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Genomics will not be harmed despite intense whaling

Fin whales are the second largest creatures on our planet, surpassed only by blue whales. They can reach a length of around 20 meters – and require up to two tons of food per day. Accordingly, they release enormous amounts of nutrients – with significant effects on ocean ecosystems. Industrial whaling, however, has significantly reduced their numbers. It was aimed at the tran of whales as raw material and was particularly intensive between 1880 and an international agreement in 1986. Today, the number of fin whales worldwide is estimated at about 100,000 animals; the species is considered endangered according to the Red List. A new study by scientists from the LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG), the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center (SBiK-F), and Icelandic and Swedish research institutions shows the consequences of their decimation for the populations and especially for the genomic diversity of fin whales. Fortunately, their results show no long-term genetic weakening of this species.

After fin whales were hunted in the early 20th century until local whaling industries collapsed in some places due to declining catches – such as in the waters around Norwegian Finnmark in 1904 – there were fears of glaring consequences, including extinction of the species due to inbreeding. For the study published in the journal “Molecular Biology and Evolution”, the scientists now examined 51 genomes of a North Atlantic fin whale population from Icelandic waters for the first time. Using the samples from 1989, 2009 and 2018, they developed demographic models that allow conclusions to be drawn about population changes over around 800 years. The analyses focused on whether whaling also affected the genetic diversity of fin whales.

The team concludes that whaling had a strong impact on populations in the North Atlantic, decimating them to as much as twenty percent of their previous size within about one hundred years. However, the team also showed that different populations were hit differently by whaling, as the genomes of some animals showed little or no trace of this population reduction.

“Looking at the genetic diversity of a species allows us to draw conclusions about whether and how well that species can adapt to new environmental conditions or changes in its population, or whether it is likely to go extinct. Therefore, genomic analysis can often reveal trends before they become overt. However, in the case of North Atlantic fin whales, we did not detect a significant loss of their diversity in the long-term perspective.”

– Magnus Wolf, lead author of the study

Other genetic consequences within the depleted fin whale stocks also appear to have failed to materialize. Neither did the scientists* find evidence of frequent inbreeding, where genomes become unnaturally similar, nor could a greater number of genetic defects be detected that would burden the population in the long term. “Such mutations occur all the time, but they are more noticeable in small populations because sometimes there are then no animals without the mutation left to prevail,” Wolf said.

So, compared to more endangered cetacean species such as the blue whale or North Atlantic right whale, current human impacts seem to be the main obstacle to fin whale recovery. These include increasing shipping traffic and pollution of the seas. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified fin whales as an endangered species on its Red List. Therefore, there is currently no all-clear for their situation, emphasizes Prof. Dr. Axel Janke, lead scientist of the study, scientific coordinator and spokesperson of the LOEWE Center TBG and also working at SBiK-F and the Institute for Ecology, Evolution and Diversity at Goethe University Frankfurt.

“It is fascinating how genomic insights can contribute to our picture of whale conservation. Genomics is emerging as a key technology not only for species conservation, but also helps us understand what biodiversity actually is and how we can use it. Whales are not only impressive animals, but despite their long lifespan of up to one hundred years and their body size, they also seem to develop hardly any tumors and are thus resistant to cancer. Deciphering the genomic mechanisms that cause this paradox could help us address one of the most consequential diseases in human history.”

 

News Operation & Maintenance Processing Technologies

Cost savings through digital hydraulics service

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The CytroConnect Solutions service offering from Bosch Rexroth helps recycling companies avoid high downtime costs or even contractual penalties. The customized packages of real-time monitoring, data-based analyses, and complementary spare parts management maintain the availability of hydraulic equipment such as scrap shears, shredders, and presses. At the same time, the intelligent combination of cutting-edge IoT technology and hydraulics expertise minimizes maintenance and extends machine life.

The reuse of raw materials is a permanent fixture in the economy. As part of the supply chain, however, it also leads to high deadline pressure and, not least, requires seamless availability of shredders, scrap shears and presses.

If hydraulically driven recycling machines such as shredders, scrap shears or presses fail, there is a threat of contractual penalties. If trucks, trains or ships have to wait for the load, the consequential costs quickly climb into five to six figures. Acute shortages of skilled workers and the simultaneous supervision of distributed sites cause unnecessary delays in maintenance. In addition, recycling companies lose service life, material and budget if they replace hydraulic parts on a fixed cycle as a precaution. Bosch Rexroth counteracts all these economic disadvantages and financial risks with the three service packages CytroConnect Monitor, Maintain and Predict.

Flat rate against failures at a fixed monthly price

Plant operators achieve the highest possible availability and service life of components with CytroConnect Predict. Using predictive analyses and detailed status reports, the experts make maintenance recommendations at such an early stage that the affected components can be replaced in a planned manner. This reduces the user’s previous maintenance effort by up to 50 percent. Complementary services such as complete spare parts management with guaranteed delivery within 24 hours further optimize availability. The service fees usually pay for themselves within a year, but depending on the application, they can also be recouped with a single avoided downtime, as the following real-life example shows:

Through predictive analytics and predictive maintenance of scrap shears, an international company with over 100 distributed yards can avoid high downtime costs. Previous downtime costs per case were around 600 euros, plus penalties of up to 100,000 euros per day if shiploads of steel bales did not leave for overseas on time. Wear on the shear is detected at an early stage on the basis of the pressure peaks and torques on the electric motors, so that the operator can replace the tool in a planned manner in the future. The far-flung maintenance staff is sustainably relieved and now needs less time for troubleshooting, maintenance, planning and spare parts procurement. In addition, monitoring saves electricity costs because the system avoids operation with increased energy consumption.

In another use case, a recycling company avoids unplanned shutdowns and subsequent costs through predictive analysis of waste shredders. The shredded waste has since been delivered on time again as fuel to a cement plant. Previously, frequent failures of hydraulic pumps and electric motors resulted in regular penalties and additional costs for temporary storage of the delivered waste. The maintenance department, which was suffering from a shortage of skilled workers, was relieved of this burden in the long term.

In addition to the all-inclusive CytroConnect Predict service, Bosch Rexroth also offers the basic CytroConnect Monitor package, which provides pure real-time monitoring with access to historical data from the last 24 hours. As an introduction to the topic of rule- and data-based analyses, Bosch Rexroth recommends the CytroConnect Maintain package. The service package monitors the condition of components in the background using predefined rules, warns of damage via push messages, and supports the continuous optimization of applications with regular performance and usage reports.

All three service packages already include the respective required dashboards and sensors. Recycling companies benefit quickly and easily from intelligent and sustainable failure protection.

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News Operation & Maintenance Processing Technologies Quality Management

Transparent and efficient processes with QM software

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Focus on user-friendliness 

Working with people requires a completely different understanding of quality than in the manufacturing industry. Social, communicative and interpersonal goals are in the foreground, but at the same time social institutions must also meet business and legal requirements. A well-structured quality management system supports social service providers such as Lebenshilfen, welfare associations, operators of day-care centers or operators of other social facilities.

ConSense’s software solutions stand for transparent, user-friendly quality management and integrated management systems. The software helps to make processes clearer and more efficient, to clearly define responsibilities and to fulfill documentation requirements. At the same time, the management system facilitates compliance with the standards and guidelines applicable to the respective facility. The ConSense software solutions have been developed with a special focus on user-friendliness and the mapping of realistic processes. Employees can navigate quickly and intuitively on the clear interface, and a comprehensive search function guides them directly to the desired content. 

Software-supported quality management saves time

The QM software enables complete electronic QM documentation with automated, intelligent document control. Further automations, such as the targeted distribution of information, the request for notifications and the revision and archiving of documents, significantly reduce the administrative workload for employees. At the same time, the software offers integrated process management including a process editor for simple and fast process modeling. This simplifies the continuous improvement of processes and the transparency and clarity of documentation increase. 

QM software for social institutions with many locations

Management system software solutions are suitable for organizations of all sizes. With a wide range of functions, interfaces and configuration options, they can be optimally adapted to the needs of the respective institution. The IMS ENTERPRISE solution, for example, is ideal for setting up an integrated management system in facilities with multiple locations or complex organizational structures. All applicable standards and regulations are systematically mapped under a uniform interface and compliance with specifications is supported.

In addition to the quality management standard DIN EN ISO 9001, many other standards or guidelines are also relevant in the social sector, such as DIN EN ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety), HACCP (hygiene concepts in relation to food), DIN EN ISO 15224 (quality management in healthcare), KQT (Cooperation for Transparency and Quality in Healthcare) and the AZAV regulation (Accreditation and Approval Regulation for Employment Promotion). An Integrated Management System helps to harmonize these and thus also makes it easier to meet the criteria for accreditations or certifications.

The solutions for QM systems and integrated management systems from the Aachen-based software developer can also be supplemented as required with modules, such as for measures management, audit management, training management and many more, and thus specifically tailored to the requirements of the organization.

Easy roll-out, mobile deployment

These software solutions can be rolled out quickly and flexibly within the company. The ConSense PORTAL is a web-based management system solution for which the company can also provide hosting. The web application simplifies and accelerates the roll-out compared to desktop applications. Since it can also be used on the move, it is particularly suitable for social institutions whose employees work with the system regardless of time and location.

 

 

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News Operation & Maintenance Processing Technologies Water & Waste Water

Microcomputer brings water data to cell phone

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Andreas Scharf, a computer science student from Coburg, uses microcomputers to network elevated tanks in the water industry. This is how he became a company founder in Lower Franconia. Water is one of the most precious resources of the blue planet. Today, the waterworks of cities and municipalities measure all relevant data in their plants to ensure supply and quality, and this is now mostly done digitally. However, only stationary on site. Not networked.

“People control their coffee machine and the light via cell phone. But for the community’s elevated tank, which stores the drinking water and cost a few million euros: There’s no proper app for that!”

– Andreas Scharf

The student found it unbelievable that a water custodian can’t see the status online at any time. So he developed an affordable, modern solution for municipalities himself. That was the basis for founding his company frapp.

Waterworks all over the world

In addition to his studies at Coburg University of Applied Sciences, Scharf worked at Energie- und Wasser-Technologie EnWaT, a water system builder based in Stettfeld, Franconia (Haßberge district), whose customers include industrial companies and municipalities all over the world – with different, very individual needs, focuses and problems. Is there a leak somewhere, did the refilling during the night perhaps not work out? What is the water level right now? Or a question that is particularly crucial for health departments: What is the temperature development? To check something like this, there is often only one option: get in the car and drive to the elevated tank. At EnWaT, the digitalization of water treatment and supply systems has been discussed in a very innovative way, Scharf explains. “It’s not that there are no apps at all. For example, the major control system manufacturers offer software to visualize the data. But then what does it mean when a curve breaks in? That’s what municipalities need.” And that was Scharf’s approach: “I’ll put the data on your phone and also tell you what you can do with it.”

Applied science

He taught himself the basics of programming as a teenager. “There was a book on Java lying around at home – I tried that out.” Back then, he went to Realschule, then switched to FOS, graduated from high school in 2018, and started his bachelor’s degree in computer science at Coburg University of Applied Sciences right after that. As part of the Communication Systems event, Scharf attended an IoT workshop with Prof. Dr. Matthias Mörz and dealt with the very topic that the waterworks are missing. IoT, the Internet of things, makes it possible to network physical and virtual objects.

So, for example, the high water tank and the app on the cell phone. Mörz likes his student’s solution: “It’s just nice to see how he lives the basic idea of applied science,” says the professor. The technology of Scharf’s “HBBox” for elevated tank digitization consists in particular of a circuit board that translates information from existing industrial sensors for microcomputers. It allows the data to be stored in a cloud via cellular or the free wireless standard LoRaWan and, for example, a push message pops up in the app when special events occur. “The municipality has access to the data at all times – regardless of where the employees are. Irregularities can be detected right away,” says Mörz. Digitization helps prevent water losses.

High water tank in your pocket

The high water tank in Scharf’s home municipality, for example, is fully networked. Scharf can access it from Coburg. He looks at his cell phone, frowns “There’s a lot going out right now for the noon hour. Maybe a fire call.” In any case, the waterworks knows: what flows when is absolutely transparent in Stettfeld. Scharf brought the elevated tank into his back pocket. EnWaT, the company where he got a lot of input on plant technology as a working student, is now his customer, and so Scharf’s digitization technology was also used during the floods in the Ahr Valley in 2021, when the company deployed a mobile waterworks in a shipping container there. Scharf founded his own company, frapp, in 2020. He shrugs his shoulders: “The first Corona summer. You didn’t have much else to do then.” He was 19 at the time. Today, he’s thinking about other fields of application for his HBBox: “We can digitize not only in the area of drinking water. I could also cover sewage treatment plants.”

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