Vanessa Bates Ramirez’s picture

By: Vanessa Bates Ramirez

Austin, Texas-based 3D-printing construction company ICON has gotten some pretty significant projects off the ground in recent years, from a 50-home development in Mexico to a 100-home neighborhood in Texas. Recently the company won a NASA contract that will help it get an even bigger project much farther off the ground—all the way to the moon, in fact.

The $57.2 million contract is intended to help ICON develop technologies for building infrastructure on the moon, like landing pads, houses, and roads. The goal is for ICON to build these lunar structures using local material—that is, moon houses built out of moon dust and moon rocks.

Matt Fieldman’s picture

By: Matt Fieldman

The NASCAR pit stop—it’s exciting, intense, and can mean the difference between winning and losing a race. Accomplishing the three simultaneous necessities of moving quickly, completing each job with perfection, and having a flawlessly coordinated team seems impossible, yet it happens right in front of your eyes. The feedback is immediate: Either the car gets off in less than 10 seconds, and the driver can compete for a spot on the podium, or it doesn’t, and your race is over.

Outside of the racetrack, could the NASCAR pit stop be the answer to exciting young people about manufacturing? Could you use lessons from NASCAR to improve your company’s teamwork?

Lesson 1: Get inspired by racing

The inspiration for this blog post comes from my recent trip to FABTECH 2022 in Atlanta. While there, I was privileged to hear from Brad Keselowski, a former NASCAR driver turned manufacturing company owner, about his journey from the driver’s seat to the CEO suite. In his presentation, Keselowski walked us through the personal journey that led him to found his company, Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing (KAM), in 2019.

Chirag Rathi’s picture

By: Chirag Rathi

Two years later, the perfect storm of pandemic-related disruptions is still a major source of irritation for manufacturers. Those disruptions have been major contributors to the inflation we are now experiencing worldwide. Will that inflation lead us into a recession? A lot of very smart people say it will, and some say it already has.

Modernizing the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is usually the biggest lever that companies use to improve organizational performance. ERP is the de facto source of the organization’s operations. It’s the fountainhead of all data that enable analytical insights. However, in an economic downturn, organizations need to balance the benefits of ERP modernization against the costs. Monolithic and costly ERP implementations are generally not justifiable during a recession. Application leaders must be strategic and incrementally modernize ERP capabilities with a business-driven approach to optimize value.

Melissa De Witte’s picture

By: Melissa De Witte

Over recent months, tech companies have been laying workers off by the thousands. It is estimated that in 2022 alone, more than 120,000 people have been dismissed from their job at some of the biggest players in tech—Meta, Amazon, Netflix, and soon Google—and smaller firms and startups as well. Announcements of cuts keep coming.

What explains why so many companies are laying large numbers of their workforce off? The answer is simple: copycat behavior, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Nisan Lerea’s picture

By: Nisan Lerea

Quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) are a continual part of any manufacturing process. No matter how many times your factory has executed the same procedure, you must regularly perform quality checks to maintain the same quality level of your process. Quality control on a manufacturing line often involves regularly testing samples of whatever is being produced. Most important, the samples must come from the production line.

By definition, no substitute sample is valid; otherwise, it’s not a “sample.” A quality control process might involve testing raw materials to verify material properties, testing manufacturing steps to ensure they are done correctly, and inspecting the finished product to ensure conformity.

In quality control applications where a specimen must be physically cut out to prepare the sample for testing, there are several challenges that quality engineers face when designing these sample-cutting procedures. First is speed: Since in-line quality checks can hold up a production batch, the samples must be produced quickly. Second, when a visual inspection is needed, the feature might not be easily visible. Finally, cutting material or production-line samples in preparation for a quality control test may alter the material’s integrity.

Tony Boobier’s picture

By: Tony Boobier

Does your use of probabilities confuse your audience? Sometimes even using numbers can be misleading. The notion of a 1-in-a-100-year flood doesn’t prevent the possibility of flooding occurring in consecutive years. This description is no more than a statistical device for explaining the likelihood of flooding occurring.

Similarly, when we check the news for weather conditions and are told that there is a 90-percent chance of rain, this only means that on days with similar metrological conditions, it rained on 90 percent of them. As with the flooding comparison, it’s simply a mathematical method that expresses the likelihood of an incident occurring.

Bhushan Avsatthi’s picture

By: Bhushan Avsatthi

The very nature of healthcare construction and its specific infrastructural and functional needs pose significant challenges to the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector. Crucial hospital spaces such as operation theaters and critical care centers need fail-proof connections to life support systems. Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) installations, electrical and plumbing fittings, and fire systems all need to be designed around healthcare needs.

Given the sensitive nature of the spaces, there can be no room for design errors or inaccuracies. And then there’s a plethora of building codes at national, state, and local levels, ranging from design codes to operational codes that must be complied with to ensure the safety of healthcare facilities. These ensure that hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics can withstand disasters and keep operating in emergencies.

Erika James’s picture

By: Erika James

Different people at different levels of an organization or ecosystem experience crisis in different ways. Senior decision-makers are unlikely to have the same insights as those who directly interface with customers or those grappling with the operational technicalities of the situation.

For this reason, prepared leaders—those who have worked to ready themselves and their organizations to withstand crises—should be open to all input and perspectives that can help create a solution and improve outcomes wherever that input and those perspectives surface within the organizational hierarchy.

As a prepared leader, you must be ready to do the following:
• Make space for other people to stand up, speak up, and contribute as the situation dictates.
• Let go of your ego and be humble enough to allow others to take the lead as the situation dictates.
• Let these things happen spontaneously and without obstacles as the situation changes.

Bryan Christiansen’s picture

By: Bryan Christiansen

Performing timely maintenance at remote locations brings an additional layer of complexity to an already challenging task. Actively managing this kind of maintenance work falls under the jurisdiction of field service management.

Performing field maintenance work comes with a lot of moving parts. Before you can optimize it, you have to understand what an ideal field-maintenance process looks like—from receiving a work request form to updating your maintenance and financial records.

What is field maintenance?

Field maintenance refers to maintenance work that’s carried out remotely—away from a production or maintenance organization’s location—on remote assets like:
• Installation
• Commissioning
• Modification
• Routine maintenance
• Repairs
• Overhauls

The work is usually performed by engineering and maintenance technicians.

Which industries commonly use field maintenance services?

There are two common situations that “force” a business to use field maintenance services.

1. Geographically mobile assets

Jennifer V. Miller’s picture

By: Jennifer V. Miller

Early in my career, I had four bosses in the span of less than four years. It’s not as bad as it sounds; I worked in retail, where churn was high. All of the departures were due to internal promotions, so that was good. I look back on that time fondly because each woman I reported to had a different work style and personality. Not only were these women my work team leaders, they also were my mentors—and I was a sponge, soaking up their advice and insider tips.

If you’ve ever had the good fortune of being properly mentored, you know what a blessing it is. Think about the folks you’ve learned from. What was the impact of them giving of their time and wisdom? If you’ve been in the workforce several years, chances are you’ve something to give back to an eager up-and-comer who would love to (metaphorically) sit at your feet and learn from you.

The pandemic created a mentoring gap

Like many elements of our work life, the pandemic has affected workplace mentoring in profound ways. Office-based workers are still sorting out the mechanics of time spent in actual offices with their colleagues, and this has implications for both formal and informal mentoring practices.

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