Richard Harpster’s picture

By: Richard Harpster

On Dec. 7, 2021, Ford Motor Co. updated its IATF 16949—“Customer specific requirements” (CSR), which require the use of reverse FMEAs (RFMEA) on new equipment (“tooling”). The first sentence of the reverse FMEA requirement reads: “Organizations are required to have a process in place that ensures all new launches complete an RFMEA event once the equipment is installed and running.”

As one might expect, multiple webinars are offered by RFMEA training providers, as well as two-day RFMEA classes ranging in price from $795 to $995. My guess is that it won’t be long before RFMEA software is available for purchase.

Having spent six years as a Ford plant and equipment design engineer, and an additional 32 years afterward helping companies manage new tooling risk, I see significant problems with the RFMEA processes being proposed by RFMEA training providers. Ford’s objective in requiring companies to use the RFMEA is to ensure that their suppliers effectively manage tooling risk.

Adam Zewe’s picture

By: Adam Zewe

Malicious agents can use machine learning to launch powerful attacks that steal information in ways that are tough to prevent and often even more difficult to study.

Attackers can capture data that “leak” between software programs running on the same computer. They then use machine-learning algorithms to decode those signals, which enables them to obtain passwords or other private information. These are called “side-channel attacks” because information is acquired through a channel not meant for communication.

Researchers at MIT have shown that machine learning-assisted side-channel attacks are both extremely robust and poorly understood. The use of machine-learning algorithms, which are often impossible to fully comprehend due to their complexity, is a particular challenge. In a new paper, the team studied a documented attack that was thought to work by capturing signals leaked when a computer accesses memory. They found that the mechanisms behind this attack were misidentified, which would prevent researchers from crafting effective defenses.

Multiple Authors
By: Constance Noonan Hadley, Mark Mortensen

Most white-collar employees have spent the bulk of their career working in teams. However, the rise of hybrid work environments is changing work paradigms in ways that make us wonder whether we still need teams. We’re not saying this lightly: Between the two of us, we’ve spent more than 40 years examining the ins and outs of teams in organizations.

Our recent conversations with employees at all levels have made something clear: While concern about work-life balance, burnout, employee disconnection, and turnover is common, those who seem to worry the most are those leading or working in teams.

It’s good to take a step back and remember that teamwork—to the extent that it’s used now—is relatively new. Enabled by technological advances, teamwork only became the norm for knowledge work during the early 1980s, in response to globalization.

The world fell in love with teams because when they work, they really work. Great teams can generate creative solutions to complex problems. They can provide camaraderie and the right level of challenge for employees. Indeed, high-performing teams don’t just produce great results; they also underpin some of the most desirable organizational cultures out there.

Multiple Authors
By: Lily Chen, Matthew Scholl

In our connected, digital world, cryptographic algorithms are implemented in every device and applied to every link to protect information in transmission and in storage. During the past 50 years, the use of cryptographic tools has expanded dramatically, from limited environments like ATM encryption to every digital application used today. Throughout this period, NIST has played a unique, leading role in developing critical cryptographic standards.  

Jeremy L. Boerger’s picture

By: Jeremy L. Boerger

You may not be familiar with the term “information technology asset management” (ITAM), but most businesses deal with it on a regular basis (for better or worse). ITAM is what helps control the costs of computers, servers, software, and services used to create the computing environment modern businesses need to function.

Ideally, the ITAM team (you do have one, right?) should be able to tell their business leadership the exact number of laptops in use by a remote sales force, or if more software licenses are needed to avoid a monstrous audit penalty at year’s end, or the costs of limping along on Windows 7 because that one CAD/CAM tool can’t handle the latest operating system.

Elizabeth Gasiorowski Denis’s picture

By: Elizabeth Gasiorowski Denis

Have you ever tried switching bank accounts online, only to end up feeling confused by the technology? If so, you’ve been a vulnerable consumer. Consumer vulnerability is fluid and dynamic, and we move in and out of periods of being vulnerable. Our personal circumstances—such as going through a bereavement, a divorce, or a period of ill health—can make us more fragile at certain times in our life.

In the business world, consumer vulnerability refers to any situation in which an individual may be unable to engage fully or effectively in a market. This may result in an increased risk of being exploited by unscrupulous organizations or not getting a fair deal. It’s important for businesses to assist vulnerable consumers so they can get the goods, services, and support suitable for their needs.

A more inclusive approach to designing products and services guarantees they are accessible to, and usable by, as many consumers as possible. Yet inclusive design isn’t always well understood, and organizations are often unsure where to start. In my interview with him, complaints management expert Michael Hill explains how standards can ensure everyone gets a fair deal.

Naresh Pandit’s picture

By: Naresh Pandit

Rather than rebounding in 2022, economic conditions in the United Kingdom have deteriorated. Forecasts for growth in 2022 and the year after have been cut dramatically.

The reasons for this are well documented. Take your pick from soaring energy costs, supply chain disruptions, the effect of Covid-19, and post-Brexit difficulties. All of these have led to rising uncertainty. Nor is the UK unique; all G7 economies have had their growth forecasts cut.

Such a strained economic environment is challenging for everyone. But prospects for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are particularly bleak.

These are the builders, florists, design companies, coffee shops, and countless other businesses that provide vital employment, services, and tax revenue to the places where we live. There were 5.5 million SMEs in the UK at the start of 2021, accounting for 99.9 percent of all businesses, 60 percent of UK employment, and about 50 percent of private-sector turnover.

Multiple Authors
By: Anton Ovchinnikov, Hubert Pun, Gal Raz

According to standard economic theory, an increase in the number of competitors decreases prices and profits. Typically, increased competition puts rival firms on the edge, doing what they can to win over customers—including reducing price. But a curious phenomenon emerged in a series of class exercises, challenging this general wisdom and suggesting that there is more than meets the eye.

Business students and executives played an extended version of a supply-chain simulation game known as the beer game, developed by one of the co-writers of this article. The setting was a serial supply chain where players assumed the roles of a retailer, a wholesaler, a distributor, and a manufacturer. Players had to overcome the challenges of managing inventory, logistics, and communication among independent decision-makers, and could adjust prices according to their strategy.

Brian A. Weiss’s picture

By: Brian A. Weiss

From my standpoint, technology transfer is not easy, especially when attempting to introduce a new capability or technology into the manufacturing sector. Smaller manufacturers in particular present unique environments and challenges that must be appropriately understood if the transfer is to succeed.

NIST researchers have an ally that makes technology transfer less daunting: the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, also known as MEP. The MEP National Network comprises NIST MEP and MEP centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, as well as the MEP Advisory Board, MEP Center boards, the Foundation for Manufacturing Excellence, and more than 1,400 trusted advisors and experts at approximately 450 MEP service locations. The network’s state-based centers are hubs where small and medium-sized manufacturers can connect with government agencies, trade associations, universities and research laboratories, state and federal initiatives, and a host of other resources to help them grow and innovate.

Kari Miller’s picture

By: Kari Miller

Quality management is essential to the growth and performance of any organization. It’s a valuable resource in the effort to ensure that products and services satisfy the highest quality requirements and deliver positive customer results.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers must ensure that the ingredients and packaging materials they use comply with regulatory requirements and meet the standards their markets expect. Risk-based, incoming supplier-product inspections help optimize supplier compliance, improve quality, and boost company profitability.

How risk-based supplier inspections work

Conducting a risk-based inspection (RBI) program requires companies to implement a system that includes three primary components: a sampling plan, a skip lot schedule, and inspection state switching rules.

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