Stay informed

An end-of-year review – item blog highlights from 2021

The days are getting shorter, the festive season is fast approaching – and 2021 is drawing to a close, too. That means it’s also time for the annual round‑up of our blog highlights! 

A key focus of our item blog for years now has been digitalisation in mechanical engineering and design – which isn’t surprising really, given the pioneering role item plays in digital engineering. 2021 has been no exception – quite the contrary, in fact. In January, we started the year as we meant to go on by providing a fascinating insight into the advantages of virtual reality for production planning. What’s more, the collaboration between item and the start-up Halocline featured in that blog post doesn’t just apply to the item Engineeringtool – work benches created with the Work Bench Configurator can be tested in virtual reality, too. We examined this tool highlight of the year in more detail in a comprehensive post – with 3D view, intuitive drag-and-drop controls and smart functions such as visualising the electrostatic protected area (EPA), planning a customised assembly work bench is easier than ever before. Other posts on digitalisation focused on topics such as what the engineers of the future will be like, examples of Industry 4.0 or the opportunities of digitalisation in assembly work.

Delving into the world of lean production

The lean philosophy has been a key focus of the item blog from the outset. At the start of this year, we published another post in our popular lean production series. This time, our lean journey took us to Kolín in the Czech Republic, where Toyota Motor Manufacturing Czech Republic (TMMCZ, formerly TPCA) has created a large-scale Karakuri/LCA bridge on the basis of the Lean Production Building Kit System. The students of the next generation are also enthusiastic about this form of automation, which requires no pneumatic, electric or hydraulic drives. This was evident in our post about NORDAKADEMIE, where Professor Volker Ahrens offers a teaching module dedicated to Karakuri/LCA. The course offers students an understanding of the underlying principles and enables them to acquire valuable practical experience of mechanical automation and team organisation. Although we’ve often mentioned push and pull principles in our blog, we hadn’t actually dedicated a post to a detailed comparison of these in previous years. We therefore did just that in July this year – and our comparison particularly highlighted how the pull principle can reduce throughput times in a targeted way.

In areas such as machine loading, cobots help achieve increased throughput, consistent quality and added safety for staff.

A wide range of robotics applications in industry

The market for robots is continuing its strong upward trend. We recently introduced a blog category dedicated to robotics applications to cover the wide-ranging topic even more effectively. Lightweight robots such as cobots are proving popular, thanks to their exceptional flexibility, which means they can provide valuable support in many areas of application. Cobots are a perfect solution, especially when it comes to repetitive, unergonomic tasks, such as palletising and machine loading, screw fixings and welding and assembly and sorting. item profile technology provides the ideal basis for creating flexible and safe solutions to optimally integrate lightweight and industrial robots into existing production facilities. More posts on the benefits and possible applications of robots can be found in the new blog category.

Cinematic performance – item profile technology provides the basis for the “Stowaway” film set.

Pushing the final frontier with item profile technology

Every year, unique ideas that take even us by surprise spring from the creativity of our customers and collaborative partners. Our building kit principle provides them with the flexibility they need to turn their ideas into reality. We were particularly blown away when our profile technology appeared on Netflix in 2021. The production crew of the science fiction film “Stowaway” was particularly looking for high‑quality materials, clear contours and a modular system, and so decided in favour of the MB Building Kit System. They used this modular system to create the base structure for a space station – not to mention other elements, such as beds, steps and partitions.

We were particularly blown away when our profile technology appeared on Netflix.

Our next example of an application also takes us to dizzying heights – Swiss students have developed a hybrid rocket to conduct an experiment under weightless conditions at an altitude of 9.6 kilometres. The team used profiles from the MB Building Kit System to construct special rocket trackers and a remote filling station for the rocket. Meanwhile, here on planet Earth, Franka Emika came up with an impressive solution for a problem that (unfortunately) continues to challenge us all. Automated COVID‑19 testing by a robot means a much lower risk of infection for patients and medical staff alike. What’s more, test capacities can be quickly scaled up. The test robot is enclosed in a cabin made of Line X Profiles.

We hope you have found our blog topics interesting and inspiring in 2021, too. We would like to wish all the readers of the item blog, our customers and our partners a happy festive season and a successful start to the new year. We’ll be taking a break over Christmas, but the item blog will be back on 12 January with our first blog post of 2022.