Mar 21 2018

Charles F. Bolden Jr, Administrator, NASA – What humanity’s time in space can teach us about the Internet of Experiences

The great Archimedes, one of the forefathers of both modern astronomy and invention, is said to have boasted to King Hiero that if he were given a lever and a place to stand, he could move the Earth. The king called his bluff, giving Archimedes the assignment of launching a beached ship. Undaunted, Archimedes devised a system of levers, fulcrums and pulleys that allowed him to move the ship with only his own strength.

Charles Frank “Charlie” Bolden Jr. became the 12th administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2009, after a 34-year career with the US Marine Corps that included 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office and four tours of duty aboard the International Space Station – two as commander and two as pilot. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first joint US-Russian shuttle mission. Bolden, a native of Columbia, SC, has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical science and a Master of Science degree in systems management.

Human innovation is the story of dreamers and doers who have found ways to move heaven and earth – or, in the case of space exploration, to move beyond heaven and Earth – thanks not only to formulas, experiments and equations, but also to imagination, creativity and collaboration. It is the story of dreaming up ideas that seem beyond the realm of possibility and then actually doing them.

Our concept of reality is being expanded every day by people who refuse to be limited by it. More than two thousand years after Archimedes “moved the Earth,” a team of his progeny created a game-changing laboratory off the Earth’s surface. The International Space Station (ISS) is a marvel of human engineering and innovation, providing humanity with a stepping stone to the rest of the galaxy – including Mars, where NASA plans to send astronauts in the 2030s. The ISS is a place where astronauts work off Earth for the benefit of Earth on breakthroughs that are fueling scientific advances and benefiting our quality of life, our health, and the health of the water we drink and the air we breathe.

The station is, quite literally, the stuff of dreams: an orbiting laboratory massive enough to fill the length and width of an entire football field. It is larger than a conventional six-bedroom house, and it travels the equivalent distance of Earth to the moon in just about a day. It has been visited by more than 200 different human beings.

Amazingly, this space station was assembled not within the borders of any one country – but actually in space! It is the product of more than a decade of assembly: 41 space assembly missions comprising portions of more than 115 space flights conducted on five different types of launch vehicles, plus more imagination and human ingenuity than we can quantify. Its on-orbit software monitors approximately 350,000 sensors. In the US segment alone, 1.5 million lines of flight software code run on 44 computers communicating via 100 data networks to transfer 400,000 signals.

Read the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

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Mar 14 2018

OYU TOLGOI: Massive Mongolian mine seen as a test case for ‘lean’ techniques

As the global mining industry pushes deeper and ranges farther for vital minerals, its leading firms are just beginning to adopt “lean” techniques – common for decades in manufacturing industries – for mining greater value from their operations.14

At Oyu Tolgoi on Mongolia’s vast, windswept South Gobi Desert, where nomads still watch over their herds, a new copper and gold mine stands poised to lead a struggling industry on a great leap forward. The mine, developed by British-Australian multinational metals and mining firm Rio Tinto Group, is a test case for applying the same lean principles that most manufacturing industries adopted at least three decades ago as protection from the buffeting winds of rapidly shifting markets.

Miners know rapid economic shifts all too well. After years of boom, in which demand outstripped capacity and efficiency was a luxury few had time to consider, commodity prices have sagged and new strikes are rare. Many mining companies are responding by slashing capital expenditures and pulling back on critical investments. It’s a no-growth strategy the industry has turned to time and again, closing mines, laying off workers and hunkering down until the next boom.

For the first time, however, a few innovative mines are following a different path.

“We’re in the early stages of a paradigm shift in mining,” said Mike MacFarlane, a Canadian engineer, industry consultant and retired executive vice president of AngloGold Ashanti, one of the world’s largest mining companies. “In the United States, the auto industry in the 1940s and ’50s had no peers; in the ’60s and ’70s, still no peers. In the ’80s, little Japanese cars changed everything. I would say the mining industry, in the little Japanese car analogy, is in the mid-’80s.”

Read the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

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Mar 07 2018

Jean-Marc Cauzac

Is there a way to make additive manufacturing more productive?

07Now that powder bed techniques are turning out parts for all kinds of fabricators, can we make it more productive and profitable? Its advantages are clear, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Tailoring the process to the product, even for an experienced manufacturing engineer, typically takes repeated passes to get to an acceptable process. And there may still be room for improvement—tweaks to strengthen supports, avoid springback, or reduce materials costs.

The traditional process: the engineer selects a build tray, manually positions and orients parts on it, creates the support structures and the slicing process, and orders a trial run to see the results. It may take several runs—and a great deal of time and resources—to get to optimized production.

How can we fix this?

What kinds of tools do engineers need to streamline preparation and create a process that works on the first pass? Think about automation and simulation in a menu-driven 3D environment.

To start with, we can save time and costs by adding previously used build trays to the menu for reuse. With the build tray selected, the engineer doesn’t need to spend time with parts placement. This step can be automated, with a display that identifies the zones, edges and points where supports are needed and minimizes support on functional services. Automatic generation of the support structure, in selected formats, would follow. The engineer could make manual adjustments at any time.

At this point, 3D simulation tools are invaluable. Simulated slicing in virtual space can reveal opportunities to reduce support material, add strength or improve heat transfer. To simulate, adjust and repeat in this manner replaces the cost and delay of multiple real-world production trials.

Can we streamline production the same way?

With the optimized build-tray template in hand, let’s look downstream at the production process. Here, a menu-driven solution in a 3D display can speed and simplify decision-making. The manufacturing engineer selects a part (or multiple parts with the same material requirements), a 3D printer with the right characteristics (the number of lasers, their specifications, and the available working envelope), and material (particle size, fusion point, melting point, and other factors).

At this point, the engineer needs a laser path based on these parameters. It must include all the complex motions required—back-and-forth, helical, contouring, morphing. Ideally, a software solution generates this path automatically and lets the engineer run 3D simulations to validate the process and adjust characteristics like laser power, speed, spot diameter and melting depth. Effective simulations can show what happens when supports are removed, enabling the engineer to adjust for thermal stress and springback and avoiding costly rework.

Finally, the program should be able to output the finished template to an additive machine in whatever format you select, and save it for reuse to make future processes more efficient.

How will additive manufacturing impact your manufacturing efficiency? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

DELMIA has created a pair of 3DEXPERIENCE tools— Additive Manufacturing Programmer and Additive Manufacturing Engineer—that combine all these capabilities to make powder bed fabrication a faster, more customer-productive process.

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Feb 28 2018

Supply Chain risk not always what it seems

Companies are paying more attention to supply chain risk these days, and that’s a very good thing because, according to a study by PwC and the Business Continuity Institute, 75% of companies experience at least one major supply chain disruption a year. Supply chain disruptions can be expensive, and not just for the cost of expediting replacement goods. Shutting down a production line can cost thousands of dollars per hour and the damage to customer service can be severe and long-lasting.

The art and science of supply chain risk management prescribes a formal process of identifying risks, estimating the impact of the disruption should it come to pass, and reckoning the probability of occurrence. Armed with this information, companies can map out the right strategy for avoiding the risk altogether, lessening the probability and/or impact, and devising strategies for recovery.

Typically, there are two kinds of risks to manage; let’s call them everyday risks and exceptional risks. The everyday risks are relatively easy to identify and manage – things like power outages, theft or damage to goods in transit, or the need to recall a defective or unsafe product. These kinds of disruptions fall into the everyday category because they occur frequently enough that probabilities can be statistically estimated with reasonable precision. Exceptional risks, sometimes called black swan events, are things that are not expected and cannot be predicted. Ordinarily, a company would not expect that a major supplier’s plant will explode, get washed away by a tsunami, or not be able to supply product due to political upheaval or an act of war. Managing exceptional risks takes imagination – thinking the unthinkable and estimating the unknowable. Nevertheless, it is a necessary part of supply chain risk management.

But there are challenges even in the management of everyday risks. Because there are typically many items to address, and many suppliers, transportation links, and service providers involved, a company has no choice but to do a kind of triage on the supply chain and devote more thought and more resources to the biggest risks, those with the biggest impact, the highest likelihood, and/or the hardest to prevent or recover from. The solution for the less significant items in the spectrum is often either tucking away some extra inventory just-in-case or just taking the risk and hoping for the best.

This is a logical, pragmatic strategy, but sometimes it can leave a company far more vulnerable that they realize. An article that appeared in the January 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review, contained information from a study of Ford Motor Company’s supply chain that found the following: Disruption occurring at about 61% of the supplier sites would have no impact on Ford’s profits. However, about 2% of the supplier sites would, if disrupted, have a significant impact on Ford’s profits. Sounds like Ford should focus on that 2%, and not worry about the 61% that would have no impact, right? The biggest challenge would be to identify the suppliers in each group so appropriate remediation can be taken. To quote Shakespeare, ‘Aye, there’s the rub’.

According to the HBR article recap: “The supplier sites whose disruption would cause the greatest damage are those from which Ford’s annual purchases are relatively small—a finding that surprised Ford managers. Indeed, many of those suppliers had not previously been identified by the company’s risk managers as high-exposure suppliers.”

Supply chain risk management is an essential part of prudent business management. Many companies are aggressively pursuing risk management and benefiting from the reduction in disruptions, reduced severity, and quick recovery that results from their preparation. Risk identification, assessment, probability calculations, and planning remediation (avoidance, reduction, recovery) are not easy but they are vital. And, it turns out, there are some unexpected twists, as revealed in the HBR article, that could sabotage the best-laid plans.

This post originally appeared on Navigate the Future, the Dassault Systemes North America blog

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Feb 21 2018

The Future of Work

With automation poised to put millions out of work, economists debate if growth can create enough new ones.

Since the 1970s, automation has eliminated the jobs of millions of bank tellers, retail cashiers, travel agents, airline front-desk workers and manufacturing employees. With the jobs of truck drivers, airline pilots and even medical doctors now at risk as well, it sometimes feels as if every human job except those of computer coders is destined to disappear. Compass examines the jobs at risk and the forces at work.

Gantry cranes load containers onto automated guided vehicles (AGV) during the testing phase of the Long Beach Container Terminal in Middle Harbor at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Next year, deckhands on ships docked at Middle Harbor on Californias San Pedro Bay won’t see many people on the wharf. Remote-controlled cranes towering 165 feet overhead will pluck containers from vessels’ holds, and driverless trucks guided by magnets embedded in the asphalt will carry cargo to robotic hoists in a sorting yard. Photographer: Tim Rue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pair of unusual trucks plies the highways in the US state of Nevada and along the German autobahn near Stuttgart. Although they look similar to most 18-wheel rigs on the road today, these trucks have a unique driver in the cab: an autonomous, computer-guided system dubbed Highway Pilot that steers the trucks without help from the human in the front seat.

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So far, these ultramodern trucks made by Germany’s Daimler Trucks are only test vehicles; the humans are there in case anything goes wrong. Most highway regulations still only permit fully autonomous vehicles on the open road with humans near the controls. Once enabling legislation is passed, however, Daimler expects trucks based on these prototypes to be operational by the end of the decade, Stuttgart-based Daimler spokeswoman Uta Leitner said.

Repercussions for the future employment prospects of the approximately 7 million truck drivers now working in the US and Europe remains an open question: Will self-driving vehicles cause these jobs to disappear, following in the wake of elevator operators replaced by push buttons, bank tellers displaced by ATM machines and travel agents made redundant by online booking services? And what of other jobs that can be done by powerful computer algorithms, from medical diagnosis to automated coordination of rooftop power generating stations?

Read the rest of this story here, on COMPASS, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine

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