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I hauled my ancient butt to Houston this week to attend Automation Fair in person. There were a few brave editorial and analyst souls there joining about 4,000 attendees. It sounded like the combined in-person and virtual event was a success with total registrations (I was told) at 16,000. It was a different experience partly because Rockwell PR set up no interviews. There were five press conferences. But each was limited to a half-hour. They made their point, answered questions, and then left. That was refreshing. I will have an extensive report next week.

I’ll be speaking at the IoT Workshop of the Precision Metalforming Association and MetalForming magazine virtual IoT Experience at 10 EST on November 17.

Following is news that has been accumulating this month.

FDT Group Announces Mandatory FDT 3.0 DTM Certification with Release of dtmINSPECTOR5

More FDT Group news following announcement of Steve Biegacki appointed as the new leader of the organization. It recently announced that all FDT Accredited Test Sites are equipped with the new FDT 3.0 dtmINSPECTOR5 test tool and are ready to accept new FDT 3.0 device DTMs for testing and certification.

Instrument suppliers can streamline development, testing, and certification to bring new web based DTMs to market. FDT 3.0 Web User Interface (UI)-based DTMs support next-generation monitoring and optimization practices by empowering standardized IT/OT data access to any authenticated client or mobile device, thus improving production workflow initiatives.

FDT DTM certification to the FDT 3.0 specification and UI is a process whereby rigorous compliance testing using dtmINSPECTOR5 ensures the viability of the states of the DTM; its correct installation, de-installation and multi-user environment capability; mandatory and optional user interface functionality and robustness; network scanning communication performance and the ability to import and export the topology; and the audit trail capability.

“Unlike previous versions of the standard, FDT 3.0 DTMs are required to be certified, while also meeting both specification and UI Style Guide conformance,” said James Loh, FDT Group test and certification chairman. “Compliant FDT 3.0 DTMs allow open access to intelligent devices and the myriad of information available from those devices, networks, and processes. End users will benefit from the new generation of DTMs as they provide monitoring optimization capabilities, including uniform data and NE107 status alerts to the user interface that employs a responsive design focused on mobilizing secure remote access independent of the device, system, browser, operating system, etc.”

The key to FDT 3.0-compliant DTM development is the use of FDT Group’s Common Components and dtmINSPECTOR5 toolkits. Toolkit licensing is required and provides all the standard code needed to meet FDT 3.0 specification conformance including OPC Unified Architecture (UA) capabilities, allowing developers to focus on value-add parameter profile customizations. Additionally, Common Components provides a fast way for development teams to view DTMs in an FDT hosting (Desktop or Server) application and understand the communication flow between them. With the toolkit’s WebUI, they can see how different DTMs work together across various machines and operating systems. The use of dtmINSPECTOR5 enables developers to run internal tests to identify technical issues prior to submitting their DTM to an independent test site for certification. The test site uses the same version of the tool to run conformance test cases and generate a report on their results.

Once a DTM is developed and has met all the mandatory testing and compliance requirements with a FDT Accredited Test Site, the certification files are compressed, digitally signed, and submitted via a private channel to the FDT Group Certification Office. The FDT Group uploads Certified FDT 3.0 DTMs to the FDThub repository for convenient storage and management. This repository, which can be hosted in the cloud or on-premise, is the result of user-driven demand for a single location to find certified DTMs and updates. The FDThub leverages the workflow from independent test centers to the FDT Group certification office so that all certified DTMs are automatically uploaded to the repository and made readily available to the end user community. This solution eliminates work for the vendor and is a key benefit stemming from the mandatory DTM certification process.

Verusen’s Artificial Intelligence Supply Chain Platform Now Available on SAP Store

Verusen announced that its Verusen Materials Management solution is now available on SAP Store, the online marketplace for SAP and partner offerings. The AI-driven platform works with the materials management module of SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) and SAP S/4HANA.

Verusen’s AI platform reduces data complexity and improves decision-making processes to execute a faster, more efficient, and issue-free supply chain without the need for a slow and costly data-cleanse process. The Verusen platform includes network inventory, procurement intelligence, and strategic supplier alignment. By implementing Verusen’s platform, companies can transform their materials management approach and supply chain to better understand their data and balance operational and supplier risk at the most cost-effective level possible to find their Material Truth.

Verusen is a partner in the SAP PartnerEdge program after participating in the SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco program. As a partner, Verusen is empowered to build, market, and sell software applications that supplement and build on SAP software and technology. The SAP PartnerEdge program provides the enablement tools, benefits, and support to facilitate building high-quality, disruptive applications focused on specific business needs – quickly and cost-effectively.

IMTS 2022 To Go On Featuring Additive Manufacturing

IMTS 2022 will showcase AM solutions as part integrated manufacturing technology offerings in the Metal Removal, Quality Assurance, CAD/CAM, and other Technology Pavilions covering 1.1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space. Held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, IMTS 2022 will also feature more than 55 exhibitors in the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion, AM breakthroughs in AMT’s Emerging Technology Center, and co-located conferences with AM technical presentations. 

“The pace at which AM technologies accelerate makes IMTS 2022 a must-attend event,” says Peter R. Eelman, vice president & CXO at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS. “Visitors will see AM solutions for production and high-volume part applications, tooling, workholding and fixturing that improve performance, lower lifecycle costs, and help reshore production. They’ll also be able to meet people pushing the boundaries of AM, including multiple technologies and components being developed for NASA.”

Benjamin Moses, director, technology at AMT, says that, “IMTS exhibitors and AMT members have developed new additive systems with extremely large print volumes, yet they deliver the deposition precision and repeatability that NASA demands due to in-situ metrology and closed-loop controls.” 

“Wire AM systems developed for aerospace parts are well-suited for tooling and other large components,” comments Moses. “In addition, modeling software developed to validate these concepts will help other industries build AM parts faster, at lower cost and with high quality.” 

Robot Education Opportunities

Two major recognitions of Universal Robots’ education programs from the U.S. federal Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM) and the State of Ohio’s Department of Education pave the way for schools and industry to further leverage cobots, offering employability in robotics careers while upskilling existing workforce.

Two recent endorsements of Universal Robots’ (UR) products and educational curriculum awarded by ARM and the Ohio Department of Education emphasize the importance of UR’s collaborative robots (or ‘cobots’) in today’s manufacturing processes and in classrooms; UR is the first robotics manufacturer to be selected for ARM’s new Endorsement Program as ARM reviewed UR’s Educational Robotics Training program. At the state level, Ohio becomes the first U.S. state to evaluate and add UR courses to its Industry-Recognized Credential List (where it sits at 6 credit points for the 2021-2022 school year and onwards).

“These endorsements mean the world to schools hoping to introduce hands-on cobot courses in their classrooms,” says Channel Development Manager at Universal Robots, Corey Adams. “The educational legitimacy of UR cobots opens the door to applying for both expanded federal funding and in Ohio also state funding to acquire cobots. And it gives schools confidence that they are not only offering students a diploma but also an instant career path.”

In order to make the Ohio Department of Education’s credentialed list, numerous companies in the state, including major Tier 1 automotive makers and home appliance manufacturers, vouched for the UR cobots, detailing how they use them on the shop floor and need an ever-expanding, educated workforce to deploy, program and operate them. “Ohio is industry leading in recognizing manufacturing technology and we expect this to quickly cascade out to other states as well,” says Adams who is actively working with numerous states in obtaining educational credentials.

The Department of Defense-sponsored ARM Institute is a 300+ member organization that catalyzes robotic technologies and education solutions to strengthen the U.S. industrial base and secure U.S. manufacturing resiliency. ARM launched the Endorsement Program earlier this year in conjunction with RoboticsCareer.org, the ARM Institute’s national workforce capability that connects education seekers with training for manufacturing careers.

At the Columbus State Community College in Ohio, the director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Jeff Spain, explains how the college is now building a mixed lab space for cobots, that will focus on both professional development for manufacturing employees while also educating the next workforce generation to hit the ground running with cobots. “With their reduced footprint and intuitive programming, cobots have been a major disruption to industrial automation and are within that Industry 4.0 sweet spot of technology solutions that we find that our local employers need funded education programs for,” he says. “When large companies endorse UR cobots, it has a ripple effect through the supply-chains as Tier 1-3 suppliers and other industries realize that here is a vetted, nimble technology, that we have found offers low risk.”

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