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3 Tips for Maximizing Your Facing Operations

Posted: September 30th, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


Another term for customer service within the manufacturing field is facing operations. The term is bestowed on the people whose faces are often seen by the people who buy the products. Facing operations, however, entail more than customer liaison. The personnel in this department find themselves performing tech support, small business advisory and industry consultant roles in addition to selling the products. To do so requires a vast knowledge of the equipment engineering, usage, maintenance, and repair.

The facing operations are thus one of the most important within the company. Eagle Technologies Group is one firm that uses its customer care department as a full sales and service front. Other firms can do the same, maximizing this important department to its full potential.

3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Customer Service

Customer Service Training

1. Thorough Training

A close look at the training methods of firms reveals that good customer facing operations consist of personnel that are cross-trained in dealing with and serving the public in addition to the engineering and basic IT that most customers tend to call about. This gives the representative the appearance of coming from a company that knows its product very well. These facing operations employees can address most of the routine and basic issues, leaving the major issues to the professionals within the company.

2. Keep the Departments but Add Communication

Yes, IT and engineering departments are necessary. In taking the minor and moderate calls and conferences, the cross-trained customer care increases the efficiency of the engineering and IT departments, while keeping customers happy. And, all it takes is a little extra training when the facing operation employee is hired. Additionally, an open line of communications between these departments will allow for faster and more accurate solutions as the customer care employee can access the expert advice as needed.

3. Set Solid Boundaries

Despite the cross training, the customer care employee must be able to network with clients and sell more product. To ensure that the sale doesn’t get in the way of customer care, each company must set standards or rules for conduct, behavior, and overall ethics. Its managers must support as well as positively reinforce the practices of the customer care team. These boundaries ensure mutual respect for client and employee that will keep the client returning for more products.

Customer service is a phrase that is often evoked in retail, but must be attended to in manufacturing as well. Thus, building and maintaining a proper team can greatly affect not only sales, but long term relationships with clients too.


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A Look Into the Conveyor Industry

Posted: September 29th, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


Eagle Technologies Group Conveyor System

A recent report showed that the conveyor industry is one of the manufacturing sectors experiencing growth despite the economic climate outside. The Conveyor Manufacturers Association reported that July 2010 orders were up 49 percent over this time last year. Such a dramatic leap in sales has undoubtedly led many people to wonder about the importance of the conveyor industry.

The History of Conveyors

In truth, it is an industry that has been weathering recessions for decades, since its inception in early 1900s. The story goes that roofers and millers in Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota constructed a bed of wood over which leather, canvas or rubber was laid as a belt. They used this contraption to transport shingles, heavy grain bags and more from one place to another. The first patent came in 1908 to Hymle Goddard. But it wasn’t until automobile production ramped up that the conveyor became a staple on the manufacturing floor.

The Importance of Conveyors

Conveyor systems proved themselves early on to be a game changer in the manufacturing industry. Few people probably understood that they would eventually grow to encompass an industry of their own. Just think about the manufacturing floor and the many different types and manifestations of conveyor that there are. They occupy such a constant space because they are:

  • Energy efficient, running on their own mechanism without the need for fuel or electrical power depending on the type of conveyor used.
  • Economically efficient, transferring products without the need for human intervention.
  • Time saving, with their ability to transfer items a great distance at a quick pace.

Types of Conveyors

Conveyors are classified by the materials they are made of, the products they transport, their size, special features, and more. Not every conveyor has a belt system like the belt conveyors. Cleated conveyors are one of the exceptions. Modular conveyors are used to navigate turns and to create curves in the conveyor system, while lift gate conveyors are designed to be mounted on the lift gate. Industrial, food quality and aluminum conveyors are just a few more types.

Eagle Technologies is one of many companies that can fashion custom conveyor systems for your manufacturing needs, if the traditional options do not fit. Contact Eagle Technologies to design your conveyor system today!


Filed under: Factory Automation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Evolution of the Hybrid Motor

Posted: September 23rd, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


The hybrid motor is the latest in a long line of innovations within the auto industry. However, it is the first to threaten the longstanding reign of an auto industry staple – the gas motor. The upset seemed to happen overnight, but the evolution of the hybrid motor actually began back in the early days, right alongside the gas motor.

Early Electric and Steam Vehicles

Before the gas engine rose to power, the first motors were actually powered by steam and electricity. The first steam-powered car was created in 1769 by Nicholas Cugnot. Later in 1839, Mortiz von Jacobi designed an electric boat motor, right around the same time that an electric carriage surfaced, created by Robert Anderson. These were all created before the gas engine even emerged onto the scene.

Rise of the Gas Engine

Some people will stop here to ask how the gas motor acquired such a choke-hold on the auto industry? At the turn of the century, inventors were making strides with the steam and electric powered vehicles, but the technology needed to sustain the motors was just not available. For example, the electric motor needed a battery to help store the energy for long distances and the steam engine was dangerous without some sort of regulator to prevent combustion. This made any alternative that was safe and with endurance the king of the road. That alternative became the gas engine.

In Creeps the World’s First Hybrid Motor

Lohner-Porsche Mixte hybrid
The first hybrid, Lohner-Porsche Mixte

Electric and steam powered motor believers didn’t entirely abandon ship, however. In the late 1800s, when the first gas motors were making their debut, the first hybrid car also came to life. The first hybrid was created by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that name should look familiar) who worked with engineer Jacob Lohner to create the Lohner-Porsche Mixte hybrid which used two fuel sources. The batteries charged while the gas powered engine kept up a constant rotation to power a dynamo, which was the charger itself.

In 1900, the two men brought the Mixte to that World’s Fair in Paris. An event that would help spawn other incarnations like the Krieger Hybrid, the Belgian Auto-mixte and even a hybrid bus.

The Killing & Rebirth of the Hybrid Car

Instead of furthering the innovation though, Henry Ford and the gas engine began digging a grave for the Mixte and steam engineering. Gas was much cheaper to use and the technology needed to bring a car to the craving public was available. The innovations needed to advance the development of electrical engines, hybrids and steam engines were well into the future. Fortunately, these technologies didn’t go out quietly. Hybrid vehicles reappeared in the 1960s in the GM512 and the VW Taxi. It wasn’t until the late 1990s the that hybrid motor poised itself for a comeback that would once again change the auto industry as we know it.

Key Sources

Hybrid Vehicle History. Hybrid Vehicle.

Major Events in Nissan’s History. Nissan Global.

Automobile History. Colorado State University.


Filed under: Automative, Hybrid Motors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How the Prius Revived the American Auto Industry

Posted: September 21st, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


The gas engine nudged out its competitors in the beginning thanks to a lack of technology and the economically appealing fuel that was gas at the time. However after years of domination, 2008 saw an upset in the balance of things in the auto world. The entire billion dollar debacle that brought the American auto industry to its knees can be traced to a lowly Prius – and its hybrid motor.

When SUVs Ruled the Road

The Prius was created in a time when the oversized, gas-guzzling sport utility vehicle SUV ruled the road. Such a car was a symbol of American prosperity and excess. Like all such symbols, it died when the prosperity ended. The death occurred in 2008, after the stock market crashed on the heel of subprime lending scandals and news of recessions overseas. Gas prices were skyrocketing and Americans were losing their jobs and their life savings in the same day.

No one could afford a SUV with the rapidly rising foreclosure and unemployment rates. Americans quickly downgraded and sniffed around for a car that could get them through the $4+ per gallon gas prices without adding more debt to the already taxed family budget. In rode the Prius.

And Then Came the Prius

Hybrid Motor Production

First developed in the late 1990s, as the tech boom was at its height, Toyota unveiled the Prius as an environmental alternative to the SUV. It was the first mass produced car with a hybrid gas and electric motor. As the Prius gathered steam, the big three American auto makers were actually retiring their electric car models for various reasons and rolling out more SUVs. However, the Prius did find a foothold with the environmentally conscious and the budget challenged groups.

During the time leading up to fall of the Detroit automakers, people had begun to trade many of their more pricey SUVs for cars like the Prius—hybrids that took less gas and cheaper purchase prices. Suddenly, in 2009, the American auto makers found themselves on the wrong end of a culture shift. People were flocking to Toyota’s hybrid cars, trucks, and SUVs and leaving the gas guzzlers in the dust.

Fall of the Petroleum Kings

Daimler Chrysler and GM went into bankruptcy. Ford barely stayed afloat. Several car lines that were once considered staples (Pontiac, Saturn, etc.) were discontinued entirely. The automakers found themselves begging at the knees of Washington D.C. for a handout. That’s when the questions came: Where are your hybrids? The companies had a few models to show, but nothing like their Japanese competition.

Today, there are more and more hybrid cars being introduced each day, many to meet the public demand and others to satisfy what is now federal law on hybrid car production. Because of the Prius, a tiny car that stood toe to toe with the lumbering giants that were the SUVs, the U.S. now has a chance to greatly reduce its gas intake. Those tiny cars also did what no other could for more than a century – make the hybrid motor a staple on the American highway.

So where do you stand?

Have you purchased a hybrid car? For environmental or economical reasons (or both)? If you haven’t picked up a hybrid yet, what’s stopping you? Leave your thoughts in the comments!


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The 5 Most Common Food Contaminants

Posted: September 16th, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


Eggs

The salmonella outbreak due to eggs is shaping up to be the biggest food contamination in 2010. It comes right on the heals of a major E. coli outbreak in ground beef earlier this year and a mass peanut butter recall due to salmonella in 2009. These outbreaks and more have manufacturers double-checking inspection and applying extra monitoring activities to their processes. But since contaminants are so diverse, a wide range of techniques are necessary to neutralize them.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common contaminants, in no specific order. Understanding these will go a long way toward preventing their occurrence.

Salmonella often found in hens

1. Salmonella

This bacteria is found in feces and inside certain animals, such as, the ovaries of hens. Salmonella has many strains. It is spread when animal parts are processed without cleaning away the feces or when the parts are co-mingled with the intestines of the animal. In 2010, a salmonella outbreak in the egg supply was partially traced to salmonella found within hen ovaries. Salmonella is highly receptive to heat and freezing temperatures.

2. Escherichia coli

E.coli has been found in ground beef

One of the most infamous foodborne pathogens, the E. coli bacteria is transmitted in much the same way as salmonella, with the exception of eggs. E. coli is also receptive to high heat (more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit). Up to five percent of cases develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, which leads to permanent damage to the body or death.

3. Calicivirus

Don't work while your sick

This pathogen is in the Norwalk category of foodborne viruses. It is considered the most common cause of illness through foodborne pathogens, however it is also harder than others to detect. Instead of being spread from animals, Calicivirus is believed to be spread like the common cold, living on the food that the contaminated person prepares. Some foods are contaminated by drinking water carrying the disease or contaminated sewage water. Preventing employees from working while sick and frequent water testing are a few ways to combat this.

Staph can be prevented by hand washing

4. Staphlococcus Aureus

Staph is found naturally on human skin and in the body. It is transmitted when food is handled against the skin or a worker practices improper hygiene, like wiping the nose without hand washing afterward. Staph toxins, which cause illness, are not killed through cooking or freezing. They are prevented through frequent hand washing and keeping food away from skin contact during processing.

5. Clostridium Botulinum

Make sure storage is air tight and stored at low temperatures

The bacteria that causes botulism is naturally occurring in the environment around us, but is only toxic when the oxygen and acidity in the air drops to low levels. This occurs in improperly closed cans, food with little acid left out at room temperature and oils left on the counter as decoration. Most strains are heat resistant and do grow in low temperatures as well. It is prevented through air tight storage in temperatures below room temperature. The vacuum and ventilation systems within a plant are key in preventing botulism outbreaks.

Food manufacturers must identify, and eradicate these pathogens (and more) while also investigating the source of the contamination and eradicating it as well. Check out our post from earlier this week on the 3 Main Sources of Food Contamination and ways to prevent them. Follow the Eagle Technologies Group blog for more guidance on installation, maintenance, and operation of all machinery.

Additional Sources

You Can Prevent Foodborne Illness, Pacific Northwest Publications

Salmonella Q and A, US Department of Agriculture

Botulism, Colorado State University Extension

Bacteria and Foodborne Illness, National Institutes of Health


Filed under: Food Processing | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

3 Main Sources of Food Contamination

Posted: September 14th, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


Beef Patties

Salmonella in eggs, E-coli bacteria in ground beef, and pesticides in infant formula are just a few contaminations since the turn of the century that have ravaged the food supply and crippled the food processing and manufacturing industries. Eagle Technologies and other equipment manufacturers work hard to ensure that the contamination does not begin with the machines that are designed to process and package the food.

We manufacture systems that package and fill food products safely. However, food contaminants may still breach the machinery to infect the food it is processing. Here are a list of the most common contamination points that you should make sure to address in your manufacturing process.

1. Contamination from the Source

Meat, raw veggies, eggs and milk can be contaminated with e-coli, salmonella or other food borne pathogens before they even reach the processing plant. These products are exposed while in or on the ground through contact with animal feces, bacterial infection, and contaminated ground water. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, eggs are often contaminated before they are deposited by the hen, through salmonella present in the hen’s ovaries.

2. Contact in Pre-Processing

Slaughterhouses are notorious for co-mingling meats before and after slaughter, thus causing contamination. Contact with pathogens can also occur during transit, when the food is sitting idle in the back of a hot truck. Improperly cooled or heated food only heightens the problem. Food that only contains a few microbes can become a teaming piece of bacterial heaven after sitting in transit for a few hours.

3. Problems During Processing

Contamination during processing involves environmental contaminants like metal shavings, pesticides and chemicals used to operate and maintain the machinery. Eagle Technologies and many other companies incorporate safety measures to ensure that the food is safe during manufacturing. However, contamination can occur from improper maintenance, improper use of the machines and breaches in the ventilation system that leads to the processing area.

Most contaminants can be defeated after processing with high heat or freezing. Other types of contaminations requires immediate disposal of the food. Fortunately, Eagle Technologies offers a wide array of services to help their customers with proper installation, maintenance and operation of all the equipment purchased.

Check back on Thursday for a discussion on the five most common food contaminants.


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Utilizing Your Customer Service Department for R&D

Posted: September 9th, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


Customer Service Call

Hybrid motors, conveyor systems, and packaging materials are just a few of the products and equipment that Eagle Technologies Group, and companies like us, manufacture. Ultimately, we make the equipment used to produce the products you use every day. However, our equipment, machinery, and the products produced by them don’t always come problem-free. That’s why customer services are made available to handle these issues as they occur. But it’s not always necessary for customer service to lay in wait for the next big catastrophe.

Customer care and equipment engineering departments in companies like Eagle Technologies Group can and do work together outside of the troubleshooting realm. In fact, many companies use a relationship between the two departments to improve machinery and even the processes involved in creating them.

Solving Technical Problems Through Customer Service

A customer care department often catalogues customer complaints, comments, and concerns from each interaction. Many issues can be chalked up to human error, improper use of the equipment, lax training, or maintenance negligence.

But sometimes, customers can discover a problem that was missed during the testing and inspection stages. At other times, the daily usage alone can uncover a hidden complication in the machinery. These complications often call attention to parts that aren’t capable of handling the daily production and maintenance, often adding unnecessary time and effort to daily tasks.

Your Comments, Concerns, and Complaints Do Make A Difference

When these sorts of hidden complications come up in customer service calls, the engineering department should be alerted to the problem. This partnership between the customer service and engineering department allows us to make improvements in how easily the machines work, as well as, how efficiently. This system is especially effective with newer model machines, in which all quirks haven’t yet been identified.

So, when you contact the Eagle Technologies Group customer care department about issues with your equipment, remember that your words may just shape future models and improve quality for many other users.


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Fall Into Hybrid Motor Winterization

Posted: September 7th, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


Scraping ice!

Last week, we wrote about the effects of cold weather on hybrid vehicles. This week, we’d like to follow that story up with some tips on how to actually prepare your hybrid for the coming cold winter months.

The companies who work in hybrid motor manufacturing care greatly about how those motors perform after they leave the assembly line. Eagle Technologies creates the systems that help companies like GM, Ford and Chrysler generate thousands of hybrid cars each year. Many of these cars end up in places such as the freezing ‘M’ states: Minnesota, Maine, and Montana among others. However, these customers often don’t know what it takes to prepare a car for the sub-zero temperatures that these states hold for weeks. Here are a few important tips that you should be aware of:

4 Important Hybrid Motor Winterization Tips

  1. Add grill blocks keep the cold air out from under the hood. Cold air rushes into the car as it runs, making it difficult to warm up a car with climate-sensitive parts such as hybrid batteries. A grill block is as simple as a piece of cardboard behind the grill or customized blocks that fit your car perfectly without being obvious. The latter takes time to obtain, so September is a perfect time to place the order.
  2. Have the car’s lights, heaters, and defrosters inspected. These items run simultaneously in the winter, and combined with the cold air, will dampen the hybrid car’s performance and gas mileage. Make sure that these components are functioning appropriately to mitigate the performance and fuel economy losses that you cannot avoid.
  3. Replace your tires with ones that are designed to handle the snow and cold. Michigan winters are long and harsh on your hybrid car. There’s no need to send it out on tires that are ill-equipped to handle the car outside of normal circumstances.
  4. Invest in a block heater if you live in places, such as northern Minnesota, that see extremely low temps for extended periods of time. A block heater warms up the car enough to start it up in such weather.

Proper care of a hybrid engine begins the day you drive it home. Just keep in mind that your half electric, half gas car was not meant to run in frigid conditions that the state of Michigan sees each year. Start early, in September, working with your mechanic to ensure that the hybrid engine in your car keeps running despite the cold.


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The Chilling Effects of Cold Weather on Hybrid Motors

Posted: September 2nd, 2010 | By: Eagle Tech


September usually ushers in the season of Fall in Michigan, the infamous home of the auto industry. However, the industry’s current popular cars, those powered by hybrid motors, may experience a little trouble running in the great state that gave us the American automobile. Hybrid motors do indeed have difficulty functioning in cold weather, the type of weather that Michigan is notorious for.

Cold Weather Hinders Hybrid Motor Fuel Economy (Significantly)

Hybrid cars are known for losing their highly valued fuel economy numbers when the thermostat begins to sink toward 30 degrees Fahrenheit. They can still function, and the drop in fuel economy isn’t so bad when compared to the similar drop in fuel economy for cars that are completely gas powered. According to Hybrid Cars.com, the drop is between 10 to 20 percent no matter what type of engine you have. It’s just that 10-20% can be a bit more significant when taken away from the mere 40 to 50 mpg that you can typically get with a hybrid engine.

Don’t Expect That Cold Hybrid Battery To Be Any Help

The hybrid batteries that help power the cars are also part of the fuel economy problem. When the temperature drops to the 30 degree Fahrenheit range, the nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries in hybrid cars will have difficulty functioning. This leads to less than desirable performance and an additional factor that wears on the above mentioned fuel economy. The auto stop functions practically cease until the car has been running for more than 10 minutes, making for a further burn in the fuel department.

A Few More Cold Weather Hybrid Car Quirks..

Here are a few other quirks (courtesy of Autoblog Green) that Michigan hybrid auto owners will notice, and those in say, California, will not:

  • The power gauges will show a significant energy draw in colder weather because of the systems needed to heat a car and keep it heated.
  • The silent start disappears until summer, leaving you with a car that roars awake like a sleeping bear.

The Autoblog Green and other sources within the hybrid car universe often don’t recommend these vehicles to the residents of long cold winter states, like Michigan, which gets three months or more of freezing weather.

Eagle Technologies prides itself on creating the best machinery for hybrid motor manufacturing, however we haven’t been able to defeat Mother Nature yet. Michigan hybrid cars owners should thus take heed and thoroughly prepare their cars for the winter season. Start now with preventative maintenance, even if it is September, in order limit cold weather problems in your hybrid car.


Filed under: Hybrid Motors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »