OEM Off-Highway & the Universe

If you know me at all, you know I love to bring up arbitrary bits of semi-related news from the science community. It's one of my favorite perks of being the editor of an engineering technology publication. This issue was no exception. When I first started writing about the new magnetic encoder product line released by The FRABA Group, I was fascinated by the Wiegand Effect and how it allows a singularly directional magnetic field to breach a threshold and flip creating just enough energy to store the information in absolute sensing systems; a process FRABA has exploited to enhance its product offering and eventually replace its optical encoder product line.

What made the magnetic flipping even more interesting was a recent podcast discussing the Earth's magnetic poles and how they have been weakening, leading scientists to believe this may be the beginning of an eventual flip in the Earth's magnetic poles. Before you go out and stock up on water and canned meats, let me clarify that this would not be the first time the Earth's magnetic poles have flipped, which is based on the geological striping pattern found at mid-ocean ridges. 

So, what does this have to do with the January/February 2014 issue of OEM Off-Highway magazine? Not a whole lot. But it was a stunning example of the macro and micro perspectives of magnetic fields and how our understanding of the larger fundamental properties of the universe allow us to apply them to create advanced and useful technology. 

Similarly, the article on Scania's Eco-roll system on page 33 utilizes another of the four fundamental forces: Gravity. (The first force was the unmentioned but referenced electromagnetic force.) The Eco-roll system determines when a truck should use gravity to roll downhill with its transmission in neutral based on GPS location combined with topographical maps. Scania's Active Prediction system makes the calculation automatically as to which driving mode is the most fuel efficient, contributing up to 2% overall fuel savings.

On a totally unrelated note, OEM Off-Highway is turning the big 3-0 this year! Looking back, it's amazing to see how this magazine has morphed over the years, much like the biological evolutionary process of organisms based on external environmental factors, but I digress; we've covered enough science for one lesson. From an agricultural supplement to a stand-alone magazine read by thousands of engineers and designers around the world; that's quite a journey in just 30 years. To celebrate (but really it was just a coincidence) we have a brand new website (still at www.oemoffhighway.com) launched on the latest Responsive Design platform, so you can access all of our content on any device—desktop, tablet or smart phone. Try it out and let us know what you think!

Heading to Vegas in March? Don't forget to look for us at IFPE in the South Hall at Booth 81133. Stop by and say hi! We'd love to put a face to a name and get to know our readers more.