Sébastien Breteau’s picture

By: Sébastien Breteau

As commercialization strategies evolve amid Covid-19, and supply chains continue to trend toward diversification, the only way for businesses to control their destiny is to double down on quality standards. If cash is king, then quality is the king’s closest confidant since high quality protects and guides the bottom line.

To gain a competitive edge, many businesses are planning to digitize their supply chains so they can use real-time data to infuse quality safeguards into all the materials and products they buy, move, and sell through their entire supply chain. In a July 2020 survey of more than 200 companies conducted by QIMA, two-thirds of respondents reported that the pandemic has accelerated their company’s path toward digitizing their supply chain, including the use of new digital inspection and audit solutions.

Here are some of the ways digital transformation can help businesses enhance quality throughout their supply chain networks.

Identify quality challenges faster and reduce charge-backs

Consistently poor quality leads to exponential costs for a business, both internally and externally, and eventually hampers brand image, market share, and long-term growth if not properly addressed.

Jessica Ellspermann’s picture

By: Jessica Ellspermann

How you communicate a message is as important as the message itself. When it comes to internal communications, this certainly holds true. Company culture can give your organization a major strategic advantage in these changing times. But what your culture consists of—goals, values, and practices—must be effectively transmitted according to best practices if employees are going to understand and act upon them. Therefore, it’s essential to focus not just on what you’re communicating but also how you’re communicating it.

The 18 internal communications best practices below can improve your internal communications strategy and get your team connected, engaged, and motivated.

1. Envision, strategize, and plan communications

“Good ideas need good strategy to realize their potential.”
Reid Hoffman, founder, LinkedIn

What do you want internal communications to do for your team and your company? How will you get there? Where does your communication process stand right now, and what needs improvement? How soon would you like to reach your goals?

Robert Sanders’s picture

By: Robert Sanders

The U.S. Department of Defense and more than 80 companies, universities, states, and research institutes will invest at least $275 million during the next seven years to scale up the microbial production of biomolecules. The effort will enable a growing biomanufacturing industry to supply a broad range of businesses with large quantities of chemicals at the low prices necessary to make them competitive with petroleum-based alternatives.

Biomolecules on the market today are mostly drugs or fragrances made by small-batch fermentation in yeast or bacteria, a process much like that of a craft brewery. The goal of the public-private partnership, the Bioindustrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE), is to employ the same principles of genetic engineering and engineering biology used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce chemicals other than drugs on a scale similar to that used to ferment corn into ethanol for transportation. The new bioindustrial manufacturing innovation institute was announced on Oct. 20, 2020, by the Department of Defense (DoD).

Anju Dave Vaish’s picture

By: Anju Dave Vaish

T his year’s unprecedented lockdown happened just as we started moving forward with our 2020 goals. There has been a lot of speculation about Covid-19 and its consequences, much of it dire, but there has also been something that has kept us all rolling: the human mindset. With constraints come new creative ideas.

Our imagination, creativity, and innovation helps to lead us far away from stagnation, depression, and pessimism. According to Nielson India, there was a 44-percent rise in social media usage during the lockdown. There also was a 72-percent increase in ad content by influencers.

This year, in the midst of us all running to meet goals, climbing up career ladders, acquiring more, selling more, or aspiring for materialistic gains, Covid-19 suddenly arrived and put the brakes on all of it. For the first time in decades, Himalayan peaks became visible from many nearby cities, twittering birds could be heard, and deer wandered into urban areas. Perhaps this was a sincere greeting from nature—and a request to humans to learn to coexist?

Jérôme-Alexandre Lavoie’s picture

By: Jérôme-Alexandre Lavoie

With the increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EV), a lot of engineers and quality control specialists are facing new challenges when inspecting parts. Whereas traditional cars had primarily mechanical parts, EVs now feature complex electrical-mechanical devices controlled by software. Although they have fewer moving parts than gasoline vehicles, EVs have myriad complicated subsystems—all of which affect the performance and handling of these vehicles.

In order to improve product safety and production throughput, more EV manufacturers are turning to automated quality control systems in plants and right on their production floors. Anomalies can be instantaneously reported back to the engineering staff for quick corrective measures. Speeding up inspections leads to more throughput and a faster time to market.

Inefficient quality control, lack of skilled labor slow throughput

In today’s tough labor market, there is a clear lack of skilled labor with the experience and expertise required to perform effective quality control inspections.

Amitava Chattopadhyay’s picture

By: Amitava Chattopadhyay

For conventional, profit-seeking companies, moving into social impact carries huge contradictions. An ad hoc, small-scale initiative is an inexpensive way to do a bit of good and receive a nice warm glow in the process. But any attempt to achieve more serious impact through scaling the initiative will likely trigger awkward discussions about how much that warm glow is worth to the firm.

Thus, the ceiling remains low on social impact unless it can be justified in “win-win” terms. Needless to say, this is no easy feat.

Eric Whitley’s picture

By: Eric Whitley

Any company that decides to enter the mattress business is no doubt entranced by one undeniable fact: Everybody needs one.

Those companies that start producing and selling mattresses also quickly run into a harsh fact: Everybody already has one.

Purple saw opportunity. It looked at the positives and the negatives of the mattress business, and decided the only way to succeed was to be better than everyone else. Better innovators, better manufacturers, better fulfillment specialists. Simply put, Purple had to change the game.

So, it did. Purple is a comfort technology company that designs and manufactures products to help people feel and live better through innovative comfort solutions. Purple designs and manufactures a range of comfort technology products, including mattresses, pillows, and seat cushions. Brothers Tony and Terry Pearce, both engineers, founded Purple.

Their quest to design and build the world's best mattress resulted in an incredibly responsive, pliable, strong material called hyper-elastic polymer. They had a game-changing innovation; now, they just had to build it.

Alper Kerman’s picture

By: Alper Kerman

Huh? What? At least that was my response the first time I heard the words "zero trust" when I started working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) in the fall of 2018. Mind you, I was also making a fresh start with an enormous jump to cybersecurity from a career track that had generally been in software engineering.

Sure, I did design and develop secure software solutions and even put together secure systems and platforms at times throughout my career, but zero trust seemed like a different ballgame to me. For one thing, it didn't have a fence.

What do I mean by that? Well, the traditional approach to cybersecurity relies on barriers—firewalls—that control traffic coming in and out of a network. Zero trust, on the other hand, is about assuming no barriers. It is usually mentioned in the same breath as "removing perimeters," "shrinking perimeters," "reducing perimeters," or "going perimeter-less." These are common references to the idea of "de-perimeterization," which was originally introduced by a group called the Jericho Forum back in 2005.

Judith Su’s picture

By: Judith Su

My Little Sensor Lab at the University of Arizona develops ultrasensitive optical sensors for medical diagnostics, medical prognostics, environmental monitoring, and basic science research. Our sensor technology identifies substances by shining light on samples and measuring the index of refraction, or how much light is slowed down when it passes through a material that is different from one substance to another—say, water and a DNA molecule.

The big idea

Our technology lets us detect extremely low concentrations of molecules down to one in a million-trillion molecules and can give results in under 30 seconds.

Ordinarily, index of refraction is too subtle to detect in a single molecule, but using a technology we developed, we can pass light through a sample thousands of times, which amplifies the change. This makes our sensor among the most sensitive in existence.

The device includes a tiny ring that light races around—240,000 times in 40 nanoseconds, or billionths of a second. A liquid sample surrounds the sensor. Some of the light extends outside of the ring, where it interacts with the sample thousands of times.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

Does the phrase “garbage in—garbage out” (GIGO) ring a bell? That’s the idea that if you use flawed, low-quality information to inform your decisions and actions, you’ll end up with a rubbish outcome. Yet despite the popularity of the phrase, we see such bad outcomes informed by poor data all the time.

In one of the worst recent business disasters, two crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max airplane killed 346 people and led to Boeing losing more than $25 billion in market capitalization as well as more than $5 billion in direct revenue. We know from internal Boeing emails that many Boeing employees in production and testing knew about the quality problems with the design of the 737 Max; a number communicated these problems to the senior leadership.

However, as evidenced by the terrible outcome, the data collection and dissemination process at Boeing failed to take in such information effectively. The leadership instead relied on falsely optimistic evidence of the safety of the 737 Max in their rush to compete with the Airbus A320 model, which was increasingly outcompeting Boeing’s offerings.

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