Monday, March 31, 2014

What is the future of commercial printing?

Today's post comes to us from our friends at Ritter's Printing in Miami, Florida.
These days, the commercial printing industry faces stiff competition from technology that has taken books, magazines and articles from print to the digital platform. Web publishing, e-readers, and increasingly affordable home and office printing technology put commercial print shops at risk of becoming obsolete, or so it may seem.

Technology has empowered consumers to do more for themselves printing and publishing-wise. Today, anyone can publish their work, most can print their own large scale jobs and books can be accessed by just pressing a button. Progress for the consumer, but all big hits for the commercial print shops.

Web publishing allows individuals to share and sell their work online, through the cloud and digitally, without the burden of costs it would have taken to put out a physical product. Suddenly, someone that may have never received a book deal can become an accomplished author that lands themselves on a best selling list earning dollars on pennies because they self published on the web. Great for the author, bad for the commercial print shops.

e-readers caught on because book lovers are now able to access their latest read anywhere, anytime without carrying a book that may have been inconvenient. Students' book bags are no longer weighed down by heavy textbooks and their wallets are a little fatter thanks to this money saving gadget, too. Now that e-readers have evolved and are compatible with other types of publications, including magazines, the demand for printed material and commercial print shops once again takes a hit.

Small businesses are still the heart of any economy and when that economy is running sluggishly, those same businesses spare luxuries and search for money saving solutions. Manufacturers that provide businesses with standard office printing products, in an effort to stay relevant and profitable, too, search for cost cutting solutions for their customers, as well. This dilemma has led to more efficient home and office printing products once again cutting out the middle man, the commercial printer.

All is not lost for commercial print shops, though. The goal of technology is to improve the human condition and as a by-product, technology ends up improving that which touches the human condition, too. Survival for commercial print shops involves finding strategic updates to aging methodologies. Those shops that can lower overhead costs in order to offer competitive pricing will find that consumers are willing to remain loyal to them.

The heyday of the printing industry may be over, but it's doubtful it will fade away completely. If the industry is willing to operate under less demand, there's no reason why it can't continue to live on, just on a smaller scale. While it's true that eBook sales, for example, continue to increase two and three-fold annually, a market still remains that will keep the hope alive for commercial print shops because there's nothing like being able to flip the page of a book or the glossy pages of a magazine.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are Pool Lifts Dangerous?

Since the ADA has pushed public pool accessibility into law hoteliers and others with public pools have been scrambling to either find a way to extend the deadline or comply with the new regulations or find somewhere to buy a compliant lift. Essentially any reasonably sized pool or hot tub needs a fixed lift that meets the ADA’s standards. There were many gripes against this regulation, but mainly it had to do with the expense for most people required to comply. Needless to say, the economy hasn’t been great, so requiring businesses to splurge for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in fees for lifts and installation, the pushback was inevitable.

Wars of words
Unfortunately, as with most things political, the rhetoric in this argument got ratcheted up pretty quickly. As stated above, businesses were rightfully annoyed by the additional expense. Unfortunately, the manner in which the hospitality industry seemed to express their outrage was likely a bit too venomous. The American Association of People with Disabilities and the National Council on Independent Living, in turn, saw this as an attack on people with disabilities in general and tried to paint hoteliers and others lobbying for a new solution or more time as villains.

Unfortunately, the rhetoric had little to do with reality. Most business owners would certainly love to accommodate as many patrons as possible with all their facilities have to offer. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a hotelier who would tell someone in a wheel chair to go climb a tree if they inquired about pool accessibility. Likely, the answer would be, “We’d love to, but at this point it’s not in the budget.” For many on the other side of the fence, the “fight” undoubtedly strikes some emotional notes, and it’s hard to separate that from the fiscal realities for most of the business owners they may be quick to point a finger at. At the end of the day, it seems the two sides have a common goal, they just need to calm down and talk about how to accommodate as many people as possible without burdening businesses beyond their means.

A real concern: safety
Lost in the vortex of screaming voices and bold print is a new worry for business owners with fixed pool lifts – the safety of their patrons. Many businesses have relatively small and shallow pools, but a fixed lift provides a dangerous opportunity for children to climb on, and jump off of the lift into dangerously shallow water. For businesses trying to prevent diving from the edge of the pool, an elevated, fixed wet platform could be a major danger for children who stray from their parents’ watchful eye, and another worry for a business owner.

Beyond the problems with potentially jumping off of the lifts, for smaller indoor pools, a bulky lift can make for cramped walkways. Combining a wet poolside with a condensed area to navigate by can pose a problem for nearly anyone, and a potentially dangerous tripping, or slip and falling situation that no business owner would want to deal with.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Diverse Usage Of Wire Mesh Filters

So many products need to filter out impurities yet very little thought goes into how much we need these products in our day to day lives. Primarily, these are made from extremely fine metal wire and has a huge variety of uses. From your kitchen’s faucet to the fuel filter on your boat, wire mesh is removing impurities and particulates seemingly everywhere.

So what is the scope of these filtration products? The answer is as far as you can imagine. Today, manufacturers like Recco have found ways to produce wire mesh so that it has become a vital part of industries ranging from food processing, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, printing and even the military. Truly the market for these products are as broad as you can imagine.

Here are some more specific uses for wire mesh:

1.Special types of wire mesh are used to back plaster during the construction of homes. Most often this is used in remodeling projects where the existing walls have been damaged.
2. There are stronger types of wire mesh that are also used in construction jobs that require heavy brick and masonry, again as a deterrent to cracking.
3. Finer wire mesh is used in jet fuel engines. These are remarkably detailed items that also must withstand incredibly high temperatures as they protect the orifices of high tech engines.
4. The most common products that use wire mesh are around the home, kitchen strainers, baskets and sometimes small shelving utilizes wire mesh.

Wire mesh actually dates all the way back to the Ming Dynasty, where the first known production plan was set up creating metal wire mesh. At this time production was done by hand, by artisan Asian laborers.

These days production is handled in high tech facilities with the highest level of manufacturing standards including AS9100 and Six-Sigma. Needless to say the industry has come a long way, but when the products are being used as components in jet fuel systems, military applications and other critical areas this level of accuracy in manufacturing is simply a necessity.

So next time you start your engine or turn on your fountain, you may want to take a little time to appreciate the innovators behind this easy to forget, but all important item that enables your day to day life.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Global Steel Industry

The once simple steel industry that Carnegie dominated in the late 1800’s is a much different one today. Steel is not produced mostly in the United States like it was back then, and is a much more global market. Here are the top steel distributors in the world, and how things are looking for them at the moment.

3. United States

The United States produced 88.6 million tonnes of steel in 2012, which put it third on the list for steel production. The United States is nowhere close to being the king of steel like it was a few decades ago, and it probably won’t reclaim its throne for quite some time. Steel production in 2009 was a rough year, but production has picked back up thanks to the help of governmental projects and a resurging economy. Many steel producers in the United States like Capital Steel & Wire compete with steel giants abroad by producing higher quality and more reliable steel at higher prices. With India right behind the United States in production, it probably won’t be long until the United States ranks fourth in largest steel producers.

2. Japan

Surprising to many is the fact that Japan is the second largest steel producer in the world, producing 107.2 tons in 2012. With some of the largest ship building ports in the world, Japan produces a large percentage of the world’s steel for ships. Additionally, Japan is home to some of the largest car manufacturers in the world, which all require large quantities of steel for production.

1. China

What should come as no surprise is that China is once again at the top of the list for steel production, producing 715.5 million tons in 2012, which was 46% of the entire world’s steel production. This tremendous output of steel is a result of a huge need for steel internally, the ability to make steel in super huge quantities at lower prices, and a large workforce available and willing to provide the human labor. China was one of the few countries that didn't lose a step in 2009, when the entire world steel industry seemed to lose ground, and they don’t seem to show any signs of slowing down.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Calling All Entrepreneurs: Why Not a Bowling Alley?

Bowling ball
I've been feeling awfully nostalgic lately about my childhood, and one of my favorite hobbies back in the day was bowling. Birthday parties and Sunday afternoon leagues at the bowling alley were some of my favorite memories. Now that I've moved away from my hometown, the nearest bowling alley is 45 minutes away, which begs the question, why aren't more entrepreneurs moving into this space?

Bowling is a quintessential American hobby, and one that is enjoyed by a huge percentage of the population. The groundbreaking book Bowling Alone by John Putnam even uses bowling leagues as a metaphor for a sense of community and togetherness. It seems to me that more kids are playing Wii bowling today than enjoying fun afternoons at the bowling alley with family and friends.

 Bowling alley franchises are hardly the most difficult investment to make. Top bowling alley equipment companies offer package deals for those starting franchises, and there are many resources for entrepreneurs working to start their own bowling alley.  It seems to me that there are a lot of  places lacking this fun community activity. Instead of trying to break into a market already flooded with fast food establishments, let's bring back this great American pastime. Who's with me?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Traveling Bangkok

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, one of the K...

I know you all want to here more about China.  But there’s just more to tell about Bangkok.  I’m sorry!  I promise there will be plenty of posts about China.  Just don’t hit me!  For the time being I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have to actually teach my students how to improve their English.  This is quite difficult for me to do because it is very apparent that I don’t know the first thing about teaching.  I’m and engineer for goodness sake!  I should be dealing with calculus and physics, not with getting people to talk back to me in my native language.

Anyway, there will be plenty more of that later.  I will be here for a while, so there will be time, I swear.  Now, back to Bangkok!

Where I left off, we had been touring Chatuchak, a market simply mammoth in proportions.  You could find almost anything imaginable for sale there.  From clothes, to furniture, to trinkets, to weapons, to animals (see part 1), all the way to the really bizarre and totally repulsive:

A quick snack anyone? Be thankful there is no such thing as smell-o-vision.

After we finished with the market, we decided to call it a day.  It was getting late in the day and we were all exhausted from sight-seeing.  That night we went to supposedly the best night club in Bangkok.  To say the least, I was not impressed.  At the beginning of the night the place was filled with middle-aged men and a smattering of young girls. There was an odd smell in the place due to so many people being crammed into a small space and poor ventilation.  If you have been to pretty much any night club in New York City, you probably know what I’m talking about.  The entire night there was very loud and very terrible house/techno music being played.  It was so loud that I nearly lost my voice trying to talk to my friends, who were standing right next to me.

I’ll take a dive bar with not many people and good music at a reasonable level over a night club any day.
The next day we had a late start due to (ahem) reasons completely and utterly unrelated to the fact that we were out late drinking the night before.  Seriously, nothing to do with it.  Nothing at all.

My friend Mike (whom I had been travelling with, if you hadn’t caught that already) had his two cousins visiting with him while he was in Bangkok.  They were leaving that afternoon, so we head over to the Conrad Hilton where Mike’s mom was staying for a bit of a swim and goodbyes.  After a while I decided to head off on my own to see some more sites before leaving myself the next day.

Thankfully I managed to make it over to the Temple of the Dawn, which is just incredible.  At somewhere between 66 and 86 meters tall, it was quite a strain just to get up to the highest level (about 2/3 of the way up).  I was definitely sucking wind pretty hard after climbing up the incredibly steep steps.  But once up there, the views are just awesome.  It is definitely one of those really special places that you just need to go to and experience for yourself.  If you ever have the opportunity and good fortune to go to Bangkok, I highly recommend this temple.  Simply awesome.

After the Temple of the Dawn, I met up with a friend at the Grand Palace where we proceeded to wander around. Anyone you met that was trying to help you translate things for money was of no use, and we might have been been getting Arabic translation services. You feel like you need  After a hilarious bout of haggling with a taxi driver (of which there are many), we took a quick ride down to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha to see one of the largest single Buddha images in the world.  Just like everything else I had seen in Bangkok, it was just awesome.  The Buddha is barely contained within the temple, it is nearly impossible to get it all in one picture from inside the building.  It only works to add to the immense size and grandeur of the gold-plated masterpiece.

From there we proceeded to wander around the temple and the surrounding area.  You know how there are certain places in the world where the sunrises and sunsets are just simply incredible?  Like in the desert, seeing the sunset is such a beautiful sight that it is moving.  Well let me tell you, Thailand is one of those places where the sunsets are like that.  All of the temples and statues and edifices are so beautifully decorated and it all glows in the light of the setting sun.

A reflection of the sunset outside the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

That night Mike and I walked through the park to find the statue of one of the Kings of Thailand (I can’t remember which one at the moment).  The park was very big and right near the hotel where we were staying, so I thought it would be a fun little adventure.  Adventure time, hooray!  Anyway, on the way through the park, we discovered a concert where an orchestra was playing music selections from The King and I.  There was a huge crowd sitting on the grass around the stage, so we decided to linger and watch the show.  It was very relaxing and enjoyable.  After the past four days of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, it was really nice to just sit on the grass and enjoy the sounds and the scenery.

After we found the statue, we went to dinner.  The I left for the airport to catch my plane to come to China.  And here I am!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Video Marketing

Viral marketing (and advertising) is an effective method to use on social networks to raise awareness. Understanding the important role that marketing plays a video promoting your business online is a huge difference in the success of your marketing.

The theory of viral marketing is easy if you have a compelling, true story, a friend tells a friend "says a friend who says, my friend, and so on. Also known as "Word of Mouth Marketing," is this unique form of marketing to people's lives are talking together about your services and products. Viral marketing or reputation of the Internet. With the influx of [good and bad] information on the Internet, whether requested or not, your story is to draw attention to your audience and proved to be true and support ethical practices on the Internet.

The behavioral characteristics of Word of Mouth Marketing, can go two ways. A satisfied customer tells an average of three people about a product, service or experience they had while a customer who is unhappy talks to about a dozen. Viral Marketing and Word of Mouth Marketing is the foundation of social networks, networks of people interacting with other people's social activities, for there is an inherent exchange of information, services and ideas.
Viral Marketing Video

Between the competitiveness of Internet marketing and the popularity of social networks, marketers were forced to use video. Words can convey the message, but a professional, compelling video is worth a thousand words.

A study published in May 2008 showed that U.S. Internet users viewed 11.5 billion online videos in February-March 2008.

In the same study, Google sites in the reconstruction of the top U.S. video-house, which is more than 4.3 billion videos viewed (38 percent of all videos), share profits by 2.6 percentage points compared with the previous month. account for 98 percent of all videos viewed on Google sites. Fox Interactive Media, second with 477 one million videos (4.2 percent), followed by Yahoo! Pages with EUR 328 million (2.9 percent) and Viacom Digital with 249 million (2.2 percent).

Video marketing has been very adaptable to today, s-line marketing techniques, from traditional video advertising marketplace [advertising], interactive Flash (SWF or FLA) messages online learning (e-learning) is a fire-able software, and send messages to mobile phones, devices , video is a composition useful to bring a lot mediated Resuscitation Mask enthusiasm can be high and social networking potential.

Online video advertising is clearly the best way to display a message to one million people with a simple click of the mouse. As bandwidth and Internet access are bigger, faster and Online Video Broadcasting will soon be the first and most important communication tool. The increased popularity of Internet marketing will also bring about new jobs. The amount of data that can be complied just for one online marketing video is endless. Have a MS in Business Analytics will be very beneficial if you want to study how well certain Internet ads work and don't work.