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NewsDesk: Short-Circuiting Focus of 787 Probe

On Feb. 7,  the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it concluded “after an exhaustive examination” that a battery fire in a Boeing (Chicago) 787 Dreamliner “pointed to an initiating event in a single cell.”

That Jan. 7 fire, along with another incident involving a 787 battery on Jan. 16, contributed to regulators’ decision to ground the plane model and begin an investigation.

The NTSB has been providing in-depth updates on its investigation at

In its most recent update before press time, the NTSB said a single battery “cell showed multiple signs of short circuiting, leading to a thermal runaway condition, which then cascaded to other cells. Charred battery components indicated that the temperature inside the battery case exceeded 500 degrees Farenheit.”NTSB Materials Engineer Matt Fox examines the casing from the battery involved in the JAL Boeing 787 fire incident in Boston.

As investigators work to find the cause of the initiating short circuit, they have already ruled out both mechanical impact damage to the battery and external short circuiting. Signs of deformation and electrical arcing on the battery case occurred as a result of the battery malfunction and were not related to its cause, NTSB concluded.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said that potential causes of the initiating short circuit currently being evaluated include battery charging, the design and construction of the battery, and the possibility of defects introduced during the manufacturing process.

As of press time, the 787 remained grounded.

The FAA took the rare and historic step of grounding the 787 on Jan. 16 after the incidents involving the lithium-ion batteries.

In the first, an empty 787 owned by Japan Airlines (JAL) experienced a battery fire on Jan. 7 while parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Nine days later, on Jan. 16, a 787 operated by All Nippon Airlines (ANA) was forced to make an emergency landing at Takamatsu Airport on Shikoku Island after the flight crew received a computer warning that there was smoke inside one of the electrical compartments. The passenger and crew were evacuated using the plane’s emergency slides.

That day, the FAA issued its “airworthiness directive” grounding the model—its first general grounding of an aircraft model since 1979. Several other countries have followed suit, including Japan.

“Before further flight,” the FAA said in its Jan. 16 statement, “operators of US-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe. The FAA will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the US 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.”

Among the relevant information that NTSB has already provided are details about the battery.

The auxiliary power unit battery, manufactured by GS Yuasa (Kyoto, Japan), was the original battery delivered with the airplane on Dec. 20, 2012. The battery is comprised of eight individual cells, all of which came from the same manufacturing lot in July 2012. The battery was assembled in Sept. 2012 and installed on the aircraft on Oct. 15, 2012. It was first charged on Oct. 19, 2012.

As the investigation continued in early February, Boeing asked federal regulators to conduct test flights of its 787 and said it would proceed with plans to build its stretch 787, the 787-9, which aims to carry about 290 passengers, or 40 more than the current model, and fly a slightly longer distance. ME

Economic Outlook: A Good Start for Manufacturing

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM; Tempe, AZ) on Feb. 1 reported that economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in January for the second consecutive month and that the overall economy grew for the 44th straight month. The information is based on the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business, which surveys the nation’s supply executives.

The PMI registered 53.1%, an increase of 2.9 percentage points from December’s reading of 50.2%, indicating expansion. Readings below 50 indicate contraction, while those above 50 indicate expansion.

ISM noted: “Manufacturing is starting out the year on a positive note, with all five of the PMI’s component indexes — new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries and inventories—registering above 50% in January.”

The New Orders Index registered 53.3%, an increase of 3.6% over December’s seasonally adjusted reading of 49.7%. The Production Index registered 53.6%, an increase of 1 percentage point. The Employment Index registered 54.0%, an increase of 2.1 percentage points. Both the Exports and Imports Indexes registered above 50%.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries measured, 13 reported growth in January. The January report can be found at ME


Mergers & Acquisitions

Renishaw (Hoffman Estates, IL), the global engineering technologies company, has taken full ownership of Measurement Devices Ltd (MDL; York, England), following the purchase of the remaining 34% of the company's shares. The acquisition concludes an agreement reached in 2010, at which time Renishaw purchased an initial 29% stake in MDL, which designs and manufactures high-speed laser measurement and surveying systems for use in extreme environments.

The Pritzker Group (Chicago) on Jan. 15 announced it has acquired Intersystems (Omaha, NE), a leading designer and manufacturer of specialized material handling equipment.



Kennametal (Latrobe, PA) has launched a new business unit, Kennametal Stellite, with its acquisition of UK-based Deloro Stellite. The unit brings industry-leading wear-resistant solutions in alloys-based science, cast and machined components, hardfacing materials and coating services that excel in wear-resistance in extreme temperatures and applications. Kennametal Stellite employs approximately 1300 people across seven primary operating facilities globally. It delivers tailored solutions for customers in oil and natural gas, power generation, automotive, aerospace/defense, medical/dental, and process and general engineering segments.



On Feb. 7, The ExOne Company (North Huntingdon, PA), a global provider of  3D printing machines and printed products to industrial customers, began trading on the NASDAQ market exchange under the symbol “XONE.”

Zagar Inc. (Cleveland, OH) the exclusive importer of Precihole Machine Tools Ltd., has appointed Absolute Machine Tools (Lorain, OH) as its exclusive Midwest distributor for deep-hole-drilling solutions.

Marcegaglia USA (Munhall, PA), a tube and pipe manufacturer, on Jan. 18 announced it has signed into an agreement with Phillips Metals Inc. (Plainfield, IL) to market and sell stainless and related nonferrous tubing and pipe to North Amercan automotive customers.



From March 8 to 12, the Motion, Drive & Automation (MDA) fair at HANNOVER MESSE will showcase all the latest products and innovations from the world’s top suppliers of electric and mechanical power transmission systems and pneumatic and hydraulic technologies. MDA is staged every two years as part of HANNOVER MESSE, the world’s biggest industrial technology show.

INNOROBO 2013, the only international summit in Europe dedicated to robots, is slated to take place March 19–21 in Lyon, France. More information at

A record 794 exhibitors from 41 countries showcased their latest machinery and equipment at Arabplast 2013, the 11th Arab International Plastics & Rubber Industry Trade Show & Conference in Dubai. That represented 34% growth over the 2011 event.



Verisurf Software (Anaheim, CA), a leading supplier of advanced 3D measurement solutions to manufacturers worldwide, is celebrating 20 years of metrology software development.

MaxLite (West Caldwell, NJ), a leading global manufacturer of innovative LED luminaries and lamps, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

New Web Sites

The following companies have launched new Web sites:

Heimatec Inc. (Prospect Heights, IL): www.heimatecinc.,

Mitutoyo America Corp. (Aurora, IL):,

Sandvik Coromant (Fair Lawn, NJ) debuted its online drilling knowledge hub:

NewsDesk is edited by Editor-in-Chief Sarah A. Webster. Please email NewsDesk submissions to

This article was first published in the March 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 3/1/2013

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