Shelly Fan’s picture

By: Shelly Fan

I admit, if I see a beehive, I back away. But part of me is also fascinated. Beehives are a remarkable feat of engineering. Swarms of bees deposit materials ranging from tree buds to chewed-up wax into densely packed honeycombs—each a geometric masterpiece—while flying in the air.

In stark contrast, human construction is far more land-bound. Bulldozers, compactors, and concrete mixers are highly effective, and they’ve been the backbone for establishing our infrastructure. But they’re also bulky, unwieldy, and require roads or other means of transportation. This kneecaps their ability to rapidly respond to natural disasters on islands and other remote locations that need quick help, especially after emergencies.

Unfortunately, we’ve had increasingly frequent climate examples. Drastic road erosions due to raging wildfires. Highways and bridges that crumble after being soaked in water from floods and hurricanes. Recently, even as parts of Puerto Rico were still recovering from Hurricane Maria, many homes were once again flooded by Hurricane Fiona.

Is there a way to rapidly build shelters, or even houses, in difficult-to-access areas and better tackle these emergencies?

Ben P. Stein’s picture

By: Ben P. Stein

Right after the pandemic hit, I bought a new vacuum cleaner. I wanted to step up my housecleaning skills since I knew I’d be home a lot more. I was able to buy mine right away, but friends who wanted new appliances weren’t so lucky. My relatives had to wait months for their new refrigerator to arrive. And it wasn’t just appliances. New cars were absent from dealership lots, while used cars commanded a premium.

What do all these things have in common? Semiconductor chips.

The pandemic disrupted the global supply chain, and semiconductor chips were particularly vulnerable. The chip shortage delivered a wake-up call for our country to make our supply chain more resilient and increase domestic manufacturing of chips, which are omnipresent in modern life.

“To an astonishing degree, the products and services we encounter every day are powered by semiconductor chips,” says Mike Molnar, director of NIST’s Office of Advanced Manufacturing.

Jeetu Patel’s picture

By: Jeetu Patel

In recent years, pretty much every assumption about how, where, and when we work has been upended. But I believe we’re still at just the beginning of a revolution in hybrid work.

Today, there’s a clear opportunity for organizations to step into the next wave of working, supported by even better technology and workplace cultures that nurture work/life balance and creative collaboration. Along the way, we can create new opportunities and expand inclusivity as we dissolve the traditional barriers of geography, language, and culture.

Yet there’s also a risk: Those organizations that fail to learn the lessons of the past two years and try to return to a 100-percent, office-based work strategy will fall short in productivity, talent retention, and so much more.

As I speak to our global customers, all are laser-focused on hybrid work as one of the most critical—and challenging—business transitions of our time.

Michael Okrent’s picture

By: Michael Okrent

Want a new car? You may have to wait as long as six months, depending on the model you order. Looking for a spicy condiment? Supplies of sriracha hot sauce have been running dangerously low. And if you feed your cat or dog dry pet food, expect empty shelves or elevated prices.

Mark Rosenthal’s picture

By: Mark Rosenthal

Once again I’m going through old files. Looking back at my notes from 2005, I believe I was thinking about nailing these points to a church door somewhere in the company. That actually isn’t a bad analogy because I was advocating a pretty dramatic shift in the role of the kaizen workshop leaders.

This was written four years before I first encountered the book Toyota Kata (McGraw-Hill, 2009) and reflected on my experience as a lean director operating within a $2 billion slice of a global manufacturing company. What reading Toyota Kata did for me was to solidify what I wrote below and provide a structure for actually doing it.

Kaizen events

Kaizen events (or whatever we want to call the traditional weeklong activity) can be a useful tool when used in the context of an overall plan, but they are neither necessary nor sufficient to implement our operating system.

There are times when any specific tool is appropriate. There are no universal tools, kaizen tools included.

Multiple Authors
By: Mara Strenger, Svenja Kloss, Markus Schmid

When looking in the fridge, you notice a package of minced meat sitting at the back of one of the shelves, totally forgotten. A check of the best-before date reveals it had expired two days earlier. Like so many consumers, you feel an internal struggle emerging: risk food poisoning or discard a potentially safe product? One possible solution for this conundrum could be “intelligent packaging.”

Intelligent packaging monitors the condition of the food or the environment surrounding the packaged food. Standard packaging plays one or more of four roles: protection, communication, convenience and containment.

Protection can be regarded as the most important function, as it can influence whether the food ends up as waste. Intelligent packaging can fulfill the four main functions and can also provide information about the condition and freshness of the food.

Adam Grant’s picture

By: Adam Grant

Even before the pandemic, burnout was labeled as an epidemic. It’s the persistent work-related stress that’s exhausting and impairing. In the U.S., more than half of employees feel burned out at least some of the time, and it can lead to what has recently been termed “quiet quitting”—reduced engagement that manifests in apathy and disconnection.

Evidence shows that burnout can result in mistakes on the job, fuel thoughts of quitting, and can be contagious in organizations. Burnout is also linked to depression, memory loss, sleep problems, weakened immune systems, and cardiovascular disease. Estimates suggest that it costs more than $100 billion in annual healthcare spending in the U.S. alone.

Kevin Kanimyar’s picture

By: Kevin Kanimyar

Amidst the rise of conscious consumerism, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are fast becoming an essential part of any business. With about $20 billion spent every year by Fortune 500 companies alone, businesses around the world are working to integrate CSR programs into their business model. But while CSR programs have grown in recent years, not all are created equal.

Do it right the first time

One need only recall how Toms Shoes took the world by storm with their “one-for-one” model. Also known as “buy-one, give-one,” this social entrepreneurship business model seeks to simultaneously create commercial and social value. In short, for every purchase from the business, an equivalent or similar product will be given away to someone in need.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

Drones, the aerial eye of the job site, have become a versatile tool for earthmoving operations. Among their benefits are increased efficiency, productivity, and accuracy on job sites. In addition, drones help reduce unplanned costs and rework throughout a project by providing a steady stream of job site progress data. 

As drone technology evolves, the greater the ROI in employing them, points out Zach Pieper, director of operations and co-owner of Quantum Land Design, an industry leader in managing and preparing 3D data required for construction projects of any scale. “That’s why it’s important for those in the construction industry, especially in earthmoving, to learn about using drones.” 

Jeff Dewar’s picture

By: Jeff Dewar

In this third installment of our five-part series, we talk with Jim Templin, CEO of ASQE.

Yes, you read that right, ASQE. As in ASQ Excellence. It’s an entirely new legal entity connected at the hip to the ASQ we all know and love. It’s a trade organization that other organizations can belong to, not individuals (which is what ASQ is all about). Current membership is about 180 organizations, including Procter & Gamble, FedEx, and the IRS. Dozens have joined in 2022 alone.

Some weeks ago, Quality Digest Editor in Chief Dirk Dusharme and I attended ASQ’s 2022 World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI) in Anaheim, California. It was the first in-person conference since Covid hit the world, and attendance was just over 1,000, about a third of what had been the norm.

ASQ made its leadership available for wide-ranging video interviews covering everything from the future of the quality profession to the organization’s new legal structure. Quality Digest appreciates ASQ’s efforts to help us provide valuable reporting to our readers.

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