Alex Bekker’s picture

By: Alex Bekker

Do you know what a retailer and a tightrope walker have in common? They both have to balance. For the tightrope walker, the logic is clear. But what’s the balance that a retailer is looking for?

A typical dilemma of shortages vs. storage costs

Although the dilemma of shortages vs. storage costs is applicable to any product category, it’s much more painful with perishables. If their quantity can’t meet the demand, retailers should be ready to see a frown from an unhappy customer who didn’t find her favorite dairy, fruit, or vegetable on the shelves.

However, staying on the safe side by ordering more perishables is hardly a cost-effective solution. Perishable products require special storage conditions, and their shelf life seldom exceeds a couple of days, which means retailers must address disposal issues. So, it’s easy to understand why retailers, by all means possible, try to find the optimal balance between storing too much and too little.

A way of handling this dilemma with data science

There is a way to handle the storage/shortage dilemma efficiently: It’s via a deep neural network (a DNN), the most advanced data science approach.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Current business conversation often focuses on data and big data. Data are the raw information from which statistics are created and provide an interpretation and summary of data. Statistics make it possible to analyze real-world business problems and measure key performance indicators that enable us to set quantifiable goals. Control charts and capability analysis are key tools in these endeavors.

Control charts

Developed in the 1920s by Walter A. Shewhart, control charts are used to monitor industrial or business processes over time. Control charts are invaluable for determining if a process is in a state of control. But what does that mean?

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

Anthony Chirico1 describes how narrow-limit gauging (NLG, aka compressed limit plans) can reduce enormously the required sample size, and therefore the inspection cost, of a traditional attribute sampling plan. The procedure consists of moving acceptance limits t standard deviations inside the engineering specifications, which increases the acceptable quality level (AQL) and therefore reduces the sample size necessary to detect an increase in the nonconforming fraction.

Nicola Olivetti’s picture

By: Nicola Olivetti

According to a report by PwC, industrial sectors worldwide plan to invest $900 billion in Industry 4.0 each year. Despite these growing technology investments, only a few technologies are significantly mature to drive measurable quality impacts. Digital visual management (DVM) is one of them, being the fundamental link that bridges the lean culture and quality management in the digital age. 

What is digital visual management?

The vast majority of all the information and communication is visual. The human brain processes visual information significantly faster than text. When a relevant image is paired with audio material, two-thirds of people retain the information three days later.

Organizations dedicated to continuous improvement take advantage of this reality and use DVM to engage staff, provide insight into key information, and to ensure improvement projects are moving forward as scheduled.

DVM collaboration consists of a well-structured and interconnected series of stand-up meetings that take place regularly before a board, where the team posts (on paper or digitally) all the information it needs to steer and improve its activity. This is applicable to any team: from permanent shop-floor teams to top management, including (geographically spread) project teams.

Jesse Allred’s picture

By: Jesse Allred

Lean manufacturing is a philosophy focused on maximizing productivity and eliminating waste while creating a quality product. One of the most powerful strategies in the lean toolbox is total productive maintenance (TPM), a system targeting continuous improvement through a holistic approach to maintenance. Avoid delays in the manufacturing process caused by breakdowns and unplanned maintenance with TPM.

What is total productive maintenance?

As long as equipment and tools have been used, they’ve needed to be maintained. In manufacturing, maintenance traditionally was approached reactively, and as Steven Borris writes in Total Productive Maintenance (McGraw Hill Education, 2006), traditionally the surplus of cheap labor meant no one was particularly worried about efficiency or avoiding breakdowns. Following World War II, however, industries and economies were reassessing business and making drastic changes.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

In the article, “ANSI’s Role in the Wide World of Standards,” (Quality Digest, March 12, 2019), we looked at where standards originate and how companies are involved in developing them. In this article, we’ll outline four points that can help your organization integrate standards into your operations.

Once you’ve decided which standards are applicable to your needs, the question becomes whether your team will benefit from centralized access to standards, and how you will manage updates and collaborate. There are basically two ways to license standards: single-use purchase, and subscription. Each has its own pros and cons.

Kevin Price’s picture

By: Kevin Price

In the world of risk management, maintenance of mission-critical equipment drives priorities and budgets. It is the ultimate test of proactive maintenance and smart decision making. Managing assets that “cannot be allowed to fail” is more than an emotionally charged mandate that forces managers into a continual state of alert. It is the harsh reality for technicians tasked with ensuring continuous performance or service. The stakes are high. Fortunately, technology can help mitigate the risks.

The scope and scale of critical assets and equipment vary greatly, from electrical grids and security systems to back-up generators at hospitals, refrigeration in the food and beverage industry, and traffic control for the airline industry. National defense systems and communications systems in the public sector, such as 911 call centers or alerts for fire departments, are other examples of high-tech equipment that cannot be allowed to fail. Whether it involves protecting health of consumers, safety of the workforce, or national security, mission-critical assets require special attention to detail and proactive monitoring of status. Prevention is the goal. Early detection of warning signs makes intervention possible.

Multiple Authors
By: Venkat Viswanathan, Shashank Sripad, William Fredericks

As electric cars and trucks appear increasingly on U.S. highways, it raises the question: When will commercially viable electric vehicles take to the skies? There are a number of ambitious efforts to build electric-powered airplanes, including regional jets and planes that can cover longer distances. Electrification is starting to enable a type of air travel that many have been hoping for, but haven’t seen yet: a flying car.

Amadou Diallo’s picture

By: Amadou Diallo

At James Lick High School the slate-gray Chromebooks are ubiquitous. Rolling cabinets stocked with dozens of the laptops sit in classrooms where teachers assign them to students for everything from researching hereditary DNA to writing essays. In this majority-Latino school of 1,100 students, 84 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a federal measure of poverty, school principal David Porter says making the devices readily available is a significant part of an effort to develop digital literacy for students who might otherwise be left behind.

Nationwide, one out of four teenagers from low-income households lacks access to a home computer and, overall, Latino students have less access than their black and white peers, according to a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center. “We’re doing a disservice if we’re not teaching the next generation how to use technology. Students being able to access it is critical,” Porter says.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Brodie International provides liquid flow-meters and equipment for the petroleum and industrial markets. The company specializes in producing high-precision meters and valves that are used in the custody transfer of petroleum products.

The challenge

Brodie products involve components with complex shapes and assembly that made inspection measurements a serious challenge when using the traditional tools of their industry, which included height gauges, calipers, dial indicators, and a fixed coordinate measuring machine (CMM).

“We were using a fixed CMM,” says Tommy Rogers, quality manager at Brodie International. “Our older model CMM is good for measuring things like linear dimensions, hole patterns, tapers, circles, and geometry. But when it comes to measuring a compound curve like a helical shape, we were very limited.”

3D image-laser-scanning

Much of the QC oversight depended on proofing a product after final assembly.

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