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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.

Vendor Managed Inventory: Five Things to Consider

Posted February 11, 2018 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: radwell VMI

After research, you’ve decided that vendor managed inventory might be the right solution for your operation. If you’re unsure what your next steps are to finalize a VMI vendor relationship, here are five things to consider before making your final decision on a vendor:

1- Senior Management Buy-in: For both the vendor and buyer, senior management acceptance and support of the program is the first step in a successful and working vendor managed inventory system. Without the support of senior management it will be very difficult for the VMI system to translate through the rest of the organization as a recognized and working program.

2- Experience: The vendor should be experienced in how to efficiently manage customer inventory to maximize potential efficiency and cost savings. Vendors that provide VMI should have systems in place to provide efficient VMI services. Vendors should also have advanced capabilities and tested systems in place to provide the proper level of client service. An automated materials handling system may provide the next level of VMI efficiency as well.

3- Training and Employee Knowledge and Acceptance: Employees must be on board for a VMI system to work. Be sure that systems are in place to provide training that works for your business operations. With proper training your employees will be fully engaged in making a VMI system successful and effective.

4- Partnership: A strong partnership between the vendor and the buyer is a key component to success with vendor managed inventory programs. In seeking a VMI system, focusing on providers that work as partners will produce the most effective results.

5- Follow Up: VMI providers should be able to provide follow up on a regular basis. A VMI vendor contact should work with their customers regularly and consultatively to continue to monitor and improve inventory operations.

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

1 comments; last comment on 02/12/2018
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Standards in Action: An Overview of the ISO Certification Process

Posted September 10, 2017 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: iso certification radwell

ISO Certification is a process that enhances business offerings. By showcasing how an organization meets certain standards, they announce to the world the highest level of quality, safety, and efficiency in their operations.

At Radwell International, Tom Foy, Corporate Training/ISO Manager has worked with all levels to facilitate the process of gaining ISO certifications. We spoke with Tom to discuss the process.

What is involved in achieving an ISO certification for a business?

The first phase is to build documentation to support your certification.

The next phase is to train all levels of managers and ensure they have everything they need to supply materials to their teams.

The final piece is to conduct audits. An internal audit is completed by a team based on the standards. The next audit is conducted by an outside company. Between audits, things get adjusted as needed.

How does an ISO certification affect employees?

It heightens the awareness of customer focus. It gives employees a feeling of empowerment.

How long does the certification process usually take for a business?

For a first certification, it usually takes nine months. For subsequent certifications, the process usually takes an average of six months.

What are the differences between the certifications (2008 v. 2015)?

2008: Required a quality manual as well as six separate necessary documents.

2015: Required some changed language, quality manual became optional, and it has 23 required documentations

Who is responsible for implementing ISO standards?

The ISO team and all management are responsible.

How does Radwell International's certification impact the customer experience?

To us, the certification is all about customer focus and quality. When we receive an ISO certification, there are benefits for our organization and our customers. It opens the door for a company to be exposed to new partners and new customers.

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

2 comments; last comment on 09/11/2017
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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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