Business in India - The Implications of Mythology, Culture and Beliefs

Devdutt Pattanaik: East vs. West -- the myths that mystify | Video on

Devdutt Pattanaik takes an eye-opening look at the myths of India and of the West -- and shows how these two fundamentally different sets of beliefs about God, death and heaven help us consistently misunderstand one another.

Online MTConnect Demonstration

At IMTS 2008, MTConnect was demonstrated with more than 30 machine tool vendors connecting their machines to a central system communicating real time data. A huge touch screen allowed the participants to select a machine and monitor its operation. A similar application is now available online at the website (as shown in the Figure below).

The application collects real-time data from various vendor machines compliant with the MTConnect standard. One can monitor the machine status and also MTConnect applications utilizing the data (Application section). The online demonstration was showcased at EMO 2009 trade show and will be displayed at the upcoming DMC 2009 conference.
There is a lot of confusion around the functionality of MTConnect. People tend to think that MTConnect can perform SPC, OEE, alarm management and other process improvement activities. In reality, MTConnect is a communication standard for CNC machines and other manufacturing equipments. MTConnect is not an application, software nor does it specify data analysis methods to calculate any particular KPI. It does not calculate OEE, Cpk or perform SPC. It provides a standard neutral platform on which these applications can be developed with standardized data interfaces. The application functionality is dependent on the developer or the organization requirements. This has two major benefits. First the application becomes plug-and-play and will have full compatibility with any machine (or device) which is MTConnect compliant. Secondly, it drastically reduces the system integration efforts. The Figure below shows the interface of the TechSolve SMPI test bed situated at Cincinnati, Ohio. Click here to monitor the real time machine status.

Cloud Computing Architecture for Manufacturing Data Management

Intense global competition has forced many US manufacturers to examine their current business practices as well as evaluate how to meet these challenges and remain competitive. Major emphasis has been placed on disruptive innovation and manufacturing research with recognition of the need for better Manufacturing Data Management (MDM), automation, continuous improvement, and process optimization through data mining. The benefits of effective MDM include reduced downtime, improved operator productivity, optimal machine scheduling, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), alarm/alert management, and better product quality. Conversely, small to medium manufacturers do not have the capital needed for data management technology and resources. In addition, these manufacturers are not able to justify the return on investment; plus they have to train personnel, maintain support staff, and manage upgrades and maintenance of the applications. In this paper, the implications of using the on-demand cost effective cloud computing philosophy for MDM are discussed. The dynamically scalable resources are externally hosted by a third-party and follow pay-per-use methodology with no software licensing, high service level agreements, and secured transactions. The cloud computing architecture has been developed as part of the supervisory system thrust area for the Smart Machine Platform Initiative (SMPI). The supervisory system is defined as a system that integrates and coordinates multiple process monitoring and control modules such that a globally optimal machining solution could be delivered real-time for desired quality and maximum productivity. The paper also features an in-depth discussion of the implementation architecture, benefits, case study, limitations, security concerns, and future work needed to ensure success of the cloud computing for effective manufacturing data management.

Reference: Cloud Computing Architecture for Manufacturing Data Management, Amit Deshpande (TechSolve), Kevin Bevan (GBI Cincinnati), Mark Doyle (I/Gear), 2010 Conference of the Society for Machinery Failure Prevention Technology (MFPT), April 13-15, 2010, Huntsville, AL.

Outsourcing: Do We Lose or Gain?

Historically, commodity trade has been a win-win situation for the participating countries which leverage their specialization. Developed countries like US have a distinct advantage of outsourcing low-cost low-skill products like shoes, clothes and concentrate on innovation and high technology products like airplanes, computers, cell phones, cars etc… This keeps costs low and increases the purchasing power of the US consumers. One aero plane built can buy tons of shoes and agricultural goods. Also producing an aero plane requires high skill workers and technology thus boosting salaries and standard of living. After having enormous profit from free trade the developed countries (USA, Europe and Japan) are suppressing the liberalization of markets where they have comparative disadvantage like the food markets. These nations have refused open trade in agricultural goods in an effort to protect farmers from being displaced [1]. Is this ethical to adhere to open trade/market only till it is profitable?

The latest political buzz is about the software and IT outsourcing to countries like India. The software outsourcing was one of the main agenda during the last presidential elections. Previously high skill computer jobs of programming and IT services were considered outsourcing proof. How are you going to transfer and control pieces of code and services across continents and manage the process? The dilemma of software outsourcing started with the advent of internet and better electronic communication infrastructure. Software development, maintenance, and services can now be outsources to countries like India. We reduce cost, save money on healthcare (employee health insurance), possibly save some vital resources and curb inflation through outsourcing. Motivations for outsourcing are cost driven, strategy driven or politically driven [2]. Software outsourcing to various parts of the world is primarily cost driven. However with better skilled talent in mathematics and science in developing countries outsourcing can also be strategy driven. For example IBM now focuses on capturing 50% Indian domestic market by 2010 [7]. As of July 2007, IBM employed more than fifty thousand employees in India. Google outsources its IT hardware and now setup research facilities outside US and Europe. GE global research has setup operations in China (Shanghai) and India (Bangalore) while scaling down operations in the West. GE argues that the strategy is not only cost effective but the young talent in the east is better helping them on their path of innovation. According to Seattle Business [11]-

“A Seattle-based labor union says newly surfaced documents show that Microsoft Corp. has looked to outsource to Indian companies high-level jobs in software architecture and development. ..the previously confidential agreements between Microsoft and Indian outsourcing companies Infosys Technologies and Satyam Computer Services debunk the popular notion that only lower-level technology positions are vulnerable to outsourcing….”

The US unemployment rate is at record high at 9.4%. It is predicted that it will reach double digits by the end of the year before improving. Large corporations are now outsourcing high salary high skill jobs overseas. Who is gaining? Is it ethical to lay off thousands of people in US and expand overseas? IBM, GE, Google now maintains high skill R&D jobs abroad while reducing the workforce in the US. The justification is always the Free Trade philosophy. Even though it’s not illegal the question is – Is it ethical? Infosys technologies headquartered in Bangalore, reported 17% increase in revenue last quarter. The increase is attributable to the increased outsourcing projects and stronger dollar. How is this possible when the US is in recession with more than 4% reduction in GDP and almost all enterprises experiencing the spiral decay in the economy and domestic demand? Outsourcing phenomenon is certainly legal but let’s take a closer look at the ethical implications.
A corporation’s motive is to make money and increase shareholder value. Milton Friedman, a free market economy proponent stated-

“… In a free society, there is one and only one social responsibility of the business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud [8].”

According to free market ethics theory outsourcing is the correct option for the US high tech companies. So what if it takes laying off thousands of US workers and hire abroad. Actually it is wrong for the managers to think about the goodwill and society’s interest in taking decision. Decisions regarding the issues concerning the society should be handled within the legal framework and political arena. Analyzing the outsourcing issue by free market ethics framework leads us to the conclusion that US companies decision is completely justifiable and appropriate.

Now, let us analyze the issue from the utilitarian framework of ethical decisions. Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its contribution to overall utility: that is, its contribution to happiness or pleasure as summed among all people [13]. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome [13]. We need to analyze three main issues - job loss in US, job gain in India and overall effect on the economy. Research says that only one third of the layoff people find equivalent jobs or higher paying job. On the other hand, a job for Indian worker who currently works for less than 1$ per day can be huge. Quantification of the both the effects are difficult. Some secondary impact includes effect on the local governments as tax revenue decline. Local communities get affected as the schools and higher education systems get lower tax revenues. From the economy perspective outsourcing will help corporation save money and remain competitive in the global economy. Corporations can invest the bloated profits in research and move up the ladder to offer higher value corporate packages of research, software and services which have higher profit margins [4]. For example IBM is currently working actively in the areas of utility grid optimization & energy conservation, genetics-based personalized medicine, fraud detection & prediction, and traffic management using sensors and congestion-pricing models [4]. Specialized skills are required which create higher paying jobs ultimately leading to more innovation and growth. Outsourcing has actually strengthened the US economy. According to recent reports, Indian outsourcing companies are hiring US citizens for the operations in the United States. For example, Tata Consultancy’s US headquarters is located in Cincinnati, Ohio which has generated numerous employment opportunities in the tri-state area.

Deontological ethics or deontology is an approach to ethics that holds that acts are inherently good or evil, regardless of the consequences of the acts [14]. A central theme among deontological theorists is that we have a duty to do those things that are inherently good. Our obligation or duty is to take the right action, even if the consequences of a given act may be bad [14]. Kant, a strong proponent of Deontology, states that the universal rights and duties should be “absolute”. Evaluating an ethical problem within the deontological framework can be difficult especially when the definition of universal rights and duties is not clear. What is “fair”- Maximizing the shareholder value? Offering a job to well qualified Indian worker? Or letting go an American job according to the market forces? The first two questions lean towards outsourcing as the correct way to move forward. But the third question indicates otherwise. Will you give up your job because there is low cost labor available out of the country? No. If it is your job you will oppose the outsourcing decision. This essentially contradicts the absolute universal rights and duties as proposed by Kant.

Virtue ethics is a branch of moral philosophy that emphasizes character, rather than rules or consequences, as the key element of ethical thinking [15]. Virtue ethics sets standard for moral excellence in contrast to Deontology and Utilitarianism which sets limits on moral minima [6]. When studied in business sense virtue ethics framework needs the definition of “community” in terms of business sense and moral decisions consistent with the company principles and guidelines. Some IBM principles include:

“We are sensitive to the needs of all employees and to the communities in which we operate”
“The marketplace is the driving force behind everything we do”
“We never lose sight of our strategic vision”

Evaluating the principles IBM’s decision of outsourcing is justified.

To conclude we think that the external and secondary effects of outsourcing are difficult to quantify. The political, social, legal and marketplace influences the decision. Also outsourcing decisions analysis cannot be generalized across the industry but should be considered on case by case basis. As of now outsourcing trend seems positive and gaining grounds. The effect on the economy and labor market of the “outsourced” and “outsourcing” countries remain to be seen.


1. Who Benefits from Outsourcing? Albino Barrera, Accessed 29-Jul-2009.
2. Outsourcing Decision Support: A Survey of Benefits, Risks, and Decision Factors, Kremic, Tibor, Tukel, Oya Icmeli, Rom, O. Walter Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 11, No. 6. (2006), pp. 467-482.
3. Business process outsourcing in India. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 6 Aug 2009, 11:55 UTC. 6 Aug 2009 .
4. I.B.M. Showing That Giants Can Be Nimble, Steve Lohr, New York Times, Published: 18 July 2007.
5. Does Outsourcing Cost More Than It Saves? William J. Holstein, New York Times Published: 9 August 2009.
6. Law and Ethics in the Business Environment, Terry Halbert , Elaine Ingulli, Publisher: Cengage Learning, Pub. Date: February 2008, ISBN-13: 9780324657326.
7. IBM local outsourcing pie to be 50% by 2010, Pankaj Mishra, Economic Times - ET Bureau, 10 Feb 2009.
8. The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, New York Times, 13 September 1970.
9. Google Invests in India - Outsourcing Again, Engine Search Round Table, October 13, 2004.
10. Microsoft plans to outsource more, says ex-worker, The Seattle Times, September 3, 2005
11. “Microsoft outsourcing high-end jobs”, union says, Seattlepi Business, 16 June 2004
12. “How Outsourcing Affects The U.S. Economy!” Business Journal, 8 August 2009
13. "Utilitarianism." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 Aug 2009, 03:09 UTC. 4 Aug 2009 .
14. "Deontological ethics." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 29 Jul 2009, 16:57 UTC. 29 Jul 2009 .
15. "Virtue ethics." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 30 Jul 2009, 03:47 UTC. 30 Jul 2009 .


Last week, I had a meeting with Sudhir, a successful entrepreneur who started a software firm more than 15 years ago in Cincinnati. Although the meeting was for some other topic we diverted to the all exciting topic of entrepreneurship. Here are some of the comments by Sudhir-
* I enjoy leading projects and meetings, the sales calls and ability to win projects, however, I am a engineer at heart.
* It’s fascinating to see people and company grow. The feeling of satisfaction is great.
* Never complain that it’s too much work (I guess it is an underlying assumption)
However at the end he made an interesting comment. When he started the company in Cincinnati he tried to do everything himself. He was the CFO, CEO, CTO, developer, sales person, marketing officer and sometimes even the janitor. Although he loves his entrepreneurship journey he says that he is an engineer at heart (He holds a PhD. Degree in engineering). He likes creating new things and systems. It would have been better if he had a team where each one is assigned to a particular task like marketing, sales, technology and human resource. That’s what he is going to try for his new start-up in the Silicon Valley. He says that this approach has its own pros and cons. Getting the right team together is the key. It infuses different ideas and thoughts. Effective communication and team work will ultimately be vital for success. However things can also go wrong very easily. Different attitudes, different ideas and personalities can clash instead of synchronization. It’s just like a marriage – You have your responsibilities, commitments and compromises. The moral of the story for any entrepreneur is: Weather you want to do all the initial work by yourself or you want to team up at the founding stage and concentrate on a particular task. Whatever you choose, proper planning, confidence (not arrogance) and commitment are the pillars for success.

Plant Floor Data Collection: Benefits of Historian vs. Relational Database

Plant floor data consists of several thousand data points collected each second. Data normally comes from raw sensors (which have a very high sampling rate), controllers, process variables and assembly machines. Relational databases (RDBs) support simple operator queries, answering questions such as “What is the largest shipment today?” They are built to manage relationships and are ideal for storing contextual or genealogical information, but not the best approach for vast amounts of process data collection and optimization.

Advantages of Historians over RDB-

*Built-in data collection: Manufacturing systems are closed and proprietary. A custom code has to be written for each type of equipment. RDB’s are not designed for built in data collection thus custom. Historians can be compliant with manufacturing standards like Object Linking and Embedding for Process Control (OPC) and MTConnect for near real-time data collection from manufacturing equipments and sensors. Historians are designed for manufacturing and process data acquisition. They maximize the power of time series data and are a perfect solution for answering questions that manufacturing typically needs to address real-time decisions in production.
* Operational excellence: One can easily get answers to questions like power consumed by a particular machine or process delay times in the last week. The raw data can be rolled up to key performance indices like OEE, SPC, Cpk etc… Trending and analysis of historical data allows root cause analysis in case of a failure.
*Higher data compression: Historians collect huge amount of raw sensor data. Better compression technique requires less space and thus reduce cost.
*High availability: Historian allows data redundancy through buffering the data right at the source. This allows high availability and reliable data even in case of network failure.
*Better data security: Historians are designed to address regulatory requirements such as the 21 CFR Part 11 by implementing electronic signatures.

Reference: The Advantages of Plant-wide Historians vs. Relational Databases Comparing Two Approaches for Data Collection and Optimized Process Operations, White Paper, GE Fanuc.

Retrofit, Rebuild and Remanufacture

Often there is confusion between what constitutes a retrofit, rebuild and remanufacture for a machine tool.

: The term retrofit usually means an upgrade to just the CNC control without refurbishing any mechanical component. In computer world it can mean an upgrade to the operating system and other applications without upgrading the hardware. A retrofit costs about 30 percent of the price of a new machine.

: Rebuild generally means that all of the mechanical components of the machine are cleaned, inspected and then reassembled using new or re-machined components. A rebuild costs about 33 percent of the price of a new machine.

: Remanufacturing (rebirth) includes all the activities in a retrofit and rebuild plus design changes which improve the machine’s performance beyond its original specifications. Remanufacturing is justified only on specialized high investment equipments requiring better performance than the existing satisfying the process requirement. The cost of remanufacturing depends upon the extent to which design changes are required.

Reference: The 3 R’s: Retrofit, Rebuild and Remanufacture by Scott Ashworth

Do you have an innovative idea?

The federal stimulus bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) is now a law. The State of Ohio is accepting proposals to fund potential meritorious project ideas which have a high probability of success and create sustainable jobs. Entrepreneurs who have great ideas –for innovative products or services - this is your chance to get the required capital. More details are available at

When employees think & act like owners…

A few weeks ago I attended “The Great Game of Business” management leadership series seminar by Jack Stack. Jack started with his experience of working with SRC which at that time was a nearly bankrupt division of International Harvester in Springfield, Missouri. That's when Jack Stack and 12 other managers took over and came up with $100,000 to put toward a loan of $9,000,000 (A debt ratio of 89 to 1 -- the highest leveraged buyout in corporate America to date). Jack lays his emphasis on creating a business of business people. The three mantras for success of a business are -

1. Create leaders.
2. Become a successful business of business people.
3. Create business people who think and act like owners.

Stack’s methodology states that making money is not just the responsibility of the upper management and executives. Stack is a strong proponent of open book management where the employees understand the financial performance and strategic goal of an organization. Stack summarizes his ‘game’ as follows-

1. Know and teach the rules
2. Follow the action & keep score
3. Provide a stake in the outcome

1. Know and teach the rules
- High involvement planning (twice a year)
Part 1
- Market analysis
- Market competitive data
- Customer survey results
- Our strategy to accomplish growth
Part 2
- Sales and marketing performance
- Forecast for 12 months + 4 years
- Contingencies
- Employee buy-in survey results

- Financial planning (annually)
- Income statement
- Cash flow statement
- Balance sheet
- Bonus program/critical number
- Succession plan

- Business Training
- Classroom /formal training
- Tuition refund
- Interactive /informal training

2. Follow the action (weekly) & keep score (daily)
- Forward thinking - Adjust to a radically changing environment.
- Communication - A collective sense of responsibility for the direction and performance of the company.
- Create Wins - Reflecting day to day movement. Moment to moment excitement.

3. Provide a stake in the outcome
- Instant recognition - People need to be recognized for their contributions and their talents. They don’t want to be treated as part of a mob.
- Career opportunities
- Ownership equity - Believe in creating wealth for those you work with while you create wealth for yourself.

Next Generation Manufacturing Study

The Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) Study is developed to better define the strategies and business activities necessary for world-class performance and success into the next generation. The framework of the Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) study presents forward-looking strategies to drive manufacturing growth and profitability into the 21st century. The six NGM strategies surveyed include:
-Customer-focused innovation - Develop, make, and market new products and services that meet customers' needs at a pace faster than the competition.
-Engaged People/Human-Capital Acquisition, Development and Retention- Secure a competitive performance advantage by having superior systems in place to recruit, hire, develop, and retain talent.
-Superior Processes/Improvement Focus- Record annual productivity and quality gains that exceed the competition through a company wide commitment to continuous improvement.
-Supply-Chain Management & Collaboration- Develop and manage supply chains and partnerships that provide flexibility, response time, and delivery performance that exceeds the competition
-Sustainable product and process development - Design and implement waste and energy-use reductions at a level that provides superior cost performance and recognizable customer value.
-Global engagement - Secure business advantage by having people, partnerships, and systems in place capable of engaging global markets and talents better than the competition.

To take the survey questionnaire click here.

Book Review - Happiness: Lessons from a New Science

Layard gets started with the fact that happiness is an objective quantity. It can be measured with sophisticated technology by analyzing the electrical wave activity in specific parts of the brain. The book has a lot of research findings like “People are more happy when chatting with friends than spouse or relatives. It is least when interacting with boss”, “The work hours are highest in United states than any other developed nation”, “More than 18% of illness are due to depression” etc..
The income has risen in the west continually for past 50 years still the happiness level has decreased substantially. There seems a weak correlation between income (standard of living) and happiness. So even though our income and standard of living is increasing steadily we are not getting happier. He cites the following reasons:
- Social comparison
- Hedonic treadmill (adaptation to the new environment/technology/standard of living)
- Economic inequality
- Work-life balance

The big seven factors of happiness are (the first 5 are in the order of importance)-
1. Family relationship
2. Financial situation
3. Work
4. Community and friends
5. Health
6. Personal Freedom
7. Personal Values

What should we do to increase our happiness?
- We should monitor the development of happiness like we monitor income. Policies should consider the interrelationship between psychology, social welfare and economics. Economists generally do not have any interest in how happy people are and focus primarily on their combined purchasing power.
- Unemployment causes the most unhappiness. The state should strive to keep the unemployment level at the lowest rate. Also the unemployment benefit policy should be re-considered.
- More family friendly practices like flexible hours, parental leave, better access to child care should introduced.
- We should have manageable goals in life. Having no goals in life is like driving a car with no destination. So we must have goals. However they must not be over aching that they bring stress and unhappiness.
- Activities to promote community life should be encouraged.
- Better health care system and health awareness.
- Direct advertisements directed at children below 12 should not be allowed.

In my opinion having a happy society should be considered at a micro and macro level. At macro level it is the State and its policies which are the main actors. Issues like abortion, personal freedom, justice, political turmoil and the instability play a vital role. The current issue most of the countries are facing is that of the terrorism. The author does not touch upon this issue but it has become the critical threat both in developing and the developed nations. In recent years there are numerous incidents like 9/11 in USA, train bombing in London and recent terrorist attack in Mumbai. These activities have numerous after effects not just that of security. First the citizens lose faith in the system. There is a widespread panic and havoc following such activities. Second is the economic effect. Billions of dollars have been spend on the war against terrorism. It has led to war in Afghanistan which has left tons of dozens dead, injured or displaced. Post 9/11 the fear of airplane hijack reduced the passenger demand. Most of the airlines were on the verge of bankruptcy post 9/11. The economy went through a recession. This led to massive layoffs and thus decreased happiness. At the micro level happiness depends upon individual factors like values, morality, family relationship and work-life balance.
The author describes that the mobility of the workers increases crime in the community but does not back up his statement with valid reasons or studies. Layard supports globalization and describes its effect on the economy. The common man perception is that globalization and outsourcing leads the American jobs go overseas. The author makes strong reasoning proving the fallacy of the statement. Trade is beneficial to both the parties involved. Even though some jobs are lost many more opportunities are created. The new opportunities are based on technology and innovation requiring higher skills and thus higher salary jobs.
The author states that redistribution of the income is necessary with constraints. A country will have higher level of happiness the more equally is the income distributed. Author argues that taxes are essential to maintain work-life balance by some weak reasoning which can be controversial and subjective. Better explanation and analytical reasoning is required to support the claim.
Finally in my opinion happiness is something which is dependent upon you and how you shape your mind and body in this zero-sum game (Darvinism). Happiness is a by-product of an activity which you enjoy. Ultimately, what matters is not what life brings to you but what you bring to the life.

Why is machine tool diagnostics and prognostics difficult?

Real time asset monitoring, diagnostics and prognostics are complex tasks in any piece of equipment. In case of machine tools prognostics it becomes even more challenging. In industrial equipment we monitor the condition, analyze the data, trend and predict the failure of the equipment. The goal is to accurately estimate the eminent failure (act before it fails) and maximize the uptime and output. In machine tools this is not enough. A machine tool transforms the raw material into the finished part. The machine tool is like the mother of the tons of children products. The goal is to not only minimize the downtime but to produce quality parts. The health of the machine plays a vital role in quality of a component in terms of dimensional tolerance and surface quality. Thus correlating the machine health with the effect it has on the quality and mapping it with the requirements is the key in machine tool prognostics. The aim is to build machine health monitoring system from a machine-centric to a part quality-centered point of view. The second issue lies in the proprietary manufacturing hardware and software, which makes it difficult to capture real-time data in the required format and granularity. This has resulted in a customized health management for each system. The third issue is the lack of methodology to evaluate single component health information, detect imminent failure, and diagnose the type of fault in case of multiple-failure mode. There is a need for a decision-making and information fusion methodology to correlate single component health information with critical product quality, as well as to generate a unified machine tool health indicator to describe the machine’s overall condition.

Virtual Enterprise Resource Planning for Production Planning and Control Education

Globalization and advances in information technology have prompted a change in the credentials of the engineers today. Industry needs engineers who can work in a distributed, multifunctional, cross-cultural and multidisciplinary avenue. Unfortunately, the engineering academia has not successfully responded to this change. There is a need to change the traditional lecture based passive learning methodology to an active technology-enabled multi-sensory experiential learning methodology using simulation games. To fill this critical gap we propose a motivation-based multi-source active learning methodology, which meets the expectations and demand from the industry as well as creates a technology-enabled virtual learning experience. The proposed learning methodology encompasses constructivist learning by the use of simulation game, objectivist instructor led learning and collaborative learning through peer-to-peer interaction. A state-of-the-art survey of simulation games application in education with detailed analysis of applications in engineering education and professional organization dealing with educational simulation games is conducted. The similarities, differences and advantages of simulation games compared with problem-based learning are stated explicitly. The classification of the existing simulation games application in engineering indicates that there is need for integrated all-encompassing simulation game applications in engineering. Two surveys conducted to assess the need of simulation games in education and production planning and control education methodology are explained. The first survey conducted indicates that the student favor the use of computer simulation games over the traditional classroom method. The second survey suggests that the use of simulation games and computer based software packages is not prevalent in today's production planning and control education. Specifications of the iPPC online simulation game with a specific implementation case study on a Minivan Production Planning project are described. Finally we conclude that the proposed methodology has a potential to uplift and revamp the engineering education by addressing the long-faced issues and incorporating modern technological tools to make learning process more effective.
Keywords: Simulation Games; Production Planning and Control; Inventory Theory; Enterprise Resource Planning; Active Learning

Reference: MS Thesis, Amit Deshpande, University of Cincinnati, Engineering : Industrial Engineering, 2008.

Supervisory System: A Platform for Sustainable Manufacturing

Sustainable manufacturing is defined, by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as the creation of manufactured products that use processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound and safe for employees, communities, and consumers. TechSolve Inc. (Cincinnati, OH) is currently working with the University of Cincinnati to develop a supervisory system (SS) for “next generation smart machine.” The SS will create an optimum manufacturing process plan based on predictive modeling technology. It will also monitor and control the manufacturing process through advanced sensor technology and integrated decision-making. As such, the SS provides an ideal platform for sustainable manufacturing by minimizing the usage of energy (through process optimization technology), materials (through first part correct technology), and other resources (through paperless communication and automation technology).
The SS is an intelligent and self-evolving system that will choose the optimum smart machine, or smart cell, to perform the job regardless of whether the machine is in-house or located at another location or supplier. It will orchestrate the manufacturing processes and equipment by integrating various manufacturing software tools and technologies (in terms of both communication and decision-making). The software and technologies installed, either on the machine tool or in the company’s network, will be “plug and play” utilizing a common language that all computers and machines will recognize regardless of platform. This will enable seamless communication of information and data across various levels in a network. Therefore, the SS will transform the current factory to a paperless factory through the usage of state of the art computer networking, internet security, and e-documentation.
SS for sustainable manufacturing is a high-risk high-reward research endeavor. The research involves large scale multi-objective multi-constraint optimization, real-time sensing and interpretation of sensor data, integration of data and knowledge, and standardized communication interface across a variety of software and hardware platforms. If successful, the research will deliver the following benefits:

- Intelligent systems for manufacturing processes and equipment that delivers to the standard of “First Part Correct”
- New levels of efficiency, reliability, and performance that will result in shorter lead times, reduced maintenance cost, and optimized efficiency in all steps of manufacturing
- Process optimization that will lead to lower input resources
- Low labor content
- Zero waste
- Instant access to the real-time data and tracking of the process which will improve quality.

Reference: A Platform for Sustainable Manufacturing, Technology white paper, Amit Deshpande, Dr. Sam Huang.

Data to Information: Can MTConnect Deliver the Promise?

Manufacturing industry is still lagging behind with respect to integration and standardization of various process monitoring and control systems. The manufacturing community across the globe has realized the vast potential of adopting standard which can facilitate compatibility, interoperability, scalability and plug-and-play functionality between various subsystems. In this paper we describe the protocol details, implementation and case studies for the emerging MTConnect standard. MTConnect is an open non-proprietary extensible XML-based standard which aims at enhancing interoperability between machine tools. MTConnect was implemented in the supervisory system communication level architecture as part of the smart machine platform initiative. The possible implications on manufacturing with its current protocol limitations are described in detail. Finally we conclude with the lessons learned and future direction of MTConnect development.

Reference: Data to Information: Can MTConnect Deliver the Promise?; 37th North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC 37), May 19-22, 2009, Greensville, SC.
Authors: Sri Atluru, Amit Deshpande