Tag Archives: Manufacturing

Updates from Boeing

Boeing’s robotic and human workers join up to start production of 777X jets
By Alan Boyle – The 777X is bigger than the 787 Dreamliner, but it picks up on a lot of the technologies pioneered by the smaller plane, ranging from wider windows to a common layout for the flight deck and the cargo handling system.

Boeing says it has improved the production process as well.

The 777X production process builds upon lessons learned from the 787 Dreamliner program, which has shifted Boeing toward greater automation and wider use of lightweight carbon fiber for components.

Boeing’s two 777X variants, the 777-8 and 777-9, are designed to carry between 350 and 425 passengers. That stretches well beyond the 396-seat capacity of Boeing’s biggest current-generation 777. The new jets are expected to be 20 percent more fuel-efficient as well.

The 777X’s 235-foot wingspan is so wide that each wingtip has an 11-foot-long section that’s built to fold upward, just in case extra clearance is needed at small airports.

The showcase for the upgraded production system is Boeing’s 1.3 million-square-foot Composite Wing Center, the billion-dollar facility where the carbon-fiber wing components for the 777X are being fabricated. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Daydreaming is Good. It Means You’re Smart
By Jason Maderer – A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that daydreaming during meetings isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It might be a sign that you’re really smart and creative.

“People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering,” said Eric Schumacher, the Georgia Tech associate psychology professor who co-authored the study.

Schumacher says higher efficiency means more capacity to think, and the brain may mind wander when performing easy tasks.

How can you tell if your brain is efficient? One clue is that you can zone in and out of conversations or tasks when appropriate, then naturally tune back in without missing important points or steps.

“Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor — someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings,” said Schumacher. “Or school children who are too intellectually advanced for their classes. While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.” more>

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How Technology Is Driving Us Toward Peak Globalization

By Banning Garrett – New technologies are moving us toward “production-at-the-point-of-consumption” of energy, food, and products with reduced reliance on a global supply chain.

The trade of physical stuff has been central to globalization as we’ve known it. So, this declining movement of stuff may signal we are approaching “peak globalization.”

To be clear, even as the movement of stuff may slow, if not decline, the movement of people, information, data, and ideas around the world is growing exponentially and is likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Peak globalization may provide a pathway to preserving the best of globalization and global interconnectedness, enhancing economic and environmental sustainability, and empowering individuals and communities to strengthen democracy. more>

Updates from GE

The Aviator: How A Young Pilot Became A Top-Flight 3D-Printing Engineer

By Maggie Sieger – At 15, Josh Mook got a job refueling planes and handling bags at a small airport near his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. He’d work eight hours a day after school, then blow his earnings every Saturday taking flying lessons. “I couldn’t even drive myself there,” Mook recalls. “But I was flying solo.”

Mook has been jetting into the unknown ever since. Originally considering a career in industrial design, Mook moved to aerospace engineering because it combined his love of flying with his love of math and science.

After graduating from Purdue University in 2005, he joined GE Aviation as an engineer at the GE unit’s headquarters in Cincinnati. His first big success came when he found a clever way to fix a blade durability problem in a jet engine high-pressure compressor.

Additive manufacturing methods like 3D printing build parts from the ground up, layer by layer, by fusing together metal powder or plastics. The technology is suitable for prototyping and custom production, but GE is also using it to make production parts that would be difficult to manufacture using traditional methods. more> https://goo.gl/psf2a9

Updates from Ciena

#Ciena25: The Story Behind the Founding of Ciena

By Bruce Watson – The company that would eventually become Ciena began its life as an inspiration inside the head of David Huber.  The former General Instruments engineer had an idea for how to help cable companies squeeze more television channels through their lines to end consumers.  In 1992, he set out to turn those ideas into a reality, and on November 8, 1992, the paperwork was officially filed in Delaware for the new company.

Huber immediately began searching for venture capital funding.  In late 1993, Huber was introduced to Pat Nettles, a veteran leader of several telecom companies.  By early 1994, Nettles was brought on-board to run the business side of things and was soon the company’s first CEO (though owning a doctorate in particle physics, Nettles was no stranger to the technology side of things himself).

Nettles quickly convinced Huber that it was the long-distance phone companies, not the cable TV industry, that would be the best target for Huber’s invention.

The introduction between the two was orchestrated by Jon Bayless, a venture capitalist who’s firm Sevin Rosen Funds provided $3 million in start-up funding for the business in February 1994. more> https://goo.gl/ZdVzLE

updates from GE

How I Remade GE
By Jeffrey R. Immelt – I led a team of 300,000 people for 6,000 days. I led through recessions, bubbles, and geopolitical risk. I saw at least three “black swan” events. New competitors emerged, business models changed, and we ushered in an entirely new way to invest. But we didn’t just persevere; we transformed the company. GE is well positioned to win in the future.

The changes that took in the world from 2001, when I assumed the company’s leadership, to 2017 are too numerous to mention. The task of the CEO has never been as difficult as it is today. In that vein, my story is one of progress versus perfection. The outcomes of my decisions will play out over decades, but we never feared taking big steps to create long-term value.

For the past 16 years GE has been undergoing the most consequential makeover in its history. We were a classic conglomerate. Now people are calling us a 125-year-old start-up—we’re a digital industrial company that’s defining the future of the internet of things. Change is in our DNA: We compete in today’s world to solve tomorrow’s challenges. We have endured because we have the determination to shape our own future. Although we’re still on the journey, we’ve made great strides in revamping our strategy, portfolio, global footprint, workforce, and culture. more> https://goo.gl/L9nX1b

Updates from GE

Sea Change: GE’s French Wind Turbine Factory Will Power Germany’s Renewables Revolution
By Tomas Kellner – GE is a relative newcomer to offshore wind. The company explored the field a decade ago and returned to the industry in 2015, when it acquired the energy assets of Alstom, and built its first wind farm in Long Island Sound near Block Island, Rhode Island, last year. As the inaugural offshore wind farm in the United States, the project made a splash even though it holds just five turbines. But Merkur, which will have 66 turbines, is a much bigger beast. “This one is special,” says Pascal Girault, who runs the Saint-Nazaire plant. “Everything is big.”

Girault spent the early part of his career managing supply chains for the car industry, but ramping up production for Merkur is no Sunday drive. Workers in Saint-Nazaire make generators and assemble nacelles for the 6-megawatt GE Haliade turbine. The nacelle is the casing on top of the tower that shelters the generator and other equipment. It includes some 30,000 components.

Adding to the task’s complexity, the composite blades for the machines’ 150-meter-diameter rotors come from GE’s LM Wind Power factory in Spain. The steel segments for the tower are being made in Germany and China. U.S. and European companies supply electronics and mechanical components for the converter and generator. “The scale and the speed of the project are challenging,” Girault says. more> https://goo.gl/GSScqV

Why States Are Struggling to Tax Services

The Pew Charitable Trusts – Twenty-three state legislatures considered proposals this year to impose taxes on at least some services. But so far, none has made it into law intact — and most died outright. And in several states, new taxes on services that took effect this year are so complicated that tax offices are writing clarifying memos, like the one in North Carolina to distinguish between roof repair (taxable) and roof replacement (not taxable).

Trying to define exactly what services should be subject to a new tax can be tricky, with proposals to tax specific businesses usually drawing opposition from those who would be affected. And proposals to tax all services prompt demands for exceptions from businesses that maintain they are “essential” (like funeral services) and should not be subject to tax.

“The services that get pulled into these plans … are not necessarily the ones that bring in the most revenue, but the ones that are more politically viable,” said Meg Wiehe, deputy director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a study group that looks at the distributional effects of tax policy. more> https://goo.gl/XNJKS5

Auto slowdown flashes caution lights for manufacturing employment — and Trump

By Mark Muro – After a good run, warning lights are flashing in the auto industry—and that’s not good for the broader manufacturing sector, for heartland metropolitan areas, or for President Trump.

Here’s the problem: after seven years of strong growth following the 2008 economic crisis and federal bailouts of both General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, auto sector output and employment growth have slowed markedly from record levels. Years of catch-up purchases by car buyers have finally plateaued. Likewise, automakers must economize to invest billions in developing the electric and self-driving cars of tomorrow.

And so the layoffs have begun. more> https://goo.gl/sazWoc

How the Obama phenomenon and Trump earthquake happened

By Reid Wilson – The Hill spent months digging deep into decades of data that illustrate the nation’s changing demographics, economics, culture and politics.

Those glimpses of a changing America are evidence of a series of countervailing demographic, political and economic forces that have long exerted themselves on the nation — and now define the quadrennial struggle between two sides of the political aisle that are deeply polarized along race, class, economic and educational lines.

At the center of the divide are two sets of divergent trends.

The first set contrasts the changing face of America, which is being hastened by the rising influence of the most diverse generation in American history, with a radical political shift among the nation’s still-dominant cohort of older whites, who now act as a more homogenous voting bloc than ever before.

The second set reflects the changing nature of how Americans live, work and build economic power. A generations-long trend toward wage stagnation, automation and globalization is in the final stages of exterminating the blue-collar manufacturing jobs that once sustained America’s middle class in the heartland. more> https://goo.gl/YgDUA0

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