Peter Bilello’s picture

By: Peter Bilello

In our ongoing series of CIMdata articles on engineering.com, we’ve focused primarily on the digital (aka “virtual”) and physical aspects of digital transformation. Our discussion of these digital and physical elements has centered on what needs to be done with (and to) information as competitive and innovative new products, systems, services, and assets are developed, produced, and supported.

In the past two years, these articles have addressed almost everything being done to create and manage data and information throughout product life cycles within business units, and by suppliers and contractors who keep the extended enterprise profitable. In this article on data governance, however, I’m changing gears to address management, policies, procedures, and even “people” issues related to information handling to ensure it’s always right for use.

I want to shift attention away from computer monitors, apps, systems, and solutions to instead look at how best to keep all the moving parts in the digital enterprise from running off the rails. I’ll address the need for:

David Isaacson’s picture

By: David Isaacson

It’s not news that data have become the lifeblood to successful businesses. Their accumulation within and outside of companies has been growing at unprecedented rates. According to IDC, they will continue to double from 2022 to 2026.

 Yet a challenge that has plagued many manufacturers is how to strategically make use of their data—how to capture, clean, and share them, and most important, how to make sense of them to put them to good use. 2023 will become the year when companies get serious about getting their data houses in order.  

Del Williams’s picture

By: Del Williams

For owners and operators in the agricultural and food-processing industries, Jan. 1, 2022, was the deadline for completing a dust hazard analysis (DHA) for existing facilities in accordance with Chapter 7 of the National Fire Protection Association’s Standard 61 (2020) for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities.

NFPA 61 and other related NFPA standards detail essential strategies and procedures for protecting people, processes, and property from the hazards presented by fires and dust explosions in facilities handling, processing, and storing bulk grains such as corn, wheat, oats, barley, sunflower seeds, soybeans, their byproducts, and other agriculture-related combustible dusts. All new processes and facilities handling and generating combustible dusts are now required to perform a DHA.

Appendix F of NFPA 61 (2020) provides a comprehensive checklist that serves as a blueprint for generating a DHA. This checklist includes evaluating the dust explosion protection for process equipment that can often be at risk, such as bucket elevators, conveyors, grinders, silos, and systems for spray-drying and dust collection.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

The term “quiet quitting” emerged in March 2022, and refers to doing the bare minimal tasks of your job description well enough that you don’t get fired. The concept quickly went viral on TikTok.

Yet it only started to gain traction as an issue of concern among business leaders when government data on productivity released in August 2022 showed a sharp and unexpected drop in Q1 and Q2 of 2022. Soon after that worrisome datapoint in August, Gallup released a survey in early September indicating that as many as half of all Americans may be quiet quitters, further exacerbating business leadership concerns about this problem.

Tess Malone’s picture

By: Tess Malone

Imagine messaging an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot about a missing package and getting the response that it would be “delighted” to help. Once the bot creates the new order, it says it’s “happy” to resolve the issue. Afterward, you receive a survey about your interaction. But would you be likely to rate it as positive or negative?

This scenario isn’t that far from reality, as AI chatbots are already taking over online commerce. By 2025, 95 percent of companies will have an AI chatbot, according to Finance Digest. AI might not be sentient yet, but it can be programmed to express emotions.

Human service reps displaying positive emotions in customer service interactions have long been known to improve customer experience, but researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business wanted to see if this also applied to AI. They conducted experimental studies to determine if positive emotional displays improved customer service and found that emotive AI is only appreciated if the customer expects it. But it may not be the best avenue for companies to invest in.

Zeyi Yang’s picture

By: Zeyi Yang

The year ahead is already shaping up to be a hard one for semiconductor businesses. Famously defined by cycles of soaring and dwindling demand, the chip industry was expected to see declining growth in 2022 as the demand for consumer electronics plateaus.

But concerns over the economic cycle—and the challenges associated with making ever-more advanced chips—could easily be eclipsed by geopolitics.

In recent months, the U.S. has instituted the widest restrictions ever on what chips can be sold to China and who can work for Chinese companies. At the same time, it has targeted the supply side of the chip industry, introducing generous federal subsidies to attract manufacturing back to the U.S. Other governments in Europe and Asia that are home to major chip companies have introduced similar policies to maintain their own positions in the industry.

As these changes continue to take effect in 2023, they will throw a new element of uncertainty into an industry that has long relied on globally distributed supply chains and a fair amount of freedom in deciding with whom they do business.

Mark Hembree’s picture

By: Mark Hembree

When I started working from home in 1998, it wasn’t by choice. I was writing for a major record label that decided—in so many words—that I was like a painting that didn’t go with the furniture. (Fine. Know what you get when you play New Age music backward? New Age music.)

My panic-stricken response to sudden unemployment was to send out as many resumes and job applications as I could and explore freelance prospects in my spare time—an exactly backward approach. When I sought freelance work in earnest and sent resumes in my spare time, business picked up.

Long before work from home (WFH) became a well-known acronym, I enjoyed padding down the hall in my slippers and dealing with clients from the comfort of my home office. But when the novelty wore off, I felt my creativity dimming. I needed to hear voices that weren’t just in my head—so I began taking onsite temp work just to get out and be around other people. Sure enough, when an unlikely gig through Paladin led to a full-time position with a marketing firm, I found myself back in a corporate office.

That was in 2000. In April 2020, my employer’s offices evacuated and I found myself working from home again—and as the pandemic grew and business shrank, my position was eliminated. I was a freelancer again.

Edd Gent’s picture

By: Edd Gent

Ever since deep learning burst into the mainstream in 2012, the hype around AI research has often outpaced its reality. However, during the past year, a series of breakthroughs and major milestones suggest the technology may finally be living up to its promise.

Despite the obvious potential of deep learning, for the past decade regular warnings about the dangers of runaway superintelligence and the prospect of technological unemployment were tempered by the fact that most AI systems were preoccupied with identifying images of cats or providing questionable translations from English to Chinese.

Alan Metzel’s picture

By: Alan Metzel


Almost seven years ago, Quality Digest presented a short article by Matthew Barsalou titled “A Worksheet for Ishikawa Diagrams.” At the time, I commented concerning enhancements that provide greater granularity. Indicating that he would probably have little time to devote to such a project, Barsalou graciously invited me to expand upon his work. As one of the few positive outcomes of the recent storms that have raged across the United States, I’ve finally completed that task. In thanks to Barsalou—and with tribute to his mentor—I refer to this effort as the “Enhanced Perkin Tracker.”

Story update 1/23/2023: A previous version of this story linked to the wrong Excel file. That Excel link is now correct.

For those who might be unfamiliar with the Ishikawa diagram, it’s a graphic problem-solving tool used to relate multiple potential causes to a single effect in a rational manner. Based on its shape, it’s easy to understand why it’s often referred to as a “fishbone” or “herringbone” diagram.

Matt Fieldman’s picture

By: Matt Fieldman

I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz around the German apprenticeship system—but does it really live up to the hype?

That’s what a recent mission of 16 workforce professionals from around the United States set out to learn. Supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, funded by the European Recovery Program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, and coordinated by America Works in partnership with the American Council on Germany, the October 2022 trip was truly a team effort. Our group included eight professionals from the MEP Manufacturing Network and eight from other partner organizations—representing 11 states and a variety of educational, manufacturing, and government backgrounds.


Germany mission participants meet with apprentices and their trainer at a small manufacturer in Duren.

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