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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 2 Intelligent Systems Division The Intelligent Systems Division’s stated goal is to develop the measurements and standards infrastructure needed for the application of intelligent systems. The ISD has well-established core competencies in the areas of standards, performance evaluation, measurement, interoperability, safety, and security. It plays an important role in promoting the science, technologies, and tools related to manufacturing engineering. Standards and services are very important to U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness, especially in the current global economic environment in which many countries are making serious investments in intelligent manufacturing technologies. The ISD is serving as a catalyst in promoting collaboration between industries, with a focus on establishing standards and testbeds in the areas of computerized numerical control (CNC), dimensional inspection equipment interoperability, manufacturing robotics and automation, and autonomous-vehicle and materials-handling systems. In the areas of safety and security, the ISD has established new standards for the security of industrial control systems. The ISD’s technical capabilities are among the best in STEP-NC and OMAC for real-time data models, machine compensation, machining tool path optimization, Ethernet/IP performance testing, and others. The ISD currently has 31 NIST staff and 14 guest researchers. Its FY 2010 estimated funding is about $8.9 million, with about 38 percent coming from extramural sources. TECHNICAL MERIT RELATIVE TO STATE OF THE ART The ISD promotes the development of measurement science and interoperability standards to enhance manufacturing robotics and automation equipment and the underlying industrial control systems. The division’s recent efforts have focused on areas such as requirements and performance standards (defining, specifying, measuring, and evaluating robot and automation system performance and capabilities; proposing and facilitating repeatable, objective, and quantitative test methods and their associated environments, artifacts, and data); interoperability standards (requirements, interface definitions, data modeling, conformance assessment tools, facilitating the bringing together of industry stakeholders); and infrastructural technology to help build next-generation unmanned systems. The ISD operational environment includes strong interest and investment by federal agencies in robotics/intelligent systems, especially in the areas of defense and homeland security. The ISD serves U.S. manufacturing by developing solutions for measurements, interoperability, and safety and security for intelligent robots, automation, and control systems. There is a renewed U.S. interest in manufacturing, robotic and automation systems at different levels. The ISD’s short- and long-range plans are well in line with those of NIST. For example, NIST’s proposed Innovations for 21st Century U.S. Manufacturing initiative points out the need to—
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 Provide the measurement tools and capabilities necessary to develop and apply robotic technologies that are “smarter,” more flexible, and better able to operate safely and effectively in less structured environments, to facilitate mass customization in manufacturing processes.6 The ISD is recognized as a world leader in the performance evaluation of complex, intelligent systems. The division is also recognized for its work in the development of interoperability standards for manufacturing automation systems, and its Intelligent Manufacturing Interoperability Standards Program has been in operation for some time. The motto for this program is “Smarter Data for Smarter Manufacturing.” The newest activity in this framework is the Quality Information Interoperability project, in which the effort is focused on the seamless integration of quality requirements from design through planning, production, analysis, and reporting. The ISD has been successfully leveraging the development of its manufacturing program through partnerships, primarily with Department of Defense (DOD) agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Nearly 40 percent of ISD resources come from such partnerships. This is a strong indicator of the external recognition of ISD activities and expertise. ADEQUACY OF INFRASTRUCTURE The ISD has excellent research facilities and equipment, some of which is loaned by partners. It also will benefit from the new NIST robot test facility whose construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2010. The facility will be an important national resource for this rapidly developing industry. However, many other places around the world (e.g., Japan, Korea, Singapore, Europe) are making major investments in this area, and ISD facilities and activities are no longer unique and unrivaled. The staffing resources are limited, constraining the ability of the ISD to respond with agility to changing technology needs. Strong world leadership is likely to be difficult to maintain when many management positions within the division are “acting” positions. ACHIEVEMENT OF OBJECTIVES AND IMPACT The ISD continues to develop its strategic technologies and testbeds in the areas of interoperability standards for quality information, next-generation manufacturing robotics for safety and security, and performance measurement of autonomous-vehicle systems, among other areas. It has had significant impact on the establishment of standards in these areas. One of its major impacts has been to establish industrial controls and networks standards for federal government and industrial users. NIST SP 800-53 was established for security controls for federal information systems, and NIST SP 800-82 was established as a guide to industrial control systems security. These allow federal agencies, as well as the private sector if it so desires, to determine the proper security controls for their IT systems as well as to secure their industrial control systems 6 Additional information on this proposed NIST program initiative can be found at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/factsheet/comp_manuf2011.cfm. Accessed August 16, 2010.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 effectively while addressing their unique requirements. SP 800-53 has been downloaded more than 1.25 million times since its initial release in 2009. In the area of robot safety, the ISD has developed a technical specification as input for the next revision of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) robot safety standard (ISO 10218: Robots for Industrial Environments—Safety Requirements) to allow human-robot collaboration. The ISD is also contributing technical expertise to a new standard (ISO 13482: Robots and Robotic Devices—Safety Requirements—Non-medical Personal Care Robot) for nonmedical and personal-care robots and robotic devices. In the area of autonomous systems, the ISD has developed sensor performance metrics, standards, and infrastructure technology to support the use of semiautonomous and autonomous manipulators and vehicles, and control architecture. In the area of quality information interoperability, the ISD and the International Association of Coordinate Measuring Machine Manufacturers demonstrated I++DME interoperability (I++DME is a nonproprietary language for communicating with a CMM) for different CMM manufacturers and enabled I++DME-compliant products in production facilities worldwide. In addition, the ISD has developed a new version of the Dimensional Measuring Interface Standard (DMIS) to support manufacturing industries’ needs in integrating measurement systems with design and quality-assurance systems. In the area of intelligent manufacturing, industrial control systems, and network standards, the ISD has developed an Industrial Ethernet Network Performance (IENetP) Test Tool that is an open-source test tool for industry: it allows vendors to determine device network performance during development and allows users to validate device network performance before deployment. Version V1.0.1 was released in 2009, and there had been more than 375 downloads as of February 1, 2010. The ISD has developed Mobility Open Architecture Simulation and Tools (MOAST), which is an implementation of the 4D/RCS reference model architecture for unmanned vehicle systems. It continues to develop STEP-NC, which defines a feature-based view of operations and includes solid-model descriptions, material, tooling, and tolerances. STEP-NC is part of the ISO 10303 suite of standards for the exchange of product and process data: specifically, Application Protocol 238 (AP-238). AP-238 is intended to replace the 50-year-old “G-code” format for numerically controlled machine tools that specified primitive tool motions. CONCLUSIONS Following are the conclusions of the panel based on its assessment of the Intelligent Systems Division: The caliber of the work in the ISD is sound and state of the art. Many projects have had high impact, including the industrial Ethernet test tool, security/safety standards of industrial control systems, the DMIS for CMMs, and performance testing of robots. There is a need in the division for strengthened global benchmarking and self-assessment activities. Such benchmarking can identify gaps and drive future project selection.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 It is commendable that nearly half of the ISD activities are not strictly in discrete-parts manufacturing. This is evidence that the ISD can bring its strengths in measurement, performance evaluation, standards, and interoperability to bear on important related areas such as the security and safety of industrial control systems, autonomous systems, and others. The ISD is leveraging its program development through partnerships, primarily with DOD agencies and the DOT. It is important that NIST and the MEL provide incentives, and not disincentives, for such partnership activities through their budgeting processes, overhead rates, merit policies, and other means. The division’s partnerships with industry are more limited compared to those with government agencies, and they should grow. The ISD could make broader impacts through consortium development, further leveraging industry involvement and investment to accelerate the dissemination of the developed standards. The ISD is limited by staffing constraints, flat budgets, and attrition. This may be impeding the development and recognition of leadership by ISD staff in the world technical community.