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  • Take Great Strides with Gemba Walks

    • Peter J. Sherman

    Gemba is a Japanese word meaning the place where value is created. In construction, it would be the job site. Gemba walks involve getting out of one's chair to watch a process, talking with operators and asking open-ended questions in order to better comprehend the nature of the value being created.......Read More

  • Positive Human-Robot Relationships Will Power the Future Workforce

    • Richard E. Crandall

    Robots have made it possible to get work done even more efficiently and by providing information about their operations. It has often seemed that designers were trying to build automated systems to replace workers completely. But recently, there has been a significant shift toward building robots that can work in harmony with humans.......Read More

  • Principles of 3D Printing

    • Pedro Neto
    • Ray Ernenwein

    There is no doubt that 3D printing is transforming supply chain management. In fact, additive manufacturing has the potential to influence the global marketplace at a level equivalent to the harnessing of steam power, the assembly line or robotic production automation.......Read More

  • Virtual Manufacturing Enhances Reality

    • Elizabeth Rennie

    Digital twins enable manufacturers to build virtual replicas of systems, processes and products from design and development to the end of their life cycles.......Read More

  • Optimizing Assembly: A Case Study

    • Michael A. M. Bork
    • Peter J. Sherman

    Proterra Inc. is a designer and manufacturer of zero emission heavy duty vehicles, which are in high demand. With the goal of 100 percent customer satisfac tion, delivery dates can be rigid and aggressive, leaving little room for inefficient flow of product through its assembly processes.......Read More

  • A Primer on Attaining High-Impact Flow

    • Peter J. Sherman
    • Michael A. M. Bork

    Creating optimum flow is one of the core principles of lean philosophy. Effective flow enables companies to deliver products and services in a shorter period of time, have significantly less work in process (WIP), and be more flexible and adaptable with changes in customer specifications. There are two types of flow: pull and push.......Read More

  • Designing Products for Eco-Effectiveness

    • Richard E. Crandall
    November/December 2017

    For decades, product design, production, sale and use have followed the take, make and dispose industrial model. The manufacturing company takes natural and synthetic resources; converts them to a product; and then sells the item to a consumer, who ultimately uses and then disposes of it. In this model, products are designed to be sold at a low price, are not intended to have long lives and are difficult to service. This means that, when a product breaks, the consumer’s best — and sometimes only — option is to throw it away and buy a new one. The problem is that products that follow this model are quickly using up natural resources and polluting the environment with all types of waste.......Read More

  • Upgrading Smart Manufacturing with Industry 4.0

    • Richard E. Crandall
    September/October 2017

    The face of manufacturing has evolved over the course of centuries from the days of handmade goods to the adoption of water- and steam-powered machines, the invention of mass production, the introduction of electronic automation, and now beyond. Companies that have not kept up with these industry transitions throughout the years often have been forced to close their doors. The ones that evolve survive and thrive. ......Read More

  • Industry 1.0 to 4.0: the Evolution of Smart Factories

    • Richard E. Crandall
    September/October 2017

    For centuries, goods including food, clothing, houses and weaponry were manufactured by hand or with the help of work animals. By the beginning of the 19th century, though, manufacturing began to change dramatically with the introduction of Industry 1.0, and operations rapidly developed from there. Here is an overview of that evolution.......Read More

  • Reinventing the Production Scheduling Wheel

    • Jaci Souza
    • Alan H. Nall
    • Peter L. King
    September/October 2017

    For supply chains to be fully effective, manufacturing links must be stable, predictable, agile and responsive. One way to accomplish these goals is with product wheels. These scheduling tools organize the variety of products made on any asset in order to optimize campaign lengths and sequences and therefore improve throughput and customer fill rate while reducing cost and inventory.......Read More

  • The Fashion Industry of the Future

    • Richard E. Crandall
    July/August 2017

    Because the fashion industry has evolved this far throughout the course of centuries, there’s no doubt that it will continue to evolve in the years to come. There are countless variations of the potential fashion industries of the future. Here are just a few.......Read More

  • Fast Fashion Speeds Up Supply Chain

    • Richard E. Crandall
    July/August 2017

    Apparel supply chains used to be known for producing high-fashion designs with slow response times. Designers and retailers forecast demand a year in advance and tailored their releases by season. As consumer trends have swung toward demanding low prices and fast response times, the apparel industry has shifted dramatically. Today, many businesses are trying to satisfy consumers who expect the products they want to be available right now. And for the most part, companies are succeeding in this endeavor. ......Read More

  • Drum-Buffer-Rope Streamlines and Simplifies Aircraft Maintenance

    • Satya S. Chakravorty
    July/August 2017

    The Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC) recently adopted a less-is-more approach to performance improvement. This organization provides depot maintenance, engineering support and software development for major weapon systems. The facility’s team supports peacetime maintenance requirements, wartime emergency demands, aircraft battle damage repair and ready maintenance of critical items.......Read More

  • Taking Nearshoring to a Whole New Level

    • John P. Collins
    • Eric P. Jack

    Twenty years ago, large numbers of North American businesses began offshoring in order to reduce their manufacturing costs. Access to cheap labor was compelling, and these companies moved some, if not all, of their facilities to other countries either through wholly owned operations, partnerships with local entities, or independent suppliers.......Read More

  • The Unique U-Shaped Effect of Automation on Today’s Labor

    • Dave Turbide
    March/April 2017

    Automation continues to be a very significant factor in the loss of manufacturing jobs. Ever-increasing productivity is a two-edged sword as fewer workers are needed to produce more goods. ......Read More

  • Data-Driven Site Selection

    • Xiao You
    • Shawn Tay
    January/February 2017

    Because the world is always changing, the general rules and systems relating to various manufacturing locations also are constantly in flux. In this uncertain environment, the decision of where to establish production sites must be supported with as much up-to-date and accurate analysis as possible. This helps ensure that the ultimate location choice is the wisest one possible given the best available information.......Read More

  • Reinforcing Productivity in the Steel Industry

    • Wes Wells
    • Mike Toombs
    • Frank Roberto
    • Demetri Michaelides
    • Brad Kern
    • Pat Farragher
    • Mandyam M. Srinivasan
    January/February 2017

    The steel industry encompasses both the producers that melt and form steel and the processors that add value by conditioning steel for downstream customers. As a result, trends and shifts in the steel industry significantly influence material costs for automotive, construction, consumer appliance, energy, heavy machinery, and many other sectors.......Read More

  • The New “Have It Your Way”

    Can a more personalized customer experience make your company king?
    • Philip E. Quigley
    September/October 2016

    My last couple of semesters teaching at California State University, Fullerton were very interesting, to say the least. During class discussions, it became quite clear to me that young people are putting some very specific demands on today’s companies. Put simply, they want products the way they want them. Said another way, they want to customize products and services to meet their specific desires and needs—and they want their items immediately and at a reasonable price.......Read More

  • The Digital Factory Dilemma

    Leveling the path to automated manufacturing
    • Philip E. Quigley
    May/June 2016

    A few weeks ago, one of my students gave me a copy of an article from The Guardian titled “Mercedes-Benz Swaps Robots for People on Its Assembly Lines.” The story makes the point that the automotive manufacturer has a huge number of options on its cars, including heated or cooled cup holders and four different types of tire-valve caps.......Read More

  • An SPC Lesson from the NFL?

    Middle-ground strategies keep products within control limits
    • Dave Turbide
    January/February 2016

    ​Near the end of the 2014–2015 National Football League (NFL) playoff series, the New England Patriots were accused of using under-inflated footballs to gain an advantage in the semi-final game. The controversy was quickly labeled “Deflategate” by the news media, and the team and its quarter back, Tom Brady, were punished.......Read More