I live in an underground house on a dirt road, three miles from pavement. A quarter mile down my road is a cemetery. About a hundred individuals are buried there, including soldiers who died in the civil war, and a woman named Thankful Reminton. The abstract of deed for my property shows that two hundred years ago Thankful owned the property I own now. Thankful died in 1889 at the age of 88. She lived the last 35 years of her life as a widow and raised ten daughters and a son, many who predeceased her. She lived in an era that was different from ours and we may wonder how they were able to do what they did with so few of the modern inventions and current technology.
Robots, and the dream of intelligent working robots have been with us for a very long time. As early as 1495, Leonardo da Vinci designed the first humanoid robot. It was designed to sit up, wave its arms, and move its head via a flexible neck. There were hundreds of other robots designed over the next five hundred years. In 2003 NASA used twin robots as Mars rovers. Robots were used in industry for activities like welding and painting automobiles. But until recently most robots were fairly simple, single application, machines. But it is only because of rapid advances in artificial intelligence that robots are advancing to the potential uses we now visualize. If robots can learn, improve and “think” in ways similar to humans, they can take on a whole new set of challenges. And, as part of this evolution, robots are also taking on uncannily human-like appearances. The future of robots now appears unlimited. A robot recently advanced one step closer to human status, when it was granted citizenship to Saudi Arabia.
Gas Technologies LLC. located in Walloon Lake, MI. has an NGL production facility set up in North Dakota and they are producing NGLs. Present production is at the rate of 600 mscfd. They anticipate a ramp-up of this rate by year-end and will shortly set up an adjacent Mini-GTL plant at the North Dakota site. Their goal is to change the world of gas flaring by making a huge reduction in the amount of gas flared.
The first week in October was designated as National Manufacturing Week in the United States. President Trump made a proclamation, as President Obama did before him. Friday of National Manufacturing Week is proclaimed Manufacturing Day. Manufacturing Week and Manufacturing Day are a celebration of modern manufacturing to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. In Rochester, we held some activities planned to help with this celebration. The Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association held an open house for high school students featuring displays and sessions showing them the opportunities that are available in manufacturing and encouraging them take the math and science classes needed to be eligible for these professions. Optimation participated in this event which was held at Eastman Business Park. Over 300 high school students participated.
Fifty years ago, manufacturing in the US was strong and manufacturing jobs accounted for over 25 percent of total employment. In addition to the jobs for production operators on the factory floor, major US manufacturing companies had large research divisions and engineering departments, internal construction divisions and maintenance departments. They were self-sufficient and outsourced very little. Self-performance was one of the tools they used to develop proprietary products, support quality of these products, meet schedules on aggressive time to market for these products and make certain they could manufacture in sufficient quantities to meet market demand.
We’ve seen and heard all of the horror stories and experiences happening in Houston. The only impact we have felt personally is that the price of gas has jumped 35 cents a gallon at the local gas stations, the result of the shutdown of refineries in Houston. While this is the only immediately obvious change, there must be more, many more, coming. Other changes will take longer to see and longer for the rest of the country to feel. Many estimates say that Harvey has caused over a hundred billion dollars in damage. Much of it is homes and infrastructure, but much is also in manufacturing. Houston is a large center for US manufacturing.
As early as 2001, after 9/11, there was a major focus on developing cyber security to prevent attacks on infrastructure such as water plants, power plants, dams and critical manufacturing facilities. At Optimation we began to look at networks, connections to the internet and vulnerabilities. Since that time, the world is becoming increasingly connected. There is huge power in this connectivity. The power that comes from the Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, (IIoT) is based on connectivity. At the same time as more connectivity provides more power, the manufacturing industry along with all users of connected systems are facing increased risk from cyber-attacks. The only perfect protection from cyber-attacks is total isolation. But isolation is not an option, so more sophisticated alternatives are necessary. Each increased level of connectivity provides increased risk along with increased operational power.
The Internet of Things is revolutionizing all areas of our lives. In manufacturing, Industry 4.0 is a revolution as transformative as the first industrial revolution that began 300 years ago. Advancements in manufacturing analytics are coming fast and furious. Not all manufacturing analytics are totally new however.
A quarter century ago, at the height of the silver halide dominance in imaging, systems engineers at Kodak had developed a process monitoring analytics system that was decades ahead of its time. This powerful toolset was one of the methods that enabled Kodak to manufacture high quality and consistently uniform chemicals, dyes, and emulsions in plants operating in five different continents. Using the analytical capability of their proprietary product, Kodak was able to find process malfunctions before they occurred, predict product response performance, summarize massive and complex data to an actionable data subset and as a result they could reduce the manufacture of off-specification product.
In less than a week, The J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge will be held in Rochester. We are getting a new venue and lots of other changes this year. It’s the 26th year that Chase has held the event in Rochester, but Rochester was not the original event. It began in NYC 40 years ago. The event is an amazing blend of exercise, fun, food, drink, camaraderie, fundraising for charity and networking. And the emphasis could be placed on the networking. The original founders had little idea what would happen after the event was established. Their inaugural event was set up long before running was popular and included less than 1000 runners.
About a year ago I visited the University of Rochester sports medicine group and met with a n orthopedist for a diagnosis of the pain in my right knee. I had tried weeks of my usual stretching and rolling without achieving any results. After an x-ray was taken the orthopedist sat me down and showed me the advanced arthritis in the knee and the bone on bone. He said I needed a total knee replacement and offered to schedule it. I asked if there were any alternatives. He offered to give me a cortisone injection which he said would delay the need for knee replacement by four or five months. I declined both of his offers and left the medical center determined to find alternatives.