A repeated theme in post comments, e-mailed questions, and discussions about various process and business improvement methodologies is doubt about the real potential of process improvement methods. Can we really improve processes to an optimal level, or can a process only be improved to a limited degree before it must be completely scrapped and re-invented?
A topic that doesn’t seem to come up, at least via outlets that are 3D-printer friendly (which are in a powerful majority at this point), is the proliferation of piracy thanks to the quickly emerging 3D-printer market. Much like Napster brought a slapped major record labels across the face, 3D printing is poised to make major manufacturers shake in their boots… maybe.
Based on many of the comments left behind on yesterday’s announcement that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. would be holding a summit on U.S. manufacturing, there’s a fair amount of skepticism over the company’s motives, particularly considering its long history of sourcing a vast majority of products from overseas.
Fracking is dramatically increasing the recoverable reserves of America carbon-based energy supplies. but yesterday I just paid $4.15 to fill up my car at the USA gas station in Cardiff, Calif. There is a huge disconnect between supply and the price at the pump.
Each of us has a nemesis process; that process that we engage regularly and that drives us crazy because of its inefficiency, its guarantee to waste our time or energy, and some variety of reasons that prevent it from being reasonably improved. Some of us have more than one.
Anyone familiar with risks and accident histories knows that for every major disaster in a reasonably complex system, there are usually several less damaging minor incidents that can be called near misses or close calls. The May 27 intrusion at Oak Ridge is just such a near miss.
As the rise in temporary workers continues to affect our industry, it’s important that plant managers have a strategy for managing this new crop of personnel. Many plant-wide initiatives, like a strong safety culture, for example, are grassroots efforts that come from the ground up.
If I were to take a poll of readers, collecting the answer to the question, “What one business process is obviously wasteful and also too difficult to fix,” I think I can predict what a common answer might be. Take a moment to consider your own answer to the question.
Why is it that the most important, most powerful, most effective methods, tools, or practices are also the most difficult? Answering that question might be a challenge to keep the philosophy professors busy for a good, long time. For now, accept your grandfather’s axiom that what is worth doing, is worth taking our time to do.
Standards have the power to turbo-charge innovation and fuel business growth. From design and manufacturing to distribution and marketing, all products and services are affected at some point by standardization. But standards and conformance also impact the strength of the American workforce.
Cars that are engineered to last longer require that you buy fewer of them in a lifetime. Remember when a car that ran for 100,000 miles was a good car? I do. Now a 200,000 mile or 250,000 mile life is considered a good car. Engineers (aided by competition) did that. And not just American engineers. Engineers all over the world.
It’s well documented that the difficulty in landing a 2000 pound vehicle on a planet that is 248 million km (154 million miles) away, travelling at speeds up to 300 times that of a Formula One racecar and experiencing a temperature range of more than 3000° F (-463 to +2637) is, for lack of a better word, ENORMOUS.
As obesity rates continue to rise in the U.S., many Americans are turning to food and beverage products which use artificial sweeteners. But a new report suggests that products containing these “faux sugars” may not be as sweet as they seem.
It seems especially puzzling considering that each of the continuous improvement methodologies I have studied insists that true success comes not from organized events, but instead it comes from everyone exercising the improvement methodology every day on large and small opportunities alike.
The gravest mistake we can make today is to believe that Detroit is an anomaly. It isn't. The economic threats that brought down Detroit are present in other great American cities. The question is: Will we learn our lesson and prevent future harm elsewhere?
And as much as I admire the human-powered helicopter team for finally getting the necessary work done, I have even more respect for the people and companies willing to put real money on the line for such “frivolous” engineering challenges.
I am a huge proponent of eating your vegetables. Numerous studies show that getting adequate nutrition through plant-based foods can ease or reverse so many physiological aches and pains – as well as keep your hair, skin, nails, and teeth looking better; reduce your risk of heart disease – the list goes on.
He’s called the innovation “a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table,” and on August 12, we should be able to get our first look into whether or not it will be able to live up to the expectations. But the hyperloop itself isn't the most interesting part of the announcement, but rather Musk's views on patents and open source.
Rumor has it Twinkies are space age products made from such resilient ingredients that they last for decades. The shelf life of Twinkies is the stuff of legend (and mostly nonsense), but beyond the myth and behind the silliness is a kernel of truth; If Twinkies can indeed achieve a fabled longevity, it will have more to do with savvy business practices and innovation than secret, Frankenstein recipe formulations.
As drones, bipedal robots, and algorithm technologies continue to improve, the world of autonomous everything is looming. Perhaps looming isn’t the right word, but I feel compelled to set an ominous tone in order to provide an interesting conclusion.