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Last updateFri, 29 Apr 2016 5pm

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Food and Beverage Processing

Food and Beverage Processing

When wandering the grocery store aisles,...

Variable Frequency Drives in Electric Actuators

Variable Frequency Drives in Electric Actuators

Electric actuators are vital for operati...

Braided Packing: An Old Technology with a Modern Twist

Braided Packing: An Old Technology with a Modern Twist

Compression packing is the primary metho...

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Industry Headlines

Rotork Acquires Mastergear from Regal Beloit

1 DAY AGO  |  Chris Guy

Rotork has acquired the entirety of Mastergear’s business and assets from Regal Beloit Corporation for $25 million on a cash-free and debt-free ...

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Industry Headlines

Rotork Acquires Mastergear from Regal Beloit

1 DAY AGO

Rotork has acquired the entirety of Mastergear’s business and assets from Regal Beloit Corporation for $25 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis and a value of inventory that will be finalized at the end of a transition service agreement.

Mastergear will become part of Rotork's Gears divis...

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Emerson Opens New Helix Innovation Center

2 DAYS AGO

Emerson announced the launch of its “Helix” initiative, including the opening of The Helix innovation center, an industry-first, $35 million hub dedicated to advancing research and education for the global heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry. The new ...

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Energy Sector Weighs on Construction Starts

2 DAYS AGO

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $660.5 billion, new construction starts in March receded 1% from February’s pace, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Total construction starts had jumped 13% in February, led by a huge gain for the electric utility and gas plant category. The dolla...

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Chevron Investing Billions in The Permian Basin

3 DAYS AGO

At Chevron’s annual security analyst meeting last month, chairman and CEO John Watson said that his company plans on investing billions into oil & gas projects in the Permian Basin.

According to the Hobbs News-Sun , Watson predicted they could be pumping up to 350,000 barrels a day out of West ...

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House Passes Bill To Lower Import Tariffs On Manufacturers

2 DAYS AGO

This week, the House voted 415-2 for the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016. The bipartisan, bicameral bill reforms the way Congress considers legislation for suspending tariffs on products not made in the U.S., what some are calling, “manufacturing tax breaks.” The legis...

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Texas Manufacturing Index Shrinks More Than Forecast

4 DAYS AGO

Texas factory activity increased for a second month in a row in April, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose from 3.3 to 5.8, suggesting a slight pickup in output growth.

Perce...

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Solving the Problems in Front of You

vmsum11_social_media

Engineers are problem solvers and today, they have some pretty amazing tools to help them with that problem solving. Here’s an example from a recent trip.

I went to a station to refill a rental car with gas before returning it to the agency. As usual, I guessed the wrong side for the gas tank and had to circle around to put the car at the right angle to pump the gas. I couldn’t figure out where the latch to open the gas cap was located, and there was no owner’s manual in the glove box to help.

On my smart phone, I did a quick Google search by voice command using the car make, model and “gas tank door latch” as keywords. The results were an online forum with my answer: the door was latched magnetically and required a gentle push to open. This simple voice search saved me 5 to 10 minutes of hunting around for a non-existent latch and a lot of frustration.

These searches from our PCs, phones, tablets and other devices help us solve problems quickly and painlessly every day. Google and the other search engines, along with the right selection and number of keywords, often help us get an answer to a problem in front of us. Although it’s not foolproof, most times, these methods of finding what we need work great.


IN THE INBOX

For businesses, an important issue today with searching is that a lot of wisdom is trapped in email inboxes and “sent items” folders. Desktop indexing and search software such as the search built into PC operating systems or desktop search applications can find some information. But such tools don’t help us with the information that hasn’t reached our inboxes.

Different approaches ranging from content management systems to blogs, wikis, online collaboration and community software are being tried as search destinations with varying degrees of success. The key element to that success seems to be the number of people willing to participate in each approach and the community that naturally forms from this participation.

Metcalfe’s Law states that: “The value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).” Robert Metcalfe, who is responsible for that principle, also offered this:

…a more insightful and, I think, important contribution to the conversation — that to understand the value of a social network we need to consider not just the number of users but also the affinity between the members of the network.

My take on this is that the fastest path to the information you need is to solve the problem in front of you. If a Google search or question posed to your immediate colleague does not yield a quick answer, you should try your social network. That is, provided you’ve built this network to sufficient size to realize the exponential effects described by Metcalfe’s Law.

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