Barrett Thompson’s picture

By: Barrett Thompson

A hot topic of conversation for many B2B industrial companies is the talent and skills gap due to the generational shift in the workforce from baby boomers to millennials. According to Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, “Too many employers are sleepwalking toward a significant skills problem that risks derailing their business strategy if not addressed. Not enough organizations are thinking strategically about workforce planning or even enough about the make-up of their workforce.”

Generational skills gap causing a quality gap

Recruiting and retaining millennials for sales teams is often cited as a primary concern. As baby boomers retire and exit the workforce, decades of quality experience, product, and market knowledge leave as well. Loss of quality is often the impact of this workforce transition on sales teams.

Sarah Webb’s picture

By: Sarah Webb

What you see in the image below is a lobe of a liver, times two. On the right, a flesh-and-blood one, removed from a transplant donor; and on the left, one created from plastic to represent bile ducts, arteries, and veins, which were laid down, layer by layer, by a 3D printer. The goal of such technology is to help surgeons plan and practice complex procedures, and train new surgeons with simulators that respond as a patient would.

Surgeons navigate complex anatomical terrain as they manipulate scalpel and suture to cut and stitch precisely and quickly. Their job is made harder by the fact that human anatomy is far from uniform. To properly prepare, they routinely use two-dimensional images from computerized tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to plan.

But increasingly they are turning to realistic 3D models that are specific for individual patients.

Such models are already used to educate patients, to do general training, and to plan and practice especially difficult procedures. But in the future, 3D models, be they physical or virtual, could become routine tools for training surgeons or mapping procedures in advance.

Brooke Kuei’s picture

By: Brooke Kuei

A  technique developed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in collaboration with Dow and Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, is providing atomic-resolution details about magnesium chloride, a material involved in the production of the most common plastic, polyethylene. This could help to create a path toward sustainable plastics. The team’s findings were reported in Advanced Functional Materials.

The researchers used pulsed electron beams in an electron microscope to produce first-of-their-kind images of magnesium chloride. A continuous electron beam rapidly damages this delicate, beam-sensitive material, but the new technique allowed the researchers to study it without harm.

Multiple Authors
By: Stephen Rice, Scott Winter

As driverless cars become more capable and common, they will change people’s travel habits not only around their own communities but across much larger distances. Our research has revealed just how much people’s travel preferences could shift, and found a new potential challenge to the airline industry.

Imagine someone who lives in Atlanta and needs to travel to Washington, D.C., for business. This is about a 10-hour drive. A flight takes about two hours, assuming no delays. Add to that the drive to the airport, checking in, the security line, and waiting at the gate. Upon arrival in D.C., it may take another 30 minutes to pick up any checked bags and find a rental car—and even more time to drive to the specific destination. The average person would estimate a total travel time of four to five hours. Most people would choose to fly instead of driving themselves.

Multiple Authors
By: Romesh Saigal, Abdullah AlShelahi

Soon after the Great Recession, the U.S. stock markets plunged—and rebounded within 36 minutes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 9 percent, losing more than 1,000 points before suddenly recovering.

This May 6, 2010, event was the first recorded “flash crash.” Although it didn’t have long-term effects, it raised concerns among investors about the stability of the stock market.

Grant Ramaley’s picture

By: Grant Ramaley

Although the “new approach” to regulating medical devices has always given more urgency to higher-risk medical devices, this is not the case for the European Medical Device Regulation (MDR). Class 1 medical devices must fully comply with the regulation by May 26, 2020, or be shut out of the region. 

This could be more problematic for dental products, which are inherently lower risk. Rubber dams and dental operating lights will have to comply before MRIs and pacemakers. 

To ensure that medical device manufacturers of class 1 devices understand that they must comply immediately on May 27, 2020, when the new regulation goes into effect, the European Commission states this plainly in its “Fact Sheet to Medical Device Manufacturers.”

Multiple Authors
By: Sameer Hasija, Vivek Choudhary

One fine morning in 1909, Henry Ford made a surprise announcement during a company meeting. In the future, Ford Motor would stick to a single car model, the Model T, in black only. No other choices, or as he said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” The lesser-known part of the story is the reaction of the sales executives present: They were livid.

As Ford put it in his biography: “I cannot say that any one agreed with me.” In fact, equally unimpressed with his decision that the car would be affordable, observers started wondering: “How soon will Ford blow up?”

Of course, we now know that Ford was onto something. The Model T sold for another 18 years, and additional colors returned only in the last year of production. Ford pioneered standardized mass production with its single-minded goal of minimizing operating costs. The Model T came in black because it was the hue that dried the fastest.

Jeffrey Phillips’s picture

By: Jeffrey Phillips

As Malcolm Gladwell and other business writers have found, it is entirely possible to write a compelling article around a rather obvious point, and still hold the reader’s attention. As an example I draw your attention to this article, titled “Why Corporate Innovation Is So Hard.”

The article was obviously written by a communications master because it has an attractive title that seems to address an intractable problem—and suggest an answer. It’s also based on a premise that seems inescapable: Too many companies fail to innovate because they trust their existing understanding and the existing perceptions of the way the world and the market work, while missing key signals that a disrupter finds, interprets, and implements.

The article quotes from the book, The Disruption Dilemma, by Joshua Gans (The MIT Press, 2016):

Scott A. Hindle’s picture

By: Scott A. Hindle

In everyday language, “in control” and “under control” are synonymous with “in specification.” Requirements have been met. Things are OK. No trouble.

“Out of control,” on the other hand, is synonymous with “out of specification.” Requirements have not been met. Things are not OK. Trouble.

Using this language, an obvious axiom would be: Take action when the process is out of control.

The everyday use of in and out of control is, however, unfortunate for control charts, the major tool of statistical process control (SPC). Why? Because in SPC these terms speak of processes as being stable or unstable. To characterize a process as stable or unstable, process limits, from process data, are needed. Specification limits are not needed.

Given the easy-to-understand basis for the action of meeting or not meeting requirements, coupled with the risk of confusion over the terms in control and out of control, why use control charts? If you are curious to see some of the benefits in doing so, read on. Two case studies are used.

Case one: Part thickness

During a regular review meeting in Plant 17, in- and out-of-specification data on the thickness of part 64 were reviewed.

Brian Lagas’s picture

By: Brian Lagas

‘Why are our changeovers taking so long?”

If you’ve asked this question on the shop floor, more than likely you were met with blank stares by your employees. Open-ended questions like this are overwhelming, so employees try to find quick answers that don’t really address the problem. They don’t have a starting point to form an answer.

But what if you asked a question with a specific, achievable goal, such as:

“What steps can we take to reduce changeover time by 15 minutes?”

You’ve then provided your employees with a measurable goal in the form of a question. Your workers may feel empowered to answer with some hands-on suggestions for incremental changes, such as reducing setup steps or combining workstations. This in turn could not only reduce changeover time, but also significantly eliminate wait times and inventories.

This approach is often described as kaizen, or “continuous improvement,” which serves as the backbone for lean manufacturing. Kaizen uses the plan, do, check, act (PDCA) problem-solving cycle to encourage manufacturers to use small ideas to solve big problems, such as costly, time-intensive changeovers.

Syndicate content