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Friday Funny Presents the Turboencabulator

Now here’s one of the all-time classics in engineering humor.

The turboencabulator – or turbo-encabulator – is a fictional machine that purportedly sold to the federal government for $750 million, and that’s in 1977 dollars.

The original technical description of the "turbo-encabulator" was written by British graduate student John Hellins Quick. It was published in 1944 by the British Institution of Electrical Engineers Students’ Quarterly Journal in an article titled, "The Turbo-Encabulator in Industry" by J.H. Quick, Student.

In 1962 a turboencabulator data sheet was created by engineers at General Electric's Instrument Department, in West Lynn, Mass. It quoted from the previous sources and was inserted into the General Electric Handbook.

In 1977 Bud Haggart, an actor who appeared in many industrial training films in and around Detroit, performed in the first film realization of the description and operation of the turboencabulator, using a truncated script adapted from Quick's article. Haggart convinced director Dave Rondot and the film crew to stay after the filming of an actual GMC Trucks project training film to realize the turboencabulator spot.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!


Jaguar Land Rover trials chemical recycling process

Jaguar Land Rover trials chemical recycling process

Jaguar Land Rover is trialing a chemical recycling process which converts plastic waste into a new premium grade material that could feature on future vehicles. Working in conjunction with BASF, Jaguar Land Rover is part of a pilot project called ChemCycling that upcycles domestic waste plastic, otherwise destined for landfill or incinerators, into new high-quality material.

Jaguar Land Rover is investigating the use of resin derived from chemically-recycled feedstocks in a front-end carrier overmolding.

BASF’s  ChemCycling process transforms waste plastic into pyrolysis oil using a thermochemical route. This secondary raw material is then fed into BASF’s production chain as a replacement for fossil resources; ultimately producing a new premium grade that replicates the high quality and performance of ‘virgin’ plastics.  Importantly, it can be tempered and colored making it the ideal sustainable solution for designing the next-generation dashboards and exterior-surfaces in Jaguar and Land Rover models.

Jaguar Land Rover and BASF are currently testing the pilot phase material in a Jaguar I-PACE prototype front-end carrier overmolding to verify it meets the same stringent safety requirements of the existing original part.

Pending the outcome of the trials and progression in taking chemical recycling to market readiness, adoption of the new premium material would mean Jaguar Land Rover could use domestically derived recycled plastic content throughout its cars without any compromise to quality or safety performance**.

Chris Brown, Senior Sustainability Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Plastics are vital to car manufacturing and have proven benefits during their use phase, however, plastic waste remains a major global challenge. Solving this issue requires innovation and joined-up thinking between regulators, manufacturers, and suppliers.

“At Jaguar Land Rover, we are proactively increasing recycled content in our products, removing single-use plastics across our operations and reducing excess waste across the product lifecycle. The collaboration with BASF is just one way in which we are advancing our commitment to operating in a circular economy.”

This is the latest example of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to addressing the challenge of waste plastic. The company has collaborated with Kvadrat to offer customers alternative seat options that are both luxurious and sustainable.  The high-quality material, available initially on the Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque, combines a durable wool blend with a technical suede cloth that is made from 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle.

Prospect of no-deal Brexit deeply worries UK plastics industry, survey shows

Prospect of no-deal Brexit deeply worries UK plastics industry, survey shows

A survey of member companies of the British Plastics Federation (London) found that two-thirds of them are worried that a no-deal Brexit would have a negative impact on their business. Almost one-third said that they feared a “very negative” impact.

cracked egg symbolizing UK-EU split

A no-deal Brexit, by which the United Kingdom would leave the European Union with no agreement on trade and a whole host of other issues, is a real possibility now that Theresa May has stepped down as Prime Minister and “Brexiteer” Boris Johnson is the front runner to replace her.

The shadow that Brexit casts over the industry is evident in other answers to the survey. When asked if they expect sales turnover to increase, decrease or stay the same in the next 12 months, just over half of respondents said that they anticipated an increase; 30% said they would stay the same and 19% forecast a decrease. Of the companies predicting that their sales turnover would decrease or stay the same, the report noted that the most common reason (from over a third of respondents) given was Brexit. A number of companies also raised concerns about the impact of losing business in the automotive sector.

Unrelated to Brexit but interesting to note is that the British plastics sector is facing the same challenges as its counterpart across the pond when it comes to finding skilled labor. When asked if they are having difficulty recruiting staff, 56% of respondents said yes. Only 26% expressed no difficulty, with 18% not currently seeking to hire new personnel.

Finally, when asked what impact a no-deal Brexit would have on their organization, a whopping 66% said it would have a negative or very negative impact. Only 9% said that it would have a positive or very positive effect, with 9% predicting that it would have no impact.

Commenting on the results, Director General of the British Plastics Federation Philip Law characterized a no-deal Brexit as a “dramatic act of self-sabotage” that will have a long-term negative impact on the plastics industry. “The plastics industry supplies an extraordinarily wide range of sectors,” Law went on to say. “What is good or bad for the plastics industry acts as a barometer for what is good or bad for the UK economy as a whole. The UK is a global leader in plastics innovation and a thought leader in major issues such as sustainability. It is senseless to place all this in jeopardy and hold the industry back from realizing its full potential.”

The survey was conducted in June and July of this year. Eighty-three member firms completed the survey. It is available here as a free download.

Image: Egg Nito/Adobe Stock

The Drive to Level 5 Podcast - Episode 1

The Drive to Level 5 podcast investigates the seismic shift toward the autonomous vehicle and the technical advancements necessary to perfect the connected car, from foundational elements down to the component level.

The exploratory series connects with innovators across automotive electronics and embedded systems industries in preparation for the inaugural Drive World Conference & Expo launching in Silicon Valley August 27-29 with North America's largest embedded systems event, the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC).

Listen below to our first interview where host Jack Heslin sits down with Informa Markets Brand Director Suzanne Deffree to learn about all this exciting new conference has to offer.

You can also find more details about the event here.


Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!


Toray establishes new battery separator film production facility in Hungary

Toray establishes new battery separator film production facility in Hungary

Japan's Toray Industries Inc. announced that it will establish a new production facility for battery separator film (BSF) for lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) in Nyergesújfalu, Hungary. The new production facility will be located at Toray Industries Hungary Kft., which was established in April 2018. The new facility will increase the Toray Group’s total BSF production capacity by approximately 20%; operations are scheduled to begin in July 2021.

Toray's battery separator film

The Toray Group already has BSF production facilities at its Nasu Plant in Japan and in the Republic of Korea, where Toray Battery Separator Film Korea Ltd. engages in the development, production and sale of BSF. Toray BSF Coating Korea Ltd. handles coating processes. In 2017, Toray announced facility investments to expand capacity in these two locations and new lines have been started up since fiscal 2018.

Toray Industries said that global demand for BSF is projected to expand rapidly, given steady expansionary trends in consumer applications like mobile electronics and energy storage system, and the anticipated robust increase in automotive applications, as electric vehicles become more popular. In Europe, in particular, where environmental awareness is increasing, it is anticipated that eco-friendly EVs will rapidly spread. Battery manufacturers are actively entering European markets.

Toray said the company has taken the basic strategic approach of “local production for local consumption” in its overseas business development. By locating production facilities in areas close to customers, Toray aims to respond to growing demand and also to contribute to the economic development of local regions and communities.

Your PVC pipes will probably outlive you

Your PVC pipes will probably outlive you

Underground PVC-U and PVC-Hi pressure pipe systems for water and natural gas supply have an expected service life of at least 100 years, according to a new joint position paper by PVC4Pipes and the European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association (TEPPFA; Brussels). PVC4Pipes is the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers’ (ECVM; Brussels) platform dedicated to the PVC pipes value chain, promoting the acceptance and utilization of PVC piping systems.

underground PVC pipes image from PVC4Pipes

Durability is crucial for underground piping systems due to the high cost of installing and replacing pipes buried in the ground. Research, extrapolation studies and examination of dug-up pipes in service for decades show no significant degradation of the material. Further analyses on these test samples confirm an expected service life of more than 100 years, according to the paper.

The paper highlights how the 50-year design basis, which estimates the stress that a thermostatic pipe is able to withstand for 50 years at 20°C, must not be confused with the actual lifespan of a plastic pipe system. In reality, the service life is expected to be more than 100 years due to a number of reasons: The lower real pressure levels experienced by the pipe over its lifetime; the lower real average ground temperatures; the always positive wall thickness tolerances; and the safety factors applied at the design stages, said the study.

“There is ample evidence that underground PVC-U and PVC-Hi pressure pipes for water and natural gas supply are fit for service for 100 years or more,” commented Vincent Stone, PVC4Pipes Project Manager. “The utility companies critically depend on highly durable and reliable piping systems and the position paper clearly demonstrates that PVC piping systems can deliver outstanding performance in various operation conditions.”

Being highly durable and able to be recycled multiple times without losing their long-term mechanical performances, PVC pipes are a cost-efficient, safe and sustainable choice for transporting drinking water and natural gas through the whole life-cycle of the distribution networks, the study said.

Image courtesy PVC4Pipes

Petcore Europe launches Monomer Recycling Group to promote PET circularity

Petcore Europe launches Monomer Recycling Group to promote PET circularity

PET Monomer Recycling opens a completely new perspective on how to deal with the concerns about plastics and plastic waste, said Petcore Europe (Brussels) in announcing the launch of the program. Bringing PET bottles and food containers, as well as polyester textiles, back to their constituents—monomers or low-molecular-weight components—means endless reuse of these PET building blocks.

Petcore Europe PET monomer recyclingThis is different from mechanical recycling, in which colors, additives and other polymers in multi-layer constructions impede recyclability. Monomer recycling avoids down-cycling and allows up-cycling, said Petcore Europe.

Petcore Europe, the industry organization representing the whole PET value chain, launched the Special Industry Group (SIG) to establish a strong and sustainable value chain in the development of re-using monomers from PET waste.

Christian Crépet, Executive Director of Petcore Europe, explains: “The mission of this new group is to facilitate a platform to position PET monomer recycling as a viable addition to the established mechanical recycling process, enhancing the circularity of PET.”

The SIG will use the networking and outreach of the Petcore organization to interact with legislators, regulators, NGOs and other stakeholders to ensure chemical recycling of PET is an acceptable business and fulfills the future requirements of the business environment.

Faster and better slider insertion for pouches

Faster and better slider insertion for pouches

Time is money and so producing things faster and with efficiency at or better than conventional methods is worth noting.

In the flexible packaging market, Fresh-Lock's Hurricane machinery uses new rotary-over-the-top insertion (ROTI) slider application during pouch production, an advancement that’s changing the production option for reclosable packaging because it results in more packages per minute (ppm), less complexity, better registration and more.

Fresh-Lock ROTI Hurricane slider inserter 332x464H

The ROTI Hurricane Inserter System shown is formatted for vertical zipper track (and film) and the Fresh-Lock Child-Guard slider. The system assembly includes the sortation bowl, the chute to bring the parts to the inserter and the inserter.

The Hurricane produces 200 pouches per minute in intermittent mode and up to 400 ppm in continuous mode, substantially more than traditional technology. With less moving parts, the system is easier to operate and leaves a small footprint. ROTI also places sliders over the track, for minimal to no interference, which significantly improves registration for a smoother insertion process. The machinery is designed for numerous types of sliders including Fresh-Lock mini Slider and Child-Guard child-resistant slider.

“ROTI technology creates flexibility in when the slider is inserted during the manufacturing process, depending on the customers’ needs and preferences,” Nick DeRue, Mechanical Development Lead for Fresh-Lock Closures, Presto Products Co. (Appleton, WI) tells PlasticsToday. “With the old system, the slider needed to be inserted onto the zipper track prior to being introduced to the film. The zipper track and slider were introduced to the film upstream of the longitudinal seal of the pouch machine. 

“ROTI technology can be used this way if desired, or it can insert the slider downstream in the pouch machine after the zipper track has been sealed to the film. This new method offers potential advantages such as more accurate placement of the zipper track, more accurate registration and a smaller footprint on the manufacturing floor.

“In most applications, the new ROTI technology can replace a standard Presto slider inserter, though some machine modifications are required. It also allows for a greater pouch opening and creates the potential for further improved registration.”

Retrofit option

The Hurricane can be easily retrofitted to existing machines and will help plants increase cost savings and operational efficiencies. The servo-powered ROTI technology is controlled by the PLC.

Previous insertion systems were part of a larger, integrated Presto machine, which has a larger default footprint.

The size and footprint of the new applicator system varies based on the slider model, the format and performance requirements of the machinery. A ROTI system for a smaller slider, integrated directly in a converting line, could consume as little as six inches of space in the machine direction. The greater footprint of the ROTI system, including a sortation bowl, is in the range of 18 inches x 18 inches x 24 inches. The footprint would increase as other slider-related features are added. 

Customers range from premade pouch converters to fully integrated brand owners, according to DeRue, who reports that there are several ROTI systems currently in the field.

Know Labs Jumps into the Highly Competitive CGM World with UBAND

Pixabay Know Labs Jumps into the Highly Competitive CGM World with UBAND

Know Labs is entering the world of diabetes management and monitoring with its wearable UBAND non-invasive Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). The Seattle-based company said strong pre-clinical results were causing it to focus more on the development of the technology.

In fact, results were so overwhelming that Know Labs decided to curtail plans for its previously announced calorie counter product for the consumer market, to work on the device.

In a release, Phil Bosua, Know Labs CEO said, “We initially believed our first product would be a wearable calorie counter for the consumer market. At this point we have seen such dramatic progress in the lab we can now go straight for that ultimate goal and reach the large global market of people with diabetes allowing them to continuously monitor their blood glucose without the need for finger sticks or needles for the insertion of filaments or sensors. The truly non-invasive device and lower costs will also make the UBAND CGM ideal for individuals with pre-diabetes who are trying to modify their lifestyle by diet and exercise. Our dream of creating a wearable FDA-approved non-invasive CGM is just around the corner.”

Know Labs said it will go down FDA’s de novo pathway to get the UBAND CGM approved. Here’s what Dr. James “Andy” Anderson, MD, Know Labs Chief Medical Officer said about the device.


Cruising Down the CGM Scene

If Know Labs manages to gain a nod from FDA for its wearable UBAND CGM, then the company would face some intense (and we do mean intense) competition from other players in the CGM market.

A glance at the CGM landscape shows Dexcom has garnered significant market share. A little more than a year ago, the San Diego-based company was able to reach an important milestone by receiving a green light from FDA to market the Dexcom G6 CGM System. The device is interoperable with other automated insulin dosing systems. The agency said the approval was significant because its decision classifies Dexcom’s CGM as a less stringent medical device and enables a speedier review for similar future systems.

Other major developments in CGM include Abbott Laboratories gaining a nod from FDA for the Freestyle Libre Flash and Medtronic’s continued progress with the Guardian Sensor 3. (For more on Abbott’s record success with the Freestyle Libre, please check out MD+DI News Editor Amanda Pedersen’s article titled “As for Abbott's Libre, 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet'.”

Senseonics is another company charting upwards in the CGM market. In June of 2018, the Germantown, MD-based company won a nod from FDA for the Eversense long-term CGM. The company said the system was the first and only CGM to feature an implantable glucose sensor and provide long-term continuous monitoring for up to three months. The approval wasn’t the final milestone for Eversense.

A few months after FDA gave its blessing for Eversense, the agency went on to approve an indication that would allow qualified healthcare providers to be trained and certified to insert patients with the device.

Before this measure, the sensor insertion and removal procedure could only be performed by trained physicians. And last month, the company received a nod from FDA for a non-adjunctive indication (dosing claim) for the Eversense CGM.

Plastic packaging giant ALPLA makes commitment to reduce carbon footprint by 10% by 2022

Plastic packaging giant ALPLA makes commitment to reduce carbon footprint by 10% by 2022

Global plastic packaging specialist ALPLA (ALPLA Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG; Hard, Austria) just released its third sustainability report, which includes detailed insights into the company’s development strategy. The report describes the progress of sustainable development from 2016 to 2018, which is used as a basis for establishing ambitious objectives for 2019 to 2022.

ALPLA plastic bottle production line

In the past three years, the company has reduced energy consumption in relation to production volumes by 6.6% and consumption of fresh water in relation to material usage by 40%. It far exceeded its target for using recycled materials: “Demand has risen sharply in the reporting period,” said Christoph Hoffmann, Director Corporate Strategy, Sustainability & Circular Economy. “ALPLA has more than 25 years of experience in recycling, both in the manufacture of recyclates and in their processing. That is why we’re able to offer our customers functioning solutions on both sides.”

While the company was not able to reduce its carbon footprint as much as planned, part of that was due to more company growth than expected “in countries with carbon-intensive electricity production,” said Linda Mauksch, Sustainability Officer at ALPLA. “Global targets can only be achieved with efforts by all regions.”

ALPLA has 178 plants in 46 countries. Seventy-two of those plants are “in-house,” meaning they are directly part of the customer’s operations. This approach reduces transport and carbon emissions. Many plants have planned and implemented their own sustainability projects. The sustainability report outlines successful examples of such projects in India, Brazil and Portugal.

As an innovation leader, ALPLA can also point to several flagship initiatives in the area of product development, from bottles made entirely of recyclate and home-compostable coffee capsules to the Simple One, an HDPE bottle that is up to 60% lighter than standard bottles. The company wants to bring at least three innovations to market each year through 2022. It also aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 10% in absolute numbers, even with projected annual growth of 3%.

In 2018, another partnership in Wolfen, Germany, joined the three PET recycling plants in Mexico, Austria and Poland. The four sites deliver 70,000 tons of food-grade PET recyclate per year.

ALPLA’s high-quality packaging is used in a range of markets including food and beverage, cosmetics and personal care products, household detergents, pharmaceutical products, and engine oils and lubricants.

With its New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, ALPLA has pledged to manufacture 100% recyclable products by 2025 and invest €50 million in the expansion of recycling activities, said the company. The volume of processed post-consumer recycled materials should rise to 25% of total material used in this timeframe.