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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 Chapter 3 Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 PANEL MEMBERS Walt W. Braithwaite, The Boeing Company, Chair Marvin F. DeVries, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Vice Chair Hadi A. Akeel, FANUC Robotics NA, Inc. Mary A. Austin, Pratt and Whitney Diane Bird, U.S. Department of Energy Thomas Charlton, Brown & Sharpe Mfg. Co. James E. Costa, Sandia National Laboratories Jose B. Cruz, Jr., Ohio State University David Dornfeld, University of California, Berkeley George J. Hess, The Ingersoll Milling Machine Company (retired) Michael E. Kahn, KLA-Tencor Instruments Richard L. Kegg, Milacron, Inc. Wolfgang H. Sachse, Cornell University Donald L. Sage, Lucent Technologies (retired) Brian K. Seitz, BKSeitz & Associates/Intellectual Arbitrage Inc. Janet K. Talbot, Baan, Inc. Neculai C. Tutos, Dassault Systèmes of America Submitted for the panel by its Chair, Walt W. Braithwaite, this assessment of the fiscal year 1999 activities of the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory is based on site visits by individual panel members, a formal meeting of the panel February 24–25, 1999, in Gaithersburg, Md., and documents provided by the laboratory.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 LABORATORY-LEVEL REVIEW Laboratory Mission According to laboratory documentation,1 the mission of the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (MEL) is to satisfy the measurements and standards needs of the U.S. discrete-parts manufacturers in mechanical and dimensional metrology and in advanced manufacturing technology by conducting research and development, providing services, and participating in standard activities. The laboratory is organized into five divisions: Precision Engineering, Automated Production Technology, Intelligent Systems, Manufacturing Systems Integration, and Fabrication Technology. In the panel's view, the programs and projects being pursued by the MEL are supportive of its mission and that of NIST. The mission of each MEL division is clearly linked to that of the laboratory and indicates that the longer-term research is in direct support of developing physical and informational measurements and standards for new and emerging technologies. To best apply its resources, MEL has spent serious efforts to develop and test a set of criteria for prioritizing new or continuing programs and projects. This means it may sometimes need to eliminate good programs to gain sufficient resources for programs judged more important. The Precision Engineering and Intelligent Systems Divisions have begun to apply these criteria, but deployment is not yet universal. The panel encourages broad deployment of these criteria and recommends that documentation of each project pursued reflect those criteria satisfied. To the extent possible, criteria should be quantified to reduce the influence of subjective interpretation and opinion on their use. The MEL has begun participation in activities aimed at developing roadmaps to forecast industry needs, including measurement needs. The panel recommended such activities in its previous report. This effort is encouraging and should be increased to help ensure that MEL resources are most effectively applied. Also, more effort should be placed on up-front and in-process cost/benefit analysis for programs and projects pursued, and these analyses should be used in dispostioning programs and projects. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work As highlighted by projects such as the National Advanced Manufacturing Testbed (NAMT), the Internet-enabled interactive network for the Inter-American System of Metrology (SIMnet), and the work on standards for the exchange of product model data (STEP), the laboratory continues to make significant technical contributions to the manufacturing industries. The NAMT and the proposed successor program, Digital Manufacturing Enterprise for the 21st Century, employs the expertise of MEL and other NIST laboratories to provide an environment for collaborative research in cross-disciplinary areas. SIMnet uses real-time audio, video, shared applications, and remote instrument control to provide automated measurement solutions for the Organization of American States. This project extends MEL capabilities by allowing Organization of American States (OAS) member countries to perform their own standards 1 U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory's Strategic Plan, January, 1999, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., 1999.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 comparisons and collaborate with MEL via the Internet. Overall, the panel found the programs and projects being addressed in the MEL to be suitable. All divisions appear to be accepting the director's challenge of becoming the Best in the World in their areas of expertise. Much of the work pursued by the MEL has been benchmarked as being among the Best in the World. The length measurements and mechanical metrology products and services of MEL have been shown in many cases to exceed industry's current needs as well as provide capabilities to enable future development. MEL staff spends much effort in the application of information technology (IT) to improve and create relevant standards, to enable collaboration among and within divisions and other laboratories, to disseminate results, and to provide access to laboratory services. However, the panel believes that the production of software should be construed as a manufacturing process. As such, the laboratory role to establish standards applies to the development and testing of software. There is an opportunity for MEL to partner with Information Technology Laboratory efforts in this area to improve development of software for manufacturing purposes. The panel further recognizes the value of the Charters of Freedom project, which is testing and manufacturing new display cases for the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution, as an opportunity for MEL to make a contribution to a significant national activity. Although not directly mission focused, this project serve a purpose that all citizens must find moving and important. Impact of Programs The panel found the MEL very effective in disseminating its results. The use of an internal Web site enables MEL staff to communicate between divisions and with other NIST laboratories. The external Web site is likely the most expeditious and cost-effective way for MEL to disseminate its results to U.S. industry. Much effort has gone into these Web sites to assure consistent and easy access by the laboratory's customers. The products and services of the MEL have made significant impact on the U.S. industry. This impact is measured in part by the number of awards received by the staff for their contributions to industry and by the productivity improvements achieved from deployment of new or improved standards, as discussed in the divisional reviews. MEL should be proud of the recognition received by its staff for their contributions to industry. Ongoing efforts on STEP have made advances in the exchange of information between different computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems. Using STEP, pilot programs have demonstrated significant improvements in reliability of data exchange and significant cost reductions in the processing of composite and noncomposite parts. A single automobile supplier has reported savings of $200 million in the cost of maintaining different CAD systems as a result of implementing STEP in production. A number of large manufacturing companies have implemented STEP, encouraging MEL to transfer the administrative responsibility for the standard to an industry group in order to make its own resources available for more technical activities. This is commendable, and the panel encourages MEL to use this approach for other standards that achieve similar levels of maturity. The panel believes that MEL could have a greater impact by leading U.S. industry to a more proactive stance with international standards-setting organizations. Because of increasing
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 globalization, U.S. industry risks losing markets if attention is not paid to the international standards activities. Lastly, the high-profile nature of the Charters of Freedom project gives MEL national exposure as a unique technical resource and provides a highly visible example of its work. Laboratory Resources Funding sources2 for the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (in millions of dollars) are presented below: Fiscal Year 1998 Fiscal Year 1999 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 26.4 28.2 Competence 1.8 1.4 ATP 2.4 1.8 Measurement Services (SRM Production) 0.0 0.1 OA/NFG/CRADA 7.1 4.6 Other Reimbursable 4.5 4.3 Total 42.2 40.5 As of January 1999, staffing for the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory included 239 full-time permanent positions, of which 202 were for technical professionals. There were also 36 nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers. The panel notes that morale of the technical staff continues to be high, reflecting both the excitement that the staff receives from its work and the quality of the laboratory management. Staff members have received both NIST and external awards, as detailed in the divisional reports. MEL uses guest researchers very effectively to supplement the skills of the full-time staff with specialized or new technical expertise. The panel is quite pleased with the effort being made by management to provide clear direction and to provide opportunities for individual development. More formal career development programs would assist in this effort. 2 The NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories funding comes from a variety of sources. The laboratories receive appropriations from Congress, known as Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) funding. Competence funding also comes from NIST's congressional appropriations, but it is allotted by the NIST director's office in multiyear grants for projects that advance NIST's capabilities in new and emerging areas of measurement science. Advanced Technology Program (ATP) funding reflects support from NIST's ATP for work done at the NIST laboratories in collaboration with or in support of ATP projects. NIST laboratories also receive funding through grants or contracts from other government agencies (OA), from nonfederal governmental (NFG) agencies, and from industry in the form of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). All other laboratory funding including that for Calibration Services is grouped under Other Reimbursable. Note that the funding listed here for MEL does not include NIST overhead support for the Fabrication Technology Division, which provides shop services throughout NIST.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 Facilities improvement plans are progressing and have added to the high level of morale seen by the panel. These improvements, when completed, will enable the MEL to carry out its mission in a more effective manner. The continued effort to standardize IT equipment within the laboratory is paying dividends in productivity. DIVISIONAL REVIEWS Precision Engineering Division Division Mission According to division documentation, the mission of the Precision Engineering Division is to provide responsibility for realization and dissemination of the international standard (SI) unit of length by conducting research and development in precision-engineered length-metrology-intensive systems, whether measuring or production machines, and providing industrially important, length-related measurement, standards, and infrastructural-technology services, beginning with first-principles realization of unit of length via stabilized lasers and interferometry. This mission is sufficiently focused to encourage well-defined projects with, for the most part, well-defined goals. It fits the MEL and NIST missions by providing an appropriate balance between technology development of metrology systems for measuring and production machines and measurement service for length standards. The technical projects in the division are well matched to the mission and strategic plan. The strategic plan and project prioritization process are systematic and effective and provide strong examples for other MEL divisions. The panel believes that an annual program review process for each program would assist the division in facing reduced resources and funding. The program reviews should include timelines, resource allocation plans, and financial analysis. The program review information can then be used to prioritize program importance. If the reduction of personnel and budget appropriations continues from year to year, the program review information can be used to make intelligent business decisions as to which programs should continue. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The panel is very impressed with the level and capabilities of the division. The range of the scale of the dimensions addressed and the technologies used in length metrology are world class; the division 's four groups span 12 orders of magnitude of length measurement. Each group is assigned the mission of accomplishing metrology for a portion of the length spectrum, and each is making a significant contribution to the overall success of the division. Staff perform outstanding work, and the division successfully achieved many well-defined goals in 1998. Work on scanning electron microscopes earned the division an R&D100 Award in 1998. In collaboration with industry partners, staff developed and commercialized a Scanning Electron Microscope Monitor to eliminate incorrect characterization of semiconductor products by critical dimension scanning electron microscopes. This new technology is already in use at several
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 semiconductor companies. The division's work in new micrometer technology, which seeks to reduce measurement uncertainty and the number of required master artifacts for wires and cylinders, supports the industry's tighter tolerances in the manufacture of threads, gears, and fiber optics. The division has developed a unique facility for performance evaluation on frameless coordinate measuring (CMM) systems and state-of-the-art CMM probe modeling methods, both of which are key interests in the airframe industry. The Molecular Measuring Machine (M³) project, despite some earlier technical successes, continues to fall behind its goals. The panel has noted for several years the difficulties faced by this technically challenging project. Last year, the panel suggested a thorough review of the project, leading to either adequate funding to assure rapid completion of goals or termination. The division's review of the project determined that further work on this project is warranted, based on its predicted capabilities. However, resources devoted to this project have not changed. It appears to the panel that attention by high-level management is necessary to assure that this project does not continue to languish and drain laboratory resources without achieving project goals. Impact of Programs The Precision Engineering Division is creating and disseminating industrially relevant research in measurements and standards. Examples include development of new methods for measuring gears using CMMs and development of “SuperCrunch” software to perform CMM error mapping by using simple length measurements. In fiscal year 1998, the division provided U.S. industry with $534,000 in measurement and calibration services including submicrometer step-heights and pitch, commercial laser-displacement-interferometer systems, and gear lead. Staff's participation in more that 20 international and national standards committees has made a major impact on industry. The panel commends the division's work in this area and strongly urges that it continue. The division clearly has effective involvement in targeted areas such as the gear and semiconductor industries. In addition, the division has engaged in a strategic planning process in an effort to increase its interaction with a broader spectrum of industry, in both the development of new projects and the dissemination of results. Two excellent reports were published as a result of this effort: Technical Directions of the NIST Precision Engineering Division: 1997–20013 and Benchmarking the Length Measurement Capabilities of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.4 In the past year, the staff sponsored workshops and national conferences, produced 51 publications, and participated in numerous standards committees as a part of that strategy. The division has also made many of its research results and publications available through its excellent home page and is providing real-time Internet access to its metrological laboratory instruments through the Telepresence Microscopy and Microanalysis project in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory and Texas Instruments. 3 U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Technical Directions of the NIST Precision Engineering Division: 1997-2001, NISTIR 6218, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., 1998. 4 U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Benchmarking the Length Measurement Capabilities of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NISTIR 6036, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., 1997.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 Division Resources Funding sources for the Precision Engineering Division (in millions of dollars) are presented below: Fiscal Year 1998 Fiscal Year 1999 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 5.4 5.8 Competence 1.0 0.6 ATP 0.3 0.3 Measurement Services (SRM Production) 0.0 0.1 OA/NFG/CRADA 0.8 1.0 Other Reimbursable 0.8 0.9 Total 8.3 8.8 As of January 1999, staffing for the Precision Engineering Division included 42 full-time permanent positions, of which 38 were for technical professionals. There were also 10 nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers. The panel is concerned with long-term capital needs, which have not yet been addressed by the division. This situation is exacerbated by a roughly 10 percent decrease in budget from fiscal year 1997. If the laboratory is to adequately fund its highest priority programs, it will need to either terminate lower-priority projects or locate OA or industry funding to complete its work. The panel strongly supports the NIST plans for the construction of the Advanced Measurement Laboratory (AML) Research Facilities, which will help this division answer current and future needs of our nation. The panel notes that capital needs of the AML will require long-term planning to assure that this and other divisions have the equipment necessary to remain globally competitive. Automated Production Technology Division Division Mission According to division documentation, the mission of the Automated Production Technology Division is to satisfy the measurements and standards needs of the U.S. discrete-parts manufacturers in mechanical metrology and advanced manufacturing technology by conducting research and development in realizing and disseminating SI mechanical units; developing methods, models, sensors, and data to improve machines, processes, and metrology; providing services in mechanical metrology, machine metrology, process metrology, and sensor integration; and taking the lead in the development of national and international standards. The division supports process metrology and develops standards through development of new processes and techniques, including sensor development and integration. In conjunction
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 with this activity, the division has chief responsibility for five basic mechanical metrology units: mass, force, acceleration, sound pressure, and ultrasonic pressure. Overall, the division's programs are in good conformance with its mission. The division 's specialization in research and development for manufacturing processes and techniques is, in general, well connected to their mission and core competencies, as is its participation and leadership in national and international standards activity. However, the panel believes that closer adherence to the laboratory's revised methodology for evaluating existing and potential new projects would be beneficial. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The nine programs of the Automated Production Technology Division are well balanced between mechanical and advanced manufacturing metrology. The mechanical metrology provides NIST Traceable Reference Materials (NTRM) for customers' needs in mass, force, acceleration, sound, pressure, and ultrasonic power. These efforts underpin the division 's work in advanced manufacturing technology and represent a parallel and integrated focus on meeting the special measurement and standards needs of the U.S. discrete parts manufacturers. These programs often intersect with the advanced manufacturing technology efforts of the division and satisfy important industry needs. The increase in standards activities by the division is highly appropriate and answers industry needs and the basic mission of NIST. The panel suggests that the division, and the laboratory in general, can improve standards development by recruiting more industry and academic standards committee members. The use of various electronic media in communication and dissemination could also streamline the standards development process. The 1998 benchmarking activities for measurement capabilities provided excellent quantitative comparisons with the United Kingdom and Germany. These activities can serve as an example for benchmarking in the area of manufacturing, for which more quantitative measures would provide greater utility than the judgmental comparisons now conducted. The calibration capability for existing and new applications continues to be world class, and the panel notes the division's attention to upgrading mass and vibration calibration capabilities. The SIMnet work on sensor interfaces and standards for manufacturing and networks for traceability and calibration is excellent and is central to NIST's role in standards development. Sensor integration research has led development of new industrial standards. The work on sensor interfaces and networks appears to be potentially quite useful to industry, but more applications could be found through more discussion with industry. The time-resolved acoustics work has progressed in this respect and now has the industrial partners that the panel suggested in its previous assessment. The panel applauds and endorses the division's policy for prioritization in the selection of projects but questions the division's use of this tool. The work on test standards for machine tool contour accuracy, for example, is clearly an appropriate project for the division to help industry in high-speed machining. The panel questions, however, how an extension of chatter theory is appropriate for NIST; it is not clear how industry suffers from the older chatter theory. In this case, the panel applauds the merit of the work but questions its appropriateness.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 Impact of Programs Many instances of industry participation and input can be found throughout the programs. The division participated in six CRADAs in 1998 and held or contributed to six industrial workshops. The division's increased activity and leadership on standards committees are noteworthy. Examples of collaboration with the other divisions were illustrated and provide the opportunity for synergy, but the resulting benefits of collaboration need to be quantified. SIMnet effectively leverages NIST resources. The division is active in seeking patents. A patent was granted to the infrared interferometer work, and the Rapidly Renewable Lap and Ultrasonic Line-Focus Transducer projects both have patents pending. As discussed above, the standards committee leadership necessitated by the division's mission has contributed greatly to U.S. industry. The staff has participated in 64 standards committees and chaired several. Division Resources Funding sources for the Automated Production Technology Division (in millions of dollars) are presented below: Fiscal Year 1998 Fiscal Year 1999 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 5.0 5.2 Competence 0.4 0.4 ATP 0.6 0.2 OA/NFG/CRADA 0.7 0.5 Other Reimbursable 1.2 1.1 Total 7.8 7.4 As of January 1999, staffing for the Automated Production Technology Division included 44 full-time permanent positions, of which 40 were for technical professionals. There were also five nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers. The division's resources improved in 1998. The precision lapping and polishing laboratory has been set up and is functioning. Renovation is being completed to accommodate x-ray optics calibration interferometer instrumentation for advanced optics metrology. New instrumentation is being installed to maintain world-class calibration capability in existing and new applications. The division's programs will benefit substantially from the planned Advanced Measurement Laboratory, though it will not realize these benefits for several years. The division continues to share hardware and facilities with the Fabrication Technology Division; some processes originally set up for research have become part of the Fabrication Technology Division's suite of manufacturing capabilities as a result of division expertise (e.g., diamond turning).
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 A significant portion of the division's overall funding continues to be derived from fees for calibration (e.g., 2,761 force tests were conducted in 1998, an increase of 15 percent from the 2,400 tests conducted in 1997). The panel continues to be concerned that the fees collected do not provide sufficient resources to ensure that testing methodologies and facilities for calibration are maintained at state of the art, especially in view of new calibration requirements (e.g., micro-newton test activities). Intelligent Systems Division Division Mission According to division documentation, the new mission of the Intelligent Systems Division is to improve the competitiveness of U.S. industry by working with industry, academia, and other agencies to develop and apply intelligent systems technologies, standards, and performance measures. In keeping with the laboratory procedures, the division has begun implementation of a strategic planning process to prioritize increasing numbers of projects in the face of decreasing resources. The panel believes that the nine programs currently under way conform to the division mission, the MEL mission, and the NIST mission. The division mission and the appropriateness of the projects should be reviewed against the strategic plan, once it has been finalized. The panel recognizes the difficulty of developing and benchmarking the strategic plan in the absence of guiding literature but believes this plan will assist the difficult allocation of resources among a broad range of high-caliber projects. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work Overall, the technical merit of this division is excellent. Each major program is discussed below, in order of decreasing resources. The Intelligent Autonomous Vehicles Program has the largest amount of division resources devoted to it. The project goals fit the MEL and NIST mission well. The development of performance measures for intelligent sensor-based vehicle control systems, which the panel believes to be a burgeoning technology, is especially relevant. As there is no established control system in the field, this is an excellent testbed for validating open architectures for intelligent vehicle perception and control systems. The outcome of the research is also likely to yield advanced core technology for navigation, including applicable sensors. However, the large percentage of the division 's STRS resources dedicated to this project leave the rest of the division vulnerable to serious disruption if changes occur in its outside funding. Hexapod parallel-activated machine tools hold the promise of increased speed, accuracy, stiffness, and multiaxis versatility compared with current machine tool platforms. The division's approach and demonstrated results in Hexapod machine tool evaluation lead the world in this evolving field. NIST's role is the identification and validation of performance characterizations standards for the Hexapod machine, as input to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) committees. NIST also helps further understanding of application and control issues in this emerging class of machines. The 1998
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 results include the establishment of baseline performance characteristics and related machine error models, which are essential to the successful commercial application of this technology. The plans for 1999 include strut experimentation with Ohio State University, the micropositioning measurement and control of the test strut, and the strut metrology implementation, which are all crucial to the reaching the next level of measurement of the machine capabilities. The Knowledge Engineering Program seeks to develop design and software engineering principles for building open architectures for intelligent control systems. Significant technical progress and superior quality work were seen in 1998, but it is difficult to judge appropriateness to industry, redundancy, or whether this project is the most cost-effective use of division resources, as little effort has been spent to gauge industry's need for evaluation of this project. The panel believes that this project would benefit from quantifiable impact assessment data and a cost/benefit analysis. The Intelligent Systems Architecture for Manufacturing (ISAM) project has been active for many years and is the backbone of the intelligent control framework of the division. An initial version of this hierarchical architecture has been developed that is modular and model-based. The modular nature of the Reference Model Architecture (RMA) allows use across a variety of applications and software, and indeed various interfaces were developed this year to make it more useful for manufacturing applications. In particular, ISAM added a generic shell so a planner could be added at various levels to direct people or machines to perform the manufacturing operation. ISAM has now been used in a variety of application areas such as welding, vehicles, the Hexapod, the commercial Enhanced Machine Controller, feature-based inspection, and control workstations. It may be appropriate now to lay the groundwork for standard development for RMA. The Enhanced Machine Controller project seeks to improve competitiveness in the U.S. machine-tool controller industry. It develops open system interface standards by using Real-Time Control Systems to accelerate the implementation of intelligent control technology in manufacturing. The panel notes that for Real-Time Control Systems to gain widespread acceptance and use, they will need to be standardized. The researchers continue to participate in the Open Modular Architecture Controller Group, ISO, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, and Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, and they continue to collaborate with Real-Time Control Systems vendors (Advanced Technology and Research, Real Time Innovations Inc., and Robot Systems Technology) for standardization. This project is in line with the division mission and displays substantial technical merit. The work continues to be at the cutting edge. As part of the Open Modular Architecture Controller Group, the Enhanced Machine Controller project is focused on validating application programming interfaces (APIs) and developing measures of performance. In addition, an Enhanced Machine Controller Consortium was established to focus, develop, and validate Technologies Enabling Agile Manufacturing (Department of Energy) APIs in real-world applications. These two activities will increase the likelihood of realizing savings in costs for controllers. The Operator Interfaces for Virtual Manufacturing project seeks to develop information standards for operator interfaces used in virtual and distributed manufacturing systems that employ high-performance computing and communications technology. It also develops methods for collecting and presenting relevant information at an appropriate level of abstraction to monitor and control interactively remote operations and manufacturing systems. The project is
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 aimed at manufacturing professionals who need to observe, discuss, modify, and control all aspects of distributed manufacturing remotely. Such research stands to benefit factory design, product design and process planning, remote supervision, scenario planning, training, and maintenance and troubleshooting. The project and the effort have very promising potential but may duplicate previous telepresence efforts in network management and remotely piloted vehicle control. Significant technical progress has been made on this project, and the quality of the technical work is superior. However, it is difficult to judge appropriateness to industry as redundancy with prior work, cost-effectiveness for the division, and impact for industry has not been quantified. The goals of the Advanced Welding Manufacturing System project are to develop and validate standards that will contribute to increased and improved use of automated welding technology. It will demonstrate the ability to interface standards and intelligent controls technology to increase production, improve quality, and reduce the cost of systems integration. This program attempts to rationalize industrial welding technology through the development of standards that facilitate interfacing of components and process modules. The program also will help develop better understanding of welding technology through the characterization of process parameters and the potential application of STEP standards. It is aimed at such industries as heavy equipment manufacturing, which is frequently characterized by very large welded pieces produced in very small quantities. By its very nature, the manufacture of this type of product does not lend itself to preprogrammed robotic welding, but it could greatly benefit from highly effective vision-enhanced systems, seam tracking systems, and program-learning systems for any additional production part. The theoretical body of knowledge of these types of systems is quite extensive, although commercial products for this class of high-accuracy, very-large-sized production applications are not widely available. The Advanced Welding Manufacturing System project could improve the technology of weld stress-relieving systems, which have not been extensively understood and documented. Stress relieving through heat treatment (“heat-treat”) is very predictable and well known, but other techniques such as vibratory stress relieving are not nearly as well understood. The stated goals of improving quality and productivity and reducing cost are worthy. However, they should not be stated in absolute terms but related to an outcome of standards to be developed through better understanding of the technology, the user needs, and the supplier industry. Also, the program should include the creation of standards in its research goals. The Next Generation Inspection System project's goal is to achieve fast, accurate, and flexible geometric and dimensional inspection of manufactured parts. The division pursues this by maintaining a next-generation inspection testbed for developing open architecture controllers, developing capabilities that use multiple advanced sensors, testing interface standards, and developing techniques for remote control of and access to measurement devices. The technical progress and quality of the project are outstanding. Although the successful achievement of project goals would result in a substantial benefit to industry, the industrial support for this effort has been limited. The panel believes this reflects the lack of a standard business case for the potential savings this project could deliver. A business case should be developed to advertise the improvements to set-up time, tooling requirements, and quality and time saved by eliminating errors when creating inspection programs. The panel also notes insufficient staff knowledge of prior work in this area. The Robocrane project addresses a novel robotic concept for manipulating heavy objects within an extended workspace. The panel notes that the stated goal of testing and validating
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 open system architecture is overwhelmed by the true challenge of developing the new mechanical design concept. Also, the unique nature of this machine raises questions of compliance with the division mission as the outcome of the research does not seem to target a necessary standard. The panel believes that further investigation of the Robocrane's applicability and effectiveness in meeting recognized industry needs is justified. The panel has noted that for projects started this year, there is a requirement that the first phase of the work will be a review of prior work on the problem. The division has responded positively to a recommendation made in last year's review to ensure sufficient review of prior work. This not only helps prevent duplication of previous efforts but also helps assure that researchers are taking the best possible technical approach to new projects. Impact of Programs Many of the ongoing projects in the Intelligent Systems Division are not yet mature enough to have measurable impact on industry. Once completed, however, the Hexapod project will likely provide a new technology and open architecture to the machine tool, robotics, and advanced robotics controller industries. The Knowledge Engineering Program, when completed, should provide benefits for vendors and users of systems that cannot leverage off existing control system knowledge, which is primarily derived from network management and remotely piloted vehicle control systems. The staff of the Intelligent Systems Architecture for Manufacturing Program have published several peer-reviewed papers and conference papers. There needs to be a more intensive effort to convince end users and vendors of the benefits and advantages of the hierarchical, model-based, and modular nature of the RMA. The Real-Time Control Systems project continues to use two approaches to dissemination of results: development of software accessible through the Web and direct assistance to small shops in the form of full software control. The Enhanced Machine Controller project should increase ties with Manufacturing Extension Partnership to distribute benefits of this project to small companies. It should also continue to disseminate its results through conferences and peer-reviewed journals. Division Resources Funding sources for the Intelligent Systems Division (in millions of dollars) are presented below: Fiscal Year 1998 Fiscal Year 1999 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 6.2 6.0 ATP 0.5 0.4 OA/NFG/CRADA 1.4 1.3 Total 8.1 7.7
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 As of January 1999, staffing for the Intelligent Systems Division included 42 full-time permanent positions, of which 36 were for technical professionals. There were also five nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers. The division's personnel are highly qualified and motivated by their work. The facilities and equipment for the division are reasonable and well used; there does not appear to be an urgent need for upgrade. Manufacturing Systems Integration Division Division Mission According to division documentation, the mission of the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division is to promote economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements, and standards for information-based manufacturing. This mission statement has evolved from last year's and complements the MEL and NIST missions. The mission of the division also supports its vision to be recognized as the world authority in developing the science of manufacturing systems integration and for advancing the interoperability of information-based manufacturing operations. Manufacturing enterprises today are facing enormous challenges that include the increasing complexity of systems and standards, a faster pace of technological advancement, increasing dependence on information technology, more distributed operations, and greater interdependence among partners. The industry is moving towards extended enterprises made up of multiple partners, where sharing of information is even more critical. The division and its seven integrated programs are appropriately focused to address the challenges faced by U.S. manufacturing enterprises as they advance the field of manufacturing systems integration from an art to a science. The panel finds a good degree of cooperation between industry, academia, and government in the movement of manufacturing systems integration from art to science. During the past year the division established a formal procedure to assess new and continuation projects, involving the evaluation of 20 quantitative and qualitative criteria that are clearly defined, documented, and understood by the professional staff. As with the mission, these criteria map well with their laboratory-wide analogs. Although the process of using this new, more formal approach appears to be effective, it is premature to assess its value to the division and laboratory. The panel believes the division will need to continue to develop and enhance quality metrics that help it measure project results and define the success of its activities. The division has aggressively evaluated a number of relevant industry roadmaps. In several instances, members of staff have participated in the industry workshops that led to these roadmaps. Through these documents, the division is recognizing the dynamics of manufacturing systems integration and evolving its strategic plan, thereby giving both direction and focus to its coordinated set of program activities. One particularly valuable roadmap is the National Research Council 's Visionary Manufacturing Challenges for 20205; current divisional programs 5 National Research Council, Visionary Manufacturing Challenges for 2020, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1998.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 are appropriately positioned to address several of the six “Grand Challenges” identified in this roadmap. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The technical merit of the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division work is consistently high. The efforts to address future manufacturing needs in the integration and application of information technologies are commendable. Also of note is the commitment to, and realization of, workable standards for the manufacturing industry. The division is well positioned and contains significant technical expertise to accomplish its goal of providing standards for information technology and its integration across the entire manufacturing enterprise. The panel believes that the continued addition to the full-time staff and postdoctoral researchers is crucial to the division's technical diversity and capacity. The panel applauds the division's attempts to build on the success of its Advanced Manufacturing Systems and Networking Testbed by beginning to work on a next-generation testbed that would examine the inclusion of agent technologies. This would be a useful tool for a wide variety of industrial, academic, and government researchers and developers. A similar project of high value is the Collaborative Computing Environment for collaborative engineering. All of the research groups in the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division undertake efforts on software and systems interoperability. Examples include data integration efforts for manufacturing system simulation, enhancement of collaboration tools, identification and promotion of standards for software, and development of an open architecture for assembly design. These projects exhibit good technical quality and appropriateness for the division. The division is pursuing a new vision to be the world authority in developing and applying the science of manufacturing systems integration. This vision may not yet be fully defined, but the panel believes that the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division should continue with this larger, more encompassing view of the application of information-based tools to manufacturing. The uncertainty and risk inherent in the vision represent a challenge, but the willingness to take on this challenge is a positive sign for the division's long-term technical health. The panel is highly satisfied with the technical abilities and accomplishments of the division. Management targets the correct technical problems and issues within the division's program areas and applies talented staff to work on them. The division has demonstrated the ability and willingness to phase out activities in order to free up resources for new challenges. Impact of Programs Most of the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division's projects have a real and significant impact by creating manufacturing information systems for vendors and manufacturers. The panel believes the division will have this impact both in the short and longer term. Staff maintain a high degree of interaction with industry, academia, and government agencies and with other NIST laboratories. Division personnel currently hold leadership positions in 7 key standards activities and participate actively in 19 standards development efforts. These standards are being completed more rapidly to effectively meet industrial needs
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 and are being commercially embraced by leading CAD and product data management vendors, ensuring their use in industry. As potential benefits to industry do not accrue until well after the completion of most projects, it is difficult to definitively assess the value of the division's impact on national and industrial manufacturing efforts. The panel is comfortable with this situation and the knowledge that the division has an appropriate future focus. The division's output clearly shows the quality of its work. In 1998, the staff produced nearly 100 publications, including articles in a number of prestigious technical journals. Three staff members were invited to join journal editorial boards. Several staffers received government-wide, competitive awards such as the Federal Laboratory Consortium Excellence for Technology Transfer Award and the Ford Foundation Innovations in American Government Award. The number of publications and presentations appears to be high in relation to the number of personnel in the division. Other favorable metrics include the number of internal NIST reports and principal authorship for a number of standards. The Manufacturing Systems Integration Division's leadership in both STEP and Object Management Group forums can be taken as external recognition of its technical contributions and abilities. Anecdotal analysis, especially from industries involved with the division, suggests that there is a strong influence from the division in their program areas. Along with the division's standards efforts, the NIST Identifier Collaboration Service is a noteworthy effort to provide additional services to industry in a collaborative and timely manner. Division Resources Funding sources for the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division (in millions of dollars) are presented below: Fiscal Year 1998 Fiscal Year 1999 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 7.5 8.4 Competence 0.4 0.4 ATP 1.1 0.9 OA/NFG/CRADA 4.2 1.6 Other Reimbursable 0.0 0.1 Total 13.1 11.3 As of January 1999, staffing for the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division included 42 full-time permanent positions, of which 34 were for technical professionals. There were also 12 nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers. The division is well equipped with the physical resources it needs to conduct its activities. It has an ample supply of computers and related hardware and enjoys the excellent cooperation of industry, which very supportively provides appropriate software. There is a good balance of information technology and domain-specific professionals in the division. The staff collectively have very impressive competence levels and appropriate skills to handle programmatic thrusts. The division has an impressive portfolio of program collaborations both
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 1999 with other divisions in MEL as well as with other laboratories and entities within NIST. This is possible because of the high levels of cooperation and teamwork that characterize the division's staff; this is both highly commendable and essential to the division's success. Of concern to the panel is the decrease in the division's operational budget, compounded by the frequent awarding of ATP funds late in the fiscal year—a factor that clearly has some negative impact on program stability. Multiyear ATP funding would level out some of the budget variability and increase project stability. In addition, the division has not hired any new full-time professional staff in several years. Although this has not had much of an impact in the short term, it is clear that the growing importance of the division's activities demand growth in staff positions. The competition from industry for quality IT professionals is intense and complicates the situation; however, failure to hire quality individuals in this area will have detrimental consequences for the technical diversity and capacity of the division. MAJOR OBSERVATIONS The panel presents the following major observations. The panel was very impressed with the overall progress toward program goals and in program prioritization that has been made in the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (MEL) over the past year. The efforts to establish a set of criteria for selecting or redirecting projects are admirable. The MEL should push to implement in all its divisions a consistent methodology for the selection of new programs and projects and for reprogramming of existing activities. The panel strongly encourages broad use of the prioritization criteria for all laboratory projects. Because of the limited resources available to the MEL, the use of cost-benefit analyses should be incorporated in the program/program prioritization process. The MEL should increase its use of roadmaps for forecasting future industry measurement needs. Although it would be difficult to quantify or measure industry's needs in intelligent systems, the potential impact for productivity improvement necessitates pursuit of this knowledge. The MEL can play a role in NIST efforts to be recognized as a leader for traceability and standards in information technology. The MEL should proactively recruit U.S. industry to participate in international standards-making activities. The laboratory's effective use of internal and external Web sites for the dissemination and publication of results enables MEL's customers to have easy access to the division's products and services. The MEL should develop a more formal career development program.
Representative terms from entire chapter: