5 Challenges Facing the Industrial & Manufacturing Sector

  • Changing Compliance Regulations & Traceability
  • Relevance
  • Skills Gap
  • Healthcare
  • Environment Concerns

The industrial and manufacturing sector keep evolving and that evolution doesn’t just happen. It’s almost always a direct result of overcoming the challenges that threaten the very existence of the sector. So, are there any challenges that the sector is dealing with currently?

Well, here are 5 challenges the manufacturing sector is currently trying to overcome.

Changing Compliance Regulations & Traceability

Changing regulations have always haunted manufacturers. But, they’re there for a good reason. Without compliance standards, manufacturers could very well end up cutting corners, which ultimately ends up affecting the end consumer.

So, for the sake of things such as quality control or proper waste management, compliance standards need to exist. However, complying with new standards isn’t an easy task for manufacturers. More often than not, they’re a burden and thanks to globalization, manufacturers are also forced to deal with regulations that are unique to each territory.

Manufacturers are also tasked with tracking compliance as well. This means that have to go through the entire supply chain to check for compliance, right from vendors to the end-product that’s sent to the customer.


As technology evolves, the rate of innovation increases. But, this also means companies have to rush and that can lead to all kinds of temptations. The urge to skip a step or avoid certain tests can be hard to resist when the goal is to market the product as soon as possible.

But, the last thing a manufacturer needs is to put the business at risk with a low-quality product. So, innovation management becomes a must in these situations. Preferences change by the day and any delay in delivering appropriate solutions can mean the end of everything.

So, manufacturers have to establish a system that allows for the consistent delivery of new ideas and innovation. Only this can sustain manufacturing success.

Skills Gap

As one generation exits the workforce, it makes way for a new generation of workers. This transition is, in itself, quite a challenge. But, things are very different today.

Manufacturers face the challenge of filling up those positions with equally skilled members from the current generation. However, the new generation of employees is simply not skilled enough, making the challenge even harder to overcome. As a result, manufacturers have to develop strategies such as working with the education sector to offer the skills training necessary to fill these positions.

Some manufacturers are also retaining skill by extending the retirement age.


As healthcare costs go up, it becomes very difficult for manufacturers to manage their budgets. For instance, in the US, it’s manufacturers who foot healthcare bills for their employees. But, with costs going up, it is simply not feasible and there are no viable alternatives.

Environmental Concerns

Regulations with regard to sustainable and environmentally safe processes and practices put more strain on the manufacturing process. Whether it’s waste disposal or the regulation of materials, more resources are needed to follow best practices.

As you can see, it’s not exactly easy for the industrial and manufacturing sector. However, manufacturers have to figure out a way to leverage technology and innovative ideas to keep up with the changes that pose a threat to them.

Importance of Melt Flow Index Testing in Polymers

Polymers are used in manufacturing a wide range of products. A good quality polymer can bring profit and branding, whereas low-quality polymer can bring safety issues, sales loss, and downfall in branding. Hence, an efficient polymer test method is used by manufacturers to rank the polymer material by evaluating its melt flow properties.

Why is polymer testing required?

The use of melt flow index (MFI) test, which is also known by the name of melt flow rate (MFR) test, dates back to the preliminary time of polymer science and material categorization. This testing method may seem very basic but is the best technique to rank the polymer samples as per its test results. Many polymer processors give high importance to this evaluation based ranking. Moreover, medical device, food, and pharmaceutical packaging manufacturers have set polymer melt flow testing as their clearance criteria for suppliers. They use the test results as benchmarks to ensure that the material will match the intended behaviour during its processing, extrusion or injection moulding.

How is the test conducted?

The MFI tester is an accurate testing instrument which is used to calculate the polymer mass extruded through a capillary die at a particular temperature and applied force. The testing sample can be a virgin resin or material from a finished thermoplastic product. The specimen is loaded into the preheated barrel of the tester along with a piston. A specified amount of load is kept on the piston for the application of force. When the appropriate condition is reached the specimen starts melting and starts flowing out from the capillary die. After cooling down, the extruded polymer sample weighed. The test results are then computed, which is the weight of sample flown in 10 minutes of time.

Characteristics determination of polymer by MFI test

Distinct useful characteristics of polymers are determined by testing the flow properties of the material. The melt viscosity of a polymer during the test is inversely proportional to its flowing behavior. More the polymer is viscous, slower will be the flow. The test data can also be linked to the molecular weight of the sample. Long chain polymer requires more time to get pushed through the capillary and thus have a slow flowing nature. Data related molecular weight distribution can also be taken by performing the test at the same temperature with distinct load application. Also, the shear viscosity of a particular sample can be computed by applying an inversely proportional relationship. The reasons behind opting for an MFI test over other techniques for evaluation of these properties are its promptness and its cost-effective nature.

Maybe the melt flow index testing appears to be basic and is sometimes not opted over the complicated and latest technologies, but it can deliver highly accurate and analytic test results complying all the test requirements.

The Future of Manufacturing

From catching a ride to getting instant medical attention, smartphones have completely changed the way people live and carry out their daily tasks. In a similar way, the rapid evolution of operating technology and production means have transformed manufacturing. Innovative companies like Tesla is the best example of how technology can materialize the seemingly impossible ideas and change our view of reality. Modern food processing equipment, robotics, sensor technology, and smart machines are no less striking.

There is something that drives manufacturers to constantly explore means for improving efficiency and agility. Managing market volatility is one of the biggest challenges manufacturers face today. In order to successfully handle this challenge, manufacturing leaders need a sound combination of speed, agility, and responsiveness. The characteristic of being agile and responsive can also help companies deal with a number of challenges, for example, fluctuating raw material costs.

Most of the successful companies focus on improving production processes and enhancing customer relationships. Small companies even pay more attention to meet customization demands and improve productivity. No matter the size of a company, the manufacturer struggles to maximize capacity utilization and achieve annual cost reductions. Implementing innovative production solutions carefully is the only way to achieve these objectives.

Industrial automation technology indicates that there is never any shortage of opportunities to grow and remain profitable. A business manager has to identify strategic opportunities and technologies that can offer the greatest profit potential. It is also important that a new solution should be in compliance with a company’s competitive differentiators and core capabilities.

It is highly likely that by the year 2020, business owners in every industry will have invested millions of dollars in a broad range of automation and fabrication technologies. Nano-manufacturing, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, smart machines, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will dominate the future.

Investment decisions can depend on a company’s priorities and objectives, market conditions and forecasts. Introducing new technologies is subject to a thorough cost-benefit analysis. The way of conducting cost-benefit analysis can vary from industry to industry.

Automation technologies such as robotic welding, smart sensors, quality control systems, metal fabrication, magnetic inspection, and material handling equipment can help companies achieve the following objectives:

  • High productivity
  • Improved data availability
  • Faster responsiveness to customer expectations
  • Production flexibility
  • Improved employee engagement

Small companies must learn how to implement automation and improve productivity in a cost-effective manner. The success in manufacturing now largely depends on how efficiently a company can adapt and meet market expectations.

BP Automation is an engineering company in Canada where we design and build mechanical hardware, industrial software, and electronic control systems for a range of customer applications. Our product research and prototype development process is designed to build successful machines. From improving the existing infrastructure to building new automation solutions, our focus is to help our clients stay ahead of the competition in a profitable way. Feel free to discuss your project with us!

Automation Technologies And Manufacturing Safety

As a business leader, you have to continually search out ways to increase operational efficiency and throughput, and lower manufacturing costs. Besides improving the productivity and streamlining production processes, the working environment is something that demands special attention from business leaders. It is crucial to ensure safe working conditions and reduce incident rates. This can be a challenge to maintain a balance especially when production and safety are in a constant battle with each other.

Fortunately, industrial automation and safety systems have made major advancements in the past decade. Sophisticated automated machines and control systems have bridged the gap between production and safety. Your job is to make sure that your engineering staff is implementing new technologies correctly.

It is a necessity to have a corporate safety plan focusing on the implementation of plant safety technologies. We need to dig a little deeper in order to understand how an integrated production system can contribute to a company’s overall success. Safety management is supposed to provide a safe workplace for employees, whereas, engineering department is tasked with improving the manufacturing process. We cannot separate these disciplines as they are interconnected.

Most of the traditional machine guarding systems are simple in design and do not require an engineering background to implement or understand them. However, traditional machine safeguarding techniques are limited in scope. Modern automation and engineering safety controls are intelligent enough to automatically change the safeguarding methods depending on current hazards.

What if the safety system at your production facility were intelligent enough to allow safe human interaction for tasks that are repetitive, routine, and integral? An intelligent safety mechanism can help you improve the productivity of workers and lower the injury risks. It can have a big impact on your bottom line. The advanced industrial technology offers capabilities necessary to develop an integrated manufacturing process where manufacturers can maintain a balance between safety and production.

The advanced integrated technologies are more complicated than traditional safeguarding devices. The use of safety-rated devices can unknowingly create an unsafe environment where safety is nothing but an illusion. Even the advanced safeguarding solutions come with the risk of creating a dangerous work environment. Therefore, it is important to have skilled engineers who can implement and maintain modern machine safeguarding systems.

If you are not satisfied with the current safety conditions at your production plant, consult an engineering company that can design a better safety plan for your manufacturing unit.

As a leading automation engineering solutions provider, BP Automation offers comprehensive analyze, design, and manufacturing services to ensure you have a one-stop solution for most of your manufacturing problems. We design custom automated machines along with safety solutions for your specific working environment. Reach us to consult and discuss your project with us!

4 Trends CNC Manufacturing Will See in 2018

Numerical controlled (NC) machines have been in use since their invention in the 1940s and 1950s by John T. Parsons. The first computer numerical controlled (CNC) machine was born when John Runyon used computer controls to produce punch tapes, sharply reducing the time required from 8 hours to a mere 15 minutes. In 1957, the United States Air Force and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) collaborated on a project to produce the first NC machine controlled entirely by computer.

Fast forward more than 60 years later and the concept of CNC machining has very few differences compared to its predecessor. Though CNC machining and manufacturing still produces three-dimensional directions of output — X axis, depth and Y axis — the scope of the process reaches far beyond what anyone could ever imagine. In fact, 2018 is sure to bring new strides in this versatile technique including the following trends:

1. Complex Cuts Made Even Easier

Refinements in CNC machining will continue to make complex cuts — such as incline surface holes, contours and more — even more accurate and smooth. The project’s parameters are able to be defined in a number of different planes to generate the results that a customer expects within the timeframe needed.

2. Touchscreen Technology

Today, touchscreen technology is expected in smartphones and is increasingly becoming the norm for laptops and desktop computers too. These aren’t the only products taking advantage of this technology though. Touchscreens are integrated with CNC machines to deliver precise programming that is nimble, quick and intuitive. Built-in features are constantly updated and designed to shave precious time from programming parameters. These allow operators to deftly navigate through a range of content such as complex tables, long lists and expansive programs to find the elements that are required to complete projects.

3. Embrace New Materials, Tools and Processes

A dizzying array of new and innovative materials are developed every year, providing companies with new opportunities to deliver products that meet their target audiences’ needs. CNC machining provides processes and tools that meet the challenges of bringing these new materials to market. With the right features at the ready, CNC manufacturing tackles innovative projects with precision and speed.

4. The Trickle-Down Effect

Some industries, such as the aerospace and automobile sectors, require compliance with rigid tolerances, exceptional surface quality and the ability to endure dynamic loads. These same techniques can also be applied to the production of smaller scale items as well. The result is a workmanship and quality that is unsurpassed.

Automation Engineering And Manufacturing

Automation is a broad term that refers to the use of logical programming commands and machines to replace most of the human activities such as decision making and manual-command response. With the rise of computers and intelligent machines, manufacturing processes have become smart, flexible, and less expensive to implement. The current modern industrial environment is largely driven by automation technologies that make it possible for manufacturers to meet the ever-changing market requirements in a profitable manner. Companies that have embraced automation experience higher productivity, profitability, operational efficiency, and competitive edge.

Manufacturing commonly applies to production where the raw material is used to produce various products at large scale. This process generally involves many steps: one product obtained from a process is used to manufacture more complex products. Conversion, packaging, batching, and assembly are all examples of manufacturing processes.

A factory floor functions as a central site where capital, plant, and labor are concentrated to produce small or large batches of goods. Most of the modern factories implement innovative machinery to run their manufacturing-related operations: packaging, welding, material handling, quality control, measurement, metal fabrication, etc. Old factory settings where labor gather to produce goods using obsolete production tools cannot survive in this overly competitive environment. This is why automation engineering has become a single most important factor in the contemporary industrial environment.

The innovation of industrial robots, which became a part of factory floors in the 1970s, has totally reshaped and revolutionized production processes for many industries such as the automobile. Robots are high-endurance precision machines which play important role in cutting, welding, painting, inspection, assembly, and other production operations.

Automated industrial devices have the potential to achieve the level of productivity and accuracy beyond human abilities. The new generation of industrial robotics is less expensive, easy to implement and program with extended capabilities. They perform exactly the way you want them to. The advancement in computer technology and automation engineering has completely transformed manufacturing.

It is impossible for a company to compete in any engineering field without implementing innovative technologies. Being a manufacturer, you have to analyze and consider how new technologies can fit into your industrial setup. The process to implement new manufacturing systems can be complex and expensive. However, a considerate approach and practical engineering solutions can make your business more efficient and profitable. Make sure you consult a reputable automation engineering company that can design custom machines and control systems for your production facility.

Types of Brass Fittings and Uses

Most systems which carry alkaline fluids choose brass, brass is a metal which is ductile, attractive metal machinable and are also resistant to corrosion. Brass has Copper, Zinc, Chromium to an extent which makes it rust proof, Lead in brass makes it machinable. Copper, Zinc with a combination of aluminum makes it ductile, even resistant to dezincification which means brass can be used for fittings which can be exposed to a very alkaline environment, which can pass a high degree of Chloride tests. The brass fittings are used in plumbing and transmission of Corrosive chemicals due to it being an alloy of Copper. Brass Fittings with lower percentage of Zinc, Higher percentage of Aluminum and Chromium, is very robust to Corrosion, Oxidation and is always used in environment where the application can fail due to rusting and can be also used in High Pressure environment.

The Brass has excellent Characteristics, they are

1. It is a Non-ferromagnetic material.

2. The Brass is different from other metals, they are easy to recycle.

3. The Brass has a higher Malleability as compared to Zinc or Bronze.

4. It has fascinating acoustic properties suitable to use in Musical Instruments.

5. The Brass has low friction characteristics.

6. It’s a good conductor of heat and conducts 28% of Electricity.

7. The casting of Brass is easy and has almost lower melting point.

8. The Brass is totally resistant to corrosion, also resistant from corroding salt water.

The Applications of the Brass In the Musical Devices:

The Brass being a good malleable and has a sufficient acoustic properties it is well suited for making musical instruments like tubas, French horns, trombones, Trumpets and bells.

In the Industrial Uses:

Unlike the iron, Brass doesn’t create sparks when it is subjected to friction, where sparks can create a fire mishap. Industrial pipes carrying highly inflammable gases and chemicals are fitted with brass valves.

Brass has antibacterial Qualities:

Brass mainly contains copper and Zinc contents which makes it an efficient antibacterial surface. The copper based paints acting as antibacterial are used in painting smaller to larger boat hulls.

In Air conditioning and Heat recovery systems:

Brass is perfectly anti-corrosion and good thermal conductivity, due to which they are used in air conditioning and heat exchangers.

In Ornamental Objects:

Brass looks like gold having attractive shining properties which are used in art, crafts and jewellery. It has been also used in decoration of the house taps, door handles, window handles and furniture fixtures.

First Class Lube Dispensing – The Cornerstone Of Your Lubrication Management Program

A fluid management audit is a valuable tool used to assess the current condition of lubricants, contamination control, maintenance practices and lubricant management practices.

A thorough site inspection is undertaken and the findings documented into a report that details the current lubrication management ‘health’ of the site along with recommendations to rectify identified shortcomings.

The correct storage and dispensing of lubricants portrays an organisations commitment to achieving best practices in hydrocarbon management.

The use of a well designed and operated lube room is one of the core steps when striving for lubrication and contamination control excellence.

Before Commencing:

Some or all of the following should be considered when commencing to either upgrade an existing lube room or instigate a new lube room facility.

1. Investigate the logistics of dispensing on site, including:

  • Location of the facility – access to all areas at the site such as warehouse, roadway, workshop & all oil systems
  • Access to any minor lube stores used on site
  • Is the room to be used with a lube truck or only with small dispensed volumes
  • Is the room mostly for dispensing or for storage as well – This will assist to determine the size of the required lube room. Consider the use of racking if storage is also required.

2. Investigate the type of lube room required, either

  • An existing or new fixed shed/room – capital works required, bunding, lighting, power or air, etc
  • A bunded containerised room ready to go – 20′ or 40′

3. Assess the environment & surrounds, including:

  • Dirt/dust/mud at the entrance – use of a hard stand
  • Orientation of room with prevailing wind – doors facing away if possible

4. Investigate consolidation of lubricants, including:

  • Is there an existing lube survey?
  • Working with your lube supplier

5. Determine what oils need to be dispensed, including:

  • Higher usage oils to be dispensed in 205ltr drums or IBC’s
  • Lower usage oils to be dispensed in 20 ltr drums, minimal if possible

6. Determine the required dispensing units, including

  • Designed either for 205 litre drums or IBC’s?
  • Pneumatic or electrically powered pumps?
  • Attributes including filter, drum breather (desiccant preferred), dispensing tap or quick connect filling.

7. Determine any other requirements of the Lube Room, including:

  • Is the room for dispensing only?
  • Will there also be storage of 200ltr & 20 ltr drums?
  • Is dispensing to be with hose reels, a hose/gun, oil bar or quick connect fittings?
  • Will there be an office area for Lube Techs?
  • Will there be an area/facility for waste oils & grease?
  • Will there be an area for storage of filter trolleys, oil purifiers, hoses & accessory cabinets?
  • Determine the signage & colour for each lube

A review and assessment of your site by a specialist lubrication management company is recommended to introduce and upgrade to industry best practice standards.

5 Pointers for Comparing Printed Circuit Board Manufacturers

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are extremely important and relevant in the electronics and appliance industries. A PCB collects the electronic elements of a product using conductive products that are usually etched on a “non-conductive” substrate. Naturally, PCBs are used extensively in production of many products, including regular consumer goods. All kinds of active devices and components, including resisters and capacitors, are usually soldered to the board.

If you are looking to place an order for your business and want to find a reliable printed circuit board manufacturer, there are a few aspects that you need to note.

1. First things first, check if the manufacturer is well known in the industry. Ask relevant questions like – How long have you been in business? Who are your clients? How many batches or orders do you handle each month? Can you share a few references? A company that has been around for a long time will never shy away from offering references. They will also do what it takes to convince their new and prospective clients. You can also check their website to find a few more relevant details.

2. Check the prices. Don’t be surprised, there are reliable manufactures who can offer low-priced circuit boards without compromising on the quality. They also ensure fast and quick delivery for their clients on request. However, be careful when you choose a service, because there are a few quality standards that must be met. Check if the concerned company has the required certifications, which can vary in some countries.

3. Know their clients. As mentioned earlier, you need to know the industries and clients that a company services. Check if they have worked for the military and some of the other bodies of the government. If they have supplied their products to known firms and electronic companies, it is like an assurance that they will never ever fool around with the quality. If you get references, call a few of them or write an email asking about their experiences.

4. Do not ignore customer service, it is extremely important when ordering PCBs. You need a manufacturer who is around to take questions or concerns and handle them quickly and accurately. It is important to be careful about customer service and whereabouts of the company, because some of them are just brokers and are making money by selling low-quality PCBs to customers.

5. Can they handle specific requirements? PCB requirements can vary, and you need a team that has the capacities to meet different production needs. They must be willing to take up production challenges, and it is not enough to claim things, unless they prove things. You can place a small order for custom PCBs to know more about their commitment towards customization, timely delivery and pricing.

Lastly, do check with the concerned manufacturer if they have the time to work on specific projects, especially if your company is involved in innovative productions.

Printed Circuit Boards – Uses, Advantages, Materials, and Manufacturers

Long before Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) came in the picture, there were vacuum tubes, which served a similar purpose. In the simplest terms, PCBs are used for connecting components in electronic products in a hassle-free and cheaper way.

Usually, PCBs are made of an insulating material with the surface coated with metal, both on the bottom and the top. If you see a regular Printed Circuit Board (PCB), you find etches on the surface, which are created with acid, so as to make the pathway for electricity. The etches ensure that the various components work in sync with one another as intended. The components are then soldered to the surface to create the final product. With this quick brief, it is easy to understand why PCBs are so effective and necessary in the world of electronics. Below are some of the other aspects you need to know.

The Advantages

Well, PCBs have made it possible to have compact and smaller electronic circuits. Today, you will find a PCB in almost every device. In the computer, the motherboard is the main printed circuit board. There are also additional holes and drills on certain circuit boards, which are intended for using other components, including capacitors.

The Best Materials

Manufacturers usually source their materials from known suppliers, such as Rogers. Rogers materials are known for microwave performance and are compatible with FR-4 fabrication. These also have high thermal conductivity, which works wonders for thermal management as compared some of the other PTFE materials that are used traditionally.

Getting Printed Circuit Board Prototypes

Usually, companies and electronic brands don’t order one PCB. They have a large order, and for that to be made, a prototype is required. A PCB prototype is the first one that’s produced and tested at all levels to ensure that the intended functionalities and advantages are achieved. There are manufacturers who have the necessary expertise and experience to get a printed circuit board prototype done in less than a week. Once the prototype is done, tested, and approved by the client, the same is then sent for production. The produced printed circuit boards are in sync with the production requirements, but are usually tested individually before dispatch.

Finding a Seller

If you need quick turn PCB, find a manufacturer that has the infrastructure and capabilities to get the job done in a fixed time. It is important to ensure that the manufacturer has experience of at least a decade in the industry. You may want to know their clients, and as needed, ask for a few references too. It is also wise to check if the concerned PCB manufacturer can design the prototype in a short period as required. It is always best to work with known names because you don’t have to bother about the quality, time, delivery and all the other pertinent factors. Get an estimate in advance though.