Laurel Thomas’s picture

By: Laurel Thomas

Soldiers develop attachments to the robots that help them diffuse bombs in the field. Despite numerous warnings about privacy, millions of us trust smart speakers like Alexa to listen into our daily lives. Some of us name our cars and even shed tears when we trade them in for shiny new vehicles.

Research has shown that individually we develop emotional, trusting relationships with robotic technology, but until now little has been known about whether groups that work with robots develop attachments, and if so, if such emotions affect team performance.

The short answer, say University of Michigan (U-M) researchers is, yes and yes.

Previous studies have focused on linking emotional attachment to robots with individual fun and enjoyment in more playful settings, says Sangseok You, who began what he and colleagues believe is the first study of its kind on attachment between groups and robots as a doctoral candidate at the U-M School of Information.

Andrei Vakulenko’s picture

By: Andrei Vakulenko

Taylor Attachments, based in the United Kingdom, custom designs and produces tractor headstock conversion brackets. These are attachments for farm handlers and loaders, for mounting everything from buckets to forks, grapples, saws, carriers, bale stabbers, grabbers, hitches, backhoes, tillers, yard scrapers, and more. Clients also send the company legacy equipment, which Taylor’s specialists precisely measure and reproduce using the latest materials and technology.

In the past at Taylor, this was a 100-percent manual process, which meant a busy 7 to 12 hours of making drawings using rulers and calipers, and pens and pencils to trace out parts and components on cardboard and paper, before creating mock-up prototypes for testing and secondary alterations.

The entire process entailed lots of cross-referencing and double-checking, and would take anywhere from seven days up to two or three weeks for each part. That’s the industry average. And it’s an inaccurate process, requiring lots of fine-tuning before each product is ready to be shipped to the client’s doorstep.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Although certification to major standards is often the threshold to winning next-level contracts, it is when your organization synthesizes the standard’s values that real payoff is realized. Chief among those values is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is paramount to attracting new customers, garnering new contracts, and transforming customers into lifetime clients.

Certified to AS9100D with ISO:2015, Composiflex has been designing and manufacturing high-performance advanced composites for more than 30 years. Composiflex’s World-Class Initiative includes two key values of the standards they are certified to: customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. FARO inspection technology is integral to Composiflex’s efforts.

“Investments in FARO products are helping us support our World-Class Initiative,” says Marty Matthews, sales and marketing executive at Composiflex. “For the past few years, weve carefully identified the proper investments to satisfy our customers and grow our business.”

Customer satisfaction

Composiflex committed itself to the spirit of the standards and purchased specific equipment with specific goals in mind.

Susan Whitehead’s picture

By: Susan Whitehead

It’s a Catch-22 for a manufacturing supervisor: You need to train new hires properly to master the skills for the job, but your own daily job duties can’t wait. Putting time aside to train workers is especially challenging if you’re a small to medium-sized manufacturer (SMM) with tight, daily deadlines.

“I want to make time for training new employees, but how am I supposed to do that and do my job? How am I supposed to deal with line problems and train someone new at the same time?”

As a process improvement coach with the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, I hear concerns like these all the time from SMM supervisors, who have been forced to train new employees while trying to do their own jobs.

But putting off training is like postponing the oil change on your car even though the sticker in the corner says your odometer is at 55,000 miles, and your oil change was due at 50,000 miles. You can probably put off the oil change and drive a couple hundred more miles, and the car will run just fine. Then it’s another 200 miles, and you think, “OK, I can keep doing this for a while.”

DP Technology’s picture

By: DP Technology

Founded in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2001, Green Tools is a leading manufacturer of cutting tools, providing circular saws and other woodcutting machines for the sawmill, furniture, and woodworking industries throughout Russia.

Green Tools began as a small reseller of woodworking tools produced by German tool-maker AKE. Over time though, the company progressed to manufacturing cutting tools of its own, moving from tool merchant to tool maker. As Kirill Smolin, technical consultant at Green Tools relates, At first we were a distributor of woodworking mills and saws produced at AKE factories in Germany while also providing tool sharpening services. Then we started to make tools ourselves on specialized machines that do not require a CAM [computer-aided manufacturing] system.


An array of cutting tools made by Green Tools

Ziv Carmon’s picture

By: Ziv Carmon

Counterfeiting is widespread and rapidly expanding. In 2015, the value of fake and pirated products globally was estimated at $1.7 trillion, equivalent to the GDP of Canada. The scope of this phenomenon is vast. In both developing and developed countries, counterfeiting affects many sectors, including apparel, electronics, beverages, food, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and even vehicle and airplane parts and heavy machinery.

Companies actively try to fight the trade. They seek damages for lost sales from other firms that rip off their designs and conduct major, aggressive outreach campaigns to deter potential buyers from purchasing fake products. They also band together to raise awareness about how counterfeiting funds organized crime and terrorism, and often involves child labor. The Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCP), under the International Chamber of Commerce, for instance, represents 25 companies at intergovernmental forums, formulates best practices in supply chains, as well as funds outreach campaigns such as ibuyreal.org to fight the flood of fakes.

Stephen McCarthy’s picture

By: Stephen McCarthy

In our constantly evolving, data-rich universe, collecting, interpreting, and understanding process data can be tricky. But it is increasingly important if we want to maintain sustainable quality across product development and manufacturing processes. This challenge is particularly evident in the life sciences arena, where pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device manufacturers constantly strive to build quality processes that deliver “fit for purpose” output.

Process data typically come from a collection of diverse sources in varying formats. These data are dynamic, which often means they have a short shelf life. The longer a piece of data sits, the greater chance that it loses relevancy. Data often are also coming from an extremely complex supply chain that may include development or manufacturing partners’ systems and processes.

Dat Duthinh’s picture

By: Dat Duthinh

One of the undergraduate engineering courses that left a deep and lasting impression on me was a course on innovation and aesthetics in engineering taught by David Billington at Princeton University. So, when I read the story of a skyscraper in New York that had to undergo secret emergency repairs because of a question from an engineering student in New Jersey, I knew that the student had to be one of Billington’s. And I knew then that I wanted to come back and investigate this issue in greater detail someday.

The award-winning, wedge-topped, 59-story Citicorp Building in Manhattan, now referred to as 601 Lexington Avenue, features striking columns in the middle of its four sides rather than its corners. This remarkable configuration was due to the existence, at one corner, of a church (now demolished) that refused to be bought out, but did grant the use of the space above it. Construction of the building began in 1974 and was completed in 1977.

Paul Laughlin’s picture

By: Paul Laughlin

How do you develop domain knowledge in your analysts, so their data use, interpretation, and recommendations make sense? I’ve mentioned in a previous article, about the difficulties of offshoring analytics, how vital domain knowledge can be. Yet, I find most articles or speakers focus on the need to develop new technology skills such as mastering the latest en vogue coding language.

Akin to the greater importance of softer skills for analysts, my own experience is that domain knowledge makes a greater difference to analyst effectiveness. So, as my contribution to redressing that imbalance, here are some thoughts on domain knowledge, why it matters and how best to help your analysts learn about their domain.

Jesse Lyn Stoner’s picture

By: Jesse Lyn Stoner

While I was facilitating a retreat for a group of 15 men, all in their late 30s and 40s, all high-level executives and all high achievers, an interesting topic arose. One of the men asked for help dealing with his wife, who was complaining he worked too much. He wanted help in getting her to understand that she was being unreasonable since the reason he was always working was to provide for his family.

He got sympathy from several, but fortunately for him there were a couple of mentally balanced leaders in the group who challenged him. They pointed out that his family needed more from him than to take care of them—that this family needed him to be with them. They told him quite frankly that his marriage was in trouble... and it wasn’t up to his wife to change.

That was 20 years ago. Technology has made this an even bigger challenge today. With the advances in technology, you can always be connected to work, anytime, anywhere—and because you can be available, you are expected to be. Many people are uncomfortable turning off their mobile device even at a social gathering. And how many of us take a vacation without checking email?

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