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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2008 Intelligent Systems Division The Intelligent Systems Division has established strong leadership in the areas of measurement, interoperability, safety, and security. It plays a vital role in promoting manufacturing-engineering-related science, technologies, and tools, and its standards and services are crucial to U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness. The ISD has maintained its excellent reputation and technology leadership in measurement. It is serving as a catalyst in promoting collaboration between industries, with a focus on establishing standards and testbeds in the areas of CNC, dimensional inspection equipment interoperability, 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 micro- and nanomanufacturing positioning systems, STEP NC and OMAC for real-time data models, machine compensation, machining tool path optimization, and Ethernet/IP performance testing. TECHNICAL MERIT RELATIVE TO STATE OF THE ART The ISD programs are well aligned with NIST’s core roles and strategy, focusing on measurements, standards, and technology development for the benefit of industry and commerce. The division has done an excellent job of identifying the major needs and opportunities of U.S. industry. However, given restrictions in budget and personnel, it has been unable to pursue these opportunities fully. The caliber of the work of the ISD programs assessed is at the state of the art. The division’s collaboration with top universities, industry, and military agencies demonstrates the reputation and competence of the ISD products and services. The dimensional inspection equipment interoperability effort is the leader in cooperation with multinational companies. The division has made significant efforts at reaching out to industrial partners, educating them with respect to the benefits of standardization as a means to achieve cost reduction and interoperability. There is a healthy level of technical publications, invited talks, external awards, and participation in national and international committees by ISD staff. Measurement has been one of the ISD’s major strengths, which has been maintaining its technical leadership reputation. The following observations pertain to the area of measurement science for manufacturing robotics and automation: Six-dimensional dynamic sensing represents the state-of-the-art technology for sensor calibration. In the area of micro-, meso-, and nanomanufacturing and positioning (measurement and manipulation), the ISD has demonstrated significant improvement in the accuracy of measurements. The division could conduct a benchmarking workshop. Such a workshop could invite experts from the international community to evaluate how the competitive science and technologies from other research laboratories, institutions, and industry in the related areas can further enhance the standards efforts at NIST. The ISD has significantly facilitated the establishment of the following industrial robot safety standards: ANSI [American National Standards Institute] B56.5: Safety Standard for Guided Industrial Vehicles and Automated Functions of Manned Industrial Vehicles and ISO [International Organization for Standardization] 10218-1:2006: Robots for industrial environments—Safety requirements—Part 1: Robot, which have been deployed by industry users.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2008 The ISD’s efforts in establishing consortia and competitions in robotics and sensor technologies for localization, detection, navigation, and materials handling constitute a commendable approach for leveraging diversified, global resources. Interoperability work in the ISD has focused on establishing standards and testbeds in the areas of CNC and dimensional inspection equipment. The ISD has been serving as a catalyst in promoting industrial collaboration. In the area of automation interoperability standards: The ISD has done an excellent job in bringing together competitors and partners and aligning them to a common standard. Demonstrations have been effectively used to facilitate compliance. STEP NC and OMAC for real-time data models, machine compensation, and machining tool path optimization have been ongoing efforts at the ISD, which has established ISO 10103 AP238: STEP NC—Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data—Numerical Control and I++DME interoperability testing protocols. The ISD should consider working with industry associations and societies (such as the Association for Manufacturing Technology and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and others) to establish user groups or working groups for further dissemination. Further, the ISD can move on to next-level challenges in enterprise-level data modeling and standards efforts. Safety and security work has focused on industrial controls and networks standards for federal government and industrial users. NIST SP 800-53 was established as Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems. NIST SP 800-82 was established as Guide to Industrial Control Systems Security in the areas of intelligent manufacturing industrial control systems and network standards. Ethernet/IP performance test tools in partnership with the Open DeviceNet Vendor Association are a good way to promote standards in industry. This is a good area for the ISD to lead and in which to facilitate a national and international effort in establishing standards and guidelines. The ISD might explore other opportunities in industrial wireless networks and diagnostics-related standards. ADEQUACY OF INFRASTRUCTURE The ISD has been successfully leveraging its program development through partnerships with industry and government. It has excellent research facilities and equipment, some of which are loaned by industry. The resources are limited (especially in terms of personnel), constraining the ability to respond with agility to changing technology needs. ISD researchers appear to be engaged in a number of collaborative projects for promoting cross-disciplinary activities. However, these diversified activities impede the impact of the ISD owing to the high workload of its staff as well as the lack of committed resources. The ISD has staff members approaching retirement; there have been several recent retirements, with only one new permanent technical staff member hired in the past 3 years. There should be a robust and stable succession plan to guarantee core competency in the ISD’s recognized critical expertise.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2008 ACHIEVEMENT OF OBJECTIVES AND IMPACT Regarding the degree to which ISD programs have achieved their stated objectives and desired impact: The ISD has made major achievements in terms of its program objectives. It has had visible and important impacts on the establishment of standards for government and industry user groups in measurement science for robotic safety, machine tools interoperability, autonomous guided vehicles, and materials-handling systems. The RoboCup Rescue competition6 has made visible impacts on the global robotics research community. Other programs could use this leveraging model for future collaboration and partnerships with the international research community. The ISD could also further develop partnerships with the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and others to leverage their Research Experience for Undergraduates, Research Experience for Teachers funding to encourage more K-12 teachers and undergraduate students to participate in its future activities. Participation in consortia and external committees (e.g., automatic guided vehicle manufacturers’ consortium, OMAC, and others) shows an overarching effort to benefit industry. CONCLUSIONS The conclusions of the panel based on its assessment of the Intelligent Systems Division are as follows: The division programs are well aligned with NIST’s core roles and strategy, and the division has done an excellent job of identifying the major needs of and opportunities with respect to U.S. industry. The division has shown increased emphasis on the concerns of U.S. industry about risk, cost, and compatibility of manufacturing technology. The caliber of the work in the division is at the state of the art. The ISD has excellent research facilities and equipment. Measurement is a major area of strength in which it maintains a position of world leadership. Its dimensional inspection equipment interoperability effort, for example, is the leader in cooperation with multinational companies. The division has a healthy level of technical publications, invited talks, external awards, and participation in national and international committees. It reaches out to industrial partners regarding the benefits of standardization as a means for cost reduction and product improvement. Limited resources are constraining the agility with which the division can respond to changing technology needs. The division has staff members approaching retirement and needs a robust and stable succession plan to guarantee its future core competency. Current efforts within the division are well aligned with opportunities in embedded machine and device intelligence, machine health prognostics and management 6 See http://www.isd.mel.nist.gov/PerMIS_2007/proceedings/Papers/PerMIS07.Final_Balakirsky.pdf. Accessed August 15, 2008.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2008 standards, and the detection and prevention of product counterfeits, as well as virtual engineering simulation standards and tools.