Schaumburg, IL– Misumi has been a major force in the mechanical and factory automation markets for over 45 years. Through its product innovations, combined with its unmatched CAD Configurator and online ordering system technologies, Misumi has changed the landscape for machine and assembly system design engineers worldwide. You’ll find Misumi products onboard a growing number of machines and systems in myriad industries, owing to the upsides of this unique company’s business model. Not surprisingly, the company’s annual sales topped the $1 billion dollar mark, several years ago.
As a fundamental element of its business philosophy, according to Ms. Misa Nishimura, the company’s director of marketing, “Misumi believes quite strongly in helping to develop the next generation of design and manufacturing engineers, all around the world. To that end, in 2007, we began to co-sponsor the NHK University Robot Contest in Japan as well as Robocon, a contest created by the Asia-Pacific Broadcast Union (ABU) and held in a different country, each year. In August, 2008, Robocon was held at the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) in Pune, India, where 17 teams from 16 countries competed in what I would characterize as the Olympics of student engineering competitions.”
Student teams from various countries competed for the right to represent their country in the Robocon, which always involves a themed challenge. This year, in honor of the host country’s rich Hindu tradition, the challenge was based on the celebration of Dahi Handi, the mythological story of Lord Krishna stealing butter from the Ghee pot. In parts of India, the celebration takes the form of govinda or teams of youth running through the streets and building human pyramids to reach the pots, which are suspended above street level and filled with various treats, cash and other prizes.
For the 2008 Robocon, the student teams were required to build robots that would remove three cubes of low-density polystyrene, symbolizing the butter, from the bowls, symbolizing the handi, then hold them elevated for three minutes. The first team to successfully complete the task would be named the winner.
At this year’s contest, the winning team was from Xi’an Jiao Tong University in China.
As Ms. Nishimura explained, all regional offices of Misumi around the world are authorized to sponsor such competitions in their business region. In the U.S., through the company’s unique Empowering Young Engineers (E.Y.E.) program, Misumi may offer the students participating in a robotics competition up to $100 worth of mechanical and automation products free, with the company further covering all shipping and special modification charges. This encourages students who are participating in a robot competition to use the Misumi CAD Configurator to build their unique assemblies. Because many Misumi components can be configured down to a 0.1mm incremental dimension, very precise and yet flexible robotic assemblies can be designed, engineered and built by these enterprising and imaginative students. One such competition is the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science MOBOT Races, won this year by students Michael Licitra and Jeff McMahill.
Another example was a recent competition held at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, where students Joel Logue and Masafumi Iai of the Lunar Miners were building their Binary Autonomous Continuous Excavation System (BACUS). As Iai described it, “This mobile unit is powered with a pair of small motors driving two, custom fabricated tank-like tracks. One mobile base carries the excavation conveyor that can be driven into the regolith with another motor for higher pressure and greater performance capability. The excavated regolith is carried to the back of the machine, where it’s transferred onto an expandable transportation conveyor suspended between the two mobile bases. The remaining mobile base seeks the collector bin and serves as an anchor and offloading point for the regolith. The unique part of our robot is that the excavation process is completely continuous. This continuous process has been found to be the most efficient method in the mining industry.”
Masafumi Iai from the Missouri University of Science and Technology works on a robotic device for excavation of regolith. His team, the Lunar Miners, used numerous configured components from the Misumi catalog to complete their design, including shaft, gears, chain and bearings.
For their BACUS machine, they required a variety of structural and motion control components, including axle shaft, drive chain, gears and bearings. As Logue explained, “Since the quality of the axles directly effect the efficiency of our machine, we chose to purchase these components rather than fabricate them ourselves. The large number of parts in the Misumi catalog and especially the CAD Configurator let us find the right parts to suit our design rather than being forced to modify our design to suit the commercially available parts.”
Both these young engineers agreed, “If it wasn’t for the company making exceptional parts and materials, we would never have been able to realize our design in an effective manner.”
Logue also commented, “We entered this design competition to put the knowledge and skills we learned in the classroom to use in a real world simulation. By participating in such events, we want to prove to ourselves and to others that the young engineers of today can compete and challenge the engineers and the scientists in industry who have many years’ more experience than we do. We know we can do the job and be successful.”
What you just read is exactly the spirit Misumi seeks to sustain, by its sponsorship of these robot competitions. Keep thinking, students.