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Episode 96: Steve blabs about the 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, then talks about he can’t find a good, wholesome, and affordable robot to settle down with. Benjamin stresses the importance of data sources and diversity.
Jun 16, 2023

Episode 96: Steve blabs about the 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, then talks about he can’t find a good, wholesome, and affordable robot to settle down with. Benjamin stresses the importance of data sources and diversity. Stephen thinks the federal government needs to do something with the education system to rebuild the manufacturing workforce. Ben goes postal and goes paperless.

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Produced by Ramia Lloyd

Transcript

Benjamin Moses:

Hello everyone. Welcome to the AMT Tech Trends podcast, where we discuss the latest manufacturing technology, research, and news. Today's episode is sponsored by Modern Machine Shop Made in the USA Podcast. More on them later. I am Senior Moses, Director of Technology. I'm here with...

Stephen LaMarca:

Steve LaMarca, Technology Analyst. And producer Ramia Lloyd in the background.

Ramia Lloyd:

Hi friends.

Benjamin Moses:

Hi Ramia.

Ramia Lloyd:

Hey guys.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, we've got some content to go through.

Stephen LaMarca:

We do.

Benjamin Moses:

First, we'll get to the fun stuff. Some racing.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yes. Okay. So, this past weekend ... This is going to go out on Friday? This past weekend was the 100th, the 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Benjamin Moses:

So, give me background, what is Le Mans?

Stephen LaMarca:

So, 24 Heures Le Mans, if you really want to get into the pronunciation of it, 24 Heures which just means 24 hours. It is like the Super Bowl of the world for motorsports.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice.

Stephen LaMarca:

So, okay. A lot of very prestigious race car drivers become prestigious or have a high pedigree when they can say that they have completed the triple crown of motorsports. And not just motorsports, it's specifically auto racing.

Benjamin Moses:

Yup.

Stephen LaMarca:

Automotive car racing. And the car racing triple crown is a first position win at the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix.

Benjamin Moses:

Monaco.

Stephen LaMarca:

Monaco. Monaco has so many different names.

Benjamin Moses:

They do.

Stephen LaMarca:

The French Riviera. Anyway, Monaco GP, that's one. The second one, not in Formula 1, on a different playing ground is the Indianapolis 500, Indy car. So, your career has to be extensive enough to have jumped to different regulated tiers of car racing. And then finally is actually in no particular order. But then a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

And Le Mans is probably the toughest one because especially for young drivers, because young drivers are still building their career. They're building their notoriety in automotive racing. So, they have the sharp reflexes and they're trying to put down the fastest, most fiery lap times possible. But they have a tough time remembering that it's not a sprint race.

Benjamin Moses:

It's a long, long race.

Stephen LaMarca:

It is a 24-hour race. And to be fair, Formula 1 races aren't short races. My opinion of a sprint race is five to 15 laps.

Benjamin Moses:

Sure.

Stephen LaMarca:

Anything, in my opinion, over 20 laps is like an endurance race. Formula 1 and NASCAR, for example, NASCAR is a couple of hundred laps, but it's a speedway, so it's like a one, maybe two and a half mile track. But there's three turns and you're going left the entire time. Formula 1, very complex, big tracks that a lap can be two and a half minutes. In Formula 1, a race is about, I would say 50 to 75 laps.

I consider those endurance races, but those are sprint races compared to Le Man, which you have 24 hours to complete as many laps as possible. When it was conceived a hundred races ago, the idea was which automotive manufacturer can build a car that can go as far as possible in 24 hours. It wasn't even speed back then. It was like who can go the furthest in 24 hours?

It was in fact not a race for speed, but it was conceived in the name of reliability. And through the 100 races of Le Mans, we've had many inventions, windshield wipers, headlights, disc breaks, not even the performance stuff, but the stuff that we think that's not even a feature, not even an additional feature that was back then a luxury that's now today standard equipment, not even standard equipment, it's like government-regulated equipment that has to be on a vehicle for a manufacturer to sell it in most countries. Wiper blades, windshields, that was invented because of Le Mans.

And so, this was the 100th running. Typically, I started watching these races, it's the second weekend of June every year in the summer. It's in Le Mans, France, which is the Pays de la Loire, which is the French countryside, the La Loire countryside of France. And what's really cool is the weather patterns of that particular area in France, it's like New England times 10.

If you're in Massachusetts and you don't like the weather, give it 15 minutes, it's going to change. Le Mans is the same way. It will be a hot, blistering, dry day. And the cars love that because the road is really, it's sticky and tacky. And then next thing you know, there's a torrential downpour on one part of the track. So, you need soft slicks for the Mulsanne Straight. But then in the Porsche curves, it's out of control. It's a full coverage water. And there's always a lot of drama in what tires do we put on the car. And then even better, what tires is the other team using?

So, when I started watching Le Mans probably in, I started watching probably around 2010. I watched my first full race through and through without sleeping. And actually, stayed up and had television coverage in 2012. And I'll never do it again. It was really fun, to be fair. But I'll only ever do it again if I'm in France to see the race in person, then I'll do it.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. That's an experience. I like peeking in and out during the 24 Hours. I'll do a morning session and afternoon and 1:00 AM session.

Stephen LaMarca:

But the main reason why I wanted to do it was because your first few times doing it that way, which is the smart way and the realistic way to do it, is you'll look a Saturday afternoon. And you go, okay, Toyota is leading it. And they're crushing it. They're ahead by seven laps at this early in the race. This is crazy. Then next thing you know you come back, you check in at 2:00 AM, you can't sleep for whatever. Sunday morning you check in, let's see what the race is doing. And it's like Toyota is out of the race. What happened?

Benjamin Moses:

So much drama in between.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's so much and you'll miss everything. You have to have your eyes peeled and drying out for 24 hours straight to get a split second glimpse at something catastrophic, not catastrophic. To put it this way, the YouTube video that the WEC, the World Endurance Championship released on their YouTube channel yesterday was the Le Mans 2023 highlights, which is the biggest race they've had in a long time because it's the centennial. It's the 100th anniversary of the race. The highlights video was 10 minutes long.

So, also, what I really like about it is since I started watching the race, the third time I'm trying to get this point across, it's always been two major manufacturers competing against each other. And then you have a bunch of, that's typically the LMP1, the prototype one class, which is, it's the major manufacturers. Then you have the LMP2 class typically, which is fast cars that are dedicated race cars, but by off-brand teams, by specialized racing teams. And then you have the GT class, which is cars that look like cars that you'd buy at a dealership, but have been heavily modified for racing. That's GT.

And the classes are ranked from LMP1, LMP2, GT Pro, and then GT M. That's from fastest to slow. This year, it was hypercar, LMP and then GT class. And then they had one car this year. Every other year, they have an unrestricted class, where they invite somebody to bring their car for whatever reason. And say, "Let's see how far you can go in 24 hours." And I'll get more into that.

So, typically the top class, like the LMP1, or in this year the hypercar class is just two major manufacturers going at it. Maybe they'll have a third one, but that third one is there not necessarily to be competitive just to see how they'll do. And they're taking it as a trial run to come back more seriously the following year. This year, it was five major manufacturers.

Benjamin Moses:

Wow. That's a lot.

Stephen LaMarca:

At each other's neck the entire time. It was not the entire time. Towards the end, the last six hours, it was Toyota and Ferrari.

Benjamin Moses:

Wow.

Stephen LaMarca:

But yeah. So, when I started watching, it was Audi versus Peugeot and then before Peugeot was like, we've blown way too much money on this program. We've got a few wins. Now, Audi is the regular winner. We're ready to hand off the baton. Somebody else show up. And it was Toyota. Toyota came in to provide some competition to Audi. Toyota got better and better. Audi won the first few. And then Toyota started winning these races. This is over the span of years.

And then Audi was like, "We're backing out." And then Porsche, which is also under the Volkswagen-Audi group corporate tree was like, "Okay, they're stepping down, but this is our chance to step up. We have the budget and now that Audi is leaving, it's not like we're having a conflict of interest. We can compete. And plus, we're known for doing this. You're Audi. Go back to making luxury cars. We make race cars."

And Porsche came in and Porsche has been mildly competitive. Well, they've been very competitive. It's just I was not expecting Toyota over the past decade to be as competitive as they've been. And that's because Toyota has a rich history of being awful at racing on the global playing field. They're great in Japan. Japan Super GT series, Toyota is very like the Prius is even a modified race car in Japan.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. That's fun.

Stephen LaMarca:

But globally in like France...

Benjamin Moses:

Not so well.

Stephen LaMarca:

... and in Formula 1, Toyota has never been a success. They've been caught cheating in rally racing, WRC. I don't think they've been caught doing it. They've just been caught being bad in Formula 1. In the '90s, they had a Le Mans race car that was grossly outclassing everything. And they determined that, "Yeah, you guys are seriously cheating."

And the GT-One is the name of that car. And I think it was like from 1991, no, not 1991. It was like the late '90s, early 2000s. The Toyota GT-One was competing in the GT class. And if you look up the GT-One, that's a prototype car. That's not a GT car. The rules with the GT-One class was basically the idea was make a prototype car but make it look like a GT car.

And this is where McLaren with the F1 came to fame. The Ferrari F40 was a GT-One race car and they were all pretty successful. There was a few more, I'm forgetting. I think even the Dodge Viper competed at one point as a GT-One car. The Corvette has been very successful in the GT class, even GT-One car. But Toyota came out with this thing called the GT-One. And one of the rules was, you need to make a certain amount of models that are available to the public to buy.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, that's right. Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Toyota never did that with the GT-One and you need to have a luggage capacity. You need to be able to store a suitcase somewhere in the car. And Toyota's rationale was, you can fit a suitcase in the car if you deflate the fuel cell, and you don't put any fuel in it. There's room for the suitcase.

Benjamin Moses:

That's funny.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I don't even think it won a race. It did really well. But then they ran into reliability issues as you do at Le Mans. Anyway. Well, this year, oh, I will wrap up real quick. This year, Ferrari came back for the first time in 50 years.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah. That's a big news.

Stephen LaMarca:

They ran away with it.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, really?

Stephen LaMarca:

Toyota gave them a lot of fight and Toyota was hot on their tail. The Ferrari had a faster car.

Benjamin Moses:

Since it's the 100th anniversary, there's a bunch of firsts.

Stephen LaMarca:

There was a bunch of firsts. So, the really fun first to me was, and I'm not going to keep talking about Ferrari, but it was really cool that they came back and just dominated like they did. They had an Italian team. All the three drivers were Italian. Toyota tried that with being a Japanese manufacturer and then have all Japanese drivers their first year, it didn't work out.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, no.

Stephen LaMarca:

Their race car drivers are used to a totally different type of motorsport. It's sprint race and yeah, it didn't work out well for them their first year. But what Ferrari did was very impressive and they were happy to run away with the Daytona. But the big first to me was that unrestricted class that I mentioned earlier, the unrestricted class this year only had one car in it, and it was a Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR stock car, race car, car. All the cars in one car. And what's funny, this was a lot of firsts because this was probably the first time a NASCAR race car, a stock car turned in a direction other than left.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, yup.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's a first time a NASCAR competed in the rain. Because they call races when it rains in NASCAR. And this was the first time that a NASCAR had real working headlights.

Benjamin Moses:

It's funny.

Stephen LaMarca:

It's 24-hour race, you got to be able to see at night.

Benjamin Moses:

It's funny when you say that out loud.

Stephen LaMarca:

It is really funny. So, what's really funny about this NASCAR, all these snooty Europeans, and I'm not going to deny it, even though I'm not European, I also scoff it like NASCAR. I was like, "There's no way this thing is going to be competitive. There's no way this thing is going to be competitive."

Just because when you watch a NASCAR road course race, so to be fair, this wasn't the first time a NASCAR has turned right. They have these things in NASCAR called road races where they do a race on a circuit in the US that's not a speedway, and it's an actual road trek. They're hilarious to watch because half of them stove it up in the first corner and they're out of the race. And then they're like blisteringly fast on straits and then have to slow down to 15 to go around a corner and then they speed up again with all 850 horsepower or whatever they got. It's insane.

So, I was not expecting a competition. And the FIA, the WEC was not expecting competition either because during practice, they slotted the NASCAR at the back of the pack. It was going to be the last car on the track. It was going to be all the way at the end of the pack. Then late last week around Friday when they did qualifying, just to get everybody get in solid competitive lap times to see how fast the cars were, this thing was five seconds faster than the GT class.

Benjamin Moses:

Five seconds. That's fine.

Stephen LaMarca:

Five seconds faster.

Benjamin Moses:

That's impressive.

Stephen LaMarca:

Which Le Mans is probably a three-and-a-half-minute track. Five seconds is an eternity.

Benjamin Moses:

It is.

Stephen LaMarca:

It was five seconds faster than the GT cars. And so, they actually had to bump this unrestricted NASCAR ahead of two entire classes, well, one entire class, the entire GT class. It was like, it bumped him up. And it was actually passing some of the prototypes.

Benjamin Moses:

Wow.

Stephen LaMarca:

Not the hyper cars, but certainly the pro ... It was passing prototypes on the straits.

Benjamin Moses:

Wow.

Stephen LaMarca:

It was holding its own in the corners. It would lose time in the corners, but not grossly the way we thought it would. And it finished the race. I was not expecting it to last. Because when I did road tripping with Steve, I think season two and went to Joe Gibbs Racing. When I was being shown around Joe Gibbs Racing, they built those motors, those like 850 horsepower American V8s, single overhead valves, single cam, push rod v8s-

Benjamin Moses:

Very simple motors.

Stephen LaMarca:

... they build those things to last one race. They explained to me, ideally the engine blows after it crosses the finish line. That's a perfect development. If it lasts too long, they've got a problem. If it blows too early, got a problem. The ideal situation, you just total destruction of the motor during the victory lap. And this thing lasted than 24 hours. So, like NASCAR, dude, it impressed me and it probably struck a lot of fear in a lot of Europeans.

Benjamin Moses:

That's fun.

Stephen LaMarca:

It was really fun.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, the biggest takeaway is I need to go to a live race.

Stephen LaMarca:

Same.

Benjamin Moses:

We've been talking about that for a while and it's cool to see it on TV, but to feel the sound-

Stephen LaMarca:

To feel the sounds. The TV doesn't help with realizing, the people that I've talked to that have been to live races, whether it's NASCAR, Formula 1, they're all like, "You don't realize how bad you need the earplugs until you get there." You can tell a first timer if they don't have earplugs.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, that was awesome. Let's get to our sponsor and they get in some contact.

Stephen LaMarca:

You got it. Modern Machine Shops Made in the USA Podcast. Tune into Modern Machine Shops Made in the USA Podcast to explore manufacturing issues faced by companies making an intentional choice to manufacture in the US. Featuring commentary from OEM leaders, Made in the USA blends its nearly century long expertise with a unique audio storytelling experience to shine a spotlight on the past, present, and future of American manufacturing. Find Made in the USA on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast platforms. Follow Modern Machine Shop on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Benjamin Moses:

Thanks Steve. Before we get into some articles, I know we've been working on the test bed for a little bit.

Stephen LaMarca:

We've been trying to.

Benjamin Moses:

We've been trying to get our robotic arm and our price range is 10k less. We just came out of Automate some perfect opportunity there. How did that go?

Stephen LaMarca:

You're stressing me out. So, Automate at the time was very promising. Talking to a lot of salespeople, great at making promises, these salespeople. I got a lot of brochures. I got a lot of information. I got a lot of solid contacts and leads. Just to buy a robot. Most people talk about leads like they're trying to make sales like, dude, I want to buy and it's this difficult. Automate was good because I got to see mostly everything that was available. And apparently, this was their biggest show yet.

Benjamin Moses:

I think so.

Stephen LaMarca:

It was a good job. Good job Automate A3. I've been in contact with several manufacturers and one distributor/supplier/distributor supplier synonymous, distributor/integrator. Sigma Robotics, I haven't contacted them yet, but they are on my list. I actually think I've made connections with two people that work there. Sigma is cool because they seemed pretty confident that they could get us a robot for probably 10 to 15. But they assured me that it would be an industrial grade robot arm. So, from one of the big manufacturers that we cannot afford, it would just be well-used and probably out of spec, out of tolerance. But honestly, we don't need that stuff.

Benjamin Moses:

Yeah, for our application, we're fine.

Stephen LaMarca:

I want a robot that works. If it can do light pick and place and just open and close an enclosure and maybe a few other things.

Benjamin Moses:

Just material handling on [inaudible 00:22:26] will be fine.

Stephen LaMarca:

Or just a professional piece of equipment so we can get the hang of using such a piece of equipment. But what's really cool is they get their prices so low because they buy their supply from the BMW plant in the Carolinas.

Benjamin Moses:

Oh, that's cool.

Stephen LaMarca:

So, BMW an automotive manufacturer, automotive manufacturers buy a lot and use a lot of robots. And when they start seeing issues ramp up in quality control, they go diagnose the robots and what can be done faster? Do we repair the robot or do we replace it? And depending on if they repair or replace it, if they replace it, guess who gets that old well-used, well-loved robot? Sigma buys it from them. Sigma refurbishes it. They offer refurbishing services, refreshing services and then will sell that refresh refurbished robot to whoever needs one and will even offer the services to continue maintaining it.

Benjamin Moses:

That's fascinating. They use market basically for robots. Fantastic.

Stephen LaMarca:

There, they use it for industrial like quality robots at competitive prices. So, that sounds really advertising. They did not pin me up to say that. They are not paying us. This is just something that, this is my understanding from the sales pitch that they gave me while at Automate. And I'm really excited to contact them. I've just been in contact with brand new OEMs first at the show. Epson Robotics had an advertisement on the side of their booth saying, "Ready to go out of the box, robot solutions starting at $8,800."

Benjamin Moses:

Wow.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm like, "That's within our budget. Let's see if they mean it." Long story short, I've been talking with them. Japanese-made industrial robot arm from a well-known company, not just for consumer printers but actually industrial equipment. They make robots. They want to get their robots out there. They are putting them at a very competitive price.

I think they quoted us for a six-axis arm. They're like smallest entry level. They call it their most affordable articulating arm. The $8,800 was for SCARA arm. We don't want a swingy boy. I want to articulate boy. I'm a snakey boy. And this thing kitted out to what we need would be around like 15,500. And I'm like, dude, 500 over the budget that they would give me a slap on the wrist. Come on.

So, let's keep looking around. Maybe we'll come back to you if I can squeeze something. But go to Mecademic. These little robots, these adorable little ... I'm looking at them. I'm like, "This has to be the Pocket NC of robots," and that's what I'm sold at. And I saw them at Schunk. Who does Schunk make work holding for? Pocket NC, among many other major manufacturers. But Schunk has one of these little adorable fit in your hand robot arm robots. I'm thinking, all right, these have to be somewhat affordable. We've got to be able to buy one of these.

My first red flag should have been there has typically only been one robot company on the market that advertises accuracy parameters. Sure, repeatability and precision. Every robot manufacturer does that. But accuracy, it's one thing to be repeatable. But accuracy is getting it right the first time and not zeroing it in. And FANUC for the longest time was the only robot company. These French Canadians at Mecademic have now corrected me. Mecademic is the second robot company on the market that advertises accuracy, a high degree of accuracy. And that should have been my first red flag because you're not getting offended, we're cheap.

Benjamin Moses:

Not the price range we want.

Stephen LaMarca:

I love you, FANUC. John [inaudible 00:26:53] is my boy, bless up. But we're not buying a robot from them anytime soon. It's no hard feelings. It's just we don't have that kind of money.

Benjamin Moses:

So, what did that day guess?

Stephen LaMarca:

So, Mecademic. I'm talking to this nice salesperson with a French Canadian accent and there must have been something lost in translations. I'm like, "My budget is 10k and I want to know what you guys can do." And they showed me their SCARA, their swingy boy and their snakey boy, that's the two robots that they make. And it was like, yeah, the SCARA robot is 1.8 or $1,800 and our articulating arm is 2,000.

Benjamin Moses:

That's weird.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I'm like, holy cow-

Benjamin Moses:

That's very low.

Stephen LaMarca:

... for the price of what I thought the Epson was at the time, 8800. I could have four of the Mecademic arms.

Benjamin Moses:

That's one way to look at it.

Stephen LaMarca:

I'm going to call these guys after I got done talking to Epson because they make a larger robot. I wanted to go with a larger first. Because my initial caveat with Mecademic was we've got a three by six-foot work bench. If we got an Mecademic, we would need to put it on one of those slider rails so it can move from one side of the work bench to the other because it's just so small.

And so, I contacted Mecademic, because we need a bigger robot, but we also need an affordable robot. And the guy comes back to me, "Well, we can definitely get you a solid industrial solution with one of our robots. Everything's included with the robot purchase for just under 20k." And I'm like, "Excuse me? What?"

Benjamin Moses:

What happened to you?

Stephen LaMarca:

I was told something entirely different and I was told these arms cost like $2,000 like 2k. And they pretty much laughed at me, their supplier, not them. And so, basically, long story short is I'm still heartbroken.

Benjamin Moses:

Almost a square one. We're close.

Stephen LaMarca:

The goal has been to buy a robot at the end of January and then it got pushed to February and then we dropped it because we were like, "Let's wait till Automate." Automate has since passed and then you have now given me the task, get one by the end of June. How realistic was that? I came just from Automate before talking to any suppliers. It was like, "Oh, we should be able to do this."

And now here I am with my tail between my legs telling you for the first time that I don't think we can do it. We're going to try. We're going to keep trying. We still got some other company.

Benjamin Moses:

We still have some leads.

Stephen LaMarca:

There's igus, which is a German company that they're like the Legos of manufacturing. They advertise their six axis or six-joint arm for like 5,500.

Benjamin Moses:

Something like that. Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

I can't wait to find out that it's actually 55,000. So, we'll see how that goes.

Benjamin Moses:

I'm ready to be heartbroken again.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah. I'm just ready to go back to China and be like, I'm sorry I ever said anything bad about you because you're clearly dominating this industry and nobody's waking up to see it.

Benjamin Moses:

I love spicy meatball, Steve, as we get into articles. We're going to end on a really good note too. Steve, the first article I have is the importance and diversity of data sources. So, this is published on AMT. And it goes over some pretty interesting concepts. So, one is, we will get into this later too when we talk about paper clutter, but defining your question and then defining your data sources from that question. So, the problem of digital waste, which we've been talking about, maybe we got a machine-

Stephen LaMarca:

E-waste.

Benjamin Moses:

... let's pull all this data and then figure it out later. That is the worst strategy ever.

Stephen LaMarca:

We're not shy talking smack about e-waste. So, listen, put all the plastic you want in the middle of our ocean and let it swirl around three times the size of Texas. But e-waste man, that's real estate. That's prime real estate that people could be building homes out of. And you're turning into data farms all because people are taking pictures of whiteboards instead of something that could have been a 12-kilobyte Word document. I'm done.

Benjamin Moses:

Okay. So, starting backwards on the flow, I think it's important. So, what problem are you trying to solve? And then figure out what data that you need to help figure the question out or solve that question. Also, one thing the article talks about also is where that data comes from. So, we've been talking about sources of truth for a while.

So, when we migrated from our old database of our contacts, our companies and contacts into putting that in Salesforce, that's one place where we have accounts and contacts, but we also have another place for events, another place for conferences. It's perfectly fine to have different data sources as long as that is the single source.

So, keeping data where it makes sense and then when you need the analysis, then you transform that data into your analysis tool as you need or creating a dashboard for that if you need visuals or business updates. So, that's something a keynote that came out in this analysis.

And I think as consumers, we got used to that a little bit. So, the different streaming platforms, that's the data source. If I want to watch 1923, I got to go to Paramount Plus. If I want to watch some Marvel movie, I'm going to go on Disney. So, as consumers I think we've gotten used to the proprietary data. And you of course have Amazon, which aggregates everything where you can get Paramount Plus, you can get certain things on Amazon.

Stephen LaMarca:

Where do you go if you want to watch The Crow? You got to go to Google first because you got to find out what streaming service it's on.

Benjamin Moses:

Exactly. You got to figure out what source it is.

Stephen LaMarca:

You can't even go to the streaming services first.

Benjamin Moses:

And the article goes into an [inaudible 00:32:41] example. So, weather actually plays an interesting role in some manufacturing places if in the south or if you don't have a climate-controlled room or manufacturing area. So, if you want to know what the weather's like, actually it's pretty fairly important welding. I've noticed that a lot ran into an in interesting issue where there's an emergency door near some of the weld booths or exit door, let's just call that, to the outside.

And it was warm one day. So, they propped that door open. The booths along that line started noticing porosity. They were getting airflow that was contaminating their welds as they were processing parts. So, little things like that.

Stephen LaMarca:

You could turn on the AC but the shop owner wants to save money or they say they're going to get porosity parts that are sent back and don't pass inspection and now it's the welder's fault.

Benjamin Moses:

Yup. So, the article talks about, okay, if I want to pull weather and put that into my data set to see if there's any correlation or is that causing any issues, do I put a little sensor outside? Do I pull that data into my own servers? How do I do this? Or do I just go to the National Weather Service and extract that data? So, it gets into very interesting questions of what data do you want to collect and who is the best provider for that data? And I think that's a fair question.

Stephen LaMarca:

Absolutely.

Benjamin Moses:

So, definitely recommend going through that article and checking out.

Stephen LaMarca:

That sounds fun. That's a good article.

Benjamin Moses:

So, you've telling me about your Modern Machine Shop article?

Stephen LaMarca:

So, speaking of our sponsor, they actually released an article that I really loved six days ago and it's titled, if the Federal Government is to solve the manufacturing labor shortage, it needs to start here.

Benjamin Moses:

Where's here?

Stephen LaMarca:

Let me tell you. So, the article goes on to make another example of a local community college, high school, college, well-accredited university, a lot of these schools that are adopting manufacturing and making classes based around manufacturing to educate students and introduce them into an industry that is flush with money that nobody seems to know about, which has been the problem that we've been talking about for probably decades now. I haven't been here for a decade yet, but probably.

And the problem is we're still talking about this. We know that this is the deal. Why isn't it changing? This article is basically a modest proposal to the federal government saying, "Hey, how about we make this an official part of the curriculum?" Remember what happened in the world wars, the entire country went to work to start manufacturing stuff for the war effort.

We're not at war right now, but if we want to maintain our global competitiveness in manufacturing and if we're going to back up the fact that so much manufacturing is actually coming from overseas and moving to the US to be done in the US, we need workers sure to take on those jobs.

How are we going to fulfill this? Especially because the need is now arising. There are companies coming over here that need workers and a community college, like an elective course isn't going to educate the students anymore. If you're good at it and if you're interested in it, that's great. But the article is basically calling for a federal intervention of the federal government to make manufacturing skills part of the curriculum.

Benjamin Moses:

That's interesting.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I think it's a great idea. Man, there's going to be a lot of parents that are going to be really up in arms about it.

Benjamin Moses:

And so, I have two followup questions.

Stephen LaMarca:

I guarantee you, we're not going to see any of that in McLean, Virginia. Let's put it that way.

Benjamin Moses:

Taking a step back. I do think there's a lot of life lesson courses that should be integrated. I think the curriculum needs to change a little bit. Let's talk about taxes.

Stephen LaMarca:

Ben still wants to know how to pay his taxes.

Benjamin Moses:

I'm still trying to figure this out. That's the one thing I didn't learn. But if I learned that in high school, people do go start working right away. The students are paying taxes fairly in high school and later or after school. How do you do that? Things like that I think are useful. And there are a lot of valuable lessons even if you don't get into manufacturing, learning mechanical skills, mechanical processes, applying those skills to how do you change your tire. A lot of that can come from some manufacturing classes.

Stephen LaMarca:

I mean, a lot of the older generations conned my generation into saying that, "Oh, you just need to go get your college degree and everything's going to be fine." Because back in their time, you could be a mailman and afford a three-story house with a white picket fence. Now is not the case. It's not that way anymore.

And in terms of education, even if you go to college, if you go to college, your advisor is doing you a disservice if they don't tell you, "Hey, before you get this degree, I know you want to speed up, become a senior and graduate, but slow down, get an internship. Because as nice as this degree is going to be and it will carry you through your future, it's not going to mean anything without experience. So, go get an internship."

Benjamin Moses:

That's true.

Stephen LaMarca:

So, it's not just the education, it's also the experience.

Benjamin Moses:

And the other thing I wanted to ask you is what manufacturing classes did you take? Both middle school, high school, college. Did you take any? Or let's call it hands-on classes.

Stephen LaMarca:

Hands-on classes. In middle school, I took home economics. So, I can make a mean pancake.

Benjamin Moses:

I knew I had to soap from, what was it called? Home economics.

Stephen LaMarca:

Home ec.

Benjamin Moses:

Home ec. Yeah.

Stephen LaMarca:

Home ec. I never got into a shop class because there was so much demand to go into the shop classes and stuff. I never got to take-

Benjamin Moses:

So, before you get, I did take shop in high school and looking back at it, that's the scariest environment you ever want to be in. There's no regard for any safety rules there. You have just bandsaws whizzing away. Safety glasses are optional.

Stephen LaMarca:

Yeah, that's true.

Benjamin Moses:

It is not a fun environment.

Stephen LaMarca:

The shop class that I took in middle school, we did not wear safety glasses. I made a clock. To say I made a clock though, it's not fair though. We had a kit. You were given a slab of wood. You already had the created plastic dial thing with the 12, nine, six and three indices on it. And it had the plastic movement that took a single double A battery in the back and you just had to sandwich them together and cut the wood however you want it. And we learned how to stain the wood and it was cool. My mom sadly still has that clock and hasn't like burnt it. It still exists. Maybe I should feel good about that.

But it was the only class that I got to take. Like you said, no safety ... In high school, we didn't have any ... I got sent to a military school. So, we didn't have any classes like that. Did learn how to shoot though.

Benjamin Moses:

Nice.

Stephen LaMarca:

That was cool.

Benjamin Moses:

That's good.

Stephen LaMarca:

I was on a rifle team. That's how I got my varsity jacket shooting bullets.

Benjamin Moses:

The class that I enjoyed actually the most in college was our testing class.

Stephen LaMarca:

We had safe eyewear for that and ear protection.

Benjamin Moses:

Instrumentation class. So, we learned about how to instrument stuff for the wind tunnel. So, we did wind tunnel testing. So, putting pressure probes and wiring that through a bridge and then getting date off that.

Stephen LaMarca:

That was in high school?

Benjamin Moses:

That was in college.

Stephen LaMarca:

In college, yeah. Your college instrumentation class sounds a lot ... That was engineering instrumentation. I took physics instrumentation. That was not fun. That was basically like you see your computer processor, there's a trillion transistors in it, a billion transistors in it. We're going to show you how to make one transistor. It took me all semester to find out. Dude, you can't make a transistor.

Benjamin Moses:

Steve, I've got an article on, speaking of digital transformations, say goodbye to clutter, paper clutter. This is from our-

Stephen LaMarca:

More e-waste.

Benjamin Moses:

... frenemies in Canada. The Canadian Metalworking.

Stephen LaMarca:

We're not happy with them right now.

Benjamin Moses:

They need to up their game.

Stephen LaMarca:

They need to ban lighters and matches.

Benjamin Moses:

So, it talks about going paperless across the entire ecosystem of business. So, not only are we focused on the manufacturing side, so processing parts, going to a paperless environment there. But if you go a little further upstream, like the design side, design or engineering or manufacturing engineering, whatever you like.

I come from an old school engineering background of the early 2000s of to get something approved, we actually printed out the drawing, would redline the physical printouts, make those changes to go through a couple iterations like that, and then actually sign the drawing. And then that would get scanned and then stored somewhere for distribution.

So, that was an interesting experience. So, transitioning from that to digital signatures. Then we still do have 3D and 2D representations of the engineered model. And I think that is actually still beneficial. And some companies have taken the strategy of, you still have to put notes, you still have process information, there's still like words you need to. Putting that in the 3D space doesn't quite make sense. A lot of companies have taken a 3D model and kept that as one entity. And then the, say 2D information as a separate file. So, there's two different files that exist and they're linked to each other.

And I really like that model. And shifting to paperless across the board, I don't know if that really makes sense. And we can get into our workflow here, but the article does go over the benefits of going paperless where it makes sense. So, obviously efficiency and productivity. So, this one talks about data.

So, we've seen issues on doing process improvement. Specifically with time. I want to make something faster. The first thing I do is what is your current? How long does you currently do it? We used to have a sheet of paper with a stopwatch and write down times, write down stamps. I have to write it down, then I've got to put in Excel file, then I've got to transport it. So, from acquiring, storing and using data, I would say it makes a lot of sense going paperless.

Operational flexibility. So, being able to do something or make changes faster. And inventory management. We've been talking about just in time manufacturing for a long time. And that requires accurate inventory management. In the last two, recordkeeping and compliance, saving a file and having redundancies of those files. It's a little bit easier of course.

And then last one is of course, communication, collaboration, sharing files, which is interesting when you look at what files are emailed back and forth versus what you probably should send a link to. And that's another thing we can get into later is about the digital e-waste scene.

Stephen LaMarca:

And I agree. I just feel like that's less of a problem now. Not because it's going away, but because other problems are ramping up and becoming rampant. Is that what that means?

Benjamin Moses:

We just found a definition of the word here. Steve, we're running a little bit long. How do we want to ... Do you want to get into Inconel now or do we want to stay-

Stephen LaMarca:

I can save Inconel until the article is published.

Benjamin Moses:

Let's do that.

Stephen LaMarca:

But I really want to geek out about all of this research that I did on in Inconel, but we can save it for next time.

Benjamin Moses:

Let's save for next time.

Stephen LaMarca:

We'll go along.

Benjamin Moses:

Let's let the audience tell us what experience they've had with Inconel. Because I've got some too. I've got some machining. I've got some welding experience. Forming within Inconel is fun. We'll get into that next time.

Stephen LaMarca:

In printing. Printing is easy. That's why it came back. But we can get into that later.

Benjamin Moses:

We'll get into that later.

Stephen LaMarca:

You can find out more about this episode and other episodes of the Tech Trends podcast at amtonline.org/resources. Like, share, subscribe.

Benjamin Moses:

Bye tech friends.

Stephen LaMarca:

Good job.

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Benjamin Moses
Director, Technology
Recent technology News
Episode 113: The team discusses what works and what doesn’t with the sales of Girl Scout Cookies. Ramia shares her excitement as the team’s new studio is coming together! Elissa talks about how women could get burnt out in STEM.
Episode 112: The Tech Frends reintroduce themselves, the purpose of this podcast, and walk through each of their backgrounds laying out how they got where they are today.
Episode 111: Ramia shares her excitement as the team’s new studio is coming together! Steve notes that Modern Machine Shop has been on a roll releasing banger after banger articles. Ben closes with an attempt to redefine robotics programming.
Episode 110: The team discusses tool kits and power tool ecosystems. Stephen has a testbed update: the robot has been bolted down. Elissa has some words about Boeing. Benjamin is gung ho about defense 3D printing.
Episode 109: In this holiday episode of the TechTrends podcast, Ramia Lloyd, Elissa Davis, Benjamin Moses, and Stephen LaMarca share their individual families holiday traditions.
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