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Proxxi saves workers from getting electrocuted

There are some gadgets that are nice to have – iPhones, sous vide wands – and some gadgets that you must have. Proxxi fits in the latter camp. Proxxi is an always-on sensor that buzzes when it gets too close to high voltage electricity. It’s worn by mechanics and electricians and alerts them when they’re approaching something dangerous. The Vancouver-based company just sold out of its initial commercial evaluation units and they’re building a huge business supplying these clever little bracelets to GE, Con Edison, Exelon, Baker Hughes, Schneider Electric and ABB. The bracelet connects to an app that lets workers silence warnings if they’re working on something that is energized and it also tracks the number of potentially harmful interactions wirelessly. This lets management know exactly where the trouble spots are before they happen. If, for example, it senses many close brushes with highly charged gear it lets management investigate and take care of the problem. Founded by Richard Sim and Campbell Macdonald, the company has orders for thousands of units, a testament to the must-have nature of their product. They raised $700,000 in angel funding. “All of this is critical to enterprises looking to mitigate risk from catastrophic injuries: operational disruption, PR nightmare, stock analyst markdowns and insurance premiums,” said Macdonald. “This represents a whole new class of hardware protection for industrial workers who are used to protection being process driven or protective gear like gloves and masks.” The company began when British Columbia Hydro tasked Sim to research a product that would protect workers from electricity. Macdonald, whose background is in hardware and programming, instead built a prototype and showed it around. “We initially found that all utilities and electricians wanted this,” he said. “The most exciting thing we have discovered in the last year is that the opportunity is much larger covering manufacturing, oil and gas, and construction.” “It’s a $40 billion problem,” he said. The goal is to create something that can be used all day. Unlike other sensors that are used only in dangerous situations, Proxxi is designed to be put on in the…

6 Things Small Manufacturers Must Do to Stay Competitive in a Changing World

Manufacturing is changing, fast. You already knew that, though. The real question is, what can you — as a small manufacturer beset on all sides by competitive pressures the likes… Read more » The post 6 Things Small Manufacturers Must Do to Stay Competitive in a Changing World appeared first on Noobpreneur.com.

5 Ways the Modern Assembly Line Moved to Automation and Back to Humanization

Since the debut of the modern assembly line on at the Ford Plant in Highland Park, Michigan on December 1, 1913, manufacturers have continually experimented with improving its promise of speed, efficiency, and reliability. Far from a static technology, the assembly line invites change: Automation via robotics, new factory designs that lower manufacturing’s environmental impact, […] The post 5 Ways the Modern Assembly Line Moved to Automation and Back to Humanization appeared first on SmallBizClub.

9 Ways Digital Fabrication Benefits Small Manufacturing Businesses

The world of manufacturing is in a state of flux. Digital fabrication, including 3D printing digital prototyping, has made it easier for small manufacturers to design and create new and innovative products. If your manufacturing business isn’t already using these techniques, here are some of the top benefits to consider that could change your mind. Digital Fabrication Benefits It Offers Opportunities for Automation Digital fabrication, first and foremost, allows manufacturers to use technology to create even intricate designs rather than having to rely on manual labor. Josh Worley, lead designer for Opendesk, a platform for local making and digital fabrication in the furniture industry, said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Digital fabrication technologies allow small independent manufacturers to automate/ semi-automated the production of complex parts that would have previously only been possible via traditional hand-tooling or more costly, inaccessible batch/ mass production tooling.” It Saves Teams Time In addition to the actual creation process being more streamlined, digital fabrication can help businesses save time on the preparation involved. Worley says, “Designers and engineers are familiar with digital fabrication technologies and are often able to provide makers with manufacture ready files, meaning less costly/ time consuming preparation work. Services like Opendesk and 3D hubs have standardised file formats and make it very easy for makers to maximise the use of their digital fabrication tools without any investment in marketing and lead generation.” It Saves Money on Multiple Fronts Because of those benefits, digital manufacturing essentially allows small manufacturers to operate more efficiently and with lower costs. You can save money on labor, since team members won’t have to spend as much time on intricate techniques and prep work. The initial equipment investment can also be a bit less expensive than traditional manufacturing equipment. It Makes Local Manufacturing More of a Possibility Those cost saving benefits also allow manufacturers to operate nearly anywhere, rather than automatically opting for locations with inexpensive labor and then paying to ship products around the world. Worley adds, “Digital fabrication tools twinned with the world-wide web make it possible to manufacture and price locally, cutting…

10 CAD Tools for Your Small Manufacturing Business

Computer-aided design, or CAD, is an essential tool for any manufacturing or product design business. There are plenty of different software programs out there that can help you with this function, but knowing which ones to choose can be a bit tricky. Dan Taylor, content analyst at software review and research platform Capterra said in an email to Small Business Trends, “You have to be careful choosing CAD software, because while CAD is used in manufacturing it is also used in construction, and some software may be suited more for one than the other. This is why it’s important to try out software first.” CAD Tools If you’re looking for a new CAD software to try out for your manufacturing business, here are a few different options to consider. AutoCAD AutoCAD is a 3D CAD program that Taylor says is popular with a lot of manufacturing and product design companies. It’s available for Mac and Windows on a subscription basis, with different rates depending on the length of your subscription. Features include 3D modeling and visualization, customization options and a mobile app for working on the go. DesignCAD From TurboCAD, DesignCAD is a software suite that offers both 2D and 3D design options. The 3D CAD program includes features for rendering, animation, modeling and more. The program costs $99.99 with optional upgrades also available. Solidworks 3D CAD Solidworks offers three different versions of its CAD software. The standard edition includes 3D design features for creating parts, assemblies and drawings. The premium and professional versions then include some advanced collaboration and simulation options to take those designs to the next level. Pricing is customized based on each company’s needs, so you need to contact the team directly to determine the cost and features you need. A free trial period is also available. Vectorworks Vectorworks offers a number of different software options for different types of design and products, ranging from architecture to structural design. So you can check out the different options and find the one that best fits with your business’s niche. The company also offers mobile solutions and a…

10 Software Products to Make Your Small Manufacturing Business More Efficient

In order to run a successful manufacturing business, you need the proper tech tools in place. Software can help you to manage all parts of the supply chain, from materials and inventory to job tracking, without having to create manual processes for everything. However, there are so many different choices for software available, so it can be difficult for some manufacturers to even know where to start. Dan Taylor, content analyst at business software review and research platform Capterra offered some tips in an email to Small Business Trends, “It’s got to have good financial and inventory management tools. It needs to allow the user to do material requirements planning (MRP) to manage the manufacturing process. It should have a safety management feature. All of these features together provide a holistic manufacturing management solution.” Manufacturing Software Options While different manufacturers are likely to have different needs in terms of software, here are a few popular options to help you in your search. E2 Manufacturing System The first program that Taylor recommends is E2 Manufacturing System. From Shoptech Software, this tool includes a full array of management features, from order and inventory processing to job tracking and shipping. The company offers a list on its website of the specific types of manufacturing shops that can most benefit from its software, including assembly shops, mold shops and wood shops. You can also request a demo to see if it would be a good fit for your business. SAP ERP From the well-known German enterprise SAP, this manufacturing suite includes cloud-based and on-premises enterprise resource planning solutions. There’s one that’s made specifically for small businesses, one for medium sized businesses and an enterprise version. The small business solution offers functions for managing supply chains, purchasing and even accounting. JobBOSS JobBOSS is another software that Taylor says is especially popular with manufacturers. It’s a customizable solution. So you can pick and choose the functions that you want included, from the basics like quote processing, inventory control and shipping to optional add-ons like quality control and payroll. The company also offers both cloud and on-premises…

10 Major Challenges Facing Your Small Manufacturing Business

Much has been made of the decline in U.S. manufacturing. But the U.S. still produces more than 18 percent of the world’s goods. So manufacturing is still alive and well. However, small manufacturers in particular face a fair number of challenges, including competition from large domestic businesses and those around the world. Here are some of the most prevalent issues impacting small manufacturers and tips for overcoming them. Small Manufacturing Challenges Lower Costs Overseas U.S. based manufacturers face competition from all corners of the globe. China in particular has been a source for intense competition since they can produce products for a fraction of the price it costs to make those same products stateside. According to Andrew Clarke, founder and president of consulting firm Ground Floor Partners, labor costs in China were roughly 10 percent as high as they were in the US back in 2011. He added in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “They have risen substantially since then, but are still far less than in the US.” Changing Regulations Of course, a major part of the reason that U.S. manufacturers can’t compete with their offshore counterparts in terms of price is because of labor costs and government regulations. The U.S. is also constantly adding new regulations and compliance issues that can force manufacturers to make adjustments, causing them to spend even more on monitoring compliance. Rising Quality of Offshore Manufacturing While the cost of products manufactured outside the U.S. have risen in recent years, so has the quality. So manufacturers also need to make sure they can keep up with the competition on that front. Clarke says, “Twenty or thirty years ago when manufacturing really started mocking offshore, foreign production quality was poor. That has changed. US manufacturers face much more competition than they used to, and quality is part of that equation. Everybody has to up their game when it comes to quality. I don’t see that changing either.” Countries with a Reputation for Quality In fact, some other countries tend to be known for their high quality products and can sometimes appeal more to…

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