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Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(03):26-29. doi:10.1115/1.2006-MAR-1.
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This article discusses various aspects of open-source product development. The open-source business definition is the development of a product using components that are not restricted in their use by others. Open source is still novel in the world of mechanical engineering. In software, however, its influence has been quite pervasive, both at the corporate and individual levels. Influence of open source has begun to be felt in publishing, the sciences, and education. According to a professional mechanical engineer, an open-source low-emission car is another possible project. Samir Nayfeh, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, briefly investigated open source in the late 1990s, and expects that it would appeal to buyers in markets like machine tools, where customers do not like being locked into a vendor. The current market penetration of open source owes a great deal to individuals who would participate for their own reasons, sometimes for a moral idea, or for inclusion in a community of their professional peers, or to develop better skills.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(03):30-32. doi:10.1115/1.2006-MAR-2.
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This article discusses the importance of lean product development in the manufacturing industry. Lean manufacturing is a concept developed by Toyota more than 30 years ago. It was motivated by the desire to build better and more innovative products with lower costs. The result was the evolution of what is commonly known as the Toyota production system. This system increases efficiency and reduces waste in each area of the production process by eliminating unnecessary efforts and empowering all levels of the workforce. Lean product development is based on the theory of lean manufacturing. The processes focus on simplicity and effectiveness. Lean product development allows for communication between multi-departmental teams, simplifying and keeping the development process moving forward. Using lean product development to manage projects puts accountability on the project owners.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(03):33-35. doi:10.1115/1.2006-MAR-3.
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This article illustrates features of a state-of-the-art semiconductor factory called RFAB that Texas Instrument (TI) is building. When fully operational, the $3 billion fabrication plant will make TI's most advanced digital signal processors, destined for cell phones, disk drives, and anti-lock brakes. The white roof of the RFAB under construction in Richardson, Texas, reflects away some 85 percent of incoming sunlight, reducing cooling loads. Daylight reflected-off of window shelves in the administrative wing reduces the need for artificial lighting, while the Ergolights hanging from the ceiling are designed with sensors and will shut off automatically when no one is in the office. Due to technological advances in Asia over the past two decades, facilities in China, Korea, or Japan can turn out high-tech devices that are virtually indistinguishable from those made in the United States or Europe.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(03):36-39. doi:10.1115/1.2006-MAR-4.
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This article focuses on the difficulties enterprise resource planning (ERP) faces in bridging gaps between businesses and vendors. Enterprise resource management systems promise to simplify business planning, but gaps remain in moving information to and from the factory floor. ERP vendors are making it easier to get that information. Market leader SAP, for example, is collaborating with companies that make manufacturing software. Management execution systems manage automated equipment, and moderate the flow of information to and from enterprise systems. Vendors have also rethought how ERP delivers value. Instead of emphasizing control, they talk increasingly must do it despite ongoing changes in models, specifications, and configurations. Data grow stale and corrupt over time, according to a consultant. Experts suggest that when operational personnel take as much responsibility for manufacturing data as they do for their pay checks, they will be able to count on their ERP systems to tell the truth.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(03):40-42. doi:10.1115/1.2006-MAR-5.
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This article describes different research efforts made to control carbon emissions and better fuel usage. Higher energy prices and changes to the regulatory environment have also renewed looks at other fuel sources. Numerous studies have shown the potential to capture carbon dioxide during the coal gasification process, leaving pure hydrogen as a clean fuel. The hydrogen can be used in gas turbines, or supplied to other industrial processes, Alternatively, syngas, without hydrogen separation, can be burned in an oxy-fuel cycle. Several market driven and regulatory forces are motivating a growing diversity in fuel choices and combustion technology. The key challenge for the engineering community is to combust these fuels as has been done over the last few decades, but with minimal pollutant levels. Increased understanding of the complexities and intricacies of combustion is enabling these challenges to be met, but a variety of interesting and exciting opportunities remain for continued research and development.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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