Thursday, December 29, 2016

Joel Neidig of ITAMCO Speaking (and mentioning MTConnect) at The White House

The Obama Administration has done a phenomenal job supporting manufacturing.

To celebrate this fact, this past Wednesday December 21st there was a two hour meeting at The White House to recap the many manufacturing accomplishments of the Obama Administration.  There were a wide array of speakers with Joel Neidig of ITAMCO being one of the real highlights.

Joel sent me a note that he would be speaking at this White House event.  Joel is the Manager of Development and Technology for ITAMCO and is one of the most creative and smartest individuals that I know.  If if I had to pick one young rock star in manufacturing it would be Joel Neidig of ITAMCO

Joel nailed it during his presentation, mentioned applying the concept of hacking (this is the completely positive vein of creatively programming to do interesting things and NOT the negative concept of hacking we hear about in the press) in manufacturing and that he spoke a little about MTConnect - which was very cool!  

Below is the quick photo I took of the TV (Chromecasting it) when Joel was speaking.  Way to go Joel!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sun Microsystems "Project Blackbox" Another Example of Technology Ahead of the Curve

In 2007 Sun introduced Project Blackbox.  The idea was pretty simple, put a modular data center in a shipping container.  Below is a photo from Wikipedia showing Project Blackbox (later called Sun Modular Datacenter) out in front of the MPK Campus. 

There is an interesting article by David Shepard EVP, General Manager of the BASELAYER’s Anywhere hardware division, at Data Center Frontier where Mr. Shephard discusses the market potential:

"In the Charles Dicken’s tale, Scrooge had insights into the future that caused him to change his ways for the better. While we do not have these same insights, there are several key market trends that should prepare Infrastructure and IT professionals for what is to come. According to Markets and Markets, the worldwide market for modular data centers will most likely grow from $8.37 billion currently to $40.41 billion by 2018. The Natural Resources Defense Council states that data center waste will rise from 91B kWh to 140B kWh by 2020.

These two trends together paint a future in which modular data center energy consumption will be a key factory. MDC providers will need to take an active part in their designs to continue to deliver performance while looking at the sustainability impact computing resources."

Yet another example of Sun Microsystems being a decade too early for a given market....

Thursday, December 22, 2016

MEMEX wins 2016 Global Machine Monitoring System Product Leadership Award

HUGE Congrats to MEMEX!

Below is from the announcement:
"Frost & Sullivan has a global team of analysts and consultants continuously researching a wide range of markets across multiple sectors and geographies. As part of this ongoing research, they identify companies that maintain consistently high standards for product or service quality and innovation, allowing them to form deep relationships with their customers. This research involves extensive primary and secondary research across the entire value chain of specific products. Against the backdrop of this research, Frost & Sullivan is proud to present MEMEX with 2016 Global Machine Monitoring Systems Product Leadership Award.
Headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, MEMEX-operating as a publicly traded company under the stock ticker “OEE”)—earns its recognition as a global leader in the machine-to machine manufacturing market. MEMEX serves customers within the aerospace, automotive, and advanced industrial sectors by measuring manufacturing excellence in customers’ operations. MEMEX looks to continuously improve its turnkey machine monitoring and automation solutions for its customers, expanding the capabilities of its flagship product, MERLIN, to stay a relevant and highly efficient machine monitoring solution for customers through technical service, support, training, and software development. MEMEX and the MERLIN system received Frost & Sullivan’s 2013 North America Technology Innovation Leadership Award in the machine monitoring market and the company is once again recognized in 2016 as a global Product Leader with its continued commitment to innovation and customer value."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer of Ashburn and Tim's Gingerbread Man

There are two items that are a must in the Edstrom family every Christmas - one is outside and the other is inside.  Outside it is THE Deer of Ashburn and inside it is Tim's Gingerbread Man.

Below was the first rev of THE Deer when I found it in my neighbor Rick's trash.  I did not ask for permission to take it (Rick later said I am always welcome to take anything in his trash :-) and quickly mounted it on my son John's Taurus (the famous Sun Microsystems $1 million Ford Taurus)  John was not amused and ordered it off before he drove it to high school that morning.

Now I needed to find a purpose for the deer and then it hit me, the ultimate Christmas Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer of Ashburn!

It is always nice to see the line of cars several miles long in Ashburn as they wait in line to see Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer of Ashburn :-)

The inside ornament that is a must is Tim's Gingerbread Man. This always goes in the most visible space on our Christmas tree every year.

The story here is that Tim is 3 years old and the pre-school teacher gives out the Gingerbread Man, glue, some things to glue on there and lots of noodles to glue on.  It normally keeps the kids busy for 20 minutes according to the teacher.  After 1 minute Tim yells, "I'm done!"   The pre-school teacher thought this was priceless and was laughing out loud when she told the story.  She had never seen one like Tim created :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Will Republicans Obamacare Repeal and Delay Actually Turn Into Repeal and Kill?

Obamacare had records sign up this week.  This is remarkable because if you listened to the Republicans you would think that Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster.

Here are some facts that President Obama stated this week:

“When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today, we’ve covered more than 20 million of them. For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured.”

As stated at

"Republicans say the average family health insurance premium has increased by $4,154 under President Obama. That’s right — and it’s a much slower rate of growth than under President George W. Bush. In fact, employer-sponsored premiums have been growing at moderate rates for the past few years."


"If the RNC wanted to show what has happened to employer-sponsored premiums under the Affordable Care Act, it should have started the clock in 2010, the year the law was passed. But that makes Obama look better. The rate of growth in average premiums from 2010 to 2014 is 22 percent. Even then, the increase isn’t completely attributable to the ACA. Premiums have been going up every year since the KFF survey started measuring them in 1999."
In addition:

"In an online petition to repeal a tax on medical devices, the RNC goes so far as to claim average family premiums “have skyrocketed” under Obama. Skyrocketed? More like inched up. The RNC gives the stat after saying that “Obamacare has been a failure.” That’s the RNC’s opinion, but it’s not supported by this statistic, which includes premium growth before the law was even enacted."

I think it was incredibly brave for President Obama to take on healthcare, when it would have been easy to kick the can down the road like every other President effectively has done.

As stated on ThinkProgress:

"Republicans in Congress have attempted to repeal Obamacare more than 60 times since the landmark health care reform act was signed into law in 2012. None of them have been successful. By now, the endless cycle of these repeal bills has become a routine fixture in Congress."

What is the definition of insanity again?  

All Americans would be for Repeal AND Replace IF the plan was better than Obamacare.   Obama said countless times that the administration would be pleased to have those discussions.  Instead of wasting all of this time voting to repeal, why were the Republicans NOT working to improve it? Because Obama and the Democrats would benefit almost as much as the Americans would and the Republicans vowed to do whatever they could to make sure Obama was not successful.

It is awfully easy for those in Congress to screw around with healthcare because, even if they serve just one term, they have no worries the rest of their lives because they are covered in terms of healthcare.

IF the Republicans repeal Obamacare WITHOUT an immediate replacement, then I would be willing to bet that Repeal and Delay will turn into Repeal and Kill.  Think sequestration.

I personally know people who lost everything because of healthcare costs and I also personally know (and related to) many people who could not have gotten healthcare without Obamacare. 

If the Republicans Repeal and Kill, or Repeal and LESS Coverage, then I really do not know how they can look at themselves in the mirror each day when they would have taken away what I believe is a basic human right from those less fortunate in life or those unlucky enough to have a preexisting condition.

We shall see....

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch Hands On Experience

Yesterday I got the complete Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch hands on demo by my longtime friend Roger F.  Roger is a "kids don't try this at home" level of software developer and we have known each other going back to the late 1970s.  He always has the latest and greatest toys, so when he mentioned he just got in a new Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch I could not resist the offer to come over and try them out.

What a difference two years makes!  The last time I was using a Oculus Rift was in September of 2014 at IMTS.  Back then it fell in the category of "this is interesting".  Roger took me through a large number of the demo environments and it was impressive.

I was pleasantly surprised how easy the Oculus Touch was to use.  This allows the user to touch and grab things in the virtual reality.  This made the experience very interactive.

I will give you one sort of funny example.  In one of the demos I was on the top of the skyscraper.  I walked to the edge, but hesitated stepping over the edge - even though I knew I was on firm ground :-)

The question I always ask is, "will this go the way of quadrophonic 8-tracks?"   There is a lot more work to do, but certainly for gaming, training and education this could be a game-changer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Blue Collar and White Collar Security in Manufacturing

I first used these terms in a conversation with a friend of mine who is an internationally recognized expert in security.  We were discussing security in manufacturing and I made the distinction between blue collar and white collar security.  My friend commented it was an interested way to state the problem.

The more I thought about it, the more this might be the right model for manufacturing to ultimately think about security.  This is the first blog post on this topic, with more posts expected, but I wanted to lay out the foundation in this post.

At the 100,000' view, just as all towns look the same, and all security problems look the same.  With security, the canonical advice is that you must protect data at rest and data in-flight.  Stated another way, if you are moving data it must be encrypted and if you are storing data it must be encrypted.  One might ask, "well, does that about cover everything?"  The answer is no.  The obvious example is when processing is occurring ie data is in memory and  not encrypted.  In manufacturing, there are use cases (examples) where, because of the age or type of equipment, it is not possible to have the data encrypted directly to the device.  I will go more into that a little later.

First, let's define blue collar and white collar security in manufacturing.

  • Blue collar security would be those individuals who either are physically or need remote physical access on the shop/plant floor to devices and device data.
  • White collar security would be those individuals who are in the back office or non-plant floor management.
In large manufacturing plants, the will likely have someone that is IT person that does system administration, system security, networking, and basically gets involved with anything that is a computer or needs to talk to the network.  In very large plants, there will be a team that is typically sub-divided in terms of IT responsibilities.

A key point is that the blocking and tackling of system and network security still apply here, but there are domain challenges that also come into play - as you would see in any vertical.

It is interesting that networking companies like to distinguish between Information Technology (IT) security and Operational Technology (OT) security, but this is not the model I am referring to.

Just as a reminder on OT and IT:

Wikipedia defines Operational technology (OT) has "hardware and software that detects or causes a change through the direct monitoring and/or control of physical devices, processes and events in the enterprise."

Wikipedia defines Information technology (IT) has "the application of computers and internet to store, study, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data,[1] or information, often in the context of a business or other enterprise."

In these definitions, OT is a subset of IT and is defined primarily at the hardware/software transactional layer versus the blue collar and white collar security which is at the business security layer.

A simple example regarding some of the challenges in manufacturing regarding security is the network movement of part programs.  A part program is the low level G-Code that is what is sent to the machine tool to actually make the part. 

How this typically works, when either the part is too large for the memory of the CNC controller or there is a need for centralization of part programs, is that a Direct/Distributed Numerical Control (DNC) system is used to make life easier for the operators. Typically, an external computer is connected via RS-232 to the CNC and it is the external computer that feeds (drip feeds) that part program to the CNC.  There is a central server someplace in the plant where the part programs are stored.

That is all fine and good, but then the question becomes, "are these part programs encrypted on the disk of the remote and local systems?", and "are these part programs encrypted when they are moved across the network?"  The answer is typically no.  I bring this up because the attitude is sometimes, "well if it is not encrypted from the computer sitting next to the CNC when it moves over the RS-232 link, then why worry about it in other areas?"

Going back to the blue collar versus white collar discussion, who should have what access to which files on what systems? The policies and governance become critically important.  Simple concepts such as network segmentation and DMZ's (Demilitarized Zones) could mean the difference between losing your IP and keeping it.

This example further brings out why most people in manufacturing are scared to death of the cloud.  They believe it opens up their plant floor, with all of its lack of security issues, to the bad guys.

At the [MC]2 2016 conference, I presented with Bryce Barnes of Cisco on the topic, "Manufacturing Cyber-Physical Security".

The “Orange Book” was the bible for computer system security in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s
A — Verified protection
B — Mandatory protection
C — Discretionary protection
D — Minimal protection
The industry needs a Manufacturing Trusted Plant Evaluation Criteria Standard

     The summary point of this first post on Blue Collar and White Collar Security in Manufacturing is that while the challenges are complex and cannot be adequately defined at 100,000', deciding to not digitize your plant or shop is not an option if you want to stay in business.  This is why thinking about your plant from the blue-collar and white-collar perspective might the conversation to have regarding your plant's security.

The Hacking of John Podesta's Email and Security Lessons Learned

I happened to fly back with John Podesta back in May of this year after attending Dr. Dave Patterson's retirement weekend.  The photo is a little blurry because the plane was moving around a little bit.  The point of the photo, before talking about the security around John Podesta's email, is that this is a very smart and nice man and this could happen to most people.  He was in the middle seat because he had to make a last second flight.  I did not recognize him immediately, but then when I did I said, "you know, I thought you were somebody."  To which, he just laughed.  Also, we did not talk about email :-)

It came out yesterday reported at The Hill:

"The hack and eventual release of a decade’s worth of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails may have been caused by a typo, The New York Times reported Tuesday in an in-depth piece on Russian cyberattacks.

Last March, Podesta received an email purportedly from Google saying hackers had tried to infiltrate his Gmail account. When an aide emailed the campaign’s IT staff to ask if the notice was real, Clinton campaign aide Charles Delavan replied that it was “a legitimate email" and that Podesta should “change his password immediately.”

Instead of telling the aide that the email was a threat and that a good response would be to change his password directly through Google’s website, he had inadvertently told the aide to click on the fraudulent email and give the attackers access to the account.

Delavan told the Times he had intended to type "illegitimate,” a typo he still has not forgiven himself for making"

While this brief article makes one feel very bad for Charles Delavan, John Podesta, and most likely the world as we know it (but I digress :-) it does bring out one very solid piece of advice, but leaves out a even more important security suggestion from my perspective. 

The solid piece of advice is what I highlighted in bold above:

  •  "A good response would be to change his password directly through Google’s website."
 I would argue that the first advice that the security people on Clinton's team should have insisted upon would be two-factor authentication for EVERYONE's email and communication systems.

Just as a reminder, two-factor authentication or 2FA, is when the ability for you to login requires two different methods to authenticate or ensure who someone really is. In other words, just knowing the login and password is NOT enough.

The most popular for 2FA is using your phone with a token.  For example, you are traveling and you sit down at computer in your hotel to print out your boarding pass and you decide to check your email.

With single factor authentication, only your login and password are asked for to allow you in to your email.  With 2FA, the email service would essentially state, "you have not logged in here before, please send me the 6 digit token I just sent to your smartphone." 

If you have your phone, you see the 6 digit token come up, you then enter it in.  At that point you are asked, "do you want to trust this computer going forward?"  In other words, you will NOT have to put in a new token each time you login.  If this is a hotel computer, you would NOT want to trust this computer, whereas if it was your new MacBook Pro you just purchased, then you would say "yes."  By saying yes, you will not have to enter in the 6 digit token again.

Certainly the advice on going directly to your email provider or going directly to your bank's login (if you received an email from your bank that wanted you to change your password) is the correct advice. BUT, I would argue that ANY online service that offers 2FA, take advantage of it!

So far we have not seen too much in the area of triple-factor authentication:

  1. Something you know - your password.
  2. Something you have - your smartphone where a one-time token can be sent.
  3. Something you are - a biometric such as a fingerprint or retina scan.
Triple-factor authentication is used in intelligence agencies and areas where information protection is at a premium.

An area where many companies could do a much better job is account recovery.  Too often, 2FA might be used for login but NOT for account recovery - which is obviously brain-dead.


Four year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook

Today is the four year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook.
Below is from Newton Patch: 

"It doesn't get easier," said Nicole Hockley, mother of 6-year-old Dylan and co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise.

Nelba Marquez-Greene said on the Remembering Ana Facebook page, "People remember our daughter. And we are grateful. No child should die from gun violence. Thank you for still remembering and honoring her."

For more information on all victims of 12/14 on a family approved page, visit here:
This website is intended to serve as a singular place of sharing, communication, and contact with the families of those who lost their lives that day.

Friday, December 9, 2016

My John Glenn Story At NASA's Kennedy Space Center

John Glenn passed away yesterday and if anyone defines the term "American hero", it would be John Glenn. Among his many accomplishments is being the first American to orbit the earth.

This is a true story that my wife likes to bring up as it shows my lack of judgement -- not in a bad way, but a humorous way.

On Wednesday January 21st, 1998 I was working for Sun Microsystems and was giving a non-disclosure to NASA at Kennedy Space Center.  NASA was an very important account for Sun and we were doing a great deal of custom real-time programming at the Solaris, library and application levels.  It was an afternoon meeting with a private tour after my presentation.

I really hit it off well with the senior person at NASA.  By the end of the day we were joking back and forth.  As we were wrapping up, he says to me, "Dave, if you are interested, you could come as one of my guests tomorrow night when John Glenn will be here to observe the launch? "

Now, ANY rationale person would have said, "YES, absolutely!"  Me being a dummy, I said, "I would love but I am coaching my oldest son basketball and we have practice tomorrow night."

When I told my wife, she naturally said, "What were you thinking!!!?"

I was not thinking and I regret it to this day.  Here is the real kicker, when I got back, practice was canceled.

John Glenn went into space on October 29th of 1998.

God bless John Glenn.

The Insanity of Donald Trump and His Cabinet Selections

In 2 minutes and 45 seconds, Trevor Noah of The Daily Show, this segment completely insane these choices by Donald Trump are for his cabinet. 

We are going to be living in a world where Biff of Back To The Future is President of the United States....

Thursday, December 8, 2016

"OEE May Not Be Enough" - Why Financial Overall Equipment Effectiveness (FOEE) (TM) Will Be THE Killer Metric For Manufacturing

The first "killer app" I ever saw was VisiCalc.  For those of you too young to remember VisiCalc, it was the world's first "visible calculator" or electronic spreadsheet and it came out in 1979.  I remember demoing it in 1979 and the concept was so different, that it took a little while for people to truly appreciate what was going on, but when they did, they would push me aside and take over the keyboard.  At that point, I would start writing up the order :-)

I believe the MEMEX's MERLIN Financial Overall Equipment Effectiveness™ (FOEE™) will be the killer metric for manufacturing as VisiCalc was the killer app  for the entire business world.

Just as a reminder, it was on Wednesday September 14th, 2016 at IMTS, where MEMEX introduced MERLIN FOEE

Together with Robert C. Hansen, who runs OEE College and is the owner of R.C. Hansen Consulting, we wrote an article in Modern Machine Shop titled "OEE Is Not Enough". 

HUGE thanks to Mark Albert Editor of Modern Machine Shop for stopping by MEMEX's booth at IMTS 2016 so I could show him FOEE, as well as asking for more info on FOEE so it could appear in MMS.

As the article starts off:

"Overall equipment efficiency (OEE) is considered a critical measurement of how well a manufacturing unit is doing. The formula is simple: It multiplies the percentages of availability, performance and quality to yield a single percentage. This result enables similar units (one machine, one department, one plant or an entire enterprise) to be compared or rated against a target such as a plant’s best record or a benchmark of world-class performance. Focusing on OEE enables manufacturers to pinpoint factors that hold back productivity.

Significantly, recent developments in data-driven manufacturing make calculating OEE easier, faster and more accurate—and acting on it more effective. For example, these benefits are an important advantage of connecting machine tools to a network for data collection and monitoring.

However, shops and plants must also focus on profitability. Managers have to balance decisions about maximizing the part-making capability of their equipment with decisions about the money-making potential of this equipment. OEE ratings alone provide an incomplete picture. One development that seeks to address this shortcoming is called Financial OEE (FOEE), a trademarked name for a new feature of MERLIN Tempus Enterprise Edition (EE) from Memex."

We then continue with important areas for FOEE and questions to ask:

MERLIN (Manufacturing Enterprise Real-time Lean Information Network) is a communications platform for real-time manufacturing analytics. Tempus is the company’s suite of applications for machine monitoring such as real-time views of the plant floor, custom dashboards, reporting, alerting and other functions related to data-driven manufacturing. Tempus EE adds OEE, job scheduling and other modules such as FOEE.

Memex has partnered with noted OEE expert and author Robert Hansen to develop this approach. FOEE answers the question, “What is the value of improving OEE on this particular machine for this particular product?” More to the point, it answers “How much profit is being left on the table by not performing at company-best or industry-best levels for that specific part?”  Thus, the FOEE concept shows the power of data-driven manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things to transform decision-making not only on the shop floor, but also in the front office."

In the article, we further discuss the mechanics of FOEE.  I highlighted the three key values, as well as the definition of FOEE below.

"Tempus EE automatically collects the event details necessary to compute OEE.  The first phase of FOEE applies to stand-alone machines making a finished product. FOEE requires three key financial input values for each product and the machine. These inputs are unit sales price, unit material cost and the hourly operational expense (OPEX) of the machine. This information can be derived from the ERP product standard and the income statement.

FOEE is the current-state hourly profit divided by a value representing a world-class level of profit. This ratio tells a company what profit it made compared to what profit could have been made at world-class levels. With this information, a company can see the financial value of improving the machine’s performance."

 As we state in referencing the above figure:  "In the figure above a product called P0006 is analyzed over 180 days. The product-run OEE data is correlated with the three inputs necessary for FOEE. It also associates important actionable data such as profit contribution per hour and current FOEE based on the machine’s best FOEE percentage, as well as how much more profit would accrue by running the machine at its best OEE rate."

Why is FOEE from MEMEX the killer metric for manufacturing? As we state in the article:

 "With FOEE, managers can look at jobs scheduled for a machine and make decisions based not just on utilization, but also on utilization and profit. This enables managers to compare a list of machines capable of running a certain job, and to determine which machine would yield the highest hourly profit. Just as the OEE figure related to each project or job is a key tool in prioritizing and evaluating continuous improvement projects, FOEE provides a quick view of the profitability opportunity for these projects. FOEE is a tool to make better business decisions for scheduling products, guiding continuous improvement efforts and giving important feedback to sales and marketing teams."

That is why "OEE is Not Enough".... 

For more info on FOEE, please go here at MEMEX.

Very Nice Video on the History of Machine Tools

The folks at The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) like to say that, "Machine tools are the things that make the things."

This is an excellent video by Matthew Brady and really lays out the history of machine tools in a clear and logical fashion.

As you watch this, keep in mind the importance of knowing what these machine tools are actually doing and I think you will appreciate why MTConnect is so important in manufacturing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Scott McNealy on Donald Trump and Government

All of us former SUNW'rs (Sun Microsystems employees) loved and love Scott McNealy.

I know whenever he speaks, I stop to listen.

Here is a classic Scott quote during the interview: “The worst CEO is a thousand times better than the best politician,’ in terms of driving us forward and driving the market economy, personal responsibility, less regulation and liberty out there in the marketplace.” 

Here is the link with a video.

I truly hope Scott is right about Trump.  I remain highly skeptical that Trump will end up doing a better job than President Obama.  We shall see....

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Storytelling of Science Video With Today's Science Thought Leaders

I enjoyed this video.  Any video that starts out with a Richard Feynman story, you just know is going to be good. 

The audience Q&A starts out at the 1:28:20 mark and there is lots of practical advice for the university students in attendance.

Below is the description out at YouTube:

"The Origins Project at ASU presents the final night in the Origins Stories weekend, focusing on the science of storytelling and the storytelling of science. 

The Storytelling of Science features a panel of esteemed scientists, public intellectuals, and award-winning writers including well-known science educator Bill Nye, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Science Friday's Ira Flatow, popular science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, executive director of the World Science Festival Tracy Day, and Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss as they discuss the stories behind cutting edge science from the origin of the universe to a discussion of exciting technologies that will change our future. They demonstrate how to convey the excitement of science and the importance helping promote a public understanding of science."