TÜV Rheinland Launches Customized Services in North America

TÜV Rheinland Launches Customized Services in North America

Last November I visited TÜV Rheinland where we were briefed on its progress on cybersecurity services. It is a well known testing and service agency in Europe with the same reputation in general as UL in the US. I once served on a UL Industry Advisory Group for one of its standards where I got a good view of the value of testing and certification as a value to companies as well as consumers.

TÜV Rheinland has announced expanded Customized Services coverage to North America, now making these services available worldwide. Featuring its Supply Chain Audit, TÜV Rheinland’s customized services enable companies to demonstrate they are good corporate citizens by showing transparency and responsibility regarding their business practices and employees, while reducing risk, increasing brand value and providing a competitive advantage in the market.

TÜV Rheinland has been delivering Supply Chain Audit Services across the globe for many years, and is bringing these services to North America now as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a more important part of companies’ business strategy. Increasingly consumers are holding brands accountable for not only how they create and deliver a safe product, but also for employee conditions and overall impact on the environment. With expanded supply chains, growing international production and trade connections, supply chain audits are a critical tool for ensuring compliance on a wide range of points including labor, safety, environment, social and ethics.

“Customers have countless options for procuring their goods. And especially when a customer enters a business relationship with a company that has a global supply chain, it is hard to ensure that the products are of high quality and have been manufactured under fair working conditions,” explained Frank Dorssers, Global Field Manager for Customized Services at TÜV Rheinland. “In these instances, supply chain or social audits create transparency and compel suppliers to disclose critical information, creating trust between the business, their partners and the customer.”

Audits vary in scope based on the sector and company, but often assess a company’s responsible sourcing practices across the supply chain and analyse compliance with Labor Laws, Environmental Sustainability, Business Ethics, as well as Health & Safety Management Systems. Specific risks by industry may also be addressed, such as hazardous chemical management in the printing and dyeing industry. Audit results provide actionable insights that companies can undertake to ensure their business practices meet the CSR and HSE (Health, Safety, Environment) goals they have set for themselves as well as mandates.

Profinet Specification Now Includes Time Sensitive Networking TSN

Profinet Specification Now Includes Time Sensitive Networking TSN

I thought Time Sensitive Networks (TSN), an addition to the IEEE Ethernet specification, was a technology that held great promise. Some technologists I respected were working on it. Then it appeared the hype was about over. I haven’t heard anything for months. Suddenly arrives news that the Profinet specification now includes TSN support.

Profinet specification 2.4 has been completed and can be downloaded by all PI members. The specification includes TSN capabilities, and according to the organization, it is the first TSN version of an open industrial communication standard.

Gunnar Lessmann, Master Specialist Profinet at Phoenix Contact andLeader Profinet IO Working Group (CB/PG6) writes:

The Profinet technical working group CB/PG6, which has been responsible for creating and coordinating the technical specifications, has been part of PI since 2003. The members of this working group include more than 25 representatives of device and system manufacturers, technology providers, and chip manufacturers who cooperate in a very open and constructive way. I’ve had the pleasure of leading this working group since April of 2019 after having been a permanent member. The working group would also like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to my predecessor Reiner Wamßer, who performed this “volunteer” work with great success and commitment.

Using the corresponding IEEE standards in such a way that the fundamental properties of Profinet are retained has always been important here. TSN now offers additional capabilities, such as guaranteed latency and quality of service, high-precision time synchronization, and seamless media redundancy – all using standard Ethernet hardware.

For this reason, I am pleased that the publication of the first “TSN version” of an open industrial communication standard was possible alongside the approval of Profinet specification 2.4. Naturally, specification 2.4 also includes all the details on Profinet which are separate from TSN – as usual, Profinet will remain fully compatible with all previous versions.

As with all other topics, we are continuously working on improving the standard. With regard to TSN for example, experience gained from the use of Profinet in the field and standardization from the joint activity from IEC/IEEE 60802 still have to be incorporated. There are also new topics, like the integration of 10 Mbit/s, APL, and cybersecurity, which also affect the basic specification.

Magazine Media Group Goes Political

Magazine Media Group Goes Political

The publishing industry has intrigued me for most of my life. The last third or so of it I spent working within that industry. Both print and digital. I remain curious about where the industry is going.

I had four bosses in the time I spent with magazine publishing. One of them had the temerity to tell me that I was the “print” guy and they needed a “web” guy. I gently reminded him that I was deeply enmeshed in the Internet when he was beginning elementary school. I was exploring the World Wide Web when it was brand new poised to displace all the proprietary things such as AOL and Prodigy. This blog began in 2003. You can still find all of the posts even though it is on its third platform.

But I still watch the print side. Publishing is a very tough business right now. Especially in industrially oriented niches. The ratio when I began was 35% editorial/65% ads at Cahners/Reed. Check the ratios today. It’s tough. You need to be an astute manager to make money in today’s market.

It’s broader than industrial. Take this article I saw as a sign.

MPA — The Association of Magazine Media, the nonprofit trade group that represents around 75 of the largest consumer magazine publishers in the U.S., as well as suppliers and other industry stakeholders, is leaving New York after 100 years and relocating its headquarters to Washington, D.C.

The move, precipitated by a board of directors vote last week, represents a reallocation of resources, prioritizing lobbying and government advocacy over the association’s other activities, such as advertiser and agency outreach, consumer marketing and research, according to an MPA spokeswoman.

“In looking at priorities, the Board identified D.C.-based advocacy work around issues such as postal, ad tax, consumer privacy, the First Amendment and data and subscription marketing, among others, to be the most important and in need of the most resources,” Susan Russ, the MPA’s senior VP of communications, tells Folio:. “This work contributes directly to our members’ bottom lines.”

MPA’s most senior staffer going forward will be Brigitte Gwyn, executive VP of government affairs, an experienced K Street lobbyist who joined the association earlier this year and will continue running its D.C. office.

This looks like an industry protecting it’s rear flank rather than confidently looking into the future.

Digital isn’t much better in aggregate. Advertising money keeps gravitating toward the evil threesome—Amazon, Facebook, Google.

Alternatively, subscriptions as the main source of income does not scale. I just signed up to subscribe to Tim Ferriss’ podcasts. He was thinking subscriptions in lieu of sponsors. The experiment last two weeks. Even someone as famous as he couldn’t scale subscriptions.

People, including me, love free media. But somehow we all have to eat. I don’t think politics is the answer. It’s the same as the idiots who think the way to profits in manufacturing is through cutting costs and eliminating people. Never works in the long run.

Selling Excess Manufacturing Capacity

Selling Excess Manufacturing Capacity

I receive many pitches every day. Many just don’t fit my interests. How could I pass up this one? “Just as Airbnb helps millions of people around the world instantly find a great place to stay for the night. What if car makers could use a similar model to easily order and manufacture lightweight 3D printed parts?”

So, I bit. And wound up with an interview with CEO of Xponential Works/Techniplas Prime Avi Reichental. His LinkedIn bio includes “parallel entrepreneur, board director, futurist, venturist, inventor, philanthropist”. He’s a busy guy. Wonder how he found time to chat with me.

In short, what is a supplier to do when it needs extra capacity but its capital assets are expensive—as in a large injection molding machine? On the other hand, what if you are a small supplier and have trouble landing consistent, long-term contracts leaving you with excess capacity?

Using digital technologies for communication, design, production, and quality, the two companies can link. The larger company with long-term contracts and capacity needs forges an agreement to “rent” the machines of the smaller company.

Geography becomes a second benefit. OEMs like having suppliers close to the plant. The Tier 1 has the flexibility to find a partner within desired range of the customer’s plant and use digital technology to send drawings, production orders, and other required documentation to the new remote plant.

As Reichental explained, “We have factories, associates, platforms, quality management systems, and brand recognition. Our problem is how to become agile and deliver on-time plus expanding our sales. We’re in a capital intensive industry. The answer was to extend to a group of smaller companies who don’t have the systems required by the OEMs but they have assets. We have created the equivalent of one additional factory per year by adding partnerships with these smaller companies shipping the equivalent of 1,000 tractor-trailers of product per month. Plus we now have the advantage of localizing production to the customer.”

Not stopping with injection molding, Reichental and his team have extensive additive manufacturing (3D printing) expertise. He adds, “Now we are layering additive/3D printing capabilities. Now there can be one-click to request, upload, get instant quote, through the cloud, process the order, get the manufacturing design, delivered physically by approved supplier with approved supply chain.”

Techniplas Prime has introduced a new approach to its e-manufacturing that is enabling the production of 40 million parts per year for BMW, Daimler, Ford, and other top auto manufacturers, or the equivalent of 1,000 truckloads of car parts per month, without the need to open a single new factory.

Five years in operation, it has revenues above $80 million out of parent company’s $500 million and is the fastest growing segment of the company. They proved it out internally before going out to 3rd parties. OEMs want to work with fewer suppliers. Techniplas Prime serves as aggregator for many suppliers so that OEM only needs to interact with it.

XponentialWorks is a venture investment, corporate advisory and product development company, specializing in artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, and the digital transformation of traditional businesses. As a curator of leaders in Industry 4.0, the firm has built a unique ecosystem that unites the forces of early-stage companies with the experience and deep market knowledge of mature companies. XponentialWorks invests in and mentors the growth and success of promising early stage companies and acts as an edge organization for the benefit of larger, mid-market companies undertaking digital transformation.

Reichental concludes, “In the end, business innovation is more important than technology innovation.”

What the Best Mentors Do

What the Best Mentors Do

Can you think of a mentor who has helped you grow either personally or professionally? Perhaps a teacher? A boss early in your career? When have you mentored someone? How did it work out?

I can remember a teacher or two who helped guide me. My first supervisor in manufacturing would put me in situations where I couldn’t help but grow. My problem then was that although I could do the work intellectually, my interpersonal skills were sadly lacking. Especially in the manufacturing environment of the time that placed a premium on strong personality. I can still remember moments when he set me up for a confrontation forcing me to be forceful. I think the other guys liked it because I was almost the only “college kid” there. The old guys loved to poke at the college kid.

Many people have begun studying mentorship. We talk often about mentoring young soccer referees as the best way to move them from the classroom to a successful career.

I recently ran across this older article in the Harvard Business Review by Anthony K. Tjan. His research revealed four things that the best mentors do.

Before he gets to the four things, he notes that mentors he studied consistently “do everything they can to imprint their ‘goodness’ onto others in ways that make others feel like fuller versions of themselves. Put another way, the best leaders practice a form of leadership that is less about creating followers and more about creating other leaders.”

  1. Put the relationship before the mentorship. All too often, mentorship can evolve into a “check the box” procedure instead of something authentic and relationship-based. For real mentorship to succeed, there needs to be a baseline chemistry between a mentor and a mentee. Mentoring requires rapport. At best, it propels people to break from their formal roles and titles (boss versus employee) and find common ground as people.
  2. Focus on character rather than competency. Too many mentors see mentoring as a training program focused around the acquisition of job skills. Obviously, one element of mentorship involves mastering the necessary competencies for a given position. But the best leaders go beyond competency, focusing on helping to shape other people’s character, values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect.
  3. Shout loudly with your optimism, and keep quiet with your cynicism. Your mentee might come to you with some off-the-wall ideas or seemingly unrealistic ambitious. You might be tempted to help them think more realistically, but mentors need to be givers of energy, not takers of it.
  4. Be more loyal to your mentee than you are to your company. Of course, we all want to retain our best and brightest. We also want our people to be effective in our organizations. That said, the best mentors recognize that in its most noble and powerful form, leadership is a duty and service toward others, and that the best way to inspire commitment is to be fully and selflessly committed to the best interests of colleagues and employees. Don’t seek only to uncover your mentees’ strengths; look for their underlying passions, too. Help them find their calling.

And Tjan makes a couple of final points: The best mentors avoid overriding the dreams of their mentees. At its highest level, mentorship is about being “good people” and having the right “good people” around us — individuals committed to helping others become fuller versions of who they are.

This is all based on research as is befitting of the Harvard Business Review. It is also wise guidance.