Friday, March 30, 2012

Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 13

April is just days away, the Mega Millions jackpot has folks all abuzz on Twitter and the world of science news lit up with headlines about amazing new robotics technologies and key research finds — we're there to sift through the thrum of real-time news as it happens. Stay on top of the conversation at @BWCnews!

Credit: LA Times
1. Mega Millions Jackpot Reaches Record High on LA Times: Doesn't it blow your mind? The Lottery winnings this week have soared up past the half-billion-dollar mark. Folks who normally aren't the gambling type are buying in just to be part of the excitement. Can't wait to find out who the winners will be!

2. Army Wants Flapping Wings to Fly Drones of the Future on Wired Mag: Military drones that fly like a bird? According to Wired Magazine's blog The Danger Room, the military wants to look into this so-called "flapping wing" technology as part of their 2013 research.

3. Chocolate-Covered Creme Eggs With ... Beer?! on FastCo Design: We saw this video about the questionable variation on the Easter favorite, the Cadbury Creme Egg. Ummmm ... not sure about the weird flavor combo — would you try it?

4. Coffee Makes High-Achievers Slack Off on We don't want to read bad news about caffeine! But one study actually suggests that stimulants like coffee actually have a detrimental effect on people already wired to overwork themselves. For the lazier among us, it's actually more useful, the study found.

5. The Page Turner on YouTube: We're big DIY geeks over here, so we constantly check out Maker Magazine for cool new projects, updates and news items. This little video clip caught our eye — it's a page-turning contraption that's all for show, really. And probably the most elaborate way to turn a page — ever.

Credit: Daily Mail UK
6. A Stairlift for Obese Pets on Well if you wanted a visual show of American excess, here's a good one. It's a stairlift, not for the disabled or elderly, but for your pet. Spoiled much?

7. Ray Kurzweil's Speech at SXSW on The renowned inventor and thinker spoke at SXSW recently to espouse the gospel of the coming Singularity, when humans and robots will merge seamlessly with one another. It's an interesting conversation and this Q&A sums up the gist of his message at the conference. Food for thought?

8. Watch Live Eagles Hatching on Yahoo News: Did you know it takes 24 hours to two days for a little egret to hatch? Now you can see for yourself thanks to this video that circulated the twittersphere earlier this week. Cute!

9. Engineers Draw Robotic Inspiration From Bugs via the Bishop-Wisecarver Daily: More military research that made headlines this week — engineers modeled some reconnaissance robots after some creepy crawly bugs. How? Click through to find out.

10. Why Tesla Motor is Bidding on the Model S via Fast Company: The car company has a lot riding on its about-to-hit-the-market SUV, which this article says will run consumers somewhere around $50,000.

Credit: Fast Company

Monday, March 26, 2012

Coffee Chat: Join the Chain [ Actuation ] Gang

KEEPING A LOW PROFILE LoPro is our signature product line of linear actuators based on DualVee Motion Technology — pre-engineered units we launched in the mid-1990s in response to an increasing demand from our customers looking for long-length actuation. It's a super versatile linear motion solution that comes in custom lengths and a variety of actuation types. Namely, chain, lead screw, ball screw and belt drives.

For today's coffee chat, we wanted to focus on chain actuation — an option that makes us stand out in the industry because it's not widely offered in the linear motion market, according to our Project Engineer Brian Burke. Why chain actuators are not more commonly offered is a good question, but in this edition we've focus on the pros and cons of chain actuation, how it works and for what applications it works best.

PRODUCT OF ENVIRONMENT One main challenge for any actuator is how it stands up to contaminants, whether small and soft or large and gritty, aluminum chips or sawdust, Burke said. Some actuators grind to a halt when debris builds up in the guide and drive systems. The chain changes all that.

"LoPro is especially well suited for reliable operation in these extremely contaminated environments when configured with the chain drive option," Burke said.

Chain and sprocket drives work excellently in very dirty environments because the sprocket teeth fling away debris from the chain gaps, he explained. If contaminants start to build up at the sprockets inside the drive and idler ends, however, the chain can start conveying that debris. To make sure it doesn't, LoPro units come with an open bottom drive and idler ends to let the particles just fall through instead of accumulating.

SIZING IT UP All five LoPro sizes can come with chain actuation, Burke said, although lot of times, people choose the chain-drive actuators to hoist huge loads or carry them across pretty long lengths. From the roller chain #25 on the smallest through the #50 on our largest unit — all of which come with either carbon steel or corrosion-resistant stainless steel chain, sprockets, fasteners and bearings.

Since LoPro units are basically heavier duty when outfitted with chain actuation, they're normally manufactured in lengths that surpass the capability of ball screw-driven actuators, Burke said. By the way, remember that [ infographic we made that compared ball and lead screw actuation ]?

Ball screw actuators don't normally travel more than 96 inches, which for a chain-actuated drive, that length isn't an issue at all. But if the required travel length is longer than that, say around 600 inches, the best bet isn't chain but an AT belt drive, Burke said. If it's that long, the chain starts to drag inside the LoPro when positioned horizontally. Since chain is high-tensile, it works well for vertical applications, like lifting, he said. At least that way, the chain won't sag.

THE CONS Of course, there is a downside to every option — it's all a question of application requirements. For one thing, the metal-on-metal friction between drive sprockets and chain means it needs lots of lubrication to prevent wear and tear and eventual failure. The metallic grinding also means chain-driven rails get pretty noisy compared to other drive options.

Chain also gets stretched out over its usable life, Burke said. So it has to be adjusted after its first use and then periodically to make sure it performs well. And though they're great if moving in one direction, chain drives get a lot of backlash if they're bi-directional. Backlash means less linear accuracy compared to other drive options.

CIRCLING BACK AROUND LoPro units driven by chain actuation have many advantages over other drive options, Burke said, especially for dirty environments and long travel lengths. With enough maintenance and lubrication, chain drives can perform well for years. They're not meant for highly accurate applications because of possible stretching and the backlash, but they're great for vertical lifting functions. As we said earlier, it's all a matter of application specifics.

MOTION MONDAY CHALLENGE Since it's #MotionMonday, we're turning this into a game. This time, since we got a little wordy, we've concocted a crossword challenge to test your reading retention. The first 10 people to email the correctly answered puzzle will get some fancy BWC swag. You ready for this? Let's go!

[ Download the puzzle here ]

Friday, March 23, 2012

Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 12, Meet a Mechanical Squirrel

We're hitting the home stretch of National Women's History Month with a bang, reflecting on the accomplishments of women in manufacturing, science, technology and other fields. As a woman-owned manufacturer, we're proud of our place in that history. But our tweets this week touched on subjects ranging from the history to the futuristic — you'll just have to read on to see. For the coming week, follow us at @BWCnews, friends, and happy tweeting!

1. Women at Work on Throughout history, women have labored at home, on the farm and eventually in factories. We stumbled across this website of photos from the National Archive and Records Administration, which shows a pictorial history of women in the U.S. workplace, from the turn of the last century to the one before.

2. The World is Not Ready ... via Facebook: "The world is not ready for something as awesome as Bat Vader," the meme says. We found this one through one of our friends on Facebook. Check it out — we laughed!

3. A Robot Squirrel on Fast Company: This magazine has a feature that sums up "the week in robots." This week's edition featured some pretty entertaining video clips, including one of a squirrel robot that's baiting a tensed-up snake. Cool stuff!

4. More People on Our Planet Have a Mobile Phone Than a Toilet on This is one of several facts that took us aback about the world's water supply and how so many people across the globe struggle to find access to healthy water sources. Sobering realization. Definitely reminds us not to take for granted that water cooler down the hall.

5. Time's Top 140 Twitter Feeds on Time Magazine: OK, we geeked out hard over this one. Time compiled its favorite Twitter handles of 2012, a list that includes tons of really great-to-follow accounts, including lots of science-y ones like @AsteroidWatch and Bill Nye @TheScienceGuy.

Credit: Make Magazine
6. The DIY Bobbinator in Make Magazine: Something else to geek out over — this homemade "bobbinator" project that some inventor posted in this DIY magazine. It's a little how-to guide to making cheap linear actuators out of sewing machine bobbins. Clever!

7. Why B2B Companies Need to Up Their Communications Game on Fast Company: Can you tell we love Fast Company? Seriously, provides some of the best, most tweetable reads of the week. Earlier on Monday, we took a lot away from this article about how business-to-business marketing needs to take a page from straight-to-consumer PR practice. Because, as we say around here, no matter B2C or B2B, you're still marketing from person-to-person. Good read!

8. It's World Water Day via @NASA: More tweets about water! This one's to a link that takes you to a stunning photo of our water-doused planet from outer space. It's accompanied by a fascinating fact-sheet about the liquid life-giver that's all around us. Cheers to that!

9. Design World Motion Control Newsletter via Design World: Good to see all those BWC faces in today's e-newsletter sent out by Design World. Also lots of interesting links to articles about motion control. Check it out!

10. Robotic Invasion on Product Design & Development: Didn't know until today that there's some international robotics conference in Lyon, France, where industry  types show off the latest, greatest technology in the big bad world of robots. Watch the video!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Motion Monday: Science Fair Fun

Can you use "game theory" to predict the actions of Al-Qaeda? What does the solar panel of the future look like? What are the effects of UV-C light on e.coli? Does the angle of a wind turbine blade affect its efficiency? Those were just a few of the questions posited by middle and high school students at the Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair held last week at Los Medanos College here in Pittsburg, CA. 

JUDGING THE ENTRIES We attended because our founder, Bud Wisecarver, and our new Vice President of Manufacturing, Aldo DeAmicis, volunteered as judges. This marked our third year participating as a company, and Bud's third year judging. The math and science building on campus was full of displays, and the judges spent hours Friday morning poring over the project descriptions before students arrived for interviews.

PRIZE PROJECTS Since we are passionate about engineering, we also sponsored special awards in both the middle and high school categories. Bud and Aldo said they were impressed by the sophistication of some of the projects, particularly the works that examined electromagnetism, robotics and mechanical engineering, but two projects stood out among the rest:
  • Calling = Sending Electricity
    by Gale Ranch Middle School students Anirudh Makineni and Nishanth Salinamakki
    Using an electronic circuit to detect "unauthorized use" of a smart phone during class by passively illuminating a light-emitting diode co-located near the student  using only the signal that is being received by the smart phone as a power source. The illuminated LED would warn the teacher that someone was not paying attention to their lecture.
  • Revolutionizing the Modern Day Piston
    by California High School students Uttam Kumaran and Deepak Matharu
    Students examined how to use an electrical field to improve upon contemporary piston designs.
"It was inspiring to see the students' dedication and effort displayed at the science fair," Aldo said. "We judged several complex, forward-thinking concepts that were well beyond the students' curriculum level and were equally impressed with the comprehension and explanation of these concepts by the students during the interview phase of the science fair."

A big congratulations to all of the students who participated in the science fair. Your hard work is a great inspiration, and it was a pleasure to see the number of participants double this year!

MOTION MONDAY CHALLENGE So now it's game time. Instead of a word search, crossword or puzzle, we mixed up our #MotionMonday challenge with a picture game! Just click on the picture below to see it up close, a photo of our VP of Manufacturing at the science fair. There are seven things that are different in the second picture — can you find all seven? Let us know and we'll send the first five people with the correct answers a BWC swag goody bag. Just email the answers to Get your mind in motion!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Top 10 Twitter Posts – Week 11

New hires, new blogs posts, Pi Day — these all occupied our time this week and popped up in our Twitter feed here and there. It's always interesting to go back and review all the things that caught our fleeting tweeting attention since the week started. Here's a sample of what did ... to stay in the loop in the future, follow us at @BWCnews. "See" you next week!

1. To Find New Audiences, Reach Out to the Fringes on One of the folks in charge of marketing for Thrillist — a website for foodies nightlife enthusiasts — says one of the best way to grow your audience is to actually work with "would-be competitors to find new fans." Oh really? Go on ...

Credit: Bishop-Wisecarver
2. We Hired a New VP of Marketing on Crazy how many new hires climbed aboard so far this year, isn't it? The latest is Eva Woo, our energetic, forward-thinking Vice President of Marketing. She joined us in early March and we're super excited to work with someone who geeks out as much as we do about linear motion, rotary motion and big bad world of engineering. Welcome to the team, Eva!

3. America's War on Manufacturing on As some lawmakers started asking for tax breaks and other ways to support domestic manufacturing, some economists are opposing those kinds of industrial policies, says this article. That only hurts the U.S. economy, so why the attacks on U.S. manufacturing? "Rather than opposing industrial policy, economists should be promoting one that could boost long-term wealth creation," the author writes. "Manufacturing would then be treated at least as kindly as banking and finance." We couldn't have said it better. Read the rest by clicking the above link.

4. Someone Help Me! Is There a Machinist in the House? on Bishop-Wisecarver President Pamela Kan makes a case for the importance of manufacturing and machine shop jobs in her latest blog post. She decries the faulty notion that cutting-edge technology has somehow rendered manufacturing obsolete. Um, NO! Technology actually boosts manufacturing — almost every machine is run by a computer, she writes. And newsflash: Those machines don't program themselves. Good read, this one. Make sure to read the rest of her thoughts — and feel free to comment!

5. It's Pi Day, Pi Day, Gotta Get Down on Pi Day on YouTube: So Pi Day came and went, and with it countless jokes, parodies and interesting facts about the history of this endless mathematical constant. The thing that stuck in our minds, though? This parody of that terrible, terrible Rebecca Black song ("Friday," remember that?). You gotta watch it, even though Pi Day was so two days ago.

6. Companies with More Gender Diversity Perform Better on Fast Company: Since we're a certified woman-owned manufacturer, we can attest to the fact that a more gender-diverse workplace only improves the  vision of a company. And since March is Women's History Month, it's a fitting time to reflect on all the progress we've made toward gender equality — and all the progress that's yet to be made.
Credit: AP

7. The Ultimate Star Wars Bedroom on Star Wars fans, prepare to geek out — it's the bedroom of your dreams! Check it. You'll see what we're talking about.

8. Brilliant Show of Northern Lights on Remember those solar flares that hit the headlines last week? Well they caused a spectacular display of northern lights, or auroras, in some parts of North America. Product Design and Development mag published a really cool series of photos of them. Gorgeous!

9. Learn Geometry — How to Calculate Pi on YouTube: Another Pi Day find! Julie Clark, a high school math teacher, breaks this down in really easy to understand terms. While you're at it, check out the other videos in her series!

10. Tiny Wearable Kinetic Sculptures on Not sure how useful these are, but they're lovely to look at. It's like a set of wings for your fingers ... uh, that sounds weird. You just have to click the link to see what we're talking about!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Help Us Welcome Our New VP of Marketing: Eva Woo

We're on a hiring spree [ see our career page on our website ], and in case you haven't heard, we just added a new member to the executive team: Vice President of Marketing Eva Woo.

Eva comes to us with a really interesting background — she's helped some well-known start-up companies and taken on challenging marketing projects for massive corporations like Google — and we're very excited about her upbeat attitude.

Eva's marks the second big hire in the past month. Just weeks ago, we announced the hire of Aldo DeAmicis as our new Vice President of Manufacturing.

Eva said she's impressed with BWC's history — 62 years of manufacturing in an area that has lost so many manufacturers, even some owned by major international corporations. That long-standing history proved to her that we're doing something right, she said.

"The fact that for 62 years they have managed to keep a local manufacturing plant running in Contra Costa County told me that they are doing something right," she said in a press release we sent out today. "Bishop-Wisecarver's manufacturing facility in Pittsburg, CA, has outlasted other local manufacturing facilities owned by name brands such as Levi Strauss, Mothers Cookies, NUMMI and, most recently, Solyndra."

She's got a great point there! Glad to see our hard work, our imagination and willingness to take on new challenges is attracting the attention of great professional like Eva. Can't wait to see what grand things we can accomplish with the newest addition to our leadership team! [ Read the Press Release ]

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mo the Linear Guide Wheel in Motion with Einstein... VEE=mc²

Mo, our linear guide wheel mascot, knows all about getting from A to B, and today, he's on a roll with Albert Einstein [ look here for more great quotes on ]. We'd like to take a moment to recognize Einstein's birthday today, which also happens to be Pi Day. In honor of this German-born theoretical physicist, we'd like to share a few of our favorite Pi Day quips we discovered on the web today:

  • "What do you get when you take the sun and divide its circumference by its diameter?
    Pi in the sky."  [ ]
  • "Come to the geek side, we have pi." [ ]
  • "3.14% of Sailors are Pi Rates." [ archiearchive.files ]
  • "Why do they say π r squared? π are clearly round." [ ]

What was your favorite Pi Day joke from today?

[ Also, see this little wrap-up of some Pi Day Twitter chatter ]

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Q&A with Regional Sales Manager Bill LeBeau

Get to know Regional Sales Manager Bill LeBeau
Bill is one of the newer sales guys on the Bishop-Wisecarver team, coming to us just about a year ago now. He manages the Eastern part of the U.S. for us, overseeing sales reps in New England and surrounding Northeastern regions. During his quarterly visit at the BWC headquarters, he carved out some time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions. Got a few of your own for him? Email him at

Question: Tell us a about your background, your education, how long you've been with Bishop-Wisecarver and what you like most about being on the team?
Answer: I graduated from The University of Rhode Island, with a Masters Degree in Business, and I received an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering from Rhode Island College. I have been with Bishop-Wisecarver for one year. I like being part of a growing company with an opportunity to help build the future. Being part of a smaller organization also allows us to be nimble and respond to customer needs with speed, cost and quality in mind.

Question: What do you like about sales?
Answer: It's a really good feeling to help a customer from the start of a project and work with all levels of the organization to turn the opportunity into a sale. We have some great people who turn ideas into great solutions for our customers. I like to see end results, being in sales you either win or lose the opportunity.

Question: What do you enjoy most about working with engineers?
Answer: The thing I like most about working with our engineers is that they know our products extremely well. I am always impressed with how our engineers always seem to come up with a solution that impresses the customer, no matter how difficult a project can be. We also work with many engineers in the field, and I am always amazed at the wide range of applications we get involved in and how each engineer has a unique way of looking at possible solutions.

Question: What challenges arise from selling a product based on features and benefits?
Answer: By far, it is selling into what we would call a niche market. We sell into many different industries, but it is to solve specific problems. We really need to understand how our products can solve a customer’s problem better than the competition so we can highlight the features and benefits of our technology.  

Question: What makes for a good selling relationship with a customer?
Answer: A customer needs to trust you based on past performance. If we tell the customer we are going to provide something and we deliver it on a consistent basis, this builds a strong relationship. Our goal is to be the customer’s first choice when making product selections on linear motion. In order to reach that goal, great selling relationships are critical.

Question: If sales were a team sport, what would it be and why?
Answer: Football — it is the ultimate team sport. It takes everyone in the organization to be successful.

Question: Speaking of sports, what’s your favorite team or teams?
Answer: Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics.

Question: What do you like to do outside work?
Answer: I love the beach, boating, spending time with family and friends, and networking.

Question: What’s your favorite coffee beverage? Cream, no cream, sugar, no sugar?
Answer: I don’t do coffee.

Question: Favorite quote?
Answer: "It is no use saying 'we are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary."  — Winston Churchill

Monday, March 12, 2012

Motion Monday Puzzle: Rolling Around in a Rhoades

LOW-TECH, HIGH EFFICIENCY Let's keep things moving on this lovely #MotionMonday with a jigsaw puzzle! We picked this fun, visual challenge today because it's time you see photos of the latest vehicle to hit our plant floor. It's called a Rhoades car, and it's basically a four-wheeled bicycle with a little pickup-style bed to cart things around.

Our HR manager and president picked it out a month or so ago to make life easier for people who need to cart things around our massive warehouse. It's pretty cool, actually, and the company that makes it has an interesting history, which you can read about here.

MADE IN THE USA The company that makes these bikes prides itself on keeping about 80 percent of its parts and assembly in the United States. That's definitely something to brag about. As an American manufacturer of linear and rotary motion guides ourselves, we can appreciate the pride that goes into a true "made in the USA" product.

IN THE NEWS The Rhoades car garnered a lot of press throughout the last couple decades. Recently, Yahoo News wrote a piece on it, talking about how the quad bikes come in motorized and non-motorized versions, industrial or residential. Fancy that!

SEE FOR YOURSELF As proud owners of a shiny new Rhoades car, we'd like to show it off a little. But to see the picture you'll have to get a move on and start piecing together this mess of a Motion Monday jigsaw. Good luck! Don't forget to download the latest Java plug-in for your web browser.

Directions: You can click on pieces and drag around the board. Also, if you need to spin a piece, click on the shape with your mouse then click your keyboard arrows.

Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 10, Our Better-Late-Than-Never Edition

Solar flares, Kony 2012, manufacturing history and all kinds of news flickered across our Twitter feed last week. Here's our takeaway of the more memorable headlines, pictures, videos and thoughts in case you missed out on the conversation. Make sure you're a part of it this coming week! Just follow us at @BWCnews and tweet back!

Credit: NASA
1. A Space Weather App for Your Smart Phone on When last week's massive solar flares made headlines, it sparked a lot of folks' interest in the weather outside our own atmosphere. Well, NASA blasted out a friendly reminder that you can get all the latest space weather info sent to your iPhone or Android. Neat, isn't it?

2. From College Business Plan to Successful Company on Yahoo News: Sometimes it takes a while to grow up, learn the ways of the world and come into your own as an adult. Or, you can hit the ground running. This story's about a guy who did the latter. This college student won some cash in an entrepreneurship contest and instead of blowing it all, used it to start his own company. Today, the company's super successful. Read the article to find out how it turned out that way.

3. Underwater Robots Create Comprehensive Map of Titanic Wreck on Washington Post: Researchers have put together what the experts call the first-ever exhaustive map of the infamous 1912 Titanic wreck. The underwater robots deployed by this research team took somewhere around 100,000 photos of the shipwreck — incredible!

Credit: Digital Manufacturing Report
4. History-Rich Museum or Self-Marketing Apple Store on the Bishop-Wisecarver Daily: A column in the Washington Post makes the case for American manufacturing by asking that Congress OK funding to create a National Museum of Arts and Industry. Because American ingenuity pre-date "shiny Apple iProducts," the article states.

5. Parrot AR.Drone Joins with Epson Moverio BT-100 on Some tech prodigy merged some quadricopter with some 3D video game lenses (the Parrot AR.Drone and Epson Moverio, respectively) to create a super cool flying surveillance thingamajig. Neat!

6. How the Kony 2012 Video Went Viral via the New York Times: Regardless of whether you support the controversial nonprofit that put this video out, it's interesting to see it go viral in all of 24 hours. The NYT devoted an article in today's issue on the 30-minute documentary's viral popularity asking how exactly it achieved that. Interesting study in social media, if anything.

Credit: Business Insider
7. Top 10 Manufactured Products in the U.S. Export Industry via Business Insider: Any guess on what the nation's top exports are in its $2 trillion export industry? Well, to name a few: Electrical equipment, fabricated metal and machinery. Click through to see the other seven.

8. Check Us Out in Design World via TwitPic: Don't hate us for the blatant self-promotion, but seriously check out our glossy ad on page 55 of Design World's February issue. Sleek, isn't it?

9. Believe It — Harvard is Cheaper Than Cal State on You read that right! Recent fee hikes in California's public college system and private schools' penchant for being more generous with financial aid evens out to schools like Harvard and Stanford actually being more affordable to middle-income families, according to this study. It's pretty shocking when a school system once lauded for being democratic is pricing out most of the population from pursuing a higher education.

10. Starbucks to Launch Single-Serve Coffee Maker on Ad Age: Hey java-nuts, ready for your shot of coffee news? Sounds like the mega-corporate purveyor of fine coffee is ready to roll out a fancy new single-cup coffee maker. Another way to enjoy a shot of your gourmet bitter brew. Cheers to that!

Credit: The Street

Friday, March 9, 2012

Q&A with Vice President of Manufacturing Aldo DeAmicis

Aldo DeAmicis joined Bishop-Wisecarver about a month ago as our Vice President of Manufacturing [ check out his press release ]. Since he's had a little time to settle into his new role, we thought we'd steal a few more minutes of his time for a quick interview.

We wrote about his hire at the end of February, but since then we've learned a lot more about him. Like about how he plays hockey whenever he gets the chance (he was raised in C-eh-N-eh-D-eh, so of course that's his favorite sport). Or how he had to get special written permission to have an arm tattoo to get his job as a U.S. military intelligence officer. Or how he's an ardent scholar of lean manufacturing.

It's definitely exciting to have him on our team, and we will check in with him every so often to pick his brain (we'll share those conversations right here on our blog). Got a question of your own to ask him? Let us know and we'll pass it along. Just email them to

Question: You came from a big corporate background. What led you to join forces with a smaller family-owned manufacturer?

Answer: I felt that I could bring my knowledge of large corporate processes to a smaller company to propel efficiencies at Bishop-Wisecarver. Also, BWC's can-do attitude and dedication to customer service is inspiring.

Question: What have been some of your proudest moments, personal or professional?
Answer: Personally, the proudest moment of my life was becoming a father. Professionally, the day I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp holds a special place in my memory as a significant mental and physical accomplishment.

Question: Why did you pursue manufacturing as a career in the first place?
Answer: I enjoy the creation of tangible products. By working at a company that manufactures something, a piece of your legacy is embedded in that technology.  

Question: How does your military experience affect your leadership style?
Answer:  Being a leader of U.S. Marines has had a profound impact on my leadership style. Often people think that military leadership is purely autocratic; however I learned that a leader that respects input from all levels and leads by example are the most successful leaders.

Question: You’re big on lean manufacturing. Why?
Answer: In today’s competitive global market a company that does not embrace lean will not likely survive. By aggressively using tools that comprise lean manufacturing, Bishop-Wisecarver gains a competitive advantage and adds value to our products by completing production orders on time with minimal waste.

Question: What are a few of your goals for Bishop-Wisecarver during your first year?
Answer: My intent is to not only transform the factory floor to incorporate 21st Century technology and lean manufacturing but also to engage office personnel to go to the place value is added: the production floor. By actively participating in production floor walks or GEMBA walks we involve all employees in lean thinking.

Question: Favorite sport? Which team?
Answer: I like hockey. Growing up in Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada gave me the opportunity to learn the game as a youth and I continue to play in an adult league in San Jose, CA. Since there is no NHL team in my hometown, I have adopted the San Jose Sharks as my home team.

Question: What's your favorite quote?
Answer: Wayne Gretzky said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” I do not want to imply by liking this quote that I have mad hockey skills like “The Great One." However, to me, the quote transcends the sport and applies to life personally and professionally. By projecting ahead to what might happen keeps you relevant and drives you to position yourself to receive that advantage.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Application Spotlight: Linear Motion and Glitzy Glass

MOTION ACROSS THE OCEAN Liverpool, the city across the pond that spawned advances in motion like helicopters, steamships, electric trains and public trams, is home to a company that launched its own innovative motion control solution using our custom linear slides.

Credit: DiBro
DiBro — it's one of the largest plants in the United Kingdom that finishes glass bottles, according to an article by Packaging Europe. The way they finish the bottles is pretty cool, too. Their machinery coats different types of bottles in glammed-out metallic, lacquered or acid-etched finishes. And evidently, according to this same article, DiBro gets it done thanks to a custom system built around one of our hybrid HepcoMotion® Profile Driven Units, the PDU2. The story explains:
"The company is a specialist in its field but by its own admission no expert in linear motion. So when it came to automating a glass treatment process on the new plant to increase productivity it chose HepcoMotion to recommend the most appropriate system for linear actuation."
STEADY AS SHE GOES Basically, DiBro wanted to automate the process of spraying bottles with a special coating as they run along a conveyor through a kiln that slowly cools them so they don't crack from quick temperature changes. The PDU2 unit guides a spray nozzle across the conveyor to coat a row of bottles with every pass.

DiBro needed a system that drove at a steady speed so each bottle got an even coat. Plus, the sprayer needed super accurate positioning so that the sides were coated too, DiBro Managing Director Tom Dickinson said in the Packaging Europe article. This was a case in point of a customer knowing exactly what they wanted, but having limited technical know-how, HepcoMotion notes in the article.

The family-owned business set the new unit in 24/7 motion last year and it's already bringing in new business because of its improved efficiency.

Credit: Packaging Europe
THE NUTS AND BOLTS The belt-driven actuator at the core of the DiBro system works well for this demanding application because it's small and runs almost friction-free along Herculane® linear guide wheels on the inside profile, the article says. More about this unique application:

  • A firm-but-light aluminum profile fits the carriage and toothed belt drive, enclosing the unit to protect it against the damp environment.
  • Stainless fixings bolster the system's durability — a standard HepcoMotion offering.
  • HepcoMotion gave DiBro an extra-long beam to match the width of the lehr — the industry name for what's basically a glass kiln — and motor that actuates the PDU2.
  • How fast the system goes depends on the size of the bottles being painted, etched or printed. Typical speeds hover around 200mm per second. Since the lehr runs about 2 meters wide, it takes the machine 10 seconds to spray 50 perfume bottles or 15 one-litre soda bottles.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Go Small or Go Home: Tough Miniature Linear Guides

GAME TIME You ready for this? It's another round of our #MotionMonday madness, this time in crossword form about miniature linear guides! We're doing things a little different this week. Instead of having you read a page on our website, we wrote up a product primer right here. Read the blog on miniature linear slides, then test your memory with our custom crossword puzzle.


Still need an answer key? No shame — email

A BIG NEED FOR SMALL LINEAR SLIDE SYSTEMS As engineers try to improve efficiency and lessen environmental impact, the need for miniature linear guides and slides continues to grow. Shrinking electronic packages and systems challenge design engineers to create more compact products.

This especially holds true in the electronics and semiconductor industries, our Project Engineer Brian Burke told us. Engineers need increasingly small linear guides for a wide range of uses, like counter-top medical contraptions, packaging machinery, converting equipment, machine guards or doors and smaller electro-mechanical gadgets.

HELLOOOOO MINVEE® We introduced the MinVee product line in 2005 for customers with smaller linear slide needs — a low-profile, high-load-bearing linear rail based on our patented DualVee Motion Technology® (commonly used in the packaging, medical, semiconductor and laboratory industries).

MinVee lets you build linear guides into a smaller product, Burke says. And that versatility opens countless doors in the world of motion control. This tiny linear slide can mount onto sheet metal housings, door frames, T-slot aluminum extrusions and so many other surfaces. Basically, Burke says, this little trooper of a linear slide is a godsend wherever space is at a premium.

  • 6061-T6 anodized aluminum carriage (stainless steel lubricator housings and felt lubrication pads) 
  • Four size-0 DualVee integral studded wheels 
    • Carbon steel or polymer over-molded wheels with stainless steel bearings 
  • Service interval = 100km (62.1 miles at 23° C) and 50% humidity at stated load capacity 
  • Self-aligning track mounting shoulder for accurately positioning vee ways 
  • Double edge track design ensures parallel vee ways 
  • Pre-drilled track allows for immediate installation, no matching required
  • Standard pre-drilled track have thru holes 
  • AISI 1045 carbon steel, hardened polished or unhardened as formed, oiled 
  • Custom track coating and plating options: black oxide, electroless and nickel 

The four DualVee guide wheels are made up of two concentric non-adjustable wheels and two eccentric adjustable wheels, Burke says. The eccentric wheels allow you to adjust the wheel plate to the track. Even with the track support, the MinVee wheel plate measures only 1.75 inches wide, 2 inches long and 0.788 inches tall from the mounting surface.

[ Click here ] to read more about our MinVee product launch.

NEW TRACK SUPPORT Last year, we launched an optional track support extrusion to make it easier and quicker to install and integrate these miniature linear slides. The track comes pre-drilled with clearance holes with a new support beam (available in single-piece lengths of up to 10 feet) but you could piece together as many as needed to support longer lengths. Basically, the new support makes it faster, easier and cheaper to assemble a small, compact linear guide because it comes with inherently parallel mounting surfaces and fewer components.

[ Click through ] to read more about this new-fangled track support.

[ Thirsty for more knowledge ] about our tiniest motion system? Check it out!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Our Weekly List of Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 9

Spring has (almost) sprung! And the Twitterverse is a'twitter with all kinds of riveting conversations. Ready for a new week of twit-chat? Join us at @BWCnews. Your tweet just may end up in our next round-up!

1. 'A Gorgeous Herd of Stop-Motion Zombies' on Here's a film we'll line up to see! It's a stop-motion animated film about a zombie uprising. Can't go wrong with that!

2. How Higher Fuel Prices Could Help American Manufacturing on the Bishop-Wisecarver Daily: It sounds like an oxymoron, but this Tim magazine article explains that the boom in car manufacturing has less to do with vehicles and more to do with gas prices. How so? Click the link to find out.

3. BWC Demos: LoPro Linear Actuators on Design World: The folks at Design World caught up with one of our engineers at the West Pack show we attended last month in Anaheim. They interviewed us about one of our demos and kindly posted the resulting video online. Check it out!

4. New 'Games for Engineers' Page on We keep adding, tweaking and otherwise improving our website, which often means adding new sections for you to peruse. The latest is a page the houses all the word searches, crosswords and other fun engineering-related games to give you a fun break from your work day. What do you think of the added feature?

5. Surfing Swag Sheep on YouTube: Here's a totally off-the-wall clip that will leave you in stitches — yes, a surfing sheep. It's some type of advertisement, but it's probably the most hilarious thing to land on the internet all week. Enjoy. And don't forget to find this swaggin' sheep on Facebook, too. It has its own fan page.

6. A Bishop-Wisecarver Businessweek Profile on We found out through a Google alert earlier this week that the newspaper of note included us in their business listings. We're honored to be a part!

7. Engineering Top Ten Lists on Our friends at EngCom put together some succinct lists of engineering-related things like the top engineering schools, top gizmos and gadgets and other interesting sum-ups. May come in handy!

8. New App Lets You Print 3d Models Straight From Your Android on 3D printing gets a lot of buzz, and here's the latest about a new tool that lets you print stuff right off your Android device. It's not available to the general public yet, but hey, here's a sneak peek at the next big thing in 3D printing!

9. Automated Ink-Jet Labeling Robot on We met our pals Fanuc Robotics at the West Pack show last month, when we started following them on Twitter (@FanucRobotics). That's how we stumbled across this cool video application example they posted online this week. Another eye-catching demo, just like the ones we saw at the trade show!

10. Bionic Legs Help Paraplegics Walk on Robotic exoskeletons are officially a type of medical therapy. A company called Ekso Bionics gave its first pair of lower body supports to a guy in Colorado who's been unable to walk for years. Amazing!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's Gettin' Screwy in Here — Ball Screws and Lead Screws

Sometimes a theme just happens, even when we didn't plan for it. Like this week, when inspiration struck we created a video AND an infographic that were related in theme without us even realizing the similarity. It all started with us filming a short demo about our PSD80 and PSD120 — a line of precision screw-driven linear guides. That same day, we launched our latest infographic about the broader topic of ball screws and lead screws.

Funny how that works, right? Subconsciously we knew how perfect these two were for each other.

VIDEO POST Our latest video demonstrates two different types of compact screw-driven linear guides we offer using the HepcoMotion® Hurculane® linear guidance technology. It's a quick video that explains the basics of this type of linear guide. Check it out below and let us know what you think!

INFOGRAPHIC POST Our latest infovisual explains a related concept — the difference between two types of screw-driven actuation used in linear motion systems like, say for example, our PSD80 and PSD120 — let us know what you think of our latest infographic! [ Download and print the infographic to tape up in your cubicle! ]

'Something To Look Forward To'

Bud Wisecarver once again signed up to judge the Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburg, the same city Bishop-Wisecarver calls home. March 15 to 17 will mark the sixth year the company founder and lifelong inventor will volunteer at the local academic event.

He told us he'll keep volunteering as long as they keep asking for him.

"I've been involved in this fair since its inception because it's local, and I've supported local schools in any way I can for almost as long as I've been working," he said when we interviewed him this week for a news release. "Fairs like this are important because they give kids something to look forward to, especially since there's scholarship money involved."

We'll be at the mid-March fair to take photos, video, quotes and other snippets to share online with you. In the meantime, if you're in the Bay Area, why not sign up as a volunteer yourself? [ You can do that here ] Or make a financial contribution of your own? [Just read the details on how right here ] There's also a chance for you to contribute your own special award, if you're so inclined. [ The fine print's all online] And for a little background, check out this clip from the 2010 fair at Los Medanos College.