Quality Magazine

From the Editor: Spring Fever

March 1, 2011
“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” - Doug Larson



March is my favorite month (and not because my birthday falls during it). Although that’s certainly a perk, what really makes this month stand out for me is the anticipation of spring and what follows after: summer.

As a Chicagoan, the winters are long and I spend months hibernating in my home as snowstorm after snowstorm touches down. In this case, I should probably say “blizzard”, seeing that last month our city was hit with a massive winter storm that delivered more than 20 inches of snow, making it the third largest snowfall in Chicago history.

Ironically, the blizzard fell on Groundhog Day when trusty groundhog Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow only to see no shadow. Tradition says this signifies an early spring. While the prediction accuracy rate for this furry rodent is only 39%, according to the National Climatic Data Center, which some of you may agree is pretty bleak, I’ll take what I can get at this point!

With that said, this is a month of expectations. What is your outlook for the year? Perhaps you attended the Automated Imaging Association (AIA) Business Conference in January to gain some industry insight. Or maybe you went to learn about new technology trends that your business might benefit from.

While I was not in attendance, vision integrator Ned Lecky, a regular columnist and member of our editorial advisory board, attended the conference and shared some of his thoughts.

“I think there was a very business-as-usual mood at the conference. There is growth in many key industries, while other ones are flat,” Lecky says. “As always in business, we look for the high-growth opportunities and work at getting into position to capitalize on them, and nimbly avoid the time and money sinks or low-volume opportunities.”

Lecky also talked about how the machine vision industry was spoiled in the 1990s, when high-margin opportunity was available in just about any factory where production was ramping up. It wasn’t possible to overspend on technology.

However, he adds that when the 2000s hit, a very painful slap of reality caught many companies off guard. There was uncertainty about how to leap from one market to another, and so companies would get scared and bypass opportunities. Now in the United States, Lecky says the successful companies understand that nothing is certain; everything is in play. You look for partnerships, joint-development opportunities and product development plays that can create volume opportunity for your company, irrespective of global trends, industry trends and general malaise.

Is your company designing new products for industries that are recession-proof? What are your expectations for the coming year? Will you be attending any upcoming events to gain further investment strategies for your business?

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the AIA Business Conference, next month is the Quality Conference, to be held April 11 to 13 in Charlotte, NC. Join us and other industry professionals to learn more about test, inspection, measurement and evaluation practices in manufacturing. This event will deliver education through case studies and hands-on examples to help you develop your skills. You can register for this event at www.qualitymagconference.com.

As Mother Nature starts to calm down here in the Windy City, I am looking forward to a month of possibilities.