Supply Chain Article

Wendy Stanley’s picture

By: Wendy Stanley

Today’s manufacturers have plenty of software solution options that are meant to enhance their productivity. You may be familiar with each of these software packages. However, if you are not, it is important to understand what each of these software packages are designed to deliver.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP): ERP systems help you to focus on the business aspects of your manufacturing processes. This includes things like supply and demand, scheduling, actual costs, accounting, and more. In essence, ERP tracks the execution of the business aspects of manufacturing. But while an ERP system offers high-level tracking of many business operations, it may have gaps in specific functionality. These gaps are often filled by additional software like PLM, MES, or QMS.

Production life-cycle management (PLM): The PLM system was developed to help track processes and product innovation. As such, it focuses on design, development, and production planning. In other words, PLM focuses on the innovation of your product line.

Eric Buatois’s picture

By: Eric Buatois

As the coronavirus wreaks economic turmoil around the world, our modern supply chains are facing unprecedented stress. For months prior to the Covid-19 crisis, trade tensions had been mounting due to the escalating tariff war between Washington and Beijing. A rise in protectionism, coupled with concrete costs and new financial barriers, has fueled broader challenges and concerns for worldwide logistics networks. Against this backdrop, our modern supply chain infrastructure is well overdue for a rethink.

Today’s globalized supply chain networks have been optimized to identify minimum lead times at the lowest possible costs. However, rapid political developments, extreme climate events, and now a global pandemic have all revealed the hidden costs of single-source dependencies and poor flexibility in adapting to real-time shocks, with fast changes to supply and demand. During the next several years, as we undertake a broader overhaul of our logistics infrastructure, I believe that a new order will emerge based on three key dimensions.

Leigh Turner’s picture

By: Leigh Turner

Given the death, suffering, social disruption and economic devastation caused by Covid-19, there is an urgent need to quickly develop therapies to treat this disease and prevent the spread of the virus.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), charged with the task of evaluating and deciding whether to approve new drugs and other products, has a problem. The FDA’s standards appear to be dropping at a time when rigorous regulatory review and robust oversight are crucial.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Blame it on Moore’s law. We live in a digital Pangaea, a world of borderless data driven by technology, and the speed and density with which data can be transmitted and handled. It’s a world in which data-driven decisions cause daily fluctuations in markets and supply chains. Data come at us so fast that there is almost no way business leaders can keep abreast of changing supply chains and customer preferences, not to mention react to them.

Operating any kind of manufacturing today requires agility and the means to turn the flood of largely meaningless ones and zeros into something useful. The old ways of treating data as nothing more than digital paper won’t cut it in the “new normal.” We need to reimagine how we view quality.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

It’s no secret that manufacturing companies operate in an inherently unstable environment. Every operational weakness poses a risk to efficiency, quality, and ultimately, to profitability. All too often, it takes a crisis—like Covid-19 shutdowns—to reveal operational weaknesses that have been hampering an organization for a long time.

The nature of the problem

It is not just a manufacturing company’s production facility that faces operational challenges, either. The entire organization must address a host of risks and challenges; shifting consumer and market trends necessitate improving agility and responsiveness; dynamic and global competition force innovation not only in product development, but also service and delivery; evolving sales channels, including online outlets, challenge established profit margins. And these challenges are not going away any time soon.

The real problem, however, lies not with the challenges themselves but with a company’s reluctance to see the operational weakness that makes it susceptible to a particular risk in the first place.

Mary Rowzee’s picture

By: Mary Rowzee

During the first six months after the publication of its first edition in June 2019, the AIAG & VDA FMEA Handbook gained popularity in the global automotive industry. Both U.S. and European OEMs have started to require the AIAG VDA approach to failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) in their programs. Like the AIAG Guidebook, fourth edition, the handbook provides guidance, instruction, and illustrative examples of the requisite analytical techniques. The activities and analyses historically involved in FMEA have been formalized as discrete steps in the handbook.

 The seven-step approach described in the handbook and outlined here guides the development of design, process, and supplemental monitoring and system response of FMEA through the sequencing (and the iteration) of described activities.

Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension’s picture

By: Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension

El-Com Systems Corp. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of El-COM Systems Solutions based in California. The local company has been in Puerto Rico since 2016 operating in Caguas. The company is dedicated to manufacturing complex electromechanical subsystems and assemblies for the global aerospace and defense industries. The company has 62 employees including operational and administrative personnel.

El-Com Systems was required to implement and certify its quality management system in accordance with the international standards of AS9100D for the aerospace sector. The challenge was not only to achieve the ISO certification, but also to achieve it simultaneously with an accelerated growth process, which required the hiring of additional employees for new production lines. Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension, Inc. (PRiMEX), part of the MEP National Network, was recommended to provide support in this process.

Maria Watson’s picture

By: Maria Watson

The U.S. government has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic. But early reports suggested larger companies were gobbling up much of the aid, while many of the neediest ones—particularly those with only a few dozen employees—weren’t benefiting.

Very small businesses, particularly those operating on small profit margins, are especially vulnerable because they may not have the cash reserves to weather periods of economic uncertainty and typically have fewer ways to access financing. A recent poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that one in four U.S. businesses is two months away from permanently shutting down.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Around the world, local agencies and institutions have scrambled to find personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their essential employees from Covid-19. Not just healthcare workers, but also the men and women who to work to keep our cities and counties up and running, from emergency responders to maintenance workers.

Told by President Trump to fend for themselves, states that couldn’t find local PPE sources have signed contracts directly with overseas manufacturers or distributors claiming to represent them. Given the problems of getting it themselves or competing with the federal government for the same supplies, governors of seven Eastern states even agreed to work together on purchasing medical equipment.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

It’s easy to assume that something as simple as a mask wouldn’t pose much of a risk. Essentially, it’s just a covering that goes over your nose and mouth.

But masks are more than just stitched-together cloth. Medical-grade masks use multiple layers of nonwoven material, usually polypropylene, designed to meet specific standards for how big and how many particles they can block. And they are tested and certified to determine how well they do that job.

Healthcare and other frontline workers usually use either a surgical mask or an N95 mask. Both protect the patient from the wearer’s respiratory emissions. But where surgical masks provide the wearer protection against large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily or other hazardous fluids, an N95 mask is designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of submicron airborne particles.

The “N95” (or “KN95”) designation means that the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks.

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