Rob McAveney’s picture

By: Rob McAveney

For most discrete manufacturing companies, digital transformation initiatives are underway in some capacity. They’re largely seen as table stakes in today’s economy. Unfortunately, outdated systems and procedures often bring problems that hinder these initiatives.

A lack of consistency among engineering fields is one of the problems. Effective collaboration is still a far-off ideal. Enterprise cohesion can result in benefits like better quality, quicker innovation, on-time product launches, and lower operational expenses. The digital thread method of product life cycle tracking makes all of this possible.

This digital thread is crucial for successfully increasing organizational efficiency and improving communication across teams, groups, and the entire firm, regardless of your workforce paradigm.

A look at historical challenges

Most product life cycle management processes developed naturally over long periods of time with a constantly changing ecosystem of technologies. These processes—which span mechanical, electronic, electrical, software, simulation, systems, and other engineering disciplines—weren’t primarily built to bridge all those disciplines. The life cycle, from conceptual design to engineering, manufacture, operation, and service, lacks cohesiveness. 

Andrey Koptelov’s picture

By: Andrey Koptelov

In this age of rapid technological innovation, the introduction of sophisticated technologies in various industries has raised complex ethical dilemmas. As businesses strive to achieve financial goals and keep stakeholders happy, they also have to mitigate the adverse effects of technology implementation. In this article, we’ll examine how implementing enterprise resource planning, particularly custom ERP solutions, can affect employee well-being, data privacy, cybersecurity, and fairness in the workplace, and how organizations can minimize or mitigate the negative effects.

Balancing stakeholder obligations

Although ERP implementation can streamline workflows in many industries, managers are often faced with the ethical dilemma of balancing the maximization of financial returns, fulfilling obligations to stakeholders, and prioritizing the well-being of employees.

Jones Loflin’s picture

By: Jones Loflin

During my 29 years of working with leaders and managers, I’ve rarely heard any of them say, “I’m so excited about doing the performance reviews for my team.” They see it as another “elephant” in their schedule. 

But performance reviews are important. Some of the benefits include:

I also believe there’s another type of review you should do to improve your team’s success: It’s a performers review. This one isn’t about their performance per se, but more about how you are doing as the team leader. Hopefully you already get this feedback from your team (formally or informally). If not, a performers review can uncover some of these valuable insights.

Jennifer Chu’s picture

By: Jennifer Chu

Getting blood test results can take anywhere from a day to a week, depending on what a test is targeting. The same goes for tests of water pollution and food contamination. And in most cases, the wait time has to do with time-consuming steps in sample processing and analysis.

Now, MIT engineers have identified a new optical signature in a widely used class of magnetic beads which could be used to quickly detect contaminants in a variety of diagnostic tests. For example, the team showed the signature could be used to detect signs of the food contaminant salmonella.

The so-called “Dynabeads” are microscopic magnetic beads that can be coated with antibodies that bind to target molecules, such as a specific pathogen. Dynabeads are typically used in experiments in which they are mixed into solutions to capture molecules of interest. But from there, scientists have to take additional, time-consuming steps to confirm that the molecules are indeed present and bound to the beads.

The MIT team found a faster way to confirm the presence of Dynabead-bound pathogens using optics—specifically, Raman spectroscopy. This optical technique identifies specific molecules based on their “Raman signature,” or the unique way in which a molecule scatters light.

Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By: Donald J. Wheeler

As we learned last month, the precision to tolerance ratio is a trigonometric function multiplied by a scalar constant. This means that it should never be interpreted as a proportion or percentage. Yet the simple P/T ratio is being used, and misunderstood, all over the world. So how can we properly make use of the P/T ratio?

The usual motivation behind the computation of the P/T ratio is a desire to determine if a measurement procedure is adequate for a given production process. And there are two ways that measurements support a production process: They can be used to scrape the burnt toast (inspection), or they can be used to learn how to stop burning the toast (process improvement). If the measurement system is adequate to allow us to improve the process, then we can often get to the point where we no longer have to depend upon inspection to ship conforming product. So, of these two ways that measurements support production, the role of process improvement is the more critical in the long term.

Mike Figliuolo’s picture

By: Mike Figliuolo

Life goals. Bucket lists. “One day I’ll ....”

We all have dreams and goals. The biggest difference between people who achieve them and those who don’t is the act of actually doing. Do you have goals and things you want to achieve? Professional aspirations? Personal bucket list items?

Let me ask this: What’s stopping you from starting on them?

I don’t tend to get motivational on this blog. (Every time someone asks me if I’m a motivational speaker, I can’t help but think of that Saturday Night Live Chris Farley skit). But today I’m serving up a little motivation, Yoda-style.

Luke whined, “All right. I’ll give it a try.”

The Yoda Fountain at Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco’s Presidio. Credit: Muboshgu

Yoda gave Luke an attitude adjustment “No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.”

What would Yoda say to you if you talked to him about your goals and your progress toward them?

That’s what I thought.

NIST’s picture


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines can clearly view non-bony parts of the body—soft tissue such as the brain, muscles, and ligaments—as well as detect tumors, making it possible to diagnose many diseases and other conditions. However, the powerful magnets in conventional MRI machines make them expensive and bulky, confining them mainly to hospitals and other large facilities.

As an alternative solution, companies are developing new portable versions that have lower-strength magnetic fields. These new models can potentially expand the ways in which MRI is used. For instance, low-field MRI systems could be deployed in ambulances and other mobile settings. They also could cost much less and make MRI more widely available, including in underserved communities and developing nations.

Matthew M. Lowe’s picture

By: Matthew M. Lowe

Let’s start with a definition of Industry 4.0, keeping in mind that we’re rapidly approaching Industry 5.0. Industry 4.0 is an era marked by enhanced digitization and the increased connectivity of smart technologies. Where Industry 5.0 is more values-driven, it will require the technology of Industry 4.0 to achieve full potential. Quality management plays a vital role for both. 

The technology advancements available today can lead to improved quality processes and more efficient operations. Yet we still see paper processes lingering in many life sciences organizations. MasterControl recently conducted a survey to assess the digital maturity of life sciences organizations, and 32% of respondents stated that manual, paper-based processes are still a very significant pain point in their operations. Smarter, more connected technologies are revolutionizing the way medical devices and pharmaceutical products are developed, manufactured, and used.

Chandrakant Isi’s picture

By: Chandrakant Isi

An increasing number of engineers are embracing design for manufacturing (DFM) to streamline their production workflow. Industry leaders such as Apple, GE, and Samsung have already adopted DFM as part of their standard practices. If you’re using the “over the wall” engineering strategy—one where the design team completes their work and then tosses it to the manufacturing team to figure out production details—it might be a good time to revise your production process.

DATRON Dynamics’s picture

By: DATRON Dynamics

Every CNC machine purchase begins with a need and the inspiration to grow. Recognizing the value in his ability to design and manufacture customer products in-house, Clint Caldwell of Solid Design Enterprises (SDE) wanted to put his extensive manufacturing background to work and move beyond his company’s origins of a “design only” business. Starting out with a Haas CM1 in 2019 and then adding a DATRON neo in 2022 has allowed SDE to take on a wider variety of projects and better serve its customers.

During the past 25 years, Caldwell has worked as a production manager, manufacturing engineer, manufacturing process designer, and prototype machinist and programmer across a variety of industries, including optics, defense, and space. His passion for design and manufacturing led him to form SDE in 2009 to provide mechanical design services. Early on, SDE worked with small companies and individuals who were developing their own products. But soon Caldwell’s growing customer base began asking him to manufacture the parts he had designed.

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