Predicting the future is no easy feat without the help of a time machine. Often, that’s a good thing. But, sometimes, it’s not so good – one example being with restricted substances. If these substances are included in products, the results can be expensive fines, loss of market share and stock value, and (worst of all) damage to brand reputation. Many companies are struggling even to avoid use of substances that are already regulated. But, with new substances being added to restricted lists all the time, that may not be enough. How do we avoid using substances that are likely to become unusable during the lifetime of the product?
You may have seen that we just announced MI:Workflow, one of the most significant enhancements to the GRANTA MI platform we’ve ever made. Our aim is to give people control over the process of digitalizing materials information across their organization – helping them manage not only materials information, but also the processes required to ensure that information is requested, collected, approved, and released in a controlled, secure, traceable manner.
It’s easy to list the cool new features in the software: the ability to implement to-do lists, notifications, approval sequences, and moderation queues, as well as to create an audit trail. But the point about MI:Workflow is the powerful things you can do by combining these features with each other and with the existing materials information management capabilities of GRANTA MI.
The 2016 Material Intelligence seminar (and associated 5th North European Granta User Group meeting) was hosted by Rolls-Royce in Derby, UK, earlier this month. One (perhaps rather obvious!) message came through to me loud-and-clear: when you’re trying to figure out how to get the best from a technology, nothing beats hearing from those who are already doing it.
Amandeep Mhay, project leader of the enterprise materials information management project at Rolls-Royce, shared experience of rolling out this program over 12 years. A phased approach has grown usage from a few tens of engineers in one business unit to thousands enterprise-wide. The system collates, tracks, and qualifies vital materials information, and makes it available in a controlled manner. Its homepage is one of the top ten accessed web pages across Rolls-Royce and cost benefits are estimated at £6.9m per annum.
This week, I presented in a collaborative webinar with Cook Medical’s David Chadwick, Director of Regulatory Affairs, covering the best practise when applying materials data and predicate device information in healthcare. The healthcare industry faces a colossal task when choosing materials for use in new or existing medical devices. For those unfamiliar with the medical industry, the number of factors which need to be carefully considered when selecting a material for use in the human body can seem overwhelming; engineering properties, biocompatibility, effect of sterilization treatments, material-drug interactions, regulatory approval processes such as FDA approval and CE Marking, just to name a few. Continue reading
I recently attended the Additive Manufacturing for MedTech, BioPrinting, Medicine and Dental Summit in Boston and it was interesting to review the latest trends in the industry and think about their materials information implications. The event concentrated on the main challenges in Additive Manufacturing (AM) for medical, bringing together both major device companies (Stryker, GE Healthcare, Medtronic) and smaller consulting firms. It explored the latest printing techniques, ground-breaking research, and innovative materials for improving AM strategies, implementation and processes.
Originating from a research environment at Cambridge University, it’s in Granta’s DNA to collaborate with researchers, academics and other companies, and to enable such collaboration between other organizations.
But when I spoke to Dr James Goddin, who leads Granta’s collaborative R&D team, he said partners in collaborative projects can be initially reluctant to share data: “Sharing potentially sensitive or valuable materials knowledge with partners, and even with competitors, represents, for many, a significant conceptual hurdle.” Continue reading
When it comes to software development it is revolution that often grabs attention. An example here at Granta might be the recent new MI:Explore web app interface. But constant evolution is perhaps an even more important part of the story. Granta is constantly in collaboration with customers, industry consortia, and the education community with the aim of continuously improving solutions. After all, who knows better about their specific needs than the users themselves?
To understand more about this continuous improvement process, I had a chat with Dan Williams, the GRANTA MI Product Manager, about the latest enhancements to the GRANTA MI™ system (see July’s press release). Continue reading
Additive manufacturing, often referred to as ‘3-D printing’, is creating great excitement in advanced manufacturing. Use of the technology means that fully functional objects can be built from plastics and metal, layer-by-layer, in extraordinary detail, without the need for expensive moulding and with minimal post-processing required. Research in this area has attracted funding from governmental agencies seeking to establish a competitive advantage and offset the loss of much traditional heavy manufacturing to lower-wage regions. Such projects target increased automation, greater material and energy efficiencies, and a reduction in waste. To meet these targets, many practical challenges must be overcome—effective use of materials information will be an important success factor.
Regular readers of this blog will know all about gold. Now I’m going to talk about why green is the new gold, focusing on why companies are trying to deliver greener products, and providing some tips for how to do it.
Why greener products make good business sense
Companies often find that trying to lower the environmental impacts of their products also leads to lower manufacturing costs, through the reduction of materials, energy and waste. For designers, thinking about sustainability issues can offer a new and fresh perspective on the products they develop—helping them to spot opportunities for waste and cost reduction. Smiths Detection provide a good example of this. When redesigning an existing product with sustainable design principles in mind they were able to save nearly $160,000 per year in manufacturing costs (download the case study in PDF format here). Continue reading