Artist's rendition of the Industrial IIoT

Design Insights: The Reality of AI; Four Factors on Ball Screw Speed

May 12, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

The Reality of AI

I rewatched the 1984 film Electric Dreams last night. It is the typical love story of how boy meets girl, computer meets girl, and boy and computer fight over girl. Leaving aside the Casio wristwatch hardware of the day, it was ahead of its time in the way it showed how, by absorbing the information around it, the computer learned how to speak, write music and intelligently control—and ultimately dictate—the life of its owner.

If that story was what the movie called a “Fairytale for Computers,” it’s far more real today, but without the malevolence. The use of artificial intelligence is growing, and a recent study cited by Machine Design this week points to the growth of not just AI, but also the maturity of that use.

The KPMG survey, “Thriving in an AI World,” looked at both adoption rates and use across seven business sectors, including industrial. Roy Mathews, managing director for data and analytics at KPMG, said the growth in smart factories is a logical progression for the industrial sector. “Smart factories and smart products are the areas that are natural to IM, given the proliferation of Industry 4.0 initiative,” Mathews said. “There is an incentive to automate. AI is a huge catalyst for Industry 4.0.”

Despite concerns over training and security, Mathews said industrial manufacturers are moving AI to the next phase of implementation. “The use of AI over the last decade has generally been experimental, but in recent years we have started to see a move from experimental stage to a production at scale mode,” Mathews said.

Four Factors on Ball Screw Speed

A new article from Motion and Thomson Industries discusses the use of ball screw for high-speed operations. While there is a limit to speed in any system, the ball screws have been preferred for their value to operate at constant higher speeds.

There are four things required of an optimized system:

  • Fixed end supports for the screw assembly
  • Higher leads to increase linear speed
  • Large-diameter screws to increase the load capacity and the RPM rating
  • Internal return systems for the ball nuts

But, as the article notes, “many other factors come into play, including load characteristics, positional accuracy, repeatability, required life expectancy, dimensional constraints, input power requirements, environmental conditions and available budget.”

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