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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An inside look at Britain’s Aircraft Carrier program

British Aircraft Carrier
Every self-respecting Navy of the world is currently acquiring Carrier capabilities – India, France, China, Russia. India for its part has acquired the carrier Admiral Gorshkov [re-christened INS Vikramaditya] and will commence building of the second indigenous Carrier once the first carrier is completed. India by 2025 will be a Navy with three Carrier Groups – one for the Eastern Naval Command, one for the Western Naval command and the third would be sent for servicing and upgrades [usually takes around 1.5-2 years to complete].
Britain too has its Aircraft Carrier building program as part of which it plans to build two Aircraft Carriers - HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales.
Of notable interest:
  • The Carriers are to be built in modular fashion with different sections being built in different parts of Britain and then put together at a Shipbuilding yard.
  • Extensive use of Computer Aided Designing [CAD] to design the Carriers. [Though now such  thing is the norm rather than exception – still it feels awesome to read about the power of CAD being put to use on such a massive scale]
Read the full article:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Posse Don’t Do Homework

LouAnne Johnson Yet another gem of a story published in one of the editions of the Reader’s Digest magazine, a stack of which I found in one of my cupboards a few days back.

My Posse Don’t Do Homework is an inspiring true story of a High School teacher, LouAnne Johnson, who after retiring from the US Marine Corps takes up the job at a teacher’s position in a High School located in one of the rough neighborhoods in America.

Unfazed by the initial intimidation posturing of the students, she goes on to to break down their hostility and also slowly get them to appreciate the value and importance of education.

Reading about these adolescent students with potential, but misguided by their surrounding and lack of appreciation slowly taking to studying, working hard to achieve those very things that society had assumed they would never be able to acquire was fascinating indeed.

LouAnne’s teaching methodology, her connecting with the students and their family, the manner in which the students looked up to her with respect and humility – a first for them, growing up in a surrounding where showing any signs of weakness could often mean death, all makes for a great reading experience. Her crowning moment is the day when the students of her class receive their High School diplomas, performing exceedingly well and then going on to pursue greater feats.

The article was a condensed version of the book written by her of the same name. I was unable to find an online edition of the article.

If you too are unable to get either the condensed edition or the actual book, then you may also watch the movie that had been made based on this book – Dangerous Minds. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, it was a well made movie, though watching the movie after having read the original may not be that good an experience. The makers of the movie have also taken a great deal of creative liberties with the movie, which though did not harm the story of the movie, made it a little different from the original book.

If you are unable to lay your hands on the movie, then watching the movie comes a close second.

HBO had screened a similar movie based on another true some years back where students coming from economically weak families, went on to excel in their High School studies because of their Maths teacher who got them to take a liking for Calculus and ace it. A little Googling revealed that the name of the movie was Stand and Deliver. Incidentally one of the results I came across was another blog post that had written about both these books and movies in the same post, just as I am doing – pleasant coincidence :)


Monday, December 29, 2008

Why Pakistan will never be declared a Terrorist State

Off late there has been a clamoring among every hue & sundry individual in India - from bimbette socialites to pseudo-secular intellectuals to self-appointed guardians of “India’s moral fabric” [WTH....on Earth is that even supposed to mean] – asking for the “World Community” to get together and “declare Pakistan as a Terrorist Nation”.

Ask them what entails the declaration of a country by this “World Community” as a Terrorist Nation, and you would see them scurrying back to seek refuge amongst their own kind at the nearest Autobiographical book launch party of a 60-year professional wannabe Junior Artist.

Sorry to break your notion of World Community rising up in defiance of tyranny to declare Pakistan a State Sponsor of Terrorism [the right term as opposed to “Terrorist Nation”], the imposition of the title & honor of State Sponsors of Terrorism is essentially based on the sole discretion & prejudices of the towering [and the others cowering in front of it] United State of America....Hoooolaaaalaaa!!.

“Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors.”

If you argue with all the conviction, of POTUS accusing Iraq of developing WMD prior to its invasion, that the UN is a powerful body and can impose similar sanctions, then all I’d like to say Please go back to your knitting. that I have thrown enough jargons and quoted sections of law to [hopefully] establish my heightened level of intelligence and intellect, it would be wiser to state some of the most obvious implications of this imposition of this much un-coveted title on the target state.

  1. A declaration of a nation as a Terrorist State is accompanied by innumerable sanctions being imposed on that country - Economic, Trade, Social [restriction on the movement of authority] and the most important Military restrictions [No UCAS’s for you honey].

  2. These sanctions are placed in an effort to weaken governance of the ruling authority of the Terrorist State, and force it to stop supporting the activities of the terrorist operating from their country or refrain from themselves performing activities perceived as acts of terrorism by the International community.

  3. Having being under these sanctions and facing deepening overall crisis in face of being virtually cut-off from any significant aid, the idea is to compel these Terrorist States to re-evaluate weather to continue spending their scarce resources supporting terrorist and continue to languish under sanctions or repel terrorism and resume getting the help that would benefit the ordinary citizenry of the country.

Please note that this misery being heaped on the target state is solely due to the efforts and coercive policies of the USA. Subject to the independent nature of a country’s foreign policy w.r.t to Uncle Sam, any country may continue to maintain bilateral ties with the Terrorist State [as determined so by Yankee nation]. As a proof of my statement, you only have to open your Newspaper to read how the Russians and most importantly the Chinese continue to Tango with these State sponsors of Terrorism earning a handsome profit selling them military hardware that terminate life with absolute impunity and disdain. [Their denial notwithstanding, the news of Russia’s sale of the S-300 missile system is indeed an alarming development for the region]

Taking these parameters and criteria in to consideration, one may rightfully argue that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a perfect country to become a poster child of State Sponsor of Terrorism.

However when it comes to bestowing similar titles on Pakistan and awarding it with socioeconomic and military sanctions, things becomes a little [rofl..lmao] tricky.


America’s War on[of] Terror [WoT]

Pakistani troops are being used by the US+NATO coalition to occupy the ground in the NWFP – the haven of the Al-Qaeda+Taliban militia [imbecile hoodlums – a more appropriate description] that are engaged in a sustained and and intensely demoralizing assault on the established apparatus in Afghanistan and US+NATO assets stationed there, not to mention the Pakistani troops themselves within their own country. Any imposition of sanction, will immediately result in Pakistan withdrawing its troops from the region and refuse to co-operate any further. If at all anything, they might just decide to act against the US+NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan.

It would also be accompanied by refusal to let the US+NATO alliance use its territory as the supply line to replenish its troops stationed in Afghanistan. Although they have launched a hunt to establish alternate supply lines, the Geo-politcal relation with the countries through which it is expected to pass is so mired in complications and skulduggery that it is far more convenient to pay the ruling Pakistani Military establishment [anybody believing the authority of the civilian government is living in la la land] and continue with their arrangement, recent events notwithstanding.

In the event of an eventual Pakistani withdrawal, the US+NATO alliance would be faced with two options to tackle the menace operating from Pakistan’s NWFP as also the FATA and Swat Valley regions [for some unknown reasons, Pakistanis take severe offence to equating the presence of terrorist in these three regions in the same breath and insist on stating them separately. This in spite the Swat valley being inside the NWFP and the FATA bordering NWFP and Afghanistan].

  • Conduct massive carpet bombings on these regions using B-52 Stratofortress/B-2 Spirit [latter not likely] operating out of Diego Garcia.
  • Put American+NATO troops on to these regions and perform the very tasks, they have currently outsourced to the Pakistani Army to perform.

Massive Carpet bombings

Predator drones operating out of American-occupied Airbases in Afghanistan crossing into Pakistani territory and launching their Hellfires at their designated targets is a matter of routine occurrence. Not only do they succeed in terminating the lives of the designated targets, they also end up causing some serious collateral damage. The resulting protest by the ordinary Pakistani citizenry is extremely aggressive, and if I may add, heart wrenching. However owing to the massive influx of resources being pumped by the Americans in support of the Pakistani military establishment in order to seek their continual support for placing boots on the ground being pounded, the Pakistani establishment chooses to respond with inaction to these killings of innocent lives, responding with statements of blustering bravado but never taking it to its logical conclusion.

However once the hullabaloo over these death die down one realizes that these are essentially tactical precision strike being carried out with damage not extending beyond 30-50 meters from the point of impact. The fact that the innocent lives were present in close proximity to the designated target of termination is an unfortunate coincidence.

In the event of no possible involvement of the Pakistani military establishment forthcoming, one of the most horrendous options that the US administration may choose to exercise would be to fly sorties after sorties of the American B-52 Stratofortress [the B-52s have a larger payload carrying capacity than the stealth B-2 Spirits. In absence of a credible Air Defence capabilities of the Pakistanis against the B-52s, no reason why the Americans must deploy the B-2s], performing carpet bombing runs through the entire NWFP and its surrounding regions.

Not only would such an action not kill all the holed up terrorists in that region, but these murderous sorties would also be accompanied by Collateral damage on near Biblical proportions.

The death toll of innocent lives in such a Strangelove-sque action would easily be in many lakhs. Pictures of a 6-year old Muslimah, with dismembered arms and legs writhing in pain as she is left unattended at a Rawalpindi Cantonment Hospital, beaming into every home across Europe and American would be the ultimate death knell to American campaign of terror. Rightful comparisons would be drawn to equate America to a War criminal and their campaign as Genocide. [America’s presence in Iraq is quite rightly termed as the War of Terror].

With Pakistan being declared as a State sponsor of Terrorism and no military aid forthcoming to the Junta, any pretext of the Pakistani Military might have to hold back would all be gone and retaliation would be a forgone conclusion. Having no delivery system to attack mainland USA, they would resort to the next best option – American troops stationed in Afghanistan. With nothing to lose [considering the abysmal state of their economy], a suicidal no-holds barred retaliation from the Pakistani side would very much be expected.

Consider the absurdness of this – USA bombs Pakistani territories. Pakistan retaliates by attacking Afghanistan killing an equal lakhs of innocent civilian Afghans solely due to the presence of US+NATO troops in the region.

Not only would America be viewed as a pariah nation [if at all such a thing were possible for the American] in light of the bombing runs, but it also has to pull out all its troops out of Afghanistan prior to carrying out the mass murder.

With troops out of Afghanistan, it falls back in to the hands of the religious zealots of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda – a throwback to the pre-2001 situation. The carpet bombings in the Pakistani areas would only make the people of Pakistan a much easier recruitment ground for the terrorists as also the other Muslim nations aggrieved by this act of barbarism.

An effort to rid Afghanistan of its terrorist elements would all but be reversed with the religious zealots and fanatics reigning supreme over the land.

By engaging in such an operation, the Americans would only be playing into the hands of the Pakistani terrorists [who in turn have always received the tacit and often overt support of Pakistan’s military establishment]

US+Nato boots on ground

Any military force can clear a region of enemy forces by massive aerial campaign [with immense collateral damage, when we consider the NWFP]. However to continue to maintain your hold over that region, you need to have your actual physical presence on the ground. This would invariably be accompanied by large casualty figures of the military personnel standing on that ground [retaliatory attacks by the remanent of the enemy force followed by eventual reinforcements to their cadre – no amount of carpet bombing will ever rid the region of its people in a complete manner]

Body bags flying back to the US and the other NATO countries is a serious cause of domestic tension in those countries - a throwback to their memories of Vietnam. Even now with limited US+NATO troop presence in the region any death of a soldier is accompanied by intense pressure on the Governments to take action to withdraw their sons and daughters from the devil’s lair they have been thrust in to. So to prevent a recurrence of the experience of Vietnam for the US+NATO, Pakistan is being paid to field its troops in the region, so that any military casualty [a lot, as being reported] is associated with Pakistan and the body bags fly to places with names like Sialkot and Peshawar as opposed to places like Sacramento or Philadelphia.

The land practicing outsourcing has outsourced Shahadat.

Without the presence of the Pakistani infantry in the region the US+NATO will be compelled to field its own. The resulting large casualty figure that will occur is something that the US+NATO nations can simply ill-afford.

But the most critical implication of such an action would be the Pakistanis perceiving the US+NATO action as an invasion on the sovereign territory of Pakistan [lol!!]. Hence this would justify Pakistan’s declaring war on these foreign troops operating within the territory of their country.

Can you imagine the madness.......under-strength US+NATO troops facing off against the 7th largest military of one of the most impoverished nations of the world. As if this wasn't enough, this nation enriched with all the factors of impoverishment also has in its possession Nuclear Weapons - the only Islamic country on Earth to have so. What Hollywood script writer could come up with a situation as twisted, as macabre and as doomsday-ish as this fact about a nation with whom India has had the misfortune of sharing its border with.


A military dictator with the worlds only Islamic Bomb

Declaration of Pakistan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism would severely undermine the pretence of Pakistan's joke of a democratically elected government to put up with the facade that it is in control of the governance of Pakistan.

An overtly weakened democratically elected [loolooloo!!!] Govt. of Pakistan leaves it extremely vulnerable to its governance being terminated by yet another military coup. The specific mention of an overtly weakened Government carries significance as no individual with a functional brain believes  any of the continual statements made by the government pointing to the contrary. In a nation where the military has been in power far more than any elected body, such a development would spell catastrophe. A nuclear nation with its history of supporting the scum's of the Earth, ruled by a military dictator, is the perfect recipe of a global catastrophe that no nation would like to be at the receiving end of.

One may argue to the contrary, pointing to the reign of General Musharraf, where the Pakistani nukes did not fall into the hands of the terrorists. However what one should not forget is that the officers inducted into Pakistan's military during the reign of governance of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who undertook the process of Islamisation of Pakistani society including its military were all junior officers during General Musharraf’s rein. It is only now with General Kiyani at the helm of affairs, that these radicalized officers have acquired the seniority to assume Command posts. An unelected military dictator at the helm of affairs – that would be the natural outcome of the declaration of Pakistan as a State sponsor of Terrorism – would provide the ideal opportunity to these religiously indoctrinated Military personals to give up their facade of restraint and do the unthinkable.

Hence the collective efforts of the world community to prop up the facade of a civilian Government by providing it with incentives and holding back any significant criticism and making it appear that it indeed is in control.

Declaring Pakistan a terrorist nation state will undermine this effort.

History is replete with instances of despots and tyrants who have held the World to ransom with threats of harming the innocent civilian population of neighboring country if any steps are taken by nations that it may perceive as threatening with its deluded sense of threat perception. In each of these instances, the countries of the world have cowered down in fear of such threats being acted upon and have complied and danced to the tunes of the whims and fancies of the despot. [Is it any surprise that the 2 nations are the best of buddies.]

Unfortunately for the world, Pakistan[iat] is yet another example of such a despot, a disease that seeks to afflict the very core of humanity and poses a clear and present danger to human existence.

Instead of weeding out this cancerous entity we continue to feed it, nourish it in the foolish hope that somehow the fodder and nourishment provided to it would make it see the light of the day. All this pampering and mollycoddling has only promoted the feeling of grandeur and megalomania in this devil’s incarnation.

Declaration of Pakistan as a Terrorist State....not in a million year.

Note: The scenario of a 6-year old Pakistani Muslimah with severed arms and limbs lying in a Pakistani hospital is an actual occurrence. Her picture is available for viewing on the Internet. Owing to the extremely graphic nature of the picture and to a lesser extent copyright issues, I have refrained from posting her picture on my blog. But I do earnestly encourage you to take a look at the picture to truly comprehend the enormity of such attacks on Pakistani soil by the Americans with the tacit compliance of the Pakistani military establishment.


Some articles of interest

Media bemoans fall of 'Switzerland of Pakistan' to Taliban

Taliban Hit Pakistan Town That Fought Back

Taliban ban female education in Swat district

As of December 29th 2008, Pakistan has lost all control over the picturesque Swat Valley region. It has fallen back into the hand of the Taliban from whom they had reclaimed the region around 8 months back. It is as independent of Pakistan as any independent country you might need a passport to visit to.

Hate speech – II – An article about Mr. Zaid Hamid, official standup comedian of Pakistan military’s Junta Government [the guy gives Russell Peters an inferiority complex]

Hate Speech - Response to Fasi Zaka regarding Zaid Hamid of BrassTacks – A response from the comedian’s sycophant to the above article

Pakistan stalls, obfuscates and erases evidence

Friday, December 26, 2008

The boy who built his own Nuclear Reactor

 David Hahn

Rummaging through my cupboard, trying to tidy it up to escape the torrents of reprimands from Mom, I chanced upon an old stack of Reader’s Digest magazines. Every attempt to tidy up my cupboard has resulted in making my room more untidy with no visible signs of a tidied up cupboard – but that is a different issue. Flipping through its pages brought back a lot of cherished childhood memories.

Of special interest was the story of David Hahn – a 17-year old American teenager who set out and almost succeeded in building his own Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor in 1997. The story came at  time when I was slowly becoming aware of the mystical thing called Nuclear Energy and the Bhramaastra that could be made – Nuclear Weapons.

So naturally I lapped up the story with all the enthusiasm of a child devouring his favorite ice-cream or receiving his first bicycle.

I had completely forgotten this story – until today. Googling threw up online editions of the story – A must Read

The radioactive boy scout: When a teenager attempts to build a breeder reactor

Alternate link:

Tale of the Radioactive Boy Scout: What happened when a teenager tried a dangerous experiment in his back yard

If you are a pre-pubescent Science buff: Take a good hard look at the current face of Mr. David Hahn. These sores and blisters are a result of his exposure to excessive harmful Radiation.

You ain’t going to bag no girl with a face like that..bewarned


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Use DeadFake to send an email from anybody’s email account

Dead Fake email

This site is for pure evil endevours. Ever since I came across it, I haven’t been able to think of one legit reason to use this service.

DeadFake basically allows you to send an email to anybody using any email id, even if the sender email id is not your own and you don’t have the password to that account.

20081220deadfake02 In the send page, you have to type in the two email ids – the Sender’s and Receiver’s. Type in the subject and message and just send it away.

On reaching the receiver, the address in the From: field would contain the id of the person who you pretended to send it from.

Unless you check the header of the email message there would have been no way of knowing where it had actually originated from.

The header of the fake email sent.

 Email Header

The header of the legitimate message.

 Email Header

As most of us don’t bother checking the header of the message [duhh!!], this service could have been a real pest.

If you want to spoof such a message without having to use this service, they have also given you the procedure.

Owing to the potential abuse of this service, they have now started adding a signature to every message sent telling the recipient that this message actually originated from Dead Fake, though they put a long empty space between the end of the message and the message saying it is from Deadfake – its quite easy not to notice this message. What could earlier have been used to cause some serious trouble is now reduced to a prankster’s tool.

I sent the message to Gmail, Ymail, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts, and all of them reached the recipient successfully. None of these messages got flagged as suspicious or spam.

If you like playing pranks, then you might even want to try out – GetMooh.

Playing pranks was never this easy :)


Friday, November 07, 2008

Awesome pictures of Indian Weapon Systems

Defense correspondent, Shiv Aroor has been posting some really cool and pretty hi-res pictures of various Indian Weapon Systems on his blog. These pictures were taken at an Air show organized for the Defence minister to review the work done at HAL.

Check these out:

Saras, Multi-purpose civilian aircraft

Hawk, Advance Jet Trainer assembled by HAL

The indigenously developed Intermediate Jet Trainer

Light Combat Aircraft Tejas

Weaponised Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv


IAF’s Suryakirans paint China red!


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Convert RSS feeds into magazine-style PDF files with Tabbloid

Tabbloid Came across Tabbloid, a service that converts RSS feeds into PDF files and sends them to your email account.

Requires no registration – just enter the site’s addresses, your email id and the time at which you want the PDF files. At the set time, it will send you a PDF file containing the posts of the site you had selected.

If multiple sites had been selected, then it arranges them in order of their publishing date – latest on top and so on.

With all the ads and other distractions removed, reading from the PDF file was a lot more convenient than the normal feed. The two-column layout makes it that much more convenient to read. Can also take it around for reading on other computers – thumbs up.

You can also make instant PDF copies with Tabbloid. However the PDF files does not include any images, even if present in the feed – bummer!!.

Since the service is still pretty new and backed by pedigree, more features may be added in future. Just prepared my small wish list

  • Include images in the PDF files
  • Enable making PDF copies of specific posts from their feed URL (preferably their normal URL)
  • Allow customization of the PDF layout

If you want the ability to jump to specific posts in the PDF file, then you can make similar documents using RSS 2 PDF that also adds bookmarks to the posts. It however does not have the feature of sending PDF files automatically to your inbox – it manual one time/every time conversion.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Automate the Setup of Gmail and Google Apps IMAP account in Thunderbird

20081102imap01 If you are using POP3 with your Gmail account then setting it up in Thunderbird is a breeze – just select the Gmail option and enter your username and password. Thunderbird will do the rest.

However if you choose the IMAP option you will have to manually set up the account with all its individual settings – an inconvenient process.

Gmail IMAP Account Setup is a Thunderbird addon that automates this process of setting up your Gmail and Google Apps IMAP account in Thunderbird. Just install the addon and the next time you create a new email account you will be shown the option to setup an IMAP account [previously not shown]. Select it and Thunderbird will take it from there and setup the account for you.

The Developer’s website

Google Apps is a service provided by Google where you can use Gmail with your own domain name (example Here though you are using a Gmail account, your email id will not show but your choice of domain name

If you want to set up Gmail with your own unique domain name, you may take a look at this post:

Creating your own, unique email id - Google Apps

If Microsoft you worship:

Creating your own, unique email id - Microsoft's Live Domain


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Funny spam, Spammy fun

Visited Vadim Makarov’s site. On one of his pages, he has listed out some of the more creative and hilarious spam he has received so far.

This one is my pick.

Subject: The Invisible Killer!
From: DHMO
Sent: 9. juni 1999 02:29
The Invisible Killer

Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.

Dihydrogen monoxide:
is also known as hydroxl acid, and is the major component of acid rain.
contributes to the "greenhouse effect."
may cause severe burns.
contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.
Contamination Is Reaching Epidemic Proportions!

Quantities of dihydrogen monoxide have been found in almost every stream, lake, and reservoir in America today. But the pollution is global, and the contaminant has even been found in Antarctic ice. DHMO has caused millions of dollars of property damage in the US.

Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:
as an industrial solvent and coolant.
in nuclear power plants.
in the production of styrofoam.
as a fire retardant.
in many forms of cruel animal research.
in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
as an additive in certain "junk-foods" and other food products.
Companies dump waste DHMO into rivers and the ocean, and nothing can be done to stop them because this practice is still legal. The impact on wildlife is extreme, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer!

The American government has refused to ban the production, distribution, or use of this damaging chemical due to its "importance to the economic health of this nation." In fact, the navy and other military organizations are conducting experiments with DHMO, and designing multi-billion dollar devices to control and utilize it during warfare situations. Hundreds of military research facilities receive tons of it through a highly sophisticated underground distribution network. Many store large quantities for later use.

The Horror Must Be Stopped!

Act NOW to prevent further contamination. Find out more about this dangerous chemical. What you don't know can hurt you and others throughout the world.

Please Send $3.00, or whatever amount you wish to:

~address removed by me (just in case....)~

Please include your email address for fastest response!

Under Bill S.1618 TITLE III passed by the 105th U.S. Congress this letter can not be considered spam as long as we offer you a no-cost way to remove your name and email from our listserver address book.

To be removed from this listserver address book, please email and we'll promptly honor your remove request.

If you haven’t yet figured it out yet (OMFG WTF R U!!??) - Dihydrogen (H2) Monoxide (O) is Water (H2O)

Apparently this chain mail was pretty widespread till a few years back and spread very rapidly evoking widespread reactions from people. You can read about the other hilarious spam messages he receives here.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seam carving pictures to remove unwanted elements

Recently while using a friend’s computer, I came across an image editing software that uses the Seam Carving technique to  resize images. Played around with it a bit and have now started getting some fairly decent results.

Before Seam carving

Original picture


After Seam carving

After Seam Carving


 (Click on the thumbnail to see the actual picture)

Resizing a picture by normal methods would mean that all elements in the picture would get resized – either all enlarged or all shrunk. However using Seam Carving method you can specify which part of the picture you want resized and which part you want to remain untouched.

Resizing with Seam Carving

As can be seen while resizing, the aircrafts in the pictures have remained untouched. Only the space between the aircrafts was removed with the Seam Carving method.

This method proved to be especially helpful to in using some earlier unusable pictures as wallpapers.

Original picture


Cropping without Seam Carving


Cropping after Seam carving


(Click on the thumbnails to view the bigger picture)

As you can see in the thumbnails above, when I crop the original picture (1) using aspect ratio 4:3, in the resulting image I get (2) the aircraft is not completely shown in the picture. So I apply Seam Carving to the picture to remove some space between the aircrafts and once that is complete, I crop the image. The resulting image (3) has the aircrafts shown completely and prominently.

There are a few terms you will have to deal with while applying this technique – Seams, Energy Lines, edges etc

Used Seam Carving GUI to apply Seam Carving to the pictures. Will try it in GIMP using the Liquid Rescale plugin later.

The October issue of IC-CHIP magazine also carries an article on Seam Carving. You might want to go though it if you living in India.

Some additional Resources

Youtube video about Seam Carving

Dr. Ariel Shamir’s Homepage

Shai Avidan’s website

All images courtesy


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Practices for an effective and safe Internet surfing experience

The Internet is the best source of knowledge and information one can access. The best part – most of these high quality and relevant information is accessible for free. However in this pursuit, people often become victims of break-in attempts, identity theft and other such unpleasant activities. The worst part – the number of such incidences are on the increase and is only expected to worsen – unless you yourself are careful and alert to thwart off any such attempt on you.

My friend from the forum, Dr. Neville Fernandez has written down some very good and handy set of guidelines which if followed will keep you a lot safer from the majority of threats present out there.

Follow these guidelines and you will enjoy a safe and effective Internet experience.

As for me, I am guided by one belief when it comes to my activities on the Internet,

“You are not paranoid....They really are out to get you.”

Download the document





Monday, October 27, 2008

Check if a username is available on a site with Username check

A nifty site that lets you check before registration if a desired username has already been registered on that site. Becomes especially handy if the site makes you fill up all the registration details again in case the chosen username already been taken.

Check available username


Username Check currently looks up 68 sites & promises to add more. With more and more sites using AJAX-embedded registration pages, this function can often be done while registering on the site itself without making use of this site.

An irritant was that looking up username means looking up all the sites it supports. Though not much time is taken, it would have been better if they could let the user selectively look up a site.

Nevertheless it could be helpful in deciding which site to sign up with, if there more than 1 site with similar features and service – you simply sign up with the site that has your desired username available ;).

Thanks Cool Chatbot


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S] : Whitepaper - Abstract

Update: This post has now been shifted completely into the Blog

One of the most revolutionary concepts of Machining Processes to emerge in the last two decades has been the concept of Flexible Manufacturing System (F.M.S.). It is a concept of machining where a set of machine tools can be used to perform a wide range of machining operations to produce a variety of products. This dynamic nature of the machine tools can be achieved by developing a beautiful amalgamation of Hardware and Software components.

The paper attempts to put forth the concept of Flexible Manufacturing System. It tries to explain as to why such a system of machining is the need of the hour. It enlightens us about the various Hardware and Software components of this system and how each of them works in co-ordination with each other. The paper also explains how a F.M.S. can be designed to suit the requirements of a particular company’s job profile. Once the F.M.S. has been designed the paper also tells us how to go about implementing this system right from procuring the required components to starting production on the system. With the help of Case Studies the paper explains how companies have set-up F.M.S. and have gained from it. The paper also tells about the various improvements in results that companies have achieved by implementing this system. The paper also tells how implementing F.M.S. in Indian companies can help them face global challenges.

Read the subsequent parts:

Part 01

Part 02

Part 03

Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S] : Whitepaper 03

Read the previous parts: Abstract, Part 1, Part 2

Case Studies


The Hattersley Newman Hender (H.N.H.) F.M.S.: -

This company is located at Ormskirk, U.K. and manufactures high and low pressure bodies and caps for water, gas and oil valves. These components require a total of 2750 parts for their manufacture. That is why they decided to go for the system of F.M.S. to fulfil their machining requirements in a single system. Their F.M.S. consists of primary and secondary facilities. The primary facilities include 5 universal machining centres and 2 special machining centres. The secondary facilities consist of tool setting and manual workstations.

System layout and facilities (Figure 6): -

Primary facilities: -

1.) Machining centres: - The F.M.S. contains two 5-axis horizontal ‘out-facing’ machines and five 4-axis machining centres under the host control. All the machines have a rotating pallet changer each with two pallet buffer stations. These stations transfer pallets to and from the transport system (8 Automated Guided Vehicles). The 5 universal machining centres have 2 magazines with capacity of 40 tools in each magazine. The special purpose out-facing machines (O.F.M.) each have one magazine having a capacity of 40 tools. The tool magazines can be loaded by sending instructions to the tool setting room either from the host computer or the machine’s numerical controller.

Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S]

Figure 6: - Layout of the Hattersley Newman Hender (H.N.S.) F.M.S.,

Courtesy Flexible Manufacturing, Parrish.

2.) Processing centres: - The system contains two processing centres – a wash machine and two manual workstations.

Wash machines: - it contains two conveyor belts (one for input and one for output of pallets), each with a capacity of three pallets to transfer the pallets. The wash booth has a capacity of three pallets. The pallets are washed in the booth and turned upside-down to drain out the water and then it is dried with blown air.

Manual workstations (ring fitting area): - The operator fits metal sealing rings into the valve bodies at the manual workstations. The operator receives work instructions from a computer interface with the host.

Secondary facilities: -

1.) Auxiliary stations: -

Load/unload stations: - The F.M.S. has four piece part load/unload stations. Loading and unloading is performed at these stations with the instructions received on a computer interfaced with the host.

Fixture-setting station: - At this stations the fixtures are readjusted to accommodate different piece parts.

Administration of tools: - Tools are assembled manually. The tool-setting machine checks the dimensional offsets of the tools and generates a bar code for further identification of the tool that has been set.

2.) Auxiliary facilities: -

Transport system: - The transport system consists of a controller and 8 Automated Guided Vehicles (A.G.V.). The system also contains an A.G.V. battery charging area.

Buffer stores: - The F.M.S. has 20 buffer stores in order to store the empty and loaded pallets while they are waiting they waiting to be taken to another transfer station (i.e. a load/unload station or a machine tool etc.).

Maintenance Area: - This facility cater for pallets that may be damaged or need servicing or for scrapped piece-parts.

Raw Material Stores: - These stores are located in front of the load / unload stations and are used to store the raw materials (like forged valve bodies etc). The store is served by two fork-lift-stacker cranes and motor roller conveyors. It has a capacity of 80 containers.

Fixture store: - The fixtures that are not used live in F.M.S. are stored here. It has a capacity of storing 120 fixtures. The store is served by a stacker crane and motor roller conveyors.



The Vought workshop F.M.S.

The Vought Aerospace plant located at Dallas makes two elements for the B-1 Bomber fuselage which is made up of some 2000 machined parts, 600 of which are suitable for reduction in an F.M.S. This programme is somewhat shorter than the majority of American aerospace production runs which often require 1000s of parts. This presented a problem to the company since it is not profitable to introduce specialised equipment for such short runs. So the company decided to develop an F.M.S. for this particular project.

Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S]

Figure 7: - Installation plan of the Vought workshop F.M.S

Courtesy: - Flexible Manufacturing Systems in Practice, Bonetto

Elements of the Vought F.M.S.: -

  1. Eight 4-axes Milacron 20 HC horizontal machining centre with Allen Bradley numerical control and a 90 capacity tool magazine.

  2. A washing station.

  3. 4 wire-guided vehicles.

  4. Two Carousals, each with 10 spaces.

  5. Two D.E.A. vertical measuring machines, with transverse movement and heads with two axes of rotation.

  6. A rectification centre.

  7. Swarf treating system.

The implementation of F.M.S. brought the following benefits to the company: -

  • The manufacturing process of the parts on traditional machines took about 200,000 hours. It same set of machining operations could be accomplished on the F.M.S. in about 70,000 hours. Thus it reduced the manufacturing time by 65%.

  • The total cost of installation of the F.M.S. was about 15 million dollar. The operation of the F.M.S. in a period of three years resulted in an estimated saving of 25 million dollars. This represents a return of 40% on the initial investment.

  • The whole workshop occupies an area of 2,800 square metres, which is relatively small as compared to that of the traditional workshops of the same capacity.


Factory of the future

Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S]

We have achieved complete automation in the Machining operation part of the F.M.S. and to a lesser degree in the assembly system. Automation of the various aspects of the industry has been achieved in isolation. Efforts are now being made towards integrating these isolated systems into a single entity.

This will eventually result in the formation of a completely automated super system, in which all the operations, from designing a product to packaging is fully integrated into the system. This factory would be able to function without any human interference. This will require an immense level of co-ordination between the various departments at the hardware and software levels.

The hardware used should be of a very high quality and compatibility and the software must posses an extremely high level of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). The roles of humans in this system are that of supervision and ensuring that the system follows the direction the humans envisage. F.M.S.


Indian Context

Some companies in India have adopted F.M.S. technology for its operations. However this technology is still not widely implemented in India. For the Indian industries to sustain itself and compete in the global market it is necessary that they adopt some new generation manufacturing process like F.M.S. For this to happen the Government should also take an active part in encouraging the development of F.M.S. in India.



F.M.S.s are now being widely employed to improve productivity and quality of the product. It also improves the quality of life for the operator. The new techniques will have a major impact on economic factors. Research must be carried out in the development of the technical aspects of software and hardware to develop a better F.M.S to suit various requirements. Research must also be conducted in developing a standardisation process in certain areas, to enable its easier implementation, as present Research being done is not sufficient.

Thus F.M.S. technology has been able to fulfil the needs of the industry quite successfully. Therefore, implementation of F.M.S. will benefit both the Manufacturer and the Consumer.


Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S] : Whitepaper 02

Read the previous parts: Abstract, Part 1

Working Of an F.M.S.

F.M.S. is system where a high degree of flexibility in the machining process is achieved by an integration of the hardware and software components. The flexibility in F.M.S. is achieved with the help of software controlling the hardware. The first step in the production of any component is scheduling the production. The flexibility in F.M.S. is achieved by proper scheduling of the production process. This is achieved with the help of the production scheduling software. A variety of computer-based scheduling methods can be used in production. In order to prepare an ideal scheduling process, certain inputs are required by the software. These data include Part Data, Pallet Data, Program Data and Machine Data.

It selects the optimal method based on the production objectives, available resources and the economic considerations to select the batch size. It determines the allocation of part to machines depending upon the operation to be performed, the availability of the machines and priority.

Once the scheduling operation is complete, the process planning software takes over. It determines the type of manufacturing processes that the work-piece has to undergo to be converted into a finished product. It does so by retrieving specific information from the central database, and considering machine tool capabilities and tooling.

After the type of machining operation to be performed on a work-piece is decided, the tool management software selects the appropriate tool to be supplied to the machining centres. It does so by taking into consideration the tooling status and inventory records and a tool replacement strategy. Proper interfacing should be provided between these three software.

Once the scheduling and process planning stages are completed, the manufacturing of the work-piece actually starts. The raw work-piece is first fixed on the pallet and placed in the pallet store. The Robotic arm then picks up the required pallet and loads it on the guided vehicles (G.V.). The G.V. transports the pallet to the appropriate machining centres according to the scheduling program. If the machining centres is busy, the pallet is kept in centre’s buffer station. The buffer stations are provided so that work is always available for the machining centre.

The tool management software selects the tool from the tool room and supplies it to the machining centres through the tool transport system. The machine performs the metal cutting operation according to the part program it receives from the D.N.C. The acts as the single-point supplier of part programs as required by the various machining centres.

After the machining is completed on one machine a G.V. takes it to the next machining centre, if required, for the further processing of the work-piece. In this way the G.V.S transport the work-piece from machine to machine till it is transformed in to the finished product. At regular interval intervals of time, the machining operation stops, allowing probes to come out and measure the dimensions of the work-piece being operated on. This product is taken to the washing centre for cleaning and then to the inspection station for checking the product. At the end of the work process, the work-piece is unloaded with the help of a Robotic arm.

One of the characteristics of an F.M.S. is that a machine tool can work in various modes depending upon the requirements of the user. These are:

  • Automatic mode: - this is the normal mode of operation of the machine tool when part of the system.

  • D.N.C. mode: - In this mode any operation can be initiated at N.C.’s panel without being watched by the host.

  • Maintenance mode: - This mode is used when maintenance is planned for a machine. The machine is also put in this mode when it is expected to be out of operation for a long period.

  • Stand-alone mode: - This mode can be used to test the part program of a new piece part before introducing it in the system. The machine is unsynchronized by the host in this mode.

All the processes carried out by the hardware are being monitored in real-time by the various intrinsic software(s) loaded on to the Host Computer. Thus the Host Computer controls the whole system.

Production Control software selects the suitable work-piece to be machined and monitors its progress through the machining centres and inspection stations according to the production schedule.

Production monitoring and reporting software collects the various data related to product management like number of completed parts, inspections results, tool change data etc and provides standard and custom reports for managing the F.M.S. resources. It also monitors the utilization of the different units and the current status of machining operation. If any problems arise they are promptly reported to avoid delay in taking corrective measures and maximizing machine utilization.

The Machine/Process control is the lowest level in the communication hierarchy. It operates at the machine level and provides both control and monitoring functions. It monitors tool status and provides tool replacement strategies. It can also adapt to variation in process variables in real-time.

Machine Diagnostic software detects and can predict malfunctions, the probable reasons for the malfunctions and offers solutions for the same. In case of a failure, it can switch control of the failed unit to a back-up system.

For the optimum performance of the system, it is necessary to carry out maintenance operations on a regular basis. In case of a failure, corrective measures have to adopted by the maintenance personnel. A Maintenance Planning software performs the auxiliary functions required for the actual maintenance of the F.M.S. This includes activities like scheduling maintenance activities, issuing maintenance reports, supporting real-time supervision of machine components etc. It should also be able to track the status of maintenance and determine crew assignments.

Simulation is an important tool to test the part program of a new work-piece that is to be introduced or to check any alterations made in the part program of an existing work-piece and identify any bottlenecks. It is also used to compare alternative design and performing work scheduling and job sequencing. Examples of some simulation software are SIMAN, SLAM II etc.

CAD software is used to design the product and represent it in a solid model. While a CAM software is used to convert this solid model into part programs incorporating all the information about the machining operations to be performed on the work-piece.

The information based on which the whole system performs its functions is accessed from the central database system.

The software is supplied Artificial Intelligence capability to be able to take decisions based on the actions of the system performed till now. The program development should be menu-driven and have a user-friendly software. The concept of Blueprint Programming is widely used in the system, which involves the use of data for cutting parameters.

Thus the various components of the F.M.S. work in co-ordination with each other to create a super machine of a versatile character.


Developing an F.M.S.

As F.M.S. is such an elaborate technology, its standardisation has been difficult. Thus each F.M.S. has to be customized to suit the requirements of a particular company. Thus each time a company wants to install an F.M.S., it has to go through the entire process of designing the system according to its own needs. A company that wants to build a successful F.M.S. has to go through 5 major stages of development.

They phases can be classified as follows: -

  • Awareness phase

  • Planning phase

  • Procurement phase

  • Installation phase

  • Operation phase

Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S]

Figure 5: - Phases of the development of F.M.S.

Awareness Phase: -

The Company first has to gather all the information it needs to understand the concept of F.M.S. and the potential it holds for the company. It should see weather the F.M.S. fits the company’s job profile and weather it can derive any significant benefits from it.

Planning Phase: -

Once the company decides to go forward with the implementation of F.M.S., it must start planning an F.M.S., which suits its requirements. The first step in this direction would be the setting up of a project team with a project leader to oversee the entire project. The team should then carry out a financial evaluation of the company before taking any further steps towards the development of the F.M.S. Based on the evaluation report the team should formulate a long-term strategy for the effective utilization of the F.M.S.

The team should then decide as to which machining processes it must include in its F.M.S. to fulfil the job requirement. The F.M.S. that the company develops should be modular in nature, as it would enable the company to add new modules like machines and/ or pallet stackets. As F.M.S. is a relatively new technology, the team should chalk out an orientation program for the company’s employees. It will make the employees more responsive towards this technology. Along with this the team should make the necessary changes in the company’s production environment and organization. This will help in the smooth integration of the F.M.S. in the company’s scheme of things.

The team should now proceed towards determining the type of F.M.S. most suited to the company’s needs considering the level of flexibility it requires. F.M.S.s can be broadly classified into three categories: -

  • Sequential Flow F.M.S.: In this system all the work pieces follow the same path. It is suitable for machining work pieces belonging to a well-defined family of parts.

  • Single-Station F.M.S.: In this system a single machine is supplied with all the tools necessary for complete machining operation of the work piece. Thus all the work on a work piece is done on a single machine. This system can achieve a high productivity by increasing the number of machines and providing the same tooling. But this leads to higher expenditure due the replication of the same set of tools on each and every machining station.

  • Random Flow F.M.S.: In this system the work pieces move from machine to machine in any sequence. The flow sequence depends upon the operations required for the work piece and the availability of the machines carrying out those operations. Thus a wide range of dissimilar products can be manufactured simultaneously within the system. This system allows the designers to make changes in design without making any changes in the hardware set-up.

Once the type and layout of the F.M.S. is decided upon we can test its feasibility by simulating its operation on a suitable simulation package. A suitable model must be created consisting of design features that need to be studied. The model mimics the system behavior under various operating conditions. By operating the F.M.S. model in a virtual environment, it is possible to detect any flaws in the F.M.S. design and help us in taking the required corrective actions. Thus a simulation package saves the company the money it would have lost in experimentation.

At the end of the planning phase the team comes out with a concrete set of specifications to be passed on to the procurement phase.

Procurement Phase: -

The procurement team is entrusted with the job of buying all the hardware and software components required for setting up the F.M.S. in the company. For this it selects suitable suppliers based on certain criteria like long-term financial stability of the supplier, support and level of training provided, reputation of the supplier etc.

Installation Phase: -

Once all the components are procured they need to be properly installed and integrated to form the F.M.S. For this it is imperative that the various suppliers and the F.M.S. user be present to sort out any problems that may arise during the integration process. The co-ordinated efforts from all the parties involved will ensure a relatively smooth installation of the F.M.S. The installation phase involves the following tasks:

  1. Construction of the F.M.S. site.

  2. Setting up of the hardware and software components of the system.

  3. Integration of components to form the F.M.S.

  4. Integration of the other departments to the F.M.S.

  5. Planning the test and acceptance methods suitable to all parties.

  6. Planning for the training and take-over activities.

Operation Phase: -

Once the F.M.S. is installed operation process commences. During the initial process errors are likely to crop up in the hardware and/or software. These errors have to be debugged for the smooth operation of the system. Over time the F.M.S. user learns to fine-tune the system to suit his requirements. This constant fine-tuning may bring him to a stage where he could run the system in a way previously unplanned.

Advantages of F.M.S.

Implementation of F.M.S. has resulted in advantages in wide ranging fields and has enabled industries to produce high quality goods efficiently and with a great degree of flexibility. The advantages obtained by implementing F.M.S. can be tabulated as follows: -

    • Reduction in personnel

Virtually unmanned

    • Reduction in designing cost


    • Reduction in overall lead time

Equal to manufacturing time

    • Reduction in work in progress


    • Gain in overall production


    • Gain in capital equipment operating time


    • Product quality gain


    • Gain in engineering productivity


Courtesy: - Materials and processes and materials of manufacturing, Lindberg

Reliability: -

A high level of reliability is one of the major advantages of F.M.S. operation. In the event of a computer breakdown, the F.M.S. can still continue production for some time but at a lower efficiency level. The average breakdown rate in an F.M.S. can be as low as 10 – 14%. The F.M.S. is in operation for a longer duration of time, with the spindle being engaged in metal cutting operation for a period, which is 4-5 times longer than that in an isolated machine. Because of this they are subjected to much less variations and generally function better. This was evident from the perfect operational record of the first generation F.M.S. in the U.S. even 12-14 years after they were set up.

Safety: -

This system is inherently safe, as human presence in the machining area is minimized when the machining operation is in progress. As a result the factor of safety of the system is very high, after the incorporation of certain basic safety measures.

The modular nature of the system enables it to cater to any future requirements.


Disadvantages: -

Any system will have certain disadvantages. The possible disadvantages associated with the system are as follows: -

  1. Very high start-up cost.

  2. Problems may occur in the various components of the systems, which may require a long debugging process.

However, the magnitude of flexibility that the system offers and the volume of production completely justifies the high initial investment made to develop this system.

Any system of this magnitude and complexity it bound to develop some problems. However, the returns offered by this system completely justify the time spent on debugging it.


Read the Next part: Part 3

Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S] : Whitepaper 01

An old Whitepaper [my first] that I had co-authored eons ago while in the Second Year of Engineering. Being released as-is without any update

Read the previous parts: Abstract


Since the dawn of civilisation, man has been continuously trying to ease and improve his work by developing better tools. This process started with the development of stone tools and will culminate into development of a totally automated factory. This factory would be able to do all the things associated with a product, right from designing it to packaging. Since the human operator tends to be the weakest link in the production process, the need for automation has been felt throughout the industry.

A Flexible Manufacturing System (F.M.S.) is a part of this process and a step towards complete automation of the factory. This system automates the metal cutting part of the product manufacturing. A F.M.S. is a form of flexible automation in which several machine tools are linked together by a material-handling system, and all aspects of the system are controlled by a central computer1.

Why use F.M.S.?

The current market scenario is such that a customer has the requirement to demand a wide variety of good quality product at a very short notice. The traditional systems of product manufacture like Transfer Line system were unable to cope up with the market requirements. The Transfer Line system of manufacture had a very high production level but offered limited flexibility. On the other hand, Workshop system of product manufacture offered a very high degree of flexibility but had a very low production level. These systems were unable to satisfy the requirements of variety, quantity and speed at the same time. This lead to the work of development of a system, which combines the seemingly conflicting objectives of high flexibility and high productivity.

The emergence of F.M.S. technology has proved to be an ideal solution to this problem. With the help of F.M.S. we are able to produce a wide variety of products without making any changes in the hardware set-up. As a result of this the changeover time between two products can be reduced to the time required by the machine tools to receive the necessary instructions. It also reduces the lead-time drastically. This is of prime importance as lead-time is equated with the cost of the product. It is a market-sensitive technology as it can produce the required proportion of product variety quickly and efficiently.

Flexible Manufacturing System [F.M.S]

Figure 1: - Volume versus variety capabilities of various Manufacturing Systems,

Courtesy Material and Processes in Manufacture, Lindberg

What is F.M.S.?

It is a collection of production equipment logically organised under a host computer and physically connected by a central transport system.

It is group of manufacturing cells linked by an automatic material handling system and a central computer. It is able to manufacture a mix of piece-part types while being flexible enough to sequentially manufacture different piece-part type mixes without costly, time-consuming, changeover requirement. It is a medium size batch production system. The parts requiring the same machining operation is sent to the to the appropriate machine tools irrespective of the type of part.

Flexible Manufacturing System [F.M.S]

Figure 2: - Block Diagram of a Flexible Manufacturing Cell (F.M.C.),

Courtesy Flexible Manufacturing systems in Practice, Bonneto

It basically contains a number of machining cells called Flexible Manufacturing Cells (F.M.C.), Figure 2. These cells if installed as stand-alone entities can offer a certain amount of flexibility in machining. A typical F.M.C. consists of a C.N.C. machine with a transfer system to load and unload the work piece and a tool magazine. The work pieces move from machine to machine in a sequence independent of the physical arrangement of the machine tools.

When a number of F.M.C.s are integrated together with a common controller called Distributed / Direct Numerical Controller and a Material Handling System and Tool Handling system it evolves into and a Flexible Manufacturing System. Each unit has its own Controller (either D.N.C. or P.L.C.) whose activities are in turn co-ordinated and supervised by the central host computer. This interaction between the Hardware and Software modules results into an organisation capable of performing multiple machining operations.

Components of F.M.S.

Components of a F.M.S. can be broadly classified into two categories.

  • Hardware

  • Software

Flexible Manufacturing Systems [F.M.S]

Figure 3: - The generalised Block Diagram of an F.M.S., courtesy Flexible Manufacturing, Parrish


Hardware: -

The Hardware component (Figure 3) basically consists of Machine

Tools and Handling systems.

It incorporates the following equipments

  • Machine Tools e.g., Universal Machining Centres, Turning Centres, Drilling Machines etc

  • Host Computer.

  • Load/ Unload station

  • Guided Vehicles e.g., wire-guided trolley, shuttle, over-head conveyor etc

  • Robots

  • Washing station

  • Tool Room

  • Swarf Disposal System

  • Inspection Hardware (C.M.M. facilities)

  • Programmable Logic Controllers (P.L.C.)

Software: -

Software for F.M.S. can be divided into 2 broad categories – extrinsic functions and intrinsic functions (Figure 4).

Software for the extrinsic functions is used to plan and control the functions that take place outside the physical boundaries of the F.M.S.2

Software for the intrinsic functions is used to load and control the components within the physical boundaries of the F.M.S.2

Flexible Manufacturing System [F.M.S]

Figure 4: - Extrinsic and intrinsic functions of F.M.S., courtesy Handbook of Flexible Manufacturing Systems

Extrinsic Functions incorporate the following operations: -

  • Production Scheduling

  • Process Planning

  • Tool Management

  • Maintenance Planning

Intrinsic Functions incorporate the following operations: -

  • Production Control

  • Production Monitoring/ Reporting

  • Machine/ Process Control

  • Machine Diagnostic

Read the remaining parts: Part 2, Part 3