Steve was a senior manufacturing engineer responsible for all electrical and control engineering for a $50 million facility.
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Steve joined part-time in 1988 to assist in the startup of a new press fabrics plant in East Greenbush, NY. He hoped to be part of the startup team, not realizing that he would be the startup team for many of the plant's systems.
Steve immediately took over the electrical, computer and control systems operations of the plant. This included an 8 megawatt power system and computerized controls from a half-dozen countries and over a dozen vendors.
Managing such diverse systems proved to be quite difficult, especially on machines without any English documentation. To correct this, Steve began designing his own control systems for new machinery. This was and is very unusual, when the customer for large machinery takes several hundred tons of complex machine, but builds their own computer controls for it. By going this route, Steve was able to standardize on a single master system design using the same controls across the facility. In addition, Steve developed a standardized, structured approach to control programming and architecture that allowed for continual customization and modification. Unlike typical computer software, factory machine control software is typically changed on a weekly or monthly basis, often while the machine is actually running. This is rewriting a computer program while it's running, similar to changing the motor in a car while driving.
Steve's controls were very sophisticated, typically involving a mix of distributed controls, robotics, motor controllers, touch screens and PCs for MMI (man-machine interface). Typical systems could be built for $100-250,000.
Steve also built, trained and managed a team of nine electronics and systems technicians, using them to do design and software programming work, which is very unusual, as that work is normally reserved for engineers. This allowed for very low cost development of these systems and to free up other engineers that Steve trained for more advanced work.
A pair of his last machine projects included a pair of new $2-3 million needle and weaving looms. These are enormousmachines that take 2-3 years to order, build, install and start. Steve's engineering involvement on the needle loom resulting in over 100 improvements over the machine's predecessor, which was only two years old. The weaving loom involved the revolutionary use of standard controllers instead of custom systems and resulted in the world's fastest weaving system in the 15-20 meter size.
Steve's final project at Albany International was the development of IMADS, the Integrated Manufacturing Data System. This integrated product design and key measurement information and data on the plant floor, including the design and integration of several new measuring systems. These included putting together portable radioactive, caliper (thickness) and air/water permeability measuring systems, plus wireless (in 1993) computer and database systems. This allowed any engineer, manufacturing technician or customer could access the complete manufacturing record for each product.