Month: July 2018

DevelopmentInsights

How Increasing Design Tolerance Can Cut Costs

Product development and design are essential for ensuring that you can actually produce and sell the products you make. Oftentimes, products are designed and produced in a way to maximize quality. In order to achieve that, tight tolerances are focused on during the development process. What exactly are tight tolerances in product development? Tolerances are variables in the design, usually concerning the dimensions of a specific product.

In layman’s terms, it’s a plus or minus here and there that are allowed in product design. Tolerances influence the overall design of the products, as well as its manufacturing and quality control. In some cases, tight tolerances are absolutely necessary to ensure that the product can perform appropriately. However, strictly leveraging tight tolerances isn’t mandatory in every case. What’s more, they will only increase the production costs. Therefore, here’s how increasing design tolerance can actually cut costs.

Determine the functionality of a product

The functionality of a product determines how it will be designed and produced. In some cases, tolerances of even a single decimal can mean the difference between a functioning product and a failed one. That is only the case if product functionality depends on tight tolerances. However, materials used in the manufacturing process also play a role in determining acceptable tolerances in product design. In other words, not every part of the product needs tight tolerances, but in most cases, the entire product is based on strict requirements.

For instance, a product with a certain number of components requires a tolerance of ±0.001 because there’s a specific way component must fit together. But, a separate part is also automatically specified using the same tolerances, even if the part does not interact with the others or may not need the same tolerances. That’s why it’s important to determine the functionality of the product and which component – if any – requires a tight tolerance to function.

Consult with a manufacturer

Creating a product design eventually comes down to tolerances that are numbers on paper. You may think that those tolerances are absolutely necessary, even if that’s not the case. Tolerances are influenced by the materials used in production, how they’re made during manufacturing and the sensitivity of product features to variations in design. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced manufacturer on board that can help you determine if there’s room to increase the design tolerance or not.

For example, if you’re developing a design for electrical components, you should consult with an electronics manufacturer. That way, a manufacturer can go over your design and help you determine the acceptable increases intolerances to help you cut costs. Electronics are produced by the IPC (Association Connecting Electronics Industries) standards which allow certain tolerances in product design. Your manufacturer will know how to best implement those tolerances, without compromising the product’s functionality and quality.

Understand the costs of tight tolerances

As mentioned before, product developers and designers focus on tight tolerances in order to ensure product quality. The reality is that tight tolerances do not always influence quality, but they are always expensive to implement. You need to consider these costs before insisting on tight tolerances. For example, tight tolerances require more precise tools and higher grade materials, which cost a lot more. The tighter the tolerance is, the more it will cost you. In addition, tight tolerances require more processing, which increases the costs of the machinery used and labour.

Moreover, you need to pay for a close inspection to determine whether the tolerances are within the acceptable range. What’s more, if you cannot implement tight tolerances on your own, you may need to outsource the process, which will cost you more. In the end, you end up paying for precision that may not be required. That’s why it’s important to actually determine if tight tolerances are mandatory for your products. If you don’t need such tolerances, you should take the opportunity to implement more appropriate variables and greatly reduce the costs of product development.

Don’t relax tolerances too much

In an effort to cut costs, increasing the design tolerance is quite beneficial. However, relaxing the tolerances too much involves certain risks. For example, the product components may not fit well together if tolerances are too extreme. In addition, your customers may disapprove of increased tolerances, if you haven’t consulted with them beforehand. Also, you may need to repeat the manufacturing process and redesign your products if you’re not careful with tolerances.

That will only skyrocket your costs. Instead of focusing on tight tolerances or relaxing them too much, you should focus on implementing quality assurance and tolerance analysis. That way, you’ll be able to determine exactly which variables are acceptable for your product design. In addition, you’ll know exactly where to apply strict tolerances and, of course, how much you can increase them to cut costs.

Product design is important for the manufacturing and quality of the products. However, ensuring product quality doesn’t always rely on implementing strictly tight tolerances. Tight tolerances are only required when there are specific needs and functionality requirements. Other than that, you can consider relaxing the product design tolerance and save yourself a lot of money during the development process.

About the author:

My name is Raul, editor in chief at Technivorz blog. I have a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can reach me out on Twitter.

DevelopmentSaaS

Top 3 Machine Learning trends in 2018

Machine Learning has been growing at an incredible pace in 2017. We’ve witnessed many breakthroughs such as AlphaGo beating the best world’s Go players, the comeback of evolution algorithms meta-learning, or WaveNet generating speech that mimics any human voice. Deep Learning research has been skyrocketing since 2012, and it’s not going to stop. Carlos Perez – Co-Founder of Intuition Machine – predicts that the number of research papers related to Deep Learning will triple or even quadruple in 2018!

 

The beginning of the third quarter of 2018 seems like a good time to take a closer look at the top Machine Learning trends in 2018.

 

Generative Models

One of the core goals for AI is to understand the world as a human does. In order to understand the world, one is required to build meaningful representations of abstract concepts. In particular, generative models are very good at this task. There’s nice intuition behind this taken from Richard Feynman who said:

 

What I cannot create, I do not understand  

 

Since their introduction in 2014, Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) are probably the hottest topic in unsupervised learning research, along with Variational AutoEncoders. A GAN is a generative machine learning model that consists of two neural networks: a generator and a discriminator. During training, the generator tries to generate realistic samples, while the discriminator needs to determine whether they’re fake or real. As the training proceeds, both the generator and the discriminator get better at their tasks. In the end, the generator is capable of generating data that looks like the real thing. GANs have a lot of interesting applications, such as an image to image translation, or improving the quality of low-resolution CT scans.

 

The classic problem with GANs is that they are really good at generating synthetic images in a bunch of different domains, but they struggle to model aspects of images that require the understanding of the whole, like getting the number of animal legs right.

 

Recently the father of GANs, Ian Goodfellow, has published a work on Self-Attention Generative Adversarial Networks (SAGAN). Introducing a self-attention module to the generator resulted in generating images in which fine details at every location are carefully coordinated with fine details in distant parts of the image.

 

There are already almost 4000 papers on Google scholar related to GANs this year, and there’s much more to come!

Interpretability

Many machine learning models, for example, Deep Neural Networks, are considered to be black boxes. However, the typical end-user of machine learning based system prefers solutions that are interpretable and understandable. For example, you may ask yourself if you would trust a neural network diagnosing cancer without explaining its reasoning. Would you choose an AI doctor with 85% accuracy that can explain its reasoning or an AI doctor with 90% accuracy that cannot?

 

Interpretability of machine learning models seems to be crucial for applications in healthcare or law. Last but not least, machine learning engineers benefit a lot from interpretable models, as it’s much easier to validate and improve them.

 

Again, we can borrow an intuition from Richard Feynman who said:

 

If you can’t explain something in simple terms, you don’t understand it

 

We can notice an increasing amount of research in the area of explaining machine learning models. One may distinguish model-agnostic methods and model-specific methods for explaining machine learning models. For example, LIME is a simple technique that uses local linear approximation via K-Lasso regression to provide model-agnostic explanations. You can find a Python implementation of LIME on GitHub. There are a lot of techniques for producing visual explanations for Convolutional Neural Networks, such as saliency maps. If you’re interested, I strongly recommend this compiled list of resources on interpretability by Michał Łopuszyński.

 

Edge Computing

The Internet of Things is going to revolutionize our world. All of these devices, such as mobile phones, beacons or Raspberry Pis, are able to provide tons of data. However, IoT alone is not smart technology. On the other hand, machine learning is fueled by data. These incentives are crucial for machine learning meeting edge computing.

 

There are several advantages for running machine learning applications on edge devices. Firstly, we can highly reduce latency when communication with the cloud is not required. It’s possible because of several reasons, such as hardware improvements, software improvements, and last but not least – compact deep learning architectures without losing a lot on accuracy (MobileNet v2). For example, MobileNet’s forward pass only takes about 20 milliseconds on the newest iPhones.

One cannot omit the importance of the existence and development of frameworks such as CoreML and TensorflowLite. Currently, it’s very easy to implement, train and evaluate a model in one of Python’s Deep Learning libraries and latter deploy it on an Android device or an iPhone.

 

Privacy has always been an important concern on the Internet, and it seems that this year this is truer than ever. Machine Learning algorithms cannot be trained without data. However, if you train a machine learning model on an edge device, your data doesn’t need to leave it.

 

And last but not least, since Deep Gradient Compression has been introduced at ICLR 2018, distributed training on many edge devices seems to be possible on 1Gbps commodity Ethernet.

Guest post by Mateusz Opala, Machine Learning Tech Lead at Netguru

SaaS

Measures that determine the success of CRM performance – The screw gauge for KPIs

Peter Drucker rightly said, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! Nowadays more and more organizations are increasingly focusing on quantifying the CRM performance to enhance the level of customer experiences and to better handle organizational data. CRM indeed provides a significant return on investment. However many companies fail to quantify it. This is where the CRM software with its analytics engine can help measure performance so that your business does not land on the unpaved runway!

So, how does one measure CRM performance? Don’t worry! Let’s slice through the royal cake.

CRM performance can be measured through balanced scorecards, value driver analysis, customer knowledge management and ROIs. It gets quite technical from here! I feel you. I will try my best to simplify it.

Balanced scorecards!

The balanced scorecard was developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton. It is one of the foremost measurement tool used by highly successful management firms to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the firm. Robert and David analyzed many successful businesses and found out that all those successful businesses had one thing in common. They had a clear vision and strategy aligned with key areas such as finance, customer service and internal operations.

The balanced scorecards allow decision makers to view businesses from 4 different aspects.

They are:

How businesses view stakeholders in terms of financial aspects?

Are the businesses providing value from a customers’ point of view?

From an internal process point of view,

Are the business operations aligned with the company goals and values?

And finally from a learning and growth perspective,

Is the company providing the right training for its employees?

These aspects create a roadmap for analyzing and understanding smaller objectives within the larger framework.

As the famous Occam’s razor principle states “the simpler one is usually better.” So, the balanced scorecard helps businesses to focus on smaller things so more can be achieved!

In case you were wondering, this is the secret formula for businesses.

 

Value driver analysis

This is the second layer of the royal cake! The concept of value driver analysis was developed by DuPont several years ago. This is the extension of the infamous money flow analysis which allows companies to take more informed decisions thereby improving their day to day operations.

This hits you hard on the face!

Yes. Literally speaking, this method helps enterprises understand the value of a project. The value may have a strong impact on the organization’s finance or it may create a lasting impression on the society. The variables are usually controlled by the project management team who create a “driver tree’’ to map out the major drivers of value.

For example, for a stadium construction project, the seating capacity can be a major point of focus. The key value drivers for the seating capacity may include public transport, location, and ticket prices.

Customer Knowledge Management

It refers to the mechanisms and procedures used by the company to record, quantify, categorize and analyze data about its customers. This enhances organization’s sales processes. The data may be related to customers’ previous transactions, feedbacks, demographics and other miscellaneous personal information’s.

All data is stored in a single database!

Through customer knowledge management, customer experiences can be taken to a whole new level by minor tweaks or by fixing any loopholes in the business operations.

ROI

This is the icing on the cake for organizations trying to measure performance. Technically speaking, ROI is defined as the profit divided by the stock or funds invested. ROI is generally expressed in terms of percentage. Calculating ROI usually requires an incubation period of six months or more after the crucial data has been gathered from various sources. ROI analysis can drastically improve organizations performance and help achieve greater success.

CRM software can help with all the analytics and can act as a screw gauge for KPIs. CRM software would have a Business Intelligence engine which would efficiently handle all the analytics. It can also act as a database for customer knowledge management.

The report engine would also allow one to view and generate multiple reports for further statistical analysis that would help give your business a boost!

Indeed! CRM software is a must for any industry for analyzing the measures that would determine the organization’s CRM performance.

Guest Post by:
Kapture CRM

Insights

The IRS’ View on Bitcoin Roth IRA’s

Bitcoin was developed in 2009, which means it is not even 10 years old yet. The result of this is that financial experts are not making any statements with certainty on it yet because it is impossible to draw real conclusions in such a short period of time. This country is, in fact, one of the only ones in the world that has issued formal guidelines on cryptocurrencies as an investment class. Knowing the IRS’ view on bitcoin roth IRA’s is very important if you were hoping to invest in one.

How the IRS Views Bitcoin Roth IRA’s

The IRS made an official statement in March 2014 outlining that dates are cryptocurrencies as a type of commodity when calculating taxation. This means it processes Bitcoin in the same way as stocks and bonds. The IRS declared that cryptocurrencies are a type of property, which means that investment in them is possible but only when overseen by a custodian so that regulations are complied with.

Historic Lee, custodians would only accept mainstream assets in an IRA. This includes certificates of deposits, mutual funds, bonds, and stocks. Hence, if you do wish to invest in a cryptocurrency, you will have to choose a self-directed option. You do have the option of choosing between a traditional IRA, whereby you pay taxes on the eventual withdrawals, or a Roth IRA, where buy you pay taxes on the initial deposits.

A bitcoin Roth IRA is fully self-directed. This means you decide when to buy, sell, and hold bitcoins. You can also purchase dedicated cryptocurrency fund shares. If you want to invest directly in cryptocurrency, you will effectively become a Forex Trader with the difference being that your currency is not a mainstream one. If, on the other hand, you decide to invest in fund shares, you will delegate forex knowledge to that fund instead. Hence, you need to weigh up whether you have more confidence in your own skills or whether you have more confidence in the skills of a shared fund. Again, because bitcoin is so new, it can be quite difficult to determine whether or not someone truly does have the required experience to properly invest in this currency, but then the same would go for you personally.

Whatever decisions you make, you will have to open a bitcoin wallet. This is not a physical wallet but rather an application on which your digital signature, also known as private keys, are stored. Those keys are required in order for you to move coins between others on the public ledger, which is the blockchain. Those private keys are incredibly valuable because of the anonymity of the blockchain. It is impossible to determine who is accessing the chain so if you share your private key with someone else, for instance through loss or theft, they will be able to remove all your bitcoin and you will never be able to get them back. Do be careful with your private key, therefore!

Martech

Marketing tech: how to build and manage your reputation as a newbie entrepreneur

Your brand or company is an extension of your work ethic. Entrepreneurs all over the world toil endlessly to give birth to an idea that was formed in their minds. The Disney universe is an extension of Walt Disney’s imagination, and Ali Express came into being because of Jack Ma’s life story.

When you come up with a revolutionary idea, the first thing you face is harsh criticism. We are creatures of habit, so our brain negates the ideas that move us away from our comfort zone. Once we beat this habit, something beautiful and meaningful comes into existence.

As an owner of a new enterprise, you have to wear many hats at once. You may or may not be comfortable in building your personal brand, but it is crucial to start working on it. Personal branding bridges the gap between your personal and professional life. When you bring value to the business environment, people immediately start taking you seriously.

Martha Stewart and personal branding:

Let’s take the example of the housekeeping queen that is Martha Stewart. This remarkable lady built a whole brand around her name, and until today we see Martha Stewart’s brand as a product of her creativity and hard work.

There are so many things you can do the ‘Martha Stewart way.’ Be it weddings or crafts; this person created a brand around things she was insanely good at. I would rather choose a recipe from Martha Stewart’s cookbook, rather than believing in anything on the internet.

Creating an experience around your brand is essential. If you are a true professional at what you do, there is a way to project that positive image that impresses people. Stewart started her lifestyle business from catering, and slowly escalated to the top by writing books about it. She is one of the most trusted lifestyle influencers in America because of her unique sense of style.

Once you have kicked off with the business, work on your brand and make sure you keep your personality secure from habits or things that can tarnish the reputation of your company.

Personal website:

It doesn’t matter if your professional venture is a few years old or a few weeks old, you have to invest in a website. Personal websites are like the internet real estate of your own brand. People visit your site to learn more about you and your work that led to the creation of a company. Successful entrepreneurs like Seth Godin are famous for their quirky blogs which work as a marketing medium for little or no cost.

Don’t underestimate the potential of a personal website or blog. However, don’t do it just because the cool people are doing it. You must be invested in this affair and reach out to your audience regularly to collect feedback.

For B2B causes, a personal website becomes your knight in the shining armour. People look up to you for news, professional info, and future investment opportunities. You can craft a unique digital narrative simply by crafting a website that depicts the best version of you as an entrepreneur.

Here are some vital things to have in observance when creating a personal website:

  • URL: your website should contain your name in the URL. For example, rickbennet.com looks like a trustworthy site owned by Rick Bennet, the Moreover, the site will turn up first when people search for you on the internet
  • About page: this is where you should put all the right info. Investors and current vendors will visit the about page to know more about you and your work
  • Add an active page that can be a blog, a news section or a press section. It gives an impression that you are regularly in the news
  • Include a call to action like a sign-up form for your newsletter. The newsletter is a great marketing tactic for entrepreneurs because the email has more chances of getting noticed by people, compared to a time-bound social media post
  • Add an active phone number and email ID so people can contact you easily. Don’t make it difficult for people to reach you

Provide value:

If you are dwelling in a saturated market, people may perceive you as just another entrepreneur. If you work hard to provide value to the audience, they may be able to distinguish between you and the rest, giving you a competitive edge.

‘next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.’ – John D. Rockefeller

Helpful content, positive marketing strategies, sales cycle, paying attention to your customers and building a sustainable brand are all ways in which you provide value to your audience. If you are a newbie in your field, start by researching your target audience and the message, then the content and execution will flow naturally.

Write more “how to’’ posts and refrain from calling out your competitors and highlighting what they are doing wrong. Whatever you do, stay humble to the core and maintain the monotony in your business messages.

As an owner of a new business, if these tips seem overwhelming to you, you can always hire a Contact Manager who can do this job for you. Contact Managers help you flourish while maintaining your positive image in front of the business fraternity.

If you’re new in the business game, then you may also contact them to learn more about various strategies and learn about things such as sales cycle definition and other critical concepts that will help you in understanding how you must successfully proceed forward with your business

Digital PR:

A Contact Manager will also assist you in managing your PR. If you are doing good work, you shouldn’t be the only one talking about it. Other people should talk about it as well. That’s where digital PR comes in. Guest posts, leadership articles, lectures, and conferences are great platforms to spread your valuable insights to the world and get some credibility built around your business.

If you are a regular contributor to a publication, your author profile will rank higher than others, earning you valuable links back to your site. Regarding other mediums, you should maintain synonymity around your digital profile, and people should know about the decent things you have done in the industry.

Do you have a tip to help newbie entrepreneurs on this long and tedious journey? Tell us in the comments section below.

Author Bio

Andrea Bell is a blogger by choice.  She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.

Find her on Twitter:@IM_AndreaBell