Emily Newton’s picture

By: Emily Newton

Effective equipment testing is essential for manufacturers of industrial equipment and end-users. Without testing, defects and damage can shorten the life span of equipment, cause unplanned downtime, and reduce the quality of finished goods.

This is especially true for businesses in sectors like food and beverage manufacturing, where equipment being in good condition is necessary to maintain safety and quality standards.

New industry 4.0 technology is transforming how businesses approach industrial equipment testing. Techniques enabled by innovations like AI and IoT devices can help companies automate testing processes and gather additional information on equipment performance.

IIoT enables new types of data collection

In some cases, new industrial IoT (IIoT) devices may make it practical to collect real-time operational data on parameters that were difficult or impractical to track automatically in the past.

Multiple Authors
By: Terry Onica, Cathy Fisher

With recent disruptions critically impacting the automotive supply chain and costing manufacturers millions in lost production and sales, it is clear that supply delivery issues now need the same level of attention as vehicle safety and quality. What is really at the root of ongoing delivery performance issues, and how can automotive OEMs and suppliers overcome these systemic deficiencies to avert industrywide disaster?

Anxieties over late deliveries

Automotive vehicle quality and safety improved dramatically during the last three decades as OEMs and suppliers implemented process-focus in their operations and adopted advanced technologies for design and production. These positive advances, though, are threatened by a global supply chain struggling with supplier delivery issues that delay vehicle launches and cost millions of dollars in lost sales opportunities.

And it will only get worse without industrywide action.

MIT News’s picture

By: MIT News

First published June 29, 2021, on MIT News.

MIT and Harvard University have announced a major transition for edX, the nonprofit organization they launched in 2012 to provide an open online platform for university courses: edX’s assets are to be acquired by the publicly traded education technology company 2U, and reorganized as a public benefit company under the 2U umbrella.  

The transaction is structured to ensure that edX continues in its founding mission, and features a wide array of protections for edX learners, partners, and faculty who contribute courses.

In exchange, 2U will transfer net proceeds from the $800 million transaction to a nonprofit organization, also led by MIT and Harvard, to explore the next generation of online education. Backed by these substantial resources, the nonprofit will focus on overcoming persistent inequities in online learning, in part through exploring how to apply artificial intelligence to enable personalized learning that responds and adapts to the style and needs of the individual learner.

Jason Chester’s picture

By: Jason Chester

Manufacturers have seen the need to digitize operations for quite some time, but the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the issue to center stage. They’ve had to adapt to sudden, dramatic changes like more remote workers and social distancing across production lines. It didn’t take long to realize the outdated, manual tools they’d been using for years made it difficult to respond.

Where to start with digital quality management

To gain traction and map a path forward, look first at fixing areas especially hampered by outdated, manual processes—such as quality management, process optimization, and compliance checks. It’s time to consider a tactical, quality-led approach to digital transformation.

Now, more than a year after the big disruption, manufacturers know they need to undergo a “digital transformation” to be successful today and in the future. There’s strong demand in the industry to become more flexible, efficient, and cost effective.

But digital transformation isn’t easy. It isn’t cheap. And it can be overwhelming to consider an overhaul of every system across production. So what’s the right approach when digitizing production operations? Where do you start? How can you make lasting change?

Christopher Allan Smith’s picture

By: Christopher Allan Smith

This series is about getting you through a catastrophe. The first three articles (see “All articles in this series”) were about preparing and responding to the world around you when it’s consumed by calamity. As our world here was. In this article, we deal with how to handle all the information, good and bad, that comes at you while you are trying to respond to a disaster.

I’m known to you at Quality Digest as the director and main hand behind the video content here. As with some Quality Digest employees, my life was altered with shocking speed in November 2018 when the Camp Fire destroyed most of the communities on the Paradise Ridge in Butte County, California.

And like any catastrophe that includes destruction, the deaths of innocents, factors of human folly, and shreds of knowledge bought at too high a price, there are echoes to be found in the U.S. Civil War.

One morning in 1862, two Union soldiers, Sergeant John Bloss and Corporal Barton W. Mitchell, noticed three cigars wrapped with paper. You see, they were resting in a field where a few days earlier Confederate troops had camped. Unwrapping the paper, they found a memo titled “Special Order No. 191, Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia.”

Bryan Christiansen’s picture

By: Bryan Christiansen

Adherence to lean principles is considered a precondition for success in modern manufacturing. In a resource-intensive environment, anything that improves efficiency and productivity is a godsend. Lean maintenance has become more prominent as manufacturers grapple with sustainability challenges, economic instability, and global competition.

There is a common misconception that lean maintenance is just a subset, or a byproduct, of adopting lean practices. In reality, the opposite is true; to succeed in lean manufacturing, you first need to implement lean maintenance. In other words, lean maintenance is a critical prerequisite for lean manufacturing.

This article will introduce you to the basics of lean maintenance and how to adopt its principles at your organization.

What is lean maintenance?

Lean maintenance is a strategy that aims to reduce waste and inefficiency in the management of physical assets. It relies on the application of lean methodology in the realm of asset maintenance and repairs.

Zach Winn’s picture

By: Zach Winn

This story was originally published by MIT News.

Whether it’s computer chips, smartphone components, or camera parts, the hardware in many products is constantly getting smaller. The trend is pushing companies to come up with new ways to make the parts that power our world.

Enter Boston Micro Fabrication (BMF). The company was co-founded by MIT Professor Nicholas Fang in 2016 to improve the resolution and precision of 3D printing. Today BMF is helping customers in the race toward ever-smaller parts by offering new kinds of printers that are being used to make electronics, medical devices, microfluidic chips, and more.

The company’s machines use a technology co-developed by Fang to print millimeter-sized products with details at the micron scale—objects you can see with the naked eye, but whose details you’ll likely have to squint at to make out.

The company says the printers enable the creation of new parts with tiny, complex geometries and entirely new functions.

“You can print things you can’t mold,” BMF CEO John Kawola says. “It’s a reason why a lot of people think about additive manufacturing, because they're not constrained by the limits of molding. It gives companies new design freedom.”

Multiple Authors
By: Katherine H. Freeman, Raymond Jeanloz, Knowable Magazine

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

At the last minute, we pivoted to a hybrid meeting, with half the attendees in-person and the other half virtual. Although the meeting was successful in terms of editorial decisions, the mixed format hampered our normally free-flowing discussions.

The 2021 meeting of the journal, the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, was entirely virtual. And it went much more smoothly.

By then, we all had a year’s experience working in an online environment. Everyone was remote, which made the means of communication equitable, and we made sure each member had a chance to participate. We included breaks to reduce video fatigue, and breakout rooms for parallel small-group discussions that helped increase efficiency. We developed a more scripted schedule that we followed closely to ensure that everyone knew what to expect.

Glenn Daehn’s picture

By: Glenn Daehn

Failure of a machine in a factory can shut it down. Lost production can cost millions of dollars per day. Component failures can devastate factories, power plants, and battlefield equipment.

To return to operation, skilled technicians use all the tools in their kit—machining, bending, welding, and surface treating, to make just the right part as quickly and accurately as possible. But there’s a declining number of technicians with the right skills, and the quality of things made by hand is subject to the skills and mood of the artisan on the day the part is made.

Both problems could soon be solved by artificially intelligent robotic technicians. These systems can take measurements; shape, cut or weld parts using varied tools; pass parts to specialized equipment; and even purchase needed materials—all without human intervention. Known as hybrid autonomous manufacturing, this process involves automated systems that seamlessly use multiple tools and techniques to build high-quality components where and when they are needed.

Doug Devereaux’s picture

By: Doug Devereaux

The premise for the NIST MEP Digital Supply-Chain Network project is familiar to MEP centers—many small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) are often not ready for Industry 4.0 and don’t know how to implement it. Manufacturers with fewer than 50 employees often lag in digital supply-chain areas such as setting cybersecurity policies and leveraging data and information analytics.

The digital supply chain in manufacturing refers to the consistent and sustainable connectivity between the manufacturer and the lowest-level suppliers to the delivery of the product to the customers. It includes capturing operational data from sensors, machines, and other connected assets, but it also includes ERPs, sourcing, finance, and cybersecurity. A manufacturer that efficiently manages its digital supply chain has a head start on optimizing performance with better demand forecasting and automated inventory management, improved time to market, and lower-cost sources of raw materials.

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