Websites have always been a natural medium for companies to disseminate raw product information through data sheets and catalogs. Increasingly though, manufacturers are finding that they can use their websites to help engineers do their job. Take, for example, the job of designing sub assemblies or systems.
Any engineer who has ever had to configure a multi-axis Cartesian Motion System (CMS) knows the drill: You have to design, size, select, assemble, and test the linear actuators, brackets, controls, drives, cable carriers, encoders, etc. Doing it from scratch for a three-axis system can take a week. The Linear Motion and Assembly Technologies Group of Bosch Rexroth Corp. (www.boschrexroth-us.com) plans to use its website to shorten the process.
Starting this month, the company will have on its site a CMS Selection Tool that the company says will boil the process down to a matter of a few hours.
The CMS Selection Tool marries the Group's series of standard CKK compact modules with the ECODrive C's products from the Bosch Rexroth Controls Division. The company has pre-configured, pre-assembled, and pre-parameterized the models. Among the base parameters they've set are maximum travel, ball screw lead, and module size so engineers don't have to do that. As long as an engineer stays within the parameters, the system will work.
Also due on the site this month is a 3D CAD "generator." It lets engineers choose the configuration they want, put in the travel per axis, the cable length, the mounting location and orientation and then get back a 3D CAD drawing within minutes.
Capabilities like that are increasingly finding their place on manufacturers' websites. So too is training.
Ormec (www.ormec.com) provides its site's visitors with a description of its training courses and a calendar of training events. CAD developer think3 (www.think3.com) has two different training sections on its home page. One is called My Training, which allows visitors to plan their own special training curriculums on such topics as general design techniques and using legacy data. The other section is called Web Training, and it's the company's primary way of training customers in the use of its CAD products. Users select the version of think design they have, and then learn the essentials online.
We too at Design News are making full use of the Internet's capabilities for providing technical information. On October 19, we launch our E2E (Engineer to Engineer) initiative, a whole new way for us to help engineers keep up to date on new technology. The first event in this initiative is E2E on Motion Control and Automation. Planned by engineers, this online event is a virtual technical conference with breakout sessions on such topics as network communications, drive technologies, motor selection, and new ideas. In each session, engineers will discuss the hottest topics and newest technologies, with plenty of time for questions from the engineers attending online. And, each breakout session will include a virtual library of additional information, including white papers, research reports, and data sheets. You can register at www.designnews.com/e2e.
E-training and E-assistance of all kinds are among the reasons that the Internet is fast becoming engineers' most valuable tool. Let us know what web features have been helping you.
Reach Teague at firstname.lastname@example.org.