Susan Whitehead’s picture

By: Susan Whitehead

It’s a Catch-22 for a manufacturing supervisor: You need to train new hires properly to master the skills for the job, but your own daily job duties can’t wait. Putting time aside to train workers is especially challenging if you’re a small- to medium-sized manufacturer (SMM) with tight, daily deadlines.

“I want to make time for training new employees, but how am I supposed to do that and do my job? How am I supposed to deal with line problems and train someone new at the same time?”

As a process improvement coach with the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, I hear concerns like these all the time from SMM supervisors, who have been forced to train new employees while trying to do their own jobs.

But putting off training is like postponing the oil change on your car even though the sticker in the corner says your odometer is at 55,000 miles, and your oil change was due at 50,000 miles. You can probably put off the oil change and drive a couple hundred more miles, and the car will run just fine. Then it’s another 200 miles, and you think, “OK, I can keep doing this for a while.”

DP Technology’s picture

By: DP Technology

Founded in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2001, Green Tools is a leading manufacturer of cutting tools, providing circular saws and other woodcutting machines for the sawmill, furniture, and woodworking industries throughout Russia.

Green Tools began as a small reseller of woodworking tools produced by German tool-maker AKE. Over time though, the company progressed to manufacturing cutting tools of its own, moving from tool merchant to tool maker. As Kirill Smolin, technical consultant at Green Tools relates, At first we were a distributor of woodworking mills and saws produced at AKE factories in Germany while also providing tool sharpening services. Then we started to make tools ourselves on specialized machines that do not require a CAM [computer-aided manufacturing] system.


An array of cutting tools made by Green Tools

Ziv Carmon’s picture

By: Ziv Carmon

Counterfeiting is widespread and rapidly expanding. In 2015, the value of fake and pirated products globally was estimated at $1.7 trillion, equivalent to the GDP of Canada. The scope of this phenomenon is vast. In both developing and developed countries, counterfeiting affects many sectors, including apparel, electronics, beverages, food, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and even vehicle and airplane parts and heavy machinery.

Companies actively try to fight the trade. They seek damages for lost sales from other firms that rip off their designs and conduct major, aggressive outreach campaigns to deter potential buyers from purchasing fake products. They also band together to raise awareness about how counterfeiting funds organized crime and terrorism, and often involves child labor. The Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCP), under the International Chamber of Commerce, for instance, represents 25 companies at intergovernmental forums, formulates best practices in supply chains, as well as funds outreach campaigns such as ibuyreal.org to fight the flood of fakes.

Stephen McCarthy’s picture

By: Stephen McCarthy

In our constantly evolving, data-rich universe, collecting, interpreting, and understanding process data can be tricky. But it is increasingly important if we want to maintain sustainable quality across product development and manufacturing processes. This challenge is particularly evident in the life sciences arena, where pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device manufacturers constantly strive to build quality processes that deliver “fit for purpose” output.

Process data typically come from a collection of diverse sources in varying formats. These data are dynamic, which often means they have a short shelf life. The longer a piece of data sits, the greater chance that it loses relevancy. Data often are also coming from an extremely complex supply chain that may include development or manufacturing partners’ systems and processes.

Dat Duthinh’s picture

By: Dat Duthinh

One of the undergraduate engineering courses that left a deep and lasting impression on me was a course on innovation and aesthetics in engineering taught by David Billington at Princeton University. So, when I read the story of a skyscraper in New York that had to undergo secret emergency repairs because of a question from an engineering student in New Jersey, I knew that the student had to be one of Billington’s. And I knew then that I wanted to come back and investigate this issue in greater detail someday.

The award-winning, wedge-topped, 59-story Citicorp Building in Manhattan, now referred to as 601 Lexington Avenue, features striking columns in the middle of its four sides rather than its corners. This remarkable configuration was due to the existence, at one corner, of a church (now demolished) that refused to be bought out, but did grant the use of the space above it. Construction of the building began in 1974 and was completed in 1977.

Paul Laughlin’s picture

By: Paul Laughlin

How do you develop domain knowledge in your analysts, so their data use, interpretation, and recommendations make sense? I’ve mentioned in a previous article, about the difficulties of offshoring analytics, how vital domain knowledge can be. Yet, I find most articles or speakers focus on the need to develop new technology skills such as mastering the latest en vogue coding language.

Akin to the greater importance of softer skills for analysts, my own experience is that domain knowledge makes a greater difference to analyst effectiveness. So, as my contribution to redressing that imbalance, here are some thoughts on domain knowledge, why it matters and how best to help your analysts learn about their domain.

Jesse Lyn Stoner’s picture

By: Jesse Lyn Stoner

While I was facilitating a retreat for a group of 15 men, all in their late 30s and 40s, all high-level executives and all high achievers, an interesting topic arose. One of the men asked for help dealing with his wife, who was complaining he worked too much. He wanted help in getting her to understand that she was being unreasonable since the reason he was always working was to provide for his family.

He got sympathy from several, but fortunately for him there were a couple of mentally balanced leaders in the group who challenged him. They pointed out that his family needed more from him than to take care of them—that this family needed him to be with them. They told him quite frankly that his marriage was in trouble... and it wasn’t up to his wife to change.

That was 20 years ago. Technology has made this an even bigger challenge today. With the advances in technology, you can always be connected to work, anytime, anywhere—and because you can be available, you are expected to be. Many people are uncomfortable turning off their mobile device even at a social gathering. And how many of us take a vacation without checking email?

Multiple Authors
By: Julien Pollack, Petr Matous

Someone we know recently told us about a team-building event that proved anything but.

The chief executive who arranged it loved mountain biking. So he chose a venue to share his passion with his team. On the day, he shot around the track. Others with less experience took up to three hours longer. He settled in at the bar with a small entourage. Other staff trudged in much later, tired and bloody, not feeling at all like a team.

Many of us can recall team-building exercises that seemed like a waste of time. One problem is overcoming the natural human tendency to hang out with those people we already feel comfortable with, just as that chief executive did.

We suggest there is a better team-building approach. It doesn’t involve bicycles or obstacle courses or whitewater rafting. It doesn’t even necessarily involve your whole team.

It’s about understanding that teams are social networks built on connections between individuals. It involves deep one-on-one conversations, designed to get people out of their comfort zones.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

The martial arts rank, Shodan, for a first-degree black belt, does not mean “expert”; it means “first step.” ISO 9001:2015 is similarly a valuable and vital first step toward world-class performance, but it is only that—a first step. It covers only by implication many of the risks and opportunities that IATF 16949 covers explicitly, such as six of the Toyota Production System’s (TPS) Seven Wastes as well as crippling supply-chain interruptions, inadequate metrology systems, and more.

IATF 16949 is actually ISO 9001:2015 plus additional requirements, which makes it easy for ISO 9001 users to implement relevant clauses of IATF 16949. ISO 9001 users don’t need to implement all the additional clauses—if they did, they might as well register to IATF 16949—but many of IATF 16949’s key clauses are as relevant to nonautomotive applications as they are to automotive ones. This article will cover what look like the most important ones, although others also might be helpful.

Jennifer Lopez’s picture

By: Jennifer Lopez

Globalization of the medical device market as well as its supporting supply chains continues to increase year after year. This has forced regulatory bodies to grapple with finding a way to narrow the gap between international and domestic regulation. In spring 2018 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its intention to adopt the internationally recognized quality management standard ISO 13485:2016 for medical devices. According to the FDA, the revisions are intended to modernize and reduce compliance and record-keeping burdens on device manufacturers by harmonizing current domestic and international requirements.

For FDA-regulated manufacturers, the required actions to close the gap between the FDA’s existing Quality System Regulation (QSR) 21 CFR part 820 and ISO 13485:2016 should not increase manufacturers’ regulatory administration significantly. However, it is important that manufacturers are aware of and prepared for these changes, and they understand what the changes will mean for their businesses. They can do this by seeking industry insight on best practices.

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