Category Archives: Technology

Update from Siemens

BOM Management: An introduction
By Susan Zimmerlee – What exactly is BOM Management?  Is that the same as BOM Configuration Management?  Or product variability management? Or Master Data Management?  Or a PLM BOM???

The answer seems to be that it depends on who you ask!

BOM management is a tough topic because those words mean something different to each company that I work with.  Even within a single company, you could ask different departments and get different answers.

Which bill of materials management or BOM management solution is best for you? I’ve sat on both the selling and buying end of this discussion, and there is no single answer for everybody. It’s like asking – which vehicle is best?

The answer depends on if you’re hauling heavy loads or trying to get someplace really fast. The BOM management discussion needs to be similar – what is it that you need your BOM management system to do for you? Whether you make paper towels or space ships, at a basic level, BOM management is a critical element that takes you from an idea to a delivered product. To have more detailed discussions about BOM management, we need to establish a baseline of some of the key elements involved:

  • Part: Managing a part bill of materials, also known as the physical product definition or product master, is commonly the main topic of Master Data Management (MDM) discussions.
  • Design: In a design BOM (often called the virtual product definition), mechanical designers and engineering are usually focused on generating the 3D components that make up the product.
  • DMU: Digital mock up (or DMU) refers to the ability to virtually view and interrogate your configured BOM throughout its lifecycle.
  • BOM Configuration Management: BOM configuration management is the discipline of managing the content of the product definition throughout its lifecycle.
  • Variability: Product variability is part of BOM configuration management.
  • Architecture: To better manage configuration and product variability, product architectures help to organize similar content across several products.
  • Coordinated Change: Coordinating product change across various product representations is an issue that is gaining more and more visibility as products grow more and more complex.

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Updates from Boeing

Boeing and subsidiary Liquid Robotics team up to explore deeper possibilities for autonomous systems
BY Dan Raley – Created by Boeing subsidiary Liquid Robotics, this maritime innovation known as the Wave Glider was originally intended to record the songs of migrating whales. When integrated with Boeing’s advanced sensors for defense applications, the Wave Glider can locate undersea vehicles at substantial distances, hunt for mines, monitor land radar, and gather and relay data to other systems, all while operating on solar and wave power for months at a time.

“It’s a hidden treasure,” said Jim Bray, Boeing autonomous systems technology integrator in St. Louis. “There’s a lot going on under the sea.”

Covered with fiberglass panels and small antennas topside and tethered to a wing-like propulsion system beneath it called a sub, the Wave Glider communicates by low-Earth-orbit satellite through a command-and-control unit and surface radio modem, similarly to someone sending a text message by smartphone.

“It’s revolutionary stuff,” said Scott Willcox, Liquid Robotics technology lead. “It’s like reinventing the sail — fundamentally, it’s a new way to get around the ocean. What you can do with it is almost limitless.”

In Ventura, Calif., in July, seven months after Boeing acquired Liquid Robotics, the companies teamed to test new Wave Glider capabilities in the ocean that would be presented to a customer for the first time. The testing demonstrated how transponders placed on the ocean floor by the Wave Glider conceivably could provide an oceanic GPS. An unmanned undersea vehicle in need of updating its location could use these underwater acoustics to determine where it is and never have to surface. more>

A Nobel laureate explains why we get the bad economic policies we deserve

BOOK REVIEW

Economics for the Common Good, Author: Jean Tirole.

By Eshe Nelson – The relationship between economics and politics is starting to unravel. Over the past year, many have sought to explain Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and the rise of far-right and far-left politics in Europe using economic arguments. But it’s becoming clear that economics alone does not explain the situation. If the questions at the root of public life are no longer answered by the famous political dictum, “It’s the economy, stupid,” where does that leave economists?

First we have to make sure people respect intellectuals. For that, the intellectuals have to do the right thing. Then, you have to limit frustrations. People who voted for Trump, or Brexit, or Le Pen and Mélenchon in France are by and large very concerned about their future with robots, with rising debts, with inequality and unemployment. We have neglected some people, the losers of globalization, and we have a society that’s more and more unequal. It might get worse, unfortunately, with new technology.

When people are afraid or upset, they also tend to dismiss their current governments and the experts. They want a big change, which is often supplied by populists who offer fairytales and the wrong policies. People are trying to grab something that will give them hope.

.. No, we are not moving in the right direction. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Imaging Technique Unlocks the Secrets of 17th Century Artists
By John Toon – The secrets of 17th century artists can now be revealed, thanks to 21st century signal processing. Using modern high-speed scanners and the advanced signal processing techniques, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are peering through layers of pigment to see how painters prepared their canvasses, applied undercoats, and built up layer upon layer of paint to produce their masterpieces.

The images they produce using the terahertz scanners and the processing technique – which was mainly developed for petroleum exploration – provide an unprecedented look at how artists did their work three centuries ago. The level of detail produced by this terahertz reflectometry technique could help art conservators spot previous restorations of paintings, highlight potential damage – and assist in authenticating the old works.

Beyond old art, the nondestructive technique also has potential applications for detecting skin cancer, ensuring proper adhesion of turbine blade coatings and measuring the thickness of automotive paints.

Without the signal processing, researchers might only be able to identify layers 100 to 150 microns thick. But using the advanced processing, they can distinguish layers just 20 microns thick. Paintings done before the 18th century have been challenging to study because their paint layers tend to be thin, Citrin said. Individual pigments cannot be resolved by the technique, though the researchers hope to be able to obtain that information in the future. more>

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The Costly Zero Sum Game That’s Fueling The Skills Gap

By Jake Schwartz – Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates suggest, for example, that there will be 1 million more computing jobs than applicants to fill them by 2020.

Of course, the skills gap is about more than just supply and demand. It stems from what economists call “friction,” exacerbated by megatrends like the shrinking shelf life of skills and persistent equity gaps in K-12 and higher education systems struggling to keep up with the pace of change. But it also reflects decades of self-inflicted wounds within corporate America.

I’ve observed three troubling drivers of the economic friction fueling the skills gap:

  1. a surprising lack of visibility and long-term planning around concrete skill and talent needs within the enterprise;
  2. incredible inertia around and adherence to old-school hiring practices that perpetuate growing equity gaps through a search for new skills in conventional places; and
  3. a tendency to misplace hope that our higher education and workforce development systems can somehow “solve” the problem with minimal corporate involvement or responsibility.

Imagine the possibilities if just a fraction of that spending was allocated to investments in re-skilling existing workers.

And yet, corporate training fads, from an obsession with online training (it’s cheaper), to a belief that all employees should spend their off-hours being “self-guided learners,” only exacerbate the delta between average investments in talent acquisition ($20,000 to $40,000 per head) and corporate training ($1,000 per person per year). more>

Updates from GE

Matrix Reimagined: Brand New GE Startup Is Developing Novel Ways To Draw Blood
Ny Tomas Kellner – Drawbridge, a new business founded by GE Ventures, is building an easy-to-use blood collection device that could be used anywhere — at a clinic in San Francisco, in a remote village in Borneo or potentially even at home. Users will be able to apply the device to the upper arm and activate it. It will then store and stabilize the sample in a special cartridge.

Drawbridge, a new business founded by GE Ventures, is building an easy-to-use blood collection device that could be used anywhere — at a clinic in San Francisco, in a remote village in Borneo or potentially even at home. Users will be able to apply the device to the upper arm and activate it. It will then store and stabilize the sample in a special cartridge.

The playing field is huge. The global blood collection market stands at $7 billion, and health professionals in the U.S. alone draw more than 1 billion blood samples every year. Handling blood is also an important factor in treating patients — blood test results reportedly influence 70 percent of clinical decisions.

The blood stabilization technology inside the device, a high-tech paper-like material known as “the matrix,” was originally developed by scientists at GE Global Research, leveraging knowledge and expertise from the GE Healthcare team.

The collection device will draw a small amount of blood and channel it onto the matrix, which stores the sample for later extraction and testing. The matrix also stabilizes the collected blood sample and eliminates the need to refrigerate it, which will simplify transporting it to the lab.

When GE Ventures learned about the technology, Stack and her colleagues thought they could build a business around it, as they did with other companies they’ve launched. more>

Fake news and botnets: how Russia weaponized the web

By Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus – Estonia boasts the most technologically advanced system of government in the world.

Every citizen possesses a digital identity – an identification number and login code for access to completely digitized interactions with the state. Estonians can vote online, file their taxes, check medical records, access the national health care system, and receive notifications of most government attempts to access their personal records. About 97% of the country uses digital banking. The Estonian national ethic is built on the idea that every citizen is transparent and the state is too. This makes Estonia extremely efficient – and extremely vulnerable.

“We live in the future. Online banking, online news, text messages, online shopping – total digitization has made everything quicker and easier,” Jaan Priisalu said. “But it also creates the possibility that we can be thrown back centuries in a couple of seconds.”

The question is how the west can maintain its core values of freedom of speech and the free flow of information while protecting itself from malevolent geopolitical actors? For centuries, eastern European countries such as Estonia relied on walls, watchtowers, and fortresses to keep out invaders. The US became the world’s most powerful country in part because it was insulated from foreign threats by vast oceans on two sides. In the internet age, traditional borders are less effective.

To survive in the era of information warfare, every society will have to create ways of withstanding cyber-attacks. more>

Humanity’s fight against climate change is failing. One technology can change that.

By Akshat Rathi – The optimism surrounding renewable energy masks some harsh realities. Despite decades of progress, about 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels—the same as in the 1970s. Since then, we’ve kept adding renewable capacity, but it hasn’t outpaced the growth of the world’s population and its demand for energy.

Today, about 30% of total world energy (and 40% of the world’s electricity) is supplied by coal, which emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than nearly any other fuel source.

The hugely valuable oil and gas industries, accounting for 33% and 24% of total world energy use, respectively, are also entrenched. “Based on what we know now, we would need major technological breakthroughs or weak world growth, including for large emerging and developing economies, for oil demand to peak in the next 20 years,” says Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti of the International Monetary Fund. Despite the growth in electric vehicles, most oil companies agree that peak oil is “not in sight.”

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: there are a handful of industries essential to the modern way of life that generate large amounts of carbon dioxide as a side product of the chemistry of their manufacturing process. These carbon-intensive industries—including cement, steel, and ethanol—produce about 20% of all global emissions.

If we want to keep using these products and reach zero emissions, the only option is to have these industries deploy carbon capture. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

15 middle-class jobs that can’t be automated—a CBR thought experiment
By Howard R. Gold – A much-publicized 2013 study by Oxford University researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne estimates that “about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk” from advances in computerization, particularly machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Using US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Frey and Osborne rated 702 occupations on a scale of 0 to 100 percent for risk of displacement by emerging computer technologies. Workers in heavily blue-collar industries such as production, construction, transportation, maintenance and repair, and farming and fisheries face the highest risk, along with white-collar employees in service and sales.

The job categories at lowest risk, according to Frey and Osborne: management; computer, engineering, and science; education, legal, arts, and media; and, of course, health care. The latter accounted for half of the 20 occupations to which Frey and Osborne give the lowest probability of replacement by computerization.

Core skills such as “originality,” “social perceptiveness,” “assisting and caring for others,” “persuasion,” and ”negotiation” are the most difficult for computers to replicate, Frey and Osborne determine. (For more, see “If robots take our jobs, will they make it up to us?” July 2017.) more>

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Updates from GE

Love At First Touch: Brazilian Doctor Uses 3D Printing To Help Blind Parents Feel Baby’s Ultrasound
By Erica Firmo – When Ana Paula Silveira got pregnant, she and her husband, Alvaro Zermiani, dreamed about seeing the face of their child during her first ultrasound exam. But weeks later, they got to feel it instead.

Both Ana Paula and Alvaro, who live in São Paulo, Brazil, are legally blind. Their son, Davi Lucas, was strong and healthy, but there was no way their eyes could see the first grainy glimpses of their baby on the ultrasound monitor.

They decided to take a different path. The couple made a trip to the office of Dr. Heron Werner, a gynecologist and obstetrician working at the DASA clinic in Rio de Janeiro. He agreed to follow Ana Paula through her pregnancy.

Dr. Werner uses a 3D printer to make lifelike models from images obtained by a GE ultrasound machine. “From the moment we got to the high-quality ultrasound exam, through the possibility of 3D printing it, I realized that it could also serve to enhance the prenatal experience of visually impaired pregnant women,” Dr. Werner says. more>