Projects

Ambassador of the Quarter Award

Businesses honored at quarterly chamber meeting

Published Thursday, November 19, 2009 3:10 PM

Summerville Journal Scene ®

On Sept. 23, the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce presented awards to the Ambassador of the Quarter and Business of the Quarter at a breakfast sponsored by MeadWestvaco.

The event took place at Legend Oaks Country Club. The recipients were honored for their contributions over the 3rd quarter as exemplary members supporting Chamber goals – working to promote economic vitality and a favorable business climate in the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County area. Ambassador of the Quarter Award Business of the Quarter Award Recipient:  Art Central, Ltd. Fine Art Gallery


Left to Right: Robby Robbins, Chamber Chairman of the Board; Mac Baughman, MeadWestvaco; Rita Berry, Chamber President/CEO; Greg Allen, Chamber Ambassador of the Quarter, Active Technologies, LLC.

Art Central Gallery opened in Summerville 11 years ago and has proved to be an exemplary small business.  Community support and cooperation are defining words for their business model.  Art Central Gallery persevered for 18 months during a total closure and renovation of their street.  They have held innovative, successful fundraisers for the Francis Willis S.P.C.A., Children in Crisis and Meals on Wheels.  Art Central Gallery also supports the Chamber’s mission by being active at Chamber events.  The Gallery has graciously hosted three Chamber Business After Hours evenings. Art Central Gallery’s “Third Thursday” Art Walks have favorably increased business and tourism for Historic Summerville and the surrounding area.  The Gallery has held Art Competitions, hosted Exhibits, judged and hosted seminars for our local school students and the Summerville Community.

Ambassador of the Quarter Award Recipient: Greg Allen, General Manager Active Technologies, LLC.

Mr. Greg Allen dedicates his time volunteering with countless events in support of our Chamber. He is also a very active member of our Home Based Business Council.  Greg chose Summerville many years ago to build his family and his business, a Network & Computer Management & Web Hosting Design Search Engine Optimization company.  He lives in Summerville with his wife and four daughters.

CIM Project - 21st Century Enterprise Manufacturing

by Gregory M. Allen

Competitive advantage is illusive. In striving for it we have adopted TQM, JIT, QS-9000 and all of the latest buzzwords, acronyms, and paradigms, only to realize that, in a global economy, these same programs are being implemented everywhere, by everybody trying to gain competitive advantage. And with it comes increased competition for our customers and our jobs unless we continue strive for excellence and improve our processes in very creative ways.

Enter the CIM Project: A Computerized Enterprise Manufacturing System that would enable Cablecraft to produce more varieties of products, anywhere, in any quantity and do it more quickly and accurately than ever before.

How: By providing on-line tightly controlled build instructions specific to each workstation on a manufacturing shop floor, thus eliminating paper build books and drawings. The build instructions should be in a format that is easy to create, maintain, and control. At the same time they should be simple and easy to follow. This should result in shorter training times for new employees and enable rapid cross-training. As a bonus, the system will enable mixed-model manufacturing in any quantity and improve quality whilst keeping up with production. The building intelligence resides in the "system" while the building skills belong to the "builder". The system should incorporate a synchronous but flexible "Just-In-Time" methodology thus reducing lead times and work-in-progress "well below levels achieved through garden-variety JIT". In addition, the new system should automatically capture shop floor and production data. Such a system should utilize ordinary inexpensive PC computers and networks.

These objectives were realized and fully demonstrated by another company, WTI (Williams Technologies), back in 1992 on their Valve Body Assembly line. It took many fine folks to make this happen, but my piece of the pie involved writing the software plus selecting and integrating the hardware. Their project ProNET "doubled productivity, nearly halved cycle times, helped quadruple sales, and resulted in system sales to Ford Motor Co. and Allison Transmission, Inc" (see ComputerWorld Article).

In 1994 ProNET was enhanced to synchronize a final assembly line to its sub-assembly lines with orchestral precision. Product, upon entering the final assembly line, would trigger production of sub-assembles so that they arrive at their final assembly workstation just in time for insertion into the final product. This resulted in greatly reduced WIP and lead times. The tight integration between the two areas resulted in vast improvements in communications and quality. In addition, ProNET was tasked with leveraging the intellectual capabilities of those doing the work by allowing the capture of user "tips 'n' tricks" that can be reviewed by engineering and made part of the process. Then ProNET was enhanced to provide solutions for discrete and batch-build lines for repair and rework areas. These capabilities were realized and demonstrated on the WTI GM and Nissan Assembly Lines, Ternes (Allison Transmission) in their Kit Assembly area, and as a training and cross-training tool at Ford Motor Company (see ComputerWorld Articles).

While the WTI ProNET system is viable by today's standards ( PR Newswire Delco Ramey) Cablecraft is a multi-location, multi-national enterprise and thus requires a system with a global perspective.

The CIM Project, whilst borrowing philosophically from the basic ProNET model, utilizes new and original program code based on Open System and Client/Server standards on the backend system, and net browsers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape on the shop floor workstations. Therefore the data, pictures, and build instructions can reside anywhere, Tacoma, SC, TCL, or even with the customer or a trusted supplier/subcontractor. These backend servers can be Microsoft, Novell, Linux, a Unix flavor, AS400, nearly anything that supports Open System standards. And the simple inexpensive Internet workstation can access this information at any location provided they are granted proper access via login and password.

With the CIM Project in their arsenal Cablecraft can vastly improve manufacturing capability and increase competitive advantage well into the 21st Century.

Gregory M. Allen

Classic Moth Boast Association Letter

Classic Moth Boat Association Letterhead

To whom it may concern:

This letter is to recommend Greg Allen for his talents as a web site builder. Greg Allen not only created the web site for The Classic Moth Boat Association, but has tirelessly maintained the site and provided the club with invaluable technical support and expertise not only in times of trouble, which on the internet are at times daily, but he has also creatively guided us over the years as our site has become increasingly larger and gained more sophisticated content. Among the skills required to create and manage our site are the following:

The ability to adapt text and pictures from multiple sources and various formats to fit the presentation format of the web site; the ability to categorize and organize a wide variety of data into meaningful sections; the skills to establish a web site-based, interactive search engine with the capability to search by subject; the ability to set up and maintain linking capabilities to related worldwide sites; the ability and desire to insure that the site data remains accessible from a variety of search engines.

Without Greg, I doubt if we would have as great an impact as we do. Also without his stewardship, I also doubt if the club could have remained on-line with the reliability we enjoy. We are a small sailing club with a limited budget for outreach projects. This web site has permitted the club to connect with many interested individuals who had no way of contacting us, and also has permitted the club to reconnect with sailors who raced the boats 20, 30 or more years ago. This in turn has boosted our growth from a small band of thinly spread individuals with limited communication capacity to a club of nearly 100 and growing! Communication within the club has also benefited from the content on the site.

Perhaps the best way to gauge Greg Allen’s expertise is to go to our club’s web site and tour the contents: www.mothboat.com I think you will be impressed!

In closing, I highly recommend Greg Allen for consideration for any IT position requiring innovative thinking and tireless devotion to task.

Sincerely yours,

George P. Albaugh
CMBA Secretary/Treasurer

ComputerWord Article Appropriate Technology

The missing buzzword: Appropriate

Allan E. Alter

(News)

I hate buzzwords. They're misleading, they're tiresome, they make something big out of nothing much. But there is one word that I'd like to hear much more of: Appropriate. I hear earfuls about leading bleeding-edge, value-added, value-driven total business solutions. But no one talks about appropriate technology.

Appropriate -- now that's a word we can use. It means remembering that information technology is only a tool, not a solution. Appropriate technology is the right tool for the job -- it gets the job done, does it simply and doesn't waste time, money, resources or effort.

It means not being a slave to technology fashion and saying no to solutions looking for problems. It means using older technologies that are sound and sufficient and avoiding technical solutions when simplifying a business process will do. It means being alert to the nasty side effects technology can have -- and dodging them.

The people at USAA understand appropriate. The San Antonio financial company doesn't have a public World Wide Web site. That's not reactionary -- that's smart. The company sells insurance only to military officers and their families, and it already knows how to reach its market. Why build a site that would only frustrate most surfers, telling them they can't buy insurance from USAA? So USAA passed up the first wave of Web sites. But now that tools have evolved, the company is building a site that will provide service for existing customers. USAA held off on Web-based commerce until it could do some real good for its customers.

That's using technology appropriately.

Williams Technologies, a company that remanufactures car transmissions, understood appropriate when it built a simple MS-DOS-based system that helps factory workers assemble transmissions more quickly and accurately. Computers on the assembly line show workers how to assemble parts with step-by-step instructions and pictures. The system helped quadruple sales and is so simple, a lone IS professional and a few factory workers built the pilot in seven months for $27,000.

I wish the airlines understood appropriate. Their voice-mail menus are long and confusing; it takes forever to get someone on the telephone.

And imagine if a resort forced you to check in electronically at the front desk or use the TV clicker to order room service or make an appointment for a back rub. That hotel would close down fast. Guests at fancy hotels want to be pampered by people, not machinery. But giving check-in clerks and masseurs a system that tells them about the likes and dislikes of guests is appropriate. That way they can pamper guests even more.

"Appropriate technology" would make a great buzzword.

I heard it first when I visited Toyota headquarters in Japan. For Toyota, appropriate means investing in a global network, developing its own computer-aided design and manufacturing software and creating the Lexus customer service database. But when it comes to manufacturing, Toyota almost always chooses simple processes over technical complexity. Since my visit three years ago, the company has turned away from "mass customization" and returned to building simpler, less costly cars with fewer parts. That has helped Toyota reduce the price of its best-selling Camry.

So brush off those tired buzzwords and brush up on appropriate technology. You might tick off a few rabid tech-nophiles but your customers, management and shareholders will thank you.

Author: Allan E. Alter

Alter is Computerworld's department editor, Managing. His Internet address is allan_alter@cw.com.


Copyright © 1997 @Computerworld.

ComputerWord Article Bringing In The Users

Bringing in the users
Natalie Engler
(News)

In one corner, its the technologists who build the information systems. In the opposite corner, the people who use them. They speak different languages and inhabit different worlds, but they need one another for any technology project to succeed.

A survey last month of more than 300 IS executives cited ``lack of user involvement'' as the chief reason IS projects fail. It ranked even higher than lack of executive management support and clear business objectives, according to The Standish Group International, Inc., a market research firm in Dennis, Mass.

...

MANUFACTURING SUCCESS

Evelyn Ashe, configuration control technician and Vadene Echols, configuration engineer, Williams Technologies, Inc., a Summerville, S.C., automatic transmission remanufacturing company

Project: ProNet, a control valve body operation

Duration: four months

Number of users involved: five

The project doubled productivity, nearly halved cycle times, helped quadruple sales and resulted in system sales to Ford Motor Co. and Allison Transmission, Inc.

When Greg Allen, head of IS at Williams Technologies, began working on a system to computerize the manufacturing of automotive transmissions, he was dependent on users such as Echols and Ashe for their industry knowledge.

In the beginning, many users were daunted by the technology and feared they might lose their jobs. Later, they became enthusiastic participants.

Here's what they say turned them around:

Once Allen selected his users, he told each what he hoped to accomplish and what they had to offer.

``Greg said I had quite a bit of knowledge about production and what people were looking for,'' says Ashe, who supervised the assembly of valve body transmissions.

Allen explained the technology in terms that they could relate to.

He had them train him to perform their jobs, then he used analogies to explain the technology. He told Echols that the Open Access database was like the thousands of books of assembly instructions she had to pore through to build each transmission. The hard drive, he said, was like a file drawer. The RAM is like a desktop, and ``you take the stuff out of your file cabinet, put it on your desktop and put it away when you are finished.'' Once he presented it, the benefits were evident, she says.

The project altered both women's careers.

Ashe was promoted from the valve body assembly line to engineering, where she builds databases for all the transmissions the company makes. Echols says she has doubled her productivity.

The project included a feedback mechanism.

The factory floor system lets users give input to the engineering team. It also captures the tricks people develop as they use a manufacturing station so new operators can benefit from their experience.

....

 

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form or medium without express written permission of @Computerworld is prohibited.
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ComputerWord Article Picture This

 

 

     

 

Picture

This

(Managing)

 

 

 

Build a system that shows workers how to do complex tasks quickly, and you can gain competitive advantage. Just ask the folks at Williams Technologies.

BY Allan E. ALTER

Talk about luck. If you can call an inexpensive system that has helped quadruple sales luck.

Jeff Anderson, president and general manager of a small, privately held manufacturing firm called Williams Technologies, Inc., had a dream. He wanted to turn his Summerville S.C. plant, where workers take apart, clean and rebuild car and truck transmissions, into a flexible factory.

His vision is one every manufacturing executive in the world would like to achieve; to produce more varieties of products - in any quantity and do it more quickly and accurately them before. Achieve it, and he'd have a great story to tell potential clients, Anderson thought.

Creating such a factory was no small feat. Each transmission has about 1,000 parts, which can be assembled in dozens of ways. Workers spent up to 53% of their time looking up assembly instructions in loose leaf binders, Anderson says.

Anderson had envisioned a solution: computer workstations with instructions for building many different transmissions. But it remained just a vision.

Then, because their daughters were friends, he invited Greg Allen and his family over for a barbecue. While the fajitas sizzled, Anderson described his dream system to Allen, a former photocopier salesman who taught himself programming, went into computer sales and opened a small custom software development shop. Allen said he'd come up with something and returned a month later with a working prototype.

It was a "Eureka!" moment, Anderson recalls. He had "tripped across technologies that were exactly what I had in mind and somebody who could pull it off," he says. Anderson quickly brought in Allen as a consultant.

Greg Allen Updated PictureAllen was the only information systems professional on a seven-person development team. The first manufacturing line using the ProNet system went operational six months later. It went into widespread use a year later.

The system is remarkably inexpensive. Total cost for the pilot $27,000, including $15,000 for 10 workstations. The system has grown but still runs on inexpensive software and equipment (see 'The technical details" at right). The entire support staff consists of Allen, who is now a full-time Williams employee, and the one other member of Williams' IS department.

Did the system Allen helped create live up to Anderson's dream? "No question about that," says Anderson, who provided the following facts:

Productivity: In two months, the ProNet pilot, a control valve body operation, was producing twice as many control valves with the same number of people. Today, Williams builds 450 transmissions a day, two times more than it did a year ago.

Flexibility: ProNet has enabled its work force to produce many different transmission models in any quantity on one remanufacturing line. The biggest limitation appears to be the three months it takes to write and photograph instructions for a transmission. One customer vouches for the flexibility claims. "With ProNet have the capability of going in and rebalancing their people and output. They can respond to our schedules much quicker," says Al Baumgart, a senior systems analyst at the Allison Transmission division of General Motors Corp. in Indianapolis.

Speed: Cycle times have shortened. The average assembly time for all subassemblies and final assemblies has decreased from 150 seconds to 90 seconds.

Growth: Besides the increase in sales, the number of employees has grown from 220 to more than 500. Williams Technologies has gone from one major customer - General Motors - to seven. They include Ford Motor Co., Mazda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor, Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Caterpillar, Inc. All work for GM and Nissan is done on ProNet, and Ford transmissions soon will be remanufactured using ProNet.

Ford, like GM, was impressed enough by ProNet to buy the system and launch its own pilot. "We saw how dramatically [ProNet] improved their operations," says Mark Femminaneo, an assembly and test engineer at Ford's transmission and new products center in Livonia, Mich.

Because their facilities don't produce as many different transmissions as Williams, Femminaneo and Baumgart say a system such as ProNet probably makes the most sense as a training aid for them. But for managers who need to increase productivity and flexibility simultaneously, two lessons stick out: even low cost computers can make great just-in-time instruction manuals, and rub a rabbit's foot before your dinner guests arrive. You might get lucky.

Alter is Computerworld's senior editor, Managing.
Copyright © Computerworld. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any
form or medium without express written permission of @Computerworld is prohibited.
Computerworld and @Computerworld and the respective logos are trademarks of Computerworld, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finance and Budgeting Experience

Finance and Budgeting Experience

In the early days of computers, accounting software was not very good. To me, to sell a computer it had do be useful, so I developed my own software. It included accounts receivable, payable, general ledger, and inventory. The following year I developed a point-of-sale system and general ledger with budgeting. Over time, I sold and installed about 60 systems

Later, Peachtree and Armor Systems gained brand recognition, so I sold, installed, and supported those systems as well.

Woody Bilton Ford, St George SC, wanted an F&I system that would calculate car loans with credit life insurance, accident & health insurance, and extended warranty. Previously, Bilton used a rate chart that said “between 5000 and 6000, your payment is “X”. The new F&I system calculated payments accurately for any amount. ALSO, “Reg Z” allowed for interest calculations to round up to specific decimal points. This resulted in increased commissions on bank loans. Finally, insurance could be accurately calculated on the future value of the initial loan, with the future value of insurance + interest added. These too greatly increased profits from finance and insurance. Later I mated the F&I system with the other accounting products resulting in a complete solution for automobile dealers, marine, and RV dealers.

However, once I met Jeff Anderson and began consulting for Williams Technologies, I was hooked on manufacturing.

My primary responsibility was IT system and ERP implementation, plant-wide, including accounting, general ledger, and budgeting. But Jeff allowed my to get deeply involved in every department and every process.

I worked with the Controller on GL ad budgeting, engineering, scheduling, and I became a QS9000 auditor. I modified the shop-floor system that I developed to facilitate process change approvals from GM and Ford. I was even allowed to become certified to build two ford front-wheel-drive transmissions.

During that time Jeff introduced me to Robert W. "Doc" Hall -of the Compression Institute Dr. Hall is Professor Emeritus, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University (USA)., and was very involved with Association for Manufacturing Excellence. Doc Hall designed a manufacturing process whereby a “ProSumer” (proactive consumer) would design what they wanted, the internet would provide bids from sub-assembly company, and the finished product would be delivered to the ProSumer on-time and in-spec. Doc Hall asked me to design the software and hardware necessary to build products using this method, and something that could be easily transported to training seminars held all over the country. We used Lego swamp-boat kits as the product. I traveled with Doc and Ralph for nearly a year putting on these seminars The participants could order their swamp boats in any color, any size, number of seats, engines, front drive, rear drive. It was so funny to see heads of the top manufacturing companies building Lego swamp boats, and being so serious about it What I learned from the experience was priceless.

At Cablecraft I was deeply involve with all facets of manufacturing, accounting, and budgeting.

At Goer I acted as controller for 3 months until a replacement could be found. I also ran accounts receivable and payable between hires.

Goer Manufacturing Epicor Go Live

Goer Manufacturing Epicor Go Live

Goer Manufacturing was a fascinating company. They manufactured fixtures for entire stores like Sears, JC Penney, and Books a Million. This included everything that merchandise sits on, shelves, gondolas, changing rooms, cash wraps.... All of it was custom-built for each building And not just one store, but they would do out 20, 50, and even 100 stores at one time, as well as delivery, setup, and installation.

Goer was a 100 million dollar company (owned by RHC Spacemaster) with up to 250 employees over three locations, Charleston SC, Cedar City Utah, and Spartan Missouri. I served as MIS Director over all Voice, Data, ERP, and Software for all locations.

Goer was in the process of rolling our Epicor and just could not make it happen. Accounting and Management systems were up and running, but little else worked. The issues involved system, hardware, and people. Servers were crashing daily and cable infrastructure was a mess. Other than the President of of the company (who was weak on the subject), and the Chief Financial Officer, nobody wanted the new system. The project faced fierce opposition from the Sales and Production Managers. In fact, I was threatened with physical violence if I continued to push the Epicor Project.

As such, the CFO decided to put off the Epicor “GoLive” to focus on network infrastructure. In the next few weeks we rolled out new windows and hpux servers, cisco switches, new cable, WiFi and barcode. The same was accomplished for each remote location. I designed and installed the systems. I saved enough on hardware to purchase a $18k battery backup system, that supplied power to servers so that the two remote plants could continue to operate when Charleston was down. The backup paid for itself two months later when a hurricane shut down Charleston, but the backup allowed Cedar City and Spartan plants to continue production. Over the next two years, all three plants experienced near 100% uptime and availability from voice and data systems.

To prepare for the Epicor installation, I also worked 2nd shift in the mill running a panel saw. This was kind of Kool because nobody knew who I was. They thought I was just another “dust head” (their term). However, this experience provided a first-hand view of people, systems and processes in a place where the company spent the most money, where the biggest bottle-neck existed, and where the greatest gains could be made. In addition, I made some friends in the mill, right in the Production Manager's back yard, that paid big dividends later in the process.

This is what I found: 2nd shift would clock-in at 6:00pm, then take an unauthorized 10 minute break. After the break a machine operator would walk back to his machine, clean, test, and calibrate (if necessary), then walk back to the front counter to pick up one work order. The operator would use a telephone to order materials for the work order. An hour or more later, the materials would arrive and the machine would begin “making sawdust”. If an authorized break or lunch occurred, the operator would stop production, take the 10 minute break, after the break, use the bathroom, then return to the machine and resume making sawdust again. When the work order was complete, the operator would call to have the product moved, clean the machine, then take another break. After the break, the operator would return to the front desk, turn in the work order, get one more work order, order materials,... Work orders were back-flushed by the Mill Supervisor at end of day.

But wait – there's more: Daily, sales would run out to the mill and scream “Stop Production, I need a prototype!” The operator would stop what he was doing and call to have the current materials moved. Then he would take the new work order, order the materials, and go to work (if it was not break time). Fifty percent of the materials produced in the mill would be lost or damaged. It was actually in the procedures to produce two pieces for ever piece ordered to cover lost or damaged materials.

And it gets worse – changeovers were performed by the maintenance department during first shift. Sometime a changeover would take an entire day. Production would come to a halt and the operator spent his day in the break room. This sad story was repeated on all three shifts. Even so, the company managed to make lots of money.

Now that the IT infrastructure was solid, I worked with the CFO to develop a “brute force” method of implementing Epicor. The CFO and I diagrammed every process and procedure, and we trained everyone that would show up for training classes.

I spent a lot of time with the people that did the work in the departments, asking, “If you could redesign your job, this department, what would you do. If you could change how other departments interact with you, what would you change. This process took a lot of time, but we gained some valuable information and deep insight. But even more, a 'grass roots demand' was created for the new system and the benefits it would bring. That demand became so powerful, then even the Department Managers and Supervisors could not resist supporting the change to Epicor.

Several “GoLive” dates cane and went, without moving forward. Finally, the Production Manager quit. Without his strong voice, the Sales Manager switched sides and became an Epicor proponent. The next “GoLive” deadline was kept, and Epicor, finally, was a resounding success,

By “GoLive”, the opposition was non-existent and support was very high and positive. The Sales Manager and new Production Manager (the former mill Supervisor) really stepped up, learned the system, and became our biggest champions. They were determined to use Epicor to the full and make whatever changes were necessary.

Here are some of the changes made as a result of the Epicor GoLive:

Planning/Schedulers were moved to the sales department.

Sales went from 25 employees to 15

Sales could now accurately project ship dates for customers whilst placing the orders.

On-time shipments went from 40% to 92%.

Purchasing was moved to the upstairs area next to sales to promote communication.

Purchasing went form 5 employees to 2

This move meant that the purchase order were correct and materials arrived on-time.

The mill went from 3 shifts to 1.

Setups were performed during 2nd shift, resulting in no downtime for setups

Operators were given 4 hours of work orders at a time.

Operators completed work orders at the point of completion

A prototype mill was created in a former wip area to handle prototypes, emergencies, and replacement units.

Materials were moved in and out of the mill on schedule.

Processes were refined and streamlined.

Lead times were greatly reduced.

Inventory levels dropped dramatically

Miss-builds, missing and damaged product was virtually eliminated.

Production size was reduced by 30%. We rented part of the building out to another company.

Profits increased significantly.

Internal internet (intranet)

I developed what we called an “Action System”.

Anyone with a question or issue could assign responsibility and enter it into the Action.

Question and issues could be viewed by everybody with filtering capability.

The idea is that if you shine a light on a problem, it goes away quickly. If you could solve one problem a day, a week, or a month, what would that mean to you.

This system angered several Managers at first, exposing some “dirty laundry”. Bet lingering problems were solved and an amazing rate. After a year, seldom did any significant issue arrive on the system.

Production Measurements

Production and Sales found the Epicor reports very useful. But they always wondered how system numbers equated with the amount of time mill machinery was actually making sawdust.

Most of the equipment was very old (built in the 1940s) and had no way of collecting data AND we did not have Ethernet cables near the equipment. So I bought some WiFi print spoilers and modified them to turn on and off using an led light and a photo-resister. A panel saw would only make sawdust when the blade was out of the stop position. So when the led light did not hit the photo-resister, the saw was off. When the light was on the saw produced sawdust, and I could see the IP from the print server.

We collected data for 30 days, turned it into some simple bar graphs with real data in the background, and wallah, we now had instant verification of Epicor reports. It also produced ongoing data so that production and Sales could tweak the mill to maximize production.

Greg Allen Biography

Greg Allen – Biography

Delight customers by Meeting or Exceeding Expectations

Whilst bringing joy to the process.

Greg Allen Bio

My Father taught me a strong work ethic. My cousin (military background) taught me about optimum efficiency and maximizing returns. My Mother and Grandmother provided a strong moral background, and taught me about people and commitment. Growing up in a Southern California aerospace community exposed me to all kinds of technologies and creative thinking processes, whilst neighbor Louie Unser showed me how to make “the rubber meet the road”. All of this led to a wonderful career providing creative solutions to complex opportunities whilst providing maximum return on investment.

At the ripe old age of twelve, local gangs would pass through our neighborhood via the backyard chain link fence. More than once this resulted in a thump on the head. Dad threw away a home heater thermostat with a mercury switch. Fascinated with the device, I took that switch, hot glued it inside of a PVC pipe, mounted it on the fence and connected the other end to a relay and bell. Shake the fence and the alarm goes off. The early warning gave me time to get out of the way; no more thumps on the head. But it also caught the attention of “the other neighbor” that was selling taut wire fence alarms. My neighbor, Dad and I perfected the technology to the point where Disney, Atlantic Richfield, and Mount Wilson TV antennas all used this new system to detect intruders. The system is still the technology of choice for protecting chain link fence.

In the 80’s computers were “IT”. But I started off selling plain paper copiers, using a Monroe CPM computer to keep track of prospects, their needs, and when to follow up – kind of a CMS thing. I learned how to write my own software at a public library and the system was so successful, I made salesman of the year. After attributing my success to the new Monroe Computer, I was quickly whisked away to the Computer division to sell a $6000 computer that did nothing – no software. For me to make a living, the computer had to do something, so I learned how to write loan calculating and printer software for car dealers, banks, and mortgage companies, and accounting applications (GL, AR, AP, Inventory, POS). My first sales included Woody Bilton Ford and SCN (South Carolina National Bank now Wachovia). Later, I started my own computer business selling my software with AT&T and Unisys Computers.

In the early ‘90s a major manufacturer (Williams Technologies (now Caterpillar)) and AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence) approached me to write and integrate hardware for a revolutionary shop-floor system called ProNET. The project beat it’s deadline by four months, was $27,000 under budget, doubled production with the same number of employees, and improved quality to the point that individual sub-assemblies no longer had to be tested prior to final assembly (see Computer World article “Picture This”, "Bringing In The Users”, “Appropriate Technology”) AME adopted this method and software into their “Enterprise Manufacturing” program. (See AME Target Article “Enterprise Manufacturing” by Doc Hall and Jeff Anderson). In addition, the new technology attracted new customers like Ford R&D, Allison, Honda, and Nisan. The original system is still in use at all three Caterpillar plants in Summerville, SC, and the concepts are being expanded throughout the Caterpillar Enterprise.

In the mid ’90 I re-wrote this application in Microsoft ASP using internet technology for use on a company intranet. Due to copyright issues with the original ProNET, I quickly learned open-source technology such as LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL/Postgresql, and PHP), and re-wrote the application using these technologies. A major manufacturer could then control a shop floor in Brazil (and elsewhere) from their engineering facilities in the US using a web browser and the internet. This saved the companies time and money over paper systems, insured accuracy, flexibility, enabled mixed-model production, and provided total control over the entire process.

I have also served as MIS Director for Leggett & Platt, Goer Manufacturing, Tuthill Corporation, and Williams Technologies providing near 100% system uptime and availability whilst reducing IT cost.

Currently my energies are devoted to assisting small business to tap the enormous potential of the internet to enhance their businesses in very creative ways with Active Technologies, LLC, The Active Blog News, and Design Host Seo. However, it has always been evident to me that it’s not about technology, it’s about assisting people to achieve their goals by meeting or exceeding their expectations. Doing this on a consistent basis means that I have no problem meeting my goals as well.

How I Got Into Computers - Greg Allen

In 1981 I was fat and happy selling copy machines in the Charleston SC area. The Monroe Plain paper, dry toner copiers was THE new hot technology and I sold the fool out of them, worked 8-5, 5 days a week and brought home 3k per month. Nice gig for ‘81.

 

Later that year Monroe gave each branch office a Monroe OC 8820 computer (manufactured in Lexington, SC) for training purposes as they planned to begin selling this new product the following year.

 

Personal computers were new. IBM PC, Apple I and Tandy TRS-80s played games like pong but did little for business. Monroe hit the ground running with serious accounting and finance software along with Word Star, SuperCalc, and D-Base II, and a plan to become the business computer company of choice, the next IBM.

 

I figured out how to use the computer and wrote a contact management package to keep track of sales suspect, prospects, to-do lists, direct mail, telephone marketing, kind of like ACT or Goldmine programs today. My personal sales income climbed to 5k per month whilst retaining my 8-5 regiment; sweet deal!

 

At Monroe’s yearly sales awards ceremony I attributed my success to the new Monroe computer, whereby I was plucked out of copier sales bliss and whisked away to the newly formed computer division. Though I initially went ‘kicking and screaming’, the training was excellent, and soon I found myself earning a good living. Some of my early sales included an F&I system to Bilton Ford, an income tax preparation program to Pinnacle One, and various loan / mortgage programs to South Carolina National Bank (now Wachovia).

 

In ’84 Monroe came out with a 80186 computer and a package called Open Access that worked much like Microsoft Office works today. This package should have dominated the market as it was the best thing going at the time. However, after Monroe’s hefty investment in 80186 technology, IBM introduced the PC-AT with an 80286 processor, thereby rendering Monroe’s offering obsolete, and thus ending Monroe’s foray into the computer market.

 

So I took what I learned from Monroe and parlayed it into a business. I wrote accounting, point-of-sale, and loan / mortgage software and bundled these with AT&T and Victor computers, and offered high-value business solutions and service at reasonable prices. Also, in’92 I wrote and integrate a shop-floor manufacturing system for Williams Technologies (now Caterpillar). This system integrated inexpensive off-the-shelf personal computers and software to control workflow and quality on a massive scale. The project was so successful that it halved production time, doubled profits, and greatly improved quality. In addition, the technology resulted in sales to Ford, Chrysler, Mazda, Nissan, Honda, and Hyundai., and a nice write-up in Computerworld and AME Target Magazine (Association For Manufacturing Excellence. And that’s how I got into computers!

 

    

Litton - Monroe OC-8820 Technical Data

The Monroe OC-8820 was an all-in one Z80a based system featuring 128 to 256 KB of RAM, a 9” square amber monochrome CRT and a dual 5.25" 320 KB floppy disk drive.

 

It used its own multitask operating system developed by Litton Industries called OS8MT, but a CP/M OS could be acquired separately along with a specific Monroe BASIC interpreter, Dbase II database, Wordstar word processing, and a SuperCalc spreadsheet. Even under CP/M, You could run a Spreadsheet report and still run Wordstar.

 

A 5 or 10 MB full height hard-disk drive unit was also available.

 

NAME 

OC-8820

MANUFACTURER 

Litton - Monroe

TYPE 

Professional Computer

ORIGIN 

U.S.A.

YEAR 

1982

BUILT IN LANGUAGE 

The Monroe BASIC was an extended version of the BASIC used in the Luxor ABC80/ABC800 computers.

KEYBOARD 

Typewriter type, 93 keys with numeric keypad & function keys

CPU 

Z80a

SPEED 

Unknown

RAM 

128 to 256 KB

VRAM 

16 KB

ROM 

Unknown

TEXT MODES 

80 columns x 25 lines

GRAPHIC MODES 

None

COLORS 

Monochrome amber

SOUND 

Unknown

SIZE / WEIGHT 

Unknown

I/O PORTS 

1 parallel and 1 serial port

BUILT IN MEDIA 

2 x 320 KB 5.25 floppy-disk drives

OS 

Proprietary Monroe OS called OS8MT (MT for multi-tasking), CP/M

POWER SUPPLY 

Built-in PSU

PERIPHERALS 

10 MB hard-disk unit

PRICE 

about $8,995

 

 

How I Got Into Linux and MySQL

In the 1992 I was asked to create a unique manufacturing shop floor software system whereby assemblers would use computers with pictures and text to complete each task on an assembly line. The system ran on Unisys 386 servers, Novell network (token-ring), and with Microsoft dos on Unisys 286 workstations. The database engine was SPI (Software Products international) Open Access ; the program was written in turbo Pasquale with lots of c hooks. We supported nearly 250 users.

The shop floor system was highly successful. It quadrupled sales, halved production time, tremendously increasing production quality, and resulted in new business from Ford, Allison, and Nissan. Several articles were written about my work appearing in ComputerWorld, AME Target, and WSJ.

In time, a disagreement ensued as to who owned the source code. Since I was not in a position to defend a muti-million dollar law suite, I let them have the code, then developed original code using Microsoft SQL and ASP.

Again company threatened to bring a lawsuit stating that I had used “their” code extensively to create my new product. John Brown, owner of SPI, found himself in a similar situation with Microsoft and was totally obliterated. So I let them have that source code too.

For my next product, I needed something radically different, something that could not be remotely confused with anything I had written in the past. Linux using Slack Ware, PHP, Java, and PostGreSQL was the answer to my prayers.

"The Company" thought it was a joke! 'What, Linux???' However, the resulting product was far better then my previous efforts. Linux proved to be faster and much more reliable. And linux was so efficient I could sell totally redundant servers (fail-over) at the same cost that my competition sold stripped-down single servers. Scalability was unlimited. The results greatly exceeded expectation!

In time, however, we moved from Slack Ware to Debian. Slack Ware was a great linux distro, but the internal references in Slack Ware to satan, atan.S, apple and eve, was troubling to me, and might be to some of my customers as well. With a few changes in code and database structure, we also expand our database offerings to DB2 Oracle, and MySQL.

Interesting thing about this technology. Even though we developed it in 1992, Caterpillar, who acquired the software through acquisition, is just now rolling out this production model to all of it's manufacturing facilities, worldwide.

Go figure. Perhaps I should think about dusting off the code and making another run at it.

Link to first ComputerWorld article:
http://active-technologies.com/content/computerword-article-picture
Link to 1995 video of the software on a production line (5 minutes):
http://www.active-technologies.com/projects/pronet/pronetshort.wmv
Link to a 1996 software demo:
http://active-technologies.com/content/cim-manufacturing-demo

If you find this interesting, please drop me a line

 

Kings Grant Homeowner Association Recomendation

KING’S GRANT HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION
P. O. Box 50322
Summerville, S.C. 29485-0322

 


 

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

It is with great pleasure and without hesitation that I recommend Greg Allen and Active Technologies to your organization for web page design, web hosting, and search engine optimization.

During the past years, Greg Allen has performed all necessary updates to the King’s Grant on the Ashley web pages for our association. He performed a major re-write and designed our new website upon accepting this challenge.

Our web page is always current, complete, accurate, and we have never experienced any downtime. It is well know by many businesses in the area including realtors as one of the very best. I would invite you to review this site as an example of the excellent workmanship Greg Allen he supplied our community. You may view it at www.kings-grant.org. Additionally, Greg Allen is responsible for channeling e-mail for the association.

Should you need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at 843-832-3212 or 843-821-1917.

Lynn V. Whitner
President
King’s Grant Homeowners Association.

Leggett & Platt Recomendation

<p

To Whom it May Concern:

When Leggett & Platt acquired the assets of RHC Spacemaster, we tapped a small group of existing employees whose contribution was key to a successful transition. Greg Allen, MIS Director at Goer Manufacturing, was assigned the following responsibilities:

1. Continue to manage all multi-site wide and local area networks, equipment and infrastructure

2. Manage all local hardware including network devices, servers, workstations, printers, wireless RF devices, printers, phone systems, and office Equipment

3. Manage and support Epicor ERP, accounting systems, and Abra Payroll

4. Provide local helpdesk / end-user support

5. Provide local Abra Payroll data to L&P LPCS for weekly payroll.

6. Prepare and deliver legacy data to L&P MIS for smooth transition to L&P LPCS ERP, accounting, and payroll system.

7. Install replacement wireless RF network, Intermec RF devices, shop-floor label printers, time clocks and data collection workstations

8. Spec, order, setup, and install new engineering workstations

9. Spec, order, setup, and install new management workstations and laptops

10. Install new wireless RF network in the office area

11. Install new L&P LPCS ERP accounting and payroll server    

12. Decommission and deliver retired servers, workstation, and wireless RF devices to lease company at minimal cost

13. Assist with installation of new L&P Wide and Local Area Network

14. Transition local workstations to L&P network and email

15. Spec, order, setup, and install new phone system with instant messaging

16. Decommission and deliver retired phone system to lease company at minimal cost

17. Assist with local compliance with L&P basic standards and Sarbanes Oxley

18. Update documentation to reflect new systems and procedures

19. Prepare for Windows Server 2003 upgrade

20. Prepare remaining legacy workstations for Windows XP

21. Prepare local network to operate without local MIS personnel

Greg Allen worked tirelessly to complete each task on time, within budget, and in a manner that met or exceeded our expectations. He proved to be a valuable strategic and tactical resource, and has set the standard for commitment, loyalty, honesty, and integrity. Greg is a true professional, and we highly recommend him for any role with similar responsibilities.

Regards,
LEGGETT & PLATT STORE FIXTURE GROUP

David R. Kilgore
President, Charleston Division

ProNET Enterprise Manufacturing - Association for Manufacturing Excellence

The fourth in a series on Manufacturing future visions.

Robert W. Hall and Jeffrey W. Anderson

One hundred years ago seventy-four national luminaries envisioned life a hundred years later - in the 1990s—as part of the publicity build-up for the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago. Some predicted mass air travel (mostly by balloon). One predicted a combination of telephone and television. None predicted the gasoline-powered car; gasoline engines were then curiosities. Extrapolations of technology in use were insightful, but no one could imagine popular use of unfamiliar technology.

The worst forecasts idealized human changes, like one essay entitled, "Perfect Government, Improved People." No one foresaw World War 1, much less World War II, and none could imagine a world not dominated by European culture. The more accurate social predictions suggested although wealth would increase, human conflicts and delusions would go on forever.

 

Today we can likewise envision how extending currently-known technology and techniques will change manufacturing, but it's very difficult to see how business organization or human relationships will change, even when we know that they should. Learning how to function differently is a supreme challenge.

AME events reflect this difficulty. Eight years ago our workshops concentrated on sharing the techniques of Total Quality and JIT. Interest rapidly shifted to how to develop teamwork and how to sustain the momentum of continuous improvement.

Today computing technology is obviously one of the major factors undermining large hierarchical organizations. Less easy to see is what kind of organization will take its place. Will we combine telecommuting technology with quality improvement, waste elimination, and teamwork and genuinely function differently?

The technical issues are formidable: standardizing software, defining processes in detail, designing products to please customers, manufacturing for the environment, and so on. But these problems will only be casually addressed without the motivation to seriously tackle them, which means understanding the business incentives and dealing with the human issues.

The business issues center on creating a higher value-added to customers, and therefore higher margins, rather than making products that degenerate to commodities. The human and organizational issues center on teamwork-how to focus a combination of core competencies on the customer, plus the usual issues of working closely together.

Recent news articles illustrate confusion between keeping mass production viable and creating newer, more flexible approaches. USA Today recently reported that General Motors accused Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua of taking their plans for "agile manufacturing" with him to Volkswagon. The New York Times said that Lopez had called the plan "Plateau Six" at GM, but that at VW it's K.V.P. (the German initials for continuous improvement processes), and that it boils down to building a low-volume plant with surrounding suppliers in the Basque regions of Spain.

Speaking from the viewpoint of large-scale mass production-which GM purportedly wants to escape - rather than picturing a breakthrough in flexibility, experts commented that no supplier could consider a small plant making small quantities at slow speed. In addition to the technology, a challenge is trying to establish a stable direction amid instability of mind sets.

What's Next?

When determining how to go beyond TQM and JIT —the improvement direction espoused by AME since its beginning-the first issue is figuring out what is "beyond it." In the stories of the three-day car, three-day house and other products, two distinctions stand out.

The first is that a computer network allows us to do something unique for each customer rather than creating products with pre-planned options. Lean manufacturing stresses producing the same mix with less waste. Through computer control it is possible to switch work instructions rapidly, resulting in unique products from fast-flow, low-cost processes in design, in production, and in presentation to the customer. Success depends on ingenuity rather than deep pockets.

Part of the ingenuity is cultivating customers. For instance, McGraw-Hill now offers textbooks custom- to fit a professor's course. Customized manuals and other "publications" are likewise possible, but only for customers willing to be involved in determining what they want. A high-margin service business depends on identifying real needs.

The second distinction represents a major human challenge organizing an industry enterprise (not just a company) to concentrate on each customer's needs. Then real problems prompt the development of solutions from a range of possibilities, rather than having solutions chase problems.

For example, the depth and scope of the technical problems of a "three-day car" are so formidable that no one thinks they will be worked out soon by anyone, but in addition to the technical issues is the difficulty of combining multi-company expertise to do it. Re-organizing to span the boundaries of working organizations as they are established today is much more difficult than creating advanced computer communication links between people organized much as they are now. Yet that is what must happen to form an industry enterprise, a working combination of core competencies focused on the customer.

Today we use many approaches-JIT,, continuous improvement, business reengineering-to eliminate non-value added activities. Extending this manufacturing challenge takes us a few steps beyond today's charts, cells and JIT lines. However, more gains in production and engineering do not by themselves create products and services the customer will buy. Equally important is re-organization to add value to customers.

There are two paths to migrate from lean manufacturing to this world. One is the inside path, or the technology-first route, establishing network manufacturing capability inside a company and seeing where it leads in re-organizing to add value to customers. The other is the outside approach, enhancing the value of service to customers, then building up an industry network to improve it.

Another name for the new manufacturing is "agile manufacturing," meaning ability to respond rapidly to any change. While the term is catchy, agility is only one capability needed to add value, no more critical than quality, environmental soundness, and other capabilities. Any name selected for such a broad change has the same shortcomings as did the descriptor "just-in-time," which can never convey its implications to someone who does not otherwise understand them.

AME calls this new world "Enterprise Manufacturing." The term does not evoke all its necessary dimensions of performance, beginning with Total Quality, rapid product realization for each customer (more than rapid product introduction), continuous improvement, and teamwork of various kinds. Enterprise Manufacturing includes network manufacturing and the organizing of enterprises across operating companies as they are now defined, in order to focus various core competencies on specific customer problems.

The Inside Route: Williams Technologies (WTI)

Williams Technologies is still developing its approach to network manufacturing, but even before the idea germinated the company prepared by improving internal operations with simple systems, JIT, visibility practices, quality improvement processes, Total Productive Maintenance, and considerable employee involvement. They also established close operating ties with customers and suppliers. (See "Remanufacturing Excellence at Williams Technologies in the November/ December 1992 issue of Target.)

WTI remanufactures transmissions, that is, they bring in defective transmissions (called cores), disassemble, clean and inspect, often doing an analysis of cause of failure for the OEM. Then the parts are remanufactured to original OEM specifications. When the transmission is reassembled it is upgraded using the latest feasible engineering changes for that core. When the transmission is sent out. it may carry a stronger warranty than when the same core was originally manufactured.

Cores brought in can be as much as nine years old. Hundreds of engineering changes may apply to an old transmission. Therefore the problem is to identify what must be done to each transmission and execute it in a continuous flow operation.

Many of the engineering upgrades involve the control systems-the electronics and the control valve bodies, which are the fluid logic control devices for transmissions. Therefore, WTI began their new system with the valve body subassembly line, called the "leapfrog line," but the plan is bigger. The objective is to develop an infinitely flexible manufacturing system, networked by computer to reduce lead-times, from identifying a core in the field to returning a remanufactured transmission. Eventually the capability might be extended to create added value for some customers by participating in the recommendation of a transmission configuration to meet their needs. Initially the objective in the plant is to reduce the throughput time well below that achieved with garden-variety JIT.

What about the cost? It isn't big and shouldn't become big. Ordinary PCs are capable of handling the requirements at nearly every station. Williams is a small company. Not in the computer business, WTI isn't in the forefront of hardware and software development. It is a leader in making practical use of new technology. WTI expects to be able to adopt and adapt software with a very limited MIS staff. The data development and shake down of the overall system is being done by workers and those who directly support them-no big consulting bill to have a system designed from outside.

The Leapfrog Line

Figure 6. Leapfrog design team, left to right: Dave Malchano, Jean Dashnaw, Greg Allen, Evelyn Ashe, Lewis Smith, Vadene Echols, and Keith Grondines.

 

The valve body cell typifies the production processes of network manufacturing. The basic concept has been around better than a decade. The operator wands a bar code and a computer calls up a display showing what to do. Many PC board shops have long used this approach to download a program that moves a spot of light through the sequence of board locations into which an operator should insert components.

The subassembly of a valve body has similarities to a PC board, but the computer system teas many more features than moving a spot of light. Color images of components (look-alike doo-dads) and their assembly orientation pop up on the screen before each operator Assembly or routing text appears with the images. New engineering changes are highlighted in pink for two weeks to attract attention. Optional use component combinations are displayed in various exploded views. The system even allows the computers to dynamically shift operations between stations to improve line balance depending on the current load balance.

Associates can enter process change suggestions at their terminals. Many can be acted upon by either engineering or the work groups themselves almost immediately. WTI's continuous improvement process is starting to resemble an "expert system' with daily learning updates.

Using network manufacturing, WTI can re-manufacture transmissions and all subassemblies in lot sizes of one, sequenced in a continuous flow operation. Because of the detailed, unique instructions for many units, WTI previously had to group work of a similar type into lot sizes so that associates could keep straight what to do next.

Expansion of the Network Manufacturing System

From the leapfrog line pilot, WTI is now expanding network manufacturing to the entire plant, working from final assembly back to machining, and on to disassembly and cleaning. They are on the verge of being able to control a sequence of specific cores and their components from beginning to end of the process in the plant, with all the unique instructions presented to the right station at the right time. To do this, WTI must detail exactly what each process should do. The system is less dependent on "black art" operator experience, but much more dependent on the ability of all associates to contribute to its improvement.

 

After transforming the plant to network manufacturing, WTI will be in a position to extend the capability it offers to its customers and suppliers. Customers will directly schedule their assembly configurations by signing onto the network from any location. Since the network transfers images, CAI) information and all kinds of text, the next move is to use it to "manage cores"—that is, better satisfy their customers. Those include motorists who need a different transmission, the service shops that replace transmissions, and the OEM builders of them.

Figure 7. Leapfrog startup team members. back row, left to right are Crystal Bridge, Mary Gleaton, Margaret Farmer, Liz Melton, Dorothy Macke, Marie Creel, Sylvia Ford, Sonja Glover, and L.A. Atkins. Front row, left to right are Diana Simmons, Letia Chick, Esther Campbell, Norma Cross, Mattie Stephens, and Bob Scargil

The manufacturing and engineering advantages already achieved by WTI's network manufacturing have impressed customers. However, the business and organizational changes accompanying network manufacturing inside WTI are minor compared with the operating and communications adjustments between business partners that will be necessary to form a network with customers and suppliers. The hard part is vet to come.

The Outside Route: External Networks

So many companies now use bar codes to track shipments both inbound and outbound that we almost take them for granted. However, the wars over bar code standardization are far from complete, and we have only begun to resolve the issues of systems compatibility through EDI (Electronic Data Interchange).

These are external networks. So far they do not connect many operations very tightly Just to have computers communicate across companies the computer languages and software packages must link. In addition, the business and engineering drawing systems themselves must be compatible: otherwise communication does not proceed much beyond using computers as fax machines. As everyone knows system compatibility is often a nightmare inside companies, much less between them, and "enterprise integration" to fix this has become a staple offering of systems consulting companies.

However, the business protocols and discipline of a network are also important. Take the ordinary bank ATM network for instance. To be in the network, any financial institution must have a system compatible with the network. Internally the bank systems may be quite different, and at different levels of advancement. The important feature is being able to link into the network. Universal compatibility means that individuals are able to access their own bank account from almost anywhere-for a fee of course.

Security is important. Everyone is now familiar with the problems of losing bank card numbers. (Thieves now pick up added income by selling stolen numbers as well as using them.)

ATNI networks are limited function, limited access systems resistant to many forms of abuse. The same is largely true of numerous systems that track shipments. The systems do not communicate between themselves. Limited in function, they have no need to.

The Quick Response systems established by retailers are beginning to broaden in function. The original intent was to bar code small shipments by manufacturers for transport direct to the store shelves that need them. When this system is fully developed, the producer is paid when a purchased unit's bar code is scanned at checkout. and it is sometimes said that a retail package's bar code is turning it into a container that reorders itself. Achieving early expertise in these systems is one of the major reasons for the rapid rise of Wal-Mart.

Quick Response daily sales data is also a fast feedback system for market research. Retailers are now making good use of this data. So are a few manufacturers who analyze the trends in the daily downloads dumped on them. The intent is to respond faster than anyone else to changes in the market.

Computer companies like Dell and Gateway 2000 are well-known examples of companies building their business on external networks. The number of such companies is growing.

The next stage is linking engineering and manufacturing operations to the store Self - or really to the customer. What about TV marketing or direct customer access from a company's internal network? Achieving this requires revolutionary thinking, and not only for companies in consumer markets. The question is how to focus on customers, which generally means smaller units able to pay attention to them in small groups or even one at a time.

For similar reasons military combat operations are becoming more decentralized (a favorite analogy for organizational theorizing). A century ago battlefield visibility was so poor that field commanders gave orders from a superior vantage point. Infantry in the thick of it were more likely to prevail if they blindly followed orders.

Today, with electronic surveillance and communications, troops may know what is going on around them as well as the commander, and better if the combat area is not well defined and the action is rapid. The commander's role is assuring consistency of training and communications, and unity of overall objectives. To be effective, a soldier must also be more skilled.

Business and Organizational Issues

Imagine a man buying a suit from a high-tech tailor. He steps into a booth where his body measurements are taken by holographic scan. After his measurements are transferred to a work station, he samples various materials, and designs his own suit, possibly with advice on styling, if not on how to manipulate the program menu. When finished, the design and specifications are downloaded to a plant. The suit is made within twenty-four hours and shipped.

This technology is being developed by the Textile/Clothing Technology Corporation [TC2] of Raleigh, NC. The process avoids the wastes of retail inventory, markdowns of overstocked merchandise, and alter actions, so the cost will be comparable to buying a suit off the rack. No one doubts that the technology will become available.

The business and organizational changes are more uncertain. First, how many men will initially want to design their own suit? If not, how can they be persuaded? Second, if a significant market develops, how will this industry reorganize? Because of such uncertainty, the first trials are on men's suits, not on women’s clothing where both the styles and the marketing are more complex.

Will scanning booths appear in Sears and Wal-Mart or would the suits be ordered in "boutiques" operated by designer entrepreneurs? If any plant can make almost any suit, will plants become service bureaus for retail outlets? Will the one-piece flow plants be set up in current garment factories, or will they be so incompatible that they would be separate stand-alones? Perhaps the industry would organize as a different form of franchise system.

These questions will not be answered until the technology is tried on the public. Whether the "24-hour suit" becomes a commercial success after the design-your-Elvis-Presley-suit phase wears off will depend on marketing and entrepreneurship. If it is a social success, will men's clothing styles become more individualized? No one knows until it is actually tried. In any case, one can visualize a networked garment industry taking a form with historical precedent in business arrangements, but set up to respond instantly to the customer.

Mayekawa

By contrast, the Mayekawa Company in Japan is being studied as a possible bellwether of a different form of industry organization, even for Japanese. It employs computer linkages, but the form of organization is based on Mayekawa simply assuming a role that allows their customers to serve their markets much better than they could do it on their own.

Mayekawa is a thermal engineering company whose main business is large-scale refrigeration systems for commercial and industrial clients. (It operates under the name Mycom in North America.) In Japan, over eighty small field organizations are each set up to focus on one customer. These are broader in function than the usual sales/service offices, often conducting engineering design and even research projects. On the other hand, Mayekawa's central engineering, research, and production plants are rather conventionally organized.

Each field organization is nearly autonomous researching its customer's needs and determining how to serve them, but can draw on resources from anywhere within Mayekawa, and sometimes from elsewhere. Every employee is partly responsible for marketing, and all are multi-functional. Each employee is a ten-year investment to break even. It takes that long to learn the total business well enough to function in this way.

The objective is not only to thoroughly understand the thermal engineering needs of each customer much better than they do themselves, but to understand the needs of their customers' customers. That too is a multi-year learning process. To truly sell service and solutions, Mayekawa is often embedded deeply in the customer's processes.

This remarkably flat organization works because the company has a well-defined core competence, and its organization focuses on each customer's problems. It also has a very strong corporate culture, which makes human communication easier. The operating responsibility and communication are diffused, but the corporate culture is top down. Mayekawa is a prime example of what the Japanese are now calling Holonic Management, or sometimes a "Vigorous Company."

An American organization with similarities to Mayekawa is Nypro, the custom plastic molder headquartered in Clinton, MA. Nypro lives by the motto, "One team, putting the customer first." The company replicates a version of one of their plants near any customer with the volume to support it. A "board of directors" for each plant guides its service to that customer (and any others it serves). The company forms teams with its customers, especially for design projects, an sometimes these include suppliers.

 Nypro's factory system is occasionally called "McDonald" franchise.' This American approach combines core technical competence (including part-per-bi lion quality on many parts) with a customer-focuses organization, and has a strong corporate culture, well laced with entrepreneurship.4

There seems to be a pattern here. Mayekawa "Holonic" organization is a highly decentralized link age of technology and operating expertise with its customers' needs, whether known to them or not. Nypr works closely with customers to apply its leading edge molding technology to their problems. With the "24 hours' suit, the probable organization would connect the customer as directly as possible with expert solutions to make a suit just for them.

Around the world, the organizations of man companies are moving in this direction, although more slowly and less completely. The concept of the internal customer is common. Many suppliers either serve customers from a nearby plant, or actually run a manufacturing department for them. Companies like Dell and Gateway 2000 essentially are organized to unite technology with each customer's computer needs as direct!, as possible.

 From Lean Manufacturing to Enterprise Manufacturing

 Many lean manufacturing practices are intended to link everyone as closely as possible to customers and suppliers, even if these are only one work station removed.

Contact with the customer is one of the basic precepts of TQM. and so much so that executives sometimes jump on it and flatten hierarchies to the detriment of a disciplined approach to quality improvement. Visibility systems, kanban systems, Quality Function Deployment, concurrent engineering, and other practices share this principle. The techniques convert the sentiment into specific practices. But all too often the imagination stops at removing waste from processes.

For example, a computer network like that of Williams Technologies adds to the possibilities for simplifying complex processes. Expanding the network externally would also allow Williams associates to directly communicate with customers. If necessary, they could respond directly to the needs of motorists for re-manufactured transmissions when needed. If connected directly to auto service centers (or auto re-manufacturing centers) Williams, rather than the transmission's OEM, might even advise what level of upgrade is possible for a given core. WTI re-manufactures; the OEM doesn't.

But this raises organizational and legal questions. Re-manufacturing has been dependent on access to an OEM's engineering. A re-manufacturer such as WTI that works through partnerships with OEMs is legally and technically supported by the OEM, but only if their work conforms to the OEM's specifications. A re-manufacturer evaluates the causes of product wear and failure first hand. It might originate its own engineering upgrades, but those must obviously be compatible with the rest of the vehicle, and that's a different level of partnership.

In the future WTI, or teams from it, might participate in a larger network that remanufactures cars, which requires broader skills. Then Williams Technologies would do more than perform tasks to OEM specifications, suggesting the type of upgrade to give the customer the desired performance from a reconfigured vehicle. The tough issues will be business realignment and trust, rather than technology.

The most difficult break between lean manufacturing (high-volume, low-waste, standard options) and enterprise manufacturing (creating a solution for each customer if necessary) is human. Though enabled by technology, there is a huge difference between a person manning a work station in lean manufacturing and being directly responsible for the customer in enterprise manufacturing-or at least being in a team that has customer contact.

In the case of the 24-hour suit, a factory worker may talk with the customer at a remote order entry station if a request cannot be clarified by the customer's order menu. The same could become true for many workers at Williams Technologies, the transmission Re manufacturer. It certainly is true for personnel in the small field organizations of Mayekawa, and employees throughout that company may rotate through field organizations. The distinctions between functions blur, and in some cases the differences between white and blue collar work may become extinct.

 Business Issues

 When Enterprise Manufacturing requires multiple, direct interaction with customers and suppliers where once large mass production companies prevailed, the forms of business must change. Unless people actually try that, live examples will not go beyond those given here. If they do, a business revolution will break out.

The virtual team or virtual company is becoming a common expression. Many of the examples are of multi-functional, multi-company project teams. Some are partly assembled through voluntary association. Many concurrent engineering teams are now organized this way.

As soon as a combination of people from a number of different companies begins to function as a full business, more issues arise. Is it a joint venture, an independently financed company, or what? Does it have a business plan? To whom does intellectual capital belong? A single set of accounting records or several? How are gains, losses, arid liabilities allocated? Virtual teams only permeate the boundaries of current organizations.

 

1. From Weisberger, Edward A.; 'Predicting the Present," American Heritage, Julv!August 1993, V. 44. No. 4. pp 72-24.

2. Mavnard. Micheline; GM Says Ex-.Manager Has Stolen Its Furure," USA Today, May 27, 1993, p 1.

3 Levin Doron P.; "Is Tomorrow's Auto Plant Aborning?" New York Times, June 14,1993. p. C2.

4. Target will feature an article on an AME workshop at Nypro in the November/December 1993 issue..

Jeffrey W. Anderson is the general manager of Williams Technologies, Inc., Summerville, SC. He is also the vice-president of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence.

Robert W Hall is on leave as professor of operations management at Indiana University and is the director of new programs for the Association for Manufacturing Excellence

@) 1993 AME 'a For information on repeats, contact: Association for Manufacturing Excellence 380 West Palatine Road Wheeling, IL 60090 708/520-3282

 The most difficult break between lean manufacturing (high-volume, low- waste, standard options) and enterprise manufacturing (creating a solution for each customer if necessary) is human.

 

 

 

ProNET Network Manufacturing Abstract

Williams Technologies developed a network / enterprise manufacturing system called ProNET that is so effective yet so simple that it has revolutionized their approach to restrictive mixed model production. Greg Allen of Active Technologies, LLC wrote the software and served as systems integrator.

ProNET involves common off-the-shelf computers in the production process to provide the intellectual capability to those performing complex tasks (such as assembly). The result is a level of flexibility and efficiency that substantially facilitates mixed model production.

ProNET is utilized in inspection, kitting, assembly, and a variety of other production areas where process instructions are required. It is used to replace the endless streams of written instructions normally found on manufacturing shop floors. ProNET excels where complex or widely varying configurations are found and where engineering changes are common. This is exactly the kind of situation found in Williams Technologies valve body assembly line where the project was initially developed.

The system has four segments:

Video Capture The first segment utilizes consumer-grade digital still and/or video cameras to produce high quality color images of all parts.

The second segment utilizes a standard computer and off-the-shelf software to manipulate the captured images into the required inspection or assembly views.

In the third segment, an engineer enters part number, assembly text and process instructions into a database. When the engineer releases the process to the network, it is instantly distributed and available to every workstation, assembly or test technician tied into the network.

 

Subsequent changes to the process can be input and distributed in the same manner. Engineering maintains complete control without lag time and errors associated with distributing and collecting build sheets. New items or changes are highlighted on shop-floor computer screen for two weeks after their inclusion so that the operator pays special attention thus avoiding a potential miss build.

Williams Technologies Valvebody Assembly Line In the forth segment, the text, images, and database come together on an inexpensive computer or thin client terminal on the shop floor at each workstation. In this case the first workstation on the valve body line receives a message from final assemble to produce a specific product.

The assembly technician simply barcodes a kit tray and assigns a part number to the kit barcode. Technicians at subsequent workstations simply read the barcode and the computer responds with on-screen instructions for that product at that station. And so it goes with each station in kitting and assembly until the process is finally complete. It’s that simple.

ProNET also provides expert system or knowledge-base technology. If a shop-floor technician (assembler) feels a change might improve a process, suggestions can be entered right at the shop-floor workstation. The comments are reviewed daily by engineering and, if accepted, become part of the process and are thus easily integrated into the system as either engineering changes or technical notes.

Shop Floor WorkStation It’s this kind of efficiency and flexibility that Williams Technologies uses to manage mixed-model production. If the customer requires 10 of one product, 15 of another, and maybe just 1 of something else, assemblers can make the transition from part to part without delay.

The ProNET system also allows computers to dynamically shift operations between stations to improve line production balance depending upon the prevailing production load demand. And since every product has its own computerized build sheet in the database via barcode, misbuilds are virtually eliminated.

The database contains all model years that the company produces. ProNET provides the memory or intellect and the associates provide the job skills thus providing unlimited flexibility for satisfying their customers.

When ProNET was released to the valvebody assembly line it would handle twice the volume with the same number of workstations and quality increased to the extent that valve body testing was no longer necessary. Since it’s inception, ProNET has grown form 10 to nearly 300 workstations, and resulted in new business with Ford and Nissan.

According to Jeffrey W. Anderson, President and General Manager of Williams Technologies, It was a "Eureka!" moment, Anderson recalls. Greg had "tripped across technologies that were exactly what I had in mind and somebody who could pull it off," he says. Anderson quickly brought in Greg Allen as a consultant.

ProNET Video

ProNET What Others Say About It

Appropriate Technology
(Allan Alter @ ComputerWorld)

I hate buzzwords. They're misleading, they're tiresome, they make something big out of nothing much. But there is one word that I'd like to hear much more of: Appropriate. I hear earfuls about leading bleeding-edge, value-added, value-driven total business solutions. But no one talks about appropriate technology.

Appropriate -- now that's a word we can use. It means remembering that information technology is only a tool, not a solution. Appropriate technology is the right tool for the job -- it gets the job done, does it simply and doesn't waste time, money, resources or effort.

It means not being a slave to technology fashion and saying no to solutions looking for problems. It means using older technologies that are sound and sufficient and avoiding technical solutions when simplifying a business process will do. It means being alert to the nasty side effects technology can have -- and dodging them.

That's using technology appropriately: Williams Technologies, a company that remanufactures car transmissions, understood appropriate when it built a simple MS-DOS-based system that helps factory workers assemble transmissions more quickly and accurately. Computers on the assembly line show workers how to assemble parts with step-by-step instructions and pictures. The system helped quadruple sales and is so simple, a lone IS professional and a few factory workers built the pilot in seven months for $27,000.

Picture This
(Allan Alter @ ComputerWorld)

Build a system that shows workers how to do complex tasks quickly, and you can gain competitive advantage. Just ask the folks at Williams Technologies.

Talk about luck. If you can call an inexpensive system that has helped quadruple sales luck.

... Jeff Anderson, president and general manager of a small, privately held manufacturing firm called Williams Technologies, Inc., had a dream. He wanted to turn his Summerville S.C. plant, where workers take apart, clean and rebuild car and truck transmissions, into a flexible factory.

His vision is one every manufacturing executive in the world would like to achieve; to produce more varieties of products - in any quantity and do it more quickly and accurately them before. Achieve it, and he'd have a great story to tell potential clients, Anderson thought.

Creating such a factory was no small feat. Each transmission has about 1,000 parts, which can be assembled in dozens of ways. Workers spent up to 53% of their time looking up assembly instructions in loose leaf binders, Anderson says.

Anderson had envisioned a solution: computer workstations with instructions for building many different transmissions. But it remained just a vision....

Then, because their daughters were friends, he invited Greg Allen and his family over for a barbecue. While the fajitas sizzled, Anderson described his dream system to Allen, a former photocopier salesman who taught himself programming, went into computer sales and opened a small custom software development shop. Allen said he'd come up with something and returned a month later with a working prototype.

It was a "Eureka!" moment, Anderson recalls. He had "tripped across technologies that were exactly what I had in mind and somebody who could pull it off," he says. Anderson quickly brought in Allen as a consultant.

Greg Allen was the only information systems professional on a seven-person development team....

The system is remarkably inexpensive. Total cost for the pilot $27,000, including $15,000 for 10 workstations. The system has grown but still runs on inexpensive software and equipment (see 'The technical details" at right). The entire support staff consists of Allen, who is now a full-time Williams employee, and the one other member of Williams' IS department.

Did the system Allen helped create live up to Anderson's dream? "No question about that," says Anderson, who provided the following facts:

Productivity: In two months, the ProNet pilot, a control valve body operation, was producing twice as many control valves with the same number of people. Today, Williams builds 450 transmissions a day, two times more than it did a year ago.

Flexibility: ProNet has enabled its work force to produce many different transmission models in any quantity on one remanufacturing line. The biggest limitation appears to be the three months it takes to write and photograph instructions for a transmission. One customer vouches for the flexibility claims. "With ProNet have the capability of going in and rebalancing their people and output. They can respond to our schedules much quicker," says Al Baumgart, a senior systems analyst at the Allison Transmission division of General Motors Corp. in Indianapolis.

Speed: Cycle times have shortened. The average assembly time for all subassemblies and final assemblies has decreased from 150 seconds to 90 seconds.

Growth: Besides the increase in sales, the number of employees has grown from 220 to more than 500. Williams Technologies has gone from one major customer - General Motors - to seven. They include Ford Motor Co., Mazda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor, Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Caterpillar, Inc. All work for GM and Nissan is done on ProNet, and Ford transmissions soon will be remanufactured using ProNet.

Ford, like GM, was impressed enough by ProNet to buy the system and launch its own pilot. "We saw how dramatically [ProNet] improved their operations," says Mark Femminaneo, an assembly and test engineer at Ford's transmission and new products center in Livonia, Mich.

For managers who need to increase productivity and flexibility simultaneously, two lessons stick out: even low cost computers can make great just-in-time instruction manuals, and rub a rabbit's foot before your dinner guests arrive. You might get lucky.

Bringing In the Users
(Natalie Engler @ ComputerWorld)

In one corner, its the technologists who build the information systems. In the opposite corner, the people who use them. They speak different languages and inhabit different worlds, but they need one another for any technology project to succeed.

A survey last month of more than 300 IS executives cited ``lack of user involvement'' as the chief reason IS projects fail. It ranked even higher than lack of executive management support and clear business objectives, according to The Standish Group International, Inc., a market research firm in Dennis, Mass.

MANUFACTURING SUCCESS

Evelyn Ashe, configuration control technician and Vadene Echols, configuration engineer, Williams Technologies, Inc., a Summerville, S.C., automatic transmission remanufacturing company

Project: ProNet, a control valve body operation
Duration: four months
Number of users involved: five

The project doubled productivity, nearly halved cycle times, helped quadruple sales and resulted in system sales to Ford Motor Co. and Allison Transmission, Inc.

When Greg Allen, head of IS at Williams Technologies, began working on a system to computerize the manufacturing of automotive transmissions, he was dependent on users such as Echols and Ashe for their industry knowledge.

In the beginning, many users were daunted by the technology and feared they might lose their jobs. Later, they became enthusiastic participants.

Here's what they say turned them around:

Once Allen selected his users, he told each what he hoped to accomplish and what they had to offer.

``Greg said I had quite a bit of knowledge about production and what people were looking for,'' says Ashe, who supervised the assembly of valve body transmissions.

Allen explained the technology in terms that they could relate to.

He had them train him to perform their jobs, then he used analogies to explain the technology. He told Echols that the Open Access database was like the thousands of books of assembly instructions she had to pore through to build each transmission. The hard drive, he said, was like a file drawer. The RAM is like a desktop, and ``you take the stuff out of your file cabinet, put it on your desktop and put it away when you are finished.'' Once he presented it, the benefits were evident, she says.

The project altered both women's careers.<p><iframe frameborder="0" height="240" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/HQDwcfTWL5Y?feature=player_detailpage" width="480"></iframe></p>

Ashe was promoted from the valve body assembly line to engineering, where she builds databases for all the transmissions the company makes. Echols says she has doubled her productivity.

The project included a feedback mechanism.

The factory floor system lets users give input to the engineering team. It also captures the tricks people develop as they use a manufacturing station so new operators can benefit from their experience.

The Inside Route: Williams Technologies (WTI)
Robert W. (Doc) Hall @ AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence))

Williams Technologies is still developing its approach to network manufacturing, but even before the idea germinated the company prepared by improving internal operations with simple systems, JIT, visibility practices, quality improvement processes, Total Productive Maintenance, and considerable employee involvement. They also established close operating ties with customers and suppliers.

WTI remanufactures transmissions, that is, they bring in defective transmissions (called cores), disassemble, clean and inspect, often doing an analysis of cause of failure for the OEM. Then the parts are remanufactured to original OEM specifications. When the transmission is reassembled it is upgraded using the latest feasible engineering changes for that core. When the transmission is sent out. it may carry a stronger warranty than when the same core was originally manufactured.

Cores brought in can be as much as nine years old. Hundreds of engineering changes may apply to an old transmission. Therefore the problem is to identify what must be done to each transmission and execute it in a continuous flow operation.

Many of the engineering upgrades involve the control systems-the electronics and the control valve bodies, which are the fluid logic control devices for transmissions. Therefore, WTI began their new system with the valve body subassembly line, called the "leapfrog line," but the plan is bigger. The objective is to develop an infinitely flexible manufacturing system, networked by computer to reduce lead-times, from identifying a core in the field to returning a remanufactured transmission. Eventually the capability might be extended to create added value for some customers by participating in the recommendation of a transmission configuration to meet their needs. Initially the objective in the plant is to reduce the throughput time well below that achieved with garden-variety JIT.

What about the cost? It isn't big and shouldn't become big. Ordinary PCs are capable of handling the requirements at nearly every station. Williams is a small company. Not in the computer business, WTI isn't in the forefront of hardware and software development. It is a leader in making practical use of new technology. WTI expects to be able to adopt and adapt software with a very limited MIS staff. The data development and shake down of the overall system is being done by workers and those who directly support them-no big consulting bill to have a system designed from outside.

The Leapfrog Line

The valve body cell typifies the production processes of network manufacturing. The basic concept has been around better than a decade. The operator wands a bar code and a computer calls up a display showing what to do. Many PC board shops have long used this approach to download a program that moves a spot of light through the sequence of board locations into which an operator should insert components.

The subassembly of a valve body has similarities to a PC board, but the computer system teas many more features than moving a spot of light. Color images of components (look-alike doo-dads) and their assembly orientation pop up on the screen before each operator Assembly or routing text appears with the images. New engineering changes are highlighted in pink for two weeks to attract attention. Optional use component combinations are displayed in various exploded views. The system even allows the computers to dynamically shift operations between stations to improve line balance depending on the current load balance.

Associates can enter process change suggestions at their terminals. Many can be acted upon by either engineering or the work groups themselves almost immediately. WTI's continuous improvement process is starting to resemble an "expert system' with daily learning updates.

Using network manufacturing, WTI can re-manufacture transmissions and all subassemblies in lot sizes of one, sequenced in a continuous flow operation. Because of the detailed, unique instructions for many units, WTI previously had to group work of a similar type into lot sizes so that associates could keep straight what to do next.

Expansion of the Network Manufacturing System

From the leapfrog line pilot, WTI is now expanding network manufacturing to the entire plant, working from final assembly back to machining, and on to disassembly and cleaning. They are on the verge of being able to control a sequence of specific cores and their components from beginning to end of the process in the plant, with all the unique instructions presented to the right station at the right time. To do this, WTI must detail exactly what each process should do. The system is less dependent on "black art" operator experience, but much more dependent on the ability of all associates to contribute to its improvement.

After transforming the plant to network manufacturing, WTI will be in a position to extend the capability it offers to its customers and suppliers. Customers will directly schedule their assembly configurations by signing onto the network from any location. Since the network transfers images, CAI) information and all kinds of text, the next move is to use it to "manage cores"—that is, better satisfy their customers. Those include motorists who need a different transmission, the service shops that replace transmissions, and the OEM builders of them.

Figure 7. Leapfrog startup team members. back row, left to right are Crystal Bridge, Mary Gleaton, Margaret Farmer, Liz Melton, Dorothy Macke, Marie Creel, Sylvia Ford, Sonja Glover, and L.A. Atkins. Front row, left to right are Diana Simmons, Letia Chick, Esther Campbell, Norma Cross, Mattie Stephens, and Bob Scargil

The manufacturing and engineering advantages already achieved by WTI's network manufacturing have impressed customers. However, the business and organizational changes accompanying network manufacturing inside WTI are minor compared with the operating and communications adjustments between business partners that will be necessary to form a network with customers and suppliers. The hard part is vet to come.

 

Pursesandsch.com Grand Opening

PursesandSuch.com opens in Summerville
Published Monday, March 30, 2009 12:25 PM
Summerville Journal Scene ®

The Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Summerville and PursesandSuch.com celebrated the grand opening of the new store at 121 South Main Street, Summerville.

This Christian-based business offers highly stylish purses, shoes and jewelry at remarkable prices for the trendy and conservative shopper. Shop on line at their web site at www.pursesandsuch.com and learn about their Purse Swap Parties.

Owners are Shannon and Mary Hess and David and Amanda Hill. Call them at (843) 419-6105 for more information.

Left to right: David Hill; Mason Hill; Amanda Hill; Rita Berry; Mary Hess; Tony Pope; Mayor Berlin G. Myers; Shannon Hess; and Greg Allen.

 

Recommendations

 

Tim Davis - President at Stat Medical X-ray Tubes, Inc.
hired Greg as an IT Consultant 2006-2014

Since Greg Allen and Active Technologies has been managing our systems, they have run flawlessly and virus free. He has met or exceeded his promise of 100% up-time and availability while save us 30% or more on IT costs. Everybody should use Greg Allen's services.

Top qualities: Personable, Expert, High Integrity

Yanni Bohren - Attorney
hired Greg as an IT Consultant in 2012

“Greg came to my rescue when our BIG FIRM IT professionals couldn't figure out a software issue; Greg figured it out and had me up and running in a day! Greg is extremely knowledgeable with computers, software, hardware and the internet and always made me feel confident that he could get the job done (or at least tell me if it couldn't be done.) I also like the fact that he is continuously striving to learn about the latest technology. He's not a bad guy, either" February 2, 2012

Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, Expert

Kelly Turley, Vice President of Operations, Williams Technologies
worked directly with Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“Greg is an intelligent thinker who is always looking forward to how he can move the business forward using his areas of expertise.” March 28, 2011

 

Matt Flanagan, General Manager, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, South
was with another company when working with Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“Greg is capable and goal-oriented. I have regular contact with Greg on a weekly basis. He is always upbeat and refreshing to be around. Any assignment given to Greg is completed in a timely and comprehensive manner.” March 28, 2011

Lisa - Jeff Dutton - Hand Me Downs Childrens Store

contracted Greg at Active Technologies, LLC to develop a webpage for our store and handle Hosting and Search Engine Optimization using WordPress

You're the best!!! Thanks! (Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry)

 

Christopher Davis, IT Administrator - Wells Fargo Bank
hired Greg as a IT Consultant more than once

“I had the privilege of working with Greg on several issues. Greg was on time, professional, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to work with. Greg has the ability to think outside the box to come to a resolution.”

Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, Good Value

 

Ellen Priest, President & Publisher, Summerville Communications
was with another company when working with Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“Greg has been a great asset to the Chamber of Commerce in his role as ambassador, volunteering his time to help our community.” March 27, 2011

 

Gary M Wellborn, owner,Senior Consultant, Arch Infrared Thermography Consulting,LLC
was with another company when working with Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“I know Greg to be a diligent and focused individual who is serious about providing a quality experience to his clients. For integrity and professionalism you will not find a better individual.
I would work with Greg again any day.” March 27, 2011

 

Jason Rameshwar,
hired Greg as a IT Consultant in 2011

“I recommend Greg Allen and can attest to his warmth, honesty and knowledge in the technical arena and willingness to assist and provide guidance.” March 26, 2011

Top qualities: Personable, Expert, High Integrity

 

Doc Hall, Editor Emeritus Target, Association for Manufacturing Excellence
was with another company when working with Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“I knew Greg when he created the manufacturing production software for Williams Technologies. The outcome was very effective system for a lean environment, with features well ahead of its time, and done on time with a very lean budget too.” March 25, 2011

 

Jan Freeman,
hired Greg as a Writer/Editor in 2008

“Greg is a detail oriented professional who gets the job done!” March 25, 2011

Top qualities: Great Results, High Integrity, Creative

 

Scott Muniz, President, Dr. Ware, Inc.
was with another company when working with Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“Greg is a consummate professional and a joy to work with. I've had the pleasure of working with him on several projects in Charleston, SC. He is considerate, hardworking, honest, diligent, and knowledgeable – a rare breed indeed. I am happy to recommend him and I’m confident his technical skills and personal ethics will be an asset to your team.” September 30, 2010

 

David Kilgore, President, Leggett & Platt - Store Fixture Group.
contracted Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“Greg Allen worked tirelessly to complete each task on time, within budget, and in a manner that met or exceeded our expectations. He proved to be a valuable strategic and tactical resource, and has set the standard for commitment, loyalty, honesty, and integrity. Greg is a true professional, and we highly recommend him for any role with similar responsibilities.

 

Scott Sandell, USMMCA President
contracted Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“It is my absolute pleasure to recommend Greg Allen and Active Technologies to your organization. It would be extremely difficult to find someone with as much energy, or as committed to the successful, and professional operation of your business. In addition, Greg Allen has proven himself to be highly ethical, and with a strong devotion to his family, and a deep faith. He we be, without question, a major asset to your organization.”

 

George Albaugh, CMBA Secretary/Treasurer
contracted Greg at Active Technologies, LLC

“Greg Allen not only created the web site for The Classic Moth Boat Association, but has tirelessly maintained the site and provided the club with invaluable technical support and expertise not only in times of trouble, which on the internet are at times daily, but he has also creatively guided us over the years as our site has become increasingly larger and gained more sophisticated content. I highly recommend Greg Allen for consideration for any IT position requiring innovative thinking and tireless devotion to task.”

 

Lynn V. Whitner, President, American Electric, LLC.
contracted Greg at Active Technologies, LLC for Webpage Design, Maintenance, Search Engine Optimization

“It is with great pleasure and without hesitation that I recommend Greg Allen and Active Technologies for web page design, web hosting, and search engine optimization. Our web page is always current, complete, accurate, and we have never experienced any downtime. Greg sets the example for excellent workmanship.

 

Keith Clarno, President, Tuthill Cable Craft Division
contracted Greg at Active Technologies, LLC for SAP Go Live Training and Data Conversion

“All trainees passes their SAP Go Live exams with better-than-average scores, and the data transition was smooth. Greg acquired pre-release SAP Computer Based Training CDs" or "CBTs" from CBT Systems at no charge, organized groups, setup a "Sand Box", assisted in determining BUCs (Business Unit Champions), SuperUsers and a Validation Team . Due, in part, to Greg’s tireless efforts, expertise, and creativity, our SAP Go Live was a resounding success."

 

Williams Technologies, ProNet Project
contracted Greg at Active Technologies, LLC to develop software and integrate hardware for a new enterprise production system

“It was a "Eureka!" moments said Jeff Anderson, President of Williams Technologies. "Greg tripped across technologies that were exactly what I had in mind and was able to pull it off," In two months, the ProNet pilot, a control valve body operation, was producing twice as many control valves with the same number of people. The work force could now produce many different transmission models in any quantity on one remanufacturing line. Cycle times have shortened by 50%, and the project resulted in sales to Ford, Allison, and Nissan. In addition, Allen completed the project one month ahead of schedule and under budget. ."

Computer World Article - "Picture This" by Alan Alter about development of a successful Manufacturing Shop Floor System

Computer World Article - "Bringing In The Users" by Natalie Engler about gently working with and training system users

Computer World Article - "Appropriate Technology" by Alan Alter about how appropriate technology can really benefit business

Target Magizine - Associates for Manufacturing Excellence by Robert Hall about ProNET Manufacturing System and how it changed manufacturing

Server Room Make-over

Over the years, in-house IT people and outsource Tecs , added, changed, and deleted equipment. In fact, some of the deleted equipment still hung lifeless on the wall. But if something were to break or need reconfiguring, well, good luck. It may take hours just to figure out where each wire goes and which breaker affects what device. In the mean time your users are sitting and waiting for something to do. And at the cost of labor today….

That was exactly the situation with this server room. And wouldn’t you know it, a telephone technician accidentally unplugged a piece of equipment after tripping over some wires!

However, in just a few hours this room was transformed into an efficient server room.

Now when trouble strikes, the service tech can know in seconds what equipment is connected together and how it is connected.






Before

 



After - Short color-coded cables makes it easy to identify how each device is connected to the network



Before - This is where the phone guy tripped



After - Not even a dust bunny



Before



After



Before - Now that they have a new VoIP telephone system, none of this stuff is necessary



After - Equipment Gone - Wires Gone - Cabinet Gone They plan to turn this space into an office




E-mail Greg Allen

Successful SAP GoLive at Cablecraft

Cablecraft SAP Implementation:

Cablecraft was a division of Tuthill, Inc, (Oakbrook Ill). located in rural St Matthews, South Carolina, with 22 million in revenue and about 90 employees.

Cablecraft manufactured cable control systems. In many ways it resembled a bicycle hand brake, where you push or pull one end of the cable, and it pushes or pulls something on the other end of the cable. Control cables were used as secondary controls from Boeing and Cessna aircraft, and primary controls for Caterpillar heavy equipment.

Cablecraft controlled all manufacturing, accounting, and hr functions except for general ledger.

The workforce averaged a 4th grade education level, yet I found them to be humble, hard working, eager to learn new things, and determined to be excellent in everything they did.

The division President resided in Tacoma Washington at their sister location. The revenue, and workforce size was about the same as St Matthews, but most of their workforce sported an associates or bachelors degree, and the labor was much more expensive. Competition between the locations was huge. Many times needed resources were not provided to St Matthews in a timely manner.

The General Manager possessed vast manufacturing knowledge and experience, and was eager to test and implement new ideas. This charismatic leader was loved by his employees. However, Tacoma artificially burdened St Matthews with production and labor costs which affected St. Matthew's profitability. In addition, it was rumored that SAP experienced a 45% implementation failure rate. He felt that an implementation failure in St Matthews might adversely impact his career with Tutill.

I met the General Manager when he came to benchmark our systems and processes at Williams Technologies. He was impressed with my successful implementation of ProNET shop-floor system and Epicor ERP system. A year later I was invited by him to manage the implementation of SAP, and roll out their new network hardware and infrastructure at St Matthews Cablecraft, as a consultant.

Tacoma soaked up nearly all of the training budget for the project. St Matthews received very little in the way of training material. I found a company in Kansas City that was in the process of producing SAP CBTs. The cost for a full set was over $5000, AND the release date was several months out. I ask them if we could become a beta tester for their CBTs. They agreed and received the full set, as they were released, at no charge.

We immediately setup classes conducted during lunch and after-hours. Countless times we received new CBTs one day, digest it overnight, and train the next day. In addition, we conducted computer literacy classes and Microsoft Office classes after hours. What was really impressive is that a high percentage of the workforce was willing to attend the evening classes without pay.

Whilst training our people, we documented every process for every position, in accounting, and plant-wide. What was amazing about this exercise, it that employees, while explaining what they did, could see waste and unnecessary steps. With management approval, a lot of changes were implemented that made production much more efficient. Management, Supervisors, and Leads further refined processes, to the point that Cablecraft was able to eliminate second shift, resulting in big cost savings.

Next came a week of intensive raining for both St Matthews and Tacoma management in Chicago. We were nervous about our abilities, given the education level of our workforce. At the same time, those from Tacoma displayed a some-what hi-minded attitude towards St Matthews people. However, on the final day of testing, when the test scores were tallied, Cablecraft's test scores were the highest of any of the divisions tested thus far, and St Matthews test score average was only 1 percentage point lower than Tacoma. Tacoma manages were visible shaken, whilst the St Matthews managers were elated,

After training, we began collecting and combing through our data. This gave us an opportunity to streaming our use of raw materials, eliminate redundant assembles, and to refine our bill of operations. This data was sent to Oakbrook to be uploaded into SAP.

Then came the hard part. We had to Waite a week for “Go Live”. Several expressed doubts and fears about ou efforts. But when “Go Live” came, ... it was uneventful. Our training and preparation was good, our data was good, and production ran on “Go Live” day just like any other,.

The insight into the system gained from digesting the SAP CBTs brought about planned changes after the “Go Live” date.:

Previously, each person on the assembly line updated the work order with operation start time, end time, and notes at every position. We reduced work order updates to three key mile-stones, which made the process faster whilst producing more useful data.

Sales was tasked with scheduling production, thus eliminating a position, and making the schedules more meaningful. Lead times were reduced, and promised delivery dates became much more accurate.

Improved planning resulting in lower inventory levels less shortages.

Change from build-build-to-stock to build-to-order nearly eliminated production waste and greatly lowered finished goods levels.

Receivables, Payable, and Hr could be performed by one person.

Both plants could see what their true cost is.

However, the data received from the new system allowed Cablecraft to improve precess and cut costs in very creative ways

While I have been given credit for a successful SAP “Go Live”, It was the people of Cable Craft St Matthews that really made it happen.

TriRad Medical - Neatness Counts - Server Room

Many times when companies grow, change, and add equipment, the tendency is to get it running and worry about how it looks later… only later never comes. When something breaks or needs to be reconfigured, well, good luck. It may take hours just to figure out where each wire goes and which breaker affects what device. In the mean time your users are sitting and waiting for something to do. Sounds pretty expensive to me.

That was exactly the situation with this anonymous company. Hey, if my server room looked like this, I wouldn’t want anyone to know it was mine either. This room was so bad that Bell South refused to add service until the mess was cleaned up and safe for human occupancy, and it only took a few hours to complete.

The plan had four phases:
       1. Move equipment to logical locations
       2. Re-Run wires in a neat and orderly fashion.
       3. Color-Label equipment and wires so that it could be tracked from source to destination, by battery back and circuit breaker.
       4. Map wires from end-user workstations to computer room patch panel

Now when trouble strikes, the service tech can know in seconds what equipment is connected together and how it is connected. The large color labels allow the Tech to visually see the connectivity from a distance. And when the Tech hits a circuit breaker, the Tech knows what to shut down and who will be affected.

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Proposal:
Simple plan for redecorating the computer room at Park Shore for minimal cost that will make the work area safe, efficient, and add a measure of eye appeal.

Rack:
       1. Use the 2 Tripp Lite 2200 rack mount Battery Backups. They have 8 ac outlets each and will minimize the need for power strips.
            a. Make certain UPS batteries are current – replace if necessary
            b. Wire installation for Battery Backups
            c. Color-code AC wires to match each backup, receptacle, circuit breaker
            d. Reroute and zip-tie all power and data cables
       2. Move Voice Mail Computer under the workbench
            a. Need cables for KV Switch Box – Eliminate Monitor
            b. Use surplus battery backup from Rack for Voice Mail

Space Under Workbench:
       1. Place Rubberized Flooring under servers for protection
       2. Color-code AC wires to match each backup, device, receptacle, circuit breaker
       3. Reroute and zip-tie all power and data cable
       4. Make certain UPS is sufficient to power the connected devices
       5. Make certain UPS batteries are current – replace if necessary
       6. Label Servers – Name – Purpose – IP….

Workbench:
       1. Use Workbench only as a prep area for current projects
       2. Install wider shelf and move monitors to the shelf to maximize work area.
       3. Workbench is used only as a prep area for current projects

Storage Area:
       1. Establish policy dealing with old/obsolete equipment
       2. Establish system for storing spare computers and parts
       3. Label Storage Areas

Materials: Zip Ties
       1. Color Tape
       2. 3 KV Cables and a few extension cords
       3. Replacement Batteries (as necessary)
       4. Wiring for Tipp Lite 2200 UPS.
       5. Rubber Flooring

Tuthill Cablecraft SC - Gets a New Computer Cabinet

We moved our computer components out of the old rack and into computer cabinets, thus greatly improving the appearance of the computer area. The cabinets feature cooling fans so as to prevent overheating of equipment and reduce dust accumulation, access doors front and rear, as well as removable side panels. The cabinets are on wheels and we allowed some slack in the cables so that we can roll the cabinets out from the wall for easy access to the rear. In addition, the cabinets have reduced the noise level in the computer area.

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E-mail Greg Allen

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Tuthill Cablecraft SC - SAP Go Live

LizardLizard

"Here Lizard Lizard (SAP SAP)"

SAP "Go-Live Account by Gregory M. Allen

It has been said, "If you want to succeed at SAP, TRAIN - TRAIN - TRAIN". And TRAINING is exactly what we have been doing at TUTHILL | Cablecraft in St. Matthews, SC.


Our SAP "GO LIVE" date is August 3rd 1998. However, back in January we obtained "Special SAP Computer Based Training CDs" or "CBTs" from CBT Systems and began organizing into groups. A "Sand Box" of five computers was established; we divided our BUCs (Business Unit Champions), SuperUsers and Validation Team into four groups of five each and began going through the CBTs one by one.

 

We Love SAPWe found that by working together in small groups, a synergy was developed. Folks that grasped certain concepts would assist the others; folks grasping different SAP concepts share their new-found insight…and so on. We considered the material together; we discussed, related, and debated. We even collectively completed the "Unit Tests", discussing pertinent points each step of the way. The "Final Tests", however, were taken individually. And to our surprise, a high percentage passed the courses on the first try, and the average scores were high.

 

In time, however, we fell into a learning trap. We began to take in SAP knowledge for the sake of answering "Course Questions" and "Improving Test Scores", rather than to gain SAP insight and understanding. To rectify this problem, we discussed process flows within the CBTs and how each related to our process in SC. We added information we received from the books, Internet, E-mails from various sources, plus discussions with folks in Tacoma, our sister plant. At this point, we were planning and making decisions on a program none of us had every seen before. Would our efforts and expectations match up with reality?

 

Next came actual contact with SAP in Spinning Wheel. Yes it’s real; yes it’s big; it’s really big!. Like the current Taco Bell commercial says "Here Lizard Lizard" (SAP SAP) "I think we need a bigger box!". But you know, the stuff we studied together was close enough to reality that it gave us the confidence to say, Yes We Can Do This If We Continue To Work Together!

 

Like FamilySince our initial contact with SAP, regular weekly teleconference, specific communications with plant counterparts, intra-plant E-mails, plus validation with Core Team Members, has brought us to the point that if "Go Live" were today, we feel that we could do all of the basics, accounting material management, production planning, MRP, sales, and shipping, and grow from there. And the synergy enhancement between both plants (Tacoma WA & St. Matthews SC) will allow us to face challenges, accomplish goals, increase profits and improve productivity in very creative ways. I can’t wait to see what’s next!!!


Gregory M. Allen

© Gregory M. Allen 1998-2011

US Moth Class Association Recomendation

United States Modern Moth Class Association Letterhead

To whom it may concern,

It is my absolute pleasure to recommend Greg Allen and Active Technologies to your organization. It would be extremely difficult to find someone with as much energy, or as committed to the successful, and professional operation of your business.

I have worked with Greg for the past five years at the administrative level in the United States Modern Moth Class Association (an international sailing class organization). During this period Greg also served as consultant to my business, fine art publishing, and was invaluable as he provided expert analysis of web sites, professional technical advice, and design ideas for visually interesting websites. He has also single-handedly built and maintained our sailing class web site, which is extensive, and reports up to the minute racing news., This is no small task, and Greg Allen has done an excellent job.

In addition, Greg Allen has proven himself to be highly ethical, and with a strong devotion to his family, and a deep faith. He we be, without question, a major asset to your orginization.

Please feel free to contact me directly at the number above.

Sincerely,

Scott Sandell
USMMCA President