Sometimes the simplicity
of a design can mask its benefits and applicability for the intended
audience. That's the case with IBM's Hinged Platform Tool, a patented
technology that helps packaging engineers more effectively configure heavy
Many heavy electrical components - for
example, the processor and memory nodes for a mainframe computer - are shipped
to sites in horizontal packaging so that the longest side of the component can
rest flat on a shipping pallet, ensuring optimal stability. The problem comes
when it's time to install that component, which typically needs to be
reoriented to a vertical position. A single design engineer in charge of the
configuration may not be able to switch the position of the component without
exposing himself or herself to injury or without causing damage to the
electronics. IBM's Hinged Platform tool is designed so a single individual can
manually upright a very heavy component easily, without the use of electricity,
hydraulics or excessive manpower.
"We took a combination of packaging
specialists, human factors ergonomics specialists, development guys and service
people and came together to figure out a design that, for the least amount of
money and with no special hydraulics or equipment person, could perform the uprighting
process," says Sharon Spaulding,
packaging engineer at IBM. "It looks very simple when you look at
it, but to get to the actual design was very complex."
The IBM Hinged Platform Tool, made out
of high density polyethylene, has a unique frame and hinged base design that
allows the heavy electrical component to be easily slid into place within the
tooling and reoriented to the proper position by a single individual. The
design incorporates spacing to accommodate an individual's foot to ensure optimal
stability during the process. The choice of the light, high-density
polyethylene material also contributes to its high functionality as it's
allowable in data centers - unlike wood or other plastic materials, Spaulding
says, and the Hinged Platform Tool design supports the transport of multiple
components, not just those affiliated with one specific IBM mainframe.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.