Brian Lagas’s picture

By: Brian Lagas

When most people think of lean processes, they believe the goal is to optimize things in a step-by-step approach. The result that companies using lean methods can look forward to is incremental improvements brought about by the elimination of waste.

Individuals who stick with this definition often assert that lean principles oppose innovation. That’s because “innovation” is typically considered a product-based form of invention that causes disruption. Lean manufacturing is all about following well-defined processes and figuring out how to make them better. Innovation, on the other hand, usually occurs by uprooting current processes or blatantly not following them.

It may appear that lean manufacturing and innovation are opposed. However, some analysts assert that when companies recognize the compatibility between lean principles and innovation they will accelerate past their competition.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have devised a novel, accurate, easy-to-operate, time- and labor-saving way to provide calibrated scale-bar standards for testing the performance of terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) systems.

TLS technology is widely employed to create detailed, high-resolution, 3D digital images of terrain, buildings, vegetation, construction projects, crime-scene forensics and—increasingly—very large objects such as airframe components that must be fitted together with precision, often on the scale of a few hundred micrometers (millionths of a meter; a human hair is about 100 micrometers thick).

“Of course, for geodesy and surveying and most forensic uses, you don’t really need micrometer resolution,” says NIST project scientist Vincent Lee. “But TLS systems are now often used in aerospace and ship building, where big components have to be joined very meticulously, like a wing onto a fuselage. That’s where measurements from a few hundred micrometers to a millimeter really matter.” And that’s where careful system testing really matters. (See video three below.)

Carrie Van Daele’s picture

By: Carrie Van Daele

Crossing the street or stepping backward when you encounter another person has already become a habit, as has a routine elbow bump, instead of a handshake.

And that is definitely what is needed during a health crisis. But when the time is right, as a society we must bounce back to social connectivity to prevent productivity and relationships from being forever damaged.

Humans are social beings. Sure, we have varying levels of desire for social interaction; some of us want to spend time alone, while others are more inclined to want to hang out in groups. But in one form or another, we all strive for connection with one another.

The physical distancing and forced isolation was a shock to our social system. Although it is helping the health emergency, in the long run it will hinder companies’ efforts to ramp up productivity.

During the late 1970s, I remember the Big Three automotive companies launched a “Quality of Work Life” workshop to rebuild trust between employees and their superiors after an economic downturn resulting in layoffs. The Big Three knew ramping up productivity would happen only with repaired relationships.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

So many companies are shifting their employees to working from home to address the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Yet they’re not considering the potential quality disasters that can occur as a result of this transition.

An example of this is what one of my coaching clients experienced more than a year before the pandemic hit. Myron is the risk and quality management executive in a medical services company with about 600 employees. He was one of the leaders tasked by his company’s senior management team with shifting the company’s employees to a work-from-home setup, due to rising rents on their office building.

Specifically, Myron led the team that managed risk and quality issues associated with the transition for all 600 employees to telework, due to his previous experience in helping small teams of three to six people in the company transition to working from home in the past. The much larger number of people who had many more diverse roles they had to assist now was proving to be a challenge. So was the short amount of time available to this project, which was only four weeks, and resulted from a failure in negotiation with the landlord of the office building.

Sangeet Paul Choudary’s picture

By: Sangeet Paul Choudary

The digitization of patient data and the adoption of cloud-based healthcare management systems have created efficiencies and new business models across the value chain. Advancements in AI provide superior decision support systems to doctors, while connected devices enable the remote delivery of care and monitoring. 

But the most important transformation in healthcare is only just beginning to take shape. Digitization of healthcare demand and supply will eventually lead to the creation of large platforms that aggregate industrywide demand and supply, and orchestrate interactions between producers and consumers of healthcare. 

Sensing this opportunity, big tech firms from Tencent and Alibaba to Amazon and Google, as well as industry incumbents like Philips and UnitedHealthcare, have been moving toward platform models. To understand the importance of platforms in healthcare, we need to start with the forces driving the digitization of demand and supply in healthcare: the digitization of patient data and provider workflows. 

Multiple Authors
By: Charles Tarrio, Thomas Lucatorto

In 2019, after decades of effort, manufacturers used a new technology to create smartphones with individual circuit features as small as 7 nanometers (nm), or billionths of a meter, enabling them to cram 8.5 billion electronic devices, known as transistors, on a single small chip. Fitting more transistors in the same small space means faster, more powerful smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices.

Where does the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) come into play here? NIST was an early collaborator with those in the microelectronics industry who saw that it might be possible to use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light to create electronic devices with smaller features like those we have today. This challenging goal was realized after a long, hard struggle.

Celia Paulsen’s picture

By: Celia Paulsen

Nobody likes business to be slow. If you’re in a fast-paced world like manufacturing, seeing your machines or employees idle can drive a person insane. If you’re used to your production line working to capacity and suddenly business slows down, it can be a frustrating time.

When I was in the U.S. Army, we used our downtime to train and clean. On one occasion, we spent nearly two weeks waiting for a change of orders. By the end of the first week, every weapon, every desk, and every blade of grass was spotless. There was nothing left to clean, so we cleaned it all over again!

Over time, I learned that downtime can actually provide a good opportunity to refocus before driving forward again. It offers time to take inventory, get a little creative, and do some renovation, literally and figuratively. My personal downtime to-do list includes organizing my papers, redesigning my closet, playing with my 3D printer, replacing my stair treads, fixing that one light switch, learning something I’ll soon forget, and though you may laugh, improving my cybersecurity posture.

It’s true; I’m a cybersecurity geek. I’ve been a cybersecurity researcher at NIST since 2011 and am now detailed to NIST MEP as the cybersecurity services specialist.

Greg Hoeting’s picture

By: Greg Hoeting

Nuclear power has long been a clean, dependable source of energy throughout the world. However, as power plants age, concerns grow about their continued reliability. Many components make up the infrastructure of a nuclear power plant with the design intent to reduce radiation and contamination exposure to personnel, equipment, and the surrounding environment.

One of the biggest sources of this radiation and contamination comes from the vast network of pipes throughout the plant.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

Long stretches of empty supermarket shelves and shortages of essential supplies are only the visible impacts to consumers of the global supply-chain disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unseen are the production stoppages in locations across China and other countries and the shortages of raw materials, subassemblies, and finished goods that make up the backstory of the impact.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak is unprecedented in its scale and severity for humans and supply chains, not to mention medical professionals and governments scrambling to contain it.

Businesses dependent on global sourcing are facing hard choices in crisis management amid the supply chain disruptions. But in planning to mitigate the risks of similar disruptions in future, they confront other questions that have no easy answers: Should they broaden their supplier choices, or do more local or near-shore sourcing? How much inventory of raw materials, subassemblies, and finished products should they stock to tide over the crisis?

Multiple Authors
By: Alan Rudolph, Raymond Goodrich

We [Alan Rudolph and Raymond Goodrich] are both biotechnology researchers and are currently seeking to repurpose an existing medical manufacturing platform to quickly develop a vaccine candidate for Covid-19.

This process is used for the treatment of blood products such as plasma, platelets, and whole blood to prevent disease transmission when people receive transfused blood. It utilizes a common food ingredient, vitamin B2, or riboflavin, which is a light-sensitive chemical. When used in combination with ultraviolet light of specific wavelengths, B2 can alter genetic material, whether RNA or DNA, of infectious pathogens in the blood, making them unable to transmit disease.

Those genetic changes prevent pathogens, such as viral, bacterial, and parasitic contaminants, in blood from replicating. By stopping the replication process, the method protects people from disease they could acquire through a blood transfusion.

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