Smart Mfg

What’s Next for Smart Manufacturing?

By Naveen Poonian

In 2018, manufacturers are looking ahead at ways to focus on digital transformation. Manufacturers across many industries have begun to leverage an array of digital technologies from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, big data and analytics, robotics, and mobility. These tools enable manufacturers to compete with more speed, efficiency, and sustainability in markets that demand rapid and ongoing innovation. In complex discrete manufacturing sectors, digital transformation is increasingly critical to managing complicated supply chains, controlling costs, and staying competitive.

In 2018, manufacturers need to lay the groundwork for manufacturing operations success by investing in the technologies driving digital transformation and embracing the emerging changes in their industries.

Supply Chain 01

Contracting Is More than Standard Terms and Conditions
By Sheryl Toby

Strong contracting processes and communications which establishes clearly the expectations of each of the parties reduces disputes and costs and strengthens relationships. The key to strong contracting processes is to approach contracts in a holistic manner making sure all documents interconnect in a logical uniform manner. Because manufacturing processes can be complex, this is often not as easy as it sounds. For successful contracts to be created, it is important that parties recognize that contracting documents themselves are in effect a supply chain or link to the other. They must all fit together. If a chain is broken because directives do not mesh with other agreements, or, importantly, were never even properly communicated or shared, confusion, and then disputes arise.

Legal 01

Protecting the Secrecy of Trade Secrets

By Alicia Koepke

Many companies believe that there is something special or unique about what they do (or how they do it) that gives them an advantage over their competitors. Those companies would like to be able to assert that their methods, techniques, processes or other information are “trade secrets” that their employees, competitors and others are not entitled to steal.  There are several requirements that must be met for information to qualify—and therefore be protected—as a “trade secret.” But, one of the requirements that often is missing should be the most obvious requirement of all: the owner of a “trade secret” must take reasonable efforts to keep the information a “secret.” 


OEHHA Releases Guidance Regarding Proposition 65 Regulations for Clear and Reasonable Warnings

By Lynn L. Bergeson

For readers not following Proposition 65 (Prop 65) changes, you need to read this column. Big changes are in store for regulated entities subject to Prop 65 based on a rule implemented in August 2016, but with a fast-approaching enforcement date of Aug. 30, 2018.

Prop 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of listed carcinogens and reproductive chemicals in the products they purchase, use in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. What is considered a “clear and reasonable warning” under Prop 65 has been the subject of debate for years. Most recently, the form and content of warnings under Prop 65 have been the subject of rulemakings by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). In August 2016, OEHHA modified the Prop 65 warning regulations when it adopted the November 27, 2015, proposed rule and the March 25, 2016, revisions that changed the Prop 65 clear and reasonable warning requirements. The new rules change significantly the content of warnings under Prop 65, and regulated entities should be considering now how best to comply with these new requirements.


Product Development

Getting from Prototype to Finished Product: Three Must-Answer Questions

By Bruce Hagenau

Articles about new product development have proliferated across the Internet, offering tips on major considerations ranging from patent protection and cost estimating to prototype development and materials (e.g. drawings; cardboard; molded plastic). Yet, beyond the traditional wisdom, there are questions many inventors never ask themselves—and that aren’t often covered in articles about product design, development and launch.

As the owner of a fabrication shop that works with inventors on a regular basis, I have identified many important, less common questions that, depending on the answer, can boost the odds of success for inventors moving from prototype to finished product. The three that follow are among the most important to consider—and answer honestly.



The First STEM School in the Nation for Students with Special Needs to Host Free Family-Friendly Showcase of Discovery and Technology.

The Help Group’s STEM3 Academy will be hosting its second annual Very Special Innovation Fair – equal parts science fair, high-tech exhibition, art show, and community carnival. The free event will be a family-friendly celebration of talent, imagination and discovery from young STEM enthusiasts, as well as some of the region’s innovative companies. Last year’s event proved to be very successful with 500+ in attendance. STEM3 is the first school in the nation to provide a STEM curriculum to students with special needs.

Inspired in part by the Maker Movement, the event will have specific areas geared toward grade school, middle school, and high school ages and interests. In each area, there will be interactive opportunities for young people and families to build things, get involved in experiments and demonstrations, and take various gadgets for a test drive. The Very Special Innovation Fair will take place Saturday, Nov. 4 at the STEM3 Academy Valley Glen campus in Los Angeles.


Nanoscale Material Reporting is in Effect

By Lynn L. Bergeson

After a decade of trying, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now has in effect a final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(a) information gathering rule focusing on nanoscale materials. This article explains the final rule, what stakeholders are required to do, and by when.


Choosing the Router and Tools for Foam Packaging

By Chris Montouchet

Foam packaging is a shipping necessity that should never be taken for granted. In that respect, manufacturers and subcontractors have always understood the importance of shock-proof foam packaging for protecting the high-value or technical product inside. Yet, issues with foam, if not fully addressed during the packaging process, are likely to negatively impact the quality of the product by the time of its arrival.

One mistake comes from the belief that generic tools for CNC routers are capable of cutting all types of foam, regardless of density. Such approaches can be and have been costly much to the chagrin of the shipper and customer because the foam inside was improperly cut and failed to protect the merchandise.

All foams are not the same; neither are the tools and knives that cut them. For that reason, shippers need to understand both tooling and router design to assure product safety and customer satisfaction.

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