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Engineering Management

The Engineering Management Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about engineering and project management, technology forecasting and planning, productivity tools, and safety and security. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Four Questions for Markus Schmidt, Swisslog’s President of WDS Americas

Posted March 12, 2017 12:00 AM by ahorner_22

If you’ve been keeping up with the remodel of Radwell International’s new headquarters in Willingboro, NJ, then you know about the installation of our Swisslog Autostore. Recently we got to chat with Markus Schmidt, Swisslog’s President of WDS Americas.

What are the best parts of your job?

There are moments in our type of business that are most rewarding. Among those I would count winning a significant new customer or order from an existing customer, meeting customers after a successful project implementation and seeing talent develop and grow into new and larger roles within our company.

In your opinion what is the most unique thing about Swisslog as a company?

Swisslog has never let a customer down in the end. Even though there were challenges at times, we have never stopped working with a customer we committed to and always ended the project properly. This culture amongst all the other good technical aspects of our offering is certainly outstanding and something I am very proud of.

Tell us about the Swisslog working environment. How would you describe your team’s personality and how does that affect results?

We are a group of hard working, technically minded people who strive to provide a business benefit to our customers. We are working hard to provide a positive experience.

Your company creates very specialized systems that are custom designed from location to location. What kinds of challenges does this present?

We strive to precisely understand each customer’s unique requirements. The real value is created in understanding the customer’s business and deploying our technology in a way that brings the best cost/benefit ratio. This takes not only experience but also quite a lot of skill in the design phase. We do not sell machines, we sell a business benefit that uses machines where appropriate.

Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Radwell International.

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France Is Trying To Switch Off After-hours Email

Posted February 27, 2017 12:00 AM by Hannes
Pathfinder Tags: email france information overload

On January 1st of this year, France passed a much publicized “right to disconnect” law. It requires firms with more than 50 employees to negotiate fair after-hours and vacation communication. While France’s recent labor laws were heavily protested, supporters say the right to disconnect rule will lead to a more engaged, less burnt-out workforce as a result of better work-life balance.

This legislation doesn’t seem out of place, both in France and the whole of Europe. The former has a (nominal, rarely actual) 35-hour legal work week; any hours over this amount are technically overtime. (France’s recent package of controversial labor laws, including those making it easier for companies to hire and fire employees and giving companies the right to negotiate longer hours and cheaper overtime, were largely proposed to combat the negative effects of the shorter week.) A 2014 German law prohibits managers from calling or emailing outside of work hours, except in “emergency” situations, although this one clearly allows for major wiggle room. German companies Volkswagen and Daimler both limit emailing after hours: the former blocks its employees’ Blackberries, and the latter offers a service that deletes or redirects employee emails sent while on vacation.

It might be surprising to learn that French employers are more receptive than their employees to the latest law. Some consider it a narrow policy that actually limits flexibility, as some parents may want to leave the office to spend some after-school time with their kids and finish up their work day at night. Many businesses have had a global presence for years now, and forcing them to shut down during another country’s operating hours will cost them business overseas. Other critics point out that forcing an after-hours email shutdown will hurt innovation, citing that a major part of innovating is capturing spontaneous creative thinking that could occur at any time.

While it’s nice to see governments and individual companies taking steps to avoid workforce burnout—including investigating the six-hour workday and results-only work environments—there are bound to be tradeoffs. France has been struggling with a record-high 11% unemployment rate, causing many to call out their working laws as unsustainable. And obviously these changes are much more applicable to white-collar office work; companies relying on shift work are rarely able to cut their work days or weeks short without significant productivity losses. In the US, work-life balance unfortunately comes down to the corporate and often individual level, and managers who realize the full impact of after-hours communication will likely have happier and more productive direct reports.

Image credit: Jason Rogers / CC BY 2.0

6 comments; last comment on 03/01/2017
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Radwell Customer Service In Action

Posted February 12, 2017 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: customer service radwell

Here’s a Customer Hero Story from Robert Tiedeken, Branch Manager at Radwell-Indiana:

In November, 2015, a contact came into our branch with an emergency repair. He was frustrated that he and his customer weren’t getting emergency service from other sources. This was his first time working with Radwell. We assured him that we would put urgency on his repair. He also inquired about field service. I let him know that we did do field service. The next day I received a call that his customer was willing to pay good money, for good people. He had researched Radwell and was ready to work with us.

I assembled a team to go onsite. Upon arrival, we were marched into our customer’s conference room filled with their top management. I explained our approach. First, discovery. Next, meet with their technicians, observe errors, and form a plan of attack. We assured the customer that we would see it through.

We received full access to whatever we might need. Quickly our engineers identified the issue. Our motor technician identified the encoders as the problem. He realized we had four of the encoders in stock so a courier was dispatched to deliver the encoders. We proceeded with the repair. We then met with the team again to discuss our findings and plan.

The encoders arrived early the next morning and by 6 am, our motor technician was performing the repair. Once the motor was installed and the machine started running, we realized the repair was a success. This was a big win for Radwell and our customer. Our team from Radwell-Indiana was able to go onsite to diagnose a problem and get them up and running in a day’s time. We leveraged Radwell’s expertise to do what we do best: support our customer’s operation. Win-win!

Editor's note: This is a sponsored post by Radwell International.

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Inventor Dyson Launches Institute to Bridge Engineering Gap

Posted January 26, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Best known for a vacuum cleaner, inventor James Dyson said he'll invest more than $12 million over five years in a technology institute to help meet growing demand for engineers. He plans to invest in education, research, and job placement for graduates.

Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Engineering Management eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox.

1 comments; last comment on 01/26/2017
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Organizational Communication: Product Lifecycle Management

Posted January 25, 2017 1:25 PM by SavvyExacta
Pathfinder Tags: communication PLM

As more forms of communication are added to our toolboxes it seems to be increasingly difficult to stay in the know about what's going on. Email, instant messages, spreadsheets, Intranet sites, calendars, collaborative software... How do you stay up to date?

Your organization's product or service offerings are one area where communication can be challenging. Are all the teams working toward the same goal, or is communication fragmented? Do you know what's on the roadmap this year or what changes were released last week?

Product lifecycle management software can help keep everyone organized and informed.

Image: Wikipedia

Documented benefits of product lifecycle management include:[from Wikipedia]

  • Reduced time to market
  • Increase full price sales
  • Improved product quality and reliability
  • Reduced prototyping costs
  • More accurate and timely request for quote generation
  • Ability to quickly identify potential sales opportunities and revenue contributions
  • Savings through the re-use of original data
  • A framework for product optimization
  • Reduced waste
  • Savings through the complete integration of engineering workflows
  • Documentation that can assist in proving compliance for RoHS or Title 21 CFR Part 11
  • Ability to provide contract manufacturers with access to a centralized product record
  • Seasonal fluctuation management
  • Improved forecasting to reduce material costs
  • Maximize supply chain collaboration

Ensuring that product lifecycle stakeholders throughout your organization can access the most accurate, up-to-date product information will benefit all aspects of both the product and the organization itself. But how do these stakeholders – from requirements definition through service and support – get product information in a timely way to begin informing critical decisions today?

Download a free eBook to:

  • Discover the Impact of today’s methods
  • Explore the Role of IoT in finding a solution
  • Learn how PTC Navigate can help
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