Information for this post was taken from a blog by HANNAH BLEAU

31 Mar 2020.

Just about every country in the world is in a tough place right now.   The chart below will give you some idea as to where we are relative to the number of deaths by country. This is as of 31 March 2020.

Not a pretty picture at all.

When it comes to the arrival of the coronavirus, not all states are facing the same timeline. Some states, like New York and Louisiana, have quickly become epicenters of the virus in the United States and, as a result, will reach a resource-peak-weeks sooner than states like Kentucky and Missouri, which are not expected to reach their highest demand until the second week of May. The various projections, based on peak hospital resource demand caused by the virus, could explain why some governors are taking more aggressive, imminent actions in their response to the pandemic.  Information is fed into projection models to estimate specific time lines.  Please keep in mind, these projections can certainly change depending upon the number of people in each being tested.  Right now, more test kits are becoming available but we are far from completing all of the tests necessary when an individual feels he or she has symptoms.

We have a neighbor two doors down whose son had symptoms, spent two weeks and four hospital visits before being tested and an additional three weeks before he was determined to have negative results.  It’s better, as a matter of fact, it gets better every week but we are far from testing those needing to find out.  At this time, there are test kits available to medical practitioners that can give results within two or three hours.

PROJECTIONS BY STATE:

Here are the projected peaks for all 50 states, plus D.C., per the IHME model. The model takes into consideration the number of beds needed, as well as ventilators.

New York, for example, is expected to hit its resource peak April 9. The current model, at the time of this publication, estimates a bed shortage of 60,610 and 9,055 ventilators needed. A state like Kentucky, however, is not expected to reach its peak until May 12. It shows the state having a surplus of beds and 288 ventilators needed.

The model you will see below shows April 14 as the peak for the United States as a whole. However, it notes that the projections are contingent on the continuation of “strong social distancing measures and other protective measures.”  In other words, stay inside or at least maintain a six foot (6’) separation between yourself and someone else.  Wash your hands. Shower at least once per day.  Contrary to what you hear, when you feel you have to go out, i.e. grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, etc wear a protective mask. Wash your clothes after wearing and wear only one “outfit” per day then wash. 

President Trump officially extended the “Slow the Spread” coronavirus guidelines to April 30 during a press conference over the weekend.  PLEASE NOTE:  THIS MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TIME.

Here is the resource peak for each state. Resource details can be found here:

CONCLUSION:  Here is the tragedy:   The Total COVID-19 deaths projected to August 4, 2020 in United States of America is 83,967.  Yogie was correct:  “It ain’t over till it’s over.  PLEASE STAY HEALTHY.  Do what you have to do to stay healthy.


For the past several years I have been a mentor for a young man from Nashville, Tennessee. I signed up for this task through the organization “We Teach Science”.  It’s an excellent service provided by that group of teaching professionals.  Well, my mentee decided to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as an entering freshman this year.  He is studying Civil Engineering.  Due to the COVID-19 virus, the entire UT system has decided that all students will work online for the remainder of the year.  Graduation will be held online and not in person.  I have no idea as to how this will work but there will be an attempt.

When I called this past Monday to talk to my mentee, I was told that he is packing up; leaving his dorm room and heading back to Nashville to work online.  I had no idea the boarding students would be required to leave campus but it is perfectly logical since students do congregate, work together and socialize everyday-all day.  The advent of the digital age allows everyone to do that with great ease.  You have to have equipment and software but all colleges and universities have that established.   The days of standing in endless lines signing up for your courses is long over.  It’s all done online now. 

The following article is from the USA Today web site.  I’m quoting this in its entirety.

“In the span of roughly two weeks, the American higher education system has transformed. Its future is increasingly uncertain. 

Most classes are now being held online, often for the rest of the semester. Dorms are emptying across the country. Some universities are even postponing or canceling graduation ceremonies scheduled months out. This is all the more surprising given most universities have a reputation for being reticent to change, especially in a short amount of time.

The coronavirus has changed all that. As of Thursday evening, the number of U.S. cases stood at more than 14,200, with 205 deaths

Colleges have tried to react quickly to enact measures that would help to stop the virus’ spread. On America’s campuses, professors and students, many of them international, work in close proximity for long periods of time. Dorm rooms are often shared between multiple individuals, making social distancing next to impossible.

All of those changes could threaten colleges’ existence. Parents and students are demanding refunds for shortened semesters in the dorm. The value and quality of an elite college education is under scrutiny as universities pivot to makeshift online classes.  And its unclear how students will view colleges once the crisis is over and they’re welcomed back on campuses. “

About 2,642,158 students – twelve and one-half (12.5%) percent of all college students – took online courses exclusively, and the other thirteen-point three (13.3%) percent of students combines online studies with traditional courses.  These statistics show that online studies are definitely gaining in popularity.  In other words, they are here to stay. 

If you want to see just what is available and what learning institutions offer online courses, go to the web site “Comprehensive List of All Accredited Online Schools”.  I was amazed at the number of schools providing this great service.  Basically, if a university doesn’t do it now, they will miss out completely in future months and years.  CORVID-19 is accelerating that occurrence greatly.

Now, most of the schools and universities are fully accredited institutions that have been around years and years.  They are not the “Johnny-come-lately” types that take your money and provide a diploma for just signing up.  The course work is real.  Let’s take a look at several.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has spent millions of dollars over the past ten (10) years to attract students and compete with other universities.  New library, new dorm room building, new student center, new medical facilities, new athletic facility, etc.  My mentee’s dorm room looks like something you would find in a Hilton Hotel.  He has three dorm mates, all with their own rooms.  A kitchen. A common area. His own bathroom.  Back in the dark ages when I went to school, I had a room mate and common bath facilities down the hall.  Life has changed and probably for the better.  At any rate, the common thread for administrators has been the necessity of providing all of the facilities and even amenities a student needs or feels he or she needs.

There are some courses that cannot be taught online.  All courses that require labs.  Students in pre-med or medical schools where the subject matter must be or should be presented by an instructor.  I have questions about the accessibility of instructors from a question and answer standpoint.  In-class instruction gives you immediate access whereas online not always does.  In the future, and as time go by, these questions and difficulties will be worked out.

CONCLUSIONS:  COVID-19 is only accelerating the online trend.  I do suspect the future will allow most students to take online courses which will somewhat obsolete certain facilities now available to students.  This should bring down the cost of education and hopefully lessen the huge student loan situation that now exists.  Over a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) in student loans are now outstanding.  At some point, that bubble with burst.

CLOSING SHOP

March 11, 2020


Years ago, and I do mean years ago, I would watch my grandfather take the evening paper and a cup of coffee to the front porch, sit down in a rocker and read the entire newspaper, cover to cover. He did this before dinner; year after year without fail.  He was one of the best-informed men I have ever known.  A veteran of WWI, he realized that an informed citizen was critical to any democracy.

If we flash forward fifty years, we realize that one consequence, intended or unintended, of the digital age, is the demise of many newspapers and news magazines.  The digital age is marvelous transferring information but at a great cost, at least in my opinion.

The web site “24/7 Wall Street” tells us that over two thousand (2000) newspapers have closed in the past fifteen (15) years.  The newspaper industry has continued its relentless downward spiral, which started with the advent of the internet and accelerated during the Great Recession. The pace of the decline has not slowed. New research shows that over 2,000 newspapers have closed since 2004, a staggering figure given that the industry was once among the largest employers in America. According to Penny Abernathy, the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism, is widely considered the preeminent authority on the number of newspapers in the United States. That is not an easy task, since the number is in the thousands, and some are so small that their fates are hard to track. She is the author of “The Expanding News Deserts,” a term coined to describe areas where there is almost no local news coverage.

Abernathy told 24/7 Wall St. that, “It appears at this stage that we’ve lost approximately two thousand one hundred (2,100) papers, all but seventy (70) of which are weeklies, since 2004.” The industry implosion has left almost half of the counties in America (1,449) with only one newspaper, which is usually a weekly. As of the most recent count, one hundred and seventy-one (171) counties do not have a paper at all.

The number of papers in America is currently about seven thousand (7,000), but as revenue at most of them declines, that number is bound to shrink further. Some newspapers already are close to shuttering. Publishers, both individual owners and chains, have resorted to the equivalent of life support. A recent example is that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which was started two hundred and thirty-three (233) years ago, will cut the number of days it is printed from five to three. Two years ago, the paper appeared seven times a week. Management says that it plans to phase out the print edition completely. While the paper may survive online, the “downsizing” will cost dozens of jobs. A drop in the numbers of days a paper appears is part of the industry’s playbook to cut expenses.

Almost all of the other daily newspapers in America have similar problems. Print advertising has been eroding for nearly two decades. Classified advertising, in particular, has moved almost entirely online. Digital advertising growth at most newspapers has slowed. The digital advertising business, in general, is difficult because of the large market share held by Google and Facebook.

Papers also have difficulty convincing readers to pay for digital subscriptions. This is for two reasons. The first is that most newspapers have cut so many editorial employees that they cannot create compelling content. The other is that there is a massive amount of news, entertainment and sports material available online for free.  We all can thank the digital age for this one.  The digital map below will give you an indication as to the number of closings:

The tan dots show weekly newspapers and the blue dots show the daily newspapers. It becomes more evident when we look at the map. 

A recent survey indicates that most Americans get their news from social media.  OK, this is going to really get to you.  The Pew Research Center report found sixty-eight (68%) percent of people polled said they used social networks for news, with twenty (20%) percent saying they got information “often” from those services including Facebook and Twitter.  I consider Facebook and Twitter to be two of the least reliable sources on the planet for “hard and factual” news. That’s my opinion.

The percentages were largely unchanged from a year ago despite heightened scrutiny over misinformation and manipulation of online platforms, including by foreign actors.  More than half of those surveyed—fifty-seven (57%) percent—said they expect the news they see on social media to be “largely inaccurate,” according to Pew. Why continue to read it then?   Still, most respondents said getting news this way has made little difference in their understanding of current events—thirty-six (36%) percent said it helped their understanding of current events while fifteen (15%) percent said it made them “more confused.”

The survey comes with social networks under intense scrutiny as they become more important “gatekeepers” of news, with President Donald Trump and his allies recently accusing tech firms of political bias.  In the Pew survey, only eleven (11%) percent of respondents said news on social media was “too biased” while ten (10%) percent said the information was “low quality.”

Concerns about accuracy were more prevalent among Republicans, with seventy-two (72%) percent expressing this concern, compared with forty-six (46%) percent of Democrats and fifty-two (52%) percent of independents.

An estimated sixty-seven (67%) percent of Facebook’s users get news there, as do seventy-one (71%) percent of Twitter users and seventy-three (73%) percent of Reddit users. But because Facebook’s overall user base is much larger, far more Americans overall get news on Facebook than on other sites.

Smaller percentages get news from other online platforms such as YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and WhatsApp, according to the report.  Pew surveyed 4,581 US adults between July 30 and August 12, with an estimated margin of error for the full sample of 2.5 percentage points.

CONCLUSION:  BRING BACK THE PAPERS.  DUMP FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, ETC ETC.  Let’s go back to believable.


The magazine “Foundry Management & Technology” is used as a source for this post.

If you follow the literature at all, you know that robotic systems have gained significant usage in manufacturing methodologies.  Now, when I say robotic systems, I mean a system of the type shown below.

This is a “pick-and-place “or SCARA (Selective Compliance Articulated Robotic Arm) type system.  We are definitely not talking about the one shown below.

Human robotic systems are well into the future.  We are talking about robotic systems used strictly in manufacturing work cells. 

From experience, the cost of deploying a robotic system can go well beyond the price tag of the robot itself.  You have direct installation costs, cost for electrical and pneumatic inputs, cost for tooling, jigs, fixtures, grippers, welding rigs, costs for engineering and robotic maintenance, insurance, etc.  All of these costs MUST be factored in to discover, or at least estimate, the overall cost of operating a system. 

A report by the Boston Consulting Group suggests that in order to arrive at a solid cost-estimate for robotic systems, customers should multiply the machine’s cost by a minimum of three.  In other words, let us say that a six-axis robot costs $65,000.00, customers should therefore budget $195,000.00 for the entire investment. This is a great “rule-of-thumb” which should represent a starting point. Due to the varying nature of manufacturing facilities, estimated costs fluctuate dramatically according to the specific industrial sector and size of the operation.  Please keep in mind that these costs are not always linear in nature and may vary during machinery lifecycle. 

Let’s look at an example. A manufacturer plans to use two SCARA robots to automate a pick-and-place process.  The robots will operate three shifts daily, six days per week, forty-eight (48) weeks per year.  Equivalent labor would require two operators per shift, equating to six (6) operators generating the same throughput over the same period of time.  Now, using the lowest average salary of a U.S. production employee, we would have to pay approximately $25,000.00 per employee per year or approximately $150,000.00 per year.  When employing robotic systems, human labor is not completely eliminated. A good rule-of-thumb for labor estimation alongside a robotic system is twenty-five percent (25%) of existing labor costs.  This would reduce the human labor to $37,500.00 per year—a great savings producing an acceptable ROI. This estimating method does NOT account for down time of equipment for maintenance and/or parts replacement.  That must be factored into the mix as well.  There will also be some expense for training personnel to monitor and use the equipment.  This involves training to set up the systems and initiate the manufacturing process. 

Robotic systems are predictable.  They can eliminate human error.  They do not take lunch breaks and if maintained properly can provide years of usable production. The payback is there and if a suitable vendor is chosen, a great marriage will occur.  Vendor support when operating a robotic system is an absolute must—a must.

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