April 2008

Automation by the Numbers


Boeing outsourced its new 787 Dreamliner to 14 major companies around the world. Usually the company designs, tests, purchases the parts. With the 787, they collaborated with major companies and had them deliver sections designed, built, and certified by the partners themselves ready for installation. Thus, Boeing could develop and build in parallel, reducing time to market.


The most popular RFID specification is ISO 14443. There is much interest in replacing the silicon chip in RFIDs. Cost is one issue of course, but performance is also a driver. Think edible RFID tags on meat.


Exxon makes a key component used in 35% of the lithium-ion batteries present in electronic devices. This part-a separator-partitions the anode and cathode while allowing ions through. Exxon is angling to get lithium-ion technology into cars and to have at least that much market share in the new generation of car batteries adopted by Toyota, Ford, and other carmakers. See the irony here?


China has been in a power-coal shortage since the beginning of this year. The stockpile of coal for power has been decreasing since mid-January and dipped to a supply of less than eight days of consumption during the end of that month. Poor weather, logistics, and increased electricity demand are all culprits.


The metric system is a decimalized system of measurement. "If God had wanted us to use a metric system, there would have been 10 disciples instead of 12," joke some Americans. There are only three nations that have not adopted the metric system: Liberia, Myanmar, and the U.S.