Operations Article

Jennifer V. Miller’s picture

By: Jennifer V. Miller

There’s no shortage of important work to do—both at home and in your job. So, the last thing you want tossed your way is unnecessary work. Nobody likes needless activity, right?

But this is easier said than avoided. I’m sure you can easily recall getting pulled into something that did not add value—at least not in your opinion.

From a workplace perspective, here’s where I think part of the problem lies.

The past couple of decades have seen the rise of “The Group” e.g., self-directed work teams, participative decision-making. These work formations and processes definitely have many benefits; they also have drawbacks. In my observation, one unfortunate byproduct of group interaction is that needless activity gets added in the name of innovation and collaboration.

Add to that dynamic Americans’ love affair with taking action, and you have a recipe for nonvalue-added work.

The “people equation” looks like this:

Inclusiveness + Compulsion to act = Making things more complicated

For example, consider the story of Clarice and Sebastian, two department leaders at a large multinational corporation. Once a month, Clarice and Sebastian participate in a 15-person global conference call for their division. As Clarice gives her update, Sebastian offers a suggestion.

Shobhendu Prabhakar’s picture

By: Shobhendu Prabhakar

Although remote inspection has been a topic of discussion in the oil and gas industry in the past, it has recently been getting more attention during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many oil and gas operators, as well as engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors and suppliers have come forward to discuss this topic with an open mind and explore possibilities. Remote inspection is perhaps the need of the hour, but it can also be the future of inspection.

What is remote inspection?

Remote inspection is an alternative to an onsite physical inspection in which the person performs inspection activities remotely using sophisticated technological tools. It’s many benefits include:
• Elimination of personnel risk exposure to hazardous conditions and dangerous tasks in harsh environments
• Global collaboration and optimization of workforce use
• Inspection cost reduction
• Real-time feedback
• Flexibility
• Eco-friendly by helping to reduce overall global carbon footprint

Success factors for remote inspection

Vision
“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?
—Henry David Thoreau

Manfred Kets de Vries’s picture

By: Manfred Kets de Vries

Effective organizations rely on teamwork, not least because it facilitates problem solving. Many leaders, however, are ambivalent about teams. They fear overt and covert conflict, uneven participation, tunnel vision, lack of accountability, and indifference to the interests of the organization as a whole. Also, more than a few have no idea how to put together well-functioning teams. Their fear of delegating—losing control—reinforces the stereotype of the heroic leader who handles it all.

Although teams can generate a remarkable synergy, a number of them do become mired in endless sessions that generate very high coordination costs and little productivity gain. In some corporations and governments, the formation of teams, task forces, or committees can even be a defensive act that gives the illusion of real work while disguising unproductive attempts to preserve the status quo.

ASQ’s picture

By: ASQ

You already know that technological advances of the past decade have resulted in a new industrial revolution often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. It’s a revolution driven by the exponential growth of disruptive technologies and the changes those technologies are bringing to the workplace, the workforce, and the markets organizations serve.

With ever-increasing speed, quality professionals are arriving at the intersection of digital transformation with their responsibilities and may be best positioned within their organizations to serve in a leadership role to harness the power of digital in the quest for excellence. There’s never been a better time to learn about and embrace the concept of Quality 4.0.

Quality 4.0 is a term that references the future of quality and organizational excellence within the context of Industry 4.0. Quality professionals can play a vital role in leading their organizations to apply proven quality disciplines to new, digital, and disruptive technologies.

Katie Myers’s picture

By: Katie Myers

Freight trucks account for 23 percent of U.S. transportation. Transportation is the No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions in America. The country’s freight industry is in no position to ignore its impact on the environment and the greater good.

We can break down the trucking industry’s environmental impact further. Each market segment emits the following amount of carbon emissions every year:
• Truckload (TL): 836 million tons of emissions
• Partials: 722 million tons of emissions
• Less-than truckload (LTL): 342 million tons of emissions

Fortunately, at least one logistics provider is committed to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Flock Freight is transforming the $400 billion freight landscape by eliminating inefficiency and waste through green shipping practices.

Harry Hertz’s picture

By: Harry Hertz

Rest? The new normal will be about activity, you say. Actually, I believe some rest will be necessary. After the frenzy of activity since March 2020 to establish new work patterns and new home life patterns, many of us—especially those with young families—have been left totally exhausted. So some rest may be in order. However, the rest I am referring to in this article is RE2ST3 (resilience, ecosystems, e-wisdom, societal responsibility, telework, transition, and transformation).

I believe organizations that pay attention to these RE2ST3 components will be poised for a successful entry into the new normal. I base my conclusion on a significant amount of reading and many conversations with people across sectors, as well as with community leaders. As I summarize the parameters of each of the RE2ST3 components, I will reference some relevant publications. While my key points are addressed under specific headings below, it is clear that many of these could have been discussed under more than one heading, and that indeed the topics are interdependent and part of a systems response to creating the new normal.

Ron Cowen’s picture

By: Ron Cowen

NIST physicist Zachary Levine doesn’t cook that often, but when he does, it can easily turn into a science experiment.

Two years ago, after he and his wife had endured a week of under-baked cookies and chicken that took forever to roast, Levine wasn’t content to simply recalibrate his oven according to the manufacturer’s directions. In attempting his own calibration, using the boiling point of water as a standard reference, Levine ended up studying the thermal physical properties of water.

More recently, Levine was back in the kitchen, boiling the contents of a frozen package of peas and carrots for dinner, when he noticed something odd: The two vegetables spontaneously parted company, with the peas generally moving to the edges of the pot while the carrots stayed put in the center. Every time Levine stirred the vegetables together—once, twice, three times, four times—they quickly separated, reverting to the same pattern in some 15 seconds.

He had to know why.

Kristopher Lee’s picture

By: Kristopher Lee

ASM International is a nonprofit professional society focused on providing scientific, engineering, and technical knowledge to its members and the materials science community. In its education and experimentation labs, it regularly works with innovative inspection solutions that have the potential to improve quality assurance in manufacturing.

One new application it’s working on is laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF), an additive manufacturing process where a laser is used to weld powdered material to form a 3D object. Think of it like 3D printing, but for metal parts. One of the challenges ASM International is studying is how to assess the quality of the 3D-printed parts.

How does laser powder bed fusion work?

The process begins with a bed of metallic powder on a base. A very fine laser selectively heats the powdered material, causing it to weld together. By creating thousands (or more, depending on the size of the part) of tiny welds in multiple layers and discarding the unused powder material, users can effectively create a 3D metal object.

Multiple Authors
By: Stewart Black, Patrick van Esch

Millions of Americans are unemployed and looking for work. Hiring continues, but there’s far more demand for jobs than supply.

As scholars of human resources and management, we believe artificial intelligence (AI) could be a boon for job seekers who need an edge in a tight labor market like today’s.

What’s more, our research suggests it can make the whole process of finding and changing jobs much less painful, more effective, and potentially more lucrative.

Make me a match

During the last three years, we’ve intensely studied the role of AI in recruiting. This research shows that job candidates are positively inclined to use AI in the recruiting process and find it more convenient than traditional analog approaches.

Brookhaven National Laboratory’s picture

By: Brookhaven National Laboratory

A team of scientists working at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Brookhaven National Laboratory has designed an apparatus that can take simultaneous temperature and X-ray scattering measurements of a 3D printing process in real time, and has used it to gather information that may improve finished 3D products made from a large variety of plastics. This study could broaden the scope of the printing process in the manufacturing industry and is also an important step forward for Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University’s collaborative advanced manufacturing program.

The researchers were studying a 3D printing method called fused filament fabrication, now better known as material extrusion. In material extrusion, filaments of a thermoplastic—a polymer that softens when heated and hardens when cooled—are melted and deposited in many thin layers to build a finished structure. This approach is often called “additive” manufacturing because the layers add up to produce the final product.

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