Friday, October 22, 2010

Please Vote in Midterm and Let’s Pray

Waiting in Job Fair

 Right: Republican volunteer, left: Democratic volunteer, in voting site of Raleigh, NC

Please Vote in Midterm and Let’s Pray
The midterm is coming. Please vote!
I have talked to my friends: “ voting means a lot for us”.
We would like the nominees to hear our voices, but I know that some of them did not listen; they talked too much. The voting can force them to listen to us or they will lose you and more voters. Let us vote. To vote is to take responsibilities of citizen.
If you will be traveling out of US on the date November 2, go to early voting. If you like the nominees very much, take advantage of early voting.
In the year of 2004 president voting, I was traveling in China. The Chinese Government officer served us a very delicious dinner. In the dinner, I said that I personally did not like president nominee Jr. W. Bush. I wanted go back US as early as possible for voting. A Chinese friend said that he liked W. Bush and quit sured that he would be continually on the seat. Then we bet on the table of dinner. I took every penny out of  my packet  and put on the table, which were one hundred thirty two U.S. dollars and twenty-six cents. A few days later, he informed me that he would like to dismiss the bet because that would take one quarter of his monthly salary. I wrote an email to promise whatever he would lose or not, he would take the price because he voted. A month later, I was happy to know that U.S. Consulate in China had set an even of voting in the building to let Chinese citizens to free vote the president of U.S. like the game we had played. The players would answer a few questions and vote. They could get rewards in voting I supposed . This was the most wonderful event. U.S. Consulate found good way to show United States of America.
Talking with Chinese Governor of Guangxi,China
Me(center) and other two scholars from North America
The sad thing happened to me for the voting result is that W. Bush won. 99% of Americans lost. So did I. I lost one third of my stock values and a lot of businesses. How about you? In last year, my health insurance went up 45% and it looks like it keeps going. I don’t dare to bet with my Chinese friends any more except my business turning up.
Do you know what great thing I can do? Voting!!! Again and again. The situation will be getting to be fine. United States has system to improve itself quickly.
I have put the sign plate of my favored nominee on the front yard of my house already and prayed. I am not going to tell you whom I will vote. What I can tell is that I will early vote.
I know that you are frustrated on the economic situation. If you would like better one tomorrow, just vote.
If you care about your children and families, just vote.
If you like the nominee, vote him/her. Or if you don’t like the nominee, simply vote other.
If you lost job, or you fear to lost job, just vote.
If you don’t have health insurances, or you want keep your insurances, or you want better one, just vote.
If you want end the two wars, please vote.
If you like owning your house, vote for it.

    I am sure that we will win! The world became flat and America still lead in many fields.
    Make America stronger! Don't close the door. Action is the treatment of fear! Please vote and pray in different words and various languages.
    May God bless America!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Industrial Robots do the Customers Want(Part one)?

Utah/MIT Hand, I was in teaching kids as volunteer.

      Industrial Robots have the history of half a century from the time George Devol applied for the first robotics patents in 1954 (granted in 1961). It is officially defined by ISO as an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes [Wik2010].
    I was involved in robotics research in an outstanding robotics lab as PhD student and research assistant at the time of end of decade 1980. My professor Zhexiang Li from MIT had many ideas in developing arms and got half million dollar grant to do so. Based on his proposal, we have built a Direct Drive Arm with four axes in the lab. The direct drive arm uses rare-earth motors with samarium-cobalt magnets, which produce much stronger magnetic fields and hence high torques[An1988]. In this way, we limited mechanical gearing. Today, this technique is used in electric cars and hard disks in computers. The lab director, Professor Paul Wright from Carnegie-Mellon University had good ideas in sensing and CNC manufacturing, who help me a lot in the lab. Professor Jacob Schwartz is a pioneer in computing and computer language. I learnt programming skills from him and his students. there were so many smart guys in the lab. I miss them a lot. After worked three years in the lab, I thought I was well equipped to solve problems in industries.

    I walked in a window and door manufacture in New York and offer my solution to the process of loading glass to CNC cutting by applying a six axes robot. After the demo in performance of the robot, the owner of the company said: “it’s good for you. We need an inexpensive solution and just get the job done!” It would cost $70,000 for a big robot to load 72” x 84” size glass plus labor and fixture device. Later, I came back with a new solution that had developed sensor and two axes drivers. When I prepared doing pre-installation, a supervisor did manually loading glass as usual. Suddenly, the glass sheets crashed and fall down. One piece of glass cut the arm of supervisor. I closed my eyes to avoid seeing it. He was sent to hospital and out of work for two months. When he came back, his hand had no feeling because his arm nerves were cut. The doctor said that it would take three years for the nerves growing to the hand from the arm. I recognized this is something different from working in the research lab, like in frontier of battle. I was told by manage that everyone working in this place had experience of being cut. It was true. Before I finished the project, I became the one being cut. I was cut on my hand by a crashed glass and could not stop freely bleeding for a while.

I am in front of Free Fall machine.
      Two months later, the new solution (see the vedio on line) was working on line. The workers are out of this most dangers area in glass cutting. The owner of the manufacture is very happy to see its performance. It cost only one of third of the previous robot solution. Some one in the field gave a name to this solution as “Free Fall Loading”. Two years later, five machine companies copied and sold it in North America. You know who they are, that is not my point because after eighteen years of the invention, even the patents will be expired if it has ones[Pat2001]. My point is there are still 60% of window and door manufactures have not used the machines in glass loading. During this time of period, some of glass workers were seriously cut in death including one in the city I living. It is counted as 1/3 of our customers have that. I feel sorry that Smart Line Inc. has not had money to do the marketing and sales campaigns. Now it is good that we have blogs and website to nurture our customers.

     Someone said this is not robot for it has only two axes that fall out of definition of robot by ISO that states as “ three or more axes.” Here is the thing: Do we have to meet customer need? Or, do we have to meet definition of robot. As the customer said before, he needed an inexpensive machine and just got job done. It is clear that he did not want spend more money to pay fancy thing. He just wanted the job done. No more and no less. Instead of using six axes, we just used two axes and save $50,000 for our customer. In the later version, we saved more and putted additional $10,000 back into customer packet. Professor Paul Wright (UC Berkeley) and Professor Jacob Schwartz (NYU) name this kind of machines as “Smart Machine” which simplified the driver systems by applying sensors and/or computing. This concept applied in defense arm as “Smart Bomb” that has similar function as missile but it only cost 20% of missile and has more accuricy in targeting.
    (Next article we will discuss new robot developments, some cool stuffs.)

[An1988] page 33. Chae H. An, Christopher G. Atkeson, John Hollerbach, Model-based Control of a Robot Manipulator, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1988.
[Wik2010] Industrial Robot, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2010.
[Pat2000] "1-D. How long do patent rights last? Effective June 2000, every patent is guaranteed an inforce period of  at least 17 years." David Pressman, Patent It Yourself, Nolo, 2000.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Energy Efficient on Machines

By taking “whole system” approach and looking machine, its use, and components, these new specs will reduce energy using and greenhouse emissions equal 7 million cars.
In almost every window and door manufacture, they have glass lines. In the glass line, the first machine is glass loading. Let us take a look on two basic types of loading machines for cutting lines that are majority using in U.S.
1. Tilt Loading --- It uses a combination of hydraulics, suction cups, and sensors to identify and retrieve glass from a vertical pack and transfer it to a horizontal position for downstream processing. It applied four or six moving arms with big cups to hold the glass sheet and put it down on table. This is a traditional way.
2. Automatic Free-Fall --- It is intelligently designed to robotically retrieve and free-fall glass, then convey it to the cutting table without operator intervention. It uses one cup to peer glass sheet out to free-fall it down on the table. This is a new way of loading invented in United States.
By comparing two loading ways, there are three facts that make big difference.
    1. The Tilt Loading takes the whole glass sheet up from rack and put it on the table while Free-Fall only pulls glass sheet free falling down on the table. The first way increase the potential energy and moment energy on glass that consumed the power energy. The second way transfer potential energy on glass of its own to moment energy from high position down to low position on the table.
    2. Because of tilt loading takes whole glass up and down, it need heavy cups and stronger arms to hold the glass, the moving parts of Tilt Loading are more than ten times than the one of Free-Fall. The heavy moving parts cost more power energy to accelerate them to move.
    3. The Tilt Loading uses hydraulic system installed in the machine to move the big arms. When the arms in rest status, the motor continually run and system still consume the energy by pressure regulator that transfer the power energy to the heat in oil, which is backward comparing with second way driven by pneumatic system.
As result, the differences of energy consumed are 15 times. In addition the second one uses less parts and materials that is the other kind of “green” because parts and material cost energy to make and transport.

In any innovations and R&D, it is usually happened that one advantage happened brings another advantage. It is the same for energy saving on machines. Energy saving on machine almost always comes with increase productivity. Because the machine mess and parts are decreased in energy saving, they are more easy to be accelerated and decelerated that can increase machine moving speed and improve machine performances. Then finally, the productivity is increased in the glass lines that is dream of every business owner.
In this case, the glass cutting line increase 87% productivity by using free-fall automatic loading machine. Please see Case Study.

Problem and Opportunity

What are IG and R5 Windows? When multiple glass panes are assembled into units, they are commonly referred to as Insulated Glass (a U-factor of around 0.5) that is more than 2.2 times the energy efficient over the single glass measuring in heat transfer rate. As three glass panes are assembled into units, they are referred to as R5 that highly-insulating windows with a whole-window R-value of 5 (a U-factor of around 0.2)* are the top tier of energy-efficient windows for cold and mixed climates available today, which Department of Energy has been commercially promoting since end of last year.

What's the Opportunity? The U.S. had approximately 113 million residential buildings. There are 33.34 million residential buildings need replace the energy efficient windows and doors. Each residential home has 12 windows and doors in average. Therefore, more than 400 million windows and doors need to be made immediately. The commercial buildings are similar. The U.S. had 74.8 billion square feet of commercial floor space in 2006. Near 50% of commercial buildings were built in 1979 or before that most of them demand to replace energy efficient windows and curtain walls.
What's the Problem? The problem arisen in manufacturing is that the weight of the green window is double or triple as the Isolated Glass is made of two pieces of glass or more. On the other hand, the tolerance requirement between glass and frame is increasing tied. In US, there are over one thousand manufacturer making windows & doors. The manufactures still make windows and doors by manpower that keep the low quality and high prices that result the small-scale rate in changing the inefficient windows and doors.
What's the Solution We Offer? We promotes the new way of manufacturing energy efficient building products, window and door with Isolated Glass. Smart Line has invented a new method and a machine that automatically makes IGU windows and doors that US Patent Office awards patent # 7,549,833. It changes the heavy physical labor work to the work on switches that programming controller executes the processes. As one of our customers of window manufactures using the prototype of the automatic glazing machine, it has the following outcomes:
  • It doubles the productivity and save one labor on the line that cut 20% of the price of IG or R-5 windows.
  • Ensure the quality of IG or R-5 windows
  • Safe the IG or R-5 window working environment
  • Short the lead time
Consider Long Term Multiple Values and Measurements. In Form 1, it listed the energy saving in current year and the energy saving in long term based on the glazing machines offered to window manufactures. It has multiple values in the three items of the glazing machines, the energy efficient windows and the energy savings. For example, it not only counted how many machines made in current year but also the machines in previous year because machines we made in previous year are continuously making energy efficient windows in current year and the years after. And, it not only counted how many windows the machines made in current year but also the windows made in previous years because the windows made in previous year are continuously saving energy in current year and the years after. Please notice that the energy saving in long term is increasing rapidly because it accumulates green machines, green windows, and energy savings. How the energy saving in ten years term? The multiple values will be huge. If we offer this glazing machine in large-scale amounts, the outcome will be huge. That is the advantage of the project and that’s why to make automatic glazing machines are so important and so urging in saving the energy and reduce green house effect.

* The U-factor measures heat transfer in Btu/hr-sq ft-°F. U-factor and R-value
are inversely related.