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EL Highlights September 2015

EL Highlights September 2015

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Programmatic/Technical Accomplishment

EL Contributes to Test Method Validation Exercises for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices

The EL Emergency Response Robots project validated 30 standard and draft standard test methods applicable to countering improvised explosive devices (C-IED) in conjunction with four nationwide exercises hosted by the Joint Program Office for C-IED, which includes representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Defense (DOD). This series of exercises, called The Raven's Challenges, seeks to evaluate interoperability between Public Safety Bomb Squads and Military Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams. They also facilitate tactics, techniques, procedures, and information sharing among a wide range of U.S. and international bomb disposal groups and related specialties. NIST's role in these exercises was to introduce a suite of DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Response Robots as a tool to focus training, improve basic skills, and use inherent measures of operator proficiency to assess deployment capabilities. The four exercises were conducted in Winter Park, CO; Army National Guard Camp Blanding, Jacksonville, FL; Responder Training Facility, Elma, WA; and New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Training Facility, Oriskany, NY. All of the exercises were one week long, with two exercises conducted concurrently on the east and west coast.

These events demonstrated how standard test methods could be used to focus operator training and measure operator proficiency for comparison across squads, regions, national averages, or expert operators designated by robot manufacturers. These events validated ten basic skills test methods for camera pointing, maneuvering, mobility, and dexterity; fifteen C-IED test methods for packages, personnel, and vehicles; and five building access test methods.

According to participant surveys captured by the hosts, standardized training curriculums for robot operators would be a welcomed asset to guide their training, improve their capabilities, and help evaluate new robots and interfaces. Each exercise also informed key civilian and military stakeholders about this innovative use of standard test methods. Examples include representatives from DHS; DOJ/Federal Bureau of Investigation, DOJ/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; New York's Lt. Governor; New York's Deputy Secretary for Public Safety; Florida's Director of Emergency Management; and many more civilian and military stakeholders. As a result, Seattle, WA and Oriskany, NY can be added to a growing roster of new training facilities using the DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Response Robots to support civilian and military response organizations in their region.

Participants in the Emergency Response Robots project in the NIST Engineering Laboratory include Adam Jacoff, Ann Virts, Kam Saidi, Dave Schmitt, Hui-Min-Huang, Gerry Cheok, and Tony Downs.

Contacts: Adam Jacoff 301-975-4235 


EL Releases Update to Coupled Building Energy and Airflow Simulation Tool

The Energy and Environment Division has updated its simulation tool for modeling energy, ventilation and indoor air quality (IAQ) in high performance buildings. The tool combines the multizone airflow and IAQ analysis capability of EL's CONTAM program with the building energy modeling capability of the EnergyPlus simulation program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy. High performance buildings must meet demanding energy and IAQ requirements through the use of innovative building designs and technologies, and the design and analysis of these buildings requires advanced building modeling capabilities.

CONTAM is a multizone airflow and contaminant dispersal program with a graphical interface for data input and display that calculates building airflows, contaminant transport and occupant exposure. CONTAM requires the user to input indoor zone temperatures since it does not perform heat transfer calculations. In order to overcome this limitation, NIST and TESS, Inc. previously collaborated to create a combined multizone thermal and airflow building simulation tool by coupling CONTAM with TRNSYS, a modular energy simulation program.

The new version of the program, CONTAM 3.2, builds upon this earlier work to enable coupling of CONTAM with EnergyPlus, a widely used building energy simulation tool. A dynamic link library, ContamFMU.dll, was developed to enable run-time coupling between EnergyPlus and CONTAM based on the Functional Mockup Interface for Co-Simulation specification. The latest version (3.2) of CONTAM, associated tools and documentation are available for download from NIST at

Contacts: W. Stuart Dols, 301-975-5860; Steve Emmerich, 301-975-6459 


EL Supports Final Competition of DARPA Robotics Challenge for Disaster Response

Back in 2012, the NIST Emergency Response Robots project led development of eight challenge tasks used by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to focus and evaluate international robotics researchers interested in addressing challenges posed by the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan. The primary technical goal of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) was to develop ground robots capable of executing complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments with a level of supervised autonomy that enables continued operations with severely limited radio communications typical of semi-collapsed structures. The challenge tasks included traversing rubble, climbing stairs and ladders, moving debris, opening doors, turning valves, using common hand tools, and even driving a vehicle to reduce on-board energy consumption and increase range. The challenge tasks were adaptations or extensions of DHS-NIST-ASTM International Standard Test Methods for Response Robots being developed by NIST for some years.

In June 2015, the DRC Finals used variants of the same challenge tasks to evaluate 23 teams competing for a $2M prize. In the Finals, teams needed to perform the entire sequence of tasks in less than 1 hour. A particular combination of practiced tests can be combined at competition time to simultaneously challenge and measure the state-of-the-science in an objective and fair way. For the Finals, the safety belays that protected against catastrophic falls during the Trials were removed, as were the communications and power tethers. There were many successes using the test apparatuses, and many spectacular failures. The top three teams in the DRC Finals were: (1st) Rainbow Company and KAIST, Daejeon, South Korea; (2nd) Institute of Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, FL.; and (3rd) Tartan Rescue, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.

EL provided extensive support for the DRC Finals Expo, which hosted commercial displays and interactive exhibits for a very wide range of robotics-oriented technologies and programs. NIST set up a 15m (50ft) long x 2.5m (8ft) wide x 2.5m (8ft) deep water tank with ten submerged draft standard test methods to evaluate capabilities for emergency responders needing to clear waterways and harbors after major disasters, and for countering improvised explosive devices underwater. EL also set up a tent full of standard and draft standard test apparatuses for ground robots to enable visitors to get hands-on use of robots provided by manufacturers and research organizations. The test methods included ten apparatuses with 60 cm (2 ft) lateral clearances used to evaluate and train response robots for transportation incidents and for operating inside dwellings. A new smaller scale set of apparatuses was publicly demonstrated for the first time with 30 cm (1 ft) lateral clearances for more confined space applications that typically require vertical insertion through openings or breaches and uncontrolled drops. These small scale apparatuses help encourage students working with robot kits toward actual application requirements and guide development of emerging 3D printed robots that are likely to become the first cost-effectively disposable robots for confined space searches and hazardous material interactions.

Participants in the Emergency Response Robots project in the NIST Engineering Laboratory include Adam Jacoff, Ann Virts, Kam Saidi, Dave Schmitt, Hui-Min-Huang, Gerry Cheok, and Tony Downs.

Contact: Adam Jacoff 301-975-4235



EL Advances Diagnostics of Machine Tool Spindles

EL researcher Alkan Donmez presented the paper "A defect-driven diagnostic method for machine tool spindles" at the International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP) General Assembly held in Cape Town, South Africa on August 23-29. The paper was prepared by Greg Vogl and Alkan to document the results of a new measurement method and spindle condition estimation device developed by NIST. This presentation was given in the CIRP Scientific Technical Committee – Machines (STC-M) session with an audience of more than 50 people. It was well received by the audience and stimulated discussions about the weaknesses in the current methods used for machine tool spindle diagnostics. The chair of STC-M indicated that they are pleased to see the alternative to the recently published technical report by ISO and will try our metric in their Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) in Aachen, Germany. Greg and Alkan published the journal paper within the CIRP Annals. The journal paper may be downloaded here: In its first three months of publication, the paper has been downloaded or viewed more than 160 times. The paper includes experimental data collected by Hardinge (Elmira, NY) as part of the collaboration in support of the spindle condition method, as outlined in the CIRP paper. Hardinge is continuing to assist Greg and Alkan with more data collection at their facility in Elmira, NY, with the hope of future implementation of the method for real-time diagnostics of spindle condition.

Contacts: Greg Vogl 301-975-3198 and Alkan Donmez 301-975-6618



EL Contributes to ASTM and ISO Additive Manufacturing Standards Meetings

EL researchers Shawn Moylan, Kevin Jurrens, and Paul Witherell participated in the joint meeting of the ASTM Committee F42 on Additive Manufacturing Technologies and the corresponding ISO/TC 261 on Additive Manufacturing held in Berlin, Germany from July 13 - 16. At the start of this meeting, ASTM F42 reported a total of 338 members of the standards committee. Currently, ASTM F42 has 11 approved standards (including two joint standards with ISO TC261), with several ongoing task groups and work items. In addition, nine ASTM / ISO joint groups are established to address the following high priority topics through co-branded ASTM / ISO standards:

  • Terminology
  • Standard test artifacts
  • Purchased AM parts
  • Design guidelines
  • Extrusion-based AM of plastic materials
  • Metal powder bed fusion to meet rigid quality requirements
  • Specific design guidelines for powder bed fusion (new)
  • Qualification, quality assurance, and post processing of powder bed fusion metallic parts (new)
  • Nondestructive testing for AM parts (new)

Shawn led the meeting of the Joint Group (JG) on Standard Test Artifacts. The Joint Group (comprised of five ASTM F42 members and five ISO TC261 members) reached a compromise on the geometry of the final test artifact to be included in the standard. This resulted in the inclusion of seven test artifact geometries in the proposed standard that may be used to test different aspects of geometric machine performance.

Kevin participated in the plenary session of ASTM F42 and meetings of the ASTM F42 Executive Committee, the ASTM F42 / ISO TC261 Joint Steering Group, and the STEP/STEP-NC Ad Hoc Group. In addition, Kevin contributed to the standards development of the ASTM/ISO Joint Groups on Purchased AM Parts, Metal Powder Bed Fusion, and Design Guidelines, and served as the U.S. Head of Delegation during the ISO TC261 plenary session. Kevin also led a strategic planning session to address several topics, including priorities for future AM standards, interactions with other standards development organizations, and a uniform approach for naming and numbering the co-branded standards from ASTM and ISO. In the absence of the F42 Chair, Kevin led the closing meeting of the ASTM F42 Executive Committee to summarize the progress, issues, and follow-up actions resulting from this standards meeting.

Paul contributed to several sessions for both ASTM and ISO, including both plenary sessions, the STEP/STEP-NC Ad Hoc Group, and the kickoff meeting for the new JG on Design Guidelines for Powder Bed Fusion. In addition Paul led a breakout session to discuss the proposed work item "Principles of Design Rules in AM."

During the ISO TC261 plenary, the Secretary of the recently-formed CEN Technical Committee (TC) 438 on Additive Manufacturing reported on the results of the kick-off meeting of this group held in Berlin this same week. CEN TC438 agreed to adopt the ISO/ASTM standards, leading to now co-branded ISO/ASTM/CEN standards for additive manufacturing, and agreed to work together with ISO TC261 for future developments. This relationship has the potential for high impact, since CEN standards are mandated for use within European Community members and corresponding national standards must be withdrawn.

Contacts: Shawn Moylan 301-975-4352, Kevin Jurrens 301-975-5486 and Paul Witherell 301-975-3385

EL Hosts Workshop on Standards-based Cloud Service for Assessing Manufacturing Sustainability

On May 5th, a group of experts in the area of sustainability assessment convened at NIST for a workshop titled "Standards-based Cloud Services for Manufacturing Sustainability Assessment." The group included vendors of tools for sustainability assessments, owners of large data sets of life cycle inventory data including other government agencies, industrial practitioners responsible for conducting sustainability assessments, and academic researchers. The workshop explored the impact and potential of cloud technology and emerging standards for measuring sustainability-related data during production and on future sustainability assessment technology as it applies to manufacturing. Currently, life cycle assessments are conducted on a desktop and often access remote-vetted databases. In the future, more access to private, measured data will be possible. Furthermore, providing life cycle assessment services in the cloud could make the technology available to a much wider audience by including many more small- and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises.

Contact: KC Morris, 301-975-8286

EL co-hosts OAGi/NIST Workshop on Open Cloud Architectures for Smart Manufacturing

OAGi and NIST held a joint workshop on Open Cloud Architectures for Smart Manufacturing, May 5 at the NIST Gaithersburg campus. More than 30 participants participated with representatives from Oracle, E2open, IBM, ISA, Land O' Lakes, Intel, Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition, MESA International, and others. In the three workshop sessions, thirteen presentations of position statements from manufacturers, standards organizations, software vendors, and government agencies were presented. Position statements covered needs, issues, and opportunities to enable efficient adoptions of service-based cloud solutions and Internet of Things by manufacturing companies. In the fourth session, the participants voted for top issues facing the manufacturing sector in adopting open cloud solutions for smart manufacturing. During the workshop, Dr. Howard Harary met with industry participants to hear their priorities and concerns for smart manufacturing and supporting open cloud architectures. The industry group emphasized the important contributions the NIST Smart Manufacturing Reference Architecture (SMRA) project members have been making to advance food manufacturing quality and safety management standards as well as in the Open Application Group Inc. (OAGi) Semantic Refinement Method and Tool (SRMT), which advances the OAG integration standards to the next generation model-based specifications. A workshop report is being drafted and will be used as a basis for a potential, broader follow-on event, with additional participants.

Contact: Nenad Ivezic, 301-975-3536

EL's Rachuri Visits Indo-US Center of Excellence on Sustainable Manufacturing

Sudarsan Rachuri travelled to Bangalore, India to meet with participants of the Indo-US Center of Excellence on Sustainable Manufacturing. The Center is funded by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum - IUSSTF ( As part of the funding requirement, the team is preparing a report on the comprehensive analysis of the case studies on sustainable products, sustainable processes, and sustainable services. The PhD students from the participating universities are collaborating on this work with the guidance from the senior faculty members and Rachuri. Center participants from India include Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; National Innovation Foundation (NIF)[1], Ahmedabad; and The Center for Science, Technology and Energy Policy (a not-for-profit think tank located in Bangalore, India). The U.S. participants include University of California, Berkeley; Syracuse University, University of Washington, Pullman. NIST participates in an advisory capacity. In March, 2015, the Indian team visited the U.S to discuss current research and gather information. As a follow up, the U.S. team visited India to continue the discussions and to hear a report on progress. During his visit, Rachuri also gave invited talks at International Institute of Information Technology, Central Manufacturing Technology Institute, and Indian Institute of Science.

Contact: Sudarsan Rachuri, 301-975-4264

EL Hosts First Meeting of New ASTM Committee F45

The first meeting of ASTM Committee F45 for Driverless Automatic Guided Industrial Vehicles was held at NIST on August 24-25 with excellent attendance (35 members) and participation, mainly from equipment manufacturers. All committee and sub-committee officers were present and provided initial comments prior to committee discussion towards development of documented standard performance measurements and test methods for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and mobile robots. Meeting participants determined that there is no clear need to change the current F45 scope as this committee already strives to be inclusive of automatic vehicle solutions for industrial and commercial use. However, the term 'ground' was added to "mobile robot" to exclude aerial and marine industrial vehicles. Brief discussions for each subcommittee led to prioritized focus areas, such as bright light effects on vehicles, communication drop-out effects, standard obstacle sizes and types, modifications to navigation and docking test methods, etc. Demonstrations of F45.02 Docking and Navigation and F45.03 Obstacle Detection test methods were provided by NIST, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, and Adept (who loaned NIST a mobile robot for the meeting) so that the attendees could have a firsthand view of performance test methods that may be considered for these subcommittee documents. Virtual meetings will now commence for all subcommittees to carry out the standards development. EL researcher Roger Bostelman will initiate the first of these meetings as the F45 Chair, and sub-committee Chairs will plan the follow-on meetings. The next face-to-face meeting is scheduled to be in conjunction with the Modex 2016 trade show in April in Atlanta, GA. Three working documents for Navigation, Docking, and Terminology are already being developed by ASTM F45, with the Terminology document close to being balloted.

Contact: Roger Bostelman 301-975-3426

EL Hosts Kickoff Event for Transactive Energy Challenge

Forty transactive energy (TE) experts from industry, academia, and government gathered in Gaithersburg on September 10-11 to launch the NIST Transactive Energy Modeling and Simulation Challenge for the Smart Grid (TE Challenge). Five teams were formed as the beginning of the Challenge with a Summit meeting planned for Spring 2016. The goal is to advance tools and application of transactive energy.

Contact: David Holmberg 301-975-6450 


EL's Holmberg Receives IEC 1906 Award.

Dr David Holmberg, a mechanical engineer in the Energy and Environment Division, has received the IEC 1906 Award. Established in 2004 by the IEC Executive Committee, this award commemorates the year IEC was founded and recognizes technical experts who have contributed in an exceptional way to an IEC project or committee. Dr. Holmberg is recognized for his contributions as convener of a working group in IEC Project Committee 118 Smart Grid User Interface. IEC PC 118 is aimed at developing international standards that will enable interactions between home and building systems with a future smart grid. Standards developed through the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), with which Dr. Holmberg has also been involved, have served as key inputs to the IEC process.

Contact: Steve Bushby 301-975-5873

EL's Horst Receives Award from Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association

EL researcher John Horst received the "2015 Outstanding Contribution Award" from the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) at the 2015 IW Best Plants Conference for technical work done with MESA's Metrics Working Group. MESA International is a global, not-for-profit community of manufacturers, producers, industry leaders, and solution providers who are focused on improving operations management capabilities through the effective application of information technologies, IT-based solutions, and best practices. As part of this award, John was given lifetime membership in MESA.Some of John's contributions to the MESA Metrics Working Group include:

  • Conducting a joint NIST/MESA session on methods for Key Performance Indicators (KPI) at a recent ARC Forum event.
  • Serving as liaison between the MESA Metrics Working Group and the ISO "KPIs for Manufacturing Operations Management" Working Group, who recently published the standard ISO 22400 (2014). This standard is already poised to have substantive impacts, since the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software most commonly used by U.S. manufacturers has implemented version 2 of the ISO standard. • Serving as co-editor of the Quality section of the Metrics Maturity Model document, which is expected to be included in a future release of ISO 22400.
  • Serving as co-editor of the newly released "KPI-ML" information model, which is a digital implementation of important elements in ISO 22400.
  • Chairing a session on "KPIs for Effective Process Control" at the ISA Process Control & Safety Symposium 2015.

Contact: John Horst 301-975-3430

EL's Jacoff Recognized as Fellow of ASTM International

EL's Adam Jacoff, the principal investigator of the EL Emergency Response Robots project, received the 2015 ASTM International Award of Merit during their Standards Committee Week in Anaheim, CA. This award was established in 1949 as the highest society award granted to an individual member for distinguished service and outstanding participation in ASTM International standards committee activities. Due to the prestigious stature of the award, committees submit no more than one nomination in a given year and individuals are only eligible to receive the award one time. Recipients also receive the honorary title of Fellow. The award citation reads: "For outstanding contributions and leadership to Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications resulting in development of a comprehensive suite of standard test methods to evaluate and improve mobile robot capabilities for homeland security and emergency response applications."

Contact: Adam Jacoff 301-975-4235

EL's Lane wins Best Presentation Award at Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium

EL researcher Brandon Lane was recognized at the 26th Annual International Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) Symposium (Austin, TX; August 9-12) with the Best Oral Presentation Award of the conference. Brandon's presented his paper "Thermographic Measurements of the Commercial Laser Powder Bed Fusion Process at NIST" co-authored with Shawn Moylan and Eric Whitenton of EL and Li Ma of MML. This paper detailed the design, execution, and results of high-speed, high-magnification, in-situ thermographic measurements focusing on the melt pool region of the laser-based powder bed fusion additive manufacturing process. Brandon's talk was chosen out of 230 oral presentations given at this prestigious, additive manufacturing research event. The judging criteria were the quality of the presentation and the significance of the work, as evaluated by peers during the event. The award includes publication of the manuscript in a special issue of the 2016 Rapid Prototyping Journal.

Contact: Brandon Lane 301-975-5471

Created February 12, 2016, Updated September 21, 2016