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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 4 Manufacturing Systems Integration Division Two main focus areas within the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division are that of sustainable and life-cycle information-based manufacturing and that of supply-chain integration; both are appropriately aligned with the needs of U.S. industries. All the projects within these two programs are aligned with the MEL mission. The Sustainable and Lifecycle Information-based Manufacturing (SLIM) Program has three primary objectives: Providing key standards requirements and best practices for sustainable manufacturing. This objective includes analyzing and defining the relevant standards for areas ranging from carbon-footprint determination, to energy-resource management, to hazardous-material management. The program is also developing a scheme for computing the carbon footprint of a manufactured product—a critical mathematical “score” that can help resolve concerns such as the issue of reusable versus disposable products. NIST is looking to ensure that new standards mesh with current practices, so researchers are working to harmonize their “green” information standards with existing software standards for manufacturing product data, such as ISO 10303, popularly known as STEP. Providing a framework for environmental manufacturing models by determining key attributes and developing information models necessary for sustainable manufacturing. Developing protocols for testing and simulating the application of “green” standards. In the Supply Chain Integration Program, the MSID has selected to focus on and address a set of key industrial “pain points” for maximum impact: Improving the information flow across the supply chain; Gathering and disseminating best practices in sustainable manufacturing; and Identifying meaningful sustainability metrics that lead to improvements. The supply/value chain sustainability question spans a very broad spectrum, from the mining of raw resources, through product manufacture and use, finally to product disposal. The focus is on supplier discovery and long-range logistics. Both of these issues involve significant integration problems. The Supply Chain Integration Program’s technical focus is on the development and testing of standards needed to address those problems, collaborating with organizations such as the Open Applications Group, Inc., which develops domain standards, and with organizations such as the Object Management Group (OMG) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that develop knowledge representation standards.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 The division currently has 26 full-time permanent NIST staff, 1 part-time permanent worker, 34 NIST associates, and 1 postdoctoral researcher. Its FY 2010 estimated funding is about $9.5 million, with about 7 percent coming from extramural sources. TECHNICAL MERIT RELATIVE TO STATE OF THE ART The MSID continues to undertake and execute programs of high technical merit and strong relevance and effectiveness with respect to U.S. competitive manufacturing. The division’s efforts in the SLIM Program, OMG, W3C, and STEP standards already worked out for engineering and manufacturing have been exemplary. In the SLIM Program, high-quality work is being performed related to heavy metal industries (e.g., aerospace, automotive). MSID staff have elevated the status of product life-cycle management (PLM) from being merely an engineering concern to an enterprise-wide business concern, with emphasis on information integration and collaboration with partners. Achieving, ensuring, and maintaining global interoperability constitute too large a task for all but the biggest corporations. In addition, NIST is tasked to help address the interoperability problem at the global level. Working with industry, the MSID is helping to devise sustainable solutions for this multifaceted and global challenge in supply-chain requirements and the business aspects of PLM. The MSID continues to bridge ISO 10303 application protocols to these modeling-language standards. A notable standardization achievement is the Simulation Interoperability Standard Organization’s Core Manufacturing Simulation Data specification standardization. The MSID has also continued to enhance online testing services that enable design-engineering, supply-chain, and e-business software vendors to validate the conformance of their products to emerging or existing standards. It has also provided tools to the standardization community to ensure rigorous quality for the standards themselves. Work with the DHS shows the universality of the nature of informatics; the concepts being studied will be a bridge to the future in manufacturing. The systematic approach to informatics has applicability well beyond the domain of manufacturing, and this expertise as applied to the DHS is a special asset to NIST. The development of a framework for an integrated tool set based on the widely used TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Forum) is a solid beginning for defining the requirements of Enterprise interoperability and ensures completeness of the tool set. ADEQUACY OF INFRASTRUCTURE Given the MSID’s information-centric paradigm, the advanced manufacturing systems and networking testbed and the simulation laboratories’ equipment and facilities are adequate to meet projects’ objectives. Given the limited resources of the MSID, the scale of specific projects and the work planning are appropriate. The actual-dollar annual budget has remained relatively constant over the past 5 years, at roughly $10 million in a time of generally increasing cost in all areas. This has a number of negative impacts in the context of MSID’s achieving its goals; due to
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 insufficient expertise in other areas, the efforts in manufacturing remain limited in scope. For example, the budget and number of staff members are lower in 2010 than they were in 2008. ACHIEVEMENT OF OBJECTIVES AND IMPACT With its limited resources, the MSID has had to scope its focus carefully, and it has addressed the requirements and gaps in the standards. This work has been exemplary and should be extended deeper into the enterprise and to other areas such as the semiconductor and pharmaceuticals manufacturing industries through the resourcing of sufficient staffing. As a result of MSID’s highly qualified staff, it is the acknowledged leader in the development of STEP standards and internationally recognized as a leader in influencing global standards bodies and other multinational organizations. MSID staff are active in standards committees for ISO STEP standards and are active in disseminating information by participating in meetings and conferences. They are motivated and capable and are providing high-quality work and expertise. The work being done by the MSID on the standards such as STEP is but one of the areas that are of high value and much interest to the U.S. industries. In addition, the MSID has had a very strong impact on interoperability and standards modularization and harmonization. The standards that have been developed by the MSID are already in use by U.S. manufacturing industries as well as by the Honda Motor Company, Ltd., and have been adopted by vendors. CONCLUSIONS Following are the conclusions of the panel based on its assessment of the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division: Through workshops and other external activities, the MSID has significant impact in areas in which it is active: customer requirements, standards, regulations, and others. As a result of its highly qualified staff, the MSID is internationally recognized as a leader in influencing standards bodies and other multinational organizations (including OMG, W3C, the Automotive Industry Action Group, and STEP). The MSID informatics effort is an essential and integrated effort across many domains and many issues, ranging from interoperability to “green” issues to supply-chain issues, from semiconductors to pharmaceuticals to aircraft. If this effort is disrupted, the chances of success in meeting goals become minimal. MSID technical leadership in treating modeling as an inherent and inseparable part of the manufacturing and even enterprise processes is commendable. And given the systematic approach to modeling informatics developed over the years and the expertise within the division, the MSID has a unique opportunity to influence not only other segments of the manufacturing domain, but it can also impact health care, security, and other complex activities.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 The MSID has clearly met its goals and objectives as evidenced by a reading of the division’s progress reports. Nonetheless, it should articulate these successes better to a wider audience of researchers and practitioners. Current MSID staffing is highly senior, and the consequent lack of new positions makes bringing in junior people difficult. Attracting postdoctoral researchers remains a problem because of salary, permanence, and other issues. All of these considerations will impact the influx of new ideas, as will the reduced budget compared to that of previous years. Perhaps other means of obtaining resources can be considered—for example, having interns, having people from industry working on-site, and other possibilities.