3D Laser Scanning uses cutting edge technology to build “point clouds” to create digital representations oh physical assets. With these point clouds, we are able to extract surface data from an object to build its digital twin. Digital Twins can be built from a tangible object of any size, from a coffee machine to a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and everything in between. With today’s technology, there is no project too large or small; the possibilities are limitless.
How Does It Work?
There are many different types of Laser Scanning machines to choose from. However, they all operate using similar methods. First, a scanner uses a laser beam which is reflected off an object and back to the scanner, similar to sonar or echolocation in the animal kingdom. As a result, the distance can be measured down to the millimeter as the returning signals phase shift back to the machine
Simultaneously, a mirror deflects the laser beam at a vertical angle onto the same object. When using a tripod laser scanner, the scanner rotates 360° horizontally to record horizontal angles & distances. These angles are being recorded to also capture the distance between objects.
From wearable laser scanners, tripod scanners, or drone based scanners, each job can be very different. PMC uses a variety of these options to best suit the job at hand.
Why 3D Laser Scanning?
Point clouds are obtained using non-contact & non-destructive technology, so damage to your assets is virtually impossible. As a result, Digital Twins can be optimized for historical accuracy, inspection of surfaces, and reverse engineering & part scanning. 3D Laser Scanning is the best way to obtain highly detailed information with minimal intrusion. Additionally, there is no disruption to productivity while scanning is performed.
Times are hard for many companies. Everywhere you look, there are postings for talent wanted in all types of technology positions ranging from Web Developers, Project Managers, Business Analysts, as well as Engineers.
As you know, your company relies on having the right resources in place to perform the tasks needed to operate efficiently. But without employees there to provide goods or services for your customers, production grinds to a halt, and with it, so does company income and any hope of profitability.
Unfortunately, you have no real control over the job market and candidates looking for work, and when they may or may not come knocking on your door for a job opportunity.
However, you can be prepared for it.
A flexible staffing strategy enables you to overcome these types of obstacles, which are becoming all too commonplace in the current competitive business climate.
With a well-implemented flexible staffing strategy, you will be able to set your company up for success in multiple ways, making it a critical strategy for any organization that needs to have temporary workers.
What Is a Flexible Staffing Strategy?
Before we can discuss the numerous advantages that a flexible staffing strategy may offer you, we need to get on the same page about what flexible staffing is.
Flexible staffing entails many different approaches to hiring non-permanent employees to fill specific roles that your company needs.
For example, employees that you hire from a temporary agency would qualify as flexible or contingent staffing. You needn’t keep them as permanent team members and they’re not on your company’s payroll as employees.
Staff that are hired as 1099 contractors, freelancers hired for individual jobs, and anyone else that isn’t on your company’s official payroll all fit under the flexible staffing umbrella.
Why Use a Flexible Staffing Strategy?
Many businesses have done just fine hiring employees the old-fashioned way, and there is nothing wrong with this approach, so long as it’s working. But today, finding employees is proving to be more difficult than ever, and finding the right people with the right skill set is even harder.
A flexible staffing strategy allows you to circumvent these problems by hiring people on an as-needed basis, or with a contingency that allows you to dismiss them much faster, much more conveniently, and much less disruptively than you would be able to fire a poorly performing full-time employee.
There are many times that flexible staffing can be a lifesaver.
A great example is when you just need a temporary fill-in. Maybe one of your key employees is out on maternity leave and another employee is recovering from a major surgery. You don’t want to replace them, but your business can’t go without that position being filled.
So, you hire a temporary replacement for the duration of the project that is needed to complete the work. Your business won’t suffer from the absence of your employee, and your employee will rest easy knowing their job is waiting for them when they return.
What about all of these recent surges and recessions in business? Many companies are feeling it. Should you just keep hiring and firing teams of employees to meet the demand as it rises and falls?
A much better option would be to hire temporary staff (Consultants) as 1099 contractors that you can easily let go when the demand dies down. Best of all, they may still be around for you to hire on another occasion in the future if/when the demand rises again. Many of the temporary workers such as semi-retired people actually prefer not to work for very long stretches of time and prefer short assignments.
Benefits of a Flexible Staffing Strategy
We’ve discussed a few of the times that a flexible staffing strategy can have some major advantages over simply hiring full-time direct employees, but the benefits of flexible staffing go beyond just saving your company’s backside in a pinch.
Have you ever thought you found the perfect employee with all the right credentials and a killer attitude, just to see them fail miserably and turn out to be the exact opposite of what you hoped?
This is one of the major problems with hiring employees. You’re essentially going on first impressions and the word of other people. With a flexible staffing strategy, however, you can instead hire that potential employee on a trial basis. After a short period of time (usually 6 to 12 months), you can convert them to a full-time permanent employment once they’ve proven to be the exemplary employee you had hoped for, or terminate the contract when the project work has ended or the temporary employee is no longer needed.
Another consideration is the major savings that a company stands to see from hiring flexible help as temporary employees instead of direct employees. Regulations have made it very costly to keep employees on payrolls under reduced workloads, but you can get around a lot of that wasted money by hiring flexible staffing that can work when you need them.
You might also find that some of the best and brightest potential assets for your company might not be available or willing to work as full-time employees. Some of the best workers you could hire might only be available if you’re willing to have them work as a consultant who wants the flexibility to work on specific types of project engagements that fall within their skill set. A big reason for this is the flexibility to pick and choose projects that are meaningful to them that fit their lifestyle needs.
A flexible staffing plan can be thought of as akin to insurance. It makes it much easier for you to fill the gaps in your staffing schedule without going through the costs and hassles of hiring new employees. If you have a good flexible staffing plan in place, then you’ve got at least some level of protection if you’re experiencing staff shortages, as is becoming more common every day.
As technology and culture continue to evolve, companies must also learn to change with the times. Just as the Sears Roebuck catalog went out of the fashion and the giant brick-and-mortar retailers behind them, companies that don’t change with the times will get left behind.
Flexible staffing is the answer for modern employers. The benefits your company could see from implementing a flexible staffing plan are many, including better workers, faster assignment of appropriate workers to tasks, monetary savings, and fewer problems with absentee workers or talent shortages in general. You can even use flexible staffing to help hire the best workers who might not fit into a standard work schedule or hire workers on a trial basis to make sure they’re a great fit for your company.
Times are changing, and flexible staffing ensures that your business has the ability to change with them.
“Our partnership with PMC opens the door to the US market. PMC‘s many years of experience in simulations and the huge library of data for over 4 decades gives us the opportunity to create the perfect Digital Twin for our customers.” said CEO of Smiling Machines, Mr. George Koutsoudakis.
“Predictive maintenance services are one of the biggest bets in the 4.0 industry, something that Smiling Machines seems to be doing with remarkable results,” said Michigan Professor and CEO of PMC Dr. Onur Ulgen.
Smiling Machine is a Greek next generation technology company that provides Predictive Maintenance and Digital Twin services. It is one of the few companies in the world that manufactures its own AI fault detection sensors.
PMC is a leading provider of quality, engineering, manufacturing, training, operations productivity, metrology, terrestrial scanning, and building information modeling solutions. With proven track record spans four decades and includes more than 7,000 completed projects for 700-plus customers. in diverse industries such as automotive and transport, aerospace, defense, healthcare, high technology, architecture, engineering and construction.
The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist for Temporary Workers
Temporary workers must be integrated into the workplace as swiftly and efficiently as possible so that they can begin their assignments in a timely manner. PMC understands that every second is valuable because as we all know, time is money, which is why we’re sharing our Ultimate Onboarding Checklist for Temporary Workers. Human Resources professionals know that an onboarding routine should take between 45 to 60 minutes. This is dependent on several factors including the state that you live in, and the labor laws that apply to your state. This can only happen if you have the proper processes to follow and required documentation prepared ahead of time.
There are five important ‘C’s to onboarding any employee. These can be tweaked for your specific temporary workers based on your company policy and needs.
This part of your onboarding can be done online before your temp begins working. Since it is the paperwork part of the process, it can be quite time-consuming which is why it is best done beforehand. Be certain that all the necessary paperwork for new employees is completely filled out (including Forms W-4, W-2, I-9, and state withholding) well in advance of their first day of scheduled work. This package of documents can be sent to them electrically in the form of a hyperlink to each temporary employee. In some states, such as California, employees must also fill out other documents such as health insurance, workers comp, disability, sexual harassment, and more.
As an option to make it easier for payment to temporary employees, be sure to offer direct deposit payment. Forms are also dependent on the industry. Does your field of business require OSHA compliance? Check your state’s requirements to be on the safe side and compliant with state and federal laws. It is also important that intellectual property and non-disclosure agreements are signed at this time as well, before any work begins.
Does the temporary worker need a parking spot assigned? A security badge? Client assigned laptop and computer password? All of these things should be handled in the compliance part of the process. This is also the time to issue the company handbook to the temporary worker. Give them time to read and sign it. This also helps mitigate any potential lawsuits and keeps employee toxicity to a minimum.
The badge and passes should be waiting at the door when the temporary employee arrives at the building for their first day of work. If the client requires the temporary worker to have security clearance because of the sensitivity to intellectual property that the client possesses, (usually for federal government agencies) then this documentation should be furnished at the time of entry into the facility or in advance depending on the compliance policy of the company.
This is when the work process will be explained step-by-step. Someone should be at the front door or desk to greet the temporary employee as soon as they arrive. The time and exact place should be specified in the documents they received online. Where will they perform their job? Who will they report to? To whom will they inquire when they have questions? How are timesheets entered, submitted and approved? Cover breaks and pay, when and how. If these were not covered in the online information, they are important questions that a reporting manager should be able to answer when asked.
This is a good time to take the employee on a tour of the facility to point out where all the important areas of the organization are, like restrooms, break room, and copy machine. Also, introduce them to key staff members, those they will work directly with as well as those they will work in the near future. This is the beginning of integrating them into the company culture. Encourage them to ask questions and let them know they will be supported and who they can turn to for future questions.
If you really want your temps to blend in, be productive, and be happy, make sure they know where the water cooler and the coffee machine are. Studies have shown that employees who consume coffee are happier, more productive, and have better work experiences and memories at companies than those who do not. As an added bonus, be certain they know when and how long their lunch break is and the location of closest eateries with the best bang for the buck. Maybe even set them up with a team member for their first lunch experience. This will give them a connection – the next step of the integration process.
As your new temp is touring the facilities and learning their new tasks, meeting new employees, and learning about the company culture, it’s important that they feel connected – even though they will only be with you temporarily. Time passes quickly when you are happy. Whether your temporary employee is with you for a week, a month, or multiple years, you want them to feel content to be with you. You never know, you might need them again in the future. So do everything you can to forge a good connection with the new hire by connecting them with the company, other employees, and the culture of your company.
You can do this in the ways suggested above as well as by ensuring that their desk is clear and prepared for them to work. Some companies even go out of their way to provide a welcome package to temporary employees as a way of saying welcome to the team, even if for a short period of time. Invite them to bring in pictures of their family to personalize it. Or have a nameplate (with their name correctly spelled) already on it for them. You can post all the temps photos on the company intranet site with a brief paragraph about each to introduce them to everyone. Or simply post their picture near the water cooler or coffee pot with their name under it. Anything to help them connect and feel welcome with those around them.
It’s important to establish clear communications with the temp, whether it is with their mentor, their immediate supervisor or other employees around them. The more of a connection they have, the more they will feel part of the company as a whole. This will provide for better integration and communication within the company.
Depending on the type of temporary assignment and duration, some temps become permanent full-time employees after a specific period of time (usually in 12 months or longer). So it is always best to treat them as though that is a possible eventuality.
Make sure your temps are aware that they are welcome to ask questions at any time, that it is an ongoing process and that there will always be someone available to answer their questions. Be certain that in the clarification process, they were directed to a specific person who would always be available at any time to answer their questions.
Smooth and quick onboarding is an important part of integrating a temp into your company so that they are comfortable and work as a productive and valuable part of the team. With a little preparation and some good management, it’s as easy as five C’s. There’s no question, your employees will be content and so will your company.
Raid Al-Aomar, Edward J.Williams and Onur M. Ülgen.
Understanding The Role of Simulation Modeling
After understanding the concepts and aspects of the term “simulation modeling,” it is necessary to clarify the role that simulation plays in developing production and business systems. Initially, consider the use of simulation technically and economically and then present the spectrum of simulation modeling applications in manufacturing and service sectors.
“Why and when to simulate?” and “How can we justify a simulation project?” are key questions that often cross the mind of simulation practitioners, engineers, and decision-makers. We turn to simulation because of simulation’s capabilities that are unique and powerful in system representation and performance estimation under real-world conditions. Most real-world processes in production and business systems are complex, stochastic, and highly nonlinear and dynamic. Other modeling types such as graphical, mathematical, and physical models fall short in providing a cost-effective and usable system representation under such conditions.
“Decision support” is another common justification of simulation studies. Obviously, engineers and managers want to make the best decisions possible, especially when encountering critical stages of design, expansion, or improvement projects. Simulation studies may reveal insurmountable problems and save cost, effort, and time. They reduce the cost of wrong capital commitments, reduce investments risk, increase design efficiency, and improve the overall system performance.
Although simulation studies might be costly and time-consuming in some cases, the benefits and savings obtained from such studies often recover the simulation cost and avoid much larger costs. Simulation costs are typically the initial simulation software and computer cost, yearly maintenance and upgrade cost, training cost, engineering time cost, and other costs for traveling, preparing presentations with multimedia tools, and so on. Such costs are often recovered through the long-term savings from increasing productivity and efficiency.
A better answer to the question “why simulate?” can be reached by exploring the wide spectrum of simulation applications to various aspects of business, science, and technology. This spectrum starts by designing queuing systems and extends to designing communication networks, production systems, and business operations. Simulation models of manufacturing systems can be used for many objectives including:
Determining throughput capability of a manufacturing cell, an assembly line, or a production system.
Configuring labor resources in an intensive assembly process.
Determining the size and resources in a complex automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS).
Determining best ordering policies for an inventory control system.
Validating the outcomes of material requirement planning (MRP).
Determining buffer sizes for work-in-progress (WIP) in an assembly line.
For business operations, simulation models can be also used for a wide range of applications including:
Determining the number of bank tellers that results in reducing customers waiting time by a certain percentage.
Designing distribution and transportation networks to improve the performance of logistic and supply chains.
Analyzing the financial portfolio of a company over time.
Designing the operating policies in a fast food restaurant to reduce customer Time-In-System and increase customer satisfaction.
Evaluating hardware and software requirements for a computer network.
Scheduling the working pattern of the medical staff in an emergency room (ER) to reduce patients’ waiting time.
Testing the feasibility of different product development processes and evaluating their impact on the company’s budget and strategy.
Designing communication systems and data transfer protocols.
Designing traffic control systems.
Table 1.1 below shows a summary of ten examples of simulation applications in both manufacturing and service sectors.
To reach the goals of the simulation study, certain elements of each simulated system often become the focus of the simulation model. Modeling and tracking such elements provide attributes and statistics necessary to design, improve, and optimize the underlying system performance. Table 1.2 shows a summary of ten examples of simulated systems with examples of principal model elements.
Like any other engineering tool, simulation has limitations. Such limitations should be realized by practitioners and should not discourage analysts and decision-makers from using simulation. Knowing the limitations of simulation should emphasize using it wisely and should motivate the user to develop creative methods and establish the correct assumptions in order to benefit from the powerful simulation capabilities. Still, however, certain precautions should be considered to avoid the potential pitfalls of simulation studies. We should pay attention to the following issues when considering simulation:
The simulation analyst as well as the decision-maker should be able to answer the question “when not to simulate?” Simulation studies may not be used for solving problems of relative simplicity. Such problems can be solved using engineering analysis, common sense, or mathematical models.
The cost and time of simulation should be considered and planned well. Many simulation studies are underestimated in terms of time and cost. Some decision-makers think of simulation as model building although it consumes less time and cost when compared to data collection and output analysis.
The skill and knowledge of the simulation analyst need to be addressed. Essential skills for simulation practitioners include systems thinking, fluency in programming and simulation software, knowledge in statistics, strong communication and analytical skills, project management (PM) skills, ability to work in teams, and creativity in design and problem-solving.
Expectations from the simulation study should be realistic and not exaggerated. A lot of professionals think of simulation as a “crystal ball” through which they can predict and optimize system behavior. It should be clear that simulation models by themselves are not system optimizers. They are flexible experimental platforms that facilitate planning, what-if analysis, statistical analyses, experimental design, and optimization.
The time frame of the simulation project needs to be realistic and properly set. Insufficient time and resources at various project stages, improper work breakdown structure, and lack of project control are issues that result in project delays and low-quality deliverables. Typical PM skills are essential to execute the simulation project in an efficient manner.
The results obtained from simulation models are as good as the model data inputs, assumptions, and logical design. The commonly used phrase of “garbage-in-garbage-out (GIGO)” is very much applicable to simulation studies. Hence, special attention should be paid to data inputs selection, filtering, and simulation assumptions.
The analyst should pay attention to the level of detail incorporated into the model. Some study objectives can be reached with macro-level modeling while some others require micro-level modeling. The analyst should decide on the proper level of model detail and avoid details that are irrelevant to simulation objectives.
Model verification and validation is not a trivial task. As will be discussed later, model verification aims at making sure that the model behaves according to intended model logic. Model validation, on the other hand, focuses on making sure that the model behaves as the actual system. Both practices determine the degree of model reliability and usefulness.
The results of simulation can be easily misinterpreted. Hence, the analyst should concentrate the effort on collecting reliable results from the model through proper settings of run controls and by using the proper statistical analyses. Typical mistakes in interpreting simulation results include relying on short run time, including biases caused by model initial conditions in the results, using the results of only one simulation replication, and relying on the mean of the response while ignoring variability inherent in response.
The analyst should pay attention to communicating simulation inputs and outputs clearly and correctly to all parties of the simulation study. Also, the results of the simulation model should be communicated to get feedback from parties on relevancy and accuracy of the results.
The analyst should avoid using wrong measures of performance when building and analyzing the model results. Such measures should represent the kind of information required for the analyst and the decision-maker to draw conclusions and inferences on model behavior.
The analyst should also avoid the misuse of model animation. In fact, animation is an important simulation capability that provides engineers and decision-makers with a valuable tool of system visualization. Such capability is also useful for model debugging, verification, and validation. However, some may misuse model animation by relying solely on observing the model for short-term, which may not necessarily reflect its long-term behavior.
Finally, the analyst should select the appropriate simulation software tool that is capable of modeling the underlying system and providing the required simulation results. Criteria for selecting the proper simulation software tool typically include price, modeling capabilities, learning curve, animation, produced reports, input modeling, output analysis, and add-in modules. Simulation packages vary in their capabilities and inclusiveness of different modeling systems and techniques such MHS, human modeling, statistical tools, animation.
A manufacturing plant with machines, people, transport devices, conveyor belts, and storage place.
A bank or other personal-service operation, with different kinds of customers, servers, and facilities like teller windows, automated teller machines (ATMs), loan desks, and safety deposit boxes.
An IT organization with software products, developers (e.g., coders, testers, reviewers, etc), file servers, automated testing tools, software migrations and releases.
A distribution network of plants, warehouses, and transportation links.
An emergency facility in a hospital, including personnel, rooms, equipment, supplies, and patient transport.
A field service operation for appliances or office equipment, with potential customers scattered across a geographic area, service technicians with different qualifications, trucks with different parts and tools, and a central depot and dispatch center.
A computer network with servers, clients, disk drives, tape drives, printer, networking capabilities, and operators.
Freeway system or road segments, interchanges, controls, and traffic.
A central insurance claims office where a lot of paperwork is received, reviewed, copied, filed, and mailed by people and machines.
A chemical products plant with storage tanks, pipelines, reactor vessels, and railway tanker cars in which to ship the finished product.
A fast-food restaurant with workers of different types, customers, equipment, and supplies.
A supermarket with inventory control, checkout, and customer service.
A theme park with rides, stores, restaurants, workers, guests, and parking lots.
Pedestrian flow in malls, museums, buildings, stadiums, airports, plants, etc.
Military planes, rockets, etc. that can be operational at any one time under different scenarios, maintenance, material handling, and supply chain operations.
For owners/operators seeking the holy grail digital twin, you must first create the AIM. AIM is the acronym “Asset Information Model”. You might be asking, “Wasn’t the dream of BIM to be that?” Of course BIM, Building Information Modeling, does inherently hold information at any point in its lifecycle. Unfortunately, the source of asset data is often default values or something downloaded from the internet to save time. The challenge is to specify data input and reporting in a meaningful way for AEC without disrupting cost or schedule.
The PMC team has been empowering building stakeholders to advocate for themselves on two digital fronts. The first is managing their AEC supply chains to deliver the quality of 3D data to fit the needs of facilities management. The second empowerment is a path to convert all the other structures in the enterprise that are past the design and construction lifecycles. It’s notable that both of these types of transformation share a common foundation. That foundation is predictable data that is interoperable. Asset data at all stages of the building lifecycle have commonality. The ideal BIM requirements focus on what those common aspects are and also understand what enterprises have unique needs for operating a building. PMC has termed our process to define those requirements as Enterprise Facilities Integration (EFI). Once a guideline for integration is established, owners can begin to see a digital transformation that is interoperable and at a foundation for higher levels of multi-use values.
What is “good data” and why is it important to target how it will be used? Defining the end goals (target usage) is key to understanding the data specifications for asset information models (AIM) at a foundational level. Something to consider is that good data can add a variety of ROI and it doesn’t need to be BIM if you don’t plan on re-engineering.
3D Virtual Tours – Data Integration Example
As a complement to implementing Laser Scanning and Scan to BIM efforts, PMC recently started providing data integrated Matterport as a complement to high-end scanning and Revit modeling. These Matterport virtual tours can allow our clients to have “virtual” visibility of a site throughout the building lifecycle. The spatial data can be integrated with information and linked to other data. I see the same potential for the “Virtual Tour” level of technology in terms of integration. While not as accurate as a point cloud, it can be a useful tool for record information. In the example below the embedded data is serving space planning as you hover over a workstation. It could just as easily be integrated with links to booking software in an agile workspace or equipment data and maintenance information.
Record Revit model – Data Integration Example
The 3D model lifecycle can consider Facilities Management from its early inception. The example below is a project PMC is modeling with TMC Drafting Services for John Deere and has little existing data. One thing that was acquired from the terrestrial scanning was the ability to read the equipment tags/QR codes captured in the scan. These tags could have initially come from a mechanical engineer as a mark for the purpose of scheduling. However, the potential for interoperability in the life of the plant becomes possible because good data establishes relationships and database connectivity. What would it take for a large enterprise to establish one consistent piece of information (Primary key) for all forms of information on any given asset? I truly don’t know, but establishing a standard for BIM to PDF cut sheet names might make nailing a record model a whole lot easier.
Hold PMC to a standard when we commission your data. In fact, hold all your consultants to that same standard. We can help you develop that standard as we are with TMC/John Deere and other clients. My team is acutely aware of the whitewashing of the term digital twin. However, we know the proof is in the data and the potential for interoperability. Don’t even get me started on the perception of the “LOD” levels and how it equates to the usefulness of models in the hands of building owners. That is too often qualified by visual detail and the type of consultant or contractor turning over a model. “LOI” is what really matters for owners. “Level of Information” can be its highest value in the most basic LOD100 model or even the virtual tour example above. In fact for the owner and FM managers who don’t deploy the highest end workstations, having something light and data-rich would serve a higher value.
A great starting place to see where your current BIM data is at on an LOI scale is to open the MEP model and try to export just the equipment to COBIE. How clean does it look? What is COBie? That is a topic for another blog.