Siemens PLM Software’s picture

By: Siemens PLM Software

(Siemens Corp: Munich, Germany) -- Product life-cycle management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire life cycle of a product, from its conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal. Siemens PLM Software shares strategies for improving PLM at your company through the following webcasts and online training sessions.

The Automotive Industry: Making Better Product Development Decisions
April 7, 11:30 a.m. (EDT)
This webcast presents the latest research on the challenges facing the makers of tomorrow’s cars, reviews how vehicles are evolving, and explores ways automotive engineers can improve their product development decision making in this increasing level of complexity.

MIT News’s picture

By: MIT News

In recent years, many airplane manufacturers have started building their planes from advanced composite materials, which consist of high-strength fibers such as carbon or glass, embedded in a plastic or metal matrix. Such materials are stronger and more lightweight than aluminum, but they are also more difficult to inspect for damage because their surfaces usually don't reveal underlying problems.

“With aluminum, if you hit it, there's a dent there,” says Brian L. Wardle, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. “With a composite, oftentimes if you hit it, there’s no surface damage, even though there may be internal damage.”

Wardle and his colleagues have devised a new way to detect that internal damage using a simple handheld device and heat-sensitive camera. Their approach also requires engineering the composite materials to include carbon nanotubes, which generate the heat necessary for the test.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

A recent column of mine described how deleting the cheese on a burger resulted in our not receiving a $10 credit. It was an example of a breakdown in customer service. Suffice it to say that contacting corporate management resolved the situation. But the question remains: Why does such a minor problem have to be escalated to senior management?

Here’s another situation that defies logic and sound customer service. It is an example of a major company not empowering its staff to resolve relatively simple customer complaints. I think the best way to explain our dilemma would be to share with you a letter I wrote to the CEO of a national home builder whose name I’ve decided not to disclose.

Dear Mr. CEO,

We have lived in our home since 1988 and are the original owners. The home has stood the test of time, and we are very pleased with the construction, although the aluminum windows tend to ice up during the winter.

Today I am writing about what I think was a design flaw. The downspout over the garage area directs water over the roof and then into a gutter below.

MIT News’s picture

By: MIT News

In recent years, many airplane manufacturers have started building their planes from advanced composite materials, which consist of high-strength fibers such as carbon or glass, embedded in a plastic or metal matrix. Such materials are stronger and more lightweight than aluminum, but they are also more difficult to inspect for damage because their surfaces usually don't reveal underlying problems.

“With aluminum, if you hit it, there's a dent there,” says Brian L. Wardle, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. “With a composite, oftentimes if you hit it, there’s no surface damage, even though there may be internal damage.”

Wardle and his colleagues have devised a new way to detect that internal damage using a simple handheld device and heat-sensitive camera. Their approach also requires engineering the composite materials to include carbon nanotubes, which generate the heat necessary for the test.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

A recent column of mine described how deleting the cheese on a burger resulted in our not receiving a $10 credit. It was an example of a breakdown in customer service. Suffice it to say that contacting corporate management resolved the situation. But the question remains: Why does such a minor problem have to be escalated to senior management?

Here’s another situation that defies logic and sound customer service. It is an example of a major company not empowering its staff to resolve relatively simple customer complaints. I think the best way to explain our dilemma would be to share with you a letter I wrote to the CEO of a national home builder whose name I’ve decided not to disclose.

Dear Mr. CEO,

We have lived in our home since 1988 and are the original owners. The home has stood the test of time, and we are very pleased with the construction, although the aluminum windows tend to ice up during the winter.

Today I am writing about what I think was a design flaw. The downspout over the garage area directs water over the roof and then into a gutter below.

Johns Hopkins University’s picture

By: Johns Hopkins University

(JHU: Baltimore, MD) -- The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies have released a new manual to help statistical agencies around the world track the amount, type, and value of volunteer work in their countries.

The manual, drafted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies in cooperation with the ILO and an international technical-experts group and with the support of United Nations Volunteers, represents the first-ever internationally sanctioned guidance to statistical agencies for generating reliable, official data on volunteer work using a common definition and approach.

“Volunteer work is an enormous renewable resource for social, economic, and environmental problem solving throughout the world, as we are sure to discover again in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami,” says Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. “But the lack of solid data on volunteering has left it undervalued and its full potentials unrealized. This manual promises to change this fundamentally. The challenge now is to secure government commitments to implement it.”

Johns Hopkins University’s picture

By: Johns Hopkins University

(JHU: Baltimore, MD) -- The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies have released a new manual to help statistical agencies around the world track the amount, type, and value of volunteer work in their countries.

The manual, drafted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies in cooperation with the ILO and an international technical-experts group and with the support of United Nations Volunteers, represents the first-ever internationally sanctioned guidance to statistical agencies for generating reliable, official data on volunteer work using a common definition and approach.

“Volunteer work is an enormous renewable resource for social, economic, and environmental problem solving throughout the world, as we are sure to discover again in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami,” says Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. “But the lack of solid data on volunteering has left it undervalued and its full potentials unrealized. This manual promises to change this fundamentally. The challenge now is to secure government commitments to implement it.”

Mark R. Hamel’s picture

By: Mark R. Hamel

A colleague of mine recently shared a story about the renowned Chihiro Nakao, student of Taiichi Ohno and founder of the Shingijutsu, the consulting group that teaches Toyota Production System principles. According to the story, a client once asked Nakao if he granted any Black Belt certifications. The question was relayed via a translator. It didn’t translate.

The questioner was asked to repeat the query. Nakao laughed and then said something along the lines of, "I've been studying this for 50 years, and I am only now beginning to understand it." Wow!

So, here's my personal belief. Certifications are the form. The required learning and experience is the substance. Sometimes the substance is not very substantive, so choose wisely—and understand the limitations.

Full disclosure: I have helped develop some of the SME/AME/Shingo/ASQ Lean Certification exam questions. I have a Six Sigma Black Belt from the Juran Institute, a CPA, and a couple of APICS certifications. Yes, I'm over-certified and still feel that I have a bunch to learn. The more I learn, often the less I feel that I truly understand.

Mark R. Hamel’s picture

By: Mark R. Hamel

A colleague of mine recently shared a story about the renowned Chihiro Nakao, student of Taiichi Ohno and founder of the Shingijutsu, the consulting group that teaches Toyota Production System principles. According to the story, a client once asked Nakao if he granted any Black Belt certifications. The question was relayed via a translator. It didn’t translate.

The questioner was asked to repeat the query. Nakao laughed and then said something along the lines of, "I've been studying this for 50 years, and I am only now beginning to understand it." Wow!

So, here's my personal belief. Certifications are the form. The required learning and experience is the substance. Sometimes the substance is not very substantive, so choose wisely—and understand the limitations.

Full disclosure: I have helped develop some of the SME/AME/Shingo/ASQ Lean Certification exam questions. I have a Six Sigma Black Belt from the Juran Institute, a CPA, and a couple of APICS certifications. Yes, I'm over-certified and still feel that I have a bunch to learn. The more I learn, often the less I feel that I truly understand.

Miriam Boudreaux’s picture

By: Miriam Boudreaux

Have you ever been audited and felt like the auditor’s findings were almost irrelevant in the context of your organization’s major challenges and goals? Did you sometimes feel like you've been handed a Mickey Mouse nonconformity given the issues your organization is confronting? But what is one to do, when maintaining registration to standards such as ISO 9001 is necessary, and therefore complying with the appointed auditor’s findings is part of the process? Let me provide some insights that might help you turn an audit into a win-win situation.

Why do we need surveillance audits in the first place?

Many standards, such as ISO 9001 and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which protects investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures, require that organizations be audited periodically to ensure that the management or financial system (whichever is being audited) has been effectively implemented, and that it continues to meet the standard’s requirements. In essence the audit ensures that the organization is brought back to the path of compliance if there has been any deviation from the norm.

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