By: Kevin Lavelle

Clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters are widely used throughout industrial processes in many industries because their noninvasive nature confers inherent advantages over other flow-meter technologies. Material compatibility, contamination, and corrosion risk factors are eliminated. Process integrity is unaffected, and installation costs are much lower.

A portable ultrasonic flow meter contains the same fundamental hardware as a fixed ultrasonic meter. Both use a process transmitter connected to a pair of sensors that are attached to the process piping. But a portable ultrasonic flow meter has unique capabilities that differentiate it from a standard fixed instrument.

By: Washington University

Melanoma is one of the less common types of skin cancer, but it accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths (about 75%). The five-year survival rate for early-stage melanoma is high (98%), but the rate drops precipitously if the cancer is detected late or there is recurrence.

So a great deal rides on the accuracy of initial surgery, where the goal is to remove as little tissue as possible while obtaining “clean margins” all around the tumor.

Up till now, no imaging technique has been up to the task of resolving the melanoma accurately enough to guide surgery. Instead, surgeons tend to cut well beyond the visible margins of the lesion to be certain they remove all the malignant tissue.

However, two scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have developed technologies that promise to solve this difficult problem. Their solution, described in the July issue of ACS Nano, combines an imaging technique developed by Lihong Wang, Ph.D., the Gene K. Beare Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering; and a contrast agent developed by Younan Xia, Ph.D., the James M. McKelvey Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Together, the imaging technique and contrast agent produce images of startling 3-D clarity.

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By: Abdullah Telmesani Ph.D.

Achieving higher levels of ethical conduct is a balancing act. For corporations, ethical attitude and sustainable success are achieved by striking a balance between the bottom line and the interests of employees and the community. Employees’ ethical behavior and success, on the other hand, are achieved by balancing their personal interests with their companies’ interest.

The formula above seems to be partially compromised, according to Deloitte’s recent 2010 Ethics & Workplace survey. In their struggle to survive the recession, some companies have had to make drastic decisions that are not typical to their corporate cultural norms. These decisions and their subsequent actions naturally lead to employees’ uncertainty about their organizations’ intentions.

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By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Story update 8/26/2010: We incorrectly stated that Dr. Richard A. Spritz was from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is actually at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.


Researchers at the University of Calgary, University of Colorado, and University of San Francisco are using 3-D scanning in a study that may someday help children who suffer from cleft lip or palate. A severe cleft lip, in particular, can be devastating for a child in terms of physical and emotional health, as well as for the family—several corrective surgeries are required to correct a cleft lip, often leading to more than one hundred thousand dollars in medical expenses.

Through this unique study, which compares the morphology (shape) of thousands of 3-D scanned faces to the DNA of each of the scanned subjects, researchers hope to identify genetic markers that point to the possibility of a person having a cleft lip or palette, explains Benedikt Hallgrimsson, a professor for the department of cell biology and anatomy at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

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By: Gartner Inc.

With the lines between work and nonwork already badly frayed, Gartner Inc. predicts that the nature of work will undergo 10 key changes through 2020. Organizations will need to plan for increasingly chaotic environments that are out of their direct control, and adaptation must involve adjusting to all 10 of the trends.

“Work will become less routine, characterized by increased volatility, hyperconnectedness, ‘swarming’ and more,” says Tom Austin, vice president and Gartner fellow. By 2015, 40 percent or more of an organization’s work will be “nonroutine,” up from 25 percent in 2010. “People will swarm more often and work solo less,” says Austin. “They’ll work with others with whom they have few links, and teams will include people outside the control of the organization. In addition, simulation, visualization, and unification technologies, working across yottabytes of data per second, will demand an emphasis on new perceptual skills.”

Organizations will need to determine which of the 10 key changes in the nature of work will affect them, and consider whether radically different technology governance models will be required.

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By: Barbara A. Cleary

A spate of cartoons and commentary throughout the summer has lampooned BP, Halliburton, Transocean, and Cameron International for their apparent inability to plan timely control measures that might have constrained the destruction after the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. A Congressional hearing likewise roundly criticized leaders of these corporations for failing to anticipate the possibility of a major leak as well as subsequent failures of back-up systems.

This debate will continue to rage, no doubt, but in the heat of this discussion, it may be useful to reflect on the possibilities inherent in failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) for preventing or responding to defects in product or process outcomes. Because no industry is immune to product or service failure, FMEA provides a systematic analysis technique that helps identify potential problems. FMEA is utilized in all industries, from manufacturing to education to health care. The method was popularized by the auto industry but is clearly useful to any industry that experiences failures in systems or design.

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By: Alberto B. Ayulo

Every journey has a beginning, and mine began during a U.S. Air Force commander’s first week on the job. He called a staff meeting and told everyone that things had to change for the organization to succeed, and “lean” was the solution. Everyone in the room looked dazed and confused, wondering what this incoming commander was referring to. The question was quickly answered when he placed James P. Womak’s and Daniel P. Jones’ Lean Thinking (Simon & Schuster Audio, 2003) on the conference room table.

Initially, after reading the book and doing some basic research, many within the organization thought it seemed great for manufacturing and private businesses, but were curious to see how lean was going to apply within a military environment. So we did what many companies do when faced with a situation that is beyond their area of expertise: We hired a consultant from a contracted company who was well versed in lean Six Sigma.

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By: John David Kendrick

Complexity can be thought of as the level of difficulty in solving mathematically presented problems. Six Sigma practitioners and operations research professionals are often asked to predict the complexity of a hardware or software product by predicting (in man-hours or full-time equivalents) the expected development time, the expected number of customer-facing defects, the expected number of production defects, or the expected level of effort for a new object.

One effective approach I employ to solve this problem involves combining two statistical techniques: cluster analysis and principal component analysis. Employing cluster analysis helps to identify objects that are similar. The advantage of cluster analysis over other statistical techniques such as discriminant analysis is that the groups are determined by the cluster analysis and aren’t predetermined before the analysis. After the groups are established, employing principal component analysis, a data reduction technique, enables the practitioner to map the attributes of an object into a cluster of similar objects.

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By: American Customer Satisfaction Index ACSI

(ACSI: Ann Arbor, MI) -- Customer satisfaction with domestic automobiles has shown resilience despite an overall decline for the industry, according to a report released Aug. 17 by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Automobile satisfaction dipped 2.4 percent from an all-time industry high to a score of 82 on ACSI’s zero-to-100 scale, but Ford and General Motors are holding steady, and their Lincoln-Mercury and Buick nameplates have taken the lead for the first time ever. Chrysler, however, continues to underperform, with two of its three divisions at the bottom.

“It was not long ago when Detroit’s products were clustered at the bottom of the industry,” says Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). “Although very few automakers improved this year, the domestic ones are either steady or have lost less in customer satisfaction compared to international competition. In this sense, the near future looks good for Ford and General Motors. Satisfied customers tend to do more repeat business, generate good word-of-mouth, and don’t require greater price incentives to come back.”

Barbara Hemphill’s picture

By: Barbara Hemphill

Kathy is the office manager for a large corporation. The great news is that the company is growing and Kathy is looking for employees to handle all the new clients. The bad news is that she has no office space for these new employees to work in. The truth is, the office and storage areas are full of filing cabinets and the desks are covered in stacks of paper. The worst part is, Kathy and her staff don’t even know what all that information is. It’s no surprise that Kathy can’t find space for new employees as she is wasting it with massive amounts of files and paperwork.

Does your organization have offices, file cabinets, storage rooms, and off-site facilities full of unidentified paper files and electronic documents? Are there files in your office that you’ve never opened and probably couldn't identify the contents? Have you ever come across a piece of information you didn’t know whether to save or throw away, so you saved it, just in case? If so, you are working in an “Information Toxic Dump.”

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