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Future Vision

Our resolution for 2017. Keep you updated on what's coming next.

Top 10 technology trends in 2017

1. 3D Printing
The speed, functionality and falling price of desktop 3D printers will continue apace in 2017, making them a must-have in any design-led organisation.
2. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Connectivity
Machines sharing data and control of each other without human intervention is the ‘industrial’ face of AI (artificial intelligence), with ever-more powerful controllers and PCs and Ethernet getting more embedded into the factory floor
3. Robotics
No strangers to industries such as automotive, robots will become a cost-effective option for more and more repetitive tasks as complexity and size continue to shrink.
4. Predictive Maintenance
Advanced inspection tools or products with built-in intelligence will help production teams predict when components are wearing out, avoiding equipment failures or unplanned downtime.
5. IoT
More and more manufacturing processes and products will become connected and share data via the internet, helping manufacturers improve productivity and reduce costs.
6. Smart Sensors
Vital to achieve the M2M communication, predictive maintenance and the IoT capability being promised. Technologies such as IO-Link and vision sensing are making previously dumb proximity or presence sensors smart.
7. Battery Technology
Advances in battery technology driven by mobile devices and EVs are starting to impact other, more mundane products such as power tools - a trend set to continue throughout 2017 and beyond.
8. BIG Data
Harnessing and leveraging the vast quantities of data available within a business or organisation will continue to be a hot topic, especially when supported by M2M and IoT.
9. NFC – Near Field Communication
A simple and secure way to configure devices without costly displays or buttons. NFC-enabling board-level technology is getting easier and cheaper to implement, so 2017 could be the year of NFC.
10. Miniaturisation
Wristwatches may be getting bigger, but downsizing is back on the agenda. We have products which help make control panels, components and machines smaller allowing designers to pack more technology into the same space.


Oxford Space Systems

When it comes to innovation, watch this space …

Harwell-based space technology business, Oxford Space Systems is a venture-capital backed, innovative company that’s rocketing product development for the new space age, having set a World Record for the space industry by taking its product from concept to orbit in just under 30 months – something that normally takes around a decade!

The AstroTube™ Boom System is the world’s longest retractable boom that can be deployed from a 3U cubesat (similar size to a loaf of bread), and was designed, tested and brought to market by Oxford Space Systems in record time, in line with the firm’s agile ‘fast and lean’ strategy for the so called ‘new space’ industry.

The company prides itself on the reputation it has built in a short time period of being the UK’s ‘go-to’ company for innovative deployable technology. The company utilises unique proprietary materials, such as flexible composites together with origami methodology to make its systems less complex, lighter and more stowage efficient– driving cost effectiveness for users of its products.

So when pioneering the development of deployable space systems and using non-conventional materials, speed is of the essence when it comes to accessing vital parts for the development and testing of products. In fact, it is critical.
A partnership that’s out of this world

Oxford Space Systems was founded in September 2013. Just three months into operations - whilst developing the AstroTube™ Boom System - it identified a need to develop a relationship with a supplier that could meet its need to access Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS), for both the mechanical structures and to facilitate in-house controls and product testing to verify they will withstand the extreme environment in space.

These products, which Oxford Space Systems sourced and bought through RS, have been vital to the development of the AstroTube™ Boom System and include the boom CPU, storage units - both volatile and non-volatile – and the motor driver for the deployment and retraction of the boom.

In these instances, not only is product breadth important to be able to get hold of the latest or most suitable products needed, but also speed of delivery as products can often be required within hours or next day at the very latest.

The need for speed

Mike Lawton, Oxford Space Systems founder and CEO explains: “We are a fast-paced business in a rapidly evolving industry. It’s never been a more exciting time to be in the space industry.

“Working in this way means we need to build relationships with like-minded suppliers who can cater for our needs and move at at the same pace as we do.
This is where the relationship with RS has really worked for us; we used RS-sourced parts to ensure we kept on schedule for the punishing development schedule to set a world record.”

The AstroTube boom system was launched on the AlSat-1N in September 2016, and will be used in its first commercial mission early Spring 2017. Gaining global traction for their novel deployable structures, Oxford Space Systems already works with satellite manufacturers such as Airbus Defense and Space (ADS) and Thales Alenia Space, as well as engaging with the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Products developed by Oxford Space Systems are also set to be supplied to other space companies in the US, Europe and Asia, so RS looks forward to growing the relationship with Oxford Space Systems to help it continue its mission to develop deployable hardware solutions to meet the challenges of the new space era.

Can we truly predict where future technology will take us?