Steven Brown’s picture

By: Steven Brown

One of the unexpected rewards of working at NIST has been the opportunity to see other disciplines through the NIST prism of measurement science and standards. By working with NASA scientists, astronomers, oceanographers and geologists, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the lives of scientists in a variety of fields.

Often, my way of interacting with these researchers is by calibrating the sensors on their instruments. These calibrations help ensure that the instruments accurately measure the light and other electromagnetic radiation from objects the scientists are studying, whether it is the Pacific Ocean, a forest fire, or a faraway galaxy. To calibrate these researchers’ sensors properly, we need reliable ways to measure light itself. My NIST colleagues and I are currently engaged in some cutting-edge efforts to make these measurements better than they’ve ever been. But before I tell you about the high-altitude NASA aircraft we use, and the lunar observatory we’re building, let’s talk about the earliest standard for measuring light output: the humble candle.

Megan Wallin-Kerth’s picture

By: Megan Wallin-Kerth

Many industries are embracing apprentice and trade programs in efforts to create a strong and reliable workforce for the future—and the manufacturing field is no exception. The BASF apprenticeship program began as a way for young professionals to find success through practical on-the-job training. Internationally, BASF offers apprenticeship in Germany and Switzerland as well as the United States. 

In an interview with Quality Digest, Susan Emmerich, Ph.D., spoke on BASF’s North American Apprenticeship Development Program. As the program’s project implementation manager, she was able to outline key factors that make it a success.

QD: What progress have you seen so far with the program applicants, and what feedback have you received?

SE: We have had 90 percent of the apprentices successfully complete and place-off in full-time technician roles. According to our apprentice exit surveys, 92 percent of the apprentices said they would stay at BASF if offered a similar role elsewhere, and 92 percent said they see themselves in some role at BASF beyond three years.

Emily Newton’s picture

By: Emily Newton

Staying on top of packing quality-control measures can have positive ramifications for companies. For starters, products are more likely to arrive undamaged if they're in appropriately robust boxes. There’s also a safety element involved. Suppose a fragile item shatters in transit due to improper packaging. If the broken item has sharp edges, a person could be cut while trying to open the product. They might not even realize anything’s wrong until they reach inside and get hurt.

Fortunately, following an established set of checks can prevent such issues. Here are some steps not to overlook.

1. Test the package’s strength

It’s essential to see how a package will hold up when subjected to the many stresses it may undergo from the time it leaves its original location to when it reaches a final destination. The edge crush test is one of the best-known ways to check resilience. It’s a compression-based method to see how well a box retains its shape when placed in a stacked orientation. The most accurate way to perform it is to put the package between two metal plates and program a machine to exert a particular amount of force.

Jeff Dewar’s picture

By: Jeff Dewar

This is the first installment of a five-part series.  

In May, Quality Digest editor in chief Dirk Dusharme and I attended ASQ’s 2022 World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI) in Anaheim, California. It was the first in-person conference since Covid hit the world, and attendance was just over 1,000, about a third of what had been the norm.  

ASQ made their leadership available for wide-ranging  video interviews  covering everything from the future of the quality profession to the society’s new legal structure. Quality Digest  appreciates their efforts to help us provide valuable reporting to our readers.  

In all, we conducted five interviews with:
• ASQ’s CEO Ann Jordan
• ASQ’s board of directors
• ASQE’s (ASQ Excellence) CEO Jim Templin
• ASQE’s board of directors
• Both CEOs together, talking about their “connected journey”

This first installment of the series is our interview with ASQ CEO Ann Jordan. She joined ASQ in 2017 as general counsel, and began serving as interim CEO in January 2020, which was confirmed in January 2021.  

Kath Lockett’s picture

By: Kath Lockett

‘Firefighters are heroes.” We hear it all the time, from children, the media, and young people looking for a rewarding career. It’s probably something you’ve said or thought yourself at one time or another. These brave men and women put their own safety on the line every day to protect their communities.

Yet, amazingly, one of the most dangerous aspects of the job isn’t the fire itself, but the protective clothing they wear on the job. According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, firefighters are significantly more likely to develop cancer due to their exposure to carcinogens.

Multiple Authors
By: Aarin B. Clemons, Lindsey Brickle

Many manufacturers have struggled for years to hire qualified workers. The outlook is for more of the same. With an aging workforce, emerging new technologies requiring more skilled talent, and the continuing decline of trades education in high schools and community colleges, an estimated 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled in the United States by 2030.

If dozens of job prospects viewed a manufacturer’s most recent job listing, but no candidates applied, it may mean that the listing is not attractive to them or isn’t reaching a broad enough audience. It’s time for businesses to rethink their hiring processes, starting with a few common key questions:
• Who are the people the manufacturer is looking to recruit, and would they be a good fit within the company’s culture?
• What does the company offer to help convince people that it’s a place where they will want to spend considerable time and invest in a career?

Because traditional thinking regarding talent pools and pipelines no longer meets demands, manufacturers will need to pursue nontraditional candidates. This can be achieved by recruiting and employing a more diverse workforce.

Becky Ham’s picture

By: Becky Ham

In February 2020, MIT professor David Simchi-Levi predicted the future. In an article in Harvard Business Review, he and his colleague Pierre Haren warned that the new coronavirus outbreak would throttle supply chains and shutter tens of thousands of businesses across North America and Europe by mid-March.

For Simchi-Levi, who had developed new models of supply chain resiliency and advised major companies on how to best shield themselves from supply chain woes, the signs of disruption were plain to see. Two years later, the professor of engineering systems at the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and director of the MIT Data Science Lab, has found a “flood of interest” from companies anxious to apply his Risk Exposure Index (REI) research to identify and respond to hidden risks in their own supply chains.

George Siedel’s picture

By: George Siedel

There is no shortage of books critical of business schools. The titles leave little doubt about how much disdain the authors have for the schools meant to prepare future leaders in business. Consider books like Shut Down the Business School: What’s Wrong with Management Education (Pluto Press, 2018), or Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools (Cornell University Press, 2019).

For criticisms of a specific school, there is The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite (Harvard Business, 2017 reprint).

These books lament the failure of business schools to develop ethical business leaders and to address societal concerns.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

One question led the founders of Nemo’s Garden, a subsea farming platform, to embark on its mission to take agriculture beneath the waves and bring better harvests to market: “Seventy percent of the planet is covered by water. Why don't we try to use part of the ocean to make more food, in a better way?”

The team has already successfully grown a variety of plants in this alien environment, and with help from Siemens, they’re looking to digitize the process so they can scale the project, validate the benefits their crops bring to the table, and expand their operations.

Project overview

The goal of Nemo’s Garden is to create an alternative agriculture system for areas where environmental, economic, or morphological reasons prevent traditional plant growth. The company has developed a prototype biosphere in which plants can be grown underwater. The biosphere can leverage the readily available, positive environmental factors in oceans or other bodies of water, such as temperature stability, water evaporation, CO2 absorption, abundance of oxygen, and natural protection from pests.

Otto de Graaf’s picture

By: Otto de Graaf

Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, and smart tech that enables the transition toward the factory of the future, for many manufacturers sustainability still feels like an afterthought rather than a priority. Certainly, sustainability may require big changes in strategy, processes, technology, and culture. Yet choosing to create a green manufacturing organization is not only the right thing to do; it is also, for now, a potential differentiator. This article outlines a pragmatic model to help you improve your sustainability by using quality data.

Sustainability: A real business need

With energy prices going through the roof, and scarcity of materials rampant, being sustainable is no longer just a greenwashing effort but a real business need. In its 2021 Climate Check report, research firm Deloitte identified the 11 biggest environmental sustainability and climate change issues already affecting or threatening organizations. Nearly 30 percent of businesses reported operational impact, 26 percent felt the effects of scarce resources, and 11 percent saw the need to modify industrial processes.

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