Technological Innovations and Operations Management

The under mentioned innovations in technology seem to be practical for setting up feasible production leading to innovative changes in operations management as well. In short the operations management techniques have to be modified for higher productivity with new types of materials and operational methods.

Wireless electricity:

A group of six researchers from the departments of Physics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), U.S posed for an unusual group photo as they stood or sat between two large copper coils, about half a meter in diameter. One of the coils was connected to a source of electric power and to the other a 60 watt light bulb was attached. When the power switch was thrown on one coil, the bulb connected to the other glowed across a wireless gap of about 2 meters. It was a demonstration that electricity could be transferred without having to use wall sockets and power cords albeit across short distances by coupling two magnetic fields that resonated at the same frequency. The researchers are from Massachusetts Institute of Wireless. The copper coils in the experiment worked at just 45% efficiency but the MIT scientists are confident that they can improve this to around 80%. Why is the idea of electricity without wire popping up? Because in today’s modern converged, connected world, we tend to use dozens of different gadgets namely mobile phone, portable computers, digital still ad, movie cameras, music players all of which run on rechargeable batteries. It is always a hassle to mate the right device to the right charger because no two makes of mobile phones seem to accept the same charger and we end up carrying a cat’s cradle of jumbled chargers and wires. If only all these devices could be charged without needing to connect wires to power sockets, one can imagine the ease and clarity with which these can be operated. This fervent wish list is the trigger for the current flurry of research in wireless electric transfer. While MIT is working on the more heavy duty potential of Wi-Tricity that is wireless electricity, others have already come to market with low energy solutions that specifically address the need to recharge multiple personal devices at one go.

Two Cambridge University (UK) graduates pooled their resources to start a company called Splash power. It’s not about giving more technology but about freeing from the hassles of the technology we already have. With this in mind, they have developed a convenient new way of powering mobile phones and other portable electronic devices without wires. They have created Splash Pad which looks like a large ash tray with a power connection. On this, one can place multiple mobile phones; pocket PCs and other devices that need charging. Electro magnetic induction is harnessed to trickle charge them at the same rate wired chargers normally work.

Nanotubes Cut Heat in Electronics

The chips inside an electronic device give off heat as a by-product of power consumption when the object is on or being used. To reduce high temperatures, heat sinks – finned devices made of conductive metal such as aluminium or copper are attached to the back of the chips to “pull” thermal energy away from the microprocessor and transfer it into the surrounding air. Fans or fluids are sometimes used to improve the cooling process, but they increase the device weight and bulk. As the electronics industry continues to churn out smaller and slimmer portable devices, manufacturers have been challenged to find new ways to combat persistent problem of thermal management New research in Applied Physics lead to carbon nanotudes may soon be integrated into ever shrinking devices so that they do not over heat, malfunction or fail. Using micronfin structures made of aligned multi-walled carbon nanotube arrays mounted to the back of silicon chips, researchers have proved that nanotubes can dissipate chip heat as effectively as copper. Copper is the best known, but most costly, material for thermal management applications. And the nanotubes are more flexible, resilient, and 10 times lighter than any other cooling material available. Carbon nanotubes, maintain their impressive combination of high strength, low weight, and excellent conductivity, and the carbon nanotube coolers can be manufactured in a very cost effective method. Thick films consisting of 1.2 mm long multi-walled carbon nanotubes were grown and detached from silicon / silicon oxide templates and a laser was used to carve out free standing 10 x 10 fin array blocks. The bottom of the nanotube cooler blocks was then soldered onto the backside of a thermometer test chip that was mounted on a silicon substrate.

Inspection Train in Breakthrough in Tube Track Monitoring

A new asset inspection train (AIT) is to be introduced on the Tube network from next spring in an attempt to speed up track inspection and maintenance. The train will be fitted with dynamic technology to enable it to run throughout the day on all lines to check track geometry and rail profiles at high speeds. It will use thermal cameras to monitor rail, temperature as well as digital technology to provide images of the track which will be analyzed by onboard by onboard technical experts. This information can be used to identify areas where the track geometry or rail profile can be improved and be subsequently fed back to maintenance and upgrade programs. This knowledge will identify areas that suffer greater wear and tear and improve understanding of how changes develop over time. This will inform longer term plans and help the move towards information led whole life asset management The AIT will be able to capture data every 0.1 meters. It has a modern rail profile system, will provide digital inertia geometry and use lasers for corrugation measurement on the rail. Other technologies include a ride quality noise measurement, collector shoe impact detection and maintenance work orders raised directly Tube Lines’ asset management system. The asset inspection train will replace the existing track recording vehicle, which London Underground introduced in 1987. The track recording vehicle information is less comprehensive because it provides analogue geometry, a tacho-distance system and rail profile systems through paper reports. It was limited in its availability as it could run only at night during engineering hours. That ate up valuable engineering time as engineering work could not take place safety when the track recording vehicle was running.

The above clearly shows that the task operations is becoming simpler and productive. From the same available space the quantum of production will be higher with cost efficacy.