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Digital Factory Revolution Examined at [MC]2 2016

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How can we effectively implement the digital factory to transform the manufacturing process?

Engineers, technicians, developers, factory managers, scientists, and business owners came to the [MC]2 Conference to explore the blueprint for a smart and secure factory.

They discussed the value of connectivity to improve overall operations, production and customer relationships, as well as the importance of protecting data and equipment from malware, solutions for linking OT and IT, harnessing the power of the cloud, using established resources more efficiently, and employing robotics, automation and new training platforms.

Futurist and CEO of inpher.io Jordan Brandt opened the [MC]2 Conference by describing how the Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing and machine learning are transforming the global manufacturing landscape. He noted high shipping costs and promoted the value of producing products closer to the consumer. He pointed out that data in today’s world market has a larger share than goods and capital. Trends indicate that value transactions will be in materials, data, and the IP, which will be digitized, and therefore needs to be encrypted and protected from cyber threats.

Cyber-Physical Security

Cyber-physical security has become an extremely important topic in manufacturing as the factory moves toward digital operations. This topic was further discussed by several speakers including Perry Pederson, co-founder of The Langner Group, who offered practical advice to protect operational technology. Dr. Jaime Camelio, the Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor for Advanced Manufacturing at Virginia Tech, highlighted an experiment where graduate students “broke in” digitally to different manufacturing processes and altered the final product. He also announced the upcoming launch of a manufacturing vulnerability database, located at www.cpssmfg.com, which allows industry stakeholders to upload and search information about potential “back door” vulnerabilities.

Experienced in securing all aspects of the smart factory, Bryce Barnes, senior manager of Cisco’s Machine Builder and Robot Segment, and Dave Edstrom, chief technology officer of Memex, shared steps to make a plant secure from both cyber and physical standpoints. Edstrom recommended taking the Secret Service approach of establishing perimeters, while Barnes explained the basics of encryption—confidentiality, authenticity and integrity.

Attendees had a chance to pose questions to a panel of cyber-physical security experts, who offered guidance for factories to protect from and plan for a cyberattack. Topics included cyber-physical security insurance, conducting risk assessments and reviewing security guidelines with employees. The panel included Rebecca Taylor, senior vice president at the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS); Jason Gorey, senior advisor at the Defense Production Act Committee; Jim Barkley, associate director at the Digital Manufacturing Commons UI Labs; Mark Weatherford, chief cybersecurity strategist at vArmour, and Jordan Brandt.

Implementers of the Digital Factory

Large and small manufacturing companies shared their successful experience to create a “Smart Factory.” GE Greenville Gas Turbine Chief Engineer Bryan Dods related his experience to help establish GE as a leader in the smart manufacturing revolution with its “brilliant factory” concept. Additionally, B&R Industrial Automation Director John Kowal detailed how B&R’s networked smart factory embodies many of the principles now called Industrie 4.0.

Nate Price of Task Force Tips, a manufacturer of firefighting nozzles, and Bill Metz of Richards Industries, a manufacturer of industrial valves, presented their journey to adopt the MTConnect standard to connect their machines, analyze data and optimize their shop floor. By implementing the smart factory concepts they now have real-time data from machine monitoring to reveal idle times and stoppages of machines—contributing to expanded production and earnings.

IoT and the Cloud

Douglas Bellin, senior manager of Global Industries with Cisco, addressed how companies can take advantage of production data to reduce down time, add predictive maintenance, reduce shipping defects, and even decrease energy costs.

Rod Butters, president of Kenandy, a cloud ERP for manufacturing enterprises, outlined how to leverage cloud technologies from sensors on the shop floor to data warehouses, analytics software, and sales staff mobile devices to create more efficient and flexible ways of doing business.

Resources to Help Manufacturers Realize the Digital Factory

Three speakers identified programs to support American manufacturers in achieving digital manufacturing capabilities.

The Digital Manufacturing Commons (DMC), sponsored by the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, is a Web-based platform of data, models, and software tools designed to support the American smart factory. Dr. Ben Beckmann, a scientist at GE Global Research and the project leader of the DMC, presented it as a kind of marketplace for manufacturers to “shop” and identify useful technology during the development process.

Robot Operating System-Industrial (ROS-I) is an open-source software that brings cost-effective intelligent robotics solutions to manufacturers, explained Paul Evans, a director at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).

Moneer Helu, a mechanical engineer at NIST, introduced the soon-to-be launched Smart Manufacturing Systems Test Bed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which will provide manufacturers with information, models, and data to develop a digital factory.

Robotics, Automation and Virtual Reality Training

Frederick Proctor, who manages the robot interoperability project in the engineering laboratory at NIST, outlined the newest robotics systems, immediate research needs, and what hinders robotics adoption. Paul Eckard, president of SIM Technologies, discussed how simulation technologies can optimize plant strategies such as options for process layout to determine the least congestion in the production process. Brad Rossacci, director of innovation at 900LBS of Creative, demonstrated how virtual reality could help train manufacturing employees.

MTConnect Workshop

[MC]2 closed with a half-day MTConnect Workshop on the implementation of MTConnect across machines, equipment, building automation components, and IT systems. Engineers and software developers who use MTConnect led the workshop, including:

  • Nate Price, Task Force Tips
  • Surya Kommareddy, Manager, DMG MORI
  • Neil Desrosiers, Applications Engineer, Mazak
  • Moneer Helu, Mechanical Engineer, NIST
  • Kent Vasko, Software Design Engineer, MAYA
  • Will Sobel, CEO, System Insights, Inc.

With extended hours for networking, attendees had ample time to converse with their colleagues and the conference speakers about ways to implement the digital factory and the future of digital manufacturing.

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