Engineers Need Better Links to Management

If your product lifecycle management (PLM) initiative is focused primarily on the much-discussed issue of better cross-functional understanding during new product development and launch (NPDL), chances are that it is missing the bigger problem of communication from general management down to those who make daily design decisions. Recent survey results conducted with GlobalSpec’s engineering user community show that communication is weakest here, despite the fact that general management is regarded as best at understanding the impact of product design on business profits. Ironically, the least widely used technology tool is product portfolio management, whose whole purpose is managerial control over the NPDL process.

Design and process engineers say that general management is the group that best understands product design impact on business profitability. Engineers, however, find communication with general management to be more difficult than with any other job function. Despite this need, product portfolio management is the least widely used technology tool in NPDL — 14 percent versus 64 percent for computer-aided design (CAD) and 30 percent for product data management (PDM).

Business objectives (to get faster to market with lower cost and more desirable products) demand structured communication between those setting the objectives and those designing the products. This is a clunky, manual process with little more than periodic project progress updates linking the work to the mission. A survey of 248 engineers found that for all the problems of working cross-functionally with marketing, manufacturing and other groups, it was general management with whom design engineers had the most trouble communicating.

Resolving the communication problem calls for process clarity, common language and systems linkages. For single-site businesses, this may mean little more than some policies and regular metrics, with telephone calls, face-to-face meetings and project logs to track decisions. Many businesses, however, find that some investment in program or portfolio management systems is required. Again, these tools are the least commonly used.

Some of the answers to questions we asked the GlobalSpec community reinforce what is widely known about the business case for investments in project collaboration or other PLM systems:

• 62 percent believe that administrative burdens on engineers have increased over the past three years. This takes time away from design and lengthens time to market.

• 48 percent believe that design change requests contain too little detail. This adds steps and time to the engineering change cycle.

• 93 percent believe that engineering change requests result in costly delays.

All these issues are understood and are being addressed with PLM tools, which primarily help to connect engineering to other functions across the organization. Most success stories offer cycle time improvements, reducing time to market as their central proof point.

From AMR Research Inc.

MHIA Launches New e-Lessons Online

Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) has developed three newe-Lessons, available online at www.mhia.org. The online lessons provide a way of enhancing knowledge about material handling. The lessons are also an excellent way to prepare for a national certification exam administered by the Material Handling Institute.

Two of the new e-Lessons are in the Tools of the Profession series, which introduces the subject of assembly line balancing (this is one lesson broken into two parts, each of which can be taken at different times). The third lesson is the second in a series dealing with automation controls, the subject being the use of Device Networks in material handling.

All three lessons had sponsors supporting their development. The College Industry Council on Material Handling Education (CICMHE) supports all the Tools series lessons. Both MHIA’s Integrated Systems and Controls Council (ISC) and the Conveyor Product Section support the lessons on Controls.

The addition of these three new e-Lessons brings the total of MHIA e-lessons to 20, with more under development.

MHIA is an international trade association that has represented the material handling industry since 1945. MHIA members include material handling equipment and systems manufacturers, integrators, consultants, publishers, and third-party logistics providers. The association also sponsors trade events, such as ProMat and NA2004 to showcase the products and services of its member companies and to educate industry professionals on the productivity solutions provided through material handling and logistics. For information on MHIA, visit www.mhia.org.

FDA Report Calls for Adoption of RFID

In a report issued recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highlighted specific steps the agency is taking to keep the U.S. drug supply secure. The report cites that radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging of products by manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers appears to be the most promising approach to reliable product tracking and tracing and, most importantly, reliable RFID technology will make the copying of medications either extremely difficult or unprofitable. The agency goes on to detail a timeline that would lead to mass serialization and RFID adoption by 2007.

"AIM applauds the FDA for its leadership in utilizing technology to combat counterfeit drugs and the dangers that they represent to patient safety," said Dan Mullen, president, AIM Global. "The capabilities of RFID and other automatic identification technologies will deliver sweeping benefits for patients and the entire healthcare community."

According to the FDA, commercial deployment of RFID and its track and trace capabilities will be feasible by 2007. In the meantime, the FDA is working with sponsors and participants of RFID pilots to address regulatory issues.

Given the incredible demand for education on RFID and bar code technologies in the healthcare market, AIM has launched several regional conferences to provide clear guidance to the solution providers and the healthcare professional.

For a complete copy of the FDA report, visit http://www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/counterfeit.

Borre Retires from Nissan

Nissan Forklift President Mark Akabori announced the retirement of Larry Borre, vice president of customer satisfaction, to be effective March 31. Borre’s career spanned 45 years of continuous service, first with Barrett Industrial Trucks and then with Nissan Forklift Corp. (NFC).

Borre joined Barrett in 1959, rising steadily through the organization. Upon NFC’s purchase of Barrett Industrial Trucks in 1988, Borre moved into the new organization where he led the aftermarket activities as vice president.

With 15 years on the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) Board, Borre was the first ITA president elected to a two-year term and has served on the Executive Committee since 1992. Bill Montwieler, ITA’s executive director, also acknowledged Borre’s leadership.

It was during Borre’s tenure as ITA president that the groundbreaking legislation for operator training was signed into law on December 1, 1998. Prior to holding the office of ITA president, Borre was instrumental in orchestrating the mutual exchange of information among the presidents of ITA’s sister Japanese, European and American organizations, which eventually led to the acclaimed President’s Forum held annually.

MHIA Elects Board of Governors

Material Handling Industry announces the election of its 2004-2005 Board of Governors. The board consists of the officers of MHI and the chief executive officer and general counsel. The Board of Governors serves and the Board of Directors for MHI.

Ralph C. Deger, president of Bushman Equipment Inc., was elected executive chairman. Brian McNamara, president of Southworth International Group Inc., was elected executive vice chairman and chairman-MHIA. Colin Wilson, president of Americas, NACCO Materials Handling Group Inc., was elected vice chair of MHIA. Wilbert Persch, retired from Demag Cranes & Components Corp., will serve as last retiring executive chairman.

Others elected to serve as vice chairman include James Allred, J.K. Allred Consulting; Gregg Goodner, Hytrol Conveyor Co. Inc.; John M. Hill, ESYNC; George Prest, Prest Rack Inc.; David Reh, Gorbel Inc.; James Robertson, Cattron Group; Michael Gonzalez, Interlake Material Handling Inc.; Daniel Quinn, Vertical Systems Inc.; Willard Heddles, Tiffin Metal Products Co., and John Nofsinger, MHI.

Arthur Stroyd, ReedSmith LLC, will serve as general counsel.

Safety Resource Guide

Yale Materials Handling Corp., manufacturer of lift trucks, has published a comprehensive study of accidents in the workplace for the material handling industry. Its Forklift/Pedestrian Accidents — Cause and Prevention resource guide offers the lift truck manufacturing industry new findings and statistics. It covers pedestrian safety in the warehouse and lift truck operation area, and makes recommendations for a safer workplace.

"We take our position as a market leader seriously," said Don Chance, president, Yale Materials Handling Corp. "We are always conscientious about operator and owner safety. This new guide takes us even further, providing a resource for anyone using lift trucks in their business."

CMAA Releases Specifications for Electric Traveling Cranes

The Crane Manufacturers Association of America Inc. (CMAA) has released two revised publications: Specification 70, Specifications for Top Running Bridge & Gantry Type Multiple Girder Electrical Overhead Traveling Cranes and Specification 74, Specifications for Top Running Single Girder Electric Traveling Cranes Utilizing Under Running Trolley Hoist.

Both specifications provide a basis for uniform quality and performance. They consist of seven sections: general specifications, crane classifications, structural design, mechanical design, electrical equipment, crane inquiry data sheet and a glossary.

The 70+-page specifications are available for $50 per copy. Order online at www.mhia.com.

eBay Welcomes Users to Conference

Registration is under way for eBay’s third annual community conference, eBay Live! 2004, which takes place June 24-26 in New Orleans. The three-day event brings the eBay marketplace to life as members of the community gather to celebrate their passions for buying and selling on the World’s Online Marketplace. The theme for this year’s eBay Live! is "Leap to New Heights."

"eBay Live! is about the individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses who make up the eBay community," said Jeff Jordan, senior vice president and general manager, eBay North America.

The conference creates a common ground for buyers and sellers from diverse backgrounds to share their stories, have fun and improve their eBay skills. It will offer an expanded schedule of seminars and classes to help users enhance their eBay activities and skills. More than 100 eBay University classes will be offered to buyers and sellers, specifically tailored to meet the needs of beginning, intermediate and advanced users.

This year’s event will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Register online at www.ebay.com/ebaylive. Onsite registration will also be available beginning June 24 at the convention center.

RFID Business Case Development

Charlie Guardiola, general manager, supply chain solutions, Siemens Dematic, made a presentation at the recent SCOR executive retreat. Among his points on developing the business case were:

1. Understand the technology: Environment impact on radio wave performance, products, limiting factors of products/packaging; technology, properties of different technologies.

2. Assess the opportunity: Determine long-term/short-term needs; short-term: pilot/implement RFID for customer compliance; long-term: pilot/implement strategic RFID applications.

3. Understand your processes: Benefits realization begins at process level; map SC processes/define functional requirements; map technology infrastructure/define technology needs.

4. Build the business case: Generate potential RFID solutions; evaluate the economics, plot each solution to find low-hanging fruit.

5. Apply the technology: Transformation and process re-engineering.

Guardiola said, "RFID is an enabling technology that needs to be considered as you build your long-term business/supply chain strategy."

Truck-Loading Guide

Moore & Associates has released a new Truck Loading Guide to help material handlers reduce damage to products transported to customers.

The guide covers how to:

• Maximize cube/weight utilization in the trailer;

• Enable additional weight and cube to be carried;

• Minimize product damage;

• Meet customer requirements.

You will also learn about truck-loading software that uses a rule-driven planning engine to help companies load trailers with greater efficiency.

To download the truck-loading guide, visit www.MooreAssoc.com.

Myth of Exploding $20 Bill

Do $20 bills explode when placed in a microwave oven? Do they contain hidden radio frequency identification (RFID) tags? Can the government track you through your cash?

One Web site recently published an "expose" about the supposed presence of an RFID chip placed behind Andrew Jackson’s right eye on the new $20 bill. This site claims that microwaving bills will cause the RFID tag to explode and burn the bill, thus exposing the hidden tag. Microwaving an RFID tag will cause it to create some spectacular sparks and will cause it to "pop."

As a result, some people have begun wrapping their cash in aluminum foil to "foil" reading of the RFID tag.

In fact, placing a $20 bill in a microwave oven does not cause it to explode, burn or affect it in any way.

In order to determine whether there was a security feature in the $20 bill that would cause this phenomenon, AIM North America tested a new $20 bill in a microwave oven.

After 1 minute on high, the bill was barely warm.

Next, an RFID tag of the type used by commercial laundries was placed adjacent to Andrew Jackson’s portrait on a new $20 bill and again placed in the microwave oven. After only 2 seconds, the antenna and chip on the RFID tag began to "fry." After 20 seconds, the destruction of the RFID tag did set the bill on fire. The area around Andrew Jackson’s right eye, where the covert tag is supposed to be hidden, was entirely unaffected.

Due to the power of the Internet, the source of the rumor (http://www.prisonplanet.com) has been quoted internationally (at least one article based on this was published in Flemish on a Belgian Web site).

Even a casual examination of a $20 bill will reveal that there is no hidden tag. Holding the bill up to a bright light would expose any RFID chip or antenna.

For reliable information on RFID, please visit www.rfid.org.

AIM’s mission is to stimulate the understanding, adoption and use of technology by providing timely, unbiased and commercial-free news and information. For more information, visit www.aimglobal.org or www.rfid.org.

Christian D. Gibson

Christian D. Gibson, inventor of the first narrow aisle lift truck, died January 22 at the age of 89. To his colleagues at The Raymond Corp., he was simply "Chris." To the warehousing industry, his contributions were legendary.

"Chris’s passing marks a sad day in the history of the material handling business," said James J. Malvaso, president and CEO of The Raymond Corp.. "His contributions formed a foundation for the success of this company and changed the way businesses think about warehousing."

In 1943, Gibson joined the company known today as The Raymond Corp.. He moved to Greene, New York, to become the first professional engineer to be hired by company founder George G. Raymond Sr.

With his professional training and talent, and support from Raymond Sr., Gibson designed — and the company manufactured — the first narrow aisle truck in North America in 1949. This concept revolutionized the material handling industry and brought about tremendous space savings by reducing warehouse floor space devoted to aisles and increasing available storage space.

In 1951, Gibson and Raymond Sr. were granted a patent on the power-driven, narrow aisle material handling truck, called the Model 700 Spacemaker. By 1953, The Raymond Corp. had manufactured 1,000 of the new trucks. The principle of this first patent is still being applied today wherever palletized goods are handled around the world.

Over his 36 years of service at The Raymond Corp., Gibson continued to design lift trucks for the company and was granted more than 200 patents. Gibson retired in 1983, but continued to work as a consultant until he moved to Houston in 2002.

Companies Making News

Irista Inc. , an industry provider of logistics management solutions, has formed an alliance with Versatile Mobile Systems of Lynnwood, Wash., a developer of mobile computing solutions, to provide logistics management support using wireless cellular mobile computing technology. Versatile uses store and forward transaction technology to enable Irista’s logistics applications to transcend the physical boundaries of a traditional four-walled operation.

IconNicholson, the New York-based IT professional services firm, and Matrics Inc. , a pioneer in the advanced development and standardization of low-cost, high-performance, EPC-compliant UHF radio frequency identification (RFID) smart label technology, announced a strategic alliance to leverage RFID technology across the CPG supply chain, customer retail environments and general business operations. IconNicholson and Matrics are currently engaged on four assignments. The first two involve middleware development by IconNicholson that will integrate with Matrics’ RFID system. Another is a warehouse implementation for a leading 3PL and the fourth involves an inventory management system for a leading global retailer.

RedPrairie Corp. , a leader in global supply chain technology solutions, and Navesink Logistics Inc. , a pioneer in virtual network consulting specializing in software integration, announced a strategic subcontracting agreement. Under the agreement, Navesink will provide implementation and consulting services.

Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. announced that it and its business partner, Illinois Material Handling, have been named stocking distributors for Steel King racking. Products such as upright frames, roll-formed step beams, frame row spacers, frame-to-wall ties, column protectors, pallet supports and more will be stocked at Illinois Material Handling in Elgin, Ill. Steel King Industries and Wisconsin Lift Truck Corp. have been strategic partners since 1993.

The Kennedy Group announced an agreement with Alien Technology Corp. The two organizations will market EPC Class-1 UHF RFID tags and readers for use in real-time tracking and identification of expendable and reusable containers, racks, pallets and other supply chain applications.

Markem Corp. , a manufacturer of marking and coding solutions providing identification systems, software, supplies and services, has incorporated the Packaging Machinery Manufacturing Institute’s (PMMI) Certified Trainer and Documentation Program into its Uptime Total Solutions Program. The PMMI Certified Trainer and Documentation Program is structured to teach machinery-manufacturing personnel how to successfully share the technical knowledge they have with an adult audience. Markem’s Uptime program offers a comprehensive array of services to maximize uptime, productivity and customersatisfaction.

Symbol Technologies Inc. has signed the EPCglobal Inc. Intellectual Property Policy (IPP), cementing its commitment to open standards for the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in emerging supply chain applications. EPCglobal, a joint venture between EAN International and The Uniform Code Council Inc., is a not-for-profit organization entrusted to drive the global, multi-industry adoption of RFID through use of electronic product code technology and the EPCglobal network.

Matrics Inc. announced that its readers can now automatically transmit data directly to the Savi SmartChain interoperability platform that transforms raw RFID-generated data into clear, actionable information that can be managed by any number of leading software applications. Users gain real-time visibility of all types of supply chain assets as well as the items they transport, whether using new or legacy software systems.

AmeriQuest Transportation and Logistics Resources Corp. , provider of services to the fleet management industry, announced that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire the assets and management talent of Complete Fleet Management Inc. The acquisition will provide AmeriQuest with company-wide asset services, customer finance and national used truck, tractor and trailer remarketing capabilities.

Radio Beacon Inc. , developer of warehouse management software, and System Concepts Inc. , a software solution provider for the $1.3 billion RFID industry, announced its plans to integrate Radio Beacon WMS with SCI’s TraxWare RFID software products. This partnership will allow Radio Beacon to integrate its warehouse management software with customers that are leveraging RFID technology in their warehouse.

Symbol announced that Dimension Data, a global technology company, has joined its PartnerSelect program. It becomes the latest company to join the ecosystem of companies providing customers with enterprise mobility solutions using Symbol’s core technologies of ruggedized mobile computers, wireless infrastructure, advanced data capture and mobility software.

Irista Inc. , an industry provider of logistics management solutions, announced that San Diego-based National Steel and Shipbuilding Company will deploy iristaWarehouse onboard the new class of combat logistics force ships that are currently being built under contract with the U.S. Navy.

Steady growth has prompted FANUC Robotics America Inc. to expand its Brazil operations with a move to a 22,000-square-foot facility located in São Paulo.

Three Cheers for Editor

Chief Editor Tom Andel was one of 78 finalists in the Jesse H. Neal journalism competition. Tom was honored for best staff-written editorials on one or several subjects. MHM competed in a category for publications with between $3 million and $7 million in annual gross revenues. His entry included editorials from February, June, August and September 2003. Tom also was a finalist in the 2001 Neal competition.

Finalists and winners were honored March 18 by the American Business Media at the 50th Annual Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, New York.

Paying tribute to the winning editors, American Business Media president and CEO Gordon T. Hughes II said, "These journalists and editors deserve high praise indeed. Their expertise, skill and successful track records of informing the industry on issues of importance place them at the forefront of their fields."

Often hailed as the "Pulitzer prize of the business press," the Neal Award is the business publishing industry’s salute to individual editors for outstanding editorial excellence. Winning entries are selected for contribution to the field the publication serves, as well as for journalistic enterprise and editorial craftsmanship.

We are extremely proud of this important acknowledgement of the talents of our editors, and the high caliber of content they produce for their industries," said Thomas L. Kemp, chairman and CEO of Penton Media Inc., publishers of MHM. "Penton magazines have a long-established reputation for editorial excellence and service to their readers’ information needs. These prestigious awards affirm for our advertisers that their marketing message appears in a superior editorial environment."

Asia-Pacific Leads the Way for Hotspot Growth

The Asia-Pacific region witnessed the most dramatic spread of wireless LAN hotspots of anywhere in the world during 2003, seeing a more than tenfold increase in hotspot numbers. According to figures from the BWCS Wireless LAN Continuum service, there were more than 21,300 hotspots in the Asia-Pacific region by end-2003, up from around 2,000 12 months earlier.

The editor of the W-LAN Continuum service, BWCS analyst Peter Bell, says that the region’s WiFi markets have seen some dramatic developments over the past year. "While operators in North America and Western Europe made most of the early running in the public access hotspot sector, 2003 has undoubtedly been the year that the Asian WiFi sector came into its own."

The Asia-Pacific hotspot provider with easily the most ambitious plans has been Korea Telecom, which has now installed more than 10,000 public access hotspots in its home market, accounting for more than one-third of all hotspots worldwide. Bell says: "Unlike many other wireless ISPs, KT has been happy to roll out WiFi access points in consumer-oriented locations rather than focussing mainly on the business sector. It has been aided by the huge popularity of fixed broadband technologies in Korea." KT is now able to claim more than 300,000 WiFi subscribers, two-thirds of which also subscribe to a home DSL service.

KT was also involved in another of Asia’s main WiFi developments of 2003, the formation of the Wireless Broadband Alliance. The WBA — founded by KT, Telstra, Maxis, StarHub and China Netcom in March 2003 — came together to promote WiFi services via joint marketing and roaming initiatives and to establish recognized standards of service. By the end of the year the member companies were operating more than 13,000 hotspots between them, with the vast majority of these in Asia.

Managers Making News

ORBIS Corp. has named Tim Gulbinas vice president and general manager of its National Consolidation Services (NCS) operations. NCS provides supply chain consolidation services and returnable packaging management services to leading manufacturers. Gulbinas joined ORBIS in January 2000. Dan Roovers was named vice president of automotive sales. In this role, Roovers will manage and coordinate the entire automotive sales and service team. Most recently, Roovers served as an automotive strategic account manager serving ORBIS’ major automotive customers.

UNOVA Inc. has named Tom Miller president of Intermec Technologies Corp., which comprises UNOVA’s automated systems division. Steve Winter has been named executive vice president, reporting to Miller. Miller and Winter are UNOVA vice presidents.

The Timken Co. board of directors nominated Jerry A. Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, for membership on the board. Stanley C. Gault and Martin D. (Skip) Walker will retire from the board, effective April 20.

IFCO Systems appointed Fred Heptinstall senior vice president and general manager of the U.S. Reusable Plastic Container (RPC) Div., based in Tampa, Fla.

Fred Kindle will become the next chief executive officer of ABB Group. He will replace Jurgen Dormann as CEO next year. Kindle, currently chief executive of Swiss-based technology company Sulzer AG, will join ABB on September 1, 2004, and formally take over as CEO in January 2005. Dormann, who has been CEO since September 2002, will revert to the single role of chairman in January.Voxware Inc. has appointed Donald H. Noble vice president of delivery services. Noble will have direct responsibility for the company’s professional services, solution development and customer support organizations.

Harrington Hoists Inc. has promoted Eiji Yoda from accounting manager to controller, effective January 1. Yoda will manage the accounting and information technology departments. Scott D. Miller was promoted from product sales manager to vice president of operations. He will oversee the engineering, manufacturing and purchasing departments as well as general operational functions.

ADT Security Services Inc. has named Randy Dunn director of sales and marketing for its radio frequency identification line of solutions. Dunn and a team of RFID specialists will work with retailers and consumer goods manufacturers to bring end-to-end RFID solutions to the retail supply chain.