Jody Muelaner’s picture

By: Jody Muelaner

Understanding the causes of faults and defects, and then improving the system or process so it won’t happen again, is central to lean manufacturing. This article looks at some of the methods used to identify the root causes of issues so that you can prevent downtime and move toward zero-defect manufacturing.

Benjamin Kessler’s picture

By: Benjamin Kessler

It’s generally accepted that large organizations, for a host of structural and cultural reasons, are at a disadvantage when it comes to innovation. Less agreed upon is why their employees outside of R&D should care. Can’t acquisitions and partnerships make up the creative deficit?

Think again, counsels Manuel Sosa, INSEAD associate professor of technology and operations management, in a recent interview for the INSEAD Knowledge podcast. Sosa says that the fruits of innovation—novel, valuable products and services—should not be confused with the tree itself.

First and foremost, innovation is a process for conceiving “novel and useful” solutions, which is necessary for business and career success, no matter where you’re sitting in an industry or organization. The fruits can easily be bought and sold, but planting, cultivating, and harvesting know-how is far less transferable. For the neophyte, learning to innovate requires diligence, patience, and (most of all) direct collaboration with skillful role models.

Clinton Ballew’s picture

By: Clinton Ballew

Legislative support is growing for the reimbursement of care delivery via telemedicine. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of Inspector General have recently made final and proposed rule changes to stimulate greater use and access for telemedicine delivery. These changes mean that for healthcare providers all around the United States, telemedicine will become a greater strategic focus.

Three major areas of telemedicine affected are remote patient monitoring (RPM) services, chronic care management (CCM), and opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment. Here we highlight the most significant changes that will impact providers in 2020 and beyond.

Remote patient monitoring (RPM)

Until recently, this contributing technology for telemedicine has been hampered by murky details within existing law. It is now, however, the area of the industry experiencing the most significant changes in recent rulemaking.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Government bureaucracies are inefficient. They waste taxpayer dollars, and they have no incentive to improve. We’ve all heard and probably repeated these axioms about wasteful government spending.

And it’s often true; you don’t have to look far to find examples of government overpaying for products or services, contracts going to companies ill-equipped to handle the job, or just outright wasted money. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), we waste tens of billions of dollars each year because of what amounts to process inefficiencies. Take a quick look at the GAO’s “2019 Annual Report: Additional Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Billions in Financial Benefits” to get an idea. But, conventional wisdom aside, at its roots, the issues pointed out by the GAO are really no different than those found in the private sector. Just more visible.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Lean: an employee-championed method of waste reduction. Six Sigma: a robust method of defect reduction. Embracing both methods provides organizations with multiple tools for continuous improvement. Developed for manufacturing, lean Six Sigma has now been recognized by government agencies as a practical way to realize their outcome goals.

Improving response time for client services

Expediency is always crucial to the well-being of government services clients. California’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and Washington state’s King County Treasury Operations are two organizations that were motivated to explore more efficient processes to reduce response times for client services.

The improvements these teams sought to bring about would require changes in the way things were done, but change is not always easy, and the way forward can be elusive. New ways of doing things require new methods. For organizations as large and complex as these government agencies to effect positive change, robust tools are needed.

Taran March @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Taran March @ Quality Digest

At the University of California at San Diego, lean concepts have taken hold. Along with its process improvement curriculum, the university applies what it teaches through initiatives around campus. Projects both complex and simple tackle the snags, waste, and bottlenecks of academic life. Students, as both customers and process output, learn about lean Six Sigma (LSS) tools and use them to improve their college experience. UC San Diego has become, in effect, its own moonshine shop.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for most public schools and colleges elsewhere in the country.

Although many high schools, vocational schools, and higher education institutions teach process improvement methodologies such as lean and Six Sigma, few of them use the concepts outside their classrooms. Less than 1 percent of school districts nationwide actively consider some sort of process improvement methodology. This is a missed opportunity, since many schools struggle with the very issues that lean is so effective at solving.

Takeshi Yoshida’s picture

By: Takeshi Yoshida

‘Lean” is such a convenient term; everyone uses it based on their own definition. People frequently use “lean” in place of “efficiency,” probably because it sounds more cool. Another round of cost cutting? Sure, let’s tell everyone we’re “going lean,” again.

Lean is a proven, powerful productivity approach (we probably owe post-WWII modernity and the internet age to lean), yet most people don’t know what lean is really about beyond the hype. And in this age of hyper-competition, not knowing or using tools that are proven to work is a big disadvantage.

So people should learn and practice lean. But there’s one complexity: Today’s lean is a mix-up between two different but same-sounding management concepts—lean manufacturing and lean startup. Lean startup is a recent-decade thing—it was inspired by, and hence not disassociated with, lean manufacturing, but it serves a somewhat different purpose and audience. Lean manufacturing traces its roots to Japan’s post-WWII industrial recovery with the aid of some key American industrial engineers.

Let’s clarify.

Steven Brand’s picture

By: Steven Brand

Conferences are a great way for you and your team to network with others, demo exciting new technologies, learn about topics that interest you, and gain valuable insights from industry experts. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of events happening in 2020. Here are 29 conferences happening in California and throughout North America that you can attend.

Nine manufacturing conferences in California

Pacific Design & Manufacturing
Feb. 11–13, 2020: Anaheim, CA
Join 20,000 manufacturing professionals and 1,900 suppliers in Anaheim for this large–scale event. You’ll meet leaders in contract design and manufacturing, and gain insights during educational sessions at the “Design Dome” and the six–track conference on 3D printing, smart manufacturing, and MedTech.

Travis Carlton’s picture

By: Travis Carlton

Whether we’re talking to a front-line operator, a plant manager, or CEO, people’s reactions to being assigned a new recurring task are remarkably similar: “Oh great—more to do.” Sound familiar?

It’s a reaction that’s common in organizations transitioning from paper-based to an automated digital process for layered process audits (LPAs), even though the end result may be a sharp reduction in defects and simpler audit processes. Although there are numerous benefits to moving from a paper-based to a mobile digital platform for your LPA program, the focus of this article is how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Layered process audits focus on quick, straightforward elements of process inputs, helping ensure process standardization and reduce defects upstream from the point of manufacture. Automating LPAs can involve a transition process, one made easier by adopting a pilot program to help you learn as you go. Here we discuss different types of pilot programs, as well as some best practices to ensure success.

Different types of pilot programs

Most commonly, manufacturers will roll out automated LPAs on a site-by-site basis. The first acts as a test site, with the goal of bringing on additional sites once the team has refined the process.

Rob Matheson’s picture

By: Rob Matheson

MIT researchers have devised a novel circuit design that enables precise control of computing with magnetic waves—with no electricity needed. The advance takes a step toward practical magnetic-based devices, which have the potential to compute far more efficiently than electronics.

Classical computers rely on massive amounts of electricity for computing and data storage, and generate a lot of wasted heat. In search of more efficient alternatives, researchers have started designing magnetic-based “spintronic” devices, which use relatively little electricity and generate practically no heat.

Spintronic devices leverage the “spin wave”—a quantum property of electrons—in magnetic materials with a lattice structure. This approach involves modulating the spin wave properties to produce some measurable output that can be correlated to computation. Until now, modulating spin waves has required injected electrical currents using bulky components that can cause signal noise and effectively negate any inherent performance gains.

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