EPA Issues Final TSCA Inventory Notification Rule

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 22, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the final inventory notification rule under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The rule establishes an electronic notification of chemical substances listed on the TSCA Inventory that were manufactured/imported for nonexempt commercial purposes during the 10-year time period ending on June 21, 2016, with provision to also allow processor notification. These notifications will be used to distinguish "active" from "inactive" substances. A summary of this rule follows.


Wireless power is becoming increasingly important in the supply chain

By Alex Gruzen

Contrary to what people think, print isn’t dead. In fact, printed books are the most commonly purchased products on the internet. But when you click “Purchase A Song of Ice and Fire,” have you ever really considered the steps those five books take to go from a shelf in a warehouse to a package on your stoop, and perhaps how that process can be streamlined so it gets delivered to you even faster?

Supply chains have shortened as technological innovations and the IoT have allowed for steps to be digitized (or removed all together). Many of the most impactful advancements – including robots that can lift and move heavy items in the warehouse and autonomous vehicles that can deliver products across the country without having to stop and charge – are still limited, however, by one thing: a power cord.


A new study shows students don’t fully understand how STEM education connects to the diverse range of careers they can pursue. 

In the face of an ongoing STEM talent shortage, Randstad US, a provider of human resources services, conducted a study to uncover key motivations, beliefs and perspectives of STEM-related topics among kids aged 11 to 17. The research shows that despite high interest in STEM studies and confidence in STEM skills at a younger age, interest dwindles as children grow older. Students 11 to 14 years old are 18 percent more likely than students aged 15 to 17 to consider math one of their favorite subjects. Fifty-six percent of young people also said knowing how STEM skills relate to the real world would make STEM classes more interesting.

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Effectively Harness Technology to Improve Risk Management Performance

By Davide Vassallo and Ward Metzler

The implementation of management systems to improve performance in areas such as quality, safety and environmental management has been a common approach by manufacturers during the past 30 years. Now that these management systems are in place within many industries, there exists an opportunity to further improve performance through the effective use of technology and data analysis.


Truly understanding data requires more than looking at spreadsheets

By Theodore P.A. Haenlein

Too often we resort to densely populated spreadsheets to tell us what we really need to know about our business. This is especially critical for small businesses since miss-reading the signals from data for even one day can be a fatal failure. So how do we really understand what our data is telling us?

Those who understand the need to track/measure performance over time will be a step ahead of mere single-date spreadsheet analysis. They will often setup a run chart based on time so they can look for any performance trends around the key performance indicators. The problem is that the high or low points on the run charts almost demand a reaction from leadership. Often, we respond without any knowledge of whether we will be or were effective in changing the performance when we do react. We learn over time, that most often, there is no cause and effect relationship between what we think the data is telling us, how we respond to it and the changes that may or may not be noticed in subsequent data points. Yet there is a simple way to become very confident and knowledgeable in what the data is really telling you.

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Photo credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University 

A new education robot will be commercialized to address the need for coding education. 

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University is commercializing Root, its educational robot, through a newly formed startup, Root Robotics Inc. The independent company aims to transform the way coding abilities are developed in children from an early age and then progress through all age groups. This follows a worldwide licensing agreement between Harvard's Office of Technology Development (OTD) and the startup for the use of the Wyss Institute's code-teaching robot and its accompanying programming environment.

Although computing is among the fastest-growing disciplines in the STEM fields, coding education is significantly lagging behind industry demand. "All parents are being faced with a simple question: how will my kids learn coding," says Zivthan Dubrovsky, co-founder and CEO of Root Robotics, and former engineering staff lead at the Wyss Institute, who helped develop the technology. "Schools are struggling to figure out how to fit coding into their curriculum. As a father of three daughters, I struggled with this question as well. We created Root to help parents like me teach their children coding in a fun and engaging way."


Leaders in STEM education are being recognized for their work to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers. 

UL and North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) awarded five 2017 ULIEA winners with a combined $250,000 (USD) in recognition grants for furthering environmental education via STEM principles (E-STEM).

The Chicago Botanic Garden's Science Career Continuum took the $100,000 grand prize for its work fostering the next generation of environmental and conservation scientists. By engaging Chicago public middle and high schoolers in a summer science immersion program, Science Career Continuum paves the way to studying science in college. Participating students who go on to receive undergraduate degrees can apply for professional research initiative opportunities and can apply for internships. Students can also apply to Northwestern University, as the Garden partners with the institution to offer a Master's and Doctorate degree in Plant Biology and Conservation.

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Be careful taking on a lean transformation during a recession

By Peter Anthony

The use of lean manufacturing methodology is a best practice in automotive manufacturing circles and crucial to success at UGN. Focus on scaling efficient, effective processes during an upturn means you are armed with a lean and disciplined organization when tough times come along. In 2002, we went lean and as a result, were well-positioned for the recession. In fact, in 2010, revenues grew by $100 million in a year.

It Pays to Plan Ahead

In an effort to prepare for a recession, and weather its effects, manufacturing organizations—or any high-yield business—need to adapt and build for sustainability and competitiveness. In today’s economy, company leaders who don’t plan every day for a downturn are extremely naive.

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