Next Generation Manufacturing Study

The Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) Study is developed to better define the strategies and business activities necessary for world-class performance and success into the next generation. The framework of the Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) study presents forward-looking strategies to drive manufacturing growth and profitability into the 21st century. The six NGM strategies surveyed include:
-Customer-focused innovation - Develop, make, and market new products and services that meet customers' needs at a pace faster than the competition.
-Engaged People/Human-Capital Acquisition, Development and Retention- Secure a competitive performance advantage by having superior systems in place to recruit, hire, develop, and retain talent.
-Superior Processes/Improvement Focus- Record annual productivity and quality gains that exceed the competition through a company wide commitment to continuous improvement.
-Supply-Chain Management & Collaboration- Develop and manage supply chains and partnerships that provide flexibility, response time, and delivery performance that exceeds the competition
-Sustainable product and process development - Design and implement waste and energy-use reductions at a level that provides superior cost performance and recognizable customer value.
-Global engagement - Secure business advantage by having people, partnerships, and systems in place capable of engaging global markets and talents better than the competition.

To take the survey questionnaire click here.

Book Review - Happiness: Lessons from a New Science

Layard gets started with the fact that happiness is an objective quantity. It can be measured with sophisticated technology by analyzing the electrical wave activity in specific parts of the brain. The book has a lot of research findings like “People are more happy when chatting with friends than spouse or relatives. It is least when interacting with boss”, “The work hours are highest in United states than any other developed nation”, “More than 18% of illness are due to depression” etc..
The income has risen in the west continually for past 50 years still the happiness level has decreased substantially. There seems a weak correlation between income (standard of living) and happiness. So even though our income and standard of living is increasing steadily we are not getting happier. He cites the following reasons:
- Social comparison
- Hedonic treadmill (adaptation to the new environment/technology/standard of living)
- Economic inequality
- Work-life balance

The big seven factors of happiness are (the first 5 are in the order of importance)-
1. Family relationship
2. Financial situation
3. Work
4. Community and friends
5. Health
6. Personal Freedom
7. Personal Values

What should we do to increase our happiness?
- We should monitor the development of happiness like we monitor income. Policies should consider the interrelationship between psychology, social welfare and economics. Economists generally do not have any interest in how happy people are and focus primarily on their combined purchasing power.
- Unemployment causes the most unhappiness. The state should strive to keep the unemployment level at the lowest rate. Also the unemployment benefit policy should be re-considered.
- More family friendly practices like flexible hours, parental leave, better access to child care should introduced.
- We should have manageable goals in life. Having no goals in life is like driving a car with no destination. So we must have goals. However they must not be over aching that they bring stress and unhappiness.
- Activities to promote community life should be encouraged.
- Better health care system and health awareness.
- Direct advertisements directed at children below 12 should not be allowed.

In my opinion having a happy society should be considered at a micro and macro level. At macro level it is the State and its policies which are the main actors. Issues like abortion, personal freedom, justice, political turmoil and the instability play a vital role. The current issue most of the countries are facing is that of the terrorism. The author does not touch upon this issue but it has become the critical threat both in developing and the developed nations. In recent years there are numerous incidents like 9/11 in USA, train bombing in London and recent terrorist attack in Mumbai. These activities have numerous after effects not just that of security. First the citizens lose faith in the system. There is a widespread panic and havoc following such activities. Second is the economic effect. Billions of dollars have been spend on the war against terrorism. It has led to war in Afghanistan which has left tons of dozens dead, injured or displaced. Post 9/11 the fear of airplane hijack reduced the passenger demand. Most of the airlines were on the verge of bankruptcy post 9/11. The economy went through a recession. This led to massive layoffs and thus decreased happiness. At the micro level happiness depends upon individual factors like values, morality, family relationship and work-life balance.
The author describes that the mobility of the workers increases crime in the community but does not back up his statement with valid reasons or studies. Layard supports globalization and describes its effect on the economy. The common man perception is that globalization and outsourcing leads the American jobs go overseas. The author makes strong reasoning proving the fallacy of the statement. Trade is beneficial to both the parties involved. Even though some jobs are lost many more opportunities are created. The new opportunities are based on technology and innovation requiring higher skills and thus higher salary jobs.
The author states that redistribution of the income is necessary with constraints. A country will have higher level of happiness the more equally is the income distributed. Author argues that taxes are essential to maintain work-life balance by some weak reasoning which can be controversial and subjective. Better explanation and analytical reasoning is required to support the claim.
Finally in my opinion happiness is something which is dependent upon you and how you shape your mind and body in this zero-sum game (Darvinism). Happiness is a by-product of an activity which you enjoy. Ultimately, what matters is not what life brings to you but what you bring to the life.

Why is machine tool diagnostics and prognostics difficult?

Real time asset monitoring, diagnostics and prognostics are complex tasks in any piece of equipment. In case of machine tools prognostics it becomes even more challenging. In industrial equipment we monitor the condition, analyze the data, trend and predict the failure of the equipment. The goal is to accurately estimate the eminent failure (act before it fails) and maximize the uptime and output. In machine tools this is not enough. A machine tool transforms the raw material into the finished part. The machine tool is like the mother of the tons of children products. The goal is to not only minimize the downtime but to produce quality parts. The health of the machine plays a vital role in quality of a component in terms of dimensional tolerance and surface quality. Thus correlating the machine health with the effect it has on the quality and mapping it with the requirements is the key in machine tool prognostics. The aim is to build machine health monitoring system from a machine-centric to a part quality-centered point of view. The second issue lies in the proprietary manufacturing hardware and software, which makes it difficult to capture real-time data in the required format and granularity. This has resulted in a customized health management for each system. The third issue is the lack of methodology to evaluate single component health information, detect imminent failure, and diagnose the type of fault in case of multiple-failure mode. There is a need for a decision-making and information fusion methodology to correlate single component health information with critical product quality, as well as to generate a unified machine tool health indicator to describe the machine’s overall condition.

Virtual Enterprise Resource Planning for Production Planning and Control Education

Globalization and advances in information technology have prompted a change in the credentials of the engineers today. Industry needs engineers who can work in a distributed, multifunctional, cross-cultural and multidisciplinary avenue. Unfortunately, the engineering academia has not successfully responded to this change. There is a need to change the traditional lecture based passive learning methodology to an active technology-enabled multi-sensory experiential learning methodology using simulation games. To fill this critical gap we propose a motivation-based multi-source active learning methodology, which meets the expectations and demand from the industry as well as creates a technology-enabled virtual learning experience. The proposed learning methodology encompasses constructivist learning by the use of simulation game, objectivist instructor led learning and collaborative learning through peer-to-peer interaction. A state-of-the-art survey of simulation games application in education with detailed analysis of applications in engineering education and professional organization dealing with educational simulation games is conducted. The similarities, differences and advantages of simulation games compared with problem-based learning are stated explicitly. The classification of the existing simulation games application in engineering indicates that there is need for integrated all-encompassing simulation game applications in engineering. Two surveys conducted to assess the need of simulation games in education and production planning and control education methodology are explained. The first survey conducted indicates that the student favor the use of computer simulation games over the traditional classroom method. The second survey suggests that the use of simulation games and computer based software packages is not prevalent in today's production planning and control education. Specifications of the iPPC online simulation game with a specific implementation case study on a Minivan Production Planning project are described. Finally we conclude that the proposed methodology has a potential to uplift and revamp the engineering education by addressing the long-faced issues and incorporating modern technological tools to make learning process more effective.
Keywords: Simulation Games; Production Planning and Control; Inventory Theory; Enterprise Resource Planning; Active Learning

Reference: MS Thesis, Amit Deshpande, University of Cincinnati, Engineering : Industrial Engineering, 2008.