Tag Archives: Business improvement

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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Eleven facts about innovation and patents

By Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn, and Becca Portman – It is difficult to overstate the importance of technological progress for living standards. Consider the example of Argentina and Austria, as shown in figure A. These countries have roughly the same level of per capita inputs (labor and capital), but there is a vast gulf between them in economic output: Austria’s per capita income is more than double Argentina’s.

Labor and capital play vital roles in generating economic output and helping to explain differences in national incomes, but large disparities in per capita national income—in other words, national living standards—are due to the various ways that economies use their resources, and not just to the quantities of resources available.

In the language of growth accounting, total factor productivity (TFP) is the measure of how effective an economy is at producing economic output with a given amount of inputs. Across developed and developing economies, the majority of per capita income differences are due to total factor productivity variation (Hall and Jones 1999; Klenow and Rodríguez-Clare 1997).

In other words, most of per capita income differences are not explained by differences in available capital and labor. Moreover, sustained growth over time in per capita incomes requires growth in TFP (Solow 1957). Without technological progress, increases in labor and capital have a bounded potential to raise per capita income. more>

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>

Network industry is operating on flawed foundational principles


By George Mattathil – In a nutshell, the current situation with cyber security [2] is the direct result of the developments during the the “internet bubble,” in the 1990s. Collapse of the Bell Labs permitted the unchecked growth of the “internet bubble” and related hype.

The divestiture and the collapse of the Bells Labs left a vacuum for network technology leadership, that was substituted by hype that surrounded the “internet mania.” As a result, current network industry is operating on flawed foundational principles.

This added to the deficiencies in economic decision systems for (network) technology adoption, with the results we are seeing today: cyber security [2] challenges, internet malware [2] attacks and political controversies [2].

One of the consequences of the flawed network foundations is that the Broadband [2] adoption (which includes IoT) is progressing much slower than it could.

Another side effect is that ongoing network deployments are architecturally incoherent, resulting in enhanced complexity and cost. more>

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>

Why The World Is Getting Better And Why Hardly Anyone Knows It

By Steve Denning – Read the news and you can see that the world is going to hell in hand-basket—and fast! Terrorism, nuclear weapons, economic stagnation, social unrest, autocratic leaders, structural unemployment, deskilling, growing hopelessness, the opioid epidemic, increasing inequality, xenophobia, economic migrations, recessions, financial bubbles and crashes, recessions, depressions—the list goes on.

And yet the facts show otherwise. In a powerful study entitled “The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it” by Max Roser, an economist at the University of Oxford and the founder of Our World in Data, we learn that on virtually all of the key dimensions of human material well-being—poverty, literacy, health, freedom, and education—the world is an extraordinarily better place than it was just a couple of centuries ago.

  1. Poverty – 1950 75% of the world were still living in extreme poverty. But today, those living in extreme poverty are now less than 10%.
  2. Literacy – world population that is literate over the last 2 centuries has gone from a tiny elite to a world where 8 out of 10 people can read and write.
  3. Health – In 1800, more than 40% of the world’s newborns died before the age of five. Now only a tiny fraction die before the age of five.
  4. Freedom – In the 19th Century almost everyone lived in autocratically ruled countries. Today more than half the global population lives in a democracy.
  5. Population – Global life expectancy doubled just over the last hundred years.
  6. Education – All these gains were enabled by improvements in knowledge and education. There will never be more children on the planet than today.

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Updates from GE

By Maggie Sieger – When Hong Kong started planning a road tunnel 50 meters (164 feet) below sea level in 2012, local engineers had to find a way to keep the cutters in the massive boring shield in shape and the blades sharp enough to cut stone. Workers would squeeze between the shield, which is 17 meters in diameter, and the living rock to inspect the business end of the machine — a tight spot the Hong Kong team wanted to avoid as much as possible.

The founders of OC Robotics, a U.K.-based builder of “snake arm” robots, thought they could help. They suggested replacing the human inspectors entirely with OC’s innovative machines that can thread their 6-foot-long mechanical limbs into tight spots.

Today, an OC robot not only inspects the shield but also cleans it with a high-pressure water jet and measures the sharpness of the cutting surface with a laser. “This is faster and easier, and it keeps people safe,” says Andrew Graham, OC Robotics co-founder.

The robot’s dexterity and skills so impressed engineers from GE Aviation that they acquired OC Robotics last summer. The company believes snake-arm robots will be useful for jet engine maintenance, allowing workers to do as much work with the engine still on the wing as possible. That’s because removing an engine not only takes time, but also could take a plane out of service for days, impacting an airline’s bottom line. more>

The decentralized economy is inevitable. Cities now need to prepare for impact

By Sarah Wray – Bettina Warburg explained that throughout history, we have created “middlemen” to deal with uncertainty about trade – who are we dealing with, how do we know we are getting what we were promised, and what if we don’t receive the goods? These middlemen include banks, corporations and government entities, as well as online platform marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba.

Now for the first time, she said, we can lower this uncertainty using technology alone – blockchain, meaning no middlemen are required.

Blockchain unlocks the idea of a “network state … which you can think of as shared reality. Blockchain is in some ways giving us an autonomous network state — the ability to manage all that information and make choices on it by transacting it without middlemen,” she said.

“It’s a matter of urgency that public services, and the leadership of those public services, is able to anticipate technology and the disrupted business models it creates; and that it can respond to that by setting out the key demands. We cannot find ourselves in situations again where we have to regulate after the event. That is government not doing its job properly,” commented Andrew Collinge. more>

Updates from GE

The Heat Camera Is On: Retailers Turn To Sensors For Insight
By Bruce Watson & Dorothy Pomerantz – Online retailers have been tracking their customers and their web habits with cookies for years. No wonder their brick-and-mortar rivals are looking for new ways to play the big-data game.

The French startup IRLYNX believes it can help them set sales on fire. The company developed small heat sensors, each just 1 centimeter in diameter, that retailers can place on walls, ceilings and even in light fixtures around a store to track customers.

Picking up customers’ body heat, each sensor can monitor movement as far as 15 meters away and within a 120-degree sweep. They can detect heat variances of less than 1 degree Fahrenheit, which helps them tell a human from, say, a hot computer or a fresh cup of coffee.

The sensors can also detect the size and postures of shoppers and distinguish an adult from a child or someone who is sitting down to try on a pair of shoes. The sensors are a big upgrade from the way stores typically track shoppers — with cameras.

While the images on a camera may be clearer, it’s very difficult to use those images to track data about how people are using a store. “Video-analysis software can be easily confused by mirrors, photographs, televisions, posters — almost any images of humans,” says Guillaume Crozet, IRLYNX’s vice president for sales and marketing.

Training algorithms to disregard these false images can be time-consuming and costly. more>