Christopher Allan Smith’s picture

By: Christopher Allan Smith

This final article in the series is about dealing with the aftermath of catastrophe. When it was originally written, not so long ago, it was a look back to the Camp Fire of 2018, and what those of us who survived learned that could help those in the future deal with their own disasters.

But the summer of 2021 has reminded us, again, that we are always living in an aftermath. As I write this new introduction, communities across Butte and Plumas counties, like Greenville, pick through the ashes of homes that still stood when I began writing this series. And flames curve around the rim of the communities of Lake Tahoe.

In the media stories about disasters, there is often a kind of curve that emerges.

Peace gives way to catastrophe. Unexpected heroes emerge, displaying service and courage. First responders, governmental, and private groups rush in to nurse the wounded and restore peace—or at least lessen the destruction that chaos leaves behind.

Teary survivors survey the wreckage that was once their anonymous corner of the world and look to the future with resolution to build it all back. Wreckage is cleared, hammers start driving into two-by-fours, and pretty soon after that, the story is “over.”

Matt Mong’s picture

By: Matt Mong

During a recent interview with Dirk Dusharme, host of Quality Digest’s QDL, we discussed project-based manufacturing, the umbrella term that covers the types of manufacturing done on a project-driven schedule. Some refer to this as “engineer to order” (ETO), a niche in engineering-focused manufacturing.

As repetitive high-volume manufacturing has been offshored to China, Vietnam, and other locations, many U.S. manufacturers have moved toward mass customization (sometimes called “made to order”) for the consumer market. These typically involve a base product to which the customer can add variations. Project-based products, on the other hand, are unique to each customer from the ground up and have grown significantly now that the technology is able to support it.

Project-based products are largely targeted at the B2B customer. The types of industries that are project-based include those that manufacture equipment for wind turbines, aerospace and defense, and biotech, as well as contract pharmaceutical developers. These projects tend to be long-term and complex.

Christa Martin’s picture

By: Christa Martin

Unless you are a supervillain, or hiding from the authorities, a cloak of invisibility is not necessarily a good thing. When you’re in business, and you are looking to use your digital presence to drive customers and revenue, invisibility, most definitely, is not a good thing. But if you can’t remember the last time you updated your website—or if the pictures and text look super-teeny-tiny on your mobile device—you may, very well, be invisible.

Google’s new mobile first indexing for the whole web

That’s because in March 2020, Google—the search engine, internet-of-everything behemoth—announced it was changing the way that websites are indexed into its search engine. Though we’ll get deeper into the weeds in a moment, the key distinction is this: If your website isn’t built with a mobile-first posture, it now—and likely, into the future—will be overlooked by Google’s indexing algorithm.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

In any lab setting, bench space is limited. Between samples, notebooks, laptops, and other various supplies, it can be hard to find a place to put your test or measurement equipment.

If you use microscopes in your daily inspection work, the need to use two systems to look at one sample compounds the problem. Inspectors often observe a sample on a low-magnification microscope to identify an area of interest, then move the sample to a high-magnification and high-resolution microscope to take measurements and capture images. The process of moving samples and reacquiring the area of interest on another microscope is inefficient and means you have two systems taking up valuable space.

The solution to this challenge is surprisingly simple: use one system that provides low magnification for the initial review and high magnification with high resolution for the detailed inspection. One example is the Olympus DSX1000 digital microscope.

Taran March @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Taran March @ Quality Digest

You may work in a state-of-the-art lab, but do your ergonomic practices still linger in the 19th century? If you spend more than five hours a day at a microscope, leave work with blurred vision and a persistent downward tilt to your neck, then the answer is, sadly, yes. In that case it’s time you put a stop to these harmful work habits and improve both your well-being and productivity.

To do this, begin by considering what you know about ergonomics. For the most part, people vaguely understand that ergonomics is a lateral branch of science that studies how to fit work to the worker, not the other way around. Expensive chairs and terms such as carpal tunnel factor into it. Organizations, to greater or lesser degrees, launch initiatives to ergonomically organize their workspaces.

But how do ergonomics fit into your personal lab habits? If you’re a chronic sloucher, or habitually skip your breaks, chances are that ergonomics play a very small role in your work day, regardless of your comprehension of the concept. For most of us, it’s easy for ergonomic improvements to live in our heads rather than our musculoskeletal systems.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Manufacturing is a very competitive business where high-quality products are expected. And some clients require extremely tight surface measurement tolerances, so being competitive means investing in tools that can satisfy customer requirements.

The confocal advantage

Submicron 3D observation and measurement is a game-changing reality with confocal microscopy. Optical and standard digital microscopes are unable to measure such tiny shapes with the level of resolution and clarity that smart manufacturing demands.

Operators using Olympus’ LEXT OL5100 laser microscope have the advantage of more than 17,000X magnification. This kind of power allows for nanometer-scale measurements used for step-height and volumetric measurements. Many manufacturing clients also require surface roughness analysis of materials at this scale.

Olympus LEXT OL5100
Olympus LEXT OL5100 microscope

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Taran March @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Taran March @ Quality Digest

In regulated industries, every step of the production process must be verified to some sort of guidance or standard. What this comes down to, practically speaking, is an enormous amount of time and effort spent on actions outside the sphere of production. Every day of production seems to create a day of compliance verification. The most effective way for companies to cope is by standardizing their processes for meeting standards.

There are a lot of processes that need to be standardized. Beyond the common standard operating procedures (SOP), there are protocols to ensure proper setup, operation, and performance of equipment and software. There’s required and verified training for personnel. And there’s setting up restrictions so that only authorized individuals can access a system. All of these processes must be documented, and those documents verified.

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Multiple Authors
By: Joe Chew, Jeroen van Tilborg

The Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed and tested an innovative optical system to precisely measure and control the position and pointing angle of high-power laser beams with unprecedented accuracy—without interrupting or disturbing the beams. The new system will help users throughout the sciences get the most out of high-power lasers.

The experimental validation effort was led by doctoral candidate Fumika Isono of Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. Her findings are described in a paper published recently by the Cambridge University Press journal, High Power Laser Science and Engineering.

“This is a tremendous advancement in measurement and control that will benefit high-power laser facilities worldwide,” says Cameron Geddes, director of Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics (ATAP) Division, of which the BELLA Center is a part.

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Jason Chester’s picture

By: Jason Chester

The most popular phrase in manufacturing today is “digital transformation.” Every company now understands the immense value digital transformation can provide. It’s essential for overhauling efficiency, agility, and ultimately, the bottom line. Digital transformation represents the very essence of the future of smart manufacturing.

But even the phrase “digital transformation” sounds overwhelming. Manufacturers must therefore make this seemingly unassailable initiative more manageable by taking a tactical, phased approach. A tactical approach is one that focuses on completing smaller value-focused initiatives while keeping risk, expectations, and potential disruptions in check. As experience is gained and value is demonstrated, the move toward fully “transformed” digital operations is achieved through an iterative process of expansion.

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Peter Dizikes’s picture

By: Peter Dizikes

 First published August 25, 2021, on MIT News.

In 2010, the city of Rio de Janeiro opened its Operations Center, a high-tech command post centralizing the activities of 30 agencies. With its banks of monitors looming over rows of employees, the center brings flows of information to city leaders regarding crime, traffic, and emergency preparedness, among other things, to help officials anticipate and solve problems.

That’s one vision of technology and urban life. Another, quite different vision of deploying technology debuted in Rio six years later, at architect Guto Requena’s Dancing Pavilion, built for the 2016 summer Olympics. The pavilion had a dance floor, banks of mirrors rotating in response to people’s movement, and lighting that changed according to the activity levels in the building. The goal was to enhance sociality and spontaneity.

Between these two alternate applications of large-scale technology in public places, MIT urban studies researchers Fabio Duarte and Ricardo Alvarez have a clear favorite: the Dancing Pavilion and its ever-evolving interplay of people and the built environment, as opposed to the deployment of technology as a tracking tool monitoring urban systems.

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