Manufacturing News

Tech Flash Volume 4, No. 2

February 12, 2008
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Don't send in the clones...yet!

International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) President and CEO Connie Tipton says the IDFA is supporting the USDA’s continuation of the moratorium on milk and food from cloned animals.

“We applaud Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Connor for his common sense decision to continue the moratorium on milk from cloned animals while USDA and other government agencies review the implications that the approval of this niche technology would have on trade and public health,” says Tipton. Numerous surveys have shown that the majority of American consumers are not comfortable buying milk from cloned cows. More time is needed for the American public to gain a better understanding of this technology.

Exports are also problematic. Just as many European countries ban genetically modified food, many countries are not yet comfortable importing food products from cloned animals. Therefore, delaying production until major foreign trading partners have reviewed and approved the technology makes sense.

According to Tipton, “We are reassured that the Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that there are no health or safety issues with food from cloned animals. During the moratorium, we encourage the biotechnology industry to work with consumers to help them gain a full understanding of the technology.”


Hacking no longer child's play

Hacker intrusion into a control system from an enterprise network can create a safety threat, stop production on a line and compromise key records such as track-and-trace and financial with devastating results for a manufacturer. But according to industrial control system security expert, Eric Byres, P.Eng., the days of teenage hobbyist hackers who break into systems just to prove they can do it is over. Today hacking is big business by criminal organizations-Mafioso style. Professionals around the world are contracted to break into enterprise and control networks to transfer funds electronically, shut down production, steal critical data and create back doors into systems. These same malfeasants will then contact the manufacturer to offer “protection insurance” against future break-ins.

Byres says that all too often, the commercial tools to protect networks are good enough, and at the enterprise level, most IT engineers understand how to set up firewalls, VPNs, routers and intelligent switches. However, control engineers have enough to do to get their process set up, for example making beer and bottling it. Configuring a firewall on the plant floor can be a time-consuming task for engineers who understand how to do it, but not configuring the firewall (because the process is abstruse) can be a potentially dangerous mistake. In many cases, where firewalls are needed-connected to a PLC-they don’t exist.

Because standard hacker tools and popular PLC software are readily downloadable from newsgroups and file-sharing locations, it’s not a stretch for criminals to break into a corporate network, reach down through it and find PLCs just waiting to be reprogrammed in a way the control engineer hadn’t envisioned. For example, a conveyor stops running every hour, creating jams, or perhaps, the PLC delays response to a vision system by a few milliseconds, causing inspection and sorting problems.

What’s needed for the plant floor, says Byres, are hardware devices containing firewalls capable of adapting to their environments-to minimize or eliminate the configuring that non-IT people have to do. Byres has been successful at creating just such a device. His product, which may be the first of its kind, is able to detect its environment and create its firewall rule sets knowing the needs of the attached PLC or other device to be protected. In essence, an electrician should be able to plug it in, and it will discover the network to which it’s attached and the devices that need to be protected.

The older, proprietary PLC programming languages and networks certainly made it more difficult for break-ins. Unfortunately, today’s standards-based GUI programming systems and networks make it much easier for criminals to take them over. Protecting these systems should not require the skills of a control engineer with a master’s degree or PhD in computer security.


FDA issues Listeria draft guidance

FDA issued draft compliance policy guidance on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods and draft guidance for the industry on controlling the food-borne pathogen in refrigerated or frozen RTE foods. The agency is inviting public comments on both.

In addition, FDA will convene a 28 March public meeting to discuss and share information with stakeholders about the new guidance.

The draft Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) is intended to provide clear policy and regulatory guidance for FDA staff regarding Listeria in certain foods. The draft CPG describes the characteristics of RTE foods that do and do not support the growth of L. monocytogenes and identifies examples of foods that fall into each category.

The new guidance is expected to provide a public-health benefit by enabling FDA to focus inspection resources on food products that pose the highest risk of Listeriosis to public health.


Ethernet on the plant floor

Industrial Ethernet has been reaching down to the device level of the automation hierarchy at such a rate of speed that, according to the ARC Advisory Group, a CAGR (compounded annual growth) of 27.5% is expected over the next five years. The market size totaled more than one-million nodes in 2007 and is expected to reach in excess of three-million nodes in 2012.

Standardization of layers 1 and 2 of the Ethernet stack in IEEE 802.3 makes commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) physical layer products readily available and familiar to OEMs and end-users. But as always seems to be the case in the industrial automation segment, each major supplier wants to support its own higher-level protocols. Unfortunately, this creates several competing protocols at the automation layer-not making it plug-and-play as in commercial computing environments.

However, the availability of a single network technology that enables vertical integration throughout the enterprise is a compelling value proposition for manufacturers. For more information on the study, Ethernet Value Proposition at the Device Level Shifting from Openness to Commonality, visit www.arcweb.com.


Cracking the corn for ethanol

While several ethanol producers are using the entire corn kernel, LifeLine Foods produces food-related products first, and then uses the kernel leftovers to make ethanol.

Bill Becker, LifeLine CEO, explains in more detail.

FULL STORY


Features



Balancing your automation standards

Best practices in technology deployment and human relations distinguish manufacturing’s masters of automation.
Full Story


Floors: What lays beneath

Flooring may be your plant’s most crucial element.
FULL STORY


Tech Update: Mixers migrate to continuous processing

For many products, batch processing begins at a mixer. Thanks to technological advances, continuous mixing systems are making batch an option, not a necessity.
FULL STORY


Keeping spice blends together

Easy-to-clean conveyors move powder blends without segregation and contamination.
FULL STORY


Are regulators endangering our food supply?

The FDA comes under fire as reports of mismanagement come to light.
FULL STORY


People, Plant and Industry News

AFC Enterprises, Inc., the franchisor and operator of Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, announced the appointments of Richard Lynch as chief marketing officer and Ralph Bower as chief operations officer of its Popeyes brand.

 

Mistral Equity Partners, a private equity firm, acquired Shearer’s Foods, Inc., headquartered in Brewster, OH. Shearer’s is a producer and distributor of seasoned snack foods and related products.

 

ABB CEO Fred Kindle is leaving the company due to irreconcilable differences about how to lead the comapny. The board of directors has appointed CFO Michel Demare as interim CEO. Kindle joined the company in September, 2004 and became president and CEO in January, 2005.

 

Sweco, a business unit of M-I LLC, acquired Ecutec Barcelona S.L., a company that specializes in classifying, coating and grinding fine and ultra-fine powders.

 

Graham Packaging Company, L.P., launched an online database that enables customers and potential customers to search the company’s catalog of stock containers and save the downloaded information and drawings in a password account.

 

Heat and Control has set up demonstration centers in San Francisco, CA and Lititz, PA for CEIA metal detectors and Ishida X-ray inspection systems and checkweighers.

 

The Austin Company, which provides consulting, design, engineering and construction services, is opening a new office in Tokyo, Japan. The firm’s parent company, Kajima Corp., is located in Japan.

 

Lawson Software signed a contract with Sweden-based dairy, Milko, to implement its M3 7.1 Application Suite and M3 technology. The solutions will allow the dairy to replace a number of disparate systems and better manage its finance, procurement, planning and SCM processes.

 

Stellar appointed Greg Camp as its new director of development, food and beverage facility services.

 

KEW appointed Jeff Leak as sales manager for the Midwest region for pressure washer sales. Leak has 30 years’ experience with Mauer Supply, a major KEW distributor.

 

FIPA GmbH, supplier of material flow systems, has opened a new sales facility in Atlanta, GA.

 

Bison Gear & Engineering Corp. has promoted Martin Swarbrick to CEO. Previously he served as president of Bison Gear, but will now serve as president and CEO.

 

With an existing office in Detroit, MI, Herding Filtertechnik GmbH and Herding Filtration LLC opened their second USA office in Houston, TX.

 

Heraeus Noblelight, a subsidiary of the Heraeus Organisation in Hanau, expanded its production capability in Shenyang, China. The company makes UV disinfection systems.

 

Wonderware, a business unit of Invensys, signed a distributor agreement with InSource Solutions, an independent Wonderware software distribution partner, whereby the distributor will conduct business as Wonderware Southeast.

 

FKI Logistex has formed the Solutions Development Group to provide integrated supply chain solutions to its North American customers on an accelerated schedule.

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