January News from Festo

Festo must be among the leaders of innovation. They send a continual stream of new product news. It’s also often pretty cool. Today, two new items from January 2023.

  • Festo Introduces an Online 3D CAD Configurator for Actuators and Accessories
  • Festo Introduces a Uniquely Engineered Angle Seat Valve

A 3D CAD file of the actuator assembly is ready for download at the end of configurator’s streamlined design process.

Festo introduces 3D CAD Configurator for pneumatic actuators and associated accessories such as fittings, lengths of tubing, and sensors.

The tool is intuitive and easy to use. Once the actuator is selected from a choice of either cylinder, drive with guides, or semi rotary drive, the engineer simply points and clicks on accessory hot spots to identify and select each accessory. The configurator ensures compatibility between actuator and accessory and eliminates any possible error in type code.

Actuators and accessories are shipped in a one-bag kit with a single unique Festo ID number covering all components in the kit. A unique identification number makes for fast and easy reordering. Kits are shipped to North American customers from the Festo Global Production Center in Mason, Ohio. The unique part number is recognized by Festo globally to ensure replacement kit availability wherever the machine is located.

The tool supports the most common CAD formats for OEM workflow compatibility. The single CAD file of the actuator/accessory assembly simplifies the design process by eliminating individual CAD files for the various components. The tool also consolidates and simplifies parts lists.

The Festo VZXA decouples the actuator from the valve seat for installation, maintenance, and operational benefits.

The new Festo VZXA family of pneumatically actuated angle seat valves delivers installation, maintenance, operational, and inventory benefits thanks to a unique modular design. When a VZXA actuator is removed for maintenance or changeover, for example, the stem, seat, and seal stay inside the valve body, allowing the process system to remain pressurized. In applications containing hazardous materials, those materials reside safely within the system, saving cleaning time and lowering health and safety risks of contamination. No other angle seat valve offers these operational benefits.

Reinstalling the actuator is simply a matter of screwing it into the valve body. The actuator does not have to be pressurized, which eliminates strain on the stem, seat, and seal and lowers the potential of damaging the valve seat. The modular design is ideal for valve manifold applications where speedy assembly, ease of maintenance, and compact size are pluses.

Modularity lends itself to valve body repair as stem, seat, and seal are individual components with readily available replacement parts. The valve family’s standardized design ensures every VZXA actuator is compatible with every valve body in the family. The universal fit between actuators and valve bodies simplifies ordering and inventory management.

Waev Consolidates Industrial Electric Vehicle Business

A certain South African-born, attention-seeking entrepreneur has brought media attention to a market for electric vehicles. We long-time industrial people are (or should be) familiar with a variety of electric vehicles that have been traversing aisles in manufacturing plants for decades.

My question to Keith Simon, CEO and founder of Waev, was what could possibly be new in this world of electric material handling equipment.

Waev was founded not even two years ago to bring together three businesses from Polaris. Skipping the gory details, Waev encompasses the businesses of GEM, Taylor-Dunn, and Tiger. The company encompasses the manufacture, distribution, marketing, and support of these product lines.

Simon told me that they are researching and incorporating a variety of advanced electrification and electrical architecture technologies. Advances come in a variety of ways from batteries to motors. Another advance includes communication and even visualization of routes and pick ups.

Located in Anaheim, CA, we are an electric mobility provider dedicated to solving the mobility market’s challenges with nimble innovation and comprehensive solutions. We proudly manufacture, distribute, market, and support the GEM, Taylor-Dunn, and Tiger brands. GEM is an established leader in the EV low-speed vehicle (LSV) space and has been for more than 20 years. Taylor-Dunn has a rich 70-year legacy of providing trusted industrial vehicles to the market. Tiger heavy-duty tow tractors have been towing cargo, baggage, parcel, and other equipment in ground support applications since 1981.

Electric vehicles represent one of today’s most dynamic and growing trends. EVs today go beyond moving people and goods from A to B—they’re the epicenter of one of the most impactful market segments in the history of mobility. EVs give us innovative new ways to think about all aspects of transportation—from convenience, to safety, to environmental impact. Consumers, businesses, and governments are changing their lifestyles, perceptions, priorities, and regulations when it comes to mobility and sustainability. The evolving industries we serve are presenting opportunities that we could not have imagined 10 years ago.

The low-speed vehicle market intrigues me. I had not read about it before. There are many applications I could think of.

Always cool to see start up companies doing something useful for society.

Hexagon Invests 100 MUSD In Autonomous and Sustainable Manufacturing

This announcement is a little old. I’m trying to catch up. The interesting thing is less the actual announcement than that larger companies have started venture investment arms. Google Ventures has been a boon to that company. We’ll see how they play out in our market segment.

Hexagon AB has assembled a number of pieces into a large industrial technology supplier. Think of its acquisition of PAS a while ago. This news concerns a 100 MUSD investment in Divergent Technologies Inc., a pioneer of green manufacturing technologies with the first modular digital factory for the automotive industry.

Divergent has developed an alternative production process to traditional vehicle manufacturing called DAPS (Divergent Adaptive Production System) that addresses economic and environmental challenges head-on. DAPS is a fully integrated software and hardware solution, creating a complete modular digital factory for complex structures. The patented process combines AI-optimised generative design software, additive manufacturing (3D printing) and automated assembly to build lightweight automotive parts and frames.

The design software optimises the weight, strength and cost of vehicle models. Parts are 3D printed and assembled autonomously, reducing manufacturing time and human intervention. Regardless of the design, part manufacturing and assembly can be carried out using the same hardware infrastructure, enabling quick design iterations or seamless switches between different vehicle models without downtime. The design-agnostic process is less energy- and resource-intensive, delivers more efficient structures faster and achieves weight reductions between 20% and 70% leading to dramatic improvements in vehicle efficiency.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Torrance, California, USA, Divergent transforms car manufacturers into agile, design-driven organisations free from capex constraints. A tier-one supplier, its proprietary end-to-end solution is widely applicable to any structure-based, discrete manufacturing process and has already proven to meet the most demanding automotive and aerospace applications.

Protected by more than 500 patents, Divergent’s digital, modular, flexible, and automated production solution produces significantly fewer lifecycle emissions than traditional manufacturing. The company not only leads the automotive industry in breaking down capital, geographic, and environmental barriers, but it also has its own portfolio of hypercars, Czinger Vehicles, which produces the fastest production vehicle in the world – the 21C.

U.S. Chamber Calls on Lawmakers to Reject Gridlock and Pursue Agenda for American Strength

I refrain from politics on this blog and other places notwithstanding that I was in the 99th percentile on the political science graduate record exam at university and came close to a graduate degree in that discipline before I escaped into common sense.

I also am not a booster of the US Chamber of Commerce. However, throwing all that aside, I have to report on this news from them regarding today’s political agenda in Congress (and elsewhere). Kudos to CEO Clark and the organization for taking a stand. I don’t agree with their entire agenda, but that’s OK. Ideas and debate are good. Let’s quit making points on social media and start doing things to make the country stronger and better.

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark – in the annual State of American Business address – today urged government to reject partisan gridlock, pursue an actionable agenda to strengthen America, and give businesses the best opportunity to succeed.  

“Business demands better from our government because when it comes to Washington, the state of American business is fed up,” said Clark. “The polarization, gridlock, regulatory overreach, and inability to act smartly and strategically for our future is making it harder for all of us to do our jobs and move this country forward.”  

“We need a government that works. A government that rejects gridlock and chooses governing. A government that can partner with the private sector on our biggest challenges and can engage globally to advance America’s interests, and the world’s. A government that limits itself to the work only it can do — no more and no less.”  

Agenda for American Strength 

Clark called on Congress to begin work on an Agenda for American Strength that can “help us not only navigate the present moment but also steer our country to the brighter, stronger future that we expect — and future generations deserve.” 

Clark outlined a forward-looking, aspirational agenda to strengthen our country in five key areas: building, people, energy, global leadership, and the rule of law. She stressed that progress can be made on national priorities immediately through practical, actionable steps, and highlighted the following key actions that Congress and the Administration should pursue this year: 

Pass a permitting reform bill to deliver on the investment made in infrastructure; 

Secure our nation’s border, protect Dreamers, and increase the number of employment-based visas; 

Fix worker shortages by improving access to childcare and incentivizing work; 

Accelerate permitting for new American energy exploration and production, finalize a legally required 5-year program for offshore leasing, and make it easier to build energy infrastructure;

Work in partnership with the private sector to achieve climate resilience through innovation; 

Resume free and fair trade negotiations and pursue new deals; 

Tackle head-on the challenges with China, while maximizing the benefits America can and must derive from continuing to do business with the world’s second largest economy in areas consistent with our national security and values;  

End lawsuit abuse by going after litigation funders; and 

Enact policy changes to help law enforcement and prosecutors make our communities safe and fight organized retail crime. 

Equally important, Clark noted, is what government should stop doing: instituting a government-knows-best approach that burdens American businesses with overregulation and micromanages our economy.  

Fighting Overregulation through the Courts 

“The unprecedented regulatory overreach has accelerated over the past two years,” said Clark. “When I gave this speech last year, I pledged that if government didn’t stop getting in the way through overregulation, we would lead the fight to stop it. And that’s why the Chamber sued the FTC, the SEC, and the CFPB last year. And we won’t hesitate to do it again if that’s what’s needed to protect business interests, preserve innovation and competition, and position our economy for growth.”  

“Our message to our partners in government today is very simple,” said Clark. “Do your jobs, so we can do ours. Make government work, so business can keep working … so companies of all sizes can keep doing the things that society needs, expects, and trusts us to do. America is a great and capable nation, and together, we can do the big thinking and take the smart steps to secure the future we deserve and strengthen this country that we all love.” 

Cloud Range Live-Fire Cybersecurity Training

Mindful people are marked by curiosity. At least, that is one characteristic. I don’t know about being mindful, but I embody a healthy dose of curiosity. A press release came my way from a company I had never heard of touting a process I also had never heard of—range. So, I had to investigate. In addition to the Web (yes, you can still do research by searching on the Web, but thanks to Google, it’s not as easy or as fruitful as it used to be), I also talked with Debbie Gordon, CEO  of Cloud Range.

This technology solution relates to cybersecurity. Specifically, these solutions provide training for varieties of personnel regarding identifying and thwarting cyber attacks. The “range” term is known in the IT world. Cloud Range, Gordon told me, is the first company to take the concept, develop it specifically for the operations environment, and use it to train operators, engineers, manufacturing IT, and any others who may be involved. 

Gordon used the metaphor of a flight simulator. It’s better for a pilot to train on abnormal situations in a device that isn’t going to crash and kill everyone on board. The problem for operations people lies in the fact that they may have never experienced a cyber attack. They may treat it as just another alarm that can often be ignored.

Cloud range also understands that while IT’s concern is data, OT’s concern is uptime. This requires an entirely new look at how to train and solve the problem.

On to the news:

Cloud Range introduced Cloud Range for Critical Infrastructure—the first-of-its-kind full-service, live-fire simulation training specifically designed to proactively train and prepare incident responders (IR) and security operations (SOC) teams in operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) environments to defend against cyber attacks to critical infrastructure. 

The digital convergence of OT and IT in critical infrastructure sectors has increased the focus of cyber attacks against OT and industrial control system (ICS) environments. This has accelerated the need for cyber defense teams to understand, train, and prepare to protect these assets. However, OT and IT environments can have very disparate objectives, setups, and risks. OT security requires different protocols, analysis, forensics, and other security methods than traditional IT security networks. That’s why OT/ICS security teams require unique training to ensure they can overcome the threats and challenges they face. 

Cloud Range for Critical Infrastructure is the industry’s first and only full-service OT/ICS/IoT cyber range simulation training environment with dynamic, live-fire OT/ICS, OT/IoT, and IT/OT incident response and security operations exercises. The customizable OT environments include unlimited network scenarios to simulate any organization’s OT/IT network and emulate any industrial sector, including energy, nuclear, transportation, communications, water systems, buildings/facilities, and more. The new OT solution not only strengthens the resilience of security teams, but also improves operational efficiency by providing a collaborative environment for IT/OT teams to work and train together and remove the complexity and friction between them that is common in most organizations. 

The product is a program with a taskmaster where personnel set aside a training time of around four hours to participate in the simulation.

Cloud Range for Critical Infrastructure mimics potential real-life cyber attacks and enables cyber defenders to see and understand an attack before it actually happens, preparing them to be ready to defend. Attack scenarios are mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK Framework for Industrial Control Systems (ICS) so teams can understand the specific tactics taken by adversaries. The immersive, live-fire cyber range environment gives OT IR and ICS security teams the needed expertise, judgment, skills, and muscle memory required to be ready when a real attack occurs. 

Cloud Range training missions are led by expert attackmasters providing teams with real-time guidance. Additionally, security leaders receive performance metrics and analysis with prescribed training plans based on the results of an exercise.

Learn more about OT cyberattack simulation training by watching the webinar, “Conquer OT Attacks in an IT-focused World” featuring Debbie Gordon, founder and CEO of Cloud Range; Bryan Singer, Principal Director, Global OT Incident Response Lead at Accenture; Mark Cristiano, Global Commercial Director – Cyber Security Services at Rockwell Automation; and Lucian Niemeyer, CEO of Building Cyber Security.

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