing cattle through the use of drones is discussed. As the use of UAVs becomes more prevalent in our society, developers of this technology are finding more and more applications for its use. Pete Cunningham, with Ag Eagle and Cunningham Ag Services, envisions the use of drones for cattle management. Through the use of ear tags embedded with sensors, a rancher can monitor the health of all his cattle and receive updates on those that most need his attention. The possible benefits include, a huge reduction in time, curbing sickness among the animals, and being able to do more during adverse weather. How easy will this technology be for cattle ranchers to adopt? Will this have any downsides to managing cattle?

Blockchain: Solution for a safer airspace?

In a recent article on the website, Security Intelligence, the idea of blockchain is introduced. Security is becoming more of an issue as more and more businesses and individuals are using UAVs. Concerns range from privacy to terrorism. Drones can interfere with large aircraft, take pictures of private spaces, and even deliver explosives and other weapons with devastating effects. Fortunately, technology is being developed to regulate this industry and the se of UAVs. Blockchain can help to organize information, regulate airspace, and protect drones and individuals by providing a type of virtual air traffic control system. How ubiquitous will blockchain become? What other technologies may compete with blockchain? How will agencies like the FAA enforce the use of blockchain by users?

An Integration of The Sciences

In a recent article on the website, National Science Foundation, the announcement of a $13 million award was discussed. These awards will aid the advancement of cyber-physical systems. These systems are geared toward the integration of computational and physical pieces that improve output, efficiencies and the quality of life. Researchers in in technical fields like engineering will partner with counterparts in fields such as urban planning and music to find solutions too many of society’s problems. How do you thing people form differing backgrounds will work together? What type of solutions do you think they will find? How will society benefit from this integration?

A Powerful Alliance

In a recent article on, PR Newswire, the topic of delivery drones is discussed. A leading developer of autonomous logistics systems, Matternet, has partnered with Mercedes-Benz to revolutionize the delivery drone landscape. Matternet’s state of the art cloud technology will be paired with Mercedes-Benz’ directional software to allow the autonomous flight of these delivery drones. The main focus of Matternet’s design is its safety features. With the Drone industry ready to explode it is necessary to have software and systems in place that allow for the safe use of this emerging technology. What other projects could Mercedes-Benz and Matternet team up for in the future? How will delivery drones change the way we do business? How soon can this technology be put into daily use?

Metal 3D Printing

Lean manufacturing is a topic every company in today’s market is considering. How do we reduce time and waste? As we become more lean, we expect to also reduce costs and increase revenues. 3D printing is one of the newer technological developments that is projected to have a big impact on lean marketing as explained in the article “Next-Level 3D Printing with Metal” (http://www.mbtmag.com/blog/2014/01/next-level-3d-printing-metal). But while most 3D printers we know are smaller, plastic using machines, there are consistent developments in the metal 3D printing industry that are poised to amplify additive manufacturing’s reach. Per the article, Michigan Technological University scientists have invented a 3D metal printer which is estimated to cost around $1,500, and have also posted the instruction to build and operate the software/firmware online. With these types of discoveries taking place, it is important to analyze the pro/con ratio.

What are the pros?

  1. More Opportunity for Improvement: With the printer’s plans being available online, anybody with the resources and skill can build their own 3D printer, and make their own unique innovations. This will also extend past Michigan Technological University’s machine design, but to the entire metal 3D printing industry.
  2. Levels the Playing Field for Smaller Businesses: Currently, most 3D printing is done by large commercial businesses. With the development of low-cost metal printing machines, metal 3D printing becomes more accessible to everyone.

What are the cons?

  1. More Safety Concerns: Simply stated, metal printers are more dangerous than plastic ones.
  2. Limited Applications Currently Available: Because metal 3D printing is so new, there have been very few “hand in the pot”. Innovation and change are limited due to the lack of development and use. This is obviously expected to change as metal 3D printing becomes more accessible and used.

With so much hype surrounding 3D printing, it is certain to extend into the metal 3D printing sector as well. With so many commercial applications available, it seems fairly certain 3D printers will help increase both smart and lean manufacturing in the near future.

Changing the Perception of Manufacturing

The article “See How 3D Printing In Manufacturing Could Help Close The Skills Gap”( https://thebossmagazine.com/3d-printing-manu-help-close-skills-gap/)  reviews the US’s current manufacturing industry decline, as well as 3D printing’s potential impact for growth. With the manufacturing industry in the US at a steady decline, and a “rate of lost manufacturing jobs between 2000-2010 exceeding that of the Great Depression”, there is obvious room for concern. Per the article, “China produces 80 percent of the world’s air conditioners, 70 percent of its mobile phones, and 60 percent of its shoes”. Perhaps more damaging than the hold China has on the manufacturing industry is the misconception that “manufacturing is a “dirty” industry” which has driven away the younger workforce.

The article goes over a few ways this perception is being changed. Schools are doing tours of local companies to show the technical expertise and skill required. The article states “Companies are automating like crazy because, as a society, we realized we had to work smarter, not harder. If young people show focus in the skills needed to operate these machines, there seems to be an unlimited opportunity for jobs.”

A key component of this new “perception” is 3D printing. It not only is more efficient than traditional manufacturing production chains, but is more appealing to the young workforce because of the expertise needed as well as the innovative ideas behind 3D printing and its future growth. In conclusion, “Advantages like low labor costs overseas or large established facilities matter less, and the type of technology being utilized in these smaller manufacturing houses means the industry can attract more talent”.

3D Printing: The Risks and Rewards

3D printing is an amazing new technology that inherently defines both the smart and lean manufacturing spaces. Many believe that it is the manufacturing process of the future. With so much hype surrounding 3D printing, the article “5 Ways 3D Printing Is Changing The Manufacturing Industry” (http://www.apriso.com/blog/2016/03/5-ways-3d-printing-is-changing-the-manufacturing-industry/) does an excellent portrayal of some of the benefits, as well as one of the biggest concerns, regarding 3D printing.

So what are some of the main benefits? The article goes into depth about four of the most useful possibilities:

  1. More Custom-Built Products
  2. New Design Possibilities
  3. Easy Replacement Parts
  4. More Recycled Materials

While all four of these are pretty self-explanatory, a brief explanation of each will be given for a general understanding of the concepts. Because 3D printing is an additive manufacturing technology, many complex designs that wouldn’t normally be a possibility are now a reality. 3D printing allows for structures to be created in one piece, and any necessary additional or replacement parts can be designed and printed easily. Additionally, because many 3D printers use plastic as the main printing material, recycled plastic can be utilized and integrated back into the community.

What is the main concern? Because the designs for any 3D printing production are made and stored digitally, there is a high risk of piracy. In fact, this trend has already begun. Companies utilizing or designing 3D blueprints will have to take caution in not only how they are copyrighted, but how they are stored and secured. Despite this risk, it appears that in the eyes of many companies the rewards outweigh the risks.