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IMPO Insider

Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Do Androids Dream Of Handwriting Recognition?

October 23, 2012 11:28 am | by Katia Shabanova, Paragon Software Group

Engineers and programmers have been trying for decades to teach computers and other electronics to recognize handwritten text. Only in the last few years have the world’s largest software companies made significant progress teaching smartphones and tablets to adequately recognize handwriting and translate it into typed text on the screen.


Cloud Does Not Automatically Guarantee Project Success

October 19, 2012 8:02 am | by Dylan Persaud, Managing Director, Eval-Source

Just because you have chosen to go with a cloud solution or a SaaS application doesn’t mean you will have guaranteed project success. The risk of IT failure still exists. As a result, organizations must realize that cloud does not mitigate improper project management procedure.


A Manufacturing History Lesson

October 15, 2012 8:38 am | by Jonnatha Mayberry, Associate Editor, Chem.Info

Recently, a metal worker made headline news, but not because of the quality of her craft or the dedication she showed on the job — she made headlines because she’s, well, a she. The skeletal remains of a female metal worker have been found in a grave in Vienna dating dating back to the Bronze Age (which began more than 5,000 years ago). Previously, it was assumed that only men worked in such fields during the Bronze Age.


Same Skills, Different Problems

October 10, 2012 8:21 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions

Sometimes, when we decide to engage in process improvement or business improvement endeavors, we feel like we need to hire or contract people with special skills. The truth is, we probably have the right skills already inside of our businesses.


Will The Right Brain Rule The Future?

October 9, 2012 4:08 pm | by Mike Collins, Author, Saving American Manufacturing

For many decades we have been in an information age dominated by engineers, computer scientists, programmers, and other left brain thinkers. In Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind, he makes the case that we are in transition from an information age to a conceptual age, and from L-directed thinking to R-directed thinking.


A New World Record

October 8, 2012 12:12 pm | by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO

We wore pedometers and tried to make the walking into a game, but after three days and 35,000 steps (over 17 miles!), it was a little less fun to see those digits tick as I trekked across Chicago’s McCormick Place for September’s IMTS (International Manufacturing Technology Show) 2012. I don’t care if they don’t go with my dress clothes: next time, I’m wearing my hot pink Nike running shoes. Luckily, the IMTS show was worth it.


How To Lose Your Job To A Robot

October 5, 2012 8:49 am | by Chris Fox, Associate Editor, PD&D

A recently posted video entitled Are Droids Taking Our Jobs? explores the job market and how the recession is affecting workers, as well as robot welfare. As our society progresses, robotics and algorithms are becoming more advanced. This has been apparent for quite some time. So, are droids really taking our jobs?


Augmented Reality… Too Much Technology?

October 3, 2012 8:17 am | by Chris Fox, Associate Editor, PD&D

 Is this next bit of technology worth exploiting in engineering? There are certainly applications to visualize a specific part within its associated surroundings or to simulate placing a part, making sure everything fits. There are certainly applications, but how practical, useful, or needed it is will remain to be seen. 


What Black Belt Training Doesn't Teach

September 26, 2012 8:11 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions

Regardless of the process improvement, business improvement, or innovation methodology training, almost all of them focus on teaching us tools and methods. They don’t teach us how to lead the implementation. Here is a short list of the things we change leaders need to do to succeed.


Sitting With America

September 25, 2012 8:13 am | by Rachel Leisemann Immel, Associate Editor, IMPO

Some buy American because they, as Americans themselves, think it’s simply the right thing to do. Some buy American because, to them, seeing the “Made in America” label means that they’re getting a superior product. Others, because they’ve heard the statistics outlining the importance of a strong manufacturing base in the U.S. Whatever the reason, I don’t think it can ever hurt to support an economy that makes such a difference.


Construct Your Own Innovation Pipeline

September 21, 2012 8:17 am | by Mike Schmidt. Associate Editor, Manufacturing Business Technology

Whether it comes from a senior executive, a mid-level manager or new-hire, TIP allows ideas to be shared with a broad audience of potential collaborators through an online platform. Ideas move through a rate-and-review process, and the best and most promising ideas are developed further and considered for funding.


Some Tribulations Of Testing And Truthfulness

September 19, 2012 8:16 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions

Most of us do some form of testing or other validation of our designs and production systems before we initiate production of our products. For some of us, especially those of us who produce products related to safety, we must prove to a regulatory agency that our products are safe and meet regulations. I’ve yet to witness an environment where testing of products is not a delicate balance.


Does Your Product Have A Lasting Story?

September 18, 2012 8:16 am | by Jim Signorelli

A brand has one layer, a brand story has two. Both have outer layers consisting of functional benefits or the results that can be achieved by using a given product. However, the brand story has an additional inner layer that gives it distance and longevity. The brand story's inner layer is more than just air. It's made up of very real values and beliefs.

Making Sense Out Of Costs And Margins: Part 2

September 13, 2012 11:29 am | by Mike Collins, Author, Saving American Manufacturing

A common belief held by manufacturers is that price discounts can be justified because even at lower prices, the additional volume covers overhead. A review of the CM explanation earlier will show that this is true only if (1) the firm is operating above its breakeven sales levels and (2) that the proposed discounted project in fact possesses a positive contribution margin.


Innovation To Beat The Band

September 12, 2012 4:02 pm | by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO

I love this Alliance Rubber story mostly because the innovations are interesting, fun products — and in the age of Facebook and Pinterest, potentially buzz-worthy — but they’re also the results of the efforts of a team that sees the challenge of improving upon an age-old product, and doesn’t hesitate to move outside of the box.


Trumping Progress – How Money & Politics Corrupt Innovation

September 7, 2012 8:06 am | by Chris Fox, Associate Editor, PD&D

Have you heard of Nikola Tesla? I’m sure most of you have. Just in case you haven’t, Tesla is arguably the most underrated and overlooked engineer of all time. He developed the alternating current, invented the bladeless turbine, built the first induction motor, and innovated the use of X-rays, to name just a few of his contributions. So, why is this guy just a paragraph in history books?


Visiting The 'Detroit' Of Southeast Asia

September 4, 2012 8:07 am | by Joel Hans, Managing Editor,

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of flying across the Pacific to visit Thailand and to tour the county’s burgeoning automotive industry. The trip was at the behest of Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) agency, which has developed a number of policies and incentives to help bring more manufacturing into the country, regardless of industry.


Is The Ongoing Mortgage Crisis Harming Our Manufacturing Skills Crisis?

August 31, 2012 8:46 am | by AJ Sweatt

I’m not going to get into who or what caused the housing & mortgage crisis in this country. And I’m not gonna offer any recommendations on what we could be doing to fix it. What has me curious is why we’re not seeing more concern in manufacturing about its impact on hiring and the lack of talent to grow manufacturing and accelerate reshoring & innovation in the US.


Top Challenges In Electronics Manufacturing

August 31, 2012 8:09 am | by Mike Roberts

The rate of change and advancement in the electronics industry can be startling, especially over the past few decades. The names at the top of the industry today were brand new companies just ten years ago. To survive, an electronics company needs to be as flexible as it is quick. And to excel, that company must be able to overcome both existing and emerging challenges in the market.

Why Cheaper Warehouse Equipment Isn’t Always Less Expensive

August 29, 2012 8:06 am | by Carol Thorsen, Manager of Wynright Corporation’s Inside Sales

Perhaps one of the most significant contributions the Internet has made to our daily lives is the ability to find the rock-bottom price for just about anything we need to purchase easily. With a quick search on the right keywords, or a visit to megasites such as or eBay, we can find exactly what we’re looking for and save money to boot. Or so it would seem.



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