Monday, April 10, 2017

Nanotechnology benefits to the plastic injection mold

Nanotechnology is one of the fastest growing industries around the world. Recent advancements in pharmaceuticals, bio technology, medicine, engineering and material sciences are found in a wide variety of products. The applications and their benefits are limitless.

Nanotechnology refers to the multiple disciplines of science and technology whose common interest is in controlling matter on the atomic and molecular scale. It involves the creation of devices and materials from molecular components with dimensions at the nano scale, which ranges roughly from 1 to 100 nanometers (nm).

A nanometer is defined as one billionth of a meter and is used in measurements that are only visible under extremely high magnifications. To put it into perspective: a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick; a human hair can be between 50,000 and 180,000 nanometers; and there are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch.

Using nanotechnology—to control the behavior of the very atoms that make up molecules—it is now possible to alter and fabricate molecular structures with unique designs. This enables us to tailor make molecules and matter to create materials that offer specialized functions.

These materials can exude different properties at the nanoscale. Some become better at conducting electricity or heat, some are stronger, some offer different magnetic properties, some even change colors as their size is changed, and some significantly change the surface characteristics of products they are applied to.

In short, with nanotechnology there are infinite possibilities for the creation of products that were thought to be impossible.

Nanotechnology and Plastics
The plastics industry has begun embracing nanotechnology in the manufacture of a variety of material additives and nano composites that provide unique benefits in electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, flame retardants and structural integrity.

One of the greatest opportunities for improvement in plastic part production and part quality is in the mold. While moldmakers, design engineers and processors strive for perfection, this is not always realistic.

With current demands to maintain a competitive advantage, moldmakers and molders alike are challenged with highly complicated design requirements, expedited manufacturing expectations, coupled with high raw material prices for molds and resins.

Many parts require tight tolerances with little draft and high level cosmetic finishes. Some require designs that are not ideal for part cooling or part removal. Others require the use of various resin compounds that by their very nature may be prone to sticking and filling issues, as well as part surface imperfections.

A mold coating created using nanotechnology can address these issues, thereby solving significant problems for today’s moldmakers and processors—a semi-permanent, self-applied coating, designed to reduce cycle times, rejects and maintenance, while improving part quality in injection molding, blow molding and rubber molding applications.

Manufacturing: Natural fibers for sustainable plastics

By Sophia Lloyd
Posted on March 9, 2015

Polymer composite materials are used in many different contexts, including the automotive, aerospace, and construction industries. Fiber-reinforced polymers offer improved mechanical properties over their non-reinforced counterparts, with increased hardness, better tensile, flexural, and impact strengths, and higher tensile modulus. The fibers within the polymer hold the plastic together, resisting deformation and breaking under stresses. The extent to which this is achieved depends on several factors, including the dimension (length and width) of the fibers, the density of the fibers within the polymer, and the strength of adhesion between the fiber and polymer, as well as defects and variation within the fibers themselves.

Owing to the vast quantities of fiber-reinforced polymers used in large-scale industrial applications, there are, naturally, concerns arising regarding their environmental impact.

Sustainable Raw Materials



As automobiles incorporate more advanced technologies, the material content of vehicles becomes more varied. Ford has a long history of seeking to use sustainable materials in our products and source from suppliers that demonstrate sustainable business practices, including respect for human rights and the environment. Although the majority of what we buy is parts and assemblies used directly in vehicles, there is a need to take a closer look at the farthest reaches of the supply chain, including raw material extraction.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Uber suspends fleet of self-driving cars following Arizona crash

Posted by TheGuardian

Uber has suspended its fleet of self-driving cars while it investigates a crash in Arizona involving one of its vehicles.

The Uber Technologies car – a Volvo SUV – was carrying two engineers in the front and no backseat passengers but it is not yet clear whether the car was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash.

The incident is the latest blow for the car-hailing app which has been left reeling by a series of setbacks in recent weeks including the departure of its president, Jeff Jones.

Initial police reports suggest the collision was caused by a person who failed to give way to the self-driving car rather than a malfunction by the Uber vehicle.

However, pending further investigation, the company has removed all its self-driving cars from the road in Arizona, as well as test sites in Pennsylvania and California – all three states where it operated the driverless vehicles.

A spokesperson for the police in Tempe, Arizona, said the crash happened when another car “failed to yield” to an Uber car at a left turn. Josie Montenegro said: “There was a person behind the wheel. It is uncertain at this time if they were controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision.”

Uber self-driving cars always have a human in the driving seat who can take over the controls.

The latest incident follows recent difficult months for the firm, which has seen a number of high level executives quit and has faced criticism over workplace practices and ethics.

Meanwhile legal issues have been hampering progress with the testing of its autonomous vehicle technology in California.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Is there a formula to predict or evaluate the success of a lean implementation?

by Art Byrne
March 21, 2017

This is a great question with many implications. Most people need some way to define success numerically; but what are the right metrics to look at? The ultimate goal for anyone running a business is to increase enterprise value. This still leaves you with the question of “as compared to what?”, and even then, the question remains: is it good enough? Or, should the result have been even higher if I did a better job on my companies’ lean turnaround?

I recently spoke with a lean thought leader and a business school professor who are creating a mathematical formula that can tell CEO’s what to expect from their companies if they make the switch from batch to lean. The thrust of this effort is finding a tangible way to answer the number one hurdle to getting more companies on the lean journey, which is: “How do you get the CEO’s interested in doing this?” I applaud their effort but it scares me a bit, as I don’t think you can reduce this important work to a mathematical formula with any precision. And in fact, this could backfire if it leads companies to expect a certain result that they don’t achieve. Above all, guaranteeing results is not merely an impossible task, but a misleading one. At the end of the day how you go about becoming lean is most important.

I met with the management team of a very successful industrial company that wants to take their lean efforts to the next level after 8 years of practice. So far, they have followed the (unfortunately) traditional path of thinking that lean is mostly a cost reduction program. They say all the right words, but then they showcase the annual cost savings from their “operating system” year by year, which only highlights the cost reduction mentality. I told them that the numbers look impressive in the annual report, but the ability of any company to collect this type of savings numbers with any accuracy is suspect. Not only the numbers themselves, but where did they come from? Was it from lean efforts, or from traditional tricks like closing plants or big capital spending? Whatever the case, and even if by some wild chance the numbers are accurate, the focus on cost reduction is still the wrong emphasis in my opinion.

The better approach is to focus on a few key operational excellence goals that, if they are achieved, will drive the future results and ultimate enterprise value of the company. The ones we used at Wiremold were:

100% On Time Customer Service

50% reduction in defects - - each year

20% productivity gain - - each year

20x inventory turns [we started at 3x]

Visual Control and the 5S’s everywhere

Yes, these were all stretch targets but that was the whole point. We wanted/needed to change the conversation. We needed everyone to start to think and act a different way. We wanted everyone to focus on the customer and create a learning environment. We ran the company on these five key targets. We met every week to discuss progress by every value stream leader against these goals. We never tried to track our cost savings. We never did an ROI analysis before making rearrangements in the plant. We just focused on progress on these five goals.

After 9 years we more than quadrupled sales, increased operating profits by 13.4 times and increased enterprise value by 2,467%. That was nice. But are these the right measurements to focus on? I would say no; they are just results. Our focus was on the customer. To serve the customer better we reduced our lead times from 6 weeks to 1-2 days. That let us provide better customer service and gave us a significant strategic advantage over our competitors, who still had 6-8 week lead times. We did this by focusing on setup reduction. Machines that used to changeover 3 times per week were being changed 20-30 times per day. Customer service went from 50% to 98+%. Inventory turns, a major focus for us, went from 3x to 18x, freeing up lots of cash and space and taking working capital/sales from 22% to 6.7%. Gross profit increased by 13 points. All driven by our focus on the five operational excellence targets shown above.

In my recent book The Lean Turnaround Action Guide, I shared comparisons of what a company would look like in key financial areas such as sales, margin, inventory turns, productivity and enterprise value, over five years, if they stayed as a traditional batch company instead of making the switch to lean. I used a very healthy batch company as the base line. We then take it step by step through a lean conversion and show the results after five years. I was quite conservative in the lean case, as we did much better at Wiremold, not to mention many other lean companies that have done better as well. Even so the comparison after five years is strikingly better for the lean company. These impressive results indicate what you should expect to achieve with lean in most key financial areas. And yet, even the best recorded set of results still won’t reveal to you what is truly possible with lean. That’s because there is no “ultimate”; there is only continuous improvement.

That’s why no equation will ever fully capture the value of lean, and why you should never rely too heavily on one. Try to get away from the traditional approach of focusing on results. Focus instead on stretch targets that you can measure and that if achieved will drive your future results to levels that you would never even dare dream of in your batch state.

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Webinar Follow-up Improve the Work

Sharing e-mail received from 
Joshua Rapoza
Customer Strategy Officer
Lean Enterprise Institute
Dear Joao,
On February 28, we held our latest webinar, Improve the Work: Creating Lean Learning Experiences.

We were very happy with all the lean thinkers that attended and I know I learned a lot from the presenter David Brunt.

In case you missed it, you can now watch the on-demand version of the webinar at your convenience at: https://www.lean.org/events/webinarhome.cfm#improvethework

You can also access the slides for this presentation as well as a downloadable audio file for listening at your leisure.

David will be an instructor at our LEI/LEA joint workshops this March 27-29 in Manchester, UK.
You can learn all about them at:

We have several webinars planned in the upcoming months. I’ll keep you posted.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Self-Driving Cars Tested on UK Roads for the First Time

March 8, 2017

Nissan is testing prototypes of its Leaf model in London
Nissan has started testing self-driving cars on UK roads for the first time.

The Japanese car manufacturer is testing prototypes of its Leaf model in London - using its enhanced autonomous driver technology.
Nissan is planning to clock up more than 300 miles on busy routes in London on the prototype vehicles as it aims to introduce a fully developed version by 2020.
The prototype has 12 cameras, five radars and six lasers, which allows helps the vehicle identify surrounding objects and recognize the vehicles position on the road to within centimeters.

Tetsuya Iijima, Nissan's global head of autonomous driving, conducted one of the vehicle tests and has warned the vehicles available in 2020 will have "some limitation.

Speaking to the Press Association, he said: "The reason we're focusing on autonomous driving technology is safety.
"Around 93% of accidents come from the driver. If a machine replaces human maneuvers 90% may be reduced. Safety enhancement is the first motivation.
"In scarcely-populated traffic the driver can be relaxed.
"We can explain to the customer, in that situation there's almost nothing you need to do.
"In this area (of east London) the driver needs to pay attention because the vehicle is not perfect."

Copyright 2017 Trinity Mirror. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy