Tag Archives: Industrial economy

Updates from Siemens

Declarative Configuration when Change is Constant
By Dave McLeish – Change is a double-edged sword. To set the scene let’s first focus on recent change for the good as relates to our own domain of product lifecycle management (PLM). In the past few years, increased mobility with smart phones and tablets has provided new opportunities for mobile access to PLM. Adoption of familiar user interface (UI) patterns from everyday life (shopping cart, smart search) and enhanced possibilities for user experience through touch and virtual assistants have enabled more of the “extended enterprise” to embrace PLM. From the shop floor where there’s touch screen access to work instructions to executives empowered to simply search, sign off and interact with dashboards on their device of choice, increasingly the whole enterprise can contribute to and view the digital thread from product development to delivery.

At the heart of this change for the good is the rich web-based access to PLM that has been made possible by html5. Rich capabilities that have meant we can begin to reimagine how we collaborate and deliver products from inception, through realization and utilization. Zero-install rich, browser-based solutions remove the need for desktop install and reduce the IT deployment overhead through firewall friendly standard https requirements.

But developing in the browser has its challenges when targeting rich capabilities over high latency WAN and with limited memory resources. Arguably the greatest challenge is managing change. Whilst the emergence of HTML5 and CSS3 among other standards have provided a reliable basis for developing web solutions, the same cannot be said for much of the web development space. more> https://goo.gl/NjgcsC

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Updates from GE

By Amy Kover – Standing on a 10-foot-wide platform 365 feet above the rolling green hills of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Kristen Hough looks tiny. The winds at this height are strong enough to spin a 500,000-pound wind turbine at 14 revolutions per minute. One strong gust could push a person over.

But Hough, 28, also looks unafraid. A wind technician, Hough is part of a team that is responsible for the electrical and mechanical upkeep of 61 turbines here that can produce 185 megawatts of energy — enough to power an entire city. She makes the climb to the top of a wind turbine at least once a day. At that height, Hough is in her element. “Even climbing the turbines [the first few times], it was so exciting that I knew it was what I was supposed to do,” she says.

Hough’s shift typically begins each morning at 7 a.m. when lead technician Mitch Burns assigns Hough and her five teammates to either handle routine maintenance — like tightening bolts and greasing gears — or troubleshoot problems. For instance, if the temperature in the gearbox appears a bit high, Hough needs to figure out why and fix it. Sometimes she can resolve the issue with a few taps on her laptop, but it -often requires hands-on attention instead. That’s when Hough gets out her safety gear and starts the long ascent to the top of the turbine. more> https://goo.gl/vWg2At

Updates from Chicago Booth

Local communities are driving global politics

By Raghuram G. Rajan – We live in a strange time.

Countries are more prosperous than ever before, new technologies that promise to solve our most intractable problems are on the horizon, and yet there is widespread unhappiness in some of the richest countries in the world. White males of working age in the United States are killing themselves through alcohol, drugs, and suicide at a rate that is as if 10 Vietnam Wars were raging simultaneously.

The immediate reason appears to be economic despair, as moderately educated workers lose jobs because of trade and automation. But workers lose (and gain) jobs regularly.

Why are even well-educated workers, holding decent middle-class jobs, so disheartened now? What should we do?

What we are seeing is a consequence of the information-technology revolution that started in the early 1970s, magnified by trade.

Every past technological revolution has been disruptive, prompted a societal reaction, and eventually resulted in societal change that helped us get the best out of the revolution. We have felt the disruption of the IT revolution, which has sometimes been punctuated by dramatic episodes such as the 2007–10 global financial crisis; we are now seeing the reaction in populist movements of the extreme left and right.

What has not happened yet is the necessary societal change, which is why so many despair of the future.

We are at a critical moment in human history, when wrong choices could derail human economic progress. more> https://goo.gl/aLSuFh

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Why nation-states are good

BOOK REVIEW

Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy, Author: ani Rodrik.

By Dani Rodrik – A principled defense of the nation-state would start from the proposition that markets require rules.

Markets are not self-creating, self-regulating, self-stabilizing or self-legitimatizing, so they depend on non-market institutions.

Anything beyond a simple exchange between neighbors requires investments in transportation, communications and logistics; enforcement of contracts, provision of information, and prevention of cheating; a stable and reliable medium of exchange; arrangements to bring distributional outcomes into conformity with social norms; and so on.

Behind every functioning, sustainable market stands a wide range of institutions providing critical functions of regulation, redistribution, monetary and fiscal stability, and conflict management. These institutional functions have so far been provided largely by the nation-state. more> https://goo.gl/yjmnyK

Parasites, Security, and Conflict: The Origins of Individualism and Collectivism

By Daniel Hruschka – Ferdinand Tonnies, German sociologist and political activist, outlined two primary forms of sociality.

The first social form, Gemeinschaft or community, people worked together for collective goals and where individual wishes were subordinated to those of the group.

The second form, Gesellschaft or civil society, turned this relationship between individuals and the group on its head. Exemplified by modern nation-states, corporations, and voluntary clubs, Tonnies’ civil society existed to serve its members needs and wishes—not the other way around.

Often framing the distinctions in different terms, such as collectivism vs. individualism, embeddedness vs. autonomy, or particularism vs. universalism, these investigators discovered striking and reliable cross-population differences in how people endorse a group’s interests over their own goals, how people value personal relationships over impartial rules with strangers, and how they define themselves in terms of their social relationships rather than their own individual qualities and accomplishments.

Researchers have also found that a basic element of Tonnies’ Gemeinschaft—in-group loyalty—hitchhikes with a suite of other “traditional” values and behaviors.

Notably, people who are more concerned about loyalty are also more likely to value obedience to authority, to conform to group norms and to avoid impure, unnatural, unchaste and ungodly acts. more> https://goo.gl/Q3GXQj

Updates from Georgia Tech

Driving Cassini: Doctoral Student Controls Spacecraft in Mission’s Final Days

By Jason Maderer – When the Cassini spacecraft plunges into Saturn on September 15 to end a nearly two-decade mission, Georgia Tech student Michael Staab will have a front row seat. It’s almost literally the driver’s seat.

Staab is working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California while pursuing his aerospace engineering doctoral degree in the distance learning program. He’s a Cassini Spacecraft Flight Controller, which means he’s one of only three people authorized to tell the machine what to do and where to go as it orbits Saturn.

The job is almost finished. Just before 8 a.m. (Atlanta time) on Friday, Staab will hear Cassini’s signal for the final time before it dives into the planet’s atmosphere, becoming a part of Saturn.

Prior to attending Georgia Tech, I was a flight test engineering intern at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California and, later, a test requirements and analysis engineer for Boeing in St. Louis. I had a lot of control room and operations experience, which is exactly what JPL was looking for.

The duty of a flight controller at JPL is fairly straight-forward; we possess absolute command and control authority of the spacecraft when tracking it through the Deep-Space Network. more> https://goo.gl/aAU76G

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How The OECD Wants To Make Globalization Work For All

By Ronald Janssen – In its key issues paper for the Ministerial Council, the OECD recognizes that the frictional costs of opening to world trade have been much higher than so far assumed.

Workers losing their job because of competition with low wage economies were supposed to find new jobs elsewhere and do so quickly because the same process of globalization would be pushing up overall national income.

The OECD now openly admits that this assumption was wrong.

A second critical stance is taken on what the OECD calls a ‘plausible’ link between globalization and rising inequalities. Here, it explicitly admits that globalization has weakened the bargaining power of labor in advanced economies, invoking the threat of cheap import competition from low wage countries as well as that of moving investment and production there.

Trade and investment deals are often rushed through parliaments when all details have been negotiated, thus providing big business the opportunity to weigh on decision-making by massive lobbying of governments in the preceding trade negotiations themselves. The OECD specifically adds that ‘the cost-benefit balance of provisions such as ISDS look increasingly questionable, especially when both sides are advanced economies with low risk of discriminatory treatment of foreign investors and reliable judicial systems.” more> https://goo.gl/TM76h7

Updates from GE

Strange Cargo: How Do You Move An 8 Million-Pound Heat-Recovery Steam Generator Down The Hudson? Swimmingly.

By Amy Kover – The journey — the first of its kind for such a machine — began in 2015, when the New Jersey-based power company PSEG ordered GE’s latest HA-class gas turbine and other equipment for a new combined-cycle power plant in Sewaren, an industrial town tucked away behind New York City’s Staten Island.

The machines included a heat-recovery steam generator, or HRSG in power-industry parlance. It recovers waste heat from the gas turbine and turns it into steam that powers a steam turbine to generate more electricity, making the power station more efficient.

GE typically arranges to have all the parts delivered to the power plant for on-site construction. However, as the project began to unfold, it became clear that building the steam generator, which is much larger than the turbines, in New Jersey was going to be a challenge. The site happens to be located in one of the country’s most densely developed areas.

To overcome this challenge, PSEG decided to build the 4,000-ton HRSG in upstate New York and ship it to New Jersey in one piece. GE worked closely with PSEG and construction firm Megrant to crack this logistical riddle. more> https://goo.gl/u8Y2mi

Updates from GE

Weathering The Storm: This Tech Will Help Utilities Keep The Lights On

By Bruce Watson – As Hurricane Harvey drenched the Texas coast in August — and Irma devastated the Caribbean and soaked Florida last week — the media was filled with scenes of flooded streets and gymnasiums crowded with people seeking shelter.

If earlier disasters are any indication, a key to these regions’ recovery may lie in how soon they are able to restore electricity to the millions of people who lost it. In the case of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, New York’s inundation with salt water knocked out power across New York City and and in many seaside towns, slowed down recovery efforts, and made it impossible for many people hit by the storm to return to their normal lives — and their jobs. According to some estimates, power and other infrastructure failures may have more than doubled Sandy’s long-term economic losses.

Part of the problem is the way that most regions plan for disasters. Traditional planning tends to focus on recovery — solving the problems caused by a disaster, like sheltering displaced people or fixing failed power grids. By comparison, grid resiliency, an emerging trend in preparedness, works to create infrastructure that will continue to function in the face of disaster or that can recover quickly. more> https://goo.gl/YUPzNT

Germany’s New Power of the Purse

By Mark Leonard – Germany’s changing global posture predates Sigmar Gabriel, who is a relative newcomer at the foreign ministry. During the euro crisis, Germany deployed economic means for economic ends within Europe. But in its policies toward Russia, Turkey, China, and the United States, Germany has increasingly been using its economic strength to advance larger strategic goals.

After Putin annexed Crimea in March 2014, the West’s response was led not by the US, but by Germany, which spearheaded diplomacy with Russia and Ukraine to de-escalate the conflict. Germany then persuaded the rest of the European Union to agree to unprecedentedly tough sanctions against Russia to deter further aggression.

Germany has maintained that united European front for three years, defying all expectations.

So far, the rupture in German-US relations has been mostly rhetorical. But Angela Merkel is also shoring up Germany’s geopolitical position by diversifying its global partnerships, especially with China. According to Volker Stanzel, who previously served as Germany’s ambassador in Beijing, “Merkel has no illusions about China, but she sees it as a partner on climate, trade, and the politics of order.” more> https://goo.gl/1v98XP