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 5. June 2015

Metrology Data That Drive Manufacturing

HxGN Live is the annual international conference sponsored by Hexagon, the global company best known in the manufacturing industry for its broad range of metrology equipment. With its recent acquisition of Vero software, Hexagon now has CAM software products to make metrology data a key driver of shopfloor productivity, as this year’s event made clear.

Where will metrology fit in as the manufacturing industry moves quickly toward an environment that is driven by a data and connected across the entire supply chain by a single “digital thread?” A good answer emerged at the HxGN Live event, which took place June 1 through 4. This answer can be summed up by the theme for the metrology component of this conference as announced by Norbert Hanke, Hexagon Metrology president and CEO. Three words state this theme: Sensing. Thinking. Acting. Proficiency in these three areas establishes metrology as the business of solving problems. This is much more than the activity of taking measurements, as some might narrowly define metrology.

In his Metrology Keynote presentation, Mr. Hanke explained that sensing is at the heart of metrology equipment, whether by contact or non-contact techniques, or a unified combination of these methods. This “sensory input” represents the measurement of workpiece dimensions and feature characteristics. Thinking refers to the analysis of measurement data so that it becomes useful information to manufacturers. Software and software systems provide this analysis and reporting function. Finally, acting refers to the ability of shop and factory personnel to make decisions that ultimately improve productivity, which in this context includes the rate at which good parts are produced. Metrology, then, is a driver of productivity, not a barrier that consumes time and resources on the shop floor without delivering additional value.

When Steve Sivitter, CEO of Vero Software joined Mr. Hanke on the stage, he explained how one of the key connections that enables metrology to drive productivity is in CAM software. As the engine that drives machine tools and other CNC equipment, CAM software is best positioned to be the agent by which metrology data can immediately influence the manufacturing process to ensure the production of parts that meet all of the dimensional specifications of the customer. Mr. Sivitter made it clear that the range of Vero software brands, which include EdgeCAM, Surfcam and WorkNC, now gives Hexagon a comprehensive path for looping metrology data securely into strategies for implementing data-driven manufacturing concepts.

Technical presentations and new products introduced in the exhibit area showed how Hexagon Metrology is backing up its vision for metrology as a problem solver and productivity driver with real world solutions, both in hardware and software.

Posted by: Mark Albert 22. May 2015

Tell a Story, Get a T-Shirt

What does the International Manufacturing Technology Show mean to you? If you can tell your story in 150 words or less, you will be rewarded with a green IMTS 2016 T-shirt, some stickers and other items.

The show sponsors would like to consider the submitted stories for use in the IMTS 2016 marketing campaign. Any IMTS visitor, exhibitor, student or first-time attendee is eligible. Contributors whose stories are used in the marketing campaign will receive complimentary admission to the IMTS 2016 trade show floor.

The contest is open until June 15, 2015. For details and an entry form, click here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 15. May 2015

MTConnect Institute Announces Student Challenge

Doug Woods (left), president of AMT–The Association For Manufacturing Technology, announces the MTConnect Student Challenge at the recent [MC2] Conference. Assisting him on stage are Joel Neidig and Valerie Pezzullo Fadool, winners in a previous MTConnect Challenge competition.

Announced at the recent [MC]2 Conference in Chicago, the MTConnect Student Challenge is offering a total of $33,000 in cash prizes for winning submissions from college students. This competition is designed to encourage these students to think creatively about concepts and applications for improving manufacturing with the MTConnect standard. The aim is to generate awareness of advanced manufacturing technologies, as well as lead to innovations that help manufacturers, especially those serving the defense industry.

To participate in the challenge, students at the undergraduate and graduate level in community colleges and universities are invited to submit ideas in applications utilizing the MTConnect standard. The competition is expected to be of particular interest to those studying manufacturing-related fields; electrical, mechanical or industrial engineering; as well as software engineering and IT-related studies. MTConnect is an open-source, XML-based communications standard that fosters connectivity between manufacturing equipment and devices.

The MTConnect Student Challenge has two parts: Idea Creation and Application Development.

For the Idea Creation competition, students will be required to interview manufacturers to identify their challenges, describe potential solutions to those challenges and create conceptual mockups for solutions. The prizes for this competition are $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second place and three $1,000 prizes for runners up. Submission opens June 11, 2015 and closes September 18, 2015. Winners will be announced October 15, 2015.

Full rules and submission details are available here.

For the Application competition, students will be required to develop an application that demonstrates innovation and the use of manufacturing intelligence breakthroughs. Submissions will be rated based on their potential to create achievable and measurable benefits to manufacturing operations. These benefits include improving efficiencies, minimizing waste, reducing costs, and the like. The prizes for this competition are $10,000 for first place, $7,500 for second place and $5,000 for third place. Submission opens June 11, 2015 and closes January 31, 2016. Winners will be announced April 20, 2016 at the [MC]2 Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Full rules and submission details are available at here.

“The MTConnect Student Challenge seeks to engage the higher education community to promote innovative thinking and ideas, and ultimately to enable manufacturing intelligence breakthroughs for the defense manufacturing industry,” says Douglas K. Woods, president of the MTConnect Institute and president of AMT–The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Mr. Woods says he hopes the competition will inspire a broader base of software and system architects; build a new, skilled workforce by increasing students’ awareness of advanced manufacturing technologies; and develop MTConnect applications that can be easily adopted by manufacturers of all sizes.

The MTConnect Student Challenge is sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Defense-wide Manufacturing Science and Technology (DMS&T) and executed by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the U.S. Army Benét Labs, the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), and the MTConnect Institute, in partnership with SME and the National Tooling and Machining Association.

Posted by: Mark Albert 8. May 2015

Investing in Technology Is a Strategy. Figuring ROI Is a Strategic Tool.

Why invest in new CNC technology that seems unfamiliar, even a little scary? Jeff Reinert says that a bold approach to justification can show shops that they need to jump in if they want to compete.

This short article by Jeff Reinert, president of Index Corp., outlines the multi-step process for justifying an investment in the latest CNC machining technology. Calculating the return on investment (ROI) is a useful tool, but only one of the factors a manufacturer must consider in the decision to buy a new machine.

Reinert identifies three main steps:

  • Understand your machining costs and evaluate impact of a faster, more capable process.
  • Understand potential benefits of the latest CNC technology (Reinert lists eight measurable ones as a start).
  • Understand the costs of older equipment (including operator skills that may vanish).

After taking these steps, calculating ROI can be a concise and useful analysis to back up a decision. However, as Reinert explains, ROI is not the same as profitability and competitiveness. His advice puts the ROI calculation in perspective.

Read the article here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 29. April 2015

MTConnect Conference Opens with Focus on the Industrial Internet of Things

Bryce Barnes, Cisco's Senior Manager of Machine and Robot Segment, gave the keynote address to kick off the [MC]2 Conference at Chicago's McCormick Place conference center. The [MC]2 Conference is an annual event dedicated to MTConnect, the open-source interoperability standard for manufacturing equipment. The theme of this year's conference  (April 28-30, 2015) is transforming a business with data-driven manufacturing and the industrial Internet of Things.

In his introduction, Barnes cited this definition of the Internet of Things: it is the intelligent connectivity of smart devices by which objects can sense one another and communicate, thus changing how, where and by whom decisions about our physical world are made. He noted that MTConnect is an enabling technology for the Internet of Things in manufacturing.

Specifically, Barnes outlined the main principles that give the emerging industrial Internet of Things the power to "connect the unconnected" in the factory environment. He explained that this universal industrial network will be open, secure and extensible.

It will be built around open software architecture, open protocols and open data models. Proprietary elements will not be allowed to create barriers for users or developers of applications operating in the Internet of Things.

It will be layered, context-driven and identity-based. This structure will minimize risks to data that is transmitted, stored and analyzed, largely by cloud-based applications.

It will provide pathways by which systems, hardware, data, software and protocols can grow and be renewed.

Barnes predicted that sensors will continue to proliferate on and in factory machines so that operators can take actions to keep production equipment running.

For more information about the conference go to

« Prev | | Next »

Subscribe to these Related
RSS Blog Feeds

Channel Partners
  • Techspex