Major changes are coming late in the year 2000 to the ISO 9000 series of standards for quality management. The revisions promise to be so sweeping that ISO plans to let about 100 organizations in different countries try out draft versions next year. The organizations will report by November 1999 on whether or not the changes have helped them improve their business results. The test-drive is a novel approach for ISO. Usually, user input is limited to a cross-section of experts from stakeholder groups who help draft documents in technical committees. ISO then circulates the documents to its whole membership for comments and voting. That procedure was used for the first publication of the ISO 9000 series in 1987, and again for a light revision in 1994. The forthcoming changes, being drafted by ISO's technical committee 176, will affect the ISO 9001 standard, which covers design, and ISO 9004, which includes services.
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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