March/April 2014
Automation Update

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Manufacturers Moving to Mexico

Mexican manufacturers are the second-largest importers of U.S. packaging and processing machinery, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's quarterly import/export statistics for September 2013. The report notes changes of 15.79 percent (increasing to $48 million) for processing equipment and 10.43 percent for packaging machinery (increasing to $115 million) since the same period in 2012. By the end of the third quarter 2013, Mexico was second only to Canada in imports of U.S. packaging and processing machinery.

Nestlé and PepsiCo announced plans for expansion in Mexico over the next five years: PepsiCo plans to invest $5 billion, and Nestlé plans to spend $1 billion. In addition, Cisco Systems Inc. has announced a $1.3 billion investment in Mexico in 2014-generating more than 900 jobs. PepsiCo's plan is expected to generate 4,000 new jobs, and Nestlé anticipates 700 direct jobs as a result of their new Mexican plants.

Survey indicates growing counterfeit awareness

Eaton and the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) announced results from a joint survey of IEC members that validate the importance of educational campaigns focusing on the dangers and prevalence of counterfeit electrical products. The survey results indicate that educational programs are helping to increase awareness of the dangers of counterfeit products and are providing the tools to make informed purchasing decisions, keys to increased electrical safety. The results also reveal that more work is needed to share best practices and encourage collaboration to thwart counterfeiting.

"The first step to tackling any issue is building awareness and an understanding of why it is important," said Thayer Long, executive vice president and chief executive officer, IEC National. "Our anti-counterfeiting efforts with Eaton have not only raised awareness of the dangers of counterfeit electrical products, but have also helped the industry and consumers understand the ways to avoid such products. We are encouraged by the high level of knowledge our members have, but we must continue our efforts."

The value of consumer safety and critical technology products seized by U.S. Customs and Border Control increased by 143 percent from 2011 to 2012. Eaton, IEC, and other industry collaborators are working to give electrical contractors better tools to recognize and report these products and help identify potential counterfeit product supply chains.

The survey, created to identify the current state of awareness about counterfeit electrical products, shows where educational campaigns have been successful. Members understand the potential safety dangers of counterfeit products, the sophistication of counterfeiters that makes it difficult to identify a counterfeit electrical product, and how to avoid such products by purchasing directly from the manufacturer's authorized distributors or resellers.

"Electrical contractors are recognizing the prevalence and dangers of counterfeits in the industry," said Tom Grace, brand protection manager, Eaton's Electrical Sector Americas. "Now we need to up our game and provide contractors with easier ways to properly report counterfeit products and build collaboration between manufacturers, industry organizations, and government." Complete results of the survey are at eaton.com/counterfeit.

Although IEC members are educated about counterfeit electrical products, survey results also show that such products continue to be found in the field and that additional education is needed. A vast majority of respondents say they do not know how to report a counterfeit product.

Life-cycle engineering services

Power Transmission Solutions, a business of Emerson Industrial Automation, offers a new model for enhancing the performance of critical material handling and mechanical power transmission systems. A new business unit for life-cycle engineering services, headed by Chris Carrigan, director, application engineering, offers a range of services including diagnostics, education and training, system design, installation, monitoring, and repairing and rebuilding. The program aims to increase customers' overall equipment effectiveness, improve energy efficiency, and increase product output and customer success. A single provider/partner takes "ownership" of critical mechanical power transmission and material handling systems.

"Our businesses have always provided these discrete services, but when comprehensively applied, they provide more than the sum of the parts, delivering significant bottom-line advantages for a customer," said Rob Fuller, product manager, services. "Mechanical power transmission and material handling systems are common denominators in manufacturing operations of every type, simply vital to production. If one bearing failure shuts down a critical segment, an entire process can be paralyzed for hours or days. Protecting those assets is vital, whether it means training a new maintenance staff member, monitoring torque on a turbo drivetrain, or a design review of a new processing line."

Emerson works with industries such as aerospace, aggregate, power generation and turbomachinery, oil and gas, metals and steel, marine, food and beverage, and HVAC. In addition to its own areas of specialization, Power Transmission Solutions works with other Emerson business units in climate technologies, network power, and process management to support nearly every vital system of any business. "Our life-cycle engineering program can reduce the costs and complexity of using multiple vendors for employee training, diagnostics, engineering, procurement, installation, repairs, etc. Outsourcing these functions to a single provider for mission-critical systems is a cost-effective option."