MMS Blog

Ruby the Riveter and a Reminder for the Times

Our country has been in crisis many times. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is the latest to test our mettle. We are reacting to it as we have to earlier crises: by working together, finding new strengths, taking new jobs and making sacrifices.

During World War II, certainly a prolonged crisis for the United States, we memorialized Rosie the Riveter, an icon of the many women who joined the manufacturing workforce to fill spots left vacant by those who went to serve in the armed services. Rosie the Riveter represented the can-do spirit of all Americans, but especially the thousands of daughters, sisters and mothers who went to work in America’s factories.

Traceability Without Serial Numbers: Vision Technology Makes Every Part Its Own Identifier

Everything needed to trace, track or certify any individual manufactured part is already present on the part itself, according to Brian Crowley, CEO of Alitheon, a startup company focused on object traceability. The surface detail of a manufactured part is unique in the same way fingerprints are, he says. And, importantly, off-the-shelf imaging technology — notably including the cameras in our phones — is now capable of accurately capturing this distinctive surface-level detail. The result is a new possibility for identifying parts, arguably better and more reliable than serial numbers. Alitheon’s technology for using this surface detail for part ID is called “FeaturePrint.” 

Mr. Crowley says he and his team often run this demonstration: Playing cards from a new deck are imaged only from the back side, allowing company representatives to show how the FeaturePrint system unerringly identifies each card, even though to the human eye they are identical. At the company’s headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, 1,000 crisp $1 bills have been imaged, he says. A scan of the side without the serial number always correctly identifies the individual bill, because of the way the bills are all different at the level of minute surface features.

US Trade Associations Send Open Letter to Manufacturers  Addressing Coronavirus


In an open letter to CEOs, the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA), the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA), the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA), the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and the Technology & Manufacturing Association (TMA) address manufacturers feeling the impact of efforts worldwide to respond to the coronavirus. The letter states that the associations’ member companies “stand ready to assist those industries who are facing global supply chain disruptions to help the economy continue its record growth.” The trade associations represent more than 3,500 companies in industries that employ more than 475,000 Americans.

Manufacturers Adjusting in Third Week of Coronavirus Survey


During the week of March 16th, Gardner Intelligence conducted for the third time a short survey to gage the effects of COVID-19 on discrete parts manufacturers across all the industries that Modern Machine Shop’s publisher Gardner Business Media covers. The survey asked two basic questions:

Facilitating Remote Work, Social Distancing with ERP Systems

As more companies are implementing remote work and social distancing policies amid the coronavirus pandemic, manufacturers are considering what steps they can take to protect their employees. According to ProShop ERP founder Paul Van Metre, ERP systems can be used to facilitate remote work for many job shop employees, and social distancing for those employees for whom remote work isn’t an option. However, before implementing work from home policies, there are some steps shops should take to prepare.

The first thing shops need to consider is whether their ERP system is cloud-based or a client-server system. “If it is web-based, then they're already set up to be able to access it from any device, including if they have to work from home,” Mr. Van Metre says. All they need is a browser. Shops using client-server-based ERP programs will need a secure way to access the program remotely. They should set up a virtual private network (VPN) for any employees who will be working from home and ensure it can handle everyone who needs to use it. “If they can install the software anywhere without incurring more cost, then they could install their ERP system on a home computer or on a laptop but only access it and use it once they're connected into their local network,” he suggests. It’s worth noting that many ERP systems will only let users log in from a single location at one time, so to access it from home, users would have to ensure they’ve closed out their sessions and logged out at work before they can open and use it on a home computer or laptop. “They could do some kind of remote desktop application where they're still actually using their work computer, but they're just driving it from a keyboard and mouse at their house,” he adds. “I think that comes down to just their preference of how they want to do it.” Either way, Mr. Van Metre says it’s important for shops to set these processes up and test them in advance. Employees should also ensure that their internet access is robust enough to handle their needs.