Del Williams’s picture

By: Del Williams

On conveyor systems in the food processing industry, some powdered and bulk solid materials such as grains, sugar, and creamer are ignition-sensitive in specific concentrations, particularly when exposed to static electricity discharge. Key concerns are conveyor-system connection points such as inlets, outlets, and storage bins. The concentration of dust can become sufficiently high for a deflagration to occur with accidental exposure to an ignition source, such as static electricity, a spark, flame, or even high heat or friction.

So, the characteristics of the material conveyed and the type of conveyor along with its associated component parts and connection points should be considered in the system’s design to avoid a serious risk of dust combustion and explosion. By carefully selecting and integrating the conveyor system and its components, food processors can minimize the risk of dust explosions while safely conveying materials in a hygienic and energy-efficient manner.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Quality professionals no longer focus solely on product or service quality. Today, the quality function is involved in almost every aspect of a company, from customer interactions and compliance management to environmental health and safety, supply chain management, risk management, and more.

A key reason for this broadened scope is the skills that already exist within the quality department. If you already have experience dealing with quality compliance, you already have many of the skills for environmental health and safety (EHS) compliance. If you’re already versed at risk management from a quality perspective, supply chain risk isn’t much of a reach.

Sophia Finn, director of strategy, QualityOne at Veeva Systems, agrees. “More is expected of the quality function, from managing risk to addressing sustainability and transparency across the supply chain,” says Finn, adding that the extended scope has also changed the focus. “As quality is elevated, the duties shift from tactical—like fighting fires—to more strategic—like determining how quality can help companies meet their objectives.”

Multiple Authors
By: Joseph Near, David Darais

It’s not so simple to deploy a practical system that satisfies differential privacy. Our example in the last post was a simple Python program that adds Laplace noise to a function computed over the sensitive data. For this to work in practice, we’d need to collect all the sensitive data on one server to run our program.

What if that server gets hacked? Differential privacy provides no protection in this case—it only protects the output of our program.

When deploying differentially private systems, it’s important to consider the threat model—that is, what kind of adversaries we want the system to protect against. If the threat model includes adversaries who might compromise the server holding the sensitive data, then we need to modify the system to protect against this kind of attack.

Multiple Authors
By: Eryn Brown, Knowable Magazine

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

Last spring, things looked grim for Dora Herrera. Revenues at her family’s 45-year-old restaurant business, Yuca’s, had plummeted within a few short weeks as Covid-19 kept customers away from its two popular taco shacks in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California.

The drop was precipitous. By late April things reached “a point where we were like, if we don’t get more customers or cash, we’re going to close on Monday,” she recalls.

A federal loan arrived in early May 2020, providing enough money for eight weeks of payroll, she says. During the months that followed, additional loans and grants—and Yuca’s ability to adapt to pandemic restrictions—kept the business alive, though the stress remained.

“We always said, we’ll figure out how to pay that loan back later,” Herrera says. “It was, just stay alive. Just stay alive.”

John Toon’s picture

By: John Toon

Using X-ray tomography, a research team has observed the internal evolution of the materials inside solid-state lithium batteries as they were charged and discharged. Detailed 3D information from the research could help improve the reliability and performance of the batteries, which use solid materials to replace the flammable liquid electrolytes in existing lithium-ion batteries.

The operando synchrotron X-ray computed microtomography imaging revealed how the dynamic changes of electrode materials at lithium/solid-electrolyte interfaces determine the behavior of solid-state batteries. The researchers found that battery operation caused voids to form at the interface, which created a loss of contact that was the primary cause of failure in the cells.

Sharona Hoffman’s picture

By: Sharona Hoffman

Artificial intelligence holds great promise for improving human health by helping doctors make accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions. It can also lead to discrimination that can harm minorities, women, and economically disadvantaged people.

The question is, when healthcare algorithms discriminate, what recourse do people have?

A prominent example of this kind of discrimination is an algorithm used to refer chronically ill patients to programs that care for high-risk patients. A study in 2019 found that the algorithm favored whites over sicker African Americans in selecting patients for these beneficial services. This is because it used past medical expenditures as a proxy for medical needs.

Poverty and difficulty accessing healthcare often prevent African Americans from spending as much money on healthcare as others. The algorithm misinterpreted their low spending as indicating they were healthy, and deprived them of critically needed support.

Matt Fieldman’s picture

By: Matt Fieldman

What is America Works, and why is it important to the future of American manufacturing?

The American manufacturing industry is at a crossroads, facing growing competition from foreign countries while struggling to develop a skilled, dedicated workforce here at home. American manufacturers are desperately searching for more employees in general, and more skilled workers specifically. Before the pandemic, it was widely reported that there were 600,000 manufacturing openings unfilled nationwide. Further, according to a November 2018 study in MIT Technology Review, during the next 10 years, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will be created, with 2.4 million going unfilled due to a lack of skills and interest.

Michael P. Powell’s picture

By: Michael P. Powell

The promise of advanced manufacturing technologies—also known as smart factories or Industry 4.0—is that by networking our machines, computers, sensors, and systems, we will (among other things) enable automation, improve safety, and ultimately become more productive and efficient. And there is no doubt that manufacturing has already benefited from that transformation.

However, connecting all of these sensors and devices to our industrial control systems, along with the increase in remote work and monitoring, results in manufacturing networks with greater vulnerabilities to cyberattack. This is an increasingly challenging dynamic as manufacturers sort out how to adopt commercial information technology (IT) standards that are compatible with their operational technology (OT) standards.

Scott Heide’s picture

By: Scott Heide

During the last several decades, the ability to manufacture customized products for customers has become increasingly attractive to a growing number of companies. However, customization has led to manufacturers drowning in a sea of increasingly complex bills of material (BOM).

Standard products are great when product changes are minimal, when identical products can be put into identical boxes hour after hour. The custom world, on the other hand, is always dynamic and ever-changing. Common tools that work well for standard design, engineering, and manufacturing resist adaptation into solutions for customization. An early symptom of looming problems is the need for huge repositories of parts masters or BOMs to be maintained.

Issues with the ‘150-percent BOM syndrome’

There are solutions that draw from established technologies and are designed from the ground up for dynamic, generative methodologies. Before outlining these, we must dig deeper into why standard solutions cause problems.

The drive to somehow repurpose standard practices into a custom infrastructure has led to the well-known “150-percent BOM,” also known as “master BOM,” “variant structure,” and “configurable BOM.”

Dave Klumpe’s picture

By: Dave Klumpe

Recent surveys point to increasing frustration and, frankly, exhaustion among nurses across the country. Although attending to patients during the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges of the profession, nursing shortages have been reported on for well over a decade. It is incumbent on hospitals to do everything they can to ensure that nurses—often referred to as the backbone of our healthcare system—can do their jobs safely and effectively, maximizing their focus on patient care.

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