Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts

April 12, 2019

Gotta Love FANUC


I love FANUC industrial robots. 

They are made by a secretive company in Japan and they are #1 in workplace automation worldwide! 

They have over half a million installed industrial robots around the world.

Their robots are on assembly lines making everything from "cars and smartphones to beverages and drugs."  They also are in Tesla and Amazon...so you know they are pretty much everywhere. 

FANUC has customers in 108 countries supported by 263 service locations. 

Their robots are made by...that's right other robots...80% is automated

These robots are strong, fast, and precise, and they can do dangerous work. 

This company is the future of jobs, productivity, efficiency. 

But of course, people are still the brains behind the brawn.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 8, 2015

What's The Capital Of The United States Again?

So this is what the state of education in the United States has come to.

We were having dinner last night with another couple. 


They asked my daughter, "Do they still teach geography in school? They don't teach that anymore do they?"


My daughter said, "Yeah, we learned a lot of geography" and gave some good examples both modern and ancient. 


So the guy says, "Well I don't think a lot of other schools are teaching geography anymore, like they used to with us."


Then he tells us a story how someone they know was asked what the capital of China was.


And he goes to me, "You know, you know [he emphasizes again], what the guy said?"


I looked at him a little puzzled by this question, like what could someone possibly answer to such a simple question, so I said, "Well I hope they said Beijing."


He nods his head back and forth no, eyes closed, lips pursed, like we won't believe what he was about to say.


Then, he says, "The guy said that the capital of China is...JAPAN!"


I looked at him my eyes squinting in disbelief, like that can't be a for real answer, right?


"No," he says, "That was what this guy thought, can you believe it?"


I said sort of laughing out loud, "Well maybe if World War II had ended differently that would be correct."


It sort of reminds me of the famous goof when Clinton gave the Russians the now famous "Reset Button."


It was supposed to indicate a thawing and renewal of peaceful relations, only the word printed on the button was "Peregruzka" meaning a more hostile "Overcharge."


Oops! 


Maybe the overcharge referred to was prophetic of the West's losing the strategic Crimea to the Russian blitzkrieg in 2014. How much did that mistake cost us?


I guess it's not only STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) suffering in our educational system. 


How's that standards based education reform "No Child Left Behind" (2001) working out? 


It definitely seems like some folks are most definitely being left behind if not completely lost in the system.


At this rate, I fear the capital of the United States is now Iran. ;-)

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April 20, 2013

Survivable Water Pipes

When an earthquake strikes, it is not just the immediate loss of life that is a concern, but the longer-term damage to critical infrastructure and the effect on human survival. 

As we know, water is critical to every living creature, and in an earthquake, when there is damage to the water infrastructure, such as the underground piping, people can be left without this basic life-sustaining commodity. 

When traditional solid cast-iron piping is used, an earthquake can cause these to deform and buckle. However, with a new ductile pipe design by Japanese company, Kubota--the pipes are built in a chain-like fashion and expand and contract, flex and bend, but do not easily break.  

According to the Wall Street Journal (14 April 2011), Kubota earthquake-resistant pipes even withstood the 9.0 quake in Japan in 2011, and it can withstand "shaking, landslides, and extreme temperatures. 

Now Los Angeles is piloting this pipe along 2 miles of its 7,000 miles of piping--they are focusing on "the most vulnerable, fault-line-adjacent areas," since the piping is 2 1/2 times the price of regular piping. 

In the absence of having a device like the Star Trek Replicator to synthesize food and water on the fly, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade our water systems and other critical infrastructure to protect us from the disasters that come. 

"Tea, Earl Grey, Hot" needs to be available not just in good times, but also in bad. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Kubota)
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December 24, 2011

Wheelchairs Get A Boost

I am very excited by this new assistive technology for personal mobility coming out of Japan that can be used to help the aged or handicapped.

Rather than have to buy a separate electric scooter for longer distances that is heavy and can be challenging for people with certain disabilities to use, the WHILL is a simple add-on that can be attached to and removed from a regular wheelchair and can be steered, like a Segway, simply by leaning in the direction you want to go.

The WHILL is high-tech looking--like a futurist headphone that you place over the wheels of the chair and according to Gizmodo, it turns the wheels with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that powers the chair up to 12 mph for 19 miles and then recharges in under 2 hours.

While pricing information is not yet available, my assumption is that this add-on will be significantly cheaper than a full-out electronic scooter.

One concern that I have about the WHILL is how someone who is wheelchair-bound will be able to attach/remove the drive-train device without the help of an aide or nurse. Perhaps an even more futuristic version will have the U-shaped WHILL built with push-button retractable arms, so that the attachment can simply "open up" rather than have to be removed.

Another question that I have is what safety features will be built in for example for automatic cut-off should someone using it get ill and keel over unto the device causing it to drive/spin out of control. I am thinking a weight-sensor on the WHILL that detects if too much of a person's body weight is leaning on it and then cause a safety shutdown.

Overall, I am encouraged by what WHILL will soon be bringing to help people in need to get around more easily in the future.


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November 1, 2008

“Hodo-Hodo” and Enterprise Architecture

Human capital is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of enterprise architecture.

With all the business process acumen and sleek IT, we can get nothing truly accomplished without the innovation, dedication, finesse, and talent of people!

Unfortunately, people are often poorly understood and mishandled in the workplace and the results can be disastrous for our enterprises and nations.

Japan is a good example of a country where these effects are pronounced.

The Wall Street Journal, 1-2 November 2008 reports on “Slacker Nation? Young Japanese Shun Promotions.”

Generally, one would think that people want to advance themselves professionally and be productive human beings in general. This is sort of a cornerstone of capitalism.

Yet, in Japan now-a-days, “in a country once proud of its success-driven ‘salarymen,’ managers are grappling with a new phenomenon: Many young workers are shunning choice promotions—even forgoing raises—in favor of humdrum jobs with minimal responsibilities.”

Here’s an example:

“the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a destination for the city’s elite, says only 14% of eligible employees took higher level exams for management positions in 2007—down from 40% three decades ago.”

So enterprises are not understanding generation Y and what they are looking for in the workplace.

Things have gotten so bad that a labor relations lawyer advises companies not to “shock” workers with promotions, but rather to “first see if they’re ready.”

“Employment experts have begun to call these workers hodo-hodo zoku, or the ‘so-so folks.’ They say these workers, mostly in their 20s and early 30s are sapping Japan’s international competitiveness.”

One labor consultant says “They’ll ruin Japan with their lax work ethic.”

Yet although gen Yers are at the center of this trend, apparently this goes beyond being just a generational issue:

“A study this year…found just 3% of Japanese workers says they’re putting their full effort into their jobs.”

So what are organizations missing in understanding and in handling their human capital?

First, organizations need to listen to what people’s needs are and work to satisfy them.

Instead of seeking legal counsel to see “whether they can fire employees who refuse promotions,” they need to make the work and conditions of employment palatable to today’s workforce.

For example, one “24-year old agent at a staffing company recently got promoted to help manage a small group of employees. The new job means a higher salary and a better title. But he isn’t happy about it. Now he often works past 10 p.m. leaving him less time with his girlfriend.”

Aha!

People are human and need work-life balance. A 24 year old with a relationship doesn’t want to work until 10:00 every night. That’s really hard to understand isn’t it? (sarcasm here)

Here’s another reason:

Japan has suffered “economic woes during the long slump in the 1990s and early 2000s…young workers saw older generations throw themselves into their work, only to face job and pay cuts as companies restructured. Now young people are cautious about giving too much of themselves—even if it mean less money or prestige.”

A 2nd Aha—not really:

If people are not rewarded for their hard work and dedication they are not motivated to perform. Companies that used to provide lifetime employment and/or substantial salary raises for managerial positions, no longer are providing these.

To me, the big Aha’s here are not the cause-effect reactions of workers to organizations that do not reward their efforts, promote work-life balance, or demonstrate commitment to match the dedication of their people, but rather the surprise is that enterprises are continue to overlook their most valuable asset in their enterprise architecture—which is of course, their people!

Enterprise architects need to work with their Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs)/HR divisions to better understand and address the needs of the workforce so that the organization can recruit, hire and retain a stable and talented workforce. This will support the business now and into the future.

The enterprise architects’ unique role in this area is to

--capture information (profiles/models/inventories regarding human capital) and trends—point out gaps or other issues between current and future capabilities

--align investment decisions to business requirements—in this case, investments in human capital

If we don’t address the human capital perspective of the architecture, no business or technology plans can succeed.


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