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Have you ever been confronted by a thorny business problem, only to discover - belatedly - that it has been creeping up on you for months, or even years?
Once upon a time there was a computer. This computer served as a conduit to waste a great deal of time through social networking and online video games. Still, there was always potential to turn these rather sedentary activities into something more positive and useful to mankind. Siemens may have stumbled upon such a concept.
Recently I had the pleasure of having dinner with Frank Sinatra, Jr. He was here in Chicago for a benefit concert for Roosevelt University (my wife is co-chairperson of the benefit). Our conversation ranged over a wide variety of subjects, including a small gem of an HBO television movie, "Truman" with Gary Sinise in the title role.
What follows is the first of three articles we will be running on ISO 9000 and what it means for the gear industry. This first article will cover what ISO 9000 is, what some of its benefits - and problems - are, and whether your company should be a candidate for this certification process. In our next issue, we will consider the important question of how, when, and if to hire an ISO 9000 consultant. The final article in this series will discuss ways to save money while streamlining the certification process in your company.
It used to be that a shop with hustle and plenty of big, fast machines could thrive using a manual system. But no more. Today's economic environment requires more and more in the way of topnotch service and quick turnaround - which frequently means a completely integrated shop floor control system.
The two reports referred to in this article, "The people wise Organization" and "House Divided: Views on Change from Top Management - and Their Employees," crossed our desks some weeks ago. They stimulated a fair amount of discussion here, and we hope they do the same in your offices. We welcome your responses. How do you view the corporate/competitive environment of the next few years? How do you see yourself and your company fitting in? Can these ideas work in the gear industry? Let us now what you think.
Much about ISO 9000 is the subject of noisy debate. But on one thing almost everyone, true believers and critics alike, agrees: Getting ISO 9000 certification can be expensive. Companies can expect to spend at least $35,000 for basic certification and six-month checkup fees over a three-year period. These figures do not include hidden costs like time and money spent on internal improvements required to meet ISO 9000 certification. But the really big-ticket items in the process are employee time and the cost of bringing in outside consultants. Many ISO 9000 consultants charge upwards of $1,800 a day.
Arrow Gear Company of Downers Grove, IL, has implemented a computer system that fully integrates exchange between all of its computer applications. The ELIMS (Electronic Linkage of Information Management Systems) project has increased manufacturing productivity and reduced lead times.
Going to IMTS? Beware. It's easy to make any number of common mistakes that can turn your productive buying trip into an expensive bomb.
"Values" is one of he buzzwords we hear everywhere today. Family values. Traditional values. Alternative values. Along with a balanced budget, less government and more fiber in our diets, "values" - and their practical counterparts, "ethics" - are being promoted as one of the simple, obvious solutions to what ails us as a country and as individuals.
What is a quality product? This is not an idle question. In the Darwinian business world in which we operate, knowing the answer to this question is key to our survival. A whole library of standards and benchmarks is available to help us gage how we're doing, but they don't really tell the whole story.
A fundamental characteristic of the gear industry is that it is capital intensive. In the last decade, the gear manufacturing industry has been undergoing an intense drive toward improving and modernizing its capital equipment base. The Department of Commerce reports that annual sales of gear cutting equipment have increased nearly 60% since 1990. While this effort has paid off in increased competitiveness for the American gear industry, it is important to remember that there is another capital crucial to manufacturing success - "human capital."
Heat treating is a critical operation in gear manufacturing. It can make or break the quality of your final product. Yet it is one that frequently gear manufacturers outsource to someone else. Then the crucial question becomes, how do you know you're getting the right heat treater? How can you guarantee your end product when you have turned over this important process to someone else?
Okay. You've been convinced. You've gritted your teeth and decided to spend the money to launch a company Web site. Everybody from your teenage propeller-head to the girl in the mail room and the salesman in the flashy suit who gave you "such a deal" on Web site services has promised that your site will be the best thing that's happened to your business since the advent of CNC machines.
Knowing the right thing to do isn't hard. Most often, it's very obvious. Actually doing it is something else again. For example, we all know that we probably eat too much refined sugar and fat, but when the double chocolate cheesecake come by, it's easy to convince ourselves that one piece won't hurt.
What can be done about the rising cost of labor? Mr. Robert Reich, U.S. Secretary of Labor, has already indicated the administration's intention of pushing the minimum wage from $4.25 to $4.50 per hour and indexing it for inflation. That means that every jiggle in the inflation chart will push the minimum wage higher.
Business ethics are like apple pie and motherhood. Few people are willing to come out agin'em. But in reablity, apple pie is full of fat and refined sugar, motherhood is not what it was when June Cleaver ran the kitchen, and business ethics? Well, it's always been easier to talk about them than to actually practice them, and things certainly haven't improved in the last few years.
You're already a veteran of the computer revolution. Only you and your controller know how much money you've spent and only your spouse knows how many sleepless nights you've had in the last ten years trying to carve out a place in the brave new world of computerized gear manufacturing. PC's, CNCs, CAD, CAM, DNC, SPC, CMM: You've got a whole bowl of alphabet soup out there on the shop floor. Overall these machines have lived up to their promises. Production time is down, quality is up. You have fewer scrapped parts and better, more efficient machine usage.
On of the key questions confronting any company considering ISO 9000 certification is, how much is this going to cost? The up-front fees are only the beginning. Dissect the ISO 9000 certification procedure with an eye for hidden costs, and two segments of the process will leap out - the cost of consultants and the cost of making in-house improvements for the sake of passing certification. Most of these costs can be controlled by careful selection f the right consultant in the first place.
Putting one's best foot forward is important for successful business communication. And successful business people know the "rule" of the game, what it say and do in business situations, to make the best impression. However, these rules change from country to country, and what is appropriate behavior here may appear rude to someone from Latin America, Europe or Asia To help you become more familiar with some of the different rules of engagement in other countries, Gear Technology spoke with three businessmen who have had extensive contact in various part of the world.
Dictatorships can be stifling. In an autocratic organization, employees seldom participate in decisions that affect them. By establishing a collaborative environment, you allow everyone to play a role in making your organization a success.
It's every gear manufacturer's nightmare. Your company had been named as a defendant in a product liability suit - one involving serious injuries and death. You're facing endless court appearances, monumental legal fees, and, possibly, seven figure settlements our of your coffers. The very existence of your business could be on the line. The question is, how do you prevent this nightmare from becoming a painful reality.
Countless research studies confirm this fact: Companies that advertise aggressively during a recession will flourish after the economic tide turns. Regardless of company size, effective advertising generally requires the services of an agency, and under current economic conditions, you may need one now more than ever. The question is, how do you go about getting the right one for your company.
You get calls and letters every day from people wanting you to use their ad agency, their direct mail program, their p.r. or marketing firm to promote your business. It seems everyone wants you to spend your money to communicate to your prospects and customers. But what's the best method for you?
How can a company grow its business or plan for growth when its niche area only accesses the smaller part of the pie?
"Competitiveness" is the newest corporate buzzword. It is being offered as the solution to all our economic problems. Newspapers, magazines and legislation are pushing us to be more "competitive."
At the next meeting of your association's marketing committee, notice what happens. The rate of taking notes increases dramatically when the market analysis and international trade trends reports begin. Even with the handouts to match the overhead projections of numbers, the audience's pace is furious. This is vital, apparently hard-to-come-by information, and no one wants to miss out. Almost all of the information comes from one source, yet the data offered is only one small dip from an enormous treasure chest - the U.S. Government.
Bankruptcy filings have not noticeably declined despite the economic recovery of the Reagan years. Businesses continue to receive notices that their customers have filed bankruptcy. Many of them are writing off significant losses each year as a result. despite the frequent use of bankruptcy by debtors, many business owners and managers have little or no idea of the pot-bankruptcy remedies available to them.
One of the key questions to be answered when exporting is how you are going to get your product to your customer. All the time, effort, and money you've spent to make a sale in the first place can be wasted if the shipment is late, damaged, or lost, or if delivery becomes an expensive bureaucratic nightmare for either you or the buyer.
Cost cutting. It's the aerobics of the 90s for businesses large and small. More than just the latest buzzword or 90-second flash-in-the-panacea, it's a survival technique. Companies that aren't trimming the fat now may not be around in five years to regret that they didn't.
Exporting. It's one of the hot strategies for helping boost businesses of all kinds, gear manufacturing among them. With domestic markets tight and new markets opening up overseas, exporting seems like a reasonable tactic. But while the pressure is on to sell overseas, there is equal, justifiable concern about whether the move is a good one. Horror stories abound about foreign restrictions, bureaucratic snafus, carloads of paperwork, and the complications and nuances of doing business in other languages and with other cultures.
The object of any business transaction, be it foreign or domestic, is making a profit. That's why you go through all the effort of making and selling your product in the first place. Getting paid in a timely manner is crucial to making profit, but when your customer is in another country, this "timely and convenient" payment can become complicated; hence, your need for a banker with expertise in international markets.
Organizing a successful trade show exhibit is not unlike running Operation Desert Storm. The logistics can be a nightmare; the expense, horrendous; the details, mind-boggling. About the only thing you won't have to cope with is having someone fire SCUD missiles at you.
The whole point of a trade show is to get leads that will turn into sales. No matter how attractive your booth was, no matter how smoothly the setup and the show ran, no matter how many visitors you had at your booth, if your presence at a show didn't net you any sales, then your considerable investment of time, money, and effort has been wasted.
Given the current economic and legal climate, matters of hiring and firing are cause for considerable concern among managers. In addition to all the other factors to be considered, employers must be wary of exactly how these procedures should be carried out, so that the company is not left open to lawsuits based on charges of discrimination of one kind or another. The reasons given for a particular employment decision may be as crucial to determining liability as the decision itself.
Most Navy brass would say that Commander D. Michael Abrashoff ran a loose ship. But his style of empowering his crew by delegating authority is changing the way the Navy thinks about management. His speech at the recent annual meeting of the American Gear Manufacturers Association offered a simple, common-sense approach that can be applied not only to running a ship, but also to gear manufacturing or any other industry.
Gleason Corporation has announced that agreement has been reached on all terms to acquire for approximately $36 million in cash the Hermann Pfauter Group, including, among other operations, Hermann Pfauter GmbH & Co., a privately held leading producer of gear equipment based in Ludwigsburg, Germany; its 76% interest in Pfauter-Maad Cutting Tools, a leading cutting tool manufacturer basked in Loves Park, IL; and Pfauter-Maag management's 24% ownership interest in that company. The acquisition includes all assets and liabilities, including the assumption of approximately $56 million in bank debt.
New innovations in the management of hear treating parts washers and yielding powerful, unexpected benefits. Simply, cost effective shop floor practices are being combined in new ways to deliver big quality improvements and significant help to the bottom line. Employing these steps early in the process can dramatically cut waste hauling expenses and greatly reduce environmental liabilities while continuously producing cleaner parts.
A few months ago at the AGMA management seminar, I was surprised by the feverish note taking that went on at a presentation on marketing. The sight reminded me that while many of us in the gear industry are good engineers, designers, and mangers, we are often not as familiar - or comfortable - with less concrete concepts, such as marketing.
With growing markets in aerospace and energy technologies, measuring hob cutters used in gear cutting is becoming an essential requirement for workpieces and machine tools. Zoller, a provider of solutions for tool pre-setters, measuring and inspection machines and tool management software, has developed a new partnership with Ingersoll/Germany for shop floor checking of hob cutters by a combined hardware and software approach.
How is it that we woke up one day in the early 1980s to find that apparently American industry was suddenly inefficient, our workforce unproductive and our management inept? Almost overnight industry found its sales dropping dramatically, while for many companies foreign competition became excruciatingly intense. This sudden change in the economic climate proved fatal for many companies and has been nearly as hard on our collective morale. In a country used to winning, we began to hear ourselves talked of as losers.
Recent history has taught us that global competition has become tougher and is a major concern of American gear manufacturers from abroad have invaded American markets with products designed in an environment where management of technology has been practiced effectively. If American companies intend to compete in the changing world market, they must acquire the technologies that will allow them to do so.
News Items About management
1 Moventas Launches Wind Turbine Condition Management System (May 24, 2007)
Moventas introduced its latest wind turbine condition management system at Hannover Messe 2007. The system focuses on the gearbox and a... Read News
2 New Management at Twin Disc (January 28, 2005)
Twin Disc Inc. has announced numerous changes in senior management. Jim Feiertag is the new executive vice president with responsibil... Read News
3 Management Shift at ABA-PGT (April 1, 2006)
Numerous staff changes have been reported at ABA-PGT. According to the companys press release, Sam Pierson stepped down and pres... Read News
4 Gleason Announces Senior Management Changes (February 2, 2005)
John W. Guffey, Jr. has taken over as CEO of Gleason Corp., as David Burns resigned earlier this month. Guffey, a longtime board membe... Read News
5 Management Promotions at SM Cyclo (February 20, 2007)
Donald J. Brownrigg was promoted to CEO/president for SM-Cyclo of Canada. Brownrigg has worked in the power transmission industry fo... Read News
6 Bodine Announces Management Promotions (February 20, 2007)
Bodine Electric Co. has promoted Michael Gschwind to vice president of sales and marketing. Gschwind, who has been with the company f... Read News
7 International Precision Gear Manufacturer, Gear Technology, Receives High Quality Management Systems Certification (February 27, 2009)
ISO 9001:2000 and AS 9100B:2004 certifications, the highest standards of quality, safety and manufacturing efficiency, have been awarded ... Read News
8 Tower Tech Announces Additions to Management Team (November 9, 2007)
Tower Tech Holdings Inc., a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of components for energy and infrastructure-related industries, recently announc... Read News
9 Gear Technology Appoints Management, Invests in Machinery (August 5, 2010)
Two senior level managers were promoted by Gear Technology. Joe Campa (pictured right), formerly quality assurance manager, is now direct... Read News