Friday, November 9, 2012

A Case for Data Scrubbing

Often maintenance systems don't reap the benefits that they promise through no fault of their own. How can you expect a system to improve underlying data? The answer is that you can't. What you need is to have good data in the system so that it can be accessed, processed and used to provide practical information for the organization.
Let me illustrate the cost of not having good data with an example. A multi-site manufacturer has four locations, three of which are in fairly close proximity to each other. Each site has its own autonomous storeroom with inventory parts. At each site, there is a part time catalog manager responsible for all database activity. Because the plant is unionized and positions often change, the catalog manager may be replaced every few months.
The resulting inventory catalogs reflect this: inconsistent manufacturer naming; missing manufacturer part numbers; inconsistent use of symbols/abbreviations; spelling mistakes; incomplete descriptions and; duplicate items. System word searches are next to impossible and finding a part is a frustrating, challenging, usually unsuccessful experience.
Maintenance workers at all locations had long lost faith in stores; each kept a stash of parts hidden somewhere for his own use. To plan for a repair job, they would attempt to find parts through the system, but if unable to locate what they needed, they would abandon the search and just order the part directly; in the case of an emergency, they might call another location to request the loan of a part. Inventory value across the company topped $80 million.
Recognizing that something had to be done, the company attempted to undertake the data cleaning themselves. They established a team of nineteen internal people comprised of maintenance workers (Electrical, Mechanical, Instrumentation & Pipe Fitters) from all four sites as well as two support people and one Inventory Specialist.
After more than a year of effort, and with only half the database cleaned, they decided to engage outside data cleaning experts to revitalize the effort. Systematically, the data from each site was cleaned. In conjunction with maintenance workers from all sites, a common layout for item descriptions with acceptable noun/modifier pairs was developed; the order of attributes was negotiated to satisfy all locations; terminology, symbols, abbreviations and industry nomenclature were agreed upon. It took six months to rework the entire database.
Having good data brings with it measurable rewards. Duplicates within sites were revealed to be in the 10% range. Common items across sites were identified in the 25% range. Merging the three regional stores into a central warehouse reduced overall stocking levels and allowed sites to share common critical spares. It also freed up millions in cash savings.
Item searches successfully revealed part information that maintenance workers could count on. As confidence in the central stores grew, additional stock from private caches was repatriated, further adding to the savings realized. Overall, across the company, inventory was reduced by more than 20%.
The data cleansing effort clearly paid for itself several times over. It also became the impetus for other corporate initiatives. The company went on to improve its item-equipment links to further enhance the maintenance system. In addition, it consolidated items along product lines and reduced its supplier base for volume discounts.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tips on Writing a Good Parntership Agreement

When going into business and taking on a partner, it is a good idea to have a contract/agreement to determine the share of the company you each own. It also allows you to show and agree on what each of you will contribute, as well as protecting both of your interests when working together.
You might be wondering now, how to or what makes a good contract? Well it is really simple. First thing to do is to be clear on every aspect of the business. Something's you may want to make clear are:
1. How much each of you will invest. - This will show what both of you are contributing to the company as well as it will help determine who own what % of the business.
2. When and if payback happens. - Pay back is meaning paying back the initial investment by a partner. Payment should only come if the investor will not own any part of the company when he is paid back in full(plus a little extra for being an investor). If they are to remain part owner of the company then they should recoup their losses through the revenue generated by the business.
3. Who will over see operations of the business. - This is important so that you are clear on who will deal with the day to day issues of the company, such as dealing with the clients etc...
4. Who owns what percentage(%) of the company. - This is a very important part because when decisions have to be made, there has to be a clear vision on who has the final say. This is usually who has the major share in the company, so it is best not to go 50/50 when entering into an agreement, at the most you should go 51/49 at least.
5. Buy out/selling clause.- In case one partner needs to leave the business there should be an option to buy out or sell their percentage off. This should be agreed on by both partners.
Another important part of a contract is to have both partners sign it, along with a witness for each side to sign the contract. This gives an extra method of protection when the contract has to be changed or enforced as there are witnesses that can vouch for each side.
There are many other clauses you can add into a contract to protect yourselves, just make sure there is an agreement signed by both sides before you get into business together. It will save you allot of headaches and protect your interest as well as your business!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Look at Soda Vending Machines

Soda vending machines come in a number of sizes. You can get soda vending machines in a system that holds just four or six selections, or you can get machines that dispense dozens upon dozens of cans. Choose a smaller size if you're looking to save money or space. Choose a larger size if you think the customers will be diverse enough in their tastes, and if you think total traffic will merit the greater number of selections.
Soda vending machines can be the closed-box type, where you can't see the beverages, or the glass-front type, where the beverages are visible. The advantage to the closed-box type is anonymity; the customer can't see what's missing, and you don't have to clean out the inside as often to make it presentable. The advantage to the see-through machines, however, is that the customer can see exactly what they're buying. Sometimes just displaying the product clearly is enough to make the customer want to buy it.
Some machines are customizable for either cans or bottles. The bottles can be plastic or glass (although today, more manufacturers have found it more economical to offer soda in plastic bottles and glass is becoming increasingly rare). To adjust for cans or bottles, there are a number of possible mechanisms. Some are as simple as pushing or pulling a panel in the back of the machine, to simultaneously adjust all slots. The advantage to this is that you can switch up product styles to find out which style maximizes your profits at any given time. These adjustable machines also allow you to adjust the price, as with all vending machines.
Soda vending machines vary widely in price. If you want to buy new, your advantage is that there is less that is likely to go wrong, you will have warranty coverage, and you might even have service coverage on your soda machines.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Finding Vending Machines For Sale

If you want to invest in a vending machine, there are a number of reputable suppliers to choose from.
Vending Machine Companies
Automatic Products
Automatic Products international, ltd. produced their first glass-front vending machine in 1949. Today, API operates all over the world and is the leading U.S. manufacturer of glass-front snack/candy, hot beverage, fresh/frozen food, and snack/can combination vending machines.
Beaver Vending
Beaver Vending Corporation was begun in 1963 and has since become one of the most respected vending machine companies in the world. They sell vending machines for gumballs, stickers, and small candy. They also distribute Black Dog Woodwork designs, such as the eye-popping Wazoo Toys and Candy Cable Car kiosks.
Crane Merchandising Systems
Crane Merchandising Systems offers a complete line of vending machines, including those for food, snacks, hot and cold beverages, and combinations. Owned by the Crane Company since 1985, Crane MS is one of the most financially backed vending companies in the world. This makes them rather reliable.
Dixie-Narco, Inc.
Dixie-Narco Vending Systems, Inc. is owned by Maytag. They have a full line of cold beverage vending machines for sale, including agreements with Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, 7UP, other cold beverage manufacturers, and milk. DNI also owns Conclux, a manufacturer of coin changers.
Royal Vendors
Royal Vendors designs and manufactures high quality beverage merchandisers. Among their vending machines for sale are Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Live Display, Milk, and see-through machines.
The Vendo Company
The Vendo Company offers the usual 7-UP, Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi-emblazoned machines, but Vendo also has more flexible options. Their Impulse Coolers allow for irregular shapes and have see-through sides, for full flexibility. And their Vari-Pak merchandiser can be adjusted to sell either cans or bottles.
North American Vending
North American Vending offers mostly just gumball machines and small candy machines, but they have a variety of styles, such as fun see-through spiral vending mechanisms. They also offer a simple snack/can combination merchandiser.
Seaga Manufacturing
Seaga is a huge vending machine company offering machines for gumballs, capsule candies, pan candies, snacks, soda, snack/can combos, and other cold beverages. Seaga also makes coin changers, medical vending machines, mechanical wine cellars, and more.
Arrow Vending Machines
Arrow offers a full line of gumball, snack, soda, combo, cold beverages, and candy machines. They also have change machines and over-the-counter prescription dispensers.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jet Aviation Sold to Permira Funds

Jet Aviation has announced that they have been sold, pending antitrust clearance, to the Permira Funds a leading international private equity specialist. Ending several years of speculation, the Zurich based operator of business jet services has finally accomplished what had long been expected: the sale of the Hirschmann family business to outsiders.
As early as 2000 the sale of Jet Aviation had been expected by employees as well as by industry insiders. Indeed, Jet Aviation management had been marketed openly throughout 2001 by Goldman Sachs, but the sale was cancelled when a suitable buyer was not found and the terrorist attacks put a further drag on an already downturning economy. Still, rumors of the sale of the company persisted and heated up recently with speculation that one of Warren Buffet's companies, i.e., Gulfstream Aerospace, may have been interested in the company's maintenance facilities.
Currently, Jet Aviation is a Zurich-based concern employing 3500 people worldwide. US operations remain strong with the bulk of the employees working out of Teterboro [NJ] Airport.
Even with the probable sale of the company to Permira, speculation is persisting as to what will become of the company after the sale is completed. Some industry leaders believe that the company is more valuable for its parts than as a single entity. Thus, parts of the company could be sold off and a scaled down Jet Aviation might remain in place. Areas of the company thought to be susceptible to a sale include:
1. US Maintenance Facilities. With prime locations at Bedford, Teterboro, West Palm Beach, and Dallas the American facilities are capable of providing expert airframe support to just about any type of business aircraft.
2. Completion Centers. Some or all of the company's award winning completion centers are thought to be highly marketable. From the Boeing BBJ to the Gulfstream 550, and to the Sikorsky S-70A aircraft delivered "green" to Jet Aviation facilities are outfitted with state of the art interiors.
3. FBOs. Jet Aviation's group of fixed based operations which provide domestic and international flight handling, line maintenance services, refueling, passenger and crew transportation, catering and hotel accommodations and immigration and customs services are an important asset for the company. Indeed, the Dubai facility -- Jet Aviation's newest FBO -- is considered by some to be unmatched in the industry.
4. Jet Professionals. Founded in 1983, Jet Professionals -- an aviation personnel service provider -- became part of Jet Aviation as part of the acquisition of K-C Aviation Transportation Services in 1996.
5. Aircraft Management. Over 160 aircraft worldwide are managed by Jet Aviation including more than 50 in the US alone. Many of these aircraft are also available for charter. US operations could be sold to Jet Aviation's strategic partner, New World Jet Corporation, a FAR Part 135 charter certificate operator.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Power of Belief

There is no surer guarantee of personal or business success than the power of belief. But belief is not something that happens to you. It is a conscious choice you make and, when combined with knowledge of what you do best, it gives you unshakeable confidence and profound focus.
One of the key character traits of entrepreneurs is the power of belief grown from self-knowledge and the ability to understand the world of the problems they seek to solve. Entrepreneurs are no less risk-averse than anybody else. The difference is they choose their responses to the uncertainty of launching a new venture.
We all suffer crises of self-doubt. What the power of belief does for you is enable you to see that self-doubt is the state of being in unreality. The power of belief gives you the perspective you need to observe and accept the undependable future and so avoid getting lost when self-doubt rears its ugly head.
Cultivating the Power of Belief
The power of belief is not a blind choice. It's a choice informed through careful self-examination and assessment of what you do best. Granted, we are infused with beliefs of many kinds during our formative years. Yet as fully realized adults we have the opportunity to decide what we believe and in so doing be fed by the power of conscious choosing.
All factors being equal, successful human beings define for themselves what being successful means. They have the power to believe in their ability to handle whatever comes.
Ask yourself today what success means for you. Write about it. How does what you believe about success affect how you live, what you do, who you choose to work with?
What You Believe and What You Do Best
A recent study by the SBA Office of Advocacy reports that successful entrepreneurs have the ability to assess the problem opportunity in the marketplace and understand how that translates to potential demand. But what's significant about their legendary risk-seeking behavior is that it is driven by their unwavering belief in what they are trying to accomplish. It is the power of belief that, for them, minimizes the risk in any endeavor.
Thomas Alva Edison was a tireless investigator. He had a broad background in applied science and he persevered even in the face of apparent setbacks. He had a strong, conscious belief in himself that enabled him to weather what others would consider to be career-ending failures. The point of his life was to follow a course until he found success. Not until he hit a stumbling block. Not until failure stopped him. He followed every idea through until it evolved into a solution that worked for real-world problems.
You can never be sure of results. The only sure thing is your power to choose. Making conscious choices means believing you can exert the effort required to succeed in a given venture. It is imperative for your success that you trust the creative process and be open to the possibility in every apparent misstep or supposed failure.
Taking the power of belief and aiming it through the knowledge of what you do best focuses you naturally on those problems you are best equipped to solve.
Take the steps today to get clear about what you believe and what you do best. Then use the power of belief combined with what you do best to focus yourself on the success you deserve.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Your Unique Advantage

You have a unique advantage, an edge no one else has. When you put that unique advantage to work for you -- when you take the
time to develop it as you would strengthen a muscle -- you get something that reduces perceived risk and triples your chances
for success.
That something is called Informed Confidence.
In fact, research in progress by the SBA Office of Advocacy shows that confidence is the number
one success factor when starting any new venture. But confidence alone is not enough. You need the kind of confidence you get only
by doing the footwork.
How do you turn your unique advantage into the edge called Informed Confidence? You do it by identifying your unique value
and assessing opportunities that allow you to put that unique value to use in service to your ideal customers.
Identifying Your Unique Value
Your unique value is a combination of your chosen principles and the thing you do best. Defining your principles requires you to
examine your goals. It forces you to examine your personal beliefs about money, people, reciprocity, relationships, and
Knowing what you do best takes more insight than most people realize. Yet what you do best can be easy to identify if you'll
ask yourself these questions:
  • To what sort of problems or situations am I most attracted?
  • What sort of problems or situations are most attracted to me?

One of the best ways to work out the answers to these questions is to free-write your answers. That is, sit down and let your
mind rest on each question for a moment, then starting writing about it as quickly as you can without judgment or editing. You
can also draw mind maps of the answers, or sketch an image of those answers. Use any technique that feels comfortable for you.
No matter what technique you use, you'll find that if you trust the process you'll get results -- some of which you may not have
Assessing Opportunities
Once you identify your unique value and have articulated the sorts of problems you're naturally inclined to solve, study the
problems. Become a student of them and an observer of the people who have them. Be open to where your unique value can help solve
problems -- and identify facets of the problem that may require application of unique value you yourself do *not* possess. Then
either find others who possess those unique values or develop the skills required to deliver additional value yourself.
For example, your unique value might lie in identifying market opportunities. Perhaps you're a little weak on the specification
side, however, so you might decide to partner with someone who is skilled at translating vision into clear marketing
Your Informed Confidence
Once you are able to perceive opportunities from the perspective of your unique value as seen through the eyes of your ideal
customers, you have developed a level of Informed Confidence. The more you observe and refine your understanding, the deeper that
confidence becomes.
Your unique advantage is the union of your perception of the problem and the special perspective you bring to solving it.
Bring that union into play in relationship with your customers, and you'll find that they will find their own unique advantage.