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By: Paul Gay

Wireless communications have well and truly arrived in the industrial arena and considerable effort is now being put into integration and the writing of standards. In this article, the author considers the many benefits and a few drawbacks of this cost effective technology.

Wireless communication in the industrial environment has become a reality. The technology now offers practical solutions to industrial automation connectivity with the key benefits of cost-saving installation, minimal operating costs, and perhaps most important to the end user, reliability.

Wireless communications are cheaper to install than traditional hard-wired systems because, quite simply, there are no cables. When there’s no cable then there are no conduit, wiring racks, or digging of underground cable runs—all costly items, especially when the installation is within an existing plant or factory.

Wireless networks require proper installation to ensure there is no loss in production.

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By: Thomas R. Cutler

Innovative vehicle-mounted, hand-held, and wearable mobile computers must be dependable, tough, and reliable. Wireless computers extend corporate networks to mobile workers in demanding conditions and only rugged mobile computers drive down costs and improve customer satisfaction. These are quality-centric concepts.

Baldwin Richardson Foods, headquartered in Frankfort, Illinois, with manufacturing facility in Macedon, New York, produces bakery fillings, syrups, sauces, toppings, beverage mixes, condiments packets, and other food products. “Our operations were all manual. We wanted to automate and had looked into different bar coding systems over the years, but nothing was the right fit,” says Craig Czajka, the IT manager at Baldwin Richardson Foods. “Our [enterprise resource planning] ERP system is everything to us—it runs the whole business. We couldn’t take a chance with any systems or vendors that hadn’t proven they could integrate with it.”

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By: Sean M. Dozier

Do you really need to read another story about how project management and statistics helped some organization save money and meet their goals? Why are you even looking for case studies? Did your boss ask you to do some research to see if “this stuff” works? Well, let’s see... Yes! It works. Now quit wasting your time and start doing real work.

Benchmarking isn’t going to save you one penny, in fact it’s going to waste your money faster than flushing it down the toilet or giving your teenager a credit card and sending them to Cancun for spring break. Benchmarking is something we are all familiar with; it’s simply looking around to see how everyone else is doing and seeing how you compare to the rest. Why do that? Tell me this. How often do you see an Olympic swimmer looking around to see how well they’re doing? If you stop to look around it means you’re not winning the race. Do you want to look around or win the race? Yes, you are in a race.

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By: Miriam Boudreaux

The ISO 9001 standard’s requirements with regard to suppliers are very short and concise but carry a lot of punch. These requirements can be very deceiving and in fact are often misinterpreted and carried out poorly or partially. By implementing the clause correctly, an organization will get the full extent of the benefits sought out by the standard. I am going to explain in this article the intent of the standard regarding suppliers and the best way to accomplish supplier management.

What the standard requires

ISO 9001 standard requires that a supplier be evaluated, selected, and reevaluated. Specific requirements related to the supplier’s evaluation are found in two places:

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By: Makino

Many U.S. manufacturers have struggled to grow in the face of global competition and economic uncertainty. These factors have challenged the industry, put pressure on prices, and forced many shops out of business.

MacKay Manufacturing of Spokane, Washington, had a history of steady growth from its inception in the 1950s as a high-mix, low-volume job shop. As competition began to rise and the slowdown of 2001 pummeled many in manufacturing, the shop witnessed decreasing profits and saw no signs of a quick bounce back.

“The real wake-up call was when we weren’t awarded a large contract from a customer,” says Mike MacKay, who took over as president of the company in 1984. “They did a review and said they could only award the contract to a lean shop. We thought we were lean, as far as we understood the term. It was devastating.”

MacKay, determined to become lean, knew the company needed to change three aspects: manpower, machines, and methods. But he also thought that most of the manufacturers that benefited from lean methods were high-volume production shops, not job shops with many part numbers and small batch runs.

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By: William R. Pape and Richard Ross

Resistance to the National Animal Identification Scheme (NAIS) has been strong. This six-year-old USDA policy initiative to reduce the catastrophic effects to the livestock and meat industry from a major animal disease outbreak has received so much negative reaction from so many and now seems stalled. Now another policy initiative (U.S. House bill HR2749) breezed through the House and passed on the final day before the August recess, less than two months after introduction, and now goes to the Senate. HR2749 passed with little debate, reasonably strong bi-partisan support by today’s standards and very strong support from major food-growing Congressional districts. It is worth exploring the apparent anomaly between reaction to NAIS and HR2749, and examining the technological implications of the HR2749 legislation. 

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By: Chris Hardee

As moviegoers, we have all seen a wide range of animation—from early Disney features, such as “Snow White,” to Japanese anime, and Pixar’s “Toy Story,” to an assortment of recent blockbusters that seamlessly integrate animation with real actors. With each release, the movie magic gets more amazing as animated characters such as the Incredible Hulk or Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” take on lifelike qualities and realistic human facial expressions. How in the world do filmmakers do it?

As animators know all too well, the human face is one of the most difficult objects to realistically model. A flexible layer of skin covers a complex array of muscles and bones, producing a seemingly endless number of subtle facial expressions that are an important component of our communication system. Technology that allows blending live-action with special effects has pushed the animation field into realms hardly imagined just a few years ago, as animators use computer-based physics in much the same way that design engineers use realistic simulation.

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By: Fluke Corp.

I

n process manufacturing, temperature uniformity is essential. Technicians rely on monitoring of all kinds, from fixed mount sensors to hand-held thermal imagers to track the condition of product and critical equipment. That’s because temperature measurement and control is one of the single most significant variables for uniformity across process industries.

Temperature monitoring can detect overheating delivery system components, help solve irregularities in electrical power supplies, predict operational machinery failure, detect blockages in supply pipes, and identify product inconsistencies.

Given the number of process industries and associated equipment variations, the possibilities for thermal monitoring are endless. One approach is to provide the most monitoring to critical assets, followed by equipment in harsh environments. For example, the sludge, solvents, and particulates found in many processes put extra stress on motors and affect bearings, windings, and insulation.

That stress shows up as heat detectable by a thermal imager.

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By: Lonnie Wilson

Five things to lean my company? In two days? That's pretty quick. Why so quickly?  

I can think of two reasons. First, people expect things to be done better and faster each day; and it appears we’re getting decent at doing just that. Lean has made huge strides toward contributing to that “better, faster” concept. Second, I always emphasize making large early gains. It is interesting that this concept of “early gains” isn’t typically pushed by many lean practitioners. Most are quite content to sell lean as “a journey” and leave it at that. A journey it is; no doubt about that. However, it is awfully convenient, and quite frankly suspicious, that they leave out the early gains issue, because those gains are there. So why exclude this low hanging fruit? Because to include it would put more pressure on them to produce today, and without that pressure, consulting is just a little easier—not better, just easier. Since because people want it, and because “early gains” is one of my mantra, I decided I should be responsive to the request. Here goes. 

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By: FARO

Rocky Mountain Hydro Electric Plant is a pumped storage facility located in the Appalachian mountains of Northwest Georgia, approximately 62 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The facility is co-owned by Oglethorpe Power Corporation (75%) and Georgia Power (25%), with all operations and maintenance controlled by Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe is the nation’s largest power supply cooperative and provides electricity to 4.1 million Georgia citizens.

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