Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tim Edstrom's National Honor Society Ceremony

Congratulations to our youngest son, Tim Edstrom, for being selected to the National Honor Society (NHS).  He joins his two brothers, John and Michael, in being NHS members.   His parents are very proud.  Below is the NHS ceremony at Broad Run High School tonight.  Congratulations Tim!

Tim with his grandma and grandpa on the right with his mom on the left in this photo.

Tim and his good friend Caleb Adams.  Tim and Caleb played lots of basketball together including for the AAU Shox.  Caleb and Tim are the only Shox who made it to NHS.

Dr. David Dornfeld's "Drinking From A Fire Hose"

Dr. David Dornfeld, Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Director, Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability at University of California, has written two excellent articles:

                Drinking From A Fire Hose
                Drinking From A Fire Hose: Data Collection  Part II

Below is a great example of Dr. Dornfeld quantifying energy values in a medium facility:
"Recall that we had estimated that sampling energy data values for a “medium sized facility” for a day (here meaning 25 CNC machines, 10 programmable logic controlled machines and assorted other handling and line equipment with 8 data sources per machine at a sample rate of 5 hertz) would yield a data stream of 86,400,000 data points each day. And that if we added the other sources, we’d likely end up with 100 million data values a day to deal with.
Below Dr. Dornfeld discusses the importance of correlation:

So, let’s continue our discussion from last time. Data can be related to events and information associated with those events. Thus, data can be understood as something that occurred either at a specific time or over a range of time. In manufacturing systems, events can be a numerical value (for example, the instantaneous power consumption at a specific time) or can be a type of annotation (for example, the alarm state of the machine tool over an interval). Complex events are abstractions of events that are created by combining simple events. For example, based on simple events pertaining to the tool position, the instantaneous power consumption, and the machine tool’s program in machining a part, we can create maps linking power and stages of part production"
Dr. Dornfeld is an internationally known expert and one of the creators of the MTConnect protocol as well.  Dr. Dornfeld is also known for Dornfeld's Law.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cloud Computing - HMI as a SaaS

There was an interesting post on LinkedIn regarding HMI as a SaaS called GoToMyHMI is Your 'HMI-Gateway' in the Cloud for HMI Access from Any Device, Any Where

I do not have any specific experience or knowledge with this product by Software Horizons.  The reason I think this is interesting is that it appears to be a very nice example of manufacturing using the cloud to provide a valuable service.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Scaling TSA Does Not Equal Follow Israel's Example

When I hear that TSA should follow Israel's security practices, I think of Mike O'Dell's timeless advice:

Scaling is ALWAYS the problem.

Israel has 20 flights per day.  The US has 20,000 flights per day.  Do the math.  Dana Milbank did today in the Washington Post:

"In a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, Israel uses profiling, background checks and extensive interviews to filter out the highest-risk fliers, who are then subjected to searches of luggage and person more invasive than anything the Transportation Security Administration has conjured. The air security argument has been about whether Americans would prefer Israeli-style profiling to the current system of body scans and pat-downs. But this overlooks a more fundamental problem: The Israeli system, even if it could be scaled up, is out of our price range. 

El Al, Israel's national carrier, reported spending $107,828,000 on security in 2009 for the 1.9 million passengers it carried. That works out to about $56.75 per passenger. The United States, by contrast, spent $5.33 billion on aviation security in fiscal 2010, and the air travel system handled 769.6 million passengers in 2009 (a low year), according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That amounts to $6.93 per passenger."
clear pixel

We are not even having the right conversations on airport security and we never will as long as Congress has anything to do with it - and they always will....

Nice MAG Freedom eWare Article at Automation World

A sign of maturing standard is when it is simply referenced in an article, such as this one on eWare at Automation World, where it states:

"The software, which is MTConnect compliant, can interact with smart phones, tablet PCs and similar mobile devices, displaying machinery status, productivity data and machinery analytics for various systems on a plant network"

Saturday, November 27, 2010


It is interesting to see what trade rags pick up either an article or a video.  Virtualization.net picked up a video that I created with Diyana Hrzic's brilliant editing on cloud computing that was only sent to those individuals who attended the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) at IMTS 2010.

Virtualization.net looks like a very interesting site that has a wealth of cloud and virtualizaton information.

Empty Clouds

I have written a number of articles and white papers on cloud computing.   I always emphasize security as job #1.  While there are many, many advantages to cloud computing, there is one area that some SaaS providers are taking the easy way out - Service Level Agreements (SLAs)   I have stated in every one of my articles and presentations that SLAs in a written agreement are critical before you place a cloud bet.  I can not over emphasize how important it is to have a viable and written SLA.    Look at the big dog in the IaaS room, Amazon's EC2, and you will see a company that has seriously thought about this and provides a reasonable degree of assurance and protection when you are placing a business bet on the cloud.  A number of software companies still do not get it that you simply can not expect a business to place a huge bet on your SaaS when there is no recourse if that service is down.  We hear stories all the time from software sales reps that state, "you can get an SLA if you really push it and are a big customer."  You should not have to be a big company to get an SLA.

Prior to SaaS, I did a great deal of work with High Availability (HA) servers at Sun Microsystems with Sun's partners (in the early 1990s) and Sun's software.  The challenge with HA servers was multiple from asymmetric to symmetric HA servers, to round robin load balancing, to eliminating Single Points Of Failures (SPOFs), to HA aware software, to upgrades, to patches, to version control, to sysadmin, to a thousand other issues.   Running your own HA servers was a non-trivial task to take on.  SaaS, in theory, should eliminate most of these concerns as the SaaS provider takes on the hard computer science challenges.  This does not mean that you don't question your SaaS provider regarding how they take care of these issues behind the scenes.  If you do, you will be treating your SaaS provider just like the Wizard behind the curtain in the movie - The Wizard Of Oz.  Remember the old phrase, "if you assume, you make an a$$ out of you and me."

It is simply a matter of time before we start hearing of customers openly demanding that SaaS companies step up to the plate as Amazon and others have to provide meaningful SLAs. The SLAs are now becoming more of a standard for IaaS and will be for PaaS.

What is an empty cloud?  A SaaS with no SLA or a completely vague SLA that provides ZERO recourse.  The industry is going through a learning phase right now.  Companies are going to realize that you simply must have an SLA.   There is another option if the SaaS company refused to have an SLA and that is a disaster recovery (DR) option that can be either hot or cold started in the event the service is down.   If you can get a copy of your data and get a perpetual license that you can run either locally or in another cloud instantiation, then get a DR as an option.  Clearly, this option may not be possible for many, put it is available for some.  

Lenny Rachitsky at Transparent Uptime has a GREAT post on the importance of SaaS Dashboards that is a must read.  Below are five areas he brings out in his post:
 "Lets first define what makes an online health dashboard "successful", and in the process explain why you (as a SaaS provider) should have one:
  1. Your support costs go down as your users are able to self-identify system wide problems without calling or emailing your support department. Users will no longer have to guess whether their issues are local or global, and can more quickly get to the root of the problem before complaining to you.
  2. You are better able to communicate with your users during downtime events, taking advantage of the broadcast nature of the Internet versus the one-to-one nature of email and the phone. You spend less time communicating the same thing over and over and more time resolving the issue.
  3. You create a single and obvious place for your users to come to when they are experiencing downtime. You save your users' time currently spent searching forums, Twitter, or your blog.
  4. Trust is the cornerstone of successful SaaS adoption. Your customers are betting their business and their livelihoods on your service or platform. Both current and prospective customers require confidence in your service. Both need to know they won't be left in the dark, alone and uninformed, when you run into trouble. Real time insight into unexpected events is the best way to build this trust. Keeping them in the dark and alone is no longer an option.
  5. It's only a matter of time before every serious SaaS provider will be offering a public health dashboard. Your users will demand it."
Bottom line: Do NOT go for a a SaaS with zero SLA or at least a Disaster Recovery Cold/Hot Start Server or you will be sorry.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving To Our Troops

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our troops who are serving in harms way this Thanksgiving.  It is nice to see the various sporting events honor the troops today.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

MTConnect Sub-Module

As President and Chairman of the Board for the MTConnect Institute, I am very pleased to announced the first addition to the MTConnect family of logos - MTConnect Sub-Module. A sure sign of success for any protocol is when companies or organizations come with new and creative ways to implement a protocol.  This is the case with MTConnect Sub-Module.  MTConnect Sub-Module is to be used to recognize or label the hardware or software segment that provides a part of the MTConnect protocol that sits in a TOTAL MTConnect solution.   In other words, the solution MUST provide a TOTAL MTConnect solution, but a member MUST label those parts of those solutions that are simply sub-modules that depend on other modules for a complete solution.

An example is in order here.    GE/Fanuc created a COMPLETE MTConnect black box solution in 2008 (note this is no longer available after the two companies went their separate ways) that was the size of a brick that had everything you needed in one box to connect an existing machine tool to the outside world.  On one side of the brick were your legacy ports for machine tools.  On the other side of the box were four ethernet ports that all supported the FULL MTConnect protocol ie adapter/agent.  The box ran Linux with all of the necessary MTConnect software.  All you needed was a client someplace on the net.  Now imagine if GE/Fanuc had decided to make that solution into two separate boxes to accomplish the same thing as the single box.  Imagine that those boxes required each other in order to provide a complete MTConnect adapter/agent.  In that scenario, each of those boxes would be an MTConnect Sub-Module and together they would be MTConnect compliant.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cloud Computing For Manufacturing Intro Video Part 1

Below is a cloud computing video  that helps those in manufacturing understand the basics.  This is one of three videos that we created here at AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology.  This is a very professional video for one reason and one reason only - THE GREAT VIDEO EDITING WORK OF DIYANA HRZIC!

Cloud Computing For Manufacturing Intro Video Part 1

Thursday, November 18, 2010

[In]Decision Points

I would be remiss if I did not talk about President George W. Bush's memoir Decision Points.  So, what prompted me to write this?  Bush's book that was released?   Not directly.  What prompted this was my father telling me of the young soldier that was in the chemo room with him this week at Walter Reed Army Hospital on the Oncology Ward that was missing both legs, both arms and was receiving chemotherapy with his young wife watching.  My first words out my mouth were, "Jesus Christ!"  My next words can not be uttered here, but this posting will provide the facts that lead to that comment.

If you believe George W. Bush should be the fifth entry on Mount Rushmore, then you might want to stop reading now.

Let's see, where to begin....
  • First, I always have said that George W. Bush  would be a great neighbor.  Easy going, does not seem to be an in your face type of guy.  When he was drinking, he was probably a very funny guy to hang out with as well :-)
  • Second, I always thought his dad had both brains and guts.
  • As a president, however, George W.  Bush will absolutely go down as the worst ever.
    • Three unfunded tax cuts that were mostly for the rich.
    • Two unfunded wars.
      • Bush later admitted that Iraq had NOT A DAMN THING TO DO WITH 9/11.
      • Thomas Friedman's "Too Good To Check" column on the "Obama's Asian visit costs $200M/day" nasty rumor, as trumpeted by FN.  The list price for the Afghan war is $190M/day and Iraq is $2BILLION/week, not counting the tragic fallout facing soldiers at Walter Reed.  (Put another way, we could just pay 30M Iraqis $67 a week to like us.)
      • When talking about the cost of Bush’s wars, we usually count the dollars and American troops killed/maimed.  That leaves out two huge groups: 
        • Iraqis/Afghans whose lives have been destroyed and contractors.  In Iraq several hundred thousand Iraqis have been killed out-right by violence and 1 to 1 ½ million have died from other war related causes like disease.  Another 3 million have been turned into refugees.  We should NOT leave them out when counting costs, but I am sure some will view this as just "collateral damage".
      • There are also at least as many contractors, many from poor nations just looking for any job, as there are American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  They get killed and maimed just as frequently as our troops, but we never even bother to count them either.
    • An unfunded Medicare prescription drug program
    • Making regulation a four letter word.  The Great Financial Recession happened on Bush's eight year watch.  
    • We are talking trillions of $$$$$$$$$$$  here folks....
  • Let's see, how did that work out?
    • Let's remember Bush inherited a surplus.
    • Bush watched the national debt grow from $5.6 trillion to nearly $10 trillion
    • "You see, the growing surplus exists because taxes are too high, and government is charging more than it needs," Bush said in February 2001.     Uhhhh, that would be a big no.  Not when you are in the hole as a country.  Driving down the debt was a smart thing.
      • We are in such a huge financial hole right now because of Bush's idiotic decisions.  Congress will not have the courage to do what other countries are starting to do - make the hard decisions no matter how unpopular they may be.
    • For those longing for Reagan, go back and look at the numbers here at PresidentialDebt.org
      • Looking at those numbers, you realize that Reagan was much worse on the debt, but that is not the point of this blog entry :-)
  • When I hear Bush state, "I kept America safe."  WHAT!  Bush likes to forget that 9/11 occurred on his watch.  We need only go back to the famous seven minutes of Bush sitting there wide eyed listening to the teacher in Florida reading "My Pet Goat" to realize that this guy had not a clue on what it takes to be a great president.
  • Obama was given one hell of a mess.  Obama needs to spend more time doing what is right and less time answering questions that appear on Fixed Noise and the other wacko "news" outlets.  Yes, MSNBC can be just as wacko, but it does not have the money and power that Fixed Noise does.  If Obama continues to kick the can down the road and show no courage in standing up to The Party of No, then he will be a one term president as well.  Democrats have zero guts.  
  • What I can say that I admire about Bush is that he has kept his mouth shut since he got out (except for this book). That takes restraint and class.  He should tell his buddy Cheney to exercise some class as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rodney Dangerfield and American Manufacturing

Below is an article I wrote for the IMTS Insider.

Rodney Dangerfield and American Manufacturing

Twenty-one percent of everything made in the world is made in the United States of America.  China makes 12%. Surprised? Probably not, if you are reading the IMTS Insider, because likely that means you are in manufacturing.  However, I bet if you asked individuals outside the industry which country leads the world in manufacturing, their answer would likely be China.  You then might get into a long discussion about the price of labor and politics. But that is not the point of this article. This article was sparked by a recent NPR Planet Money podcast called The Friday Podcast: Buttons And Other Connectors.
I would encourage everyone to listen to this short podcast because it drives home a very simple point that is sometimes forgotten in manufacturing; it is NOT lean manufacturing, it is innovative technology. Don't get me wrong, the principles of lean are important, but if you are not innovating, being lean is simply a race to the bottom. How much do you spend on R&D? It always blows my mind when I hear someone in manufacturing say that there is not a lot to be gained by investing in R&D. 
The podcast compares and contrasts two companies.  As NPR states on their Planet Money home page:
“Back in the day, the Buttonwood Corporation ran double shifts at its New York City factory, with 150 machines cranking out tens of thousands of buttons.  These days, Chinese factories not only have cheaper labor, but also newer, fancier machines. Buttonwood — a family business, owned by two brothers — has just one employee left. They sell small orders of wood buttons, and take orders online at woodbuttons.com.
The Zierick Manufacturing Corporation makes products that are all around us, but we never notice: little pieces of metal that connect electronics components to control panels.  This sounds like the kind of cheap commodity item that would be made in China. But it isn't; Zierick's factory is in upstate New York. Zierick's trick is to keep coming up with new, patentable ideas to make connectors better and better. So if you want a really good, reliable connector, it's worth it to pay more and get one from them. The company's doing well.They have lots of employees, lots of customers. They just have to keep coming up with new ideas to stay ahead of everybody else.”
Why do I have Rodney Dangerfield in my title?  The companies that are innovating and growing do not get the respect they deserve because most people believe “American manufacturing is dead.”  In today's sound bite news world, this is not surprising. Tell your non-manufacturing friends who is winning and why in manufacturing.  Finally, when you listen to this podcast, you can see the difference between someone who is looking forward and innovating and someone who is looking at years gone by.  Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you're the bug.  Innovate and be the windshield: It’s much better that way.
Dave Edstrom
Director, The Office of Strategic Innovation 
AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Monday, November 15, 2010

Congratulations To Tim Edstrom - National Honor Society

Congratulations to our youngest son, Tim Edstrom, for being selected to the National Honor Society (NHS).  He joins his two brothers, John and Michael, in being NHS members.   His parents are very proud.

My wife was in NHS in High School.  As close as I got to NHS in High School was when Glen Gawarkiewicz and I rode in together to and from Lake Braddock :-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

MTConnect Technical Advisory Working Group Meeting at DMG Mori Seiki

I am really looking forward to the MTConnect Technical Advisory Working Group Meeting at DMG Mori Seiki.  We have a number of very important initiatives that I am very excited about and will blog about later this week.  The meeting start today and ends on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Michelle Rhee Breaking The Union and Firing The Bottom Ten Percent

This is from The Atlantic where Michelle Rhee made a very interesting statement on fixing the school system.
This Spring, Rhee negotiated among the most revolutionary teacher's contracts in the country, which essentially broke the union, loosening tenure protections in exchange for the potential for teachers to make more money and earn performance bonuses. D.C. is being hailed as a model in urban education reform, and there are plans to replicate this model; The Obama Administration is putting more than a billion dollars behind a "performance-based" rewards system similar to the one being tested in D.C.

That statement that starts off below is from Michelle Rhee:
"She said if the U.S. fired 6-10 percent of the worst teachers in the country and replaced them "not even with the best, but with average teachers," U.S. schools would move from 21, 25 and 26th in math to the top 5.

"Now let me just say, to all of you business people..." Rhee continued.

"Wait wait wait," the moderator, Harvard University's David Gergen, interrupted. "...Do you believe this?"

Rhee replied: "Yes, I actually do. If someone told you as a business, that if you removed the bottom 6 percent of your performers, that you would move from 25th in the market to top-5, you would do it in a heartbeat. You would not even think twice about it. But we have an incredibly hard time in this in this country. We like teachers. It is an incredibly noble position in this country.  But we have to look at the reality..."
Adrian Fenty takes some of the blame here for how he handled DC, but DC is the one to blame here.  DC citizens want better schools, but are not willing to support those who actually make the hard decisions.

This is a very interesting article.  I am going to really miss Michelle Rhee but look forward to seeing where she lands...