Michael Taylor’s picture

By: Michael Taylor

Digital applications in manufacturing are not only becoming increasingly accepted; they are expected. However, for smaller manufacturers, the process of making this switch can be daunting. Initial expenses, as well as the cost of training employees, is enough to stop the process altogether.

But beginning the process of “going digital” doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a little guidance and education, all manufacturers can start to implement digital manufacturing concepts in a staged approach that best fits their individual work environments. Here are our top five recommendations for digital applications that can help you get started.

1. Digital performance management

Since 2010, the percentage of business that is conducted digitally has grown from 4 percent to almost 12 percent, and that trend is expected to continue. Finding an integrated way to analyze both business and IT metrics is key to optimizing the experience of this growing enterprise. Enter data performance management.

Loretta Marie Perera’s picture

By: Loretta Marie Perera

A steam train not seen since the 1960s is being rebuilt by a group of engineering enthusiasts, assisted by the metrology experts at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). With a little extra help from Hexagon’s advanced industrial laser tracker technology, the team got the measure of a mysterious discrepancy between the original drawings and the actual locomotive.

The Standard Steam Locomotive Co. group has set itself the ambitious challenge to recreate, operate, and maintain a lost class of British steam train—a British Railways’ Standard Class 6 “Clan”—using a combination of the original 1950s design drawings and 21st-century engineering. The plan is to incorporate modern design and manufacturing techniques and technologies into the build.

Jane Bianchi’s picture

By: Jane Bianchi

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you’re a primary care physician and you refer one of your patients to another doctor for a colonoscopy. Will the patient follow through? If not, how will your team know to remind him or her? If the patient does receive a colonoscopy, will your team be alerted so you can evaluate and respond to the exam results?

High-performing healthcare teams that are organized and trained to do what’s best for the patient can shine in this type of scenario, while low-performing teams can inadvertently let patients fall between the cracks. How do you make sure your healthcare team is one of the effective ones?

New research co-authored by Sara Singer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business and professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, provides answers.

Merilee Kern’s picture

By: Merilee Kern

The benefits of simulation-based training are indisputable and innumerable. Given its power and efficacy, this methodology is used in sectors beyond aerospace and military, where it gained its initial foothold. These include everything from manufacturing and retail to healthcare, fitness, fashion, and hospitality, reports indicate.

No longer reserved for mammoth corporations, now businesses of every size and scope can benefit from highly optimized, interactive cyber-training innovations. These come in the form of short-burst, micro-learning 3D simulations that are now as accessible as they are effective. Such brief, easy-to-digest content, which learners can access on their own time, provides numerous benefits. At its highest level, 3D simulation remote-training methods can immediately teach employees how to effectively navigate difficult conversations and communicate in a way that drives optimal outcomes and enriches relationships—all irrespective of where that employee is based.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

When the words “artificial intelligence” (AI) come to mind, your first thoughts may be of super-smart computers, or robots that perform tasks without needing any help from humans. Now, a multi-institutional team including researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has accomplished something not too far off: They developed an AI algorithm called CAMEO that discovered a potentially useful new material without requiring additional training from scientists. The AI system could help reduce the amount of trial-and-error time scientists spend in the lab, while maximizing productivity and efficiency in their research.

The research team published its work on CAMEO in Nature Communications

In the field of materials science, scientists seek to discover new materials that can be used in specific applications, such as a “metal that’s light but also strong for building a car, or one that can withstand high stresses and temperatures for a jet engine,” says NIST researcher Aaron Gilad Kusne.

Anthony D. Burns’s picture

By: Anthony D. Burns

Augmented reality (AR) means adding objects, animations, or information, that don’t really exist, to the real world. The idea is that the real world is augmented (or overlaid) with computer-generated material—ideally for some useful purpose.

Augmented reality has been around for about 30 years. But it’s only during the last five years or so that it has been widely used on mobile devices. If you have wondered why your new iPhone 12 has a LiDAR depth sensor, the answer is, in part, for augmented reality. Almost all modern phones now have depth sensors for AR. LiDAR makes depth sensing more accurate.

Unlike virtual reality (VR), AR on mobiles requires no special equipment. There’s no need for headsets or handheld devices. All you need is your mobile phone.

More than fun and games

Although games are probably the most notable use of AR on mobiles (Pokémon Go is a good example), there are business and training applications as well. Perhaps the simplest AR business application is labeling real-world objects. Google Maps, for example, recently launched Live View, adding real-world labeling of objects and directions via the mobile phone’s camera. Real-world objects, when viewed through the mobile phone, can show added text, objects, or 3D animations. Live View has all of these.

Bahar Aliakbarian’s picture

By: Bahar Aliakbarian

The two major U.S. developers of the early Covid-19 vaccines are Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They both developed mRNA vaccines, a relatively new type of vaccine. A major supply-chain issue is the temperature requirement for these vaccines.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at between –112° F (–80° C) and –94° F (–70° C), and the Moderna vaccine needs temperatures around –4° F (–20° C), which is close to the temperature of commercial-grade freezers. A third company developing vaccines, AstraZeneca, says it needs regular refrigeration temperature of 36° F to 46° F, or 2° to 8° C.

Multiple Authors
By: Thomas Malnight, Ivy Buche

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted different responses from company CEOs seeking to ensure their businesses survive. Keeping their employees safe has been the first priority, but beyond that, their task has involved understanding the situation, launching countermeasures, and trying to evolve ways of working to ensure their businesses can continue.

We spoke to the chief executives of three major companies in three very different industries. In their responses to the crisis, we found that Winston Churchill’s adage, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” was as relevant as ever, with businesses finding positives during the pandemic.

Accelerate strategy

Shipping giant A.P. Moller - Maersk embarked on an historic transformation in 2016 to become an integrated transport and logistics company—combining its shipping line, port operations, and freight forwarding businesses into a single entity. However, progress had been limited.

Tim Waldo’s picture

By: Tim Waldo

If you are like many small and medium-sized manufacturers, finding good help has been a pain point for many years, and it has become even more difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic. The market forces driving that dynamic are not likely to change soon.

Your shop has had to become more adaptive and responsive in operations during this uncertainty, facing many challenges but also opportunities. You can take a similar approach to hiring and developing your people. The same principles that apply to lean manufacturing and continuous improvement in production processes also apply to recruiting, management, and performance of people. If you could improve your system, you can improve your performance.

What is systems thinking?

Systems thinking is a toolkit, or a type of language that describes how systems interact through various connections and feedback. Systems thinking is a holistic way to see connections through:
• Feedback loops
• Relationships (direct and indirect)
• Interactions and influences
• Systems within systems

Barry Richmond was a leader in the fields of systems thinking and system dynamics. He emphasized that people embracing systems thinking position themselves so that they can see both the forest and the trees, with one eye on each.

Multiple Authors
By: Phanish Puranam, Julien Clément

Covid-19 has dealt most businesses a heavy blow, but the pandemic has at least one under-acknowledged upside. By moving organizations from the office into the virtual space, the pandemic has cracked open a treasure trove of data that can be used to streamline and optimize how organizations operate. We wrote a (free) ebook to help you capitalize on it.

The inner workings of organizations used to be largely invisible. Before many of us started working from home, pivotal decisions were made around a conference table, at a restaurant over lunch, or even in the lift—where interactions are hard to track. But virtual work, largely conducted via digital platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, makes the intangible concrete. Chat logs, video recordings, and activity trails on collaborative projects form a comprehensive, real-time record of organizational activity, offering managers new levels of insight into everything from employee morale to how informal ties among employees affect the outcomes of business decisions.

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