Episode 82: Steve is going to a manufacturing industry adjacent tradeshow that he and Ben have been trying to get into for a long time; Ben will for sure go next year (2024), though. Stephen also talks about how it felt to cut the first part off the new testbed CNC. Benjamin shares six innovations on display in the additive pavilion at IMTS. Steve gets all excited over lean leadership. Ben tries to close with an article on cyber security, but Stephen won’t shut up.
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Benjamin Moses: Hello, everyone. Welcome to AMT's Tech Trends Podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology, research and news. I am the director of technology, Benjamin Moses. And I'm here with...
Stephen LaMarca: Stephen LaMarca, technology analyst.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, today's episode is sponsored by AM Radio, but let's get that in a second. Let's talk about SHOT Show.
Stephen LaMarca: SHOT Show? Okay. You and I, ever since we started, ever since we realized we had a similar interest in firearms. You have always presented to me, "Steve, let's find a way to get to SHOT Show." We've wanted to go to SHOT Shows for years now.
Benjamin Moses: A long time.
Stephen LaMarca: Probably since we both started at AMT.
Benjamin Moses: Correct.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's like, "There's going to be manufacturing present at SHOT Show. Sure, it's the firearms industry and not manufacturing industry. But there will be manufacturing technology present and on display. Their products of the advanced manufacturing technology will be on display at SHOT Show. Plus, this is an interest of yours and I. We have to go."
Benjamin Moses: Correct.
Stephen LaMarca: It's now 2022, probably six, seven years later. And we're finally approved to go. Well, I am. Ben didn't apply, because you have a scheduling conflict.
Benjamin Moses: I have overlapping, yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: So I'll be going solo. But that's okay, because part of SHOT Show is called... Well, the first day of SHOT Show is actually a Tuesday. But Monday is a day of SHOT Show that is by invite only, called Industry Day At The Range. Which is exactly what it sounds like.
They bring all of the industry people, the media people, to the range... Excuse me, they don't bring all of them. It's by invite only. We didn't get an invite to that. But that's okay, because you can't make it this year.
ne of my goals is to secure an invite this year, as well as the manufacturing technology on display. And then we'll get you going next year, and we'll have invites to Industry Day At The Range.
I've really mentioned everything that I need to about SHOW Show. We want to see all of the manufacturing technology that is being implemented and used in the firearms industry. And that's what we're going to be highlighting.
A key reason why it is more important this year... Or next year, 2023, since it's late January, 2023. Is because, this year, after SHOT Show, this year the US military announced that it had adopted a new general issue service rifle across all branches. Like, the SIG SPEAR or something like that. I forget what M-designation it is.
It doesn't matter. Frankly, it's a more advanced and evolved AR platform rifle, in all honesty. However, one thing that's very special about it... One thing that's very cool from a teenager, video gamer perspective is that, all of these weapons systems that will be issued to soldiers and marines, will come standard with a suppressor.
So it's not just SF, special forces troops that are going to be getting cans on their rifles. But all soldiers will get suppressors or silencers with their rifles.
Here's where we come in. The new trend in the firearms small arms defense industry is that, the best suppressors are made using metal additive technology.
Benjamin Moses: That's true.
Stephen LaMarca: We want to see it.
Benjamin Moses: You've got to see it in person.
Stephen LaMarca: And I even told Dayton about this yesterday, once I was excited. He was one of the first people that I saw when I got the email back saying, "Hey, you've been approved." I'm like, "Yes!" And he was like, "I think I have an idea what company they've contracted to make the cans."
Because the new rifle is made by SIG SAUER, which is a German-Swiss company. That, back in the day was more of a Swiss company, and then became more of a German company. Now it's like an American company, and it's like, "I have no idea what they are now." They're a global conglomerate. They're at least transparent about it, unlike car companies. They're all over the place.
And Dayton was like, "I've got an idea who's making these suppressors, and I've got an idea of the equipment they're using to make them." Which is really cool. So if anything, maybe he should go too. But whatever, I'm going to be going this year.
Going back to how we're going to get an invitation to Industry Day At The Range, which is invite only. And I found out yesterday, that they stop accepting invitations... You can get an invitation as early as like, I think July 1st in the year before a SHOT Show. And as late as September 30th. So we're outside the window.
Benjamin Moses: Ah. Right.
Stephen LaMarca: No matter who I mosey up to and get tight with before the end of the year, or before SHOT Show, it's not going to count. It's going to have to count towards 2024.
But, guess who we're tight with? Oh. And when I sent my application to be accepted for a press pass to SHOT Show, they ask for... Because I don't actually have media credentials. There's some press certificate to say that you're authentic press, or whatever.
Instead, I had to call them and be like, "Hey, I've done this, this and this. I'm not from the firearms industry or the outdoors industry. I'm from the manufacturing industry." But here's the closest that I've been. I sent them Episode One, Season One, Road Trippin' with Steve at the American Precision Museum. Which has on display the birth of the American manufacturing industry, and automation, and machine tools, and the term machine tool.
But it was all for the mass production of small arms for the US military in interchangeable parts. That they were going for, hence precision and not accuracy. And that's like the closest related thing that I have to the firearms industry.
They saw that. They loved it. They approved me.
Benjamin Moses: Nice.
Stephen LaMarca: But going back to the American Precision Museum. The American Precision Museum has two partners in the firearms industry. At least two. Savage Arms and Daniel Defense.
Benjamin Moses: Wow.
Stephen LaMarca: That means I've got two companies to go visit while at SHOT Show this year and be like, "Hey, let's talk manufacturing technology." And then half an hour later, "By the way, can I get an invite?"
Benjamin Moses: Two massive companies.
Stephen LaMarca: "And can you get my boss an invite too, so we can go to Industry Day At The Range next year?"
Benjamin Moses: That's awesome.
Stephen LaMarca: We'll try to hype you up.
Benjamin Moses: Try.
Stephen LaMarca: Give us something with manufacturing technology.
Benjamin Moses: Exactly.
Stephen LaMarca: We don't want to upset anybody. We understand why you might want to, but we don't want to upset anybody. Send us something cool with manufacturing technology. We'll report on it in a positive light, that won't get you guys in trouble or in any hot water. It won't get us in any hot water. And everybody will be happy. And then we'll be back in 2024 January to shoot guns with you.
Benjamin Moses: There's a couple of reasons why I like this chat show a lot for manufacturing. So we've been talking about firearms. So pistols, rifles. You just talked about the new military-
Stephen LaMarca: And you can.
Benjamin Moses: And the new suppressor, related to-
Stephen LaMarca: And the rifle's cool, too.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, it's fine. It's a new caliber. So along with that, you have manufacturing for the firearm itself, right? Subtractive manufacturing. Most likely they're from forged materials, or from rot materials.
But then you get into the advanced manufacturing where, to your point, the most optimized flow path can be made using additive, right? Using subtractive is very difficult.
Stephen LaMarca: Right, exactly.
Benjamin Moses: So, suppressors is... Like, two years ago, the volume of suppressors is so much different than where it is today. And part of that is the acceptance of additive. That it is a viable solution for that in a production environment.
And along with that... So you have firearms and the suppressors. The advancements of materials for that whole ecosystem has come a long way. So they're not using rot steel, probably. They're probably going to titanium, because of the overall size. And they've gone to a different caliber. I think they're using 6.5mm...
Stephen LaMarca: They're using 6.8x51mm.
Benjamin Moses: Yep.
Stephen LaMarca: So it's a 308 necked down. And pressured up.
Benjamin Moses: So yeah, they're using the biometal casings, right? The steel back and the brass housing.
Stephen LaMarca: I think so. Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: But at the same time, you have True Velocity that's competing against that, with a full polymer case. So you have the entire ecosystem of material competition within the firearm industry.
But the manufacturing side of that too, you have completely automated lines for forming, machining, pouring and assembly. Which is completely fascinating.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. And 80,000 psi is generated by that cartridge of pressure, and they're going to suppress it. If that doesn't speak to... You don't need to know Calc Three to see the math on that. It clearly points to advances in manufacturing technology.
Because 10 years ago... Well, just few years ago actually. 5.56mm was supposed to be capped around 50,000 psi. And we're almost doubling that now. It's wild.
Benjamin Moses: And the confidence to run those pressures in those harsh environments.
Stephen LaMarca: And knowing when it fails, exactly where it's going to fail.
Another thing that you touched on. The FBI just accepted, and adopted, and approved... Probably not in that order. Approved, accepted, adopted, a new suppressor for their forces. And it's a flow-through design. Meaning, it can only be additively manufactured.
Benjamin Moses: Nice.
Stephen LaMarca: And what a flow-through design means is, silencers, or suppressors, were conventionally made in multiple pieces with forming technology. Like, they were pressed, and probably a little bit of conventional subtractive, like milling.
But a suppressor in the past, and when they were invented, was just an accurately manufactured internal combustion engine muffler. It's a reflective muffler with baffles inside it. And while that works for a single, or maybe a few shots, it doesn't work for full auto. And the FBI wanted a full auto rated suppressor. So, I wonder what they are up to.
But they recently adopted this suppressor that has a flow-through design. Which again, can only be manufactured using additive. And a flow-through design is... It's nothing new. It's a five plus year old design, which is more recent than other suppressors.
But this flow-through design started with a company called OSS. Operator Suppressor, or something like that. OSS Suppressors, and that was the original company name. And they started using subtractive. Eventually adopted additive manufacturing to make these flow-through designs. But they described it best as, "Flow-through suppressors are like a rocket engine in reverse."
And if you think back to how rocket engines are made now, they're only made... Traditional manufacturing is out the window. It's gone. They're never going to make rocket engines with traditional manufacturing ever again. They can only be additively produced. And a rocket engine in reverse as a flow-through suppressor, these can only be made with additive.
This is the advent of implementation of additive. I've told you people before, but I'm going to say it again. Additive has already emerged. Stop calling it an emerging technology. What we need to implement it and integrate it into the rest of the manufacturing supply chain, or workflow is, design for additive. Rocket engines, flow-through suppressors, is the best and first... Like the spearhead example of design for additive. It's the advent of the integration of additive. This is something beautiful to witness. Whether or not you agree with firearms or not, this is big.
Benjamin Moses: Are you done?
Stephen LaMarca: I promise I'm done now.
Benjamin Moses: The last thing I want to talk about is, it's the subtlety in shift in optics. I'm a big fan of clean glass on a rifle. And then most pistols have gone to red dot sights on there... Which is great. I enjoy a red dot. But also, backup iron sights was always valuable. Battery's are going to die.
But the interesting shift I've seen is packaging electronics into the optics. So one of the things with the new rifle is advanced targeting. So they're able to identify the target, and the reticle will tell them what the bullet drop should be by putting a mark on the screen itself. So some of them are using advanced screens.
So it's the packaging of electronics, plus the sensors, range finding, getting bare metric information. And then being able to display that to the user in the optic itself. So the advancements of all of that electronics into something that they can see through, it's completely fascinating to me.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's borderline... Well, it's not borderline. It is also implementing automation to a conventional soldier, which is wild. Because not only are some of these optical systems doing auto-lasing of the target. Meaning, it range finds for you, and tells you how far and what kind of bullet drop compensation you need.
But in some cases, they even turn the dials of the optics for you. And it was never adopted, and frankly I don't know how well it works. But there was a time where the optics was even integrated into the trigger group. And it didn't let the user pull the trigger until they knew that they were going to score a hit. Which sounds like automation to me.
Benjamin Moses: It's fascinating. So yeah, I'm very excited to see, as an end user, the progression towards that. But the manufacturing, and being able to package everything, so someone can actually carry it.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's technically not an automation system pulling the trigger. You're pulling the trigger. The automation system isn't letting you pull the trigger until you can score a hit.
Benjamin Moses: We'll get more on that towards the end of the episode.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh yeah, we will.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, can you tell us about our sponsor today? Speaking of additive...
Stephen LaMarca: AM Radio is the new podcast from Additive Manufacturing Media. Join editors, Peter Zelinski, Stephanie Hendrixson, and Julia Hider, as they share stories of companies succeeding in 3D printing today, talk about emerging trends, and discuss the future opportunities and potential for AM in the context of the larger manufacturing landscape.
New episodes are published every other week. Subscribe now on Apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Tune into Additive.
Benjamin Moses: There's one thing I've always missed of a manufacturing facility, and I enjoy hearing it when I get back to a facility. It's the sound of chips flying. You've been cutting some chips on the Pocket NC 2.0, how does that feel? And tell me about it.
Stephen LaMarca: Dude, it feels so good. I'm glad you mentioned the feel, because from a visual standpoint, you look at the new Pocket NC compared to the old Pocket NC. They look like they're still the same machine.
The only thing that looks different is the B-table. There's a new button on it. It finally has a proper E-stop on it and not just like a play/pause. There's a proper big red e-stop on it. And the other thing that looks different is the UI. I think I've touched on that in a previous episode. It's universes better. I don't need to talk about it again. It's so much better.
But the feel of the machine, it's like a totally new machine when you're cutting. The new work holding... I mean, I knew it was going to be good when I first saw the ER40 collet in the B-table. So you can run bar stock inch wide... I forget what the maximum size is. It's like, a little over an inch. But because inch diameter bar stock is the most common and easiest to get, I decided to go with that first.
It perfectly zeros. You don't need to comp for work holding offset. You don't need to comp for a vice sitting on top of the table. Everything's zeroed for. You can home the machine and just start cutting away, and you don't need to do any measurements.
Benjamin Moses: Cool.
Stephen LaMarca: If you want to get fancy, you can measure your tool offset. And it does that automatically for you. Again, touched on that in a previous episode.
But I can't emphasize enough, you have to experience how much better this feels compared to the last one, and how much more solid the work holding is. You can't experience it until you're actually making the chips fly. Because you get so much more feedback now, in the best way possible.
Benjamin Moses: Okay.
Stephen LaMarca: You get more feedback... Or lack thereof. You get less feedback when you're cutting it right. Doing a climb cut with what I was doing, was noticeably quieter than doing a conventional cut when pocketing, to make this shot glass.
If I had to compare it to anything, it's like... Obviously this still isn't like a FANUC ROBODRILL, or even a Bridgeport Knee Mill. Or my particular dream machine, a Mazak INTEGREX i-100ST. You know, I'm not ready for that. That's like a 1000 plus, cc motorcycle.
The last Pocket NC, the last Penta Machine we had was like a 250cc. Now I'm at a 400cc.
Benjamin Moses: Nice. That's a solid upgrade.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's amazing. It's got all the features. You know, it's got ABS and stuff like that.
Benjamin Moses: And I do like how it sets us up for the future. We've been talking about setting up the testbed as a factory. And we shipped the robotic arm down to the tech center in Mexico, Monterey. So Carlos and his team, and Danielle, are using it nonstop.
So we're looking to rebuild our entire system instead. And it's a solid upgrade going from the 1.0 to 2.0. And we need to get back to getting a robotic arm for the explore automation.
And it sounds like being able to cut... So we were using some pretty solid tools, also. We're not using really small end mills. You were using a quarter of an inch end mill, right?
Stephen LaMarca: Yes. Quarter of an inch end mill. A 3-flute corner radius. But what's really important to me is that, I'm not from the industry, so I don't have experience on machines before this. I'm a little bit self-taught with some guidance from you and other people in the industry that have helped out where they can, to get me started. But again, we don't make parts here at AMT.
But now that I have some experience machining, it really is a pleasure working with this new machine, and how easy it is, and how much more precise it is-
Benjamin Moses: One thing-
Stephen LaMarca: ... And getting chips flying. But what's going to be really awesome is when I get some more students in here from Marshall High School, from their robotics team that want to make parts for their competition robot, or whatever.
They've never touched, or maybe even seen a machine tool before. This is going to be so easy for them to use, even if I'm not there. Which I will be. But even if I'm not there, it'll be easy for them to figure it out without any guidance.
Benjamin Moses: So, you did cut this part in the manual mode, right?
Stephen LaMarca: Yes.
Benjamin Moses: So basically, feeding it in using the controls. I do like the ability... And the user interface. I think that's an important key takeaway for someone with your amount of experience, being able to grasp how to work the machine, basically independent.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: So I think we've come a long way in terms of human-machine interfaces. And we've talked about that quite a bit of, it's more intuitive now. Where, you don't have to understand just putting in straight G-code. That's cool and all, but you have to know G-code.
But being able to have a better machine interface, where you can slowly get to that, and then get into CAD/CAM in the future, is a very interesting progression.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: Awesome. Let's talk about some articles, man.
Stephen LaMarca: Let's get into it.
Benjamin Moses: I've got a first one. We got an article from AMT Online that talks about a recap of IMTS and the progression of additive. We've been talking about additive quite a bit, and this is a good summary of the overall landscape of additive. We talked about metal for firearms, but this one talks about the six innovations from the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion at IMTS.
I've got a bunch of the cool bullet points, and I think the last one is where it's connecting more with the production side of additive. The first one is flexible additive-subtractive inspection hybrid systems. Basically, all-in-one systems.
And you're seeing that a little bit more. Basically, you want to be able to get a finished part out of the machine. And I definitely see a lot of those hybrid machines being able to multi-task. So if you don't have a printing job, you don't want that expensive machine sitting there. So, I thought that was interesting.
Printing with high viscosity resins for parts with expanded functionality. So, the need for resins is growing a little bit more, and the drive for the underlying technology.
Low heat metal bonding. I think there's a lot of potential there, but it's, I think, niche market potential. But, we'll see.
Lower cost laser printers for small companies. And that's where I think expanding the lower tier manufacturers, so they have the capability. So it's not just partnering with one company, right? So, SIG can partner with three tiers below, and that third tier can get into additive, also.
Stephen LaMarca: Right.
Benjamin Moses: Closed loop printing for tight specs, mainly for soft polymers. Closed loop is definitely progressing a lot more. One thing on the metal side we're seeing, on the closed loop, is thermal distortion and porosity. So being able to detect that in real time. So, there's still ongoing debates.
We've talked about this ongoing... And I'm curious to see how the firearm industry's going to get past this. Is, the qualification process for a finished good through an additive process. Because of the different processes, different techniques, are they going to be as strict as like aviation is in aerospace? So, we'll see.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: And the last one, fast printing for high precision production grade tools. So, it's a very interesting summary. There's a bunch more detail that Dayton gets into on some of that.
Stephen LaMarca: I'm surprised that that's a Dayton article. Because while those are key points, those are good points. Those aren't the really fun takeaways from the Pavilion.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: Those are really good ones, and they're very important. But I feel bad for Dayton, because he was obviously restricted from what he could say in his own internal dialogue. Because there were definitely some other things that we saw in the Additive Pavilion, that people told us about who worked at these companies, that we don't have the liberty to speak on yet.
I mean, for example... And I won't name names. But there is a Formula One team that didn't get off to the best start this year, but ended up running away with it and absolutely dominated the Constructors' Championship. And it's because all of their internal components in their engine are 3D printed.
Benjamin Moses: Wow.
Stephen LaMarca: And very well 3D printed. And I got to meet the company, and the person who's behind it. And they didn't want to share too much information about the particular Formula One team. But ever since they started using them, they just ran away with the Constructors' Championship. And Max Verst...
Anyway. Yeah. What's cool about additive still, and why, even though I keep saying that it's not emerging, it's emerged. This brings me back to, "Okay, this is why they're still called an emerging technology. Because we can't be as free with as much of this fun information."
Benjamin Moses: I think we should change their title to emerging advantage. I don't think people fully understand how to take advantage of that for their end use.
And that's a very good scenario where, they found that one thing, the one design, that matches their optimal path. And they've achieved that optimal design through that process. I think that's the missing link that a lot of people are missing. Is that, "Yeah, they're focusing on the manufacturing side of it. But it's the design that needs to be pushed, and figure out how to get value from additive."
Stephen LaMarca: It stinks that we still have to be so secretive with this information. And I know, from as many conversations as I've had with him, Dayton does have to be secretive with a lot of this stuff.
But if you look at the 2022 F1 Constructor standings, the team that ran away with the Constructors' Championship and just utterly dominated. It is because of AM. And it is a shame that the additive companies team that enabled them to run away with it, their name isn't plastered all over the car the way it should be.
Benjamin Moses: Ah, it'll happen. I mean, we even talked about-
Stephen LaMarca: Eventually it will.
Benjamin Moses: Like, the F-35, the fighter jet, is being retrofit with a new engine. Everyone was like, "Oh, that's a lot more money." But they're able to get like 40% more power out of it, 20% more fuel efficiency out of it. So the value that we're getting out of it is impressive.
Stephen LaMarca: I'm just saying that, being that F1 is the-
Benjamin Moses: An advertising company?
Stephen LaMarca: Yes. Okay, yeah.
Benjamin Moses: It is.
Stephen LaMarca: It is an advertising company, but the fact that... Let's say next year, the other teams figure out what it was that made that other team just run away with it, and they start implementing that technology.
By the time that the company that was responsible for 2022s Constructors' Championship is able to come out about it and at least get some recognition. Two to three other teams are also going to be implementing that technology.
And it'll be okay, because that means tighter racing, hopefully. I mean, we are talking about F1. There's never tight racing.
Benjamin Moses: No. Well, in a future episode... And we're seeing this a lot more. I think we'll have, probably a future episode specifically to automotive and additive. We're seeing it obviously on the supercar side, but then slowly trickling down.
F1, there is a lot of trickle down technology from Formula One into production. So while I agree with you there, the competitive space is going to be annoying for a while until the rest of the competition can catch up. But, seven years from now, Honda, Ferrari, Mercedes, we'll eventually see some of that trickle down technology into production cars. Which-
Stephen LaMarca: If we're not all electric by then.
Benjamin Moses: Fair point. Let's get into one of my favorite topics, lean manufacturing.
Stephen LaMarca: Lean manufacturing. Okay. So speaking about cars...
Benjamin Moses: Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: So this is a good segue. I came across, not an article, but a blog post from a gentleman that worked in the automotive industry. Specifically, he was a CAD designer in the automotive industry. And he definitely had a pretty good tenure with Toyota and Volkswagen, the two biggest producers of automobiles around the world.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: I believe he's also got experience with other companies like GM and Honda, but the big ones, Toyota, Volkswagen, and then Honda and GM after that. And another company that he designed for in Ohio, that he spoke very highly of. Even though I don't think he mentioned the name of the company.
But this blog entry talks about mass production versus lean production. And then, design for mass production, or mass design versus lean design. And how it comes down to these companies' products, how you can differentiate the quality, and the craftsmanship, and the value of the final products that go to consumers. Is also extremely defined by, not just lean versus mass production and design, but also the leadership and the management of those companies.
Benjamin Moses: Right.
Stephen LaMarca: And it's really fascinating listening to this guy talk about... He uses Volkswagen as the example for mass production, versus Toyota for lean production. And he gets into the Japanese leadership, and where...
He separates the leadership between Western management and lean leadership. So kind of implying that Western companies don't imply lean. Even though, when I mentioned that Ohio company that he worked for earlier, he did say that, "This company from Ohio was incredible at implementing lean, or Eastern leadership traits and qualities." Which is really cool.
But when everybody, especially people that say stuff like, "Be American, buy American." And that wonder why some products, whether it's German, or an American car, their economy cars don't sell as well as... Like, for whatever reason, Japanese economy cars are just worlds better, more reliable and just sell better than anybody else's economy car. It makes sense when you look into how he breaks down the management.
Benjamin Moses: Nice.
Stephen LaMarca: Where, he accuses Western management of being like, there's one boss that has a vision. And he has that vision. He doesn't care what other people's visions are. And he dictates the teams under him to do the work that adheres to this vision.
In other cases, there's a manager in Western culture that tries to manage to the best of their ability and be a leader. But is constantly shot down by the executive management above them.
As for lean leadership, that manager is trusted to do what they feel is right for the company. And when that manager, their selected team... They get to hand-pick their team. And each member of that team gets to run away with what they want to do to align with the leader's vision. And they're very proud of what they do.
And when they finally come together for a final product like a car or whatever. Everybody in that company refers to that product as their leader's car. They call it like, Takumisan's car, in Japanese culture. It was just really cool.
And in Western culture, we don't really see that. I mean, we see that for things like... Like, Jay Leno's Garage will highlight the key lead designer for the latest Mustang, or the latest Corvette. That stuff, we can get passionate about.
And those things, you see the passion. Because it's a successful car. They're successful products. They're well made products. But the person who was the lead project manager... Not even a designer or anything, but project manager for like, the last Focus or Fiesta. That person doesn't want their name in public knowledge.
Not that those were bad cars, but they weren't led with passion. The lean production allows for passion, and I never thought of it like that before. It had to be spelled out for me in this article, and it's really eye-opening.
And I do think everybody should read this blog post. Because not only is it manufacturing related, but anybody that is either a follower, or in a leadership position, that cares about being either a good manager, or being a good employee, should read this.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. There's a couple of key takeaways that kind of connected the dots with me. So in lean manufacturing, our common interpretation, it's a bunch of tools. We use these tools to do something. Where, the underlying power of lean manufacturing is the delegation of authority and power.
So taking the vision and enabling the person at the bottom of the totem pole to say, "This doesn't look right. We need to do something about it." So being able to enable that person to basically work with a higher level of autonomy, to achieve that leader's vision. And I think that's an underrated thing that we keep missing over and over again.
And also, how the process goes further upstream. We say lean manufacturing, but it goes further from the worker on the floor, to the manufacturing engineer, to the design. So it's an entire ecosystem to say, "Can we achieve this person's vision of the car, or whatever, through the entire life cycle?"
So if someone says, "This part isn't fitting properly." Or there's concern about this. That goes all the way back, upstream as far as possible, to solve the problem.
So, I think it's a really good article.
Stephen LaMarca: It's incredible.
Benjamin Moses: And it talks about the nuances that we are missing off, and that kind of holds us back a little bit, of achieving what a great company could be.
Stephen LaMarca: Right. And it's just really sad when you think of... I realize we're getting into... Yesterday was election day for state primaries, or whatever. I don't know, I don't follow that stuff enough.
But in the US, we love to say that, "Oh, we're the freest country in the world. We've got so much freedom." And yet, we have the most stressed out employees and workers, and the anxiety in the US is higher than ever. And it's because, I think... And this article helps point it out. It's that workers and their managers... Not senior managers, but their immediate managers, they're not given the freedom that the country gives them. Their employers don't give them that, and... It's weird.
I didn't take that into the tangent that I wanted to as well as I could have. You need to read this blog entry, because I sound like a babbling idiot trying to explain the beauty of it. And it really is worth your time.
Benjamin Moses: Let's get into some cybersecurity.
Stephen LaMarca: Okay.
Benjamin Moses: Speaking of trust... There should be no trust in cybersecurity. So there's a concept of zero trust, that actually, I do like a lot in security.
But in this one, we published an article on building an advanced cyber security plan. So using the NIST cybersecurity framework, we've been expanding on the key elements of that, and talking through, "How does that actually convey to the manufacturing floor, and our manufacturing equipment providers?"
So this one talks about network resource configuration management. Once you get pass the title, it's basically making sure your entire network infrastructure is up-to-date. From routers, switches, to the end device. We've talked about the machine tool itself being on Windows XP, or Windows NT.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. No, XP would be nice.
Benjamin Moses: So things that are end-of-life are end-of-life for a reason. To be honest, even within our own building, we're running into some of those issues where we have servers that have physically hit end-of-life. And also software wise, where we're kind of maintaining it, but if something happens... The software's not kept up to current security standards, because it's at end-of-life, no one's supporting it.
So it's not just warranty issues. There's patches and things like that, that have to keep that software and that hardware current. And once you hit that, it's no longer valid.
So this kind of talks about the importance of all the different devices through the entire network, and how important it is to keep those devices current, both physically and software wise.
And the big takeaway is, as part of the CapEx plan, it's important to take a look at your IT infrastructure to say, "Where are these devices in terms of the life cycle? And do we need to change these?"
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. And what's really cool about that is... I get that a lot of people like to stick with, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And I understand that. "And if it does break, why don't you try to fix it first, before replacing it?"
So we just had our wireless network entirely gutted and replaced.
Benjamin Moses: Well, it was more than that. But yeah, it started with the wireless.
Stephen LaMarca: Well, that already sounds like a lot as it is, and I don't know enough about it. But our IT team did an incredible job. They started at noon last Friday, and they had it done by 10:00 PM that night. Nobody had to work during the weekend. It was incredible. They crushed it. We have the greatest IT team in the world. And we're not outsourced, they're ours, which is another cool thing.
This is why I keep saying that, if you care about cyber security, cyber physical security, you need an IT department and a good one. Don't outsource that stuff. You need that stuff internal.
Anyway, Sean, our star IT guy. Sean's like, "Steve, do you want to check out the new servers that we had installed?"
Benjamin Moses: It's so clean.
Stephen LaMarca: And I'm like, "Let's see it, dude." Because Sean is hyper-specific and OCD about cable management, so I knew this was going to be a thing of beauty.
And the guy before him, Chris Nelson, the server that he set up was a thing of beauty. So it's like, "It can't be that much better. It can't be that much better."
Benjamin Moses: Oh, it's good.
Stephen LaMarca: Oh, it's better. It is so beautiful. It's like when you get to go to a car show... Not a car show, but like a concours d'elegance. And you see a vintage racing Ferrari from the '70s, and you see the beautiful white ceramic-coated spaghetti nest of exhaust headers. 12 tubes collecting into two outlets. That's kind of what it was seeing all these cables up there.
And I was like, "Wow, that is a thing of beauty, but how does it perform?" And he was like, "Steve, let's put it this way. Our last network across the entire floor, across the entire office for AMT, was 100..." Megabits?
Benjamin Moses: Megabits. Yeah.
Stephen LaMarca: "100 Megs, up, down." Or Megabits, because Megs may mean something else. I don't know enough about the units of measurement in the IT world. "100 Megabits up down." Which is super fast. Well, not super fast, but that's great. That's all you really need.
Benjamin Moses: Sure.
Stephen LaMarca: And I was like, "This worked great, why did we replace it?" And he was like, "Look at the performance now." Now it's like... We measured it on different devices, and I think the wireless network, which is throttled, is 500 Megabits down and 1,000 up. I was like, "Why does my cell phone need 1,000 up?" But, anyway.
And then he showed me, "Now check out the work network." Because that was Optimus, which is our phone network for everybody's personal mobile device. Then for our actual work wireless network, it was like 1,000 down and 2,000 up.
And I'm like, "This is insane. Did we really need this?" And he was like, "Well, the last one wasn't broken, but..." Sean put it into perspective brilliantly for me, and it totally made sense when we put it this way. "How long do you expect your current cell phone to last?" And I'm like, "I'm going to be happy if I get two years out of it. If I use the cell phone that I have now for two years, I will consider that a good investment."
I know there's a lot of Apple nerds that like to get the latest iPhone every three months when a new one comes out. And they even pay for the iPhone Forever Upgrade Program, so when a new one does come out, their payments stay the same they just go to the Apple Store, trade in their old one, they get the new one and they've signed their life away to do so. I get the fun behind that, but...
He's like, "Yeah, so if you're happy if your phone lasts for two years, why would you expect your wireless network to last longer than that? You should be upgrading the network every two years." And I was like, "Wow, that totally makes sense." And now AMT is essentially on 5G.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah. And there's a couple of advantages to that, like the configuration. So there was a lot of things that were limiting our capability. So we do have like a Gigabit coming in, in terms of the internet access. And we weren't achieving that full bandwidth. So freeing up all that hardware, both from the wireless adapters, to the switches, allows us to actually get to what we're paying for. That's the underlying problem is, we weren't getting what we were paying for, which is frustrating. Because if you look at standard packages, we say, "That is a standard package." But our aging hardware and configuration was limiting us.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah.
Benjamin Moses: So being able to refresh everything... And also, the tools to visualize the system. So the aging hardware had older interfaces. It had different devices. We went to a unified system, and being able to actually see all the devices on your network, that's a huge upgrade. So yeah, it was a fantastic upgrade.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah. That was really cool. He showed me that too.
Benjamin Moses: Yeah, the topology map of the network structure.
Stephen LaMarca: Yeah, it's all linear right now and he wants to change that.
Benjamin Moses: Of course.
Stephen LaMarca: But, Sean, we don't deserve you.
Benjamin Moses: Steve, I do want to get to these two articles, but I think we need to save those for our next episode.
Stephen LaMarca: We'll save them for next time.
Benjamin Moses: All right. Can you tell our audience where they can find more info about us?
Stephen LaMarca: AMTOnline.org/resources. Bye, everybody.
Benjamin Moses: Bye, everyone.