Don Sayre’s picture

By: Don Sayre

There is a new international standard published June 9, 2011, that might just warrant your attention. This standard’s purpose is help organizations follow a systematic approach to improving energy performance, including energy efficiency, energy use, and consumption. It applies to variables that affect achieving these goals, thus cutting energy costs, reducing energy-related impacts on the environment, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Sound like it’s worth a peek inside? Presenting ISO 50001—“Energy management systems—Requirements with guidance for use” from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

This new management systems specification and guidance document is built upon the same plan-do-check-act (PDCA) logic model as the popular quality and environmental management system standards, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

The need for an international energy management standard comes straight from the United Nations, which wants to respond as effectively as practical to climate change.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

In “Why Companies Fail Quality Audits” (Manufacturing Engineering, May 1996), Robert M. Bakker cites control of documents as one of the three major sources of QS-9000—now ISO/TS 16949—nonconformances, and there is indeed plenty that can go wrong, even with an electronic system. Conflicting instructions in different documents are likely to be the greatest source. We will begin, however, with a discussion of why documents are so important.

The role of documents

A common misperception of ISO 9001:2008 and similar standards is that they are mostly about documentation and paperwork. Documents are an indispensible means to the actual goal: standardized control of the system that delivers products or services. This is the foundation of what Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911 called “scientific management” (see the 1997 Dover reprint of The Principles of Scientific Management), and which Henry Ford deployed on a massive scale during the 1910s.

Quality Transformation With David Schwinn’s picture

By: Quality Transformation With David Schwinn

As I was recently going through some old papers, I came across a letter that my good friend and fraternity brother, Ron Sparling, and I had sent to the general manager of a General Motors Corp. (GM) division where another close friend and fraternity brother had worked.

Our fraternity brother, Mark Horvath, had died of a heart attack at the age of 39 after nearly a year-long stretch of new, high-stress job responsibilities. In our letter, we recognized that a simple cause-and-effect relationship between the stress and his death was, of course, impossible to establish. We also acknowledged that the problem was not unique to his division or to GM. We did, however, suggest that stress can affect health in a negative way and asked the general manager to look into that issue and try to reduce the job-related stress in his division.

Since then I don’t think things have changed much. As a matter of fact, they may have gotten worse, at least in the United States. That’s certainly what I read about and hear from people who currently hold the kind of jobs I held in those days.

Donald Jasurda’s picture

By: Donald Jasurda

Across the life cycle of delivering a product to market, engineers face many obstacles. They often find themselves spending a lot of time reworking or repairing parts that fail inspection but may fit and function properly when assembled; or, they might pass inspection but do not fit with other parts and assemblies. Engineers also find themselves disagreeing with vendors concerning whether parts are made dimensionally correct or not, based on different understandings about design intent in regards to form, fit, and function. They must deal with team members who are intimidated when they see GD&T symbols on drawings, and grapple with high manufacturing costs due to tight tolerances on noncritical features.

Many of these problems are the result of an unclear definition of product and process requirements and a nonoptimal use of measurement data. The need has never been greater for a well-defined dimensional engineering process that enables the collection and analysis of relevant, meaningful variation measurements at every stage, from design through production.

The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson’s picture

By: The Un-Comfort Zone With Robert Wilson

“Who wants to be chairperson of the fundraising committee?” asked the company president.

The room became quiet, and as I glanced around the table, I saw a dozen perfect poker faces. No one wanted this responsibility. No one was going to commit.

“This is our most important committee,” the president continued. “Without funding we cannot put on our program to teach leadership skills to high school students.”

It was my first year on the executive committee of the Georgia chapter of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation (HOBY). I had no idea how the committee had previously raised the $50,000 a year that was necessary to operate. As an advertising consultant, I’d helped raise millions of dollars for several national nonprofits with direct-mail advertising. So I thought, “How hard can this be?

I raised my hand and said, “I’ll do it.” A collective sigh issued from the group, and several congratulated me on accepting such a big responsibility. I basked in the accolades and beamed an appreciative smile back to everyone.

It didn’t take but a few days before I was lamenting, “What the heck was I thinking?”

I learned that my predecessors had solicited most of the money in a handful of big donations from a small group of donors.

Joelle K. Jay’s picture

By: Joelle K. Jay

What if there are things you are doing—or not doing—that are sabotaging your success? What if there are a few key things you’re missing that could help you get even better results? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by getting feedback.

Unfortunately, feedback is sometimes given a bad rap. Poorly conducted performance reviews, harsh criticisms by thoughtless colleagues, and bad experiences with multirater feedback systems all contribute to the temptation to steer clear of feedback if you can help it.

But feedback is how we learn. Without feedback and reflection, you have no way to know how you’re doing. You don’t know what others think of you or how you might be holding yourself back. What you don’t know can hurt you. A lack of self-knowledge can limit your opportunities and even stall your career.

On the other hand, when you seek feedback, you open yourself up to reflection. You become much more thoughtful about what you’re doing and why, how you can improve, how you can maximize your efforts and get better, more predictable results.

When you get high quality feedback, you gain a tremendous advantage. By seeing yourself as others see you, suddenly you realize where, why, and how you can improve.

Angelo Lyall’s picture

By: Angelo Lyall

Clarity is extremely valuable for building profitable strategies and conducting sustainable business. Without clarity many firms refrain from taking strategic steps in fear of the unknown, leaving them stagnant and eventually uncompetitive. Only by understanding the key concepts that underpin successful strategies, can a firm confidently take steps along the strategic pathway of their choice.

The profitability of an organization’s strategy is a function of:
1. Strategic decisions made in favor of cost, benefit, or niche provision

NIST’s picture


A metasurface or metafilm is a 2-D version of a metamaterial, popularized recently in technologies with seemingly unnatural properties, such as the illusion of invisibility. Metamaterials have special properties not found in nature, often because of a novel structure. NIST’s metasurface is a small piece of composite circuit board studded with metal patches in specific geometries and arrangements to create a structure that can reflect, store, or transmit energy (i.e., allow it to pass right through).

NIST researchers used purified water to tune the metasurface’s resonant frequency—i.e., the specific microwave frequency at which the surface can accumulate or store energy. They also calculated that the metasurface could concentrate electric field strength in localized areas, and thus might be used to heat fluids and promote microwave-assisted chemical or biochemical reactions.

NIST’s fluid-tunable “metasurface” consists of copper structures and plastic tubing mounted on composite board. The presence of water in the tubing changes the resonant frequency at which the metasurface absorbs and stores energy.

ACLASS’s picture


Keith Greenaway, vice president of ACLASS, a brand of ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board that provides accreditation, gave a brief talk titled “Focus on Inspections and Compliance” at the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act public meeting held on June 6, 2011. His prepared remarks follow:

The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that provides accreditation services to public- and private-sector organizations in the areas of management systems, laboratories, inspection, reference material producers, proficiency test providers, product certification, and personnel certification. It is jointly owned by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

Michelle LaBrosse’s picture

By: Michelle LaBrosse

I sat in a window seat on the plane with my nose stuck in my newly purchased book. It was one of those books that suck you right in, leaving you completely unaware of your surrounding, which is exactly what I needed to save me from what otherwise would have been a monotonous travel day, full of weather delays and missed connections. At my next stop, as I waited in an endless line to find out which flight was available for me now that I missed my connection, I was an island of contentment surrounded by a sea of angry and frustrated individuals, and all because I had a good story to occupy me.

I got to thinking about why certain stories are so riveting, why others are just so-so. What I decided was that a good author doesn’t simply tell you the story, they show you the story as if you are there, revealing the plot with actions of the characters, and not just with explanations. The act of showing, rather than telling, is very powerful, and can turn a story from “boring” to “best seller.”

In your profession as a project manager, make sure that you are using good story techniques to advance in your occupation by showing others your story, not just telling. Become a captivating author of your career by following these tips.

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