Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Fresh Approach For Computer Security

The quote, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler", of course, comes from Albert Einstein and is in a very interesting article, "Killing the Computer to Save It" in the New York Times by John Markoff.

This article is about Peter G. Neumann, an 80-year-old computer scientist at SRI International, who Markoff lists as the person who coined the term "Unics".  This is the first time I heard of this as this canonical story is that it was Brian Kernighan named it (in a humorous fashion) the Uniplexed Information and Computing System (UNICS) as a pun on MULTICS.   Neumann's statement, "complex systems break in complex ways” which could not be more accurate.  The article discusses the need for a fresh approach to computer security.

The article by John Markoff starts off with an interesting story earlier on in the article:
"As an applied-mathematics student at Harvard, Dr. Neumann had a two-hour breakfast with Einstein on Nov. 8, 1952. What the young math student took away was a deeply held philosophy of design that has remained with him for six decades and has been his governing principle of computing and computer security."
I could not agree more with the importance of taking a fresh look at computer architecture and computer security as the article points out below:
"The program includes two separate but related efforts: Crash, for Clean-Slate Design of Resilient Adaptive Secure Hosts; and MRC, for Mission-Oriented Resilient Clouds. The idea is to reconsider computing entirely, from the silicon wafers on which circuits are etched to the application programs run by users, as well as services that are placing more private and personal data in remote data centers.
Clean Slate is financing research to explore how to design computer systems that are less vulnerable to computer intruders and recover more readily once security is breached."
My oldest son John is in the computer profession as well with a BS and MS from VT.  I have given him (sometimes he even asked for :-) career advice over the years.   Something that I have told him and university/college students is the following, "you want to a job in computers?  Become a security expert or a performance god and you will always have a job."   The opportunities are endless because so are the challenges.  You can quote me on that last one :-)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Excellent Bosch CNC Course in Detroit

I attended the Bosch Rexroth CNC Course in Detroit on October 15th.  It was an excellent course that went through a variety of topics.  I was very fortunate to receive this course thanks to the great folks at Bosch Rexroth.  My investment was my time and my company (Virtual Photons Electrons) paid for all the expenses.  There is no substitute for sitting down and getting hands-on training.   As my grandfather Melvin Thompson told my father when he told him he was going to college at St. Olaf, "you don't learn how to milk a cow by reading a book."   I am convinced you can not truly learn anything without getting your hands dirty and doing it, however you need both - theory and practice.

Below is the setup that each attendee had for the hands-on course.  This was the first day of class so you can see a very simple ladder logic program that I was just starting to create.  From right to left on the photo below you see:
  •  The PC running the IndraWorks Engineering IDE (as well as other software, such as IndraWorks Operations, and other software including simulators), 
  • To the left of the screen is the CNC/PLC which in this case is an IndraControl L65 (which has an Intel Celeron M/1 GHz, 512MB RAM, 8MB SRAM, 1 GB Compact Flash, with SERCOS II, PROFIBUS, Ethernet, real-time ethernet - I/O including 8 digital input and 8 digital output with the power supply to drive it)
    • Think of this as the brain of the overall system
  • To the far left is the IndraDrive Cs which is the system that is also known as the motion controller.  These controls will drive/control manufacturing equipment (at a very low level) such as those motors or devices that one might find in a machine tool or a conveyor line (to name just two examples).

I was very impressed with the tools that Bosch Rexroth has created for it IndraWorks platform.   I was told by a number of Bosch Rexroth and non-Bosch Rexroth individuals that Bosch Rexroth have far and away the best tools compared to other vendors.  I was very impressed that Bosch Rexroth uses Wind River as their CNC OS as well as how they use WinStudio for the IDE.
The course covered a wide variety of topics:
·      CNC Overview - including Hardware and Software
·      Overview of Industrial PCs
·      Embedded HMIs
·      IndraWorks Operation MTX screens (libraries, F-keys, Op-keys, M-keys, user screens, logbook, communication, screen modification)
·      Parameters
·      IndraWorks Software including IndraWorks Engineering
·      MTX HMI  Screen containers and layout   - Virtual Control Panel ie VAM40
·      Machine status
·      NC-programming  (note that my long time friend (Neil P. Groundwater aka npg) will be thrilled to know that NC files are appended with the .npg  for Nc ProGram  - this is true :-)
·      Tool Management and System screens
·      Maintenance / troubleshooting screens  
·      Operation modes (demo explanation)
·      IndraWorks Operation (screens, modes PLC - IndraLogic multi-tasking (languages, tools and editors, libraries, etc.)
·      CNC<->PLC interface (global, channel, axis, spindle, local I/O, aux functions, perm. variables, def. perm. variables, System Data)
·      Profibus Fieldbus diagnostics and status
·      NC-program edit/run, etc.)
·      MTX memory map and file system
·      ProVi user diagnostics

·      NC-program (G-code, high-level CPL, multi- channel, offsets, variables, subroutines, etc. MTX <-> IndraDrive )
·      System boot and start
·      System Utilities
·      MTXcontrol –tool and function
·      Backup & Restore

·      MTX simulator software

Below are a number of photos I took showing the different types of implementations in the Bosch Rexroth demo area.

Weekend in Fells Point - Timbuktu and Shuckers Restaurants

On October 26th and the 27th Julie and I spent a weekend in Fells Point.   On the way there we had a crab cake dinner at the world famous Timbuktu Restaurant located in Hanover, MD which is about 1/2 hour south of Baltimore.  Below is my two crab cake meal.  Timbuktu wins every year (it seems like) for having the best crab cakes in MD.

Below we are outside a great seafood restaurant - Shuckers Restaurant and Bar in Fells Point.  It was the perfect day, 72 degrees and sunny.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MTadditive -- Why Monitor Your Shop Floor?

If you are a shop owner, a plant manager or really anyone in manufacturing who cares about productivity and the profitability of your company, the No. 1 question you should be asking is, “How can monitoring our shop floor improve our business?”

One of my favorite quotes is from Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, who famously said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, just not their own set of facts.”  Lord Kelvin’s quote, "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it,” definitely applies to shop floor monitoring.

When considering shop floor monitoring, it is important to remember John Turner’s Five Laws of Manufacturing:
1.  We measure what goes into production and what comes out; we have little data on what really happens on the production floor
2.  If anyone says “I know exactly what is happening on my plant floor” – don’t believe them
3. We don’t gather data because it’s hard, and someone has to look at it
4. No one solution, or set of data, works for everyone
5. If you don’t have an avid champion, save your time and money
The best advice on monitoring your shop floor comes from Ben Franklin, who famously said: “If I had 8 hours to improve the productivity of my shop, I would spend 6 of those monitoring my shop floor.”   I am taking liberties with Ben’s famous quote, but the point remains, you cannot improve what you don’t know. 

What are popular examples of information that could be analyzed through monitoring?
  • OEE
  • Asset utilization
  • Diagnostics
  • Machine health
Wouldn’t it be nice to have anywhere, anytime access to plant floor information?  You can with most of the shop floor monitoring programs.

When you decide to monitor your shop floor, remember that how you get the data matters.  Choose a solution that provides the widest selection of choices as well as the greatest flexibility as your needs change.  The standard you want to go with is MTConnect®. MTConnect® provides the most widely adopted manufacturing data standard in the industry and is currently used in more than 14 monitoring applications with more coming.

If you are attending IMTS 2012, please stop by the Emerging Technology Center (ETC), Booth N-650, where we will be showing MTConnect- enabled applications in the following categories:
  • Efficiency – Understanding Hidden Cost
  • Utilization – Discovering Untapped Capacity 
  • Sustainability - Minimizing Negative Environmental Impacts
  • Managing Your Plant Anywhere, Anytime (mobile devices)
On April 10-11, 2013, [MC]2 2013 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference will take place in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Stop by the ETC to learn more, sign up for [MC]2 2013 and meet those experts who can answer all of your monitoring questions as well as show you the applications live!

Perhaps the question you should be asking is, “why shouldn’t I be monitoring my shop floor?” 

A great place to ask questions regarding shop floor monitoring and MTConnect is at the new http://MTConnectForum.com.  To learn much more about both shop floor monitoring and MTConnect, go to http://tinyurl.com/WhyMonitor.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Microsoft's Downfall - Stack Ranking?

Vanity Fair had a very interesting article on "Microsoft's Lost Decade" and blames a lot of it on stank ranking.

"Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The True ROI of the [MC]2 Conference - May 2011

The True ROI of the [MC]2 Conference
MTConnect®: Connecting Manufacturing Conference
May 11, 2011


Last month, I announced the [MC]2 MTConnect®: Connecting Manufacturing Conference with a call for papers. These papers are what we will use to determine the technical and business sessions. [MC]2 will be held on Nov. 8-10 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Hyatt Regency.

[MC]2 will have technical and business tracks, as well as general sessions to discuss all things MTConnect. The technical tracks will have subject matter experts leading hands-on labs for software developers to learn about MTConnect at both the machine side, as well as the application level. The business tracks will feature discussions from manufacturing business leaders that will benefit everyone from plant floor employees to C-level executives in better understanding how MTConnect improves productivity throughout the plant. The general sessions will feature discussions about what the future will hold for increasing manufacturing in an open world where data is king.

I have attended countless IT conferences and a few manufacturing conferences over the last three decades. A question that everyone asks before they decide to invest both their time and money in either speaking at or attending a conference is to determine the ROI for them from two perspectives:

From a company perspective, does this make sense for my company to invest their money and my time to attend this conference? In other words: What new skills will I learn to help me in my job?  From a personal perspective: How will this help my resume? That includes getting to the next level at the prospective attendee's current company, or perhaps getting a new job at a different company.

I would argue that these two perspectives are missing the true ROI for both the company as well as the individual attending a conference such as [MC]2. The true ROI is not just what happens during the business, technical or general sessions, but what happens before, between and after those sessions in the hallways, the breaks, the restaurants and the bars. It is those impromptu conversations and meetings where you meet folks who are doing the same thing you are trying to do but have a different approach. It is these discussions that cause you to think differently and ask questions that you would have never thought of prior to the conference. Those individuals who you meet and then continue to have ongoing conversations with beyond the event are absolutely priceless. It is meeting customers in a setting where you are both searching for creative solutions that can be the petri dish for future collaborations. It is grabbing the speaker of a session and going out for lunch together to discuss some of the finer points of the session. It is the suggestion from another attendee to check out some open source software that your company could use to save tens of thousands of dollars. It is adding lots of new contacts that will save you time and your company money when you run into future challenges.

The next time you are considering attending a conference such as [MC]2, remember that the true ROI is not just the sessions, it is who you meet, what you learn, the relationships you create during impromptu conversations and meetings.

Whether you are technical or on the business side of manufacturing, [MC]2 is a MUST-ATTEND event in 2011! Check out http://MTConnect.org/MC2 for more information!

Dave Edstrom
Director, The Office of Strategic Innovation
AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lump of Labor Fallacy aka Luddites

One of my favorite fallacies:

(from Wikipedia)

"In economics, the lump of labour fallacy (or lump of jobs fallacy) is the contention that the amount of work available to labourers is fixed. It is considered a fallacy by most economists,[citation needed] who hold that the amount of work is not static. Another way to describe the fallacy is that it treats the demand for labour as an exogenous variable, when it is not. It may also be called the fallacy of labour scarcity, or the zero-sum fallacy, from its ties to the zero-sum game."
This ties into everyone's favorite term "Luddites", but I would be willing to bet most folks don't know the history of this term.

Also from Wikipedia:

"The Luddites were 19th-century English textile artisans who violently protested against the machinery introduced during the Industrial Revolution that made it possible to replace them with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work. Historian Eric Hobsbawm has called their machine wrecking "collective bargaining by riot", which had been a tactic used in Britain since the Restoration, as the scattering of manufactories throughout the country made large-scale strikes impractical.[1][2]
The movement was named after Ned Ludd, a youth who had allegedly smashed two stocking frames 30 years earlier, and whose name had become emblematic of machine destroyers.[3][4][5] The name evolved into the imaginary General Ludd or King Ludd, a figure who, like Robin Hood, was reputed to live in Sherwood Forest.[6]"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Manufacturing Business Intelligence

Manufacturing Business Intelligence

Oct 11, 2012
- Dave Edstrom
Manufacturing Business Intelligence is a double entendre. The first definition would be Manufacturing (creating) Business Intelligence. The second definition would be Manufacturing (manufacturing industry) Business Intelligence. This article will discuss both sides of the Manufacturing Business Intelligence coin.
Before we define the two definitions for Manufacturing Business Intelligence, we need to define business intelligence. Business intelligence has three important components:
  1. A wide range of adapters to connect to numerous types of data sources. Examples of data sources would be databases, web sites, spreadsheets, files, programs and anything where information can be retrieved.
  2. Software that slices, dices and analyzes this data. This would be a library of software functions that makes it easier for software developers to analyze data. Think about this as the built-in functions in a spreadsheet, but are used instead for software programs.
  3. Display software that can send reports or dashboards to a wide range of devices from smart phones to PCs with everything in between.
How does your company create its Manufacturing Business Intelligence? How do you capture data in your shop or plant? Is your business a series of isolated software programs that exist in silos? Does your business have multiple sources of the truth? Does common data exist in a variety of forms and in a variety of repositories or databases? Do your executives have customized dashboards that provide a clear and quantified view of what they are responsible for? Can any employee get access to any data they need at any time on any device and anywhere? Does your company support all of the latest and greatest devices that are out there? Do employees have the necessary tools to measure progress in their respective departments and create new reports and dashboards on their own? Is your IT Department swamped just keeping up with the day-to-day activities of your company?
The questions above are not easy questions for most manufacturing companies, or most companies in general to answer. One of the key questions to first ask yourself is the following: “Is information technology an expense or an investment in your company?” There is a huge difference between an expense or investment when it comes to information technology. Too often manufacturing views information as an optional art versus a required science. A simple example of this is the fact that only four to five percent of all shops or plants on planet earth monitor their shop floor. If 95 percent of companies are not even monitoring their shop floor, how can we possibly expect to see the level of integration that is needed in the rest of shop or plant’s IT systems?
There is a sector of the software industry that specifically deals with business intelligence. These companies should provide all three of the components referenced above. When considering business intelligence software, it is very important to make sure your software developers have had enough hands-on time with the software to determine how well it might work out in your shop. I cannot emphasize this last point enough.
What does your company use for Manufacturing (manufacturing industry) Business Intelligence? The best bang for the buck in the manufacturing arena is AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology’s MTInsight platform. MTInsight is a platform of a number applications that all run in the cloud. This means all you need is a browser and you have complete access to MTInsight. No software is downloaded to your system. Everything lives in the cloud – the data and the software. This is very important because you will never get the message, “new version available, would you like to install?” This keeps it very easy and very clean. Every time you access MTInsight.org you will have the latest and greatest software. By going to MTConnect.org, you can see demos for most of the applications.
If you were an exhibitor at IMTS 2012, there are top answers to that question on why someone would purchase the MTInsight IMTS 2012 application that Mark Kennedy and Kim Brown created and share with prospects.
  • Unlimited access to sell and market to IMTS 2012 registrants.
  • See what days your key customers came to IMTS 2012.
  • Filter prospects by geography, industry, product interest, buying role, job function and plant size to find your key customers.
  • Compare your booth performance to other exhibitors in your pavilion, quadrant, building and the whole show.
  • Identify new opportunities – everyone who missed your booth in 2010 and post show 2012.
  • Visualize never before seen data using state-of-the-art interactive tools.
It’s not too late to improve the return on your investment from IMTS by purchasing the GREAT MTInsight IMTS 2012 application. Visit www.mtinsight.org to learn more and subscribe. For questions, pricing, or to schedule a live demonstration, contact Mark Kennedy atmkennedy@amtonline.org or 703-827-5220 or Kim Brown kbrown@amtonline.org or 703-827-5223 right now.
Whether your company is creating business intelligence or accessing manufacturing industry business intelligence, hopefully this article sheds some light on both sides of the Manufacturing Business Intelligence coin.