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IMPO Insider

Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Continuous Improvement: Real Improvement Or Mediocrity?

May 22, 2013 8:00 am | by Mark Latino, President, Reliability Center, Inc.

Incremental improvements are more or less feel good measures that say to management “there was a problem and we did this to solve it.” In reality, most continuous improvements have come from technology advancements, not from employee performance advancements. Has the continuous improvement mentality caused manufacturing to settle for mediocrity?

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Manufacturing Gangnam Style

May 20, 2013 8:05 am | by Stacey Wagner, Manager, Workforce Systems Development, NIST MEP

Baxter’s ability to work side by side with human counterparts has many people worried.  What if he and his robotic buddies stop dancing and take over all the manufacturing jobs?  What if people – and the wonderful human qualities they bring to manufacturing – become passé?

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Mind The Gap

May 14, 2013 8:05 am | by Neil Mehltretter, System Design and Engineering Manager, Kaeser Compressors, Inc.

Variable speed control compressors can be an important component of an optimized system provided that it is properly applied.  Variable speed is not, however, a simple panacea for instant compressed air system efficiency. The dynamics of the control must be understood and the machines properly sized.

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David Vs. Goliath – Stealing Innovation

May 10, 2013 4:06 pm | by Mike Collins, Author, Saving American Manufacturing

The right thing to do is to enforce invention and innovation rights. These rights create jobs, economic benefits, and profits for our society, while our patent-piracy tolerance destroys the economic benefits we seek. If an American-made business model is destroyed by the cannibalistic capitalism of our marketplace, what products can survive to create jobs in our society?

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Better, Worse, Or Just Different?

May 10, 2013 2:17 pm | by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO

Recently, Kiplinger released a forecast of its own, and it’s a direct and complex identification of both the good and the bad elements facing manufacturers and the economy as a whole. Notably, Kiplinger cites that, despite losing some steam this year, manufacturing will still power the economy and continues to outpace gains in the economy as a whole, both this year and next.

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Please Turn Out The Lights

April 30, 2013 8:00 am | by Krystal Gabert, Editor, Food Manufacturing

After years of advice, prodding, urging and incentivizing, manufacturers are greener than ever, and so are their pocket books. According to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average retail price of electricity for industrial customers has risen steadily from 5.05 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2001 to 6.82 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011. 

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Three Examples Why Cheaper Equipment Isn’t Always Less Expensive

April 26, 2013 8:05 am | by Carol Thorsen, Wynright Corporation

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, we can find exactly what we’re looking for and save a lot of money to boot. Or so it would seem. The truth is that strategy works for some items but not others.

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The Dirty Dozen: Finding And Fixing Company Culture

April 26, 2013 8:00 am | by Steven Shaffer, President, Shaffer Consulting

As we grow up, we often get wonderful gifts from mom and dad. Gifts such as intelligence, passion, communication and leadership skills. We also get gifts from different mentors, which can complement the ones from our parents. As adults, business leaders bring these childhood gifts — or lack thereof — to the companies they lead.

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How Clouds Can Dominate Sunny Florida

April 24, 2013 4:43 pm | by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO

2012 saw the widespread acceptance of cloud computing, “including the validation of the model by some of the largest software companies in the world.” So as leading vendors continue to invest the resources in making this technology smarter, more reliable, and easier to use, manufacturers can do their fair share by giving these innovative solutions a little attention as well.

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Silicon Valley Has Nothing On Manufacturing

April 22, 2013 8:05 am | by David Mantey, Executive Editor, Product Design & Development

Manufacturing floors don’t have Lego stations and pool tables – and yes, OSHA may take issue with throwing empty cans from the mini bar into the same bin as the scrap metal from the lathe, but that doesn’t mean that the industry has any fewer engineers flocking to it.

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Five Common Chemical Irritants In The Workplace

April 22, 2013 8:00 am | by Grady Winston, Blogger & Entrepeneur

Industrial work environments requiring physical labor pose a variety of risk. Injuries can occur from lifting, straining or moving, but also from contact with irritants and chemicals in the warehouse or distribution center. The safety and security of employees should be the number one priority of any business.

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Taking Manufacturing To School

April 19, 2013 8:05 am | by Lindsey Jahn, Associate Editor, Food Manufacturing

As manufacturing processes become more automated, it is essential for companies to invest in partnerships with local technical schools to maintain a qualified, knowledgeable workforce. In June 2011, President Obama launched a national effort to revitalize American manufacturing.

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Rugged Tablet PC Requirements In Food Manufacturing

April 17, 2013 8:05 am | by Matt Miller, President, MobileDemand

The food manufacturing industry defines the kind of variable, often-extreme working environment in which a rugged tablet PC thrives. Refrigerated areas must be at or below 45 degrees, freezers at or below zero, and hot food must remain at 140 degrees or just higher. Rugged tablets have to endure these highly variable temperatures and move among them as needed.

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Advanced Manufacturing: GE’s Response To Full Employment

April 16, 2013 8:00 am | by Tom Kadala, Founder and CEO of Alternative Technology Corporation

When Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor for President Obama was asked what the two most pressing issues that kept him up at night, he replied, terrorist attacks and the US declining national competitiveness. The backdrop of 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs at a time when unemployment is near 8 percent has most certainly been his nightmare in the making.

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Legos On The Plant Floor?

April 12, 2013 4:21 pm | by Joel Hans, Managing Editor, Manufacturing.net

Maybe, in comparing the benefits of working on a plant floor against the benefits of working at Facebook, engineers chose the latter. Because let’s face it — OSHA wouldn’t be too happy to see a ping pong table alongside the stamping machine.

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Make Decisions Quicker And Easier

April 12, 2013 4:08 pm | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions

The Lean methodology of process improvement defines at least 7 classical forms of waste.  Going through notes, over and over again, as to the root cause of wastes we experience indicates that indecision often drives waste, even if it appears to be a circumstantial cause and not a regular or systemic cause of the system. 

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The Two Faces Of U.S. Manufacturing

April 12, 2013 8:05 am | by AJ Sweatt

The fact is that our trade and economic policies – or lack thereof – are the primary cause of stagnant manufacturing growth in this country. We in and of manufacturing find ourselves in an environment of two camps, vying on many fronts for supremacy & influence. And, these days, it sure seems like the inmates are running the asylum.

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How Government Can Help Small And Midsize Manufacturers Export

April 5, 2013 3:52 pm | by Mike Collins, Author, Saving American Manufacturing

In 2009, President Obama set a goal of doubling exports in 5 years.  The President portrayed his initiative as a boon for small companies, likely because fewer than four percent of all service businesses export, according to the Small Business Administration.

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How To Be Heard

April 5, 2013 2:29 pm | by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO

I was interested to learn a little more about the relationship between listening and hearing at a recent seminar at the Grainger show in Orlando. The focus of this presentation was not on eliminating noise, rather, addressing the ways those affected could greatly reduce or eliminate the resulting damage that came with the prolonged exposure to high volumes.

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5 Ways Manufacturers Can Take Advantage Of The Industrial Internet

April 5, 2013 8:08 am | by Cindy Waxer

Big data is not just for predicting election outcomes and mapping genomes. General Electric (GE) is betting on the so-called Industrial Internet — a term they coined — to help manufacturers boost performance, streamline processes and better compete in the global marketplace.

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