Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Cultivating Intuition at the Gemba

by Ernie Richardson & Tracey Richardson
January 28, 2019

Recently Mike Orzen and I (Tracey) wrote a Post about the importance of developing your five senses when going to the Gemba—of tapping into the full spectrum of “sense” so as to grasp a deeper awareness of the work environment around us and to recognize the deep connection our senses create to it. To this thought we would actually include the value of intuition.
Now, our trainers would never allow us to totally put all our eggs in the intuition basket; but we suspect that if challenged they would concede that using gut feelings and other criteria that is not precisely defined can still be extremely useful to confirm assumptions and hypotheses. You don’t always need scientific proof to confirm matters in our personal life. If for example I see clouds, the temperature drops, the wind increases and I smell moisture in the air, I don’t necessarily have to go much further than to know there is a high probability it is going to rain.  But our intuition started well before that based on past experiences.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Big Data in the Industry 4.0: How to Turn Data into Profit

By: Gabriela Pederneiras  1/14/2019 

 Industry 4.0 is already present and active. In 15 years, the forecast is that it should move around $ 15 trillion. In some industrial segments, the innovations brought about by this concept will have the potential to increase production volumes by 2050 and reduce costs by up to 13%, according to a report released by BP .

One of the pillars of the fourth industrial revolution is Big Data, which is nothing more than the collection and understanding of a large volume of data. This information can either be organized in numerical and non-ordered tables, having various formats such as audios, videos, written documents, payments, among others. What matters is that they can be brought together, organized, analyzed and that the result is insights for the industry.

According to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which interviewed more than 2,000 companies from 26 countries and different industry sectors 4.0, 72% of them feel that using Big Data and analyzing this information will improve the relationship of industries with their customers. In addition, 86% of respondents said they expect to have lower costs and higher revenues over the next five years because of Industry 4.0 and the new concepts it has introduced into the market, such as Big Data.

How Data Analysis Works in the Industry

The benefits of Big Data for the industry are countless. At all times the production and commercialization of industrial products and services generate information that can be analyzed to identify patterns and anomalies. In this way, it is possible to optimize the process, focus productions, collect data from all machines, operators, robots and sales. In the end, this generates a detailed analysis of the entire industrial chain, which brings positive impacts to the company's management and decision making.

For this to be possible, the data are collected and analyzed in stages.

The first of these is called data preparation. At this stage, the information is prepared, separated, organized to follow a standard of analysis. Without this, the volume of unorganized data generates unnecessary work and instead of facilitating the process, creates a barrier in it.

The second step after preparing the data is to critically analyze the information coming from them. The so-called data mining, is the phase of identifying patterns and anomalies that may base strategic decisions for the industry. Many companies stop at this stage and with the insights they generate they plot plans to streamline processes, improve machine utilization and minimize costs. But for those who want to continue the process, it is possible to teach machines to read the data patterns and thus make decisions. This is called Machine Learning.

Five Big Data Basics
To run effectively Big Data needs to obey five standards, also called the Big V's five V's: volume, speed, variety, truthfulness, and value.

  • Volume refers to the amount of information generated by industry. If analyzed well, the data in abundance saw allies of the companies. 
  • Speed is how often this information is produced, its analysis needs to follow that flow to be done effectively. 
  • Variety is the property that explains the different ways a data can come to analysis. 
  • Truthfulness ensures that data that is collected at high volume and high speed is real and has a sound footing - if the information is contradictory, it is not possible to make the correct analysis. 
  • Finally, the value of the operation should be taken into account to calculate the cost-benefit of such an analysis. 

If the industry produces or collects data and uses it as a source of information, it already uses Big Data. But if the pillars and steps listed here are applied, the benefits can be enhanced.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Five reasons why you should implement digital methods in inspection

December 4, 2018  by Techs4Biz Australia

Business after business is moving online and mobile, so why should you? In this article it is explored the reasons why an increasing amount of businesses are choosing to implement digital methods in their business and especially in their inspection. Paperless checklists are already currently being used for occupational health and safety (OHS), pre start checks, facility management, asset maintenance, quality assurance, data collection, compliance and CMMS/work order.

1. Improved productivity
What bigger reason does a business need for going digital than a boost in efficiency? Supplementing workplace methods with digital methods in inspection improves your productivity by cutting down excess time, steps and expenditure. Savings across these categories ensures you’re spending less time fixing problems or going through tedious steps of outdated methods and can spend more time on keeping customers happy. More happy customers = higher profit. Less time, steps and expenditure = fewer costs. Higher profit + fewer costs, well nothing else needs to be said.

2. Working smarter
An increasing amount of technology, assets and facilities are becoming more and more integrated. Smart technology is being integrated in our homes and phones; there’s no reason this shouldn’t be the case at work. Machine learning is the future of powerful business technology, but even if you’re not quite at that stage yet, it pays to be working smarter. Using digital methods in inspection is an accessible tool that can start that process. Having a system in place that integrates well with business intelligence, can demonstrate compliance with industry regulations and give you better oversight of your operations is a no-brainer.

3. Higher accuracy
Inspections are often faulted for being out-of-date and not providing accurate information to people when needed the most. Paperless checklists through digital methods in inspection represent a quick- fire cure for both issues. Keep your business in line with any industry regulation; ISO 45001 for example, whilst enabling inspectors to record better data. Mobile devices allow you take pictures with the camera, scan barcodes of assets, record GPS timestamps, access any reference material, and give input via talking through speech-to-text. Try doing that with pen and paper.

4. Ease of access
Having to open the door to the dusty unorganised archive room when in need of simple or urgent information is not a good effective. Paperless inspection solutions have the benefit of compressing voluminous amounts of data onto the size of a back-end server or even better onto the cloud. Hosting via SaaS or using a private server with access via web-portals means anyone such as management, industry inspectors, or field personnel can have access to data. For up-to-date statistics in performance reviews or the last performance of assets in an inspection, access to the latest high quality data can transform your business on every level.

5. Future-proof
It’s important to make sure that your business or organisation is not only making sure your methods are the best they can be today, but that they’ll do so tomorrow and the day after that too. The best way to future-proofing your inspections is moving to digital methods in inspection. The majority of innovation close to implementation throughout the workplace is all focused about machines and smart technology. To ensure that your business can manage and integrate with them, inspections need to be paperless. P.S: Efforts to minimise your environmental footprint will only go so far if you’re continuously handing out those paper checklists.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Responsible innovation

Sharing article of Simon Baptist From Our Chief Economist

Simon has been thinking about trends in technology that might be important in 2019.

One theme that he believes we will be hearing more about is responsible innovation.

He has an impression, which he thinks is shared by many, that tech developments are running far ahead of public understanding, as well as of government policy and regulation. As a result, there is a real chance that technologies will advance faster than society's ability to adopt them, and this could have disastrous consequences if the tech is misused. For example, automated drones could be used in terror attacks, or private health or location data could be collected and used before individuals have the chance to consent or understand the implications. (In fact, we don't even have to imagine the latter example!)

Those who develop technology need to display greater ethical awareness than they have done to date, and pressure from the public as well as governments to do so will grow.

Tech companies have great power, and many people are questioning whether individual tech firms are the best guardians of this power.

For governments, there is a complex question of how to regulate them, while preserving incentives for innovation and the huge benefits that tech brings. In an era of nationalist politics, the crossborder nature of innovation and tech makes this even harder.

For business, it means thinking about how to get ahead of any regulations and engaging with society and governments to advocate for effective policy.

Do you agree with Simon that this trend will be important in 2019?

The process of validation of scientific knowledge

BY Lia Queiroz do Amaral on 12/25/2018

Modern science dissociates itself from philosophical concepts and defines its basis in mathematics and experimentation, but the humanities maintain a strong bond with philosophy.

All who work in scientific research in the areas of exact sciences and also of life sciences and nature have some knowledge about the existing criteria in the validation of scientific production, but little on this subject is available to a wide audience.

An essential division is that which exists between the exact sciences, the biological sciences and the human sciences, which depart from different bases and concepts. Modern science dissociates itself from philosophical concepts and defines its basis in mathematics and experimentation, but the humanities maintain a strong bond with philosophy.

Recently, Lia focused on the characteristics of different forms of scientific research and their dissemination to the public, in an article published in an e-book by ECA (1). Lia returned to this article an analysis of the process of peer evaluation, which dominates the validation of scientific knowledge, but which is generally unknown to the general public.

The production of scientific knowledge has some aspects similar to cultural and artistic production since it is made by human beings, but it has marked differences, as it aims at achieving a specialized, objective and impersonal knowledge. The most fundamental feature of scientific research is its timing, each step making reference to what was done earlier in that subject, setting up an extremely complex network of interrelated information where there is an internal coherence that defines the structure of knowledge.

There is a coupling between rigidity and freedom in scientific production, and each subject of research follows a dialectic between reason and intuition of the researcher. The validation system of science can only really advance with an ethic and a moral that the scientist incorporates deep within itself, aiming at achieving excellence in the knowledge of the subject to which it is dedicated.

Throughout history, there are discoveries and inventions that occur outside of the academic system. But I analyze here the scientific production done in universities and research institutes, which follows the pattern of communication through specialized articles published in scientific journals. The editors of the most prestigious journals can refuse the article without explanation, or start a complex and long process (which may take months or even years), of peer review, used in all scientific journals.

The article is sent to specialist scientists in the same area (pairs), who judge the merit of the work, without remuneration for this service. The content of the (anonymous) opinions is returned to the author, followed by a discussion and review until the work is accepted or rejected.

The authors of published works become advisors in the trial of works, also without remuneration. This process has a historical origin, which I have raised and I will relate here, and also an ethical and moral basis, without which the quality control of scientific production ceases to function.

The need for brainstorming

In all human cultures, there is a process by which the elders transmit their knowledge to the young, and this is done in many possible ways, but always with a personal relationship between who holds the knowledge and who receives and incorporates it. Universitas were medieval corporations of students and masters, who later received recognition from civil and religious authorities, giving rise to the Universities of Bologna (1088), Paris (1150), Oxford (1167), Cambridge (1209).

In European medieval universities, the studies were divided in arts, laws, medicine and theology. The arts comprised Trivium (logic, grammar and rhetoric) and Quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy). The music came along with mathematics because of the theory of harmony. It should be noted that universities were not taught crafts, the focus was on the intellectual life, which before the 12th century took place in monasteries.

It is interesting to note the similarity between Laurentius de Voltolina's depiction of a university class in Italy around 1350, and the environment as it exists today when a teacher tries to capture the attention of the student group, but some talk, some sleep!

On the other hand, it became common for intellectuals to exchange letters in a debate free of ideas, and dozens of societies were formed in Europe from the 14th century onwards, initially bringing together writers and painters. The first scientific society was the Academie des Lynces (Rome, 1603), sponsored by Prince Federico Cesi, and Galileo Galilei was one of its members. It gave rise to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which until today promotes research and examines scientific issues of interest to the Church.

The oldest secular scientific society that exists today is The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, founded in 1660 by natural philosophers and physicians, soon supported by King Charles II. Shortly thereafter, the Academie des Sciences (Paris, 1666), founded by Louis XIV at the suggestion of Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, is now integrated with the Institut de France.

English and French societies had different philosophies from the outset. The motto of the Royal Society, Nullius in Verba, is the symbol of freedom of expression and evidence through experience.

These societies published the works of their members, and there were discussions among them. The oldest scientific journal, published since 1665, is The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (London). In 1752 a Committee on Papers was created to select the publications, which can be considered as the beginning of the peer evaluation (3).

As to the origin of this system, it was suggested (4) to have links to the form of book publishing in the 17th century, when a real authorization for the legal sale of printed books was required, which was formally delegated to the royal academies at its foundation.

The books published by the academies needed to be authorized by two members of the Council, who analyzed the text, reporting that the content had nothing contrary to the purposes of the Society, more in the spirit of censorship than of quality control. This system existed only for books, scientific discussions in these societies were free, but the process of becoming a member of society was complex, and by choice.

Scientific societies have made a transition from state censorship to self-criticism in scientific works, and the whole process has changed a great deal over the last 300 years. The system went from external censorship to internal review, first in the natural sciences and much later in the humanities and social sciences.

The current peer review system certainly focuses on scientific content, but the imprimatur it guarantees goes back to its origins. This system also defines the relationship between Science and State, since the granting of public research funds depends on it.

The private, or almost private, discussions of the peer review process are loaded with emotions and disputes between rival groups, with a lot of competition, but this does not usually appear in published texts. Peer review is not necessary to do science, but discussion among people who understand the issues is essential if knowledge is to advance.

Only through the discussion do the different visions become debugged and eventually converge to an impersonal truth. Science indeed defines itself over time, and when independent researchers arrive at the same result/conclusion.

There is a vertical transmission of knowledge (oriented/oriented or master/disciple) with strong personal involvement, a relationship that simulates the parental relationship, coupled with a horizontal transmission between peers, resulting groups with a dynamic that will define the scientific advance along the generations. An example in fundamental physics can be found in the book that relates the history of general relativity and cosmology over a century of heated debate (5).

Current Situation

The market for scientific publications began with the journals published by scientific societies, which were maintained with library subscriptions, where they were found by the researchers. This system was drastically altered with the advent of the internet, and the possibility of buying the articles by the readers.

Then the system was implemented by which the author/institution pays the magazine to open access to the readers. This system coexists with the usual system of peer review, that is, merit continues to be judged in the old ways.

Currently, more than 2 million articles are published every year in about 30,000 scientific journals, and there is no more possibility of control over the content of scientific production worldwide, which handled about 23.5 billion dollars in 2011.

The validation of scientific production on a world scale is changing, both by alternative forms of evaluation and by the way of doing science. The old handmade way of working in Theory and/or Experience was modified from the early 1960s, initially by supercomputers and then also by personal computers. The possibility of numerical computer science, with the simulation of experiments, and the emergence of large international laboratories, such as CERN in Europe, with billionaire investments, emerged.

Scientific production as a whole tends to perpetuate the already existing basic lines, with very little openness to a break in the current paradigms, and above all without a solution perspective on basic questions concerning life.


1 - Lia Queiroz do Amaral, Freedom of expression in scientific production, pp. 116 - 130. In e-book Communication and freedom of expression: news, Cristina Costa (org.), São Paulo: ECA-USP - 2016.

2 - Improving peer evaluation: guides, tutorials and manuals of good practice. SciELO in Perspective. SCIENTIFIC ELECTRONIC LIBRARY ONLINE, 2015.

3 - K. Fitzpatrick. The History of Peer Review, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, 2009. New York: NYU Press.

4 - M. Biagioli. From Book Censorship to Academic Peer Review, Emergencies: Journal for the Study of Media & Composite Cultures, v. 12, no. 1, 11-45, 2002.

5 - Pedro G. Ferreira. The perfect theory, a biography of relativity. Company of Letters.

Lia Queiroz do Amaral is a retired professor of the Institute of Physics at USP. Currently on a senior teacher basis.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Navigating Difficult Requirements - ASQ

An in-depth look at process  control, one of the  most-cited IATF 16949  requirements
by R. Dan Reid @ ASQ Quality Progress

The new automotive supplier quality management system (QMS) standard, IATF 16949, was released late last year. The first several hundred third-party certification audits have been conducted, and the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) has released information on the most-cited requirements thus far, many of which are not new. One such requirement is process control.

Read more....Click!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

TOOLING: How to Select the Right Tool Steel for Mold Cavities

With cavity steel or alloy selection, there are many variables that can dictate the best option.
By Columns Post: 8/25/2016

With cavity steel or alloy selection, there are many variables that can dictate the best option. Things that need to be considered are the material you’ll be molding, cycle-time expectations, part criteria, expected volume, tooling costs, and maintenance. The goal here is not to suggest, recommend, or give preference to any specific steel or alloy, but to offer some guidance you should take into account when making the selection. I’m not an expert on all the steel types used around the world so there will be some not mentioned—I’m only writing from my personal experience. But feel free to send me a note or comment on my LinkedIn page or here.

Maintenance is the variable I focus on most in the steel-selection process. Most tool makers that build, maintain and repair production tooling have definite opinions on what they like and don’t like in tool steels. I’ve heard so many varying viewpoints over the years, but I have tried to keep an open mind by taking the big picture into account. So at times, I’d be willing to accept added maintenance on the tooling if the payback was faster cycles or lower tool costs. But price should never be the main factor. As I often say, “It’s cheaper but costs more.”

There are pros and cons to each and every option, so it’s important to know all the angles to understand the long-term cost vs. just the up-front tooling costs. If you need steel that is wear-resistant, you are looking at hardened tool steel. This will increase your tooling costs up front but will reduce your maintenance costs in the long term. But here’s the twist: Hardened steels are less thermally conductive, which can impact cooling time if you don’t put extra focus on the tool design for cooling. If you go with standard tool steel that will not be hardened, your cost will be lower up front but your long-term maintenance cost will be greater.

You can also apply a coating or surface treatment to reduce wear, which will still be cheaper than hardened steel but will put you at risk if the tool is damaged. Repairing coatings and surface hardening takes lots of time and money, especially for a part with visual requirements. But the thermal conductivity will be 10-15% greater than with hardened tool steel. Then there are options in aluminum and alloys with a much greater thermal conductivity that can have a big payback in cycle time. Again— the pros and cons of each option.

The first thing I take into consideration is the material being molded. With abrasive, glass-filled materials, my focus would be on addressing concerns over wear and erosion unless the expected volume is extremely low. But with the most common glass-filled materials, cooling is more critical than with other materials, and the best steels to address wear have lower thermal conductivity. Carbide inserts are the exception; they have excellent wear properties along with great thermal conductivity, but the costs and lead times to replace these need to be considered.

With corrosive materials such as PVC, stainless steel is a common choice. Using cheaper options will require critical procedures to prevent corrosion. On parts that have a very high surface-finish expectation, tool steels that have lens-grade specs should be considered. For molding materials that do not contain abrasives like glass fibers or corrosive ingredients, P-20 steel is the most common choice. But with smaller tools for high-volume production, hardened tool steels are always a good option to prolong the tool life with reduced maintenance. On the other hand, aluminum can be an excellent choice for lower-volume tools to reduce cycle times. But from a maintenance viewpoint, aluminum is not my friend.

A few years back there were a lot of talk and studies about aluminum and its positive impacts on mold-build cost and cycle times, both of which can be significant. But there is always a negative that can offset the positive if all aspects are not considered. What’s more, there are many versions of aluminum, and each has very different properties of toughness and thermal conductivity, so never assume that “aluminum is aluminum.” Do your research.

Aluminum is often used for prototype tooling to keep the costs down, and the production tooling is then built with more-robust steel. Just keep in mind that the molding results will not be same, and in some cases can be significantly different, depending on the part geometry and size. The main reason is the cooling factor, as aluminum has much greater thermal conductivity. I would not recommend using aluminum on high-volume parts that have visual specs or on tools that have many lifters and slides. Aluminum is very soft and requires extra attention in the design to make sure it is robust enough, and extra care in the press to reduce cavity damage.

Alloys such as MoldMax, Moldstar, or Ampco can have a big impact on cycle time because of their excellent thermal conductivity. They also come in different hardnesses to accommodate the material being molded. But as you go up the hardness scale with these alloys, their thermal conductivity decreases. These materials are much more robust than aluminum, but also are expensive. When used to mold glass-filled materials, these alloys should be coated to prevent erosion, which is an extra cost (along with added maintenance). I typically will use these materials when cavity details are too small or intricate to add water lines. But I always choose forged rather than cast alloys for cavity details because they have more resilience and will not crack or break as easily. The cast versions are better for wear surfaces or components.

The most common, middle-of-the-road tool steel is P-20 or similar, which has 28-30 RC hardness. This steel also comes in a high-hard version (38-40 RC), and in lens grade when high surface-finish requirements are needed. P-20 is the first choice in most cases when using plastics without abrasive additives, but as I mentioned earlier, unless it’s for very low-volume use, you will need to protect the steel against erosion with a coating or surface hardening. This has drawbacks, with which I am very familiar.

For very tight-tolerance and high-volume parts, S-7 is a common choice. It’s a very durable, impact-resistant tool steel that can be hardened up to 56 RC. This steel also is much more stable through the heat-treating process, shrinking or expanding less than H-13 or stainless steel.
In most cases, cavities are hardened to 50-52 RC. S-7 can also be used for slides or lifters and hardened to 54-56 RC. They have excellent wear properties working against the S-7 cavities at 50-52 RC. I’ve seen tools set up like this running every day all week with intricate lifters and never have an issue with wear or galling.

The old-school rule of needing 10 points of RC spread for components and cavities is not a fact when you move higher on the RC scale. On the other hand, running 10 points of spread on the low end is almost a guarantee to create galling issues. I can’t count how many times I have had to deal with galled tools when running P-20 cavities at 28-30 RC and components at 40 RC. The most common error is ordering pre-hardened H-13 lifters at 40 RC and thinking they are good to go. Wrong. All you need to do is have them nitrided after fit and timed and you’re all set for wear and tear.

Stainless steel is commonly used not only for PVC but in medical tooling to provide highly polished cavities. The high end for hardness on stainless steel is 50-52 RC.
H-13 is typically the go-to choice for tool steel to address wear when running abrasive materials. In most cases, cavities are not hardened above 50 RC to reduce the chances of stress cracks. The typical range is 44-48 RC. I have had a tool with H-13 inserts running 33% glass-filled nylon for 1 million cycles without any wear issues. But I would not recommend this unless you take very careful consideration in the tool design.

With any tool steel that is going to be hardened, you need to focus on some very important issues. I’m fairly confident anyone reading this who has been in the industry has seen cracked cavities or details that have broken off. Typically there are two things that come to mind as contributors to this problem: Either the RC hardness is on the high end with a bad steel structure in the design; or, more commonly, there is a sharp edge in the tool. That’s why I always try to make sure all pockets for slides and lifters do not have sharp internal corners in the cavity details. Most CAD models will not have a radius on all edges. So when you are cutting or EDM’ing the details, take this into consideration and leave a radius on all internal corners whenever possible. 

Randy Kerkstra has been in the plastics industry for more than 26 years, occupied frequently with troubleshooting injection molding. He is currently a tooling manager for a large, multi-plant molding and manufacturing company. Contact:kbmoldingsolutions@gmail.com.