The evolution of medical machines
High precision gear expert, Harmonic Drive, has released an infographic tracking the evolution of medical machines, from the dawn of the humble stethoscope to modern medical robots.
Machines have been synonymous with innovation and the advancement of the human race for centuries, and the way they interact with our lives is becoming increasingly symbiotic. From the motorcar and smartphone to industrial automation and medical devices, our lives, and particularly our jobs, would be completely different without the evolution of the machine.
As we rely more and more on machinery to manage and support medical professionals, it is important that accuracy and repeatability become ingrained in the tools we use, especially as we move into the age of the robot. Nowhere is this more important than the healthcare sector.
“When you look at the evolution of medical machines and devices you can clearly see a pattern,” explains Graham Mackrell, Managing Director of Harmonic Drive UK. “As electronics and automation have developed hand in hand, we’ve applied both in innovative ways to improve the quality of healthcare. For instance, the first electrocardiography (ECG) machine was developed in 1903 but medical engineers lacked the means to produce the first wireless ECG machine until a century later in 2003.
“Now we’re seeing robot technology being applied for the benefit of patients in the healthcare system. As with any medical device, it is vital that the increasing trend towards robotics in the operating theatre is supported by precise electro-mechanical technology to ensure patient safety. The next phase of evolution for medical machines will see increasing demand placed on medical robots, and Harmonic Drive is on hand to provide the specialised gears and drives required for accurate, repeatable and safe performance.”
Gears like Harmonic Drive’s new CobaltLine gears, which are compact and suited to the joints of robot arms, ensure zero backlash and smooth operation, minimising risk to patients.
As medical original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) develop new and revolutionary devices, Harmonic Drive can help them create machines that effectively and safely execute their vision.
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.