Friday, May 23, 2014

2nd Gen Solar Powered Plane Prepares For Round-The-World Trip

The Solar Impulse on a night flight
The world recently got its first look at the second airplane to fly completely solar powered.  Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, partners and co-creators, rolled out Solar Impulse 2 in Switzerland as they prepare it for what is only to be their latest undertaking.  The two entrepreneurs- Piccard, a doctor and renowned explorer, and Borschberg, an MIT-graduated engineer and pilot, have now spent more than a decade proving to the world that solar power can indeed be integrated into aviation (although they make it a point to state they're not pushing an agenda of exclusively using solar-powered aviation).  Their public endeavors have taken them from test flights to night flights to crossing the Mediterranean on their prototype Solar Impulse in 2012, to a five-stop tour across the United States in 2013.  Now, Piccard and Borschberg, along with their 90-person-strong company is gearing up for the next and most harrowing flight yet: a round-the-world trip through the northern hemisphere.

The plane has a wing span exceeding that of a Boeing 757
Before anyone makes the mistake of assuming major airliners are ordering any Solar Impulses of their own to duck out of fuel costs, it's important to know the details of how far away from commercial flight this is.  Four motors powering a cockpit with just enough room for one pilot can reach a top speed of maybe 87 mph.  At 236 feet across, the plane's width exceeds a standard Boeing 757, with noticeably giant wings, and it needs every one of its more than 17,000 cells to operate.  "It's a pioneering project, not an industrial one,"  Piccard explains. "Protection of the environment is far too often boring and expensive...We want to show the opposite...Let’s be innovative and free ourselves from the old habits and beliefs that prevent us from inventing a better future.”

Four solar-powered motors provide the power
Clearly, Piccard is not alone in understanding the impact of demonstrating how far alternative energy can take us.  The project's major funding comes from corporate giants from different industries like Omega, Solvar, ABB, and Schindler.  A flight that crosses the Atlantic Ocean can burn 3.5 tons of carbon emissions; considering the thousands and thousands of flights that happen around the world in a single 24-hour span, it's only a matter of time that this reaches untenable.  This kind of technology can't directly supplant using fossil fuels, but think about how easy it can be to integrate it into the average commercial flight.  A hybrid airliner could have solar-powered flight during auto-pilot, or even just collect solar energy while in the air and carriers can sell it to utility companies on the ground for revenue.

The possibilities are there, and it will take innovators like Piccard and Borschberg to find them.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Looking for inspiration on your next marketing program? Take a closer look at what you’re selling.

This may sound obvious, but marketers sometimes lose sight of this, particularly if they are promoting a technical service or product. In my experience getting close to what you sell---how it is engineered, processed and packaged—provides the foundation for the marketing story you want to tell. Whether it’s an update on your existing product line or the launch of a new service, this firsthand review of what you offer your customers can provide the critical spark needed to ignite an interesting and convincing marketing campaign.

Material for “job in progress” and “next job” staged
to keep presses running
For me, this inspiration comes from touring Rotor Clip’s factory in Somerset, New Jersey. We make retaining rings, wave springs and self-compensating hose clamps, for a variety of industries. All of the processes needed to produce these rings from engineering and tool making to packaging and shipping occur in our 238,000 square foot facility.

On this particular day I take my stroll with Rotor Clip Co-President, Craig Slass. I’ve been with the company for 30 years and I am still amazed at the new things I inevitably find on one of these tours.

Our first stop is the wire forming area where Craig enthusiastically shows me our new generation of presses. These have been designed to coil and stamp retaining rings much faster than conventional methods. This fits in well with our marketing message of being able to supply global demand for our product in volume and at the high level of quality our customers demand.

Rotor Clip eliminates tangling of its internal type of retaining rings thanks to this improvement, automatically stacking parts on wire at no extra cost to the customer

Finding ways to keep product moving in a logical flow reduce
 processing time and overall waste.
Our lean philosophy has taught us to find ways to streamline processes and reduce the time it takes for each. I see evidence of this everywhere I go. Areas have gotten creative in the way they handle product. Instead of the traditional batch and queue—making parts then piling them up in front of the next operation---pull systems bring only those quantities needed to meet customer demand for a given time.

I walk through our stamping press room and see outlined staging areas for material and tools needed for the next scheduled job. Having these items in a queue at the machine makes the transition to the next job seamless and efficient. I can see that the entire layout of the plant has been updated since my last walk a few
months ago to enhance process flow and eliminate waste.

Overall, I was impressed to see our plant making progress to produce reliable, quality products delivered on time to our customers. I’m psyched and ready to pump out some fresh new marketing ideas.

Like writing this blog entry.

Good luck with your next marketing campaign.

Joe Cappello is Director of Global Marketing for Rotor Clip Company.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ford's Next Eco-Boost Engine Leads To New Jobs in Ohio-Based Plant

Ford EcoBoost engine: Saves energy, creates jobs
It's probably safe to say the sustainability mantra has permanently affected the auto industry, and now there's evidence of it supporting the growing trend of domestic job creation.

Ford Motors' new EcoBoost engine was a big reason why its F-150 pickup trucks are the company's best-selling vehicle. The lightweight, six-cylinder truck engine models save energy and drag without sacrificing any power with a turbocharged gasoline direct-injection system. Now, for its 2015 line, Ford is introducing the 2.7 Liter V6 EcoBoost engine for its F-150's; the lightest version of its EcoBoost models yet.  The move clearly indicates Ford wants to go further investing in its EcoBoost engine line.

But it's also worth noting the they've chosen to include the location of the engine's construction as part of that investment.  The Lima Power Plant, based in northwestern Ohio, already has about 700 workers building the 3.5 and 3.7 liter EcoBoost engines for the 2014 F-150's.  Ford plans to add an expansion to the whole operation for 2015's new models, a move that amounts to $500 million and 300 additional jobs for the plant.

Building on a good thing is to be expected.  Keeping that good thing in the US, despite constant grumblings over labor wages from general corporate community is a good example of Ford's forward-thinking.  Sustainable, gas-conserving, environmentally-friendly vehicles are fast becoming characteristics sought after by an increasingly informed consumer public.  A pick-up truck that costs less to fill up is always going to be a good buy, regardless of someone's opinions on how much the environment should factor into their day-to-day living.  On the flip side, Ford may have hit onto an important new consumer demographic: the environmentally-conscious, but rural-based driver who has no need of a smart car.  There are plenty of newly-developing cities such as Portland, Austin, Santa Fe, etc, that have communities wanting to embrace sustainability, but living on terrain that no Prius or Leaf could survive on for long.  Ford's Eco-Boost F-150's are a perfect answer.    

Perhaps the best part of this announcement is that Ford's effort to create a more eco-friendly bridge to heartland living will directly benefit the American job landscape.  The expansion to the Lima plant will give it a permanence and with the prolific numbers of the F-150, there's no sign it will run out of orders anytime soon.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.