Eric Stoop’s picture

By: Eric Stoop

According to the National Safety Council, the rate of preventable workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers has flattened or risen slightly since 2009 after decades of steady improvement in occupational safety.

Companies conducting layered process audits (LPAs) can help get the United States get back on track reducing the workplace fatality rate by conducting daily checks to help identify safety nonconformances and fix them before they cause safety incidents.

With daily checks of high-risk processes, layered process audits lead to more conversations about safety, also demonstrating that leadership prioritizes safe work—both critical to creating a culture of safety.

Achieving this level of reliability, however, doesn’t happen overnight. Organizations must first make a key mindset shift, and take a strategic approach to uncovering and resolving instances where people don’t follow standards.

The quality-safety link

Quality and safety may occupy two different departments in the average manufacturing organization, but the reality is that safety is itself an aspect of quality.

Jason Chester’s picture

By: Jason Chester

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit every industry with a barrage of challenges. The impacts on the manufacturing sector are already extending far beyond factory walls. And for now, the depth of those impacts and the expectation for recovery are unknown.

Fortunately, manufacturers are a highly adaptable breed, and many have found ways to pivot quickly to continue to provide the vital products we all need. Some organizations are even retooling and repurposing their production lines to produce entirely new products. Perfumers and distilleries are producing hand sanitizer. T-shirt makers are switching to face masks. Automakers are now producing ventilators.

These companies stepped up early and responded quickly. And we are grateful.

But for many manufacturers, regardless of their grit and preparation, the situation has thrown into sharp relief the need for technology solutions that enable faster, broader access to information about their operations—and better support for both onsite and remote workers.

A sudden shove toward digital transformation

Manufacturing organizations have embraced many aspects of Industry 4.0. However, the transition has happened at different levels for different organizations. Many companies have held on to legacy systems, especially in the realm of quality management.

Howard Tiersky’s picture

By: Howard Tiersky

Working from home (WFH) is quickly becoming the new normal. The Covid-19 pandemic kicked the WFH movement into high gear, and many experts believe it will continue long after the crisis has passed. (This article makes a solid case.) But before we can optimize this new way of working, we’re all going to have to get proficient at one of the biggest work-from-home fundamentals: the virtual meeting.

Remote meetings are inherently different from in-person meetings. If you’re not used to running them, you’re going to make tons of mistakes. And those mistakes can have major ramifications in terms of how well people perform once they log off and get back to work.

The good news is that well-run online meetings can be extremely powerful. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, online meetings can be even more effective than in-person meetings when done right. But first you need to be aware of what not to do.

Lee Seok Hwai’s picture

By: Lee Seok Hwai

In the trenches of the battle against Covid-19, critical defensive gear and medical equipment are in short supply. Doctors and nurses fighting the nonstop onslaught of the highly contagious coronavirus desperately need more ventilators, test kits, surgical masks, shields, and gowns.

In Spain, healthcare workers are making their own shields or reusing disposable gowns, but 12,000 of them had caught the disease by the end of March. In worst-hit Italy, more than 60 doctors have died. The American epicenter of New York asked for 30,000 ventilators from federal authorities but got only 400.

Robert Bellinger’s picture

By: Robert Bellinger

Scanning laser confocal microscopy (SLCM) has become a popular inspection tool in both research laboratories and manufacturing production lines. With a 405 nm laser light source, SLCM combines high-resolution horizontal (XY ~200 nm) and vertical (Z ~10 nm) information to create a 3D image within seconds.

SLCM’s measurement scale overlaps with optical light microscopy (OLM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). In addition, there are minimal sample preparation requirements, and the microscopes can accommodate samples with a wide range of shapes, including large sizes. No consumables are required with SLCM, and there’s minimum system maintenance. All these benefits make SLCM a useful inspection tool. The table below summarizes the difference between these four techniques.

Figure 1: Comparing scanning laser confocal, scanning electron, atomic force, and optical light microscopy

Jason Chester’s picture

By: Jason Chester

Manufacturers routinely face uncertainty, risk, and volatility in everyday operations. It’s understood that organizations must be ready for anything, from supply chain interruptions, supplier quality issues and process variations, to volatility in market demand, competitor activities, and political influences.

But the Covid-19 pandemic presents a level of impact that even the most seasoned manufacturing leaders haven’t seen. Organizations are responding at an incredible pace to continue providing necessary and in-demand products, while adjusting to either increased or decreased volume (or in some cases, both).

Companies are deploying new protocols and procedures to keep their employees safe, including moving many roles to remote work and adapting shifts and resources to reduce the number of personnel onsite at any one time. Some are even retooling and repurposing their factories to produce the goods that are most needed. Many are even going above and beyond, donating essential safety gear or food to support our frontline workforce.

Multiple Authors
By: Donald J. Wheeler, Al Pfadt, Kathryn J. Whyte

This article is an update to “Tracking Covid-19” that Al Pfadt, Kathryn Whyte, and I wrote last week. In that article we summarized what is known about Covid-19, what has already happened, and what is to be expected based on the analysis of the data and the epidemiological models.

Over the past week the curve of Covid-19 infections in the United States has slightly flattened. Here are updated graphs of the actual data and new projections for what we can expect in the next few weeks.

Figure 1 shows the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the United States as of 7 a.m. each day. These are the values posted by the European CDC at noon London time, and so they are slightly smaller than some other values that are reported later each day.

Figure 1: Number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the United States

Oscar Combs’s picture

By: Oscar Combs

With the emergence of the coronavirus (Covid-19), many organizations are doing their part to prevent the spread of infection by practicing social distancing. Some organizations have implemented no-visitor policies, which helps prevent the spread of the disease, but is not so good when it comes to receiving services from their suppliers, which may require onsite interaction.

This is especially true for consulting, auditing, and training services, which are typically performed by onsite visits. Traditionally, organizations have been reluctant to have these services delivered remotely using web conferencing technology, but Covid-19 has thrust remote service delivery into the forefront. This article will explain the benefits of using technology, such as web conferencing, to have consulting, auditing, and training services delivered remotely to your organization.

What is remote service delivery?

Remote service delivery provides services through a web conference platform, typically conducted through the internet.

Jon Marcus’s picture

By: Jon Marcus

Want to find out how much it will cost to go to Arkansas Northeastern College? The federal government has a website that promises you can “Calculate your personal net price.” But clicking on that link brings you to the college’s own home page with a fun photo of its cuddly mascot and no immediate sign of anything about cost. Howard University? The link from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard takes you to a primer about how financial aid works. For the University of St. Francis in Illinois, it lands on “page can’t be found.”

Multiple Authors
By: Paula Caligiuri, Helen De Cieri

The coronavirus pandemic has forced tens of millions of employees across the United States to work from home. While this will save lives by limiting the transmission of Covid-19, it also poses significant challenges for employees’ well-being.

How can companies support the health of their employees—many of whom have never before worked from home for a significant amount of time?

As researchers in the area of human resource management, we have studied companies’ ability to adopt and encourage practices to improve employees’ well-being.

Here are four research-backed ways we believe companies can promote employees’ health and well-being during this crisis.

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