Hand-Held Scanner Sales Slow

Sept. 1, 2001
A new market study shows these scanners are being knocked by the economic downturn, but new scanner technology remains a big driver.

Hand-Held Scanner Sales Slow

According to Venture Development Corporation’s just-published market study entitled The 2001 Global AIDC Industry Business Planning Service, shipments of hand-held bar code scanners surpassed $930 million and 5.4 million units. While growth in 2000 met expectations, shipments during the first half of 2001 have slowed considerably due to poor economic conditions in North America. VDC expects growth during 2001 to be flat while 2002 revenue growth is expected to show a slight increase.

According to VDC’s report, while laser bar code scanners remain a mainstay of the AIDC market, the emergence of performance-comparable CCD scanners at lower unit prices could drive long-term CCD opportunities. CCD scanners have improved significantly in terms of key performance metrics (i.e., scan rates, depth of field, read range, etc.); however, CCD suppliers need to develop more effective end-user education programs, detailing the performance/price position of CCD scanners relative to laser scanners. Moreover, laser scanners continue to be perceived as the superior technology, according to end users (primarily in North America), and with decreasing laser scanner prices, linear CCD may have difficulty capturing market share from laser in certain markets. Additional issues and trends impacting the hand-held bar code scanner market and influencing supplier product offerings include:

• The hand-held CCD/CMOS imager market is perhaps the most hotly contested segment of the overall scanner market. While current shipments remain limited due to high price points and uneven performance capabilities, next generation CMOS offerings are expected to more closely meet end-user requirements and provide significant market opportunity.

• While adoption of matrix symbologies has long been considered the primary driver of CCD/CMOS imager adoption, image capture capability is expected to become a more compelling factor. Application opportunities include, for example, signature capture, damage documentation and delivery confirmation.

Who Wants Your Business?

The Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC) has released its sixth annual rankings of states according to their respective policy climates for small business in the Small Business Survival Index 2001.

According to SBSC chief economist Raymond J. Keating, author of the study, “The Survival Index 2001 offers a gauge by which to measure and compare how government in the states treat small businesses and entrepreneurs. Since small business serves as the backbone of the U.S. economy by providing the bulk of new jobs and majority of innovations, every state and local lawmaker should be concerned with the well-being of small business.”

In an increasingly mobile and competitive national economy, differences in government-imposed costs of doing business can make a huge difference between whether a state grows economically or falls behind, says Darrell McKigney, president, SBSC. “The purpose of the Small Business Survival Index 2001 is to let citizens and lawmakers know how they stack up with the rest of the country in terms of being friendly to small businesses and economic growth,” he adds.

The Small Business Survival Index 2001 ties together 17 major government-imposed or government-related costs impacting small businesses and entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of industries and types of businesses. These measures are combined into one index number — the Small Business Survival Index.

The most entrepreneur-friendly states under the Small Business Survival Index 2001 are: 1. Nevada, 2. South Dakota, 3. Washington, 4. Wyoming, and 5. Florida. Last on the list of 51 is the District of Columbia.

For a copy of the Small Business Survival Index 2001, visit SBSC’s Web site, sbsc.org. SBSC is a national non-partisan, non-profit small business advocacy group headquartered in, ironically, Washington, D.C.

Association News

MESA International, the association for manufacturing execution system managers, has elected its officers for the coming year. New leaders include Chairman Ram Prabhakar, director of strategy for manufacturing solutions, EDS; Vice Chairman Robert Rudder, vice president, Unifi Technology Group; Treasurer Tom Bruhn, vice president food and beverage, EnteGreat Inc.; and Past Chairwoman Maryanne Steidinger, director strategic alliances, Datasweep.

MESA International also announced its first conference and exposition in Europe to be held November 19-20 in Amsterdam. Visit the association’s Web site, mesa.org, for details.

The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) has set the dates for its 25th annual conference. The event will be held in Chicago, April 28 through May 1, 2002. The Hyatt Regency Chicago will be the venue for this event that draws more than 1,000 members and more than 70 speakers. Jim Bierfeldt, vice president marketing and sales, USCO Logistics, is the conference chairman. Programs will be directed by Thomas W. Speh, Ph.D., Miami University.

The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) has promoted Laura Bender to manager, global marketing. Bender has been with the institute for three years and will now manage PMMI’s international positioning at packaging tradeshows around the world.

Managers Making News

Intermec Technologies Corp. has named Tom Miller executive vice president responsible for global sales and marketing. Miller previously served as Intermec senior vice president of the company’s Systems and Solutions organization.

Landoll Corporation, manufacturer of Bendi and PivotMast narrow aisle lift trucks, has appointed Ronald L. Otten chief operating officer.

Kevin Ambrose has been appointed chief executive officer of WEI Corporation.

Siemens Energy & Automation Inc. announced the hiring of Dale Wilson to lead its construction sales efforts as vice president, general sales division. Wilson will direct all sales activities of the company’s industrial products, power distribution and residential businesses, which include product categories ranging from PLCs and drives to home automation systems.

Richards-Wilcox Inc. has promoted Myrna Martinez to be its manager of planning and purchasing. Martinez has been with the company for 12 years and will be responsible for management of MRP information.

Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A. Inc. has appointed John Schmitt national account and fleet sales manager; Terry Rains, parts sales and systems planning national manager; and Martin Boyd, internal combustion planning and application manager. In other organizational changes at Toyota, Bill Porento has been named vice president, product development, training, parts and service; Jim McManus, vice president sales and marketing; Alan Cseresznyak, vice president, planning, finance and information technology; and Jack Sprouls, vice president of administration.

The Hoover Group has appointed David Humphrey senior vice president of business development for iTRAM, an Internet-based application service provider for tracking reusable containers.

Motoman Inc., manufacturer of industrial robots, has hired Glenn Jackson as vice president of the advanced systems group.

Hays Container Services, a provider of reusable plastic container (RPC) rental services to the produce and perishable industries, has appointed James A. Vangelos president and CEO. Vangelos was most recently vice president, sales at CHEP USA.

Shuttleworth Inc. has named John Shuttleworth western sales manager, and Ralph Matchett eastern sales manager.

Sedlak Management Consultants has promoted Larry Bandstra and Jeff Mueller to the level of vice president. Bandstra’s field of expertise is working with clients to identify and analyze operational requirements for material handling and information systems. Mueller works in the area of supply chain software systems selection and implementation. Mike Foley and Lu Hsi McCoy have been named senior consultants; and Mark Rosario, consultant.

Peach State Integrated Technologies Inc., winner of the 1998 Material Handling Management Value Added award, has named Ed Reel vice president and general manager.

Business News

Siemens AG announced the acquisition of Compex N.V., Ninove, Belgium, a leading supplier of software and solutions in the planning and execution level for batch processing applications. Siemens will integrate Compex into its Industrial Solutions & Services Group, aiming to expand its activities in the food and beverage industries, a specialty of Compex. U.S. activities of Compex will be coordinated through Siemens Energy & Automation Inc.

NDC Automation Inc. announced that it is now doing business under the name Transbotics Corporation. A formal amendment to its articles of incorporation affecting such name change will be submitted to the shareholders for their approval at the next annual meeting. The company’s specialty for more than 20 years has been automatic guided vehicle systems or transportation robots.

SICK Inc., a manufacturer of sensor technology, has purchased the LazerData product line of PSC Inc., a provider of mobile and wireless systems and data collection products.

Automated Systems is the new name for FMC Technologies Inc.’s automated material handling systems unit. Officials say the name change reflects a broadening of the focus and product offerings of the company.

The $300 million acquisition of USCO Logistics by Kuehne & Nagel International AG, Schindellegi, Switzerland, has been completed. The combined organizations now have more than 17,000 associates and 600 locations in 90 countries.

Dearborn Mid-West Conveyor Wins — Again

Dearborn Mid-West Conveyor has, for the 12th year in a row, captured DaimlerChrysler Corporation’s Gold Award. The award is presented to select companies in recognition of outstanding performance and achievement of the highest ratings in quality, technology, service and price.

Award of Excellence

Catalyst International Inc., global supplier of supply chain execution software, has received the Award of Excellence Accreditation 2001 — WMS by the Institute of Transportation Management (ITM). Presented with the award after 12 months of research by the ITM, Catalyst was the unanimous choice by the awards committee in the area of warehouse management systems.

Letters to the Editor

To: George Weimer

Your column (Plain English Only, Please!, July 2001) addressing jargon expressed the sentiments of many of us, and all I could add would be Amen!

I have been in manufacturing for more than 35 years, and still recall the days when “common sense” and “experience” carried weight. I have seen many “flavor of the day” buzz-words come and go. I suspect the consultants are laughing all the way to the bank, aah, excuse me, I mean to their “financial outreach associate.”

— John Feeley, president

Schaeff Inc.

[email protected]

To: Leslie Langnau

I wholeheartedly agree with you (Holding Software to a Higher Standard, July 2001). I’m a software developer and a licensed professional engineer (mechanical engineering) with more than 10 years’ experience implementing software for factory automation and material handling systems.

The state-of-the-art of software is atrocious because the industry does not treat itself as an engineering discipline. Most developers do not realize that the problems that we are struggling with today are the same problems that mechanical and electrical engineers struggled with, and found solutions for, in the 1920s.

There are major efforts to improve software quality. The most notable is Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute’s Capabilities Maturity Model. It attempts to help organizations improve their software development by analyzing how well software groups institutionalize certain engineering practices. These practices include identifying requirements, maintaining configuration control, planning and managing projects, and using quality assurance techniques.

Managers need to understand that they have the right to expect software to perform as well as every other part of a system. Only then will they demand that developers take steps to improve the software development process.

— Jeff Cohen

Siemens Dematic Postal Automation

[email protected]

Counterpoint —

To: Leslie Langnau

As an employee of a software company delivering systems to the manufacturing industry, I would like to point out that there are many variables under which software must work in today’s markets (Re: Holding Software to a Higher Standard, July 2001).

Too often, despite the high cost of downtime, companies who install these complex systems are not prepared to invest in the testing required before pushing the “live” button.

Buyers constantly drive down price and want faster delivery. Many times they will choose to test the systems themselves or take on other parts of the project to save money. Often, however, they never get around to executing the steps they agreed to take on, with the result being unexpected system failure or shutdown. It’s a sad fact that many buyers base their decision on cost of implementation rather than the ability of a company to manage an installation.

Those who purchase these systems must be aware of what they are getting and take responsibility for that. Buyers must provide the resources that realistically reflect the risk the finished product will carry. If downtime means a cost in excess of $10,000 per minute, clients shouldn’t balk at a test program in line with the risk.

Buyers may certainly insist on systems with higher tolerance guarantees, but they should also be prepared to pay for what they ask for in both product and services.

— Geoff Dawson

[email protected]