Sandanayake, Yasangika Gayani (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
In this era of globalisation and fierce competition amongst businesses, there is a need to improve advanced operations management philosophies such as just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to enhance business performance. Literature review shows that there is no mechanism so far to identify key JIT drivers relevant to a given organisation and its production processes, and their impact on enterprise performance. The research carried out here therefore involved the development of a generic performance measurement model to identify and capture the influence of JIT practices on enterprise performance. A conceptual performance measurement model, which was designed based on comprehensive literature review and informal interviews/discussions with both academic researchers and industry practitioners describes the link between JIT drivers (Xi) and measurable performance (Y). This mathematically determined model is aimed at assisting managers in the systematic identification of the influence of key JIT drivers on enterprise performance using a multidimensional tool such as the extended balanced scorecard. The case study approach was selected as the most suitable methodology for testing and validating the conceptual model in JIT enabled production plant and was applied to the production process of Denso Manufacturing (UK) Ltd., a global automotive component manufacturer. A novel eight-step implementation procedure was designed to collect data, which were analysed and validated by design of experiments, linear mathematical modelling, computer based dynamic simulation and analytic hierarchy process tool. The performance measurement model was then successfully applied to a non-automotive component production plant (Risane Ltd.). In conclusion, the performance measurement model can now be suitably applied to JIT enabled manufacturing environments using relevant organisation specific JIT drivers and key performance indicators to optimise system performance. The contribution to knowledge is an innovative, user friendly, robust and multidimensional performance measurement model enabling industry practitioners to optimise JIT processes with substantial performance enhancement. The model could also be applied by future researchers to other operations management philosophies and industries, and at a higher level could be developed into a self-optimising software package, which will enable rapid determination of the key control parameters needed to optimise process performance just in time.
Jones, Spencer (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
This thesis examines the influence of the Boer War 1899 – 1902 upon tactics and training in the regular British Army 1902 – 1914. The work argues that several key lessons drawn from South Africa became the tactical cornerstones for infantry, artillery and cavalry throughout the pre-First World War period and shaped the performance of the B.E.F. during the early battles of 1914. The experience of combat against well armed opposition in the Boer War prompted the British Army to develop improved tactics in each of the three major service arms. For example, infantry placed new emphasis on dispersion and marksmanship; cavalry improved their dismounted work and reconnaissance skills; and artillery adopted methods of concealment and strove to improve accuracy and co-ordination. Across the army as a whole, the experience of combat lead to an overall downgrading of the importance of drill and obedience, replacing it instead with tactical skill and individual initiative. In addition, the thesis also examines the impact of the Boer War upon overall British Army doctrine and ethos. The process of reform prior to the First World War was marked by wide ranging debates upon the value of the South African experience, and not all lessons drawn from the conflict endured, with tactical restructuring being further complicated by changes of government and financial restrictions. Nevertheless, key lessons such as dispersion, marksmanship, concealment and firepower were ultimately retained and proved to be of great value during initial clashes against the Germans in 1914. Additionally, the Boer War caused the British to place new emphasis upon overall training of the individual, allowing advanced tactical skills to be inculcated more easily than had been possible in earlier years. However, the short duration of the conventional period of the Boer War meant that there was less opportunity to derive operational lessons for future employment. Furthermore, the colonial policing role of the British Army and the likelihood of small scale deployments meant that developing an operational doctrine was of less immediate value than ensuring flexibility and tactical skill. This meant that the British Army took a somewhat skewed developmental path in the 1902 – 1914. The process of reform ultimately produced a highly adaptable force that was tactically skilled, but which was ill-prepared for the operational complications posed by large scale deployment. While the Boer War was the principal factor in driving reform during the 1902 – 1914 period, there were additional influences at work, including examples from the Russo-Japanese War 1904 – 1905 and various ideas drawn from the armies of the continent. However, this thesis argues that while these outside influences contributed to ongoing debate, they did not offer any particular fresh ideas and were therefore of less importance than the Boer War in shaping British Army development.
Stavropoulos-Kalinoglou, Antonios (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
Background: Inflammation is the natural reaction of the body to an antigen. In some conditions, this reaction continues even after the elimination of the antigen, entering a chronic stage; it targets normal cells of the body and causes extensive damage. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is such a condition. It associates with significant metabolic alterations that lead to changes in body composition and especially body fat (BF) increases. In the general population, increased body fat (i.e. obesity) associates with a number of health disorders such as systemic low grade inflammation and a significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Both effects of obesity could have detrimental effects in RA. Increased inflammation could worsen disease activity while obesity could further increase the already high CVD risk in RA. However, obesity in RA has attracted minimal scientific attention. Aims: The present project aimed to: 1) assess whether the existing measures of adiposity are able to identify the changes in body composition of RA patients, 2) if necessary develop RA-specific measures of adiposity, 3) investigate the association of obesity with disease characteristics and CVD profile of the patients, 4) and identify factors that might affect body weight and composition in these patients. Methods: A total of 1167 volunteers were assessed. Of them 43 suffered from osteoarthritis and 82 were healthy controls. These, together with 516 RA patients were used in the first study. Their body mass index (BMI), BF, and disease characteristics were assessed. In the second, third, fourth and fifth studies a separate set of 400 RA patients was assessed. In addition to the above assessments, their cardiovascular profile and more detailed disease characteristics were obtained. For the final study, 126 RA patients were assessed for all the above and also data on their physical activity levels and their diet were collected. Results: Assessments of adiposity for the general population are not valid for RA patients. Thus, we proposed RA-specific measures of adiposity. These are able to better identify RA patients with increased BF. We were also able to find associations between obesity and disease activity. Both underweight and obese RA patients had more active disease compared to normal-weight patients. Obese patients had significantly worse CVD profile compared to normal-weight. The newly devised measures of adiposity were able to identify those at increased risk. However, not all obese individuals were unhealthy and not all normal-weight healthy. Among our patients we were able to identify subtypes of obesity with distinct phenotypic characteristics that warrant special attention. Finally, we were able to identify factors that influence body weight and composition. Cigarette smoking protected against obesity while its cessation associated with increased adiposity. Physical activity was also found to be protective against obesity while diet or inflammation of the disease failed to produce any significant results. Conclusions: Obesity is a significant threat to the health of RA patients. The measures of adiposity developed herein should be used to identify obese RA patients. Physical activity seems like the sole mode for effective weight management in this population. Health and exercise professionals should actively encourage their patients to exercise as much as they can. This study has created more questions than it answered; further research in the association of obesity and inflammation, as well as in ways to treat it, is essential.
Khan, Muhammad Enam (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
The study investigates the deposition of a multilayer coating onto two aluminium alloys: Al 1050 and Al 6061. Of particular interest has been the treatment of the surface of both these samples for deposition of metallic coatings through a zincate based immersion process. The zinc immersion layer chemically displaces the oxide film on Al 1050 and Al 6061 and then zinc is deposited followed by nickel and chromium electrodeposition. Superior adhesion was associated with uniform, thin and fine grained deposits from Bondal solution which exhibited rapid and complete coverage of both aluminium samples. The metallurgical characteristics of the aluminium alloys and the processing sequence developed had a significant influence on the growth and morphology of the deposits from the Bondal solution and affected subsequent adhesion of electroplated nickel and chromium. This engendered the treated surface with sufficient catalytic nature to be able to receive a subsequent electroless nickel layer together with finishing layers of electrolytic nickel and chromium respectively. Due to the favourable physical properties of aluminium and its alloys (density, strength to weight ratio), there is a growing demand for nickel/chromium coated aluminium components for automotive and other applications. The most common method currently is to directly electroplate nickel onto the aluminium substrate. However, this can lead to problems with components having complex geometry in that chemical attack on the pretreated aluminium can occur in low current density areas before the substrate can be completely covered with nickel due to the acidic nature and high temperature of the nickel electroplating process. One way of preventing this current density related problem is to use an electroless nickel undercoat before the nickel/chromium deposit is applied. The mechanism by which this occurs is not fully understood and it is an objective of the current research to investigate the mechanism of nucleation of the electroless nickel layer on zincated aluminium. Results of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy showed that the zincated layer was dissolved in the electroless nickel bath but zinc was detected below 10 nm from the top surface of the homogenous nickel phosphorus film, while aluminium and alloying elements from both alloys have diffused into the film. Hexavalent chromium electroplating from chromic acid is under pressure due to its health hazard and environmental problems and is subjected to increasingly stringent control and legislation. Health and safety considerations have prompted the electroplating industry to consider alternatives to coating processes that involve hexavalent chromium. It is a further objective of the research to compare the properties of nickel/chromium coated aluminium with top coats of chromium deposited from hexavalent and trivalent (chloride based) electrolytes. Duplex nickel and chromium electrodeposition were modified with an electroless nickel undercoat, thus four coatings were studied for the aluminium samples. Results obtained from the hardness measurements of Al 1050 and Al 6061 were compared for four coatings. Hardness tests profiles obtained for Al 1050 and Al 6061 show that deposits from trivalent chromium electrolytes were not as hard as hexavalent chromium deposits. However, the hardness of duplex nickel/chromium coatings was improved by use of an electroless nickel undercoat. Scratch adhesion tests were focused on the failure mode of coatings evaluated on the basis of scratch channels, frictional force and acoustic emission signals. The adhesion test showed buckling and chipping of the coatings with no sign of spallation or delamination. Four coatings exhibited a higher critical load for both aluminium alloy samples. This confirmed that failure occurred within the coatings, rather than adhesive failure at the coating/substrate interface. Results obtained from copper acetic acid salt spray and electrochemical corrosion tests for Al 1050 and Al 6061 exhibited excellent corrosion resistance. Scanning electron microscope images showed initiation and propagation of small pits which did not coalesce to form large and deep craters that could result in the eventual failure of the coatings. Micro discontinuous chromium deposits spread the corrosion current, thus improving corrosion performance. Icorr values obtained from linear polarization corrosion tests show higher values for duplex nickel/chromium coatings on Al 1050 than Al 6061. Icorr values show similar trends for duplex nickel/chromium coating on Al 1050 and Al 6061 modified with an electroless nickel undercoat. In conclusion results showed a significant improvement in the chromium electroplating characteristics of Al 1050 and Al 6061 with an electroless nickel undercoat.
Cancer is one of the major causes of morbidity in the world. Although the overall survival of cancer has been significantly improved by chemotherapy in the last three decades, the success of cancer chemotherapy is still severely limited by the lack of selectivity of anti-cancer drugs to malignant cells leading to dose-limiting toxicity and the resistance of cancer cells to the conventional anti-cancer drugs. Gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT) was designed to direct the anti-cancer drugs to specifically target the cancer cells by using cancer specific promoter to drive the expression of enzyme which can convert prodrug into anti-cancer drug specifically in cancer cells. However, this strategy is hindered by the lack of strong cancer specific promoters to specifically express drug-converting enzymes in cancer cells. In consequence, there is not enough anti-cancer drug activated inside the cancer cells. The first part of this study was to employ NF-κB binding sites as a novel enhancer system to improve the promoter activity of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) for GDEPT. In this system, the basal CEA promoter sequences were placed downstream of the 4 or 8 NF-κB DNA binding sites linked in tandem (κB4 or κB8). The system was designed to serve two particular purposes: to exploit the high levels of intratumoural NF-kB expression and keep the relative tumour specificity of the CEA and hTERT promoters. The results demonstrated that κB enhancer systems increased the transcriptional activity of CEA and hTERT promoter without compromising its cancer specificity. The fidelity of the κB4-CEA enhancer-promoter system was therefore improved by the increased transcriptional contrast between the cancer and normal cells. Moreover, in comparison with CEA promoter alone, κB-CEA enhancer-promoter system expressed human thymidine phosphorylase (TP) protein at significantly higher levels which were comparable to those expressed by CMV promoter. The κBCEA- TP system transfected cells demonstrated significantly higher sensitivity to 5'-Deoxy-5-Fluorouridine (5'-DFUR), a prodrug of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). The second part of this study was involved in using NF-κB inhibitor as a chemosensitizer to sentizise the anti-cancer drug-induced chemoresistance cells to anti-cancer drugs. The results derived from this study manifested that the anti-alcoholism drug, Disulfiram (DS), and anti-inflammatory drug, triptolide (PG490), markedly enhanced the cytotoxicity of several conventional anti-cancer drugs in colon, lung and breast cancer cell lines. PG490 induced caspase-dependent cell death accompanied by a significant decrease in Bcl-2 levels. PG490 induced the expression of p53 and down-regulated p21 expression. This study indicated that some clinically used non-cancerchemotherapeutic drugs may be developed as chemosensitizers for cancer chemotherapy
Smith, Richard G. (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are estimated to form approximately 5% of the human genome. While the majority of sequences are defective, containing premature stop mutations and frameshift mutations, a number encode fully functional proteins. HERVs have been proposed as aetiological agents for a variety of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis (MS), and have been detected in a variety of tumours. The study aims to develop tools to detect and investigate human endogenous retroviruses in order to establish their roles in MS and anaplastic astrocytomas. A method of detecting and quantifying levels of HERV-W env messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and MSRV gag by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain (RT-PCR) reaction in a variety of cell lines was developed, with PCR products detected in all cell lines tested, and in particular, high levels of transcription occurring in the BeWo choriocarcinoma cell line. In the astrocytoma cell lines, those with P53 mutation had higher levels of HERV-W env. MSRV gag variants were also detected in these cell lines, but stimulation with interferon-γ, a proinflammatory cytokine, did not alter expression significantly. An antibody against an epitope of MSRV gag has been successfully developed, purified and tested to determine the expression of a predicted linear epitope. This epitope was recognised in all cell lines tested, but unusually for a HERV showed nuclear expression. Further analysis is needed to confirm the identity of the protein detected. Finally a number of retroviral peptides with homology to putative antigens were predicted using a novel bioinformatics approach, of which two, HERV-W env 412 and MSAV gag 274, were tested in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of plasma samples from MS patients, patients with other neurological diseases and normal healthy donors. No significant differences in antibody titres were found between the sample groups for either peptide.
Sandbrook, Sandra (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
Existing commonly used maternal-fetal attachment instruments have not been thoroughly tested for reliability and validity; criticism can be levelled for a variety of problems ranging from lack of reliability due to an inadequate underpinning framework to facilitate objective interpretation to limited generalizability due to the sample. The aim of this study is to acknowledge the centrality of the mother, to use the experiences of pregnant women to generate a definition of maternalfetal attachment and ultimately create a tool that will act as a reliable, valid and simple measurement. A mixed method framework utilising a sequential exploratory strategy has allowed qualitative exploration of the phenomenon under investigation followed by quantitative testing of the emerging theory on a much larger and different sample. Phase 1 involved face to face open structured interviews on an opportunity sample of 10 (5 primigravid; 5 multiparous) women in the final trimester of pregnancy followed by 3 focus groups targeting specific groups – primigravid women (6 participants); multiparous women (7 participants) and teenagers (4 participants). Data analysis was through constant comparative methodology. A multidimensional, psycho-biological definition of attachment was generated from the women’s own perception of their attachment to their fetus. This was used as a framework to design a questionnaire for the measurement of maternal-fetal attachment. Phase 2 involved the validation of the questionnaire and further testing of the definition. Cohort 1 tested for reliability with 200 participants within their second or third trimester of pregnancy. Following modification of the questionnaire, Cohort 2 a sample of 150 women within the final trimester of pregnancy tested the tool for internal reliability and validity. The generated Maternal-Fetal Attachment Tool (MFAT) following rigorous testing proved both reliable and valid. Maternal fetal attachment is founded in psycho-biological theory and is a complex multi-dimensional construct. Central to the definition is the woman’s need to protect her fetus, attachment develops as the fetus becomes more tangible, it is facilitated through the woman’s intergenerational experience of attachment and through appropriate social support. Maternal-fetal attachment facilitates behavioural change to ensure a favourable intra-uterine environment.
The use and application of 4 Dimensional Computer Aided Design (4D CAD) is growing within the construction industry. 4D approaches have been the focus of many research efforts within the last decade and several commercial tools now exist for the creation of construction simulations using 4D approaches. However, there are several key limitations to the current approaches. For example, 4D models are normally developed after the initial planning of a project has taken place using more traditional techniques such as Critical Path Method (CPM). Furthermore, mainstream methodologies for planning are based on individual facets of the construction process developed by discrete contractors or sub-contractors. Any 4D models generated from these data are often used to verify work flows and identify problems that may arise, either in terms of work methods or sequencing issues. Subsequently, it is perceived that current 4D CAD approaches provide a planning review mechanism rather than a platform for a novel integrated approach to construction planning. The work undertaken in this study seeks to address these issues through the application of a distributed virtual reality (VR) environment for collaborative 4D based construction planning. The key advances lie in catering for geographically dispersed planning by discrete construction teams. By leveraging networked 4D-VR based technologies, multidisciplinary planners, in different places, can be connected to collaboratively perform planning and create an integrated and robust construction schedule leading to a complete 4D CAD simulation. Establishing such a complex environment faces both technological and social challenges. Technological challenges arise from the integration of traditional and recent 4D approaches for construction planning with an ad hoc application platform of VR linked through networked computing. Social challenges arise from social dynamics and human behaviours when utilizing VR-based applications for collaborative work. An appropriate 4D-based planning method in a networked VR based environment is the key to gaining a technical advancement and this approach to distributed collaborative planning tends to promote computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW). Subsequently, probing suitable CSCW design and user interface/interaction (UI) design are imperative for solutions to achieve successful applicability. Based on the foregoing, this study developed a novel robust 4D planning approach for networked construction planning. The new method of interactive definition was devised through theoretical analysis of human-computer interaction (HCI) studies, a comparison of existing 4D CAD creation, and 3D model based construction planning. It was created to support not only individual planners’ work but multidisciplinary planners’ collaboration, and lead to interactive and dynamic development of a 4D simulation. From a social perspective, the method clarified and highlighted relevant CSCW design to enhance collaboration. Applying this rationale, the study specified and implemented a distributed groupware solution for collaborative 4D construction planning. Based on a developed system architecture, application mode and dataflow, as well as a real-time data exchange protocol, a prototype system entitled ‘4DX’ was implemented which provides a platform for distributed multidisciplinary planners to perform real-time collaborative 4D construction planning. The implemented toolkit targeted a semi-immersive VR platform for enhanced usability with compatibility of desktop VR. For the purpose of obtaining optimal UI design of this kind of VR solution, the research implemented a new user-centred design (UCD) framework of Taguchi-Compliant User-Centred Design (TC-UCD) by adapting and adopting the Taguchi philosophy and current UCD framework. As a result, a series of UIs of the VR-based solution for multifactor usability evaluation and optimization were developed leading to a VR-based solution with optimal UIs. The final distributed VR solution was validated in a truly geographically dispersed condition. Findings from the verification testing, the validation, and the feedback from construction professionals proved positive in addition to providing constructive suggestions to further reinforce the applicability of the approach in the future.
Bhattacharyya, Ranjan (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
To date, most studies on the effectiveness of geotextiles on soil erosion rates were conducted in laboratory experiments for <1 h. Hence, at Hilton, East Shropshire, UK, this study investigated the effectiveness of palm-mat geotextiles (Borassus and Buriti mats) in reducing rainsplash erosion, runoff and soil loss and changing selected soil properties under field conditions over two years (January 2007-January 2009). Mat-cover effects on rainsplash erosion were studied in two sets on a loamy sand soil (0o slope). In both sets, six randomly-selected plots (each 1 m2) were completely matcovered and six were bare. Unlike Buriti mats, Borassus mat-cover on bare soil significantly (P<0.001) decreased rainsplash erosion (by ~89%). Duplicate runoff plots (10 x 1 m on a 15o slope) had five treatments (bare, permanent grass, Borassus completely-cover, Borassus buffer strip and Buriti buffer strip). Using Borassus buffer strips (area coverage ~10%) on bare soil decreased runoff by ~71% (P>0.05) and soil erosion by ~92% (P<0.001). Borassus buffer strip, Buriti buffer strip and Borassus completely-covered plots had similar effects in decreasing runoff and soil loss. However, the longevity of Borassus mats was ~twice that of Buriti mats. Despite physical protection, runoff control and sediment entrapment, biomat buffer zones may considerably alter and protect flow direction by presenting barriers and creating several cross-drains. Except Borassus completely-covered plots, all plots had significant (P<0.05) increases in topsoil (0-5 cm) bulk density and decreased aggregate stability. However, buffer strips were more effective in trapping fine particles than Borassus completely-covered plots. No treatments had significant (P>0.05) effects on changes in pH, soil organic matter, total soil carbon or N. Plots with Borassus mats significantly (P<0.05) increased total P and decreased total Ca. Treatments had no significant effects on changes in total S, Mg, Zn, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo or Cl concentrations. Borassus buffer strips can effectively conserve soil and water and improve and maintain selected soil properties, with results similar to Borassus completely-covered plots. The mechanisms explaining the effectiveness of buffer zones require further studies under varied pedo-climatic conditions.
Onyango, David J. (University of Wolverhampton, 2009)
Adipose tissue secreted proteins (adipokines) have been proposed to form a link between obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Resistin and visfatin are two adipokines which have been previously suggested as having roles in the pancreatic islet. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the regulatory role of the adipokines resistin and visfatin in the pancreatic beta-cell. In order to do this, pancreatic β-cell lines from rat (BRIN-BD11) and mouse (βTC-6) were used to study the effect of exogenous incubation with physiological and pathological concentrations of resistin and visfatin on diverse elements of beta-cell biology including cell viability, gene expression and insulin secretion. In addition to this the expression levels of these two adipokines was also measured in the beta-cell. PCR array analysis showed that resistin and visfatin treatment resulted in significant changes in the expression of key beta-cell specific genes. Interestingly, both resistin and visfatin are highly expressed in the beta-cells. This suggests that the roles of these adipokines are not confined to adipose tissue but also in other endocrine organs. Resistin treatment significantly increased viability of the beta-cells at physiological concentrations however there was no increase with the elevated pathological concentrations. Resistin at elevated concentrations decreased insulin receptor expression in the beta-cells however there was no significant effect at lower concentrations. Both physiological and elevated resistin concentrations did not have any effect on glucose stimulated insulin secretion. Incubation of visfatin induced phosphorylation of insulin receptor and the intracellular signalling MAPK, ERK1/2. Visfatin treatment at 200ng/ml also significantly increased insulin secretion. These effects were replicated by incubation of beta-cells with the product of visfatin’s enzymatic action, nicotinamide mononucleotide and were reversed by visfatin inhibitor FK866. Visfatin treatment at low concentrations did not have any effect on cell viability however the elevated concentrations resulted in a decline. These data indicate that both resistin and visfatin potentially play important roles in beta-cell function and viability and that they form a significant link between adipose tissue and the pancreatic islet in type 2 diabetes.
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