Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Process requirements for catalog and online fulfillment centers are quite distinguishable from brick-and-mortar retailers. Even catalog companies such as Oriental Trading Co., Cornerstone Brands, and Augusta Sportswear face unique challenges, and each of them has turned to voice-picking technology to address logistical challenges.

The very nature of products sold, defines the requirement of voice systems needed to achieve fulfillment objectives. Oriental Trading sells party supplies, toys, and novelties; Augusta sells apparel; and Cornerstone sells housewares, including indoor and patio furniture.

“Standard order profiles, warehouse systems, and fulfillment processes vary from company to company,” says Jeff Slevin, chief operating officer of Lucas Systems, provider of voice-directed logistics applications for warehouses and fulfillment centers. “At Cornerstone, order fillers use turret trucks to pick large items from high-bay racks, while staff at Augusta walk among shelves in pick modules.”

Steven Ouellette’s picture

By: Steven Ouellette

Let's face it—many industrial researchers, including Six Sigma Black Belts, do a terrible job of planning the research they need to do to perform their jobs efficiently. See that guy over there? Yeah, he is the one I am talking about, so you should read this article so you can help the poor bloke. In my last couple of articles I have been covering a process to plan a research study—in this one we continue with the planning phase and confront an often neglected step for good experimental design—nuisance variables.

In my previous article, I covered the first part of how to plan a study. Remember, this can be any type of study—anything from the plan for a mega project spanning an entire company to a sub-sub-project where we are investigating a small component of that process.

Again, here is the cycle I'll be using.

Michael Lowenstein’s picture

By: Michael Lowenstein

There is a strong recognition that customer service is especially important in the branded experience. Service is one of the few times that companies will personally interact with their customers. This interaction helps the company understand customers’ needs while, at the same time, it shapes customers’ overall perception of the company, influencing both downstream communication and future purchase. Customer service will be the focus of Part 2 of this two-part article.

NVision Inc.’s picture

By: NVision Inc.

Engineers from NVision Inc., using the company's HandHeld scanner, were able to quickly reverse engineer a large impeller for a major hydroelectric facility, sparing the facility what would have been an extended shutdown had they needed to produce a replacement impeller from scratch. In less than one week, NVision scanned the original impeller and provided a computer model of it to the facility, which then used the model to manufacture a duplicate impeller for installation. In the end, only a relatively short shutdown was necessary to accommodate the scanning and reproduction of the impeller.

The turbines that move the water in hydroelectric plants employ massive impellers to get the job done. In this case, one of the facility's key impellers had suffered damage that forced the facility to replace it. However, the facility did not possess a computer model of the impeller, which was necessary in order to manufacture a replacement. Without a replacement available, the plant was facing an extended shutdown with potentially high losses in time and money.

The facility's management contacted NVision to produce a computer model of the impeller.

Michael Lowenstein’s picture

By: Michael Lowenstein

The word “advocate” has French and Latin origins. It has multiple applications, including legal, political, social care, and marketplace. It is the marketplace applications where the business, academic marketing, and management consulting communities have focused. Essentially, advocacy can be defined as active personal espousal or support of a brand, product, service, or company. As a concept and measurement technique, advocacy should not be confused with recommendation, which is simply one possible outcome of advocacy behavior.

Advocates are the deeply connected and brand-involved, energized, positive, and vocal de facto sales force within a company’s, product’s, or service’s customer base. As we measure it, and as guided by ideas and findings published by major consulting organizations throughout the past decade, customer advocacy is based on such key elements as brand favorability, evidence and frequency of positive and negative voluntary personal communication, and the likelihood of continued consideration and relationship. Advocacy identifies the monetizing downstream customer behavioral impact of informal communication by individuals on a voluntary, active, peer-to-peer basis.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

It seems that you can't pick up a newspaper today (yes, I still get one) without reading a story about the sorry state of education in the United States. Why has the quality of our educational system slipped? Why can't Johnny read? Here are my thoughts inspired by the proliferation of back-to-school ads that come out every year at this time.

Back when my generation was preparing to return to school, back in the Dark Ages, we only needed a couple of items on the first day. Our list consisted of a Duo-tang folder, a pencil case, a #2 lead pencil, and maybe a protractor. Other than that, the schools provided the necessary materials for us to matriculate. And if we took our lunch, it was in a brown paper bag. Or maybe we had a Lone Ranger or Green Lantern metal lunch box with a thermos. Unfortunately, back then the thermos bottle was glass lined so we went through a number of bottles during the year if it was dropped. And of course, any books we might have taken home at day end, were secured with a rope or belt.

Today it is a completely different situation. One needs to look no further than the “back to school” ads in the various papers to determine that it takes more than a pencil case and protractor to make it through the school day.

Mads Dahl and Tom Andres A. Lomsdalen’s default image

By: Mads Dahl and Tom Andres A. Lomsdalen

With a heavy focus on research and development, and innovation, Eltek Valere develops and manufactures advanced electronic power supplies. They were the first company to release and manufacture a high-efficiency power rectifier.

Eltek Valere is the world technology leader in energy conversion, whether it's AC-to-DC, DC-to-DC, or DC-to-AC. Thier power conversion units are used in a variety of industrial applications such as telecommunication battery backup stations, solar panel converters and inverters, battery power conversion in electric vehicles, marine, railway, and more.

Production Tests Using NI TestStand and Virinco WATS


John Flaig’s picture

By: John Flaig

A run chart is a graphical display of data over time. Run charts are used to visually analyze processes according to time or sequential order. They are useful in assessing process stability, discovering patterns in data, and facilitating process diagnosis and appropriate improvement actions.

Creating the run chart

To start a run chart, some type of product, service, or process must be available on which to take measurements for analysis. Measurements must be taken over a reasonable period of time using a calibrated measurement tool that is being monitored with a calibration control chart. A measurement error study must indicate that the measurement process is acceptable during the data collection process. The data must be collected and stored in chronological or sequential order. You may start at any point in the data set and end at any point. To get meaningful results, at least 25 or more samples must be taken over a long enough period of time so all the components of variation are included.

Once the data have been collected in chronological or sequential order, they must be divided into ordered pairs of x and y values.

Duke University’s picture

By: Duke University

Duke University electrical engineers have developed a man-made material that they say literally allows them to manipulate light at will.

They say that the results of their latest proof-of-concept experiments could lead to the replacement of electrical components with those based on optical technologies, which should allow for faster and more efficient transmission of information, much in the same way that replacing wires with optical fibers revolutionized the telecommunications industry.

When light passes through a material, even though it may be reflected, refracted, or weakened as it passes through, it is still the same light coming out. This is known as linearity. The breakthrough revolves around a novel man-made structure known as a metamaterial. These exotic composite materials are not so much a single substance but an entire structure that can be engineered to exhibit properties not readily found in nature. The structure used in these experiments resembles a miniature set of tan Venetian blinds.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s picture

By: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Berkeley Lab scientists and their colleagues have discovered a new relation among electric and magnetic fields and differences in temperature, which may lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices that convert heat into electricity or electricity into heat.

“In the search for new sources of energy, thermopower—the ability to convert temperature differences directly into electricity without wasteful intervening steps—is tremendously promising,” says Junqiao Wu of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division (MSD), who led the research team. “But the new effect we’ve discovered has been overlooked by the thermopower community and can greatly affect the efficiency of thermopower and other devices.”

Wu, who is also a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, and his colleagues found that temperature gradients in semiconductors, when one side of the device is hotter than the opposite side, can produce electronic vortices—whirlpools of electric current—and can, at the same time, create magnetic fields at right angles to both the plane of the swirling electric currents and the direction of the heat gradient. The researchers report their results in Physical Review B, a journal of the American Physical Society devoted to condensed matter and materials physics.

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