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 18. September 2015

As Seen at Westec

A rotary/swiveling table that can fully invert a workpiece caught my eye in Los Angeles this week.

A show that seems to be on the rebound, Westec offered a representative cross-section of today’s manufacturing technology. This short slideshow captures the diversity of exhibits. 

Posted by: Mark Albert 11. September 2015

Cutting, Welding and Writing—Three Important Skills

Students who can demonstrate their welding and cutting skills in a team fabrication project are invited to enter a contest sponsored by Esab. The theme of the contest is “A Cut Above.” Students are also invited to submit a 500-word essay that conveys the contest theme.

The contest is open to students in welding, cutting and related programs (such as Ag Mechanics) at secondary and post-secondary schools in the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec). The company will award more than $30,000 in equipment and cash prizes as part of the contest. Esab judges will select three winners in both the individual essay and team fabrication project parts of the contest.

Teams must submit a metal fabrication project that incorporates both welding and cutting. Each member of a winning fabrication team receives $500. In addition, each of the schools associated with the winners at their time of entry will receive the following prize package, valued at more than $4,000:

Individual winners in the essay part of the contest will receive $250.

Click here for contest rules, entry forms and tips for winning. Entries will be accepted until December 31, 2015, with winners announced on February 1, 2016.

Posted by: Mark Albert 4. September 2015

Cyber Security for Machine Shops and Manufacturers

Our September 2015 cover story about the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 states that cyber security is now a major issue as machine tools and factory equipment become interconnected or linked to the Web. A recent article by Ben Moses, Technical Director at AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology provides a handy list of guides, software and training centers offered by key U.S. government agencies to help companies lower the risk of cyber threats. Find the article here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 28. August 2015

Important MTConnect Deadlines Announced

The [MC]2 Conference focuses on MTConnect as a pathway to advanced, data-driven manufacturing. The Student Challenge was announced at this event last April.

Students and speakers interested in promoting the MTConnect manufacturing interoperability standard have two new dates to observe. Students now have more time to enter the first portion of the Student Challenge announced at the [MC]2 Conference last April in Chicago. Speakers interested in presenting at next year’s [MC]2 Conference have until October 16, 2015 to submit proposals for the first round of consideration. Dates for this conference are April 19-21, 2016.

For Students: The MTConnect Institute has extended the deadline for the Idea Creation portion of its MTConnect Student Challenge to December 15, 2015. In addition to allowing students more time to develop and submit their ideas, this nearly three-month extension also allows for more overall entries into the competition. Click here for rules and submission guidelines for the Idea Creation contest.

For the Idea Creation competition, students are required to interview manufacturers to identify their challenges, describe potential solutions to that challenge and create a conceptual mockup for a solution. The prizes for this competition are $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second place and three $1,000 prizes for runners up. Winners will be announced February 5, 2016.

Suggestion: Manufacturers with connections at local community colleges, engineering schools, colleges or universities should consider reaching out to these institutions to encourage participation in this contest.

The second portion of the Student Challenge, Application Development, has an unchanged submission deadline of January 31, 2016. Winners of this portion of the challenge will be announced at the [MC]2 Conference in Dallas, Texas, April 20, 2016.

For Speakers: AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology and MTConnect Institute have issued a call for speakers to present at the 2016 [MC]2 Conference. Proposals should be submitted by October 16, 2015, for the first round of consideration. Submission details are here.

Conference organizers are seeking experts to present on the following topics:

  • Digital Factory, Industrial Internet, Industry 4.0
  • Big Data and analytics
  • Industrial automation
  • Cyberphysical security
  • Workforce and talent development.

Information about the proposed presentation must include title, target audience, top three takeaways from the presentation and an abstract. 

Suggestion: Because real-world case studies and end user stories are particularly valuable to conference attendees, manufacturers that have successfully implemented an MTConnect-enabled application should consider a presentation. These presentation proposals will be especially welcome.   

Posted by: Mark Albert 21. August 2015

What’s It Like to Work in a Machine Shop Underground?

Whitewashed cave walls and no windows set apart the machining areas of this underground shop in Missouri.

A machine shop housed a mile below the surface is a very unusual workplace, especially when it has to operate in a cleanroom environment. It’s the only way to make parts that are not affected by cosmic rays. The mile-deep shop is part of the Sanford Lab in Lead, South Dakota, where the Majorana Demonstrator explores the physics of material decay processes. You can read about what it’s like working in this shop here.

In another underground shop, conditions are rather normal despite being located in a cave. Yet, this has its own advantage. Brunson Instrument Co. has its production facility in cave near Kansas City, Missouri. The hillside cave location provides a vibration-free, temperature-stable space for manufacturing high-precision measurement instruments. Find this shop’s unusual story here

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