Data in everyday life: Tie-breaker–March Method or Madness?

Beth SavageI just completed my NCAA tournament bracket. In the unlikely event that I would tie another entrant for the win (I’m usually out of the running by the Sweet 16 round), I need to pick a number for the total points scored by both teams in the final game.

Scores start swimming in my head. Will this year’s final be a high-scoring game like the 1990 finals when UNLV shot 61% in their 103-73 win over Duke? That game netted 17 more points than the previous year’s overtime championship. Or will defense prevail as it did in the 2011 battle between Connecticut and Butler? Three teams in the history of the tournament have scored more points on their own than the 94 total points scored by both teams in that matchup.

What is an average tournament point total? To answer that question, I plotted the score totals on the following SQCpack individuals and moving range chart.

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Bytes and pieces: News you can use

Diesel investigation: Fiat Chrysler has indicated that government agencies are widening their investigation of violations of emissions standards in the manufacturers’ autos.

Remote inspection: RVI (Remote Visual Inspection) can be a valuable tool in examining hard-to-reach internal parts.

Carbon tax: The Canadian Tooling & Machining Association looks at long-term gains from Canada’s approach to reducing emissions.

Buy American? Examining the options when it comes to the choice to buy American-made objects—and to produce goods in this country.

Trend prediction: Connections with customers matter

Barb ClearyAmong the “Ten top business trends that will drive success in 2016,” reported in an end-of-2015 Forbes article by author and consultant Ian Altman, was the point that “Top performing companies will focus on connecting customers.”

Citing examples that include Uber, Airbnb, Kickstarter, and others, Altman notes that these companies may own no real estate and have no funds to invest, and yet they are among highly successful firms in 2016. He attributes their success, in part, to the fact that in the case of Uber, for example, “they excel at connecting riders with drivers.” Baker predicts that “The most valuable companies will connect buyer to seller, or consumer to content.”

Does this signal a return to customer service as a priority?

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Quality quiz (March 2017)—and February’s quiz winners!

Winners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1 are Woody Skaggs (Linamar of Florence, KY); Jessica Nelson (Three D Metals of Valley City, OH); and Brian Atkins (Amfine Chemical of Hopkinsville, KY). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1, submit your response by March 31.

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Quality quiz (February 2017)—and January’s quiz winners!

Winners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1 are Nate Riker (RPM Carbide Die Inc. of Arcadia, OH); Dan Shope (Standard Aero of Cincinnati, OH); and Jill Savoie (Quick Turn Precision Machining of Ogden, UT). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1, submit your response by February 28.

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Data in everyday life: More about telecommuting

Drew Leisen

Last month I wrote about a rising trend in companies across the country: telecommuting, or working from home rather than from an office, plant, shop, etc. The benefits of telecommunication are pretty clear: a more comfortable work environment, less pollution and traffic, and less overhead for company offices. However, just like everything else, nothing is perfect! Today we will be taking a look at some of the less positive consequences of telecommuting.

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Bytes and pieces: News you can use

Collaboration: Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. have agreed to start talks about collaborating in environmentally friendly technologies, safety systems, information technology and the mutual supply of products and components.

Jobs open: Many manufacturing skilled workers are in short supply, with companies scrambling to fill jobs.

Materials in demand: The 3D printing industry market will reach $9 billion in ten years, report says.

2017 Southern Automotive Quality Summit: Presented by AAMA and AIAG, this one-day event will include sessions focused on new industry global quality standards and highlight supplier compliance expectations and timing.

Sparking a chain reaction: Frederick Taylor, Deming, and work life

Barb ClearyWhen Frederick Winslow Taylor advanced the principles of “scientific management” in 1909, he was hailed as a master of efficient production. In the context of the new century’s focus on science, his principles were met with approval of manufacturers, who saw opportunities to improve productivity and enhance profitability.

The principles that Taylor advanced were based on the beliefs that there is one “right” way to do each job, that workers are motivated by money, and that close monitoring of processes assures that the most efficient methods could be applied. In one of his experiments, he studied the precise movements that were involved in bricklaying, timing each movement and outlining in specific step-by-step moves the most efficient way to lay bricks.

Taylor’s approach may indeed have improved productivity and streamlined processes in manufacturing. What it gained in efficiency, however, it lost in terms of pride of workmanship, individual responsibility, and the motive for innovation. Unfortunately, its effects linger even a century later in the attitudes of managers toward their workers and workers’ perceptions of their jobs. Its effects may even be seen in education, where rigorous testing assesses only master of highly specific content, with little emphasis on individual motivation or creativity.

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