Operations Article

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Current business conversation often focuses on data and big data. Data are the raw information from which statistics are created and provide an interpretation and summary of data. Statistics make it possible to analyze real-world business problems and measure key performance indicators that enable us to set quantifiable goals. Control charts and capability analysis are key tools in these endeavors.

Control charts

Developed in the 1920s by Walter A. Shewhart, control charts are used to monitor industrial or business processes over time. Control charts are invaluable for determining if a process is in a state of control. But what does that mean?

Nicola Olivetti’s picture

By: Nicola Olivetti

According to a report by PwC, industrial sectors worldwide plan to invest $900 billion in Industry 4.0 each year. Despite these growing technology investments, only a few technologies are significantly mature to drive measurable quality impacts. Digital visual management (DVM) is one of them, being the fundamental link that bridges the lean culture and quality management in the digital age. 

What is digital visual management?

The vast majority of all the information and communication is visual. The human brain processes visual information significantly faster than text. When a relevant image is paired with audio material, two-thirds of people retain the information three days later.

Organizations dedicated to continuous improvement take advantage of this reality and use DVM to engage staff, provide insight into key information, and to ensure improvement projects are moving forward as scheduled.

Jesse Allred’s picture

By: Jesse Allred

Lean manufacturing is a philosophy focused on maximizing productivity and eliminating waste while creating a quality product. One of the most powerful strategies in the lean toolbox is total productive maintenance (TPM), a system targeting continuous improvement through a holistic approach to maintenance. Avoid delays in the manufacturing process caused by breakdowns and unplanned maintenance with TPM.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

In the article, “ANSI’s Role in the Wide World of Standards,” (Quality Digest, March 12, 2019), we looked at where standards originate and how companies are involved in developing them. In this article, we’ll outline four points that can help your organization integrate standards into your operations.

Once you’ve decided which standards are applicable to your needs, the question becomes whether your team will benefit from centralized access to standards, and how you will manage updates and collaborate. There are basically two ways to license standards: single-use purchase, and subscription. Each has its own pros and cons.

Amadou Diallo’s picture

By: Amadou Diallo

At James Lick High School the slate-gray Chromebooks are ubiquitous. Rolling cabinets stocked with dozens of the laptops sit in classrooms where teachers assign them to students for everything from researching hereditary DNA to writing essays. In this majority-Latino school of 1,100 students, 84 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a federal measure of poverty, school principal David Porter says making the devices readily available is a significant part of an effort to develop digital literacy for students who might otherwise be left behind.

Nationwide, one out of four teenagers from low-income households lacks access to a home computer and, overall, Latino students have less access than their black and white peers, according to a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center. “We’re doing a disservice if we’re not teaching the next generation how to use technology. Students being able to access it is critical,” Porter says.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Brodie International provides liquid flow-meters and equipment for the petroleum and industrial markets. The company specializes in producing high-precision meters and valves that are used in the custody transfer of petroleum products.

The challenge

Brodie products involve components with complex shapes and assembly that made inspection measurements a serious challenge when using the traditional tools of their industry, which included height gauges, calipers, dial indicators, and a fixed coordinate measuring machine (CMM).

“We were using a fixed CMM,” says Tommy Rogers, quality manager at Brodie International. “Our older model CMM is good for measuring things like linear dimensions, hole patterns, tapers, circles, and geometry. But when it comes to measuring a compound curve like a helical shape, we were very limited.”

Chris Woolston’s picture

By: Chris Woolston

Companies spend millions of dollars and burn countless hours conducting performance reviews and devising checklists to assess their employees, and business scholars have studied the issue with great urgency and intensity. The results so far? By all available evidence, formal attempts to rate employees don’t seem to meaningfully improve employee performance or give companies any sort of competitive advantage, says Elaine Pulakos, a management expert and CEO of PDRI, a management consulting company based in Arlington, Virginia.

“They end up being extremely costly and have no impact on productivity,” says Pulakos who discussed the science of employee evaluation in a 2018 issue of the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior.

Bill Laverty’s picture

By: Bill Laverty

Operations management plays an important role in the manufacturing process, but similar to a stage crew at a theater, operations managers do all their best work behind the scenes. The best operations managers strive to go unnoticed, and why shouldn’t they? A seamless supply-chain process should require little to no attention from customers.

But recent tariffs are jolting operations. NAFTA changes, along with tariffs on Chinese imports, are forcing operations managers to step out on center stage. New tariffs on materials like steel and aluminum as well as electronic components could mean disruption in the supply chain process, and operations managers have to work diligently to mitigate any hiccups that crop up for the company and its customers alike. Certainly costs are going to increase somewhere, so companies have to decide whether they’re going to absorb them or pass them along to their customers, both of which are less than ideal options.

Chris Woolston’s picture

By: Chris Woolston

More than a decade has passed, but Mary Mawritz can still hear metal-tipped tassels flapping against leather loafers—the signature sound of her boss roaming the halls of his real estate company.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Most of us have heard of kaizen—continuous improvement of philosophy and methodology. In business, this involves all employees working to improve a company's processes to lean it out, to run with less waste. But most of us who are familiar with kaizen think of it as something you do.

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