Eric Buatois’s picture

By: Eric Buatois

As the coronavirus wreaks economic turmoil around the world, our modern supply chains are facing unprecedented stress. For months prior to the Covid-19 crisis, trade tensions had been mounting due to the escalating tariff war between Washington and Beijing. A rise in protectionism, coupled with concrete costs and new financial barriers, has fueled broader challenges and concerns for worldwide logistics networks. Against this backdrop, our modern supply chain infrastructure is well overdue for a rethink.

Today’s globalized supply chain networks have been optimized to identify minimum lead times at the lowest possible costs. However, rapid political developments, extreme climate events, and now a global pandemic have all revealed the hidden costs of single-source dependencies and poor flexibility in adapting to real-time shocks, with fast changes to supply and demand. During the next several years, as we undertake a broader overhaul of our logistics infrastructure, I believe that a new order will emerge based on three key dimensions.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act)1 which will, if approved by the Senate and president, require OSHA to develop a standard for workplace protection against Covid-19.

Under section 120302 the legislation says specifically (emphasis is mine):

“(a) EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARD

(1) In general—in consideration of the grave danger presented by COVID-19 and the need to strengthen protections for employees, notwithstanding the provisions of law and the Executive orders listed in paragraph (7), not later than 7 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Labor shall promulgate an emergency temporary standard to protect from occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2

(A) employees of health care sector employers;
(B) employees of employers in the paramedic and emergency medical services, including such services provided by firefighters and other emergency responders; and
(C) other employees at occupational risk of such exposure. ...

Denrie Caila Perez’s picture

By: Denrie Caila Perez

A new report from Trend Micro Research illustrates how advanced hackers are using unconventional attack vectors against smart manufacturing environments. Smart manufacturing technology generally operates through proprietary systems, which use their own proprietary language. However, these systems also still run on the computing power of traditional IT systems. While typically designed to function independently from other systems, it’s this particular loophole that leaves these systems vulnerable to IT threats.

“Past manufacturing cyberattacks have used traditional malware that can be stopped by regular network and endpoint protection,” says Bill Malik of Trend Micro. “However, advanced attackers are likely to develop operational technology-specific attacks designed to fly under the radar. As our research shows, there are multiple vectors now exposed to such threats, which could result in major financial and reputational damage for Industry 4.0 businesses. The answer is IIoT-specific security designed to root out sophisticated, targeted threats.”

Leigh Turner’s picture

By: Leigh Turner

Given the death, suffering, social disruption and economic devastation caused by Covid-19, there is an urgent need to quickly develop therapies to treat this disease and prevent the spread of the virus.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), charged with the task of evaluating and deciding whether to approve new drugs and other products, has a problem. The FDA’s standards appear to be dropping at a time when rigorous regulatory review and robust oversight are crucial.

Tom Taormina’s picture

By: Tom Taormina

Each article in this series presents new tools for increasing return on investment (ROI), enhancing customer satisfaction, creating process excellence, and driving risk from an ISO 9001:2015-based quality management system (QMS). They will help implementers evolve quality management to overall business management. In this article we look at the clauses and subclauses of section 8 of the standard.

Clause 8: Operation

Clause 8 contains the requirements for planning, designing, and bringing to fruition your products or services. The processes within this clause must be robustly implemented to achieve business excellence. They must also be continually scrutinized for foreseeable risk.

8.1 Operational planning and control

8.1 and excellence
The “plan” is a series of interrelated process, each with acceptance criteria, and each with metrics that tie to the organization’s key objectives and key process indicators. Or, at least that has been my interpretation while leading scores of implementations.

Vanessa Bates Ramirez’s picture

By: Vanessa Bates Ramirez

Long before coronavirus appeared and shattered our preexisting “normal,” the future of work was a widely discussed and debated topic. We’ve watched automation slowly but surely expand its capabilities and take over more jobs, and we’ve wondered what artificial intelligence will eventually be capable of.

The pandemic swiftly turned the working world on its head, putting millions of people out of a job and forcing millions more to work remotely. But essential questions remain largely unchanged: We still want to make sure we’re not replaced, we want to add value, and we want an equitable society where different types of work are valued fairly.

To address these issues—as well as how the pandemic has impacted them—this week Singularity University held a digital summit on the future of work. Forty-three speakers from multiple backgrounds, countries, and sectors of the economy shared their expertise on everything from work in developing markets to why we shouldn’t want to go back to the old normal.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have used state-of-the-art atomic clocks, advanced light detectors, and a measurement tool called a frequency comb to boost the stability of microwave signals a hundredfold. This marks a giant step toward better electronics to enable more accurate time dissemination, improved navigation, more reliable communications, and higher-resolution imaging for radar and astronomy. Improving the microwave signal’s consistency over a specific time period helps ensure reliable operation of a device or system.

The work transfers the already superb stability of the cutting-edge laboratory atomic clocks operating at optical frequencies to microwave frequencies, which are currently used to calibrate electronics. Electronic systems are unable to directly count optical signals, so the NIST technology and techniques indirectly transfer the signal stability of optical clocks to the microwave domain. The demonstration is described in the May 22, 2020, issue of Science.

Taran March @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Taran March @ Quality Digest

What is quality intelligence, exactly? It’s more than marketing spin. More, even, than the sum of its many control charts. It’s not collecting data simply to further go/no-go actions. And it doesn’t mean turning the cognitive wheel entirely over to artificial intelligence, either—far from it.

We might think of quality intelligence as a natural progression of quality control. It’s both granular, in that core quality tools underpin it, and forward-looking because quality data are used to improve not only products and processes but also operational performance. It’s very deliberate in that its goal is to wring the maximum value possible from reliable data.

To do this, quality intelligence employs four key tools: ensuring compliance, grading collected data, exploiting software, and implementing data strategically.

Ensuring compliance

People often assume that compliance applies solely to government or industry standards, but the term surfaces in many shop-floor conversations and processes. For instance, there is compliance to limits: Are data in specification? Are the appropriate statistical rules being met? There’s also compliance to procedures: Are people collecting data in the right way, and on time?

Jason Chester’s picture

By: Jason Chester

For many manufacturing quality professionals, the thought of updating their statistical process control (SPC) solution is like getting an extra birthday. Many quality experts know that modernizing the way they collect, analyze, and use data is a critical need for their organizations, now more than ever.

But it may not be easy to convince the rest of the stakeholders in a company to not only approve a new quality intelligence solution but also adopt and use it. Fortunately, InfinityQS understands the challenge. We’ve been helping organizations through this process for three decades, and we’ve learned one fundamental principle for success: Start with a proof of concept.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

An organization can achieve great results when everyone is working together, looking at the same information generated from the same data, and using the same rules. Changes can be made that affect a company’s bottom line through operational improvements, product quality, and process optimization. There are quality intelligence (QI) solutions that can help reveal hidden opportunities.

Companies can save money and improve operational efficiency by effectively focusing resources on the problems that matter most from both a strategic and tactical perspective. A proper QI system makes this practical in several ways.

The QI advantage

With a QI system, data are captured and analyzed consistently in a central repository across the organization. This means there aren’t different interpretations of the truth, and there is alignment among those on the shop floor, site management, and corporate quality.

Alignment is possible because of a positive cascade of events:
• Notifications are sent to the appropriate people, and workflows trigger the required actions. This means people are appropriately accountable for addressing issues. Those issues can then be analyzed to understand recurring problems and how to avoid them.

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