The High Price for Free Flight

Eric Lyttle brings up a lot of great discussion points in his article, “Rise in amateurs' use of drones raises risk to other aircraft.” As the consumer market for drones grows and grows, so do the risks involved with having such lax enforcement of laws in place. The article references Lt. Greg Estep, Columbus police heliport overseer. He expresses concerns about people flying drones at events with heavy air traffic, and often times at night, such as Columbus, Ohio's annual Independence Day festival, “Red, White, and Boom.”

As an industry standard, almost all drones come with lights on the bottom so that the pilot can tell which direction it is facing. Yet, even with those precautions in place, for someone manning a helicopter or a plane, a black drone flying at night might not be seen until an easily preventable tragedy becomes unavoidable.

“You get a drone sucked into a tail rotor flying over 300,000 people. It could have been a disaster.” He goes on to add, “the amazing thing is, there's no way of finding out who was flying the drone... and the [Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)] regulations have no teeth for a hobbyist.”

These regulations Estep refers to are the standards that the FAA has placed for consumers when flying an unmanned aircraft.

  • No flying within 5 miles of an airport.
  • Aircraft must remain within sight of pilot at all time.
  • No flying above 400ft.
  • Fly safely (avoiding areas with large pedestrian traffic, buildings, etc.).

Lyttle follows up Estep's statement by easing some of the concerns that readers may have, stating facts like, “airspace up to 3,000 feet above any stadium of 30,000 capacity or larger during a pro or college sporting event is considered 'national-defense airspace,'” and that, “there also are Ohio laws against... flying an aircraft while intoxicated, or voyeurism if a drone user is shooting video with a drone outside a neighbor's bedroom window.”

Drones are doing wonders for streamlining the workflow of a multitude of industries, but still have a lot of potential for malevolence. The FAA seems to be in a bit of a bind on whether the future of flight lies in harder regulation of consumer airspace or maintaining basic boundaries.

This discussion of how to properly govern the sky is not one that is specific to the United States either. Many of the arguments being made, such as concern of mid-air collisions between manned and unmanned aircrafts, are happening on a global level. More than 670 permissions for commercial drone operations in the UK alone were granted by the Civil Aviation Authority in 2014.

Madhumita Murgia published an article for the British newspaper, The Telegraph, in which she talks about the collaboration between NASA and the UK to create a drone traffic system. The system would, “track and trace all drones, especially those flying below 500 feet, irrespective of whether they were flown by commercial or leisure pilots.”

She goes on to talk about a recent Forrester report that envisioned what will happen if regulations fail to grow at the same rate as drone use:

“Imagine thousands of drones operated by hundreds of businesses delivering products or capturing data in dense urban areas like New York City, Chicago or San Francisco... Without a common set of technology protocols and rules of the air, chaos could reign.”

The drone traffic system would be doing what today's market is not: adding accountability to those manning these aircrafts. Currently, if someone crashes their drone into a plane or a building, the only thing holding them accountable is their own conscience. This traffic system may be the missing link to, as Estep put it, add some teeth to the FAA's regulations.

With more and more drones entering the sky everyday, to avoid a future like the one laid out by Forrester, something needs to be put into place.

As the first official chapter of the Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle Systems Association, with Murphy Company's CEO, Loren Stone, as president, Murphy Company will help lead the dialog and guide initiatives to maintain freedom for flying while simultaneously committing to put the safety of the public first and foremost.

#MCUAV#MCNews #MCDrones #MCTech #TheBuzz #UAVSA

Platinum Series Baseball

We are proud to announce that our logistics division, MC Logistics, signed on with Platinum Series Baseball (PSB); a fast paced, tabletop, card and dice game, licensed by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

The board game utilized crowd funding from 160 backers last May to reach over 160% of their $5000 goal, peaking at a grand total of $8,193. Reception is very positive, gaining a diverse array of attention. Everyone from mom-and-pop hobby shops to national names like Walmart are hopping on board to bring baseball fans the opportunity to manage their very own team from the comfort of their own home.

To help us welcome PSB aboard, please enjoy this short video we made using footage taken during our first shipment.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/SUvUvbvhV58&rel=0]

For more information, visit their website at PlatinumSeriesBaseball.com.

Drone Deliveries Closer Than We Think

By Michael Murphy Talks of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for deliveries have taken place for years, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was understandably apprehensive about allowing unregulated use. Companies like Amazon have had to put their plans on hold. Dreams of a science fiction style future grew more distant daily.

Yet, on July 17, the FAA allowed a UAV to deliver medical supplies to a free clinic in western Virginia for the purpose of practicing research flights.

For a lot of companies, this is a huge moment. It is an indicator that the FAA recognizes the impact of expedited delivery and is taking big steps towards making it happen.

Unfortunately, this Kitty Hawk moment comes with a slightly bittersweet taste to some. Some wonder why, during such a historic moment for the United States, NASA and Virginia Tech chose an Australian drone start-up, Flirtey Inc., instead of one of the countless other American made drones.

In 2013, in exchange for equity, the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) created a partnership with Flirtey toprovide access to UNR's R&D Labs. Flirtey could then design, manufacture, research, as well as use their indoor flight testing facilities and supply graduate students an opportunity for hands on work.

They joined up with Zookal to create the world-first drone delivery test in October of the same year, in which they conducted over a hundred successful test deliveries of textbooks. Managing such an accomplishment was only made possible by strategically aligning themselves with areas that featured, what they call, “friendly regulation.”

This is a massive step in the right direction for increased delivery time for anything from medical supplies to consumer products.

From the Battle Field to the Corn Field

By Patrick Demkovich. For a long time, the term “drone” had a connotation of violence, seen only as an instrument to end life. Over the past year though, as the applications of the technology diversify, the word leaves the tongue without such a bitter taste.

American farmers are now eager to put this high tech tool to work on the homeland. As the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) loosens restrictions on the commercial market, the possibilities for farmers are literally taking off.

The small, relatively inexpensive vehicles assist humans in a variety of ways around large farms, like transmitting detailed information about crops, accurately directing the problem areas, and cutting down on the amount of water and chemicals that a farmer needs to use in those spots.

The data collected by drones can be pictures, 3D images of plants, thermal readings of crops or animals or other observations that can be made by air. In the past, information that may have taken days to collect can now be gathered in minutes or hours. In some cases this information can be integrated with separate data collected from other high-tech farm machinery.

It is now common practice to blanket entire fields with chemicals. With drones being able to pick out problem areas so precisely, it will be transformative to the agriculture industry, who will be able to limit spraying to just those areas. With how quickly these machines are advancing, it is not beyond belief that someday they will be able to apply needed chemicals to each individual plant.

The FAA approved more than 50 exemptions for farm-related operations since the beginning of the year. Many companies have been helped by the advances in this technology and witnessed growth in their business in this short time. Still, most farmers cannot legally fly the vehicles yet.

The FAA is working on rules that would allow the drones to be used regularly for business, while maintaining certain safety and privacy standards. An FAA proposal this year would allow flight of the vehicles as long as they weigh less than 55 pounds, stay within the operator’s sight and fly during the daytime. Operators would have to pass an FAA test of aeronautical knowledge and a Transportation Security Administration background check.

The future of drone use with agriculture is evolving. It's uncertain whether farmers hire services that have unmanned aerial vehicles or every farm get its own drone. Time will tell.

Until then, we will just have to keep watching the skies.

Product catalog

In the digital age, keeping a company technologically relevant is absolutely crucial. Over the past few months, Murphy Company has been busy giving our digital presence a much needed facelift to simplify the online experience for our customer. In addition to the many site-wide updates that are currently rolling out, we have also been working on a printable, comprehensive product catalog. The idea behind adding a print component to a plethora of digital updates is that we want customers to be able to place orders and find the perfect solution for their business needs regardless of internet connectivity. This extensive catalog features:

    • An up-to-date directory of all of our products, pricing, and services
    • Current, high resolution photographs, taken in-house
    • Easy to navigate, intuitively categorized layout

Keep an eye on our blog, as well as any of our social media outlets for more information about the catalog release. Until then, watch this short behind-the-scenes video of Simon during the product shoot.

Commercial Printing Market Forecast for 2015

To stay on top of the most innovative trends, it is important to keep tabs on where thought leaders predict an industry is heading. In a recent Printing Impressions E-Newsletter, senior editor Erik Cagle has given us some insight into what the printing industry has to look forward to in 2015. In order to know where we are going, it is best to know our starting point. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the first quarter of 2014 printing shipments dropped 4.7% compared to the same period in 2013. Though there was improvement through the rest of the year, some of which can be attributed to the mid-term elections and politicians’ continual belief in the power of print, the first quarter loss set the stage for just a 2% increase for the year.

The 2% was exactly what Dr. Ronnie Davis, chief economist for Printing Industries of America (PIA), had expected. Davis is also predicting a 2 - 2.5% increase for the economy during the next two years, which he claims is "still short of the typical recovery range of 3 - 4%."

Davis goes on further to presents a number of statistics. One that is not so encouraging shows that the number of shipments for commercial printing and print-related media dropped off by more than a billion dollars compared to 2013. Yet on the bright side, printer profits have increased from 1.7% for all printers and 8.7% for profit leaders just ten years ago, to 2.7% for all printers and 9.9% for industry leaders. Some printers are even making 15 - 20% profit. To position ourselves within these market indicators, Murphy Company is diligently investigating new, competitively priced opportunities and products for its customers.

Cagle’s article also includes some insight from another leading economist in the printing industry, Andre Paparozzi, chief economist for the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL).

Graph indicating the 2014 quarterly printer profit increases

Paparozzi is encouraged by the strength of printing sales. The previous four quarters saw sales increases of 2.7%, 2.5% 1.5% and 3.3% respectively -- the industry’s strongest growth performance during four consecutive quarters since 2007. NAPL is forecasting industry growth of 2.2 - 3.5% for 2015.

Unlike Davis, Paparozzi’s numbers indicate that print margins are under fire. 46.3% of NAPL’S research group reported that their pre-tax profitability was higher than a year ago. The explanation for the two different outcomes where profitability was higher is due to companies having done something to increase revenue or decrease costs, Paparozzi notes, as opposed to competitive pressure easing.

PIA envisions increased sales for the next two years in segments such as package printing, converting, label/wrapper printing, general commercial printing, quick printing, direct mail printing and signage.

After looking at some of the numbers put out by two of the industries’ leading economist, it looks as if we can be cautiously optimistic about the New Year.

#MCGraphicArts #Forecasting #MC2015 #MCPrinting

2015 International Consumer Electronics Show & the Future of 3D Printing

Last week, 170,000 people gathered in Las Vegas for the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the largest global tech conferences and a forum to discuss the consumer technology market's most relevant issues. Some of the world’s most powerful business leaders, industry thought leaders, and creative minds were in attendance, as well as over 3,600 manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology. Attendees experienced the latest advancements in everything from robotics, sensors, and electronic gaming to 3D Printing, digital imaging/photography, and wearables.

Murphy Company Goes West

Murphy Company CEO Loren Stone headed out west, to the forefront of chaos and inspiration in Las Vegas to get a better understanding of the future of 3D printing.

"The energy and excitement at the premier electronics show is beyond words I can offer," Stone says. "The innovation and forward thinking with products and services for consumer and business use is astounding. It is important that Murphy Company is here as we continue to be an industry leader. We are especially interested in 3D printing, as we continue to build out this product line. The Consumer Electronics Show is the place to be for this."

All Eyes on 3D Printing

According to a recent press release from the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA), 3D printing's presence at the CES has doubled in size from the 2014 to 2015. This year featured over 40 companies and booths, many showcasing new printers attempting to find a distributor or looking to get some brand exposure. One of Murphy Company's preferred vendors, Mcor, received the Best of CES 2015 Award in the 3D Printing category. Mcor makes the first and currently only paper based 3D printer.

“We are honoured to receive this distinction,” said Dr. Conor MacCormack, co-founder and CEO of Mcor Technologies. “This award further validates our SDL paper based 3D printing technology as the most unique and best suited to providing wide access to low-cost, professional quality 3D printing.” By using sheets of copy paper, users can make 3D printed models that can be tapped, threaded, hinged, made water resistant and flexible, as well as being entirely recyclable.

Building With Innovation

A few companies decided to shift their gaze away from the printers themselves, and instead focused materials. Makerbot and Protoplant announced a slew of new filaments, soon to be market ready, including wood, metal, carbon fiber, even a conductive filament that could allow for the printing of circuit boards.

A small sampling of MakerBot PLA composite filaments

MakerBot CEO Jenny Lawton intentionally refrained from introducing a new printer at CES, but instead claimed she wants to create "the most comprehensive 3D Ecosystem to support our customers." She goes on to recognize the difficulty that 3D printing entails. "It is not plug-and-play. 3D printing takes work and takes software and hardware that make it work. We are focused on improving the overall 3D printing process to make it easier and more accessible for everyone.”

3D printing's consumer accessibility may take some time to truly take off in the mainstream, but with the integration of new filaments, having an opportunity to print using materials apposite to the project at hand may expedite a pique in consumer interest. Pair these materials with the increasing affordability of desktop printers, and we may see this pique happening within the next few years. In an attempt to help this process along, Murphy Company is positioning ourselves with industry leaders, as well as creating opportunities for enthusiasts to stay updated on industry news.

For more information on this year's conference, check out the CES wrap up video.

#MC3DPrinting #MCLasVegas #CES