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Mark Albert

Mark Albert is editor-in-chief of Modern Machine Shop Magazine, a position he has held since July 2000. He was associate editor and then executive editor of the magazine in prior years. Mark has been writing about metalworking for more than 30 years. Currently, his favorite topics are lean manufacturing and global competitiveness. Mark’s editorial activities have taken him to numerous countries in Europe and Asia as well as across the United States many times. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).

Posted by: Mark Albert 22. July 2016

A Cybersecurity Assurance Program to Help Protect the IIoT

cyber security graphic

UL, a global safety science organization, has announced what it calls a Cybersecurity Assurance Program (UL CAP) for industrial control systems. Using the new UL 2900-2-2 standard, UL CAP for industrial control systems is designed to provide testable cybersecurity criteria to help assess software vulnerabilities and weaknesses, minimize exploitation, address known malware, review security controls and increase security awareness. UL CAP is intended for control system manufacturers who need support in assessing security risks while they continue to focus on product innovation to help build safer, more secure products. These steps will help protect the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The program should benefit OEMs, machine tool builders, system integrators, and retrofitters who want to mitigate risks by sourcing products assessed by an expert third party.

Network-connected products and systems offer capabilities that promise significant boosts in productivity to manufacturing companies. Industrial control systems, for example, are becoming more interconnected, connectable and networkable, thus making data-driven manufacturing a practical reality on the factory floor. However, there are growing risks that threaten the security, performance and financial return on these control systems and the equipment they run.

“We’re aiming to support and underpin the innovative, rapidly iterating technologies that make up the Industrial Internet of Things with a security program,” says Rachna Stegall, director of connected technologies at UL. “The more industrial control systems become interconnected with other devices, the greater the potential security risks. The Cybersecurity Assurance Program’s purpose is to help manufacturers, purchasers and end-users mitigate those risks via methodical risk assessments and evaluations.”

Developers of UL CAP solicited input from major stakeholders representing the Federal government, academia and industry to elevate the security measures deployed by companies, and agencies who may have equipment and devices connected to digital networks. For example, automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, along with the many job shops and manufacturing subcontractors that support them, make up a critical supply chain that must have cybersecurity measures as a priority. UL CAP is being presented as a means for evaluating the security provisions of control systems with these supply chains.

UL’s evaluation of industrial control system security uses UL 2900-2-2, which is within the UL 2900 series of standards. This series outlines technical criteria for testing and evaluating the security of products and systems that are network-connectable. These standards form a basic set of requirements to measure, and then improve, the fitness of products and systems from a network security standpoint. UL 2900 is designed to incorporate additional technical criteria as the security needs in the marketplace evolve.

UL CAP can help vendors identify security risks in their products and systems, and it suggests methods for mitigating those risks. The UL 2900-2-2 standard can be applied to industrial control system components such as:

  • Programmable logic controllers (PLCs)
  • Remote network terminals
  • Human-machine Interfaces (HMIs)
  • Input/output (I/O) servers
  • Machine tool control units
  • Intelligent devices such as sensors
  • Fieldbus connections

Industrial control systems that meet the requirements outlined in the standard enables them
to be certified by UL as “UL 2900-2-2 compliant.” Additionally, since security is an ever-
changing challenge, UL 2900-2-2 can be used to evaluate a vendor’s processes for design, development and maintenance of secure products and systems.

Click here for more information on UL CAP, or visit Booth E-4135 at IMTS, To register for a free webinar about this program on October 11 at 10:00am CST, click here

Posted by: Mark Albert 15. July 2016

Making History with the Right Technology

The USS Pampanito, a famous WWII submarine, is being restored and refurbished in an effort to return it to its original condition.

A passion for historical accuracy and authenticity is essential to individuals devoted to preserving important pieces of our national heritage. The donation of an Acu-Rite digital readout (DRO) to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Association is aiding in this effort. The DRO, a gift of the Heidenhain Corp. and corporate parent of the Acu-Rite brand, has made an old Bridgeport milling machine capable of producing accurate copies of missing parts needed in the restoration of the USS Pampanito, a World War II submarine preserved by the Maritime Park Association.

The milling machine will also be used to repair original historic artifacts—items that embody the significance and authenticity of this unique museum display. In this case, the preserved submarine is also a memorial to the men and women of the armed forces who served in World War II. The Pampanito was well known as having made six patrols in the Pacific during the war. It is currently undergoing important restoration and replication projects to bring it as reasonably close to its original operational condition as when it sailed in the summer of 1945.

The submarine has been docked and open to the public at Fisherman’s Wharf since 1981, where it educates approximately 4,000 students in day and overnight programs annually, and 100,000 visitors a year who tour the boat. Maintaining the submarine as a non-profit is a huge challenge, and the Maritime Park Association relies heavily on donations to further its goals of bringing maritime history to life, offer future generations its important teachings, as well as honor the men that served there. To that end, when Heidenhain staff learned that the project received an old Bridgeport mill from a local machine shop as a donation, and that the 1980 digital readout on it was broken and obsolete, they approved the donation of an Acu-Rite VUE 2 digital readout kit. The VUE came with two SENC 150 scales and accompanying brackets.

With a new DRO and accompanying scales, this milling machine will be "making history" as it produces historically accurate copies of parts for the USS Pampanito.

 “We were very happy that someone at Heidenhain/Acu-Rite took the time to understand our mission and donate this DRO,” says Rich Pekelney, one of the Maritime Park Association’s trustees and volunteers. “I’ve been doing hands-on restoration like this for 23 years, and our small machine shop is a vital part of our project.

“With our refurbished mill, we expect to be able to do many things ourselves now,” Mr. Pekelney explains. “For example, we recently acquired an old five-inch deck gun that would have been used here during WWII but is missing parts. Now we can make them so that this piece can be showcased appropriately. Or we can also make the mounting brackets that are needed so that we can hang the bunk beds as they were in 1945, and so on.”

The well-used Bridgeport mill received by the Maritime Park Association is a classic 42-inch table type, not unlike many of the legacy machines that shops want to save for one-offs or utility applications such as repair work or fixture making.

“We know that DROs have great value on any manual milling machine in order to do accurate work, particularly on older ones which might have a little more side-play or backlash, so this DRO is very much appreciated,” Mr. Pekelney says. “We were familiar with Acu-Rite DROs and our machinists have experience with them. We know they are easy to use and reliable products.

“We found the DRO quite easy to retrofit onto the machine, and were thrilled that the mounting brackets and all were included in the kit. Overall, we are very grateful that Acu-Rite recognized the importance of and for participating in this project to preserve this part of our national history.”

Posted by: Mark Albert 1. July 2016

Mazak SmartBox at Cisco Live

The Mazak SmartBox with cloud connectivity

The Mazak SmartBox with cloud connectivity encompasses integrated services such as secure file transfer, remote access and machine history.

Later this month, Mazak Corp. will present the next phases of its Mazak SmartBox at Cisco System Inc.'s Cisco Live event in Las Vegas. This announcement is significant for several reasons: 

  1. Mazak is continuing to show leadership in the transition to data-driven manufacturing throughout the industry.
  2. Cisco Systems is taking serious interest in the networking, security and connectivity needs of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—the essential infrastructure that enables data-driven manufacturing.
  3. In addition, notable organizational changes in the top management positions at Mazak will be apparent.

In announcing its participation at Cisco Live, Mazak states that, in its next phases, the Mazak SmartBox IIoT platform (developed in collaboration with Cisco) will offer Mazak iSmart Cloud connectivity, machine learning and predictive maintenance capabilities, in addition to process analytics. The Mazak SmartBox enables manufacturers to access and use real-time manufacturing data to improve productivity and react quickly to customer needs. Likewise, iSmart Cloud connectivity helps shops identify machine issues before they escalate into machine downtime.

Cisco Live, described as the one of the industry’s largest such events, will focus on process analytics as well as ideas and technologies to optimize factory floor performance and production. More than 1,000 technical sessions will take place and cover various topics involving the IIoT, analytics and manufacturing. This event signifies the merger of corporate and factory-floor information technology.

Mazak will be a special guest at the Cisco event. Mazak’s Daniel Janka will participate in panel discussions and present on Mazak’s use of the SmartBox technology within its own iSmart Factory in Florence, Kentucky. This will mark one of Mr. Janka’s first public appearances as company president, replacing Brian Papke, who has accepted a new position as chairman. As of July 1, Mr. Janka will assume the normal operating functions of Mazak’s North American operations, including the iSmart Factory and North American Headquarters in Kentucky, along with the company’s eight Technology Centers located throughout North America.

The company says it is positioning itself for continued growth and further advances in the manufacturing industry’s new digital frontier, as well as developing technology in multitasking, five-axis machining and additive manufacturing. The company says Mr. Papke personally selected Mr. Janka, who joined Mazak in early 2016, because his experience in the machine tool industry and his extensive involvement with machine tool utilization software and five-axis technology at past positions meshes well with Mazak’s iSmart Factory and the company’s commitment to MTConnect.

Mr. Papke has been with Mazak since 1987, and company president since 1989. Under his leadership, the Kentucky plant grew from one building to its current five-building, 800,000-square-foot campus where the company now designs and builds advanced manufacturing systems, including five-axis and multitasking machines. Mr. Papke promoted the iSmart Factory Concept and the Mazak SmartBox to facilitate further integration of digital solutions in manufacturing.

Posted by: Mark Albert 24. June 2016

Retelling the Story of Manufacturing

Metrology holds a clue to how the story of manufacturing can be retold along bold new lines, says Ola Rollén, president and CEO of Hexagon. In his keynote address at the recent HxGN Live event, he made the point that, in manufacturing, dimensional measurement data have to be part of the total process narrative—from beginning to end.

In manufacturing, the single source of truth is metrology, he said. That’s because the only way to verify that a manufacturing process is producing parts that meet specifications is to measure the parts. Good parts get shipped. Bad parts get scrapped. And that, he said, is how most manufacturing stories end. He insisted that this has to change. This kind of story is incomplete.

The new, complete narrative for manufacturing processes must include a feedback loop in which measurement data, the “truth” about manufactured parts, flows back to the design model in CAD, to the simulation and optimization results from CAE (computer-aided engineering) and to the plan and control decisions made in CAM. The new storyline in manufacturing must be about self-improving, auto-correcting systems. “We have to leverage the lessons learned from metrology. It has to tell us what to do and what to avoid— at every step along the way,” he said, noting that the gaps that now exist can be bridged by metrology data.

This data is the missing link in the story of how most products, from gears and bone screws to automobiles and airplanes, are manufactured. For example, metrology data can and should be used to adjust or refine CNC programs in CAM software to update files being executed on the shop floor—seamlessly and automatically.

Mr. Rollén explained that manufacturers have been missing this link because the connections needed to close the loop have not existed before or were not fully utilized. All this has changed as the Industrial Internet of Things has emerged. In this context, metrology can bring new levels of automation, conductivity and intelligence to the manufacturing story. These three elements are the key enablers that make the new narrative possible.

He concluded this part of his keynote by focusing on the worldwide automotive industry and how it is being reshaped. You can find his keynote address here. (Suggestion: fast forward to 0:13:00 to jump to remarks most pertinent to manufacturers.)

Other events, presentations and product demos during Hxgn Live fleshed out how Hexagon is positioned to provide these solutions to manufacturers through Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, one of Hexagon’s primary businesses. Significantly, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence is a 2015 rebranding of Hexagon Metrology. This change reflects how this business has moved beyond its core competence in dimensional metrology to include statistical process control and CAD/CAM software.

Posted by: Mark Albert 10. June 2016

All Fired Up

The company’s new facility in Batavia, Illinois, relies on this bank of 16 ANCA cutting tool grinders for its production needs.

After Taurus Tool and Engineering, a manufacturer of custom carbide cutting tools, lost its production facility to a disastrous fire, it was able to rebuild the business on an entirely new basis. New production methods and management practices enabled the company to achieve six essential goals.

  • Provide fresh tool design thinking for better tool performance;
  • Save all programs in one place and eliminate paper;
  • Enable any machine to produce any tool;
  • Reduce cycle times and improve turnaround times;
  • Capture tool makers’ experience and eliminate tribal knowledge; and
  • Make programming easy.

ANCA, a supplier of CNC tool grinders, played a key role in this recovery. Read the complete story, told from ANCA’s point of view is here.

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