By: Robert Sanders

Richard Muller is a guy who thinks spouting fun physics facts will make you the life of the party. And his new book, The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated Guide (W.W. Norton & Co. Inc., 2011), may just convince you he’s right.

Who knew, for example, that liquor, by law, must be radioactive, or that you really can get your clothes whiter than white, or that the Earth is traveling through space at a million miles per hour?

These are some of the astonishing facts Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, explains with the help of witty cartoons by illustrator Joey Manfre. “When I was a kid, I used to love Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” says Muller says. “If you know any 10-year-olds, giving them a copy of this book will begin to make them fascinated by science. But the book is equally liked by physics professors.”

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By: Minitab LLC

(Minitab: State College, PA) -- Swiss-based Metalor Technologies, a global leader in precious metals and advanced materials, is a supplier to electronics companies and manufacturers of medical and electrical equipment.

Metalor’s skill in creating reliable technology has earned the company a preferred-vendor status and a global reputation for excellence. In fact, well beyond the benefits to its own interests, Metalor’s expertise has fostered the creation of new market segments for many of its partners.

In its quest for innovative solutions, Metalor relies on Minitab Statistical Software for help in achieving its process engineering goals.

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By: J.D. Power and Associates

(J.D. Power and Associates: Westlake Village, CA) -- New-vehicle owners are increasingly citing fun-to-drive vehicles as a top reason to remain loyal to their brand, while shifting away from expected resale value as a loyalty reason, according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Customer Retention Study.

Now in its eighth year, the study measures the rate at which automotive brands retain their existing customers and the reasons why owners remain loyal. Customer retention is critical to a brand’s market success, particularly during the current period of slow recovery, in which each new-vehicle sale is vital.

The study finds that the importance of fun-to-drive vehicles as a reason for owner loyalty has increased by eight percentage points in 2010, compared with 2009. Meanwhile, the importance of resale value as a reason to stay loyal has decreased by 10 percentage points from 2009.

In addition to customer retention, the study also examines rates at which automotive brands capture customers from their competitors, a process known as “conquesting.” The importance of a fun-to-drive vehicle has also increased as a reason why brands appropriate new customers from their competitors, as has vehicle styling.

J.D. Power and Associates’s picture

By: J.D. Power and Associates

(J.D. Power and Associates: Westlake Village, CA) -- New-vehicle owners are increasingly citing fun-to-drive vehicles as a top reason to remain loyal to their brand, while shifting away from expected resale value as a loyalty reason, according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Customer Retention Study.

Now in its eighth year, the study measures the rate at which automotive brands retain their existing customers and the reasons why owners remain loyal. Customer retention is critical to a brand’s market success, particularly during the current period of slow recovery, in which each new-vehicle sale is vital.

The study finds that the importance of fun-to-drive vehicles as a reason for owner loyalty has increased by eight percentage points in 2010, compared with 2009. Meanwhile, the importance of resale value as a reason to stay loyal has decreased by 10 percentage points from 2009.

In addition to customer retention, the study also examines rates at which automotive brands capture customers from their competitors, a process known as “conquesting.” The importance of a fun-to-drive vehicle has also increased as a reason why brands appropriate new customers from their competitors, as has vehicle styling.

By: Barry Libert

Let’s face it: The business world is changing. Rapidly. While the object of the game is still to drive revenue, the methods have changed. Instead of a monolithic one-way interaction, business is now being conducted through constant and meaningful two-way conversations between organizations and constituents—at every stage of organizational development. And it’s a good thing, too.

Not so long ago, the object of the game was to be cutthroat and dictatorial about business, and it helped if you could check your emotions and personality at the door. Deep down, did most of us really buy the old “nothing personal—it’s just business” line? Of course not. After all, building a thriving business is all about making lasting, personal, reliable connections inside and outside of your company. And these days, there’s no better way to do that than through social media—in essence, by building your company’s own social nation.

I know what I’m talking about. I’m the chairman and CEO of Mzinga, a company that provides social software to businesses. Quite literally, it's my job to be social media savvy. And I’m adamant that building your own social nation is increasingly necessary in the business world.

By: Darleen DeRosa, Ph.D., and Richard Lepsinger

The office of the future might not be an office at all. As virtual teams become more prevalent, we edge ever closer to a culture where “work” means logging in to your company’s online project management site from your home, or collaborating with people who work for different teams or functions at their local co-working establishment. The company’s “headquarters” is becoming more of a concept than an actual building. And as physical location becomes less important, companies can hire the best talent regardless of their location. In addition, companies can enhance their efficiency by handing off work across time zones, enabling them to be productive around the clock.

But far too often this vision of the global economy workplace falls short of today’s reality. In other words, virtual teams may be increasingly popular… but they’re not necessarily successful.

Today it isn’t uncommon for companies to have as many as 50 percent of their employees working on virtual teams. It’s not hard to see why. Advances in technology have made it easier to organize and manage dispersed groups of people. Competitive pressures and the needs of the global market workforce have made virtual teams a necessity for some organizations.

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By: National Center for Manufacturing Sciences

We don’t often pause to consider electroplating, but the fact is, today’s world would be impossible without it. Cadmium, zinc, gold, silver, platinum, titanium, and chrome are some of the metals often used in the process. Despite its ubiquitous role in manufacturing, the process and technology for metal electroplating has remained largely unchanged for the past 100 years.

The basic electroplating process consists of taking a base part and carefully masking off any areas needing protection from the plating process, using tape and wax. Then the part is inserted into a metal-containing solution, and electricity is applied around a metallic anode. Hours or days later, the part is plated. Although safety and environmental hazards have been slightly reduced, electroplating remains:

• Time-consuming. Masking takes hours and requires the best platers in a shop.
• Inefficient. As much as 90 percent of the electrical power used to plate is wasted
• Dangerous. Plating baths can be incredibly toxic, and so can the maskant that is used.

 

There has to be a better way.

 

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

Beginning Dec. 8 with “This Year in Quality, Part One,” and continuing Dec. 14 with part two, the editors of Quality Digest Daily took a look at its stories and news articles throughout 2010 and collected what we thought were the most remarkable in the world of quality. From precision measurement to 3-D scanning, from Six Sigma to quality standards, from lean to customer satisfaction, we hope this wrap-up will give you some perspective and insight on what next year holds for the quality industry.  

Busting the “lean and Six Sigma are fads” myth

Despite yearly prognostications that Six Sigma, lean Six Sigma, and all their spinoffs are quality fads, quality management distractions du jour, or simply, “rubbish, nonsense, and flim-flam” and are on their way out, the statistically-based quality improvement and waste-reduction programs seem to be alive and well.

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By: Maribeth Kuzmeski

It’s that special season again: the season of crowded stores, whiny kids, irritable customers, and stressed-out employees. If you’re a business owner—in any industry but especially in retail—the holidays are a precarious time. When fuses are short and wallets are shrinking, customers expect great service. Fail to provide it, or fail to instantly implement a recovery plan on those occasions when you do drop the ball, and you may find yourself experiencing a not-so-merry 2011.

Every business owner knows things will go wrong from time to time; it’s how you handle these episodes that counts. And during the holidays, the stakes are higher. People have higher expectations and a lower tolerance for mistakes. Combine that with distracted employees and larger-than-usual crowds, and you have the makings for the perfect winter storm, so to speak. Without a good service-recovery plan, you can easily lose the disgruntled customer, everyone she knows, and possibly a lot of people she doesn’t know if she takes her tale to cyberspace.

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By: The QA Pharm

People often ask me how best to prepare for a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection when you know that you have problems. My first response is that they have already taken the first step: acknowledging that there are problems. Believe me; that is a huge first step. Just like Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, it’s not until you are willing to admit this aloud that you are on the road to recovery. But just knowing that problems exist is not enough to survive an FDA inspection.

Below are the various positions in which firms find themselves when the FDA comes knocking. You can decide which of these scenarios is the best possible position.

We know what our problems were, but they have been resolved

Let’s say an FDA investigator stumbled on a manufacturing work-order system that allowed changes to production equipment without a review by the quality assurance department on the effect the changes had on the state of validation. The best position to be in is to say that you were made aware of the problem, the system has been revised and employees trained, a retrospective review of maintenance work orders was conducted for product effect, and appropriate action taken.

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