Gears Matter Blog

For The Overall Good

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When working for a non-profit, it is easy to develop a work ethic of using less to create more. Budgets can be tighter, resources are limited and being short staffed is a normal way of operating. It never surprises me to see the hard work of associations, foundations and non-profit folks that put the needs of others before their own. The bottom line is important but not always the focus. What does surprise me; however, is how the “for-profit” gear companies put the gear industry needs at the forefront of their interests, and many times at their own expense. The amount of time, money and personnel that businesses allocate to improving the overall industry ...
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Let's Get Ready

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Traveling for trade shows is expensive, stressful and exhausting. It is the season for expositions and many companies are already on their third or fourth for the year. In about two weeks, hopefully you and 2500 other industry professionals, will leave from cities all over the world and travel to Columbus, OH for Gear Expo 2017. Wouldn’t it be great if everything went off without a hitch?   By now, you most likely have completed all the internal company details. You have scheduled where employees will be, you have ordered and packed the booth items, organized the shipment and confirmed your booth appointments. Now, what’s left is getting you there ...
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Jill Johnson and I just returned from Greenville, SC where AGMA hosted 25 members for a networking dinner.  It is one of the best ways to connect with our members to see what is going on in their businesses. It was great to visit with members including Baldor, Griffin Gear and SEW Eurodrive.   All great companies, doing great things as they work hard to serve new and existing customers – and taking different paths to foster long term growth.   While visiting SEW-EURODRIVE, we had a chance to talk with Mathias Loewen, who manages many of the critical functions at its Lyman, SC facilities.  The locations they have include a 125,000 NSF assembly ...
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We recently went over the advantages to having a foundation connected to a trade association. Foundations serve the public good, and are restricted by the IRS to activities of a religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purpose. It is important as an association member to understand how trade association foundations receive their funding so you can choose how to be involved. Many association foundations receive funding through: ·          grants from other Foundations. Often times, these grants come from members of the trade association that have established a company or family foundations. ·          grants from ...
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I have been discussing the importance of social media for your business. I highlighted the fact that even those in manufacturing need to have a presence online to keep up with their competitors and the new technologies out there. Articles, blogs, op-ed pieces filled with intelligent words are only one way to share your expertise. My suggestion is that if you want to show your potential customers, your peers or your competition how good your product is, then you need to actually show them. When you use pictures and videos, your viewership will increase. MIT News reported that tallied posts on the MIT Facebook page showed: “Of the top 20 posts, 70 percent ...
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IMTS, Gear Expo, Westec, Eastec and plenty more trade shows remain an important part of manufacturing. Wasn't the internet supposed to make finding new products and technologies effortless? Why do we still spend gobs of money and time exhibiting and attending these things all over the country?   As an exhibitor of machine tools, I know firsthand the heavy cost of being part of a trade show. Instead of exhibiting, we could just hold a lottery and give away a machine. Same cost! Ok, perhaps not a new machine—maybe a used one. . . But, that would be missing the point. I shake my head when I hear gear industry personnel say something like, "Gear Expo? ...
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Have you ever attended a trade show and seen exhibitors who don’t have any business in their booths?   Or, have you ever wondered why some booths (even small in size) are jammed with people?   Trade show b ooth traffic isn’t necessarily a reflection on the quality of your product is–it’s a reflection on the quality of your personnel running the booth. When I attend a trade show, it’s always amazing what people think is acceptable booth behavior.   You’ve seen these people too–they have their backs to the aisles, sitting down reading a magazine, talking on their phones and looking at the floor.   These exhibitors are missing sales opportunities.   When ...
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To the Weird and Wild

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A big part of my job is to stay on top of developments in our emerging technology areas. I spend a good deal of time reading new studies, research reports, and articles on new applications in 3D printing, robotics, and Industrial IoT. Today I thought it would be fun to share some of the odd and new that may not completely help you to make your factory smart, but just may be inspiring. So my tribute to the weird and the wild: Hyperloop I have been following the Hyperloop development for the past couple of years now. I am sure I am not brave enough to be a volunteer on their first full runs, but I am amazed at the ingenuity. And WIRED posted ...
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Businesses and marketing departments rely on their databases to send Emails, mail correspondence and to gather information regarding membership demographics. Having a “dirty” database can have many implications. Poor data can have a ripple effect on the entire business when you don’t maintain records. It can destroy marketing efforts which then can affect sales/services. Low quality data can impact Email deliverability and sender reputation, making it hard to reach effectively those individuals who are actually interested in your services and not bother those who are not. According to Digital Print Management, “Data cleaning refers to identifying incomplete, ...
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One of the greatest value drivers for an association is standards development.  A single company will not ever want to ask its greatest competitors to come together and work out a problem with them.  Self-interest – and current anti-trust law – keeps this from happening.  Associations are created under strict anti-trust rules to deliver this value – to bring industry together to focus time and attention on a challenge in a collaborative manner.    I spent a day attending the ISO TC 60, Working Group 6 meeting, recently held in Garching, Germany at the FZG facilities.  I was a guest, and attended the meeting with Robin Olson of Rexnord, who served ...
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We are living in a technological boom. Some days it is impossible just to get through the news on the breakthroughs of the day. But for the gear industry, this is important work. Where will the next industry disruptors arrive? Can we prepare for them? These are tough questions to answer and our new Emerging Technology Committee is just beginning to scratch the surface. There is one burning question; however, that I can provide an answer to:  Is anyone mass producing gears via 3D printed metal? The answer today, is " N o ." Technology author, Rawal Ahmed, admits in a recent article about metal printing that “ It’s no secret that metal printing still ...
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I am sure after my last entry, you all went back to your companies and started social media accounts as a new marketing tool, ha! Or, maybe you are still on the fence about how social media can help the manufacturing industry. Either way, here are some great tips on how to approach the beginning stages of social media for your business. First things first, social media, as with any new endeavor in your business, is a commitment. It takes work to develop a look and feel to your platform that best represents your brand. Once you start putting information out there and gathering a following, you need to keep it up. Show your're dependable to stay on top of ...
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The IoT Wildfire

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One of the biggest trending topics in manufacturing today is the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT). At its most basic, it is the linking of industrial equipment and products with electronic-based or internet-based tools and networks that allow extraction and analytics of big data. But, when it comes to working to apply it to plant floors, it becomes a dance of the IT and OT departments — or more like a dance of an alligator and a crocodile. Which — I want to make clear — have equal footing in this scenario. The Industrial IoT adoption has been quick. The first we heard of this stuff was only in 2011 with the discussions of Industry 4.0 in Germany. It ...
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There are significant talent shortages and skill gaps that are slowing down the abilities of companies to expand, innovate, and thrive. Did you know that there are an estimated 500,000 people in registered apprenticeship programs in the United States? Did you know that 91% of people who complete registered apprenticeship programs are placed in jobs? The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is an excellent opportunity for the public workforce system to transform the lives of job seekers and workers!   Registered apprenticeship programs are a proven strategy that assist state and local workforce systems to develop partnerships that strengthen ...
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For over 300 years, scientific journals have been using formal peer reviews as a way to evaluate the work of researchers before publication. AGMA’s Technical Division currently subjects gear industry technical papers through a rigorous double-blind peer review by three experienced industry professionals. I’ve been told that our technical paper selection process and detailed peer reviews by subject experts results in some of the most thoroughly vetted (and therefore technically sound) papers for gear conferences. So first off, what makes a peer review double-blind? Elsevier defines it as a peer review where both the reviewer and the author remain anonymous ...
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In preparation for this entry, I typed in “manufacturing and social media” into my search bar and, well, my browser shut down. I laughed a little because the way my computer reacted is the way a good amount of people in the manufacturing industry do regarding social media – they shut down. This internet tool created by millennials to overshare everything including what’s for dinner, has blossomed into a business “must have” for networking and leads; moreover, a source of industry news. If you are apprehensive about opening an account on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin, don’t be. Know that these media platforms are here to stay and will open a new way ...
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Additive Beginnings

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Last November, the AGMA board of directors chose four topics for our work this year in emerging technology. One topic that grabbed me right away was 3D printing/Additive printing. I had had little exposure–only with my art background was I watching the use of 3D as a new medium for art. But, to focus on it through the lens of manufacturing has been an enlightening pursuit these last months. My first toe-in-the-water moment was when I read an article on how 3D printing had fundamentally changed hearing aid manufacturing. Additive’s natural ability to print unusual shapes and one-off affordable capability made it a natural fit for the needs of hearing aid ...
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Chances are most associations you know (and since there are over 92,000 trade and professional associations in the U.S., you may know many) have set up a foundation.   There are so many association foundations that they have even established their own association — the Association Foundation Group headquartered in Washington, DC. So why are foundations so important and why would an association set one up? The simple/practical answer is taxes. Both associations and foundations are typically tax exempt under Section 501(c) of the IRS code. Trade associations and professional societies are generally organized under 501(c)(6) of the code, and foundations ...
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In very recent years, the development of much faster computational speeds has had effects on almost every sector of our lives. As the speed increases so does the rate of development and deployment of new products. Manufacturing executives are not only dealing with problems of skilled worker shortages and constant new and changing regulations, but they have to stay informed on the new products and processes changing their very landscape through emerging technologies. The AGMA is committed to providing its member companies with relevant information on emerging technologies. It is our job to bring you the news relevant to the gear industry. In the ...
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Do you remember those summers when you were in school? There were no classes but instead, vacations; the time for everyone to kick back and relax. AGMA realizes that even as adults, the summers can be sacred and that offering face-to-face classes can work against us during July and August. But as we know, business does not take a break and gears must be made. So, like many other educational programs, we decided to offer a learning tool that is convenient, cost effective and allows students another way to grow their knowledge.   Webinars provide the opportunity for companies to continue education for their employees without the added costs of travel ...
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