Flowcharting, developed mainly by computer programmers, has become a favorite tool of companies striving to comply with ISO's management standards for quality and the environment. Makers of flowcharting software have redesigned their products to create documents that would appeal to ISO 9000, QS 9000, or ISO 14000 auditors. SPSS Inc. (Chicago), for example, has come out with version 4.0 of allCLEAR. This flowcharting software is loaded with task-specific items for ISO standards, as well as new shapes, structures, and templates. Improved outlining in the new allCLEAR instantaneously creates charts as you type lines of text. The outlining window now features a tree-like structure enabling the user to expand and collapse levels to either hide or reveal details. Users can now attach data, notes, and even launchable URL addresses to flowchart shapes to convey more information on any step. And they can import files from other popular flowcharting programs, such as Visio Corp.'s Visio, Corel Corp.'s CorelFlow, and Micrografx's ABC Flowcharter. Another flowcharting program, Axion Corp.'s 4TQFlow+, automatically generates process documentation in word processors.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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