Thursday, February 25, 2010

Process Selection and Facility Layout

The relevant chapter that we are covering in class is on process selection and facility layout. The first article that I will be referencing is on Intel and its decision to invest $3.5 billion in start up companies. The second article I will be referencing will have to do with the casket making industry and the challenges they are facing during the current economic times.

Thinking about the first article I am making the assumption that Intel, along with 24 other venture capitalist firms, will be investing in start-ups that at least to a certain percentage, will operate along similar lines as Intel itself. If that is indeed the case then at some point the company will need to consider process selection and facility layout.

To be more specific, the company has said that it also intends to hire more college graduates over the next couple of years, so in reality it will likely be the decisions of men and women who have just recently learned how to manage plants and select processes, under the supervision of experienced employees. They will be charged with the task of deciding whether they will operate under job shop, batch, repetitive, or continuous conditions. They will need to take into consideration things like how much automation will be necessary to operate, and how they can optimize their processes concerning sustainability issues. Will they have product layouts or process layouts? Will they have fixed position layouts or combination layouts? Or will it be the more likely situation of a cellular layout given they will probably be technology companies that operate in a highly group structured environment?

Moving from here to the casket production industry, I would like to talk about the opposite side of the coin. Most notable in this article is the decision by Hillenbrand Inc., the largest casket maker in the country, to buy a company named K-Tron, which specializes in “size reduction.” This means that they produce machines that crush and reduce the impact of excess raw materials, and in manufacturing machines that efficiently allocate raw materials on the job site.

The reason that this is so interesting is because it is indicative of a firm that is trying to shrink its facilities layout and making decisions to shift the paradigm of decision making concerning what type of process to use when making caskets.

Essentially they are facing the opposite situation that Intel has currently involved itself in. These casket makers are recognizing that not only have people stopped spending exorbitant amounts of money on something that will go in the ground and never be seen again, but also that when the economy turns around, consumers may not make the decision to start purchasing those gaudy coffins again.

These are two polarized cases of what it means to have to make process selection and facility layout decisions for two very different types of firms. What should be taken away from this lesson is that although these two markets may seem dichotomized at first glance, they both have to follow the same fundamental rules of managing operations.

This Is Why I Don't Read Traditional News

This is just depressing.

I keep my head buried in the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times for a reason.


In this paper we are concerned with the issue of capacity. There are many facets of this topic to consider, including whether a firm has too much or too little, feasibility issues such as can the firm expand or contract if they find it necessary, and whether a firm should make or buy given certain operating decisions. I will be referencing two articles from the Journal; the first will be about Google Inc. and the second about Toyota.

In today’s issue of the Journal there is an article that talks about how in the near future Google will unveil its plan to build a fiber-optic grid that would include a new kind of high speed broadband, and would be available to consumers in cities ranging from 50 to 100 thousand in population. The real breakthrough here is the cutting edge technology Google will bring to the table. If all goes as planned they will be offering speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second. This number is exponentially higher than most consumers are used to.

What about capacity issues? I don’t know the details but I do know that Google will have thought about whether the benefit to extend capacity at such a level outweighs its costs. Or did Google, being the ever-prolific technological innovator know about this move some time ago and already have plans in place to make this decision? One thing I would be willing to guess is that there will be little to no outsourcing involved with this project. The company seems to be very generous to its customers, but ironclad proprietary when it comes to competition. Considering also that this is going to be such a new technology, something tells me that they will keep everything under lock and key.

The second article was on the current issues at Toyota. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse with this article, but I feel that it’s one of the most current hot button issues and would like to consider it through the lens of each of the topics we are studying.

Right at the beginning of this article you are told that Toyota is fixing recalled vehicles at a rate of 50,000 per day. Immediately I have to wonder what this is doing to their capacity. Recalling from The Goal how even after Alex and his colleagues figured out the theory of constraints and began to maximize throughput, they still were not without an occasional crisis. Toyota is one of the largest operations in the world, and a pioneer in their field, innovating ideas like lean production. But even with such an arsenal of technology and capacity behind them, I imagine they are straining under the weight of so many recalled vehicles.

Another thing to be pointed out here is the risk that a firm takes when deciding to outsource is very apparent in the case of Toyota. For many years the firm has decided to buy as opposed to make many of its products. And for many years this has been a winning strategy for them. However, regardless of the standards you hold your vendors to, all it takes is one. One vendor, one product, and your reputation is ruined, presumably for a very long time.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Product Design

Given the fact that we are reading chapter four, which is on product and service design, I find it both exciting and unfortunate, respectively, that Apple has released their iPad and that Toyota has recalled a very large number of their vehicles.

I’ll begin with the exciting. I say it’s exciting, but that is because I find myself part of a club that is no longer all that exclusive. I am a Mac guy! This generally means that for me, and for tens of millions of other Americans, Mr. Jobs and his ilk can do no wrong. How can this be? How can a company hook so many people with products and applications that all have perfectly acceptable substitutes?

I think the answer to this question has something to do with the proprietary nature of Apple. For as long as the company has been in operation, they have kept the bulk of their technological achievements to themselves. Whether one agrees or disagrees with this is irrelevant, I simply want to point out the atmosphere that it has created within the company, which I believe in turn has cascaded itself out onto its customers.

It means that not only does Apple belong to Apple, but that Apple customers belong to Apple. When you are growing up in a family, and dealing with all of the issues that come along with that, you are very protective and proprietary when it comes to that family. I think that’s the atmosphere that Apple has created over all these years, and it shows. I am very loyal to my family.

Moving on to Toyota, it is very unfortunate that no one seems to be able to figure out what’s going on with the faulty accelerator pedals that have caused terrible accidents and deaths, and that have led to a recall of approximately 5 million vehicles in Europe and the United States.

There seems to be a lot of pointing of fingers going on. Toyota wants to blame CTS Corp., the company that has produced pedals for the car company for nearly a decade now. CTS, however continues to defend themselves saying that the problem goes back to around 1999, before CTS was even producing the pedals. They say that for the entire time they have had a contract with Toyota, they have continuously met product specifications, and that the true problem lies in Toyota’s design, not in the design of the pedals.

What does that mean for the customer? Well ultimately, it means that regardless of who is at fault, and regardless of where the problem originated, Toyota will be the company to take the biggest fall. Consumers couldn’t care less about who supplies Toyota’s products. They may know CTS’s name for a minute or two, but soon they will be forgotten and the spotlight will be back to full center on Toyota.

Bottom line is that Toyota botched a product that was very important not to botch. I don’t know how or why, or whether Toyota could have reacted differently even if they wanted to, but it doesn’t matter. Their reputation will be severely tarnished from this and I will be interested to see just how much market share they lose after the smoke has cleared.

It's That Time Again

Time for me to once again make my presence known on an outlet that I have created, only to perpetually become inactive for long periods of time.

And consistent with prior behavior, I will tout here and now that this will be the last time. That I have miraculously figured out a way to be prolific, and from hence forth will make regular and systematic appearances for one and all.

Yeah right.

Anyway, I plan on posting papers that I must write for one of my MIS classes on this site. The topics of these papers vary widely as they concern the relationship between what I am reading in current events with what we are learning in class. This may or may not be interesting to all or none, but it's all I've got for now. So I hope you enjoy.

Shortly following this post will be the first of many. Hopefully I will be able to slip in other blurbs in between as well. We'll see...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Much Anticipated Inauguration

Whether or not you find yourself in complete agreement with President Obama's election to office, complete disagreement, or somewhere smack dab in the middle (like myself), you have to admit, that is a lot of people.

I'm looking forward to this presidency. You know there's this sort of all encompassing aura of implicit change among the masses, which isn't altogether a bad thing, that I think will be handily malnutritioned and regrettably short lived in the coming weeks and months of the new Oval Office. 

While I think President Obama really does breathe change, he is facing an adversary that will cripple the only two good years he's going to have in his first term: The economy. The bottom line is that this recession is pretty bad, and it will probably take in between one and two years to overcome the challenges that face our incredibly diverse and complicated marketplace. Unfortunately for Obama, those are the only two years during his first term that he will have a democratic Congress to pass the liberal legislation that he won't have time to scribe. All of this political jargon that we all want to believe in could have been possible in this mixed up bipartisan Capitol Hill nonsense, were it not for the state of the economy.

In two years time however, the right will take back the houses, they will reclaim the process of drafting legislation, and from then on through Obama's first term, it will be nothing but a written law vs. veto battle between the legislative and executive branches, that will benefit no one, yet somehow further the notion of what this country has become. 

You see, we no longer have checks and balances, we are checks and balances. There are nothing but checks and balances being strewn about in Washington which means that the only way the President, or Congress, can get anything done is illegally. Which is where the Supreme Court steps in to issue more checks and balances to the already checked and balanced.

You know what America? I think we have finally done it. We have finally become what we always wanted to be. We have finally become exactly what the Ancient Greeks knew to be ridiculous and idiotic. We have become exactly what our forefathers never wanted us to become.

We have become a Democracy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why Am I Here?

Now this can be viewed as a philosophically deep and meaningful question, or it can be interpreted as I mean it; particularly as why does this blog exist?

For the most part I am only trying to bring you the current events with as little personal commentary as possible (which involves some personal input, otherwise why am I doing it at all, right?)

But occasionally, after long bouts of silence, I get back on to inform you of some personal debacle currently unfolding in my life, of which I am sure no one cares about even a little, only to finish out the week by posting more than usual on the issues.

I am trying to make changes in my life. I am attempting to not do the same old things that I have always done in the same old way I have always done them, and it is proving quite difficult.

Still, one of those changes, I feel, must come here. From here on I will give you personal anecdotes and diatribes concerning my personal life, with bits and pieces of current events thrown in for education, and hopefully, perspective and clarification.

Let's see how this pans out shall we?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Socialist Cuba... Unite?

Raul is proving himself to be quite the uncharismatic leader, at least when compared to his brother.

What this means for the fate of Cuba will be told by time.

On To Politics

John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei have written a couple of pretty good pieces describing the current situation between our two loving democratic presidential candidates that I came across earlier while reading Politico.

You can read them here and here.

We got on the topic of the presidential election in my Business Ethics class the other day and my professor said something kind of interesting. He said that despite all of the hoopla over the apparent diversity in American nationalism these days, that this progressively never ending strife between these two deliciously immature candidates will actually cause the gung-ho, get-out-the-vote enthusiasts to remain on their couches and simply refuse to vote come election day.

At the time I disagreed with him, but the more I read the more I am saturated with the parties malcontent. Maybe he's right. Maybe this election belongs to John McCain because the Clintons and the Obamas can't seem to get along with each other, or anyone else they know for that matter.

Duke Lacrosse Shenanigans Revisited

All apologies for the untimely delay in relaying this now long forgotten and what I fear has become old news update to you.

Please forgive the infraction and accept this final update as a token of my sorrow for dropping off the face of the planet for a while. I will try my hardest to not let it happen again.

There are really two posts that should have followed my last one on this issue. The first one is here, and the basic gist is that the DNA that was taken from the semen left behind on the 'alleged victim' did not match the DNA of any one of the Duke Lacrosse players.

The second post would have been here, and it would have been the finale because as you will see, the case was closed. Yes the legal proceedings were long and drawn out as they usually are in this wonderful legal system that we employ in this country, but in the end justice prevailed and the Duke Lacrosse team ultimately only suffered a little sullying of the reputation.

They are up and running now and all is well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What Happens When Patriots Doctor Historical Photos?

They produce this, apparently.

Which is fine. It's a good article. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the actual threat level of global warming, you can still get something out of this well articulated sanctioned piece of subjectivity.

But not everyone it seems is fond of Time's interpretation of the second flag raising to convey just how significant they think the threat of global warming is.

As I listened to this story earlier on Talk of the Nation, three of the four callers were rational and relatively well spoken individuals who had an interesting opinion to convey. The other one, however, sounded like Forrest Gump high. And his sad diatribe about a personal offense that he himself could not understand, was embarrassing and shallow.

It gave me a little start as I listened, and for a moment I felt sorry for the human race. Sometimes I feel that way when I hear certain people speak.

They Can't Be Serious

Look here and here if you wish to be pleasantly appalled.

I unfortunately did not, and was quite simply angered towards life. Globally.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Passing of Loved Ones

Once in a great while apparently, I enjoy getting back on this hog to fill my millions of readers in on what can only be described as a "007" life. And I know that each and every time I do, my listeners are so eager that they have moved on to biting their toenails due to an imminent lack of felanges.

So listen, I had a grandfather as of last week, and that is no longer the case. If you are, don't be sorry; I'm not. In my opinion, death is not some foreboding and relentless massacre of depressing feelings because you can't understand what happened. It is simply a sackful of memories and experiences that have been lost to the generations that followed, collected in what one hopes is a hospital bed, or home bed, or any bed really; which in turn will be deposited into the ground in either ash or flesh to rot with the rest of the earth. Nothing more.

And why does there need to be? Why do I have to know that my grandfather is now in a better place? Why should I believe that he had to give his entire life making the best of it that he could, only to reach this imaginary better place that no one knows exists? It pains me to think that there is a possibility that we aren't living to our full potential here because we are saving up for heaven. Like pathetic pre-pubescent boys from a small village in Honduras, who forfeit immediate pleasures of the flesh in order to afford a trip to Disneyland that they will never in their lifetimes make.

I'm just tired. So tired. Tired of everyone searching for reason in the afterlife, when they are so slow to apply that reason among the living. So slow to devote that same kind of energy to showing some respect to those around them. Don't misunderstand, I am no liberal searching for myself via Google on the internet. I would just love to get in my car, drive down the street and see one other person observing the logic of the traffic system that was supposed to be so wonderful. I want to go to work and have one person come in who isn't so completely oblivious to the fact that there are other human beings present, that they can't smell the festering bitterness growing on their own noses.

In short, I would love to live in a world where each person could even just realize that there is no cause, without effect. There is no such thing as a meaningless word. That there is room for civility and unity. And most of all, that projecting your personal idea of a guiding and all powerful deity onto the rest of us is clearly not the way to do it.

Keep your religion, your beliefs and your personal faith to yourself. For if you truly believed in all of the things you expound upon us, you would feel no need to say them out loud. You would be content in the knowledge of your own freedom. You would feel no need to try and convince me that I am wrong. You would live the life of comfort and bask in your own triumph over what you view as such a short existence, and never give a second thought as to whether I am worried about what happens to me when I die. Let me be. Only then may you begin to understand what it means to treat me like a human being.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Payola Scandals To Come To A Real Halt?

This is good news for those of us (which is most of us) who can't quite stomach listening to a popular radio station for an hour or so and hearing the same crappy song twice.

Payola, or disc jockeys and radio stations taking money or favors for airplay for certain songs, was technically banned in 1950, but has been around quite prominently in one form or another ever since.

Fun Tidbit One: The first major instance of payola occurred when a man named Alan Freed, who in the mid 1950's was the most prominent DJ in the country, accepted money from the Chess brothers in return for vastly over-playing the tune "Maybellene," which became wildly popular and ultimately lead to the demise of Muddy Waters' position as the top gun for Chess Records, being replaced by Berry, who held the reigns for longer than Waters could ever have imagined.

Fun Tidbit Two: Alan Freed is the man who named the up and coming style that Chuck Berry was pioneering "Rock and Roll."

I know, I have gotten a little off subect; sorry. But I should also point out here that I do not think that the reason Chuck Berry went on to be the sensation that he was, and still is, was because of the immoral contributions that Freed made to Berry's career and to the revenue of the Chess record company. If you listen to the song, you will quickly realize that it has enough merit on its own to be one of the most popular songs of its time. And as Berry has irrevocably proven, he meant business and was no slouch. I simply think that Freed sped up the process a little; either to the detriment of good old fashioned Delta Blues, or to the progress of a musical revolution that would soon be defined by bands like Zeppelin and The Who, depending upon how much of a purist you are.

Anyhow, this new legislation which promises to even further restrict the practice of payola, will prove to be extraordinarily beneficial to those lovers of music who (if they haven't completely written off radio altogether) have almost reached the point of looking forward to "Love Line," because they can't possibly listen to that depressing "Thirty Seconds To Mars" song one more time without toasting a double shot of cyanide on the rocks.

(Original article pulled from Instapundit).

Friday, February 16, 2007

To Bind, Or... Well You Know The Rest

Well, after weeks of reports by countless sources on what this non-binding solution may or may not achieve, the actual has occurred.

The House passed the resolution with more than enough support, which is really not surprising at all. Nor is the rebuke that quickly issued from the White House.

What I do find interesting to ponder though is the fact that very soon, the House will be faced with the issue of whether or not to approve the additional funding that the President will ask for, in order to sustain the troops already over there.

This issue will in no way have anything to do with something that calls itself non-binding. This is a very serious issue and I imagine that there is no way the house won't approve the funding necessary to ensure our troops aren't dying when they very well shouldn't be. However, I do wonder how this will make the majority party's fashionistas look, considering this debacle we've just undergone.

Will America tolerate a House that says first that they support our troops in what they must do? Then say that they do not support helping them with anything further than what they already have? Then say that even though we don't support any further help for you, we will go ahead and spend all the money necessary to help you, in the precise way that we don't want to help you?

I honestly don't think that anyone in the House of Representatives means our troops any harm. I honestly think that if given the opportunity they would all do exactly what is best for everyone. However, the fact of the matter is they are facing an America that is sick and tired of ambiguity. Whether we should be there or not, just decide. No one seems completely able to do this, but it is to the detriment of the Democrats to cause this same strife, that everyone is so tired of, within their own party.

Oppose Bush or don't oppose him. Just decide already.
And for the love of all things holy, have the marbles to make a mistake.
It's because we don't have those marbles that we are still in this war.

: Representative Patrick Murphy has a few strong words on why he, as a veteran, disapproves of the President's troop increase.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Everything Can Be Reduced To Semantics

Michael Barone at RealClearPolitics gives his two cents, not on why the recent troop surge that will soon deploy to Iraq and the Anbar Province will succeed, but instead on why he thinks that arguments against the surge are both ill-conceived and asinine.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Obama More Than Up And Running

Jay Cost points out some things that may make Barack Obama more than a simple lame duck contender to Hillary Clinton in the coming elections.

Still, I'm a little skeptical.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

This Is The Article

Earlier this evening I said to a fellow political compatriot that the thing that was going to propel the Democrats into office in 08 wasn't any cohesive effort in unified strategy, but sheer confusing, unorganized policy making attempts (just what the Democrats have proven best at).

I have said since November that all the Democrats have to do is try and force bill after bill through congress. They will likely fail in most of their attempts, but that is not the point. The point is that if they try and make changes, whatever those changes may be, and the Republican party, led by George Bush continually shuts them down, they will symbolically convince the American people that they are the party of change and that the red are simply trying to hold them back for spite. If the people are convinced of that, then the Democrats will skip into victory in the next presidential election.

Rahm Immanuel knows this. This is the guy to watch. I am not saying here that I think he is more talented than Karl Rove, because if fact, I think the opposite; though I do think he is talented enough. And with his party on the verge of controlling the escalating mutiny that is Washington, he may be able to lead the blue into greener pastures for some time to come.

After watching a few these events unfold over the last couple of days like Bush announcing his 21,000 troop increase and top Democrats trying to decide whether to take an immediate symbolic moral victory or listen to John Murtha and have a longer lasting but harder to come by victory, I must say that I have felt something that I haven't felt in a very long time.

I feel as though power may be shifting. I mean power may be shifting in a very powerful way. If Immanuel can play his cards right and the Democrats, at least for the next couple of years can keep their malcontent, then the Democrats may hold power for many years to come. I really feel this.

Now the disclaimer is that this may be to the chagrin of the American people. Because while this "no strategy is our strategy" may be working wonders for them at the moment, what happens when this country truly needs them to unite. When they can't, what do we do then?

I fear all the Bush's may be gone.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Satisfied With An Insurance Company

Who ever would have thought?

I have a Motorola Razr, and at the beginning of the year I was at work, when I dropped it in a bucket of dirty mop water. Don't ask.

Needless to say there was no way I was going to get to work again, so I called this company. And though the twenty five minute automated conversation I had to have before I was able to talk to a real person was somewhat taxing upon my patience, the whole ordeal took no longer than a half an hour and my new phone was in my hands the next day, as promised, blemish free.

Granted I had to pay the fifty dollars to make all of this happen, it was better than shelling another three hundred out to Verizon for a new one. Overall satisfaction.

Blu-ray Victorious

Right now the two formats are slugging it out, toe to toe, at CES for the hearts, minds and wallets of the masses. The format war has sparked a press release campaign, with each side claiming to be winning, yet Blu-ray has gone so far as to clear itself victorious.
Read on however, and you will learn that at most the two formats are still in a dead heat to the finish line.

Funny, Blu-ray seems to have been in touch with some of Bush's PR people.

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