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Innovation for Global Business: Meeting the Ever-Increasing Demands of Clients – A Case Study

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I have been working in the global eyeglass manufacturing industry, supplying raw materials, parts and accessories to distributors and manufacturers around the world, since 1999. When I first began, there were manufacturer pockets around the globe in various countries. As time went by, like many industries, the demand for cheaper products consistently bore weight on the drive to decrease cost, which led to manufacturing in China. The economies of scale as well as the very low cost of manual labor helped to drive the exodus to China. Difficult products are still being manufactured in small clusters around the world, however the “meat and potatoes”, the “grunt work” has moved offshore to China.

Titanium (pure or alloyed) wire and sheet is the preferred material to make frames of these days. The unit cost is very expensive compared to ferrous metals, however the properties are far superior. It is much more difficult to work than regular metals during the 200 step process to make a pair of frames. Because of this, technology was often limited to countries like Germany and Japan who invested a long time ago in developing processes to work this material. Japan has been selling a lot of its technology to China in the past decade so that now, standard titanium eyewear is usually made in China at a lower cost than Japan which has led to a lot of “restructuring” in the Japanese optical industry. Those companies that have a competitive advantage have survived (i.e. a specialty), however the “plane Jane Vanilla” types are, to a great degree, gone.

People do not know this but it takes approximately 3 months and 200 steps to make a pair of eyeglasses. There is a huge amount of outsourcing done to specialists who do various parts of the process. The titanium used in eyeglass manufacturing must have a very good surface quality. Because titanium is so hard (and yet so soft at the same time), it is easy to make deep scratches, but very difficult to polish it out. Here, not I did not say “grinding” because grinding connotes “making smaller”, but instead use the term “polishing” which results in a smoother, shinier surface with less blemishes. The end result is different, therefore the terminology is different.

Because removing scratches from titanium is difficult, the manufacturers demand the highest surface quality. Eyeglasses are a fashion, they are painted, plated or coated and then worn on the face. When you meet someone the first thing you see is their eyes, and if they are wearing glasses you see those. Because of this, the finished surface needs to be as blemish-free as possible. Without a smooth surface, the paint/plating will not apply evenly and you will end up with defective product that will not be purchased by the wholesalers and distributors to put on the market. In reality, most end-users may not even notice the level of perfection that the wholesalers are demanding. After all, how do you choose a pair of glasses? You find a color and shape you like, put them on your face, look in a mirror to see if they suit your image of yourself, then scan your friend/family member/store clerk’s face and response to see if their impression of the frames on your face seem suitable to them. If so, you buy. If not, you keep looking. Most of the scratches and blemishes that the manufacturers are required to prevent would not be noticed by the end user, quite possibly allowing manufacturers to decrease their defective count allow them to purchase lower-priced material and maybe make glasses even cheaper; however the companies that order the frames go far beyond that in detail.

Because of this, the manufacturers must have the best material available. This means a very high price compared to other titanium used in non-eyewear industries. There is a constant drive to find a lower priced titanium material for eyeglass manufacturing, but to date, the only material suitable is that which is made by the Japanese. I have tried supplying US material, Russian and Chinese but all fail for their various reasons. The U.S. material surface is not up to quality because it is used mainly for “rougher” industrial purposes. The Chinese and Russian is still unstable in terms of content.

The manufacturers also demand tight tolerances in the material diameter or thickness. Usually tolerances for titanium in the optical industry are +/- 0.02 or 0.0.3 mm.

We have two levels of quality for titanium sheet here in Japan. One is like a “mirror finish”. Obviously it doesn’t reflect like a mirror, but it is smooth. This is what the manufacturers need. The other one looks like someone slathered a thin layer of epoxy on the surface and then sprinkled sand over it. This CANNOT be used to make eyeglasses.

For titanium sheet, usually anything under 3 mm thickness by Kobe, Sumitomo, Shin Nittetsu are usable as is. For thicker sizes, the surface gets too rough and we have to use a cold rolled sheet. This meaning I would order 4 mm, my supplier would have his supplier roll 5 mm down to 4 mm so the surface was smooth. Again, this process drives the price up on titanium that has already been increasing dramatically in the past year.

Eyeglass factories are “small” compared to other industrial processing plants. The machines are small, hand operated, and so forth. The size of the sheets that feed into the machines are limited. This means that standard sheets (usually 1m x 2m) need to be cut into about four pieces in order to be used by most manufacturers.

The manufacturers of the titanium will not cut the standard sizes sheets, however the wholesalers who buy bulk and stock in Japan will. They know this is necessary for the industry. I have yet to find a company outside of Japan that is willing to do this; making the sale of sheet extremely difficult to the optical industry from non-Japanese sources.

My advice to suppliers outside Japan is this: This process may be different from what you or your manufacturers are used to doing, but in this global age, we constantly have to be innovating and finding NEW ways to do business. We need to meet the ever-increasing demands of our clients and gain a competitive advantage over the other rivals looking for business. The old established ways that worked so well for so long no longer apply.

Here is an example of a situation that occurred many times over the past six years:

Customer: “I need 20 kg of Beta titanium sheet 0.8mm thickness, cut sizes of about 1m x 0.3m. Courier is too expensive so please send via Post. We urgently need this material and we need it in good condition.”

Supplier: ” The minimum quantity 200 kg, and dimensions are 2m x 1m. Delivery is 3 months. We don’t pack for international shipping. We don’t cut down to size. We only ship by courier. We send the best we can, as always.”

For my business, this often killed the chances of finding a non-Japanese source for supplying my clients in the Chinese market. This way of dealing with a request is a dead end because it does not meet the customer’s needs. Here are the reasons why:

1) Optical customers have no way of cutting huge standard sheets down to size. They need the smaller cut sizes from the beginning.

2) Their machinery is much smaller in scale than automotive, building, aerospace industries, therefore need smaller cut sizes of material.

3) Factory loading and receiving is much smaller in scale therefore huge pallets cause major problems. Hand-carry-able sizes of material are essential.

4) Scratches on the surface of the hard titanium cannot be removed through polishing of parts to get the gloss finish that is required for eyeglasses; therefore best quality surface and proper international packing is critical.

5) Eyeglasses are fashion. The fashion industry is critically volatile and changing extremely quickly. The optical industry gets orders for glasses and must deliver in the shortest possible time. It takes three months to make one order. Manufacturers cannot be waiting three months for material before they start to produce. They choose the vendors that can supply from ready stock or in the shortest time possible.

6) One pair of glasses usually uses about 10-20 grams of titanium so even 20 kg of one size is a large amount for a manufacturer. They need suppliers who will provide smaller quantities.

7) Quantities ordered these days for eyeglasses have gone from tens of thousands, to thousands, and now are at minimum quantities of hundreds. Those hundreds are further divided into dozens of colors making the SKU delivery extremely small. Eyeglass manufacturers NEED access to small quantities of materials relative to the big industries. Even in China, everyone is producing now very small runs to meet the needs of the clients who must provide a huge variety of product SKUs to the market.

8) The shipping is also critical so being able to cut down to sizes that will be carried by the post office, or a very cheap courier is essential. Sending small quantities via Air Cargo, or Sea Cargo is prohibitively expensive. The buyers/the market forces are driving the selling price down of the eyeglasses. Because eyeglasses from the manufacturer do not have a large profit margin, the manufacturers need help cutting their costs; expensive shipping is something people are always trying to do away with.

9) Most eyeglass manufacturing of standard (non-niche) eyewear (and all metal eyeglasses) is done now in China for the reason that China makes it MUCH CHEAPER than anyone else. Most ALL manufacturing is done in China these days for the same reason. People make product in China to DECREASE THEIR COSTS. For the vendors selling raw materials to China, it is not possible to take 20%, 30%, 40% profit margins unless you have an extremely specialized material or product. And titanium, even the special memory alloys have become a commodity therefore unfortunately though they are expensive to begin with, a high profit margin is no longer a choice. It simply cannot be done.

10) Many suppliers do not really do the “best they can”. They think that mistakes caused by “human error” are unavoidable. This simply is not true. All factories make defective product but that defective product should never leave the factory to the customer. This means that proper safeguards should be put in place in order to prevent that from getting out. This can be done. Guaranteed. But the question is do the people working the factory floor really care? This is an issue. It is even MORE critical in this day and age to find a partner that DOES care and is willing to improve and take responsibility for products that slip through their net and make it to the customer causing them inconvenience. We are always looking for partners that are continually working to improve their capabilities in all aspects of the project.

Even though the eyeglass industry is very small compared to the jumbo jet aircraft industry, there is a huge population in the world who need eyeglasses as a “medical tool” (lower income bracket), and those who want the tool to be a fashion statement (higher income bracket). Because of this, overall, the industry is quite large and the market is definitely there.

Since things have changed so dramatically in the past 15 years, and the markets have truly become global, it is even more essential for companies and individuals wishing to improve their market share to be always looking for new innovative ways to improve their competitive advantage in the market. Those that struggle to find a way to break down the barriers are the ones that succeed. This is why competition is so important and why monopolies actually hamper the market. Without competitors there is no need to innovate, offer more to the consumer, improve your abilities, increase your knowledge-base and develop the market in new and unique ways. Without competition none of the affordable luxuries we have would ever have been available at prices the average consumer could afford.

Competition, innovation, education, a demanding market of educated users and a burning desire to find “the next edge” are essential to a successful business.

Any companies who are willing to take those challenges and try their luck at the market will likely succeed if they keep at it and do not give up, in spite of the challenges and head-banging they will inevitably face. Any companies like that out there, interested in entering the Japanese market with an unique service or product are welcome to contact me any time!

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How To Start A Roasted Corn Business

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Corn roasting is a simple yet very profitable small investment business. The successful corn roasters make full time living working just the summer months.

To start a roasted corn business you will need to acquire permits and business licenses from the health department and from the state. The following is a typical checklist to start your business.

1. Decide the size and the scale of the operation.

2. Decide on the menu for your concession business.

3. Purchase your equipment and tools.

4. Register your business.

5. Apply and obtain all the required licenses and permits needed to run a food concession business.

6. Secure events and have fun running your concession stand.

Permits, Licenses, and Inspection

Every state has laws governing business licenses and permits. Most likely, you will have to register your business with the state agency, so you can do business in the state. A tax ID number, business license number, and tax registration number can be issued to your business, depending on the state in which you are operating. You should verify with the city or county that the business location is zoned for that activity. You must have commercial liability insurance, both for your business and for your vehicle and trailer.

Health Department and Food safety

As a business owner and a food worker, you will be preparing food for other people. Contact the health department of your county or state to receive a copy of a food safety guide that will help you greatly in learning more about food safety. Roasted corn is considered a less hazardous food, but if you are going to sell potatoes and turkey legs you may have to pay higher fee.

Start-up Costs of a Corn Roaster Business

Brand new corn roaster with warranty: 10,000-$12,000.

Used corn roaster: $5,000-$8,000.

Additional equipment and accessories: $1,200-$2,000.

Used van or truck: $2,000-$10,000.

Food cost for first two events: $300-$1,000.

Event sign-up fee: $800-$3,000.

Fuel, utilities, and miscellaneous: $200.

Equipment Required to Start a Corn Roasting Business

A professional corn roaster, minimum 200-500 corns per hour.

Hot plate for melting butter

Steam table for storing cooked potatoes and turkey legs.

Two 20-lb. propane tanks

Fire extinguisher

Commercial quality tent

2 tables,

Hand washing unit (portable) very easy to assemble one

Mics. Little things

Google “Corn Roasters” and search for companies that will help you get started before buying the equipment if you are strapped for cash. One of the company Texas Corn Roasters help.

How to Find Events and Festivals

There are many sources for finding festivals and events, such as your vendor friends, the local Chamber of Commerce, auto racing, fairs and festivals, flea markets, rodeos, and theme parks. The Internet is one of the greatest sources for finding events. Many good sites provide this information. Always send a professionally done proposal with your application if you want to beat the competition.

Suppliers and Producers

Suppliers and produce wholesalers are your key to success in this business. You cannot afford to buy the food from retailers, so you must find producers capable of providing you quality food at wholesale costs. Every state and big town has a local supplier who delivers food supplies to local restaurants. “Wholesale food distributor” in the Yellow Pages is a good place to start. Corn is cheap if buy from a wholesaler.

Serving food at the festival

The way you serve can also improve your business. You will need certain condiments for every item you server. For instance sale, black pepper, Cajun spice, garlic powder, lemon pepper and more.

Signage

You have probably heard the saying “flash is cash.” It is very true when it comes to the festival business. You could have the most delicious food, best prices, well-trained staff, and a festival with thousands of people. If your booth fails to attract customers,, it is probably the poor signage.

Tribal knowledge

Like many other small profitable business the roasted corn business is run by tight lipped vendors who do not share tribal knowledge. There are not any website, or sources for a newbie to find any information. The tribal knowledge could help you make extra 25K a year. There is a very helpful book “Earn an entire year’s living with corn roaster”, that covers this business with very granular level of details. It is worth buying.

If you plan on making your concession business a full time job, consider an RV that can tow your corn roaster trailer and getting on the list of concession vendors that follow a fair rout.

Accounting and numbers are also very important aspect of this business. Festival Concession business offers financial and personal freedom like no other small business does.

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Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging In Medical Therapy

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Digital technology now makes Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging available to all. There now is a completely safe test that can aid in diagnosis, treatment and monitoring with absolutely no risk or radiation exposure.

DITI, or digital infrared thermal imaging, is a noninvasive diagnostic test that allows a health practitioner to see and measure changes in skin surface temperature. An infrared scanning camera translates infrared radiation emitted from the skin surface and records them on a color monitor. This visual image graphically maps the body temperature and is referred to as a thermogram. The spectrum of colors indicates an increase or decrease in the amount of infrared radiation being emitted from the body surface. In healthy people, there is a symmetrical skin pattern which is consistent and reproducible for any individual.

DITI is highly sensitive and can therefore be used clinically to detect disease in the vascular, muscular, neural and skeletal systems. Medical DITI has been used extensively in human medicine in the United States, Europe and Asia for the past 20 years. Until now, bulky equipment has hindered its diagnostic and economic feasibility. Now, PC-based infrared technology designed specifically for clinical application has changed all this.

Clinical uses for DITI include, defining the extent of a lesion of which a diagnosis has previously been made (for example, vascular disease); localizing an abnormal area not previously identified, so further diagnostic tests can be performed (as in Irritable Bowel Syndrome); detecting early lesions before they are clinically evident (as in breast cancer or other breast diseases); and monitoring the healing process before a patient returns to work or training (as in workman’s compensation claims).

Medical DITI is filling the gap in clinical diagnosis; X-ray, Computed Tomography, Ultrasound and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), are tests of anatomy or structure. DITI is unique in its capability to show physiological or functional changes and metabolic processes. It has also proven to be a very useful complementary procedure to other diagnostic procedures.

Unlike most diagnostic modalities DITI is non invasive. It is a very sensitive and reliable means of graphically mapping and displaying skin surface temperature. With DITI you can diagnosis, evaluate, monitor and document a large number of injuries and conditions, including soft tissue injuries and sensory/autonomic nerve fiber dysfunction. Medical DITI can offer considerable financial savings by avoiding the need for more expensive investigation for many patients. Medical DITI can graphically display the biased feeling of pain by accurately displaying the changes in skin surface temperature. Disease states commonly associated with pain include Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD, Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid arthritis.

Medical DITI can show a combined effect of the autonomic nervous system and the vascular system, down to capillary dysfunctions. The effects of these changes reveal an asymmetry in temperature distribution on the surface of the body. DITI is a monitor of thermal abnormalities present in a number of diseases and physical injuries. It is used as an aid for diagnosis and prognosis, as well as therapy follow up and rehabilitation monitoring, within clinical fields that include rheumatology, neurology, physiotherapy, sports medicine, oncology, pediatrics, orthopedics and many others.

Results obtained with medical DITI systems are totally objective and show excellent correlation with other diagnostic tests.

Thermographic screening is not covered by most insurance companies but is surprisingly affordable for most people. For more information or to find a certified clinic in your area, go to www.proactivehealthonline.com [http://www.proactivehealthonline.com].

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Hooray for the Federal Rules of Evidence!

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The Federal Rules of Evidence used in the United States federal courts and adopted by many states and the military are codification of many years of common law evidence rules. The development of the modern rules of evidence has been a process of nothing more than putting old wine into new bottles. If one can understand common law notions of evidence the Federal Rules will be easy to understand.

The purpose of the Federal Rules of Evidence is to secure fairness in administration of trials; eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay; and to promote the growth and development of the law of evidence in order that truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined. As a former trial lawyer and current law school professor who teaches the rules of evidence to students, I view the Federal Rules of Evidence, adopted by Congress in 1975 as a master work of putting the old common law wine into a new bottle. I have used the Federal Rules of Evidence throughout my career.

This article is not about any specific common law rule or rules that may have been put into the new bottle known as the Federal Rule of Evidence. Instead, I write this to show how influential and widespread has been the use of the rules. Forty-four states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the military have all adopted all or parts of the Federal Rules for use in their court systems. This is a very good trend because the evidence rules of most states will be roughly the same throughout the United States.

The following paragraphs provide fundamental information about the jurisdictions that have adopted evidence rules patterned on the Federal Rules. They include information concerning the date on which the local rules became effective and when amended, if at all:

ALABAMA. Adopted by the Alabama Supreme Court effective January 1, 1996. No amendments.

ALASKA. Adopted by the Alaska Supreme Court effective August 1, 1979. Last amended October 15, 2003.

ARIZONA. Adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court effective September 1, 1977. Last amended June 1, 2004.

ARKANSAS. Adopted by the Arkansas Supreme Court effective October 13, 1986. Latest amendment on January 22, 1998.

COLORADO. Adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court Effective January 1, 1980. Latest amendment July 1, 2002.

CONNECTICUT. Adopted by the judges of the Connecticut Superior Court effective January 1, 2000. No amendments.

DELAWARE. Adopted by the Delaware Supreme Court effective February 1, 1980. Latest amendment December 10, 2001.

FLORIDA. The Florida Evidence Code was enacted by the Florida Legislature effective July 1, 1979. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

GEORGIA. Governor Nathan Deal signed a House bill which made the Georgia rules effective January 1, 2013. No amendments.

GUAM. Adopted by the Guam Judicial Council effective November 16, 1979. Latest amendment July 18, 2003.

HAWAII. Enacted by the Hawaii Legislature effective January 1, 1981. No amendments.

IDAHO. Adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court effective July 1, 1985. No amendments.

ILLINOIS. Adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court effective January 1, 2011. No amendments.

INDIANA. Adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court effective January 1, 1994. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

IOWA. Adopted by the Iowa Supreme Court effective July 1, 1983. Latest amendment February 15, 2002.

KENTUCKY. Enacted by the Kentucky Legislature effective July 1, 1992. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

LOUISIANA. Enacted by the Louisiana Legislature effective January 1, 1989. Latest amendment August 15, 2003.

MAINE. Adopted by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court effective February 2, 1976. Latest amendment July 1, 2002.

MARYLAND. Adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals effective July 1, 1994. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

MICHIGAN. Adopted by the Michigan Supreme Court effective March 1, 1978. Latest amendment January 1, 2004.

MINNESOTA. Adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court effective April 1, 1977. Latest amendment January 1, 1990.

MISSISSIPPI. Adopted by the Mississippi Supreme Court effective January 1, 1986. Latest amendment May 27, 2004.

MONTANA. Adopted by the Montana Supreme Court effective July 1, 1977. Latest amendment October 18, 1990.

NEBRASKA. Enacted by the Nebraska Legislature effective December 31, 1975. Latest amendment July 13, 2000.

NEVADA. Enacted by the Nevada Legislature effective July 1, 2004. No amendments.

NEW HAMPSHIRE. Adopted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court effective July 1, 1985. Latest amendment January 1, 2003.

NEW JERSEY. Adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court and the New Jersey Legislature through a joint procedure effective July 1, 1993. Latest amendment July 1, 1993.

NEW MEXICO. Adopted by the New Mexico Supreme Court effective July 1, 1973. The latest amendment became effective February 1, 2003.

NORTH CAROLINA. Enacted by the North Carolina Legislature effective July 1, 1984. Latest amendment October 1, 2003.

NORTH DAKOTA. Adopted by the North Dakota Supreme Court effective February 15, 1977. Latest amendment March 1, 2001.

OHIO. Adopted by the Ohio Supreme Court effective July 1, 1980. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

OKLAHOMA. Enacted by the Oklahoma Legislature effective October 1, 1978. Latest amendment November 1, 2003.

OREGON. Enacted by the Oregon Legislature effective January 1, 1982. Latest amendment July 3, 2003.

PENNSYLVANIA. Adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court effective October 1, 1998. Latest amendment January 1, 2002.

PUERTO RICO. Enacted by the Puerto Rico Legislature effective October 1, 1979. Latest amendment August 30, 1999.

RHODE ISLAND. Adopted by the Rhode Island Supreme Court effective October 1, 1987. No amendments.

SOUTH CAROLINA. Enacted by the South Carolina Legislature effective September 3, 1995. No amendments.

SOUTH DAKOTA. Enacted by the South Dakota Legislature effective July 1, 1978. No amendments.

TENNESSEE. Adopted by the Tennessee Supreme Court effective January 1, 1990. Latest amendment July 1, 2003.

TEXAS. Adopted by the Texas Supreme Court effective March 1, 1998. No amendments.

UTAH. Adopted by the Utah Supreme Court effective September 1, 1983. Latest amendment November 1, 2004.

VERMONT. Adopted by the Vermont Supreme Court effective April 1, 1983. Latest amendment May 27, 2003.

WASHINGTON. Adopted by the Washington Supreme Court effective April 2, 1979. Latest amendment September 1, 2003.

WEST VIRGINIA. Adopted by the West Virginia Supreme Court effective February 1, 1985. Latest amendment January 1, 1995.

WISCONSIN. Adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court effective January 1, 1974. Latest amendment March 30, 2004.

WYOMING. Adopted by the Wyoming Supreme Court effective January 1, 1978. Latest amendment February 28, 1995.

THE MILITARY. The Military Rules of Evidence were adopted by Executive order No. 12,198 March 12, 1980. Latest amendment by Executive Order No. 13,262 April 11, 2002.

THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS. No date of adoption found.

THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. No date of adoption found.

What an impressive list of adoptions and enactments patterned after the Federal Rules of Evidence! Several jurisdictions have not adopted rules of evidence based on the Federal Rules of Evidence. They are: California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York and Virginia.

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