Hamza Mudassir’s picture

By: Hamza Mudassir

Disney has announced a significant restructuring of its media and entertainment business, boldly placing most of its growth ambitions and investments into its recently launched streaming service, Disney+. The 97-year-old media conglomerate is now more like Netflix than ever before.

What this means is that Disney will be reducing its focus from (and potentially the investments routed to) theme parks, cruises, cinema releases, and cable TV. As CEO Bob Chapek says: “Given the incredible success of Disney+ and our plans to accelerate our direct-to-consumer business, we are strategically positioning our company to more effectively support our growth strategy and increase shareholder value.”

Steve McCarthy’s picture

By: Steve McCarthy

The ideal of proactive quality has been the holy grail of chief quality officers in the life sciences industry for at least five years, but few, if any, have realized the vision. Industry has since set out a clear definition of the milestones a medical product manufacturer would need to meet in order to achieve proactive quality as a differentiator. Many of those are cultural, but the majority require quality technology and innovation to reach the disruptive levels they have today.

Quality 4.0 is defined as the application of Industry 4.0’s advanced digital technologies to enhance traditional best practices in quality management. With the advent of such innovations as AI and IoT in the quality management ecosystem, the promise of proactive quality is finally a reality. Today the industry faces unprecedented challenges but also opportunities to serve patients like never before; both require innovation in business and product as well as in how companies approach quality.

This article highlights just one of these key challenges and opportunities: the increasing complexity and diversity of the supply chain itself. It emphasizes the reasons why recognizing and embracing bimodality is so vitally important, and how quality technology is a critical enabler for life sciences companies under these unique pressures.

Craig Tomita’s picture

By: Craig Tomita

One of the most significant developments of potential interest to small and medium-sized manufacturers in the area of industrial robots is the introduction about 10 years or so ago of a subset of industrial robots called collaborative robots or “cobots.”

What makes them different from standard industrial robots is that cobots are specifically designed to be safely used around people. Why is this significant? Well, industrial robots, as high-tech as they might appear, are actually dumb. They will move to the place and at the speed that they have been programmed to achieve, but if a person happens to get in the way on the way to their destination, look out! Because standard industrial robots are designed for high speed, and they run off of high voltage (typically 220V AC) , they can be dangerous. Think of the last time that you saw the image of an industrial robot in an actual manufacturing setting. Why do you think they are normally situated in cages or behind guarding?

Victor Piedrafita’s picture

By: Victor Piedrafita

During the last decade, we’ve witnessed the emergence of sustainability issues among the most important business concerns in a firm’s supply chain. An increasing number of firms have reexamined their relations with suppliers and moved forward to build a more sustainable supply network, by not only monitoring their suppliers’ compliance, but also fostering their capabilities to properly address various environmental and social challenges.

FIBS, a Finnish organization that fosters sustainability, states as one of the key results of its Corporate Responsibility Survey 2017 Summary that sustainable and responsible supply chains have become strategic goals for Finnish companies. However, implementing this remains a challenging issue, as does the need for resources, systematic training, and learning from the best practices developed by others.

What is ‘sustainability?’

The most extended and accepted definition of sustainability was put forward in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development. According to the commission, sustainability is ‘‘a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’’

MIT News’s picture

By: MIT News

As part of the MIT Task Force on the “Work of the Future’s” recent series of research briefs, MIT professors Paul Osterman and Kathleen Thelen highlight the critical role that skills, education, and workforce training play in providing pathways to employment for low- and moderate-skilled workers and young adults. The briefs explore the highly fragmented U.S. workforce training system and comparable programs in Europe, in which the private sector is significantly engaged in both the classroom and the workplace.

Sue Via’s picture

By: Sue Via

Research has shown that during economic uncertainty, companies that find a balance between reducing resources to survive and investing in key areas for growth will fare better through the recession and beyond. It’s a nuanced approach to playing offense and defense at the same time.

But many small and medium-sized manufacturers that have been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic find themselves with what seem to be few options. They have reduced resources to the point that they have no time for anything beyond operations. When they do have time, it’s from a decrease in business, which means they do not have money to invest.

As a result, they may have become risk-averse, hesitant to upgrade machinery, or hire before business returns. But opportunity involves risk. Hunkering down to wait out economic uncertainty is typically not a path for future stability, growth, or even change.

A key for getting out of risk-aversion mode is creating a culture that encourages ideas and is willing to question if there might be a better way to do something. Continuous improvement starts with a mindset. But it also depends on a methodology or systems so that activities become part of routines and are measured and reviewed.

Multiple Authors
By: Erik Fogelman, Jeff Orszak

With the increasing power of digital technology, the idea of a connected manufacturing system that can sense, analyze, and respond will soon be a reality. This idea—called “intelligent edge”—combines computing power, data analytics, and advanced connectivity to allow responses to be made much closer to where the data are captured. It takes emerging internet of things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 capabilities to the next level.

Cybersecurity plays a complex role in this vision. On one hand, technological advances can lead to improved cybersecurity capabilities. On the other hand, when built without a consideration for privacy, data integrity, or network resilience, such technological advances can instead increase cyber risks dramatically.

The capabilities that enable the intelligent edge include artificial intelligence (AI), computing hardware, networking capabilities, and standard protocols. Advances in these capabilities have converged to help tie together components that accelerate the realization of Industry 4.0. Here are the key components that enable new ways of working, new products and services, and new value creation.

Multiple Authors
By: Anil Ananthaswamy, Knowable Magazine

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

A few years ago, scientists learned something remarkable about mallard ducklings. If one of the first things the ducklings see after birth is two objects that are similar, the ducklings will later follow new pairs of objects that are similar, too. Hatchlings shown two red spheres at birth will later show a preference for two spheres of the same color, even if they are blue, over two spheres that are each a different color. Somehow, the ducklings pick up and imprint on the idea of similarity, in this case the color of the objects. They can imprint on the notion of dissimilarity, too.

Elizabeth Benham’s picture

By: Elizabeth Benham

This year will be the 45th anniversary of the Metric Conversion Act, which was signed on Dec. 23, 1975, by President Gerald R. Ford. Normally, we celebrate by sharing metric education resources, but this year I want to use the occasion to dispel some common misconceptions about the U.S. relationship with the metric system.

You’ve probably heard that the United States, Liberia, and Burma (aka Myanmar) are the only countries that don’t use the metric system (International System of Units or SI). You may have even seen a map that has been incriminatingly illustrated to show how they are out of step with the rest of the world.

Countries that have not "officially" adopted the metric system (The United States, Myanmar, and Liberia) in gray. Credit: AzaToth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


George Schuetz’s picture

By: George Schuetz

Before a fixture gauge is designed, the engineer must understand what specifications must be inspected. In many respects, the gauge’s design reflects not only the design of the part but also the manufacturing processes that produced it.

Machinists must establish datums in order to machine a part accurately, and gauge designers often need to know what those datums are in order to position the part repeatably relative to the gauge head or other sensitive device. Sounds simple and straightforward, but that is not always the case.

Sometimes the parts are so large that they cannot easily be brought to the gauge, and a special arrangement might be required to bring the gauge to a section of the part. Other times, the part is so small that it seems impossible to get to the dimension that must be measured. Gauge designers are always amused when a part print—that comes in at 10 times the normal size—refers to a small land at the bottom of the bore. At 10 times the size, it looks pretty simple, although in reality it may be impossible to measure.

This is when good fixture design comes into play to ensure the measurement can be made in a way that is easy for the operator to make, and to produce repeatable and accurate results.

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