STIMS Institute offers industry focused education for fourth year in a row.

Education, Process Innovation and End to End Innovation are the focus areas of STIMS Institute. Each of these three focus areas are interconnected. education that is merely academic is less valuable today in the world where more than 80% of what is needed can be obtained through Google. Today education has to be holistic (i.e.) system oriented. That implies scientific fundamentals together with an emphasis on application of the science and the strategic reasoning required to make such education relevant and useful in the real world. Such Education was offered for the fourth year in a row . This leads to over 100 senior engineers, managers and teachers trained to meet the high end professional needs in the manufacturing sector.

This year the course was offered under the GIAN (Global Initiative for Academic Network) program at IIT – Madras, India.


Course Outline:

  • Why should we grind?
    • Critical and enduring role of physical processes like grinding in manufacturing and especially in Precision Components Manufacturing
    • Examples of grinding processes used in a wide variety of:
      • Work materials, machines, components and applications
      • Role of grinding processes in traditional applications as well as emerging needs like high efficiency IC engines, computer parts, LED, PV and wind energy components manufacturing.
  • The System Approach to Grinding Processes:
    • Every process is an Input / Transformation / Output system
    • “Transformation” represents the Science of the Process
    • System Approach requires integration of Science, Engineering and Strategy
  • Grinding Processes are Input /Transformation / Output systems for surface generation to meet critical functional needs and process economics.
  • The Science of grinding: The microscopic interactions that occur at the grinding zone and their quantification
  • Inputs to the grinding process and how they impact the microscopic interactions:
    • Work Materials and components
    • Abrasive and dressing tools, coolants and other consumables
    • Machine Tools (key element of investment and process design)
    • Process parameters (that are selected as part of process design and can be changed at the shop floor )
  • Measurement and Analysis of grinding processes
  • Hands on laboratory exercises
  • Tutorials and analytical and data driven problem solving
  • Technical Outputs – What are the requirements to be met when using grinding processes
  • System Outputs – the Why? strategic and economic considerations pertaining to grinding processes
  • Application of the System Approach – Case Studies
    • Truing & Dressing of CBN grinding wheels
    • Optimal use of CBN grinding solutions
    • Simple Solid Shape (S^3) grinding – High MRR low WIP, short lead time and flexible processes
    • Processes for micro – chip, magnetic head and LED substrate fabrication.
    • Machining to Grinding Processes
    • Data driven process solutions.
    • Optimization in the development og new machine tools for grinding process solutions.
  • Guest Lectures from Industry and academic leaders on the need and role of System Approach for manufacturing processes.



This course was a team effort in collaboration with Prof. Ramesh Babu, IIT – M, Mr. Sudheendra – a research student for his Ph.D program and Mr. Anant Jain – R&D manager, Micromatic Grinding Technologies, a well recognized Precision Grinding Machine manufacturer.


Bringing the science to shopfloor manufacturing


Traditionally grinding process is treated as something very complex and known only to a few with many years of experience and with specialised skills in the shop floor. A portable diagnostic tool and interpreting the process signal is changing the situation and helping to reduce such challenges faced in grinding.

It is like using a torch light in a dark ally. Once the light of the signal shines, we can see the path more clearly and easily,” states Dr Subramanian.

Further analysis of the signals and explaining the variations in terms of the microscopic interactions that occur in the grinding zone, brings the science of grinding to the shop floor,” according to Dr K (Subbu) Subramanian, President, STIMS Institute Inc, USA. He has been mentoring this work at IIT Madras and its subsequent transfer for industrial use. This work at IIT Madras has been carried out as part of a larger project, “Development of Next Generation High Precision Grinding Machine Tool,” funded by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. Prof Ramesh Babu is the principal investigator of this project along with his students at IIT Madras. MGTL, an industrial partner in this project is commercializing this mobile diagnostic tool as Grind TrakTM.

In a recent example, a grinding process was the bottleneck operation, limiting the production of the entire line. By looking at the signals obtained and analyzing them, it was determined that the cycle time for this operation can be reduced resulting in a net increase in line throughput of 40%, without the need for any additional investments.

Next generation of manufacturing will require smart and well qualified people using portable diagnostic tools and techniques very much like the medical field. In this regard, the Grind TrakTM will serve as the stethoscope and thermometer for this new generation of grinding professionals”, asserts Dr Subramanian.

42 Technology Grinding Machines EM FEB 2016



Are you a good plumber? Then you may be OK as a professional!

Recently, I had a leak in the hot water tank in our house. Fortunately the hot water tank in my house is located on the basement floor. So, the damage was only modest. As one would in a situation like this I called the plumber. The company I contract with is a one man operation. he was away on vacation. But, he had arranged one of his fellow plumbers – another one man operation – to follow up on the calls. The back up plumber came to my house, checked my hot water tank, followed up with my primary contact, got all the paper work, figured out that the tank can be replaced on warranty. He had used the camera in his phone – mobile diagnostic tool – to take pictures and document the details to communicate with the manufacturer. When he informed me of all this it was time for me to travel. He said  not to worry. He offered me a suggestion to turn off the water, while I was away and scheduled the hot water tank replacement work, as soon as I returned. No sooner had I returned the plumber was at my home with the replacement tank, which he had arranged to secure while I was on travel.  He did all the work a plumber does – drain the system, disconnect pipes, connect where needed, solder the and seal the joints as needed, refill and test the system. He could have left right away after that. Instead he asked me to put the system to full duty cycle for nearly thirty minutes. Much to his surprise one of the solder joints, which he had not touched started leaking! As you might know a leaking solder joint can not be fixed with out starting all over again, draining the water in the system. The plumber went through the steps diligently and ensured that I had a fully functioning system – a system that met all my requirements as a user.

You might think that is what the plumber is supposed to do. But the plumber is also rated and the rating is uploaded on to a on-line data base like the Angie’s list. Only those with good ratings get calls from the tech savvy social media dominated population.

What does this have to do with you as a professional? How often do you take on an assignment where the problem is clear, well defined and the user needs clarified up front? Do you then systematically and methodically follow up on all aspects of your work and rely on all your core capabilities: your knowledge, information work and physical labor? Do you check and re-check your work so that the person who relies on your work – like the home owner reliant on the plumber – is fully satisfied with your solution. Do you operate as a single owner company whose livelihood and success are entirely of his own making? Do you have people as back ups in your work that you can rely on, when you have to be away? Do you subject yourself for constant scrutiny and review so that you have a constant pulse on user satisfaction of your work? If you do all of these you will be a successful professional, no matter where you work – may be it is a small start up, a medium sized company or a large enterprise.

We call these collection of skills as Transformational Skills. For more details Contact us.

Where is the real “Skill gap” ?

In his recent opinion page, Mr. Paul Krugman writes the following in the NYT:  Most people would surely agree that stagnant wages, and more broadly the shrinking number of jobs that can support middle-class status, are big problems for this country. But the general attitude to the decline in good jobs is fatalistic. Isn’t it just supply and demand? Haven’t labor-saving technology and global competition made it impossible to pay decent wages to workers unless they have a lot of education? ….  And the evidence that technology is pushing down wages is a lot less clear than all the harrumphing about a “skills gap” might suggest.

In the above referenced citation on “Technology”,  Mr. Mike Kanczal writes: When we think of the economic malaise of the past 30 years, we should probably think of it as a combination of technology, globalization, sociology, and public policy.

In all of the discussion, the word “Technology” is used with out a clear common understanding. If you are a Mechanical Engineer, your knowledge in applied mechanics, materials science and physics are not counted as “technology” in the above discussion by these eminent scholars. Same goes for Electrical Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Civil Engineers, Chemists and Biologists and their knowledge or know-how. Even a Robotics expert and his/her knowledge of mechanical design, path planning and fixturing are not counted in the above “technology” reference.

Instead, what is counted as “Technology” is the automation in the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of information of any kind and in any place and for any reason. This is the automation of human centered capability in any and all aspects of our life. Instead of calling this as “Technology” we should call it as “Information work”. People, described as labor can be engaged in four sets of work:

  1. Finance – make money off money
  2. Professional Work – create and deliver a stream of new solutions each and every day (like a carpenter who makes and sells furniture, a plumber who fixes the leaking pipe and get paid for it, a cardiologist who fixes broken hearts (literally), etc.)
  3. Information Work
  4. Physical Work

The “Skill gap” mentioned above – which is seen as the major impediment against good paying jobs truly involve the following:

  • Recognizing that the work has indeed stratified into these four impermeable layers and only one of the four is available as a source of good wages (unless you are born with a silver spoon)
  • Recognizing that the Physical work and Information Work – which employed a large majority of the labor force with or with out higher education – will both be automated and what is left will only lead to low paying – “service” – jobs. Number of these jobs may grow, but their wages will hover around the minimum wage.
  • Only a narrow window of “Professional” work exists where there will be decent wages and opportunities to nudge into the middle class.
  • Finance – making money off the money – work is for a select few and these are the affluent 1%. If you can make it there great. Or if you are lucky to be born with a silver spoon, then you can count your blessings!
  • But, the better bet for the large cross section of the people may be to acquire skills that deliberately place them in the “Professional Work” category.
  • Such professional skills are not merely higher “Academic” education or Industry specific trade skills.
  • Instead the true skill gap is the blend of Academic, industrial specific skills together with System Thinking and Transformational Skills.

For details Contact us.

STEM Professionals: Here is some music to your ears?

Irrespective of the political spectrum one belongs to, the recent announcement of global energy policies  by USA, China, Russia and other countries, must be the music for the ears of all STEM Professionals.

The recent announcement from the White House on the new energy policy is noted as follows: Obama’s Strategy on Climate Change, Part of Global Deal, Is Revealed

The White House on Tuesday introduced President Obama’s blueprint for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by nearly a third over the next decade…. Mr. Obama’s new blueprint brings together several domestic initiatives that were already in the works, including freezing construction of new coal-fired power plants, increasing the fuel economy of vehicles and plugging methane leaks from oil and gas production. It is meant to describe how the United States will lead by example and meet its pledge for cutting emissions.

There are four key areas of focus described in this policy:

  • Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies
  • Make solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.
  • Energy efficiency in our vehicles and homes
  • Developing Clean Fuels

Each is an ambitious goal in itself. For example: New Clean energy standards for cars require automakers to raise the average fuel efficiency of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Irrespective of the political spectrum one belongs to, the above must be the music for the ears of all STEM Professionals. Over the past three decades with a relentless emphasis on cost cutting, standardization, automation and off shoring and out sourcing, there has been little if any emphasis on development of NEW SOLUTIONS that exploit the physical phenomena of nature. Of course exceptions to this generalization do exist particularly in the areas of IT, biology, genetics, etc. But, there are plenty of Mechanical and Electrical engineers, Physicists and Chemists and many other professionals in the STEM professional community, than there are computer scientists, biologists and geneticists. These professionals cannot be gainfully engaged unless there are big challenges posed in front of them. Government funded projects always follow the mission set by National policies. Recall the spurt in space technology after the call by the President Kennedy to “land on the moon”? Private sector, despite their professed desire for risk taking, will always place their bets on “safe” opportunities for cost reduction – milking the same old cow – rather than push new pastures and there are plenty of old cows to milk for decades to come. This leaves all the STEM professionals waiting in the wing for their opportunities, while they see steady erosion in their standard of living. Chances are, the new policies and the mandates on the industry will also spur more demand to find better ways to burn coal, make solar energy more competitive, make the homes more energy efficient, and cars that can indeed generate 50+ MPG on an average. All of these will require serious and sustained new solutions developed and perfected by STEM professionals.

Of course there is also an onus on the STEM professionals as well. They cannot simply wait in line and be told what they should do every step of the way. These are the traditional task oriented technical professionals. Instead, they need to become system thinkers and solution providers with a constant emphasis to Discover, Develop, Deploy and Exploit a stream of new solutions. We call on all STEM professionals at every level – from technicians to engineers to managers to senior managers – for this End to End Innovation. Contact us.