Manufacturing Week: E-World Meets Shop

April 1, 2001
Here's the scoop from Manufacturing Week on the wave of software intelligence and improved communications sweeping the factory floor.

Manufacturing Week: E-World Meets Shop

Even a late winter blizzard couldn’t keep thousands of curious manufacturing experts from Chicago’s Manufacturing Week show at McCormick Place March 6-9. What they saw and talked about, however, was quite a bit different from what most non-manufacturing experts would expect. The E-World has moved into the Manufacturing World with a special gusto, judging from the number and sophistication of advanced technology and systems booths.

About 35 percent of the members of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), one of the chief sponsors of the show, are online, noted NAM president Larry Jasinowski. "We believe about 50 percent will be online in one more year."

In fact, the e-world was the undisputed star of the show this year as new company after new company showed off its digital wares and successes on the Internet from marketing to product design. The brave new world of industrial exchanges took a leading role at Manufacturing Week along with other tools of this newest level of automation.

"The Dock," for example, allows buyers and sellers of industrial equipment access to an "open collaborative marketplace," explained company president and founder, Michael Hackman. Launched late last year, the Internet-based site offers 85,000 equipment listings and has some 3,500 members already. The service is free and is located at

Eaton Corporation’s Cutler-Hammer told MHM at the show that its IT (Intelligence Technology) Soft Starter product line is a good example of how companies are bringing more intelligence to the factory floor. The Soft Starter allows enterprise-wide communications while collecting data about any number of applications, Cutler-Hammer explained.

Tracking technology got a clear boost from some new systems from Intermec, a Unova Co., Everett, Washington. Its radio frequency tracking system is so good that various national standards groups are studying it for use as a standard, Intertmec executives told MHM at the show. The hand-held reader/programmer gun and special small tags on the products or material to be tracked remove almost all the need to align pallets in set ways. This means quite an increase in movement throughout the facility, Intermec explained.

DVT Corp., Norcross, Georgia, also demonstrated advances in factory intelligence with its new bar code reading technology, the SmartLink, which offers a revolutionary new approach that transfers images within the system via Ethernet.

Entivity of Ann Arbor, Michigan, introduced another Web-based system called the Automation ProjectNet, which manages the design and deployment of complex automation projects, the company explained. The company’s idea is to provide document management tools that allow you to view, share, change, update and route project files. Using the Internet in this way ultimately means saving time and money, Entivity president Ken Spenser adds.

Numerous other high-tech firms demonstrated Internet ideas in action at the show. Though the blizzard kept thousands away from Chicago, thousands made it in to take advantage of a remarkable array of state-of-the-art automation and Internet-based technology. Suffice it to say that the NAM in DC would be glad to send you a program so you can look up and call upon any of the companies you missed.

One final point: The consensus about next year is that there will be even more ways demonstrated to turn your shop into an intelligent plant.

George Weimer, contributing editor

Toyota Industrial Equipment Acquired

As part of Toyota’s strategy to strengthen its global material handling operations, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works Ltd. (TAL) acquired Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIE), effective April 1. The acquisition will result in the formation of a new company, Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A. The creation of this new company will allow TIE, currently a division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc., to strengthen its core business of supplying material handling products and services to a wide variety of industries in the U.S.

"The new organization and unified focus will help TIE be more responsive to our customers’ needs," explains Dr. Shankar Basu, TIE group vice president and general manager. "This is a strong commitment to customers in North America and around the globe."

Basu will be appointed president and CEO of the new U.S. company. The move is part of a long-term plan by Toyota and related to TAL’s recent acquisition of BT Industries, the Swedish manufacturer of Raymond and BT Prime-Mover lift truck brands. In June 2000, TAL purchased BT Industries, acquiring 97.1% of the shares and voting rights. As a result, Toyota is now the world’s No. 1 supplier of industrial equipment, surpassing German-based Linde and the NACCO Material Handling Group, which controls the Hyster and Yale brand names.

CEMA Expands

The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association (CEMA) has made the decision to change membership qualifications in two key areas that will be extremely beneficial to the industry. The organization now offers two categories of membership.

The first area is the manufacturing membership, open to manufacturers of conveyors and conveyor components. This area will be expanded to include companies in all of North America, not just the U.S.

The second category will be a technical membership offered to non-manufacturing companies that provide engineering and technical consulting services to both manufacturers and customers in the conveyor industry. A reduced rate structure has been implemented for the technical members.

AmeriStar Competition

The premier packaging competition in America is seeking entries. AmeriStar Package Awards, sponsored by the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), is open to anyone — engineer, marketer, supplier or packager. Entrants simply need to have been involved in the design or manufacture of the package or one of its principal components. Any package or family of packages produced after January 1, 2000, and not previously entered into an AmeriStar competition may be entered. No prototypes will be accepted.

This year there are 14 categories for entries ranging from Food through Industrial/Commercial. Deadline for entries is June 15. For more information, call IoPP at 800 432-4085, or visit its Web site,

Benchmark Study Released

RSM McGladrey Inc. and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) announced the results of the fifth annual PulseMark survey, providing the U.S. manufacturing industry with a balanced scorecard of plant-based, financial and operational capabilities. The results are published in Benchmarks for U.S. Manufacturing Productivity, a comprehensive report on best practices that will help manufacturers identify areas of potential improvement in 2001 and beyond.

Unique to this year’s survey is a special section focusing on methods manufacturers can use to harness the power of the Internet. The Internet, as this study shows, is just the latest technology that manufacturers are leveraging in their endless quest for continuous improvement and increased productivity, according to Tom Orlowski, NAM’s information systems vice president.

PulseMark data was collected from the more than 25,000 surveys mailed to manufacturing firms across all industries and geographic regions in the U.S., ranging from small to mid-sized companies with one plant to large multi-plant manufacturers. Significant findings in the special Internet section include:

• E-Commerce Buy Side: The majority of manufacturers’ Internet procurement is spent on MRO material (maintenance, repair and operations — such as lubricants, computers, pumps, tools, motors, lights and cleaners) rather then direct raw material.

• E-Commerce Sell Side: Participating manufacturers are gradually beginning to solicit and conduct e-commerce sales, with 14.7 percent of participants responding that they currently conduct Internet sales transactions. Results also indicate incomplete supply chain system integration is preventing manufacturers from fully exploiting the e-commerce channel. For more information on the survey, visit

Managers Making News

Tiffin Metal Products has promoted Michael R. Reser to executive vice president and COO, and Ronald J. Myers to vice president, sales and marketing.

Vantage Pak International, designer and builder of case packers, tray packers and shrink wrappers, has named Mike Lycosky sales manager.

Meg Merritt

has been appointed manager, sales and marketing support programs, for AWP Industries Inc.

Exel has appointed Daniel W. Avramovich president, Exel Direct, the company’s home delivery service for retailers, e-tailers and manufacturers.

PortaFab has named Ken Vortherms director of the mezzanine division, and Brian Ayres director, business development.

Liberty Diversified Industry has named Julie B. Schlueter general manager of its Valley Craft division, specializing in hand trucks, carts and drum handling devices.

The Open DeviceNet Vendor Association has named Frank Wood executive director.

Name Changes

Ametek Prestolite Power

is the new name for Hobart, the industrial battery charger manufacturer located in Troy, Ohio.

Rockwell International Corporation announced that it will change its name to Rockwell Automation to better reflect the company’s business focus after the completion of the planned spin-off of Rockwell Collins, the company’s avionics business, as an independent publicly traded company. The company also announced that Rockwell Collins will continue to use the Rockwell Collins name.

AIM Announces Appointments

AIM Inc., the global trade association of automatic identification and data collection (AIDC) and networking in a mobile environment, has appointed Mike Baur, CEO, ScanSource Inc.; David Slinger, vice president, Texas Instruments; and Ken Hoshino, executive corporate adviser in international affairs, SATO Corporation, to its board of directors.

Mergers, Partnerships and Acquisitions

Catalyst International

, a supplier of supply chain execution solutions, and Kewill Systems plc, provider of e-fulfillment solutions, have announced an extended strategic partnership.

PortaFab Corp.,

manufacturer of modular in-plant building systems, has acquired Henges Manufacturing, manufacturer of mezzanines.

Siemens AG

has announced that it intends to acquire the Orsi Group of Genoa, Italy, a firm specializing in manufacturing execution system software.

Avery Dennison Corp.

has acquired Dunsirm Industries Inc., a provider of non-pressure-sensitive material to the narrow web printing industry.

On The Job

Nationally known cartoonist Jerry King is certainly a fount of ideas and humor, but we’d like to have you help him understand the material handling industry. Send us your ideas for a satiric or just a plain, funny look at any aspect of material handling. Give us the concept or tell us what you think the caption should say and we’ll pass the idea on to King. If we select your idea for publication, we’ll send you the original cartoon artwork, signed and suitable for framing. Send your ideas to [email protected].