Counterfeit Part Prevention Starts with Industry Standards

Counterfeit Part Prevention Starts with Industry Standards

Jan 21, 2019

By Megan R. Nichols, EBN Online Nearly every industry, from consumer and aerospace and defense to fashion and automotive buy electronic components. These parts need to be of the highest quality, especially for applications where safety and reliability are paramount, which is why the growing number of counterfeit parts is becoming an enormous problem. New industry standards may be the answer to preventing the spread of counterfeit parts. Let’s take a closer look at these standards and the issues that counterfeit parts are creating. The rise of counterfeit parts In 2009, NASA came under fire for the use of apparently counterfeit parts in their satellites and spacecraft. While the components weren’t putting astronauts or expensive satellites at risk, it cost the space agency extra money in testing and quality assurance to make sure the parts met the standards required by NASA and similar agencies. It’s important to note that the word “counterfeit” in this context doesn’t mean the same thing it would if the term were applied to money. Counterfeit money is fake, plain and simple. Counterfeit parts aren’t necessarily fake — they just haven’t undergone the sometimes expensive safety and quality testing to ensure they meet the specified performance and standards promised by the part. In this realm, the user might be unaware of the origins of the part (who made them, how they were handled, etc.) as well as the quality (specifications, packaging, etc.) of the components. Thirty years ago, few worried about the problem of fake parts, but, particularly with the globalization of the electronics market, this problem has only grown over the past decade. In 2011, reports indicated that more than half of the electronics distributors in the United States had encountered counterfeit parts in their dealings. In 2012, a survey conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that more than one million counterfeit parts appeared in the Pentagon’s supply chain — and more than 70% of those parts could be traced directly back to manufacturers in China. These components also cost the consumer electronics industry more than $250 billion each year. As recently as 2017, the United States military estimated that nearly 15% of its supply chain is made up of counterfeit parts. On-going...

CNC Machine Shop Boosts Efficiency with Aid of…

CNC Machine Shop Boosts Efficiency with Aid of…

Jan 7, 2019

“CNC Machine Shop Boosts Efficiency with Aid of Collaborative Robot” Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine BOSTON—Fitzpatrick Manufacturing, a CNC machine shop and custom manufacturer founded in 1952, regularly brings new technology into its factory to increase speed, improve efficiency, and remain competitive. The company recently deployed Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer™ collaborative robot at its Sterling Heights, Michigan, facility to increase operational efficiency and to counterbalance a tight labor market. “We were very deliberate about finding the right job for Sawyer,” said Kevin LaComb, co-president at Fitzpatrick Manufacturing, in a press release. “This is the first time we’ve deployed advanced automation. In job shops, it’s hard to predict what project will come in. With Sawyer’s adaptability, we can automate the repetitive, mundane jobs and free up human workers for more skilled, higher value tasks.” Fitzpatrick Manufacturing supplies parts to more than a dozen sectors, including aerospace, automotive, medical equipment, and oil and gas. The company is using Sawyer to help hone parts that become components for the motion control industry–work that requires precise tolerance and repetitive action. Sawyer identifies which part to run first—short versus long—and loads it into the honing machine. When the first part is finished, Sawyer removes it, loads a second part into the machine, and places the first part in the wash station. From there, Sawyer dries the part at the air blow station before packaging it in a box for shipment. With 400 spots on the pin board to be processed, Sawyer can package between 280 and 300 before a human worker needs to intervene. This process could take five to eight hours, which allows Sawyer to run overnight, lights out, and have all the parts ready to go when workers arrive back at the facility. Sawyer is one of two collaborative robots manufactured by Rethink Robotics—the other is Baxter®—that are designed to work safely alongside people.  The cobots are powered by the Intera software platform and can be trained and on the job in a matter of hours, according to the manufacturer. The majority of Fitzpatrick’s employees have been around for years, and introducing Sawyer was initially met with uncertainty on the floor. However, once the team saw the cobot’s versatility, and...

Trump hypes jobs relocating back to the US. Are they?

Trump hypes jobs relocating back to the US. Are they?

Jan 4, 2019

By Jason Margolis, Public Radio International (PRI) President Donald Trump once named his style of elocution “truthful hyperbole” — what he described as a form of promotion to get people excited. One area the president currently likes to pump up is foreign jobs coming back to the United States. “We have literally hundreds of companies moving back,” President Trump said in November, repeating a statement that’s become a major talking point.   But is this another instance of truthful hyperbole? Are hundreds of companies indeed shifting production back to the US? “I’d say 300, 400, at least, announced in 2017,” said Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit that tracks jobs coming back to the US.  OK, score one for the president.  But is a few hundred companies significant? “I would call this movement right now a trickle,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. There’s considerable debate over how to measure any reshoring trends and very little data available. It’s often not as simple as a company closing a factory in China and reopening it in Ohio. Moser, for example, includes “partial shifts” of jobs, whereas some other research only includes shifts of entire businesses, and thus, have reached less optimistic conclusions about reshoring trends. What is clear, however, said Paul, is that the US is seeing more companies that rely on cheap energy — now in abundance in the US — coming back. “That includes some types of chemical processing, some types of plastics,” said Paul. “I’ve also seen jobs come back in everything from auto parts to textiles in jeans.” Paul said this trend began about a decade ago. Moser, who also assists companies with information about the benefits of shifting work to the US, said President Barack Obama got the ball rolling. “He [President Obama] used to call it ‘insourcing,’” said Moser. “He started a program of increasing our skilled workforce of apprenticeship programs and certificates. He did many useful things.” According to Moser’s research, things have picked up under Trump, with work largely shifting away mostly from China and other parts of Asia. “In 2017, companies announced 170,000 manufacturing jobs coming back from offshore, up 50 percent from 2016.” (This includes both reshoring and foreign direct investment jobs.)  So, what’s driving this? Let’s...

Letting Go of the Old Manufacturing to Make Room for the…

Letting Go of the Old Manufacturing to Make Room for the…

Dec 20, 2018

“Letting Go of the Old Manufacturing to Make Room for the New” By IW Staff, Industry Week A new book sets out to change perceptions of the industry through first-person stories and essays. Terry Iverson considers manufacturing a vocation, not a job. The owner of Iverson & Company, an Illinois machine tool distributor, sees a lot of opportunities for young people in manufacturing’s technology-driven culture, automated facilities, and strong, well-defined career tracks. To spread the word about the industry and hopefully change perceptions, he’s raised more than $22,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to publish a book for parents, business leaders and educators called Finding America’s Greatest Champion: Building Prosperity through Manufacturing, Mentoring and the Awesome Responsibility of Parenting. n the book, Iverson shares his own experiences around manufacturing along with those of 40 others—including drag racer Tony Schumacher, CNC machining guru Titan Gilroy and other entrepreneurs, inventors and manufacturing leaders. “Parents and educators, business, and America’s culture must strive to better prepare our youth of tomorrow,” says Iverson. “While I am passionate about manufacturing, the overarching message is that we, as parents, must listen to what lights up our children. So many parents have the opportunity to empower their children or mentor others. An entire generation is waiting for the light switch to be flipped.” Iverson also founded ChampionNow!, a non-profit organization that introduces young people to manufacturing careers by changing their perceptions, engaging them in internships and inspiring them with videos and presentations. This excerpt from Finding America’s Greatest Champion is taken from an interview with Warren Young, CEO of Acme Industries, a metal fabricator in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. I have been in manufacturing my whole life. I realized, when I graduated with my engineering degree, that I was quite different than a lot of other engineers, who maybe thrived at the desk, doing their calculations. Maybe it’s part of my upbringing from the farm. I liked to be out touching things, doing things, seeing results. It just looked to me like manufacturing could be full of that. It could entail solving problems that weren’t necessarily strictly analytical. My youngest son decided when he was picking his major, he was going to...

Ford Opens $45M Advanced Manufacturing Center

Ford Opens $45M Advanced Manufacturing Center

Dec 18, 2018

By Jeff Reinke, ThomasNet Redford, Michigan, is the new home of Ford’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, focused on improving the company’s approach to building cars and trucks. The $45 million complex houses 100 experts working on integration strategies for various cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), robotics, and digital manufacturing. The Advanced Manufacturing Center contains 23 3D printing machines, and Ford is working with 10 3D manufacturing companies to develop applications with a range of different materials, from nylon powder to sand to carbon. One application currently under development could save the company more than $2 million. The soon-to-be-released Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 features two 3D-printed brake parts, while the F-150 Raptor includes a 3D-printed interior part. The company believes that as this technology becomes more economical, the use of such parts will become more and more prevalent. Assembly line workers at the Michigan Assembly Plant, where Ford builds the Ranger pickup, use five different 3D-printed tools that played a critical role in the launch of the Ranger. In fact, the company says that these tools knocked off weeks from an already tight timeline. Ford is also banking on augmented and virtual reality to help in simulating and designing assembly lines. By donning specialized gaming equipment, engineers can configure a virtual reality production line without leaving the Center, allowing engineers to identify potentially unsafe processes and fine-tune workflows long before an assembly line is put into play. AR and VR can also allow manufacturing teams to work collaboratively in facilities around the world, meaning employees on different continents could work in the same virtual space, at the same time. Finally, the new facility will allow the company to optimize the use of collaborative robots. Ford has more than 100 of them in 24 plants globally. For instance, at the Livonia Transmission Plant in Michigan, a co-bot performs a job that was so ergonomically difficult for employees that they could only perform that task for one hour at a time. The co-bot was a welcome addition to the production line. These co-bots also help the automaker reduce costs by eliminating the safety cages required by larger robots. Utilizing co-bots in...

The Robots Are Coming, but Not the Way You Imagined

The Robots Are Coming, but Not the Way You Imagined

Dec 17, 2018

Industrial robots are driving improvements in productivity, quality, and flexibility that are helping U.S. manufacturers to compete globally. At the same time, they’re spurring the growth of a new ecosystem of jobs, from mechanical design to AI-based computer vision. By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine The robots are coming—that much is true. But manufacturers, by and large, don’t see them as the job-stealing invaders of the workplace that many people have imagined. It’s not that robots don’t excel in performing many tasks formerly done by people. It’s just that people also excel in certain areas where robots aren’t up to the task. And  in the manufacturing realm, industry leaders and company officials who have integrated robots into their plant’s operations say that their impact stretches well beyond the work that they’ve proven to do so well.   “These machines are going to have a huge impact into the broader economy,” said Tom Galluzzo, founder and chief technology officer of IAM Robotics, in a presentation at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Next Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in June. “They’re going to empower people to do the things that we’re innately better at—the creative thinking skills. And I think that’s where our employers have to take responsibility—to educate people and to empower them to do those kinds of creative thinking.” In manufacturing, people can focus on higher-level work because industrial robots are known to perform repetitive tasks with greater precision than their human counterparts. Manufacturers who use robotics in printed circuit board assembly, for example, often report greater peace of mind knowing that the robots are maintaining high quality while increasing the productivity of their operations. Sam Hanna, president of Quality Manufacturing Services, Inc. (QMS), a provider of electronics manufacturing services in Lake Mary, Florida, said that QMS has added robotics to its operation when a reasonable return on investment has justified the investment. The company has invested heavily in late-model surface mount pick-and-place equipment, a key contributor to quality as electronic components and packages continue to shrink in size. “We get consistent output, the machines never get tired, and they’re certainly faster than humans,” said Hanna. “The precision we can get out of machinery is far better than we can get out of...