January 7, 2017
One of the items on my bucket list has been to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (I probably need to put a rush on this one because the clock is ticking.) For 50 years, CES has been the launching pad for innovation and new technology. Much of this technology has changed the world. Held in Las Vegas every year, it is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies and where next-generation innovations are introduced to the commercial marketplace. The International Consumer Electronics Show (International CES) showcases more than 3,800 exhibiting companies, including manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology hardware, content, technology delivery systems and more; a conference program with more than three hundred (300) conference sessions and more than one-hundred and sixty-five thousand attendees from one hundred1 (50) countries. Because it is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ — formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® — the technology trade association representing the $287 billion U.S. consumer technology industry, and it attracts the world’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers to a forum where the industry’s most relevant issues are addressed. The range of products is immense as seen from the listing of product categories below.
- 3D Printing
- Augmented Reality
- Communications Infrastructure
- Computer Hardware/Software/Services
- Content Creation & Distribution
- Digital/Online Media
- Digital Imaging/Photography
- Electronic Gaming
- Fitness and Sports
- Health and Biotech
- Internet Services
- Personal Privacy & Cyber Security
- Smart Home
- Vehicle Technology
- Wireless Devices & Services
If we look at world-changing revolution and evolution coming from CES over the years, we may see the following advances in technology, most of which now commercialized:
- Videocassette Recorder (VCR), 1970
- Laserdisc Player, 1974
- Camcorder and Compact Disc Player, 1981
- Digital Audio Technology, 1990
- Compact Disc – Interactive, 1991
- Digital Satellite System (DSS), 1994
- Digital Versatile Disk (DVD), 1996
- High Definition Television (HDTV), 1998
- Hard-disc VCR (PVR), 1999
- Satellite Radio, 2000
- Microsoft Xbox and Plasma TV, 2001
- Home Media Server, 2002
- Blu-Ray DVD and HDTV PVR, 2003
- HD Radio, 2004
- IP TV, 2005
- Convergence of content and technology, 2007
- OLED TV, 2008
- 3D HDTV, 2009
- Tablets, Netbooks and Android Devices, 2010
- Connected TV, Smart Appliances, Android Honeycomb, Ford’s Electric Focus, Motorola Atrix, Microsoft Avatar Kinect, 2011
- Ultrabooks, 3D OLED, Android 4.0 Tablets, 2012
- Ultra HDTV, Flexible OLED, Driverless Car Technology, 2013
- 3D Printers, Sensor Technology, Curved UHD, Wearable Technologies, 2014
- 4K UHD, Virtual Reality, Unmanned Systems, 2015
Why don’t we do this, let’s now take a very brief look at several exhibits to get a feel for the products. Here we go.
Augmented Reality (AR):
Through specially designed hardware and software full of cameras, sensors, algorithms and more, your perception of reality can be instantly altered in context with your environment. Applications include sports scores showing on TV during a match, the path of trajectory overlaying an image, gaming, construction plans and more. VR (virtual reality) equipment is becoming extremely popular, not only with consumers, but with the Department of Defense, Department of Motor Vehicles, and companies venturing out to technology for training purposes.
The Cyber & Personal Security Marketplace will feature innovations ranging from smart wallets and safe payment apps to secure messaging and private Internet access. If you have never been hacked, you are one in a million. I really don’t think there are many people who have remained unaffected by digital fraud. One entire section of the CES is devoted to cyber security.
Enterprise solutions are integral for business. From analytics, consulting, integration and cyber security to e-commerce and mobile payment, the options are ever-evolving. As you well know, each year the number of online shoppers increases and will eventually outpace the number of shoppers visiting “brick-and-motor stores. Some feel this may see the demise of shopping centers altogether.
Self-Driving Autonomous Automobiles:
Some say if you are five years old or under you may never need a driver’s license. I personally think this is a little far-fetched but who knows. Self-driving automobiles are featured prominently at the CES.
Virtual Reality (VR):
Whether it will be the launch of the next wave of immersive multimedia for virtual reality systems and environments or gaming hardware, software and accessories designed for mobile, PCs or consoles, these exhibitors are sure to energize, empower and excite at CES 2017.
From electronic plug-ins to fashionable cases, speakers, headphones and exciting new games and applications, the product Marketplace will feature the latest third-party accessories and software for your Apple iPod®, iPhone® and iPad® devices.
Most 3D printers are used for building prototypes for the medical, aerospace, engineering and automotive industries. But with the advancement of the digital technology supporting it, these machines are moving toward more compact units with affordable price points for today’s consumer.
The Robotics Marketplace will showcase intelligent, autonomous machines that are changing the way we live at work, at school, at the doctor’s office and at home.
Healthcare and Wellness:
Digital health continues to grow at an astonishing pace, with innovative solutions for diagnosing, monitoring and treating illnesses, to advancements in health care delivery and smarter lifestyles.
In a world where an athlete’s success hinges on milliseconds or millimeters, high-performance improvement and feedback are critical.
I think it’s amazing and to our credit as a country that CES exists and presents, on an annual basis, designs and visions from the best and brightest. A great show-place for ideas the world over from established companies and companies who wish to make their mark on technology. Can’t wait to go—maybe next year. As always, I welcome your comments.
December 8, 2016
This Thanksgiving my family and I traveled to Dallas, Texas to visit our youngest son and his wife Sarah. Even though we are East Tennessee “ridge-runners” we love Dallas. It’s a great place to visit with “tons” of wonderful restaurants, museums, and other terrific things to do and see. If I may, let me recommend to you the following five visits that we consider “must see and do” experiences. We have visited each of the following sites and I can attest to experiences. Here we go:
- Dallas Arboretum and Gardens–The gardens are truly outstanding but bring your walking shoes.
- Dallas Cowboy Stadium—Seating 80,000 rabid fans, it sits prominently in Arlington, Texas
- Ross Perot Museum—Downtown Dallas
- Downtown Dallas Skyline—A wonderfully modern skyline with truly cutting-edge designs.
- Pecan Lodge Restaurant—Best ribs and brisket in Dallas and voted one of the best four in the world.
OK, I know there are many many others but if you have only two or three days you might consider these five. Dallas Cowboy Stadium is out of town but is a remarkable engineering and architectural feat—it is a must see. Put that one high on your list.
This may be a little off-the-wall, but I would like to take you to the last one on the list—The Pecan Lodge Restaurant. If you like smoked brisket, smoked ribs, smoked sausage AND all the sides that might go with each, you NEED to visit the Pecan. The Texas Monthly called it one of the best four (4) BBQ restaurants in the world. (Of course, they are a bit bias but it is a great experience.)
The owners tell us the following: “It all started when we ditched our corporate jobs and weekly travel that came with them so we could spend more time as a family. And, to be honest, we weren’t out to set the world on fire – just some mesquite wood, plus a little oak. But one mouthwatering bite of brisket led to another, and before we knew it, the juicy secret about Pecan Lodge was out. Folks began to serve us up heaping portions of praise, and soon after, lines started to form for what Texas Monthly called one of the Top 4 BBQ joints in the world.
It’s not easy work, but we love what we’re doing. And there are no shortcuts to doing it right. Our BBQ pit burns 24 hours a day, fueled by nothing but wood and passion. We grind and stuff our own sausage. And anything we can make from scratch, we make from scratch – from our Southern Fried Chicken to Aunt Polly’s banana pudding to our Mac n’ Cheese to the collard greens. Times change, and sometimes you have to roll with the punches. Our little stand at the Farmer’s Market had to make way for redevelopment, so we’ve now set up camp in the heart of Deep Ellum. You’ll find us where Main St. meets Pryor St., and good old-fashioned elbow grease meets smoked perfection”
Before we really get into a pictorial visit, let’s look at how they do it.
Texas Style Brisket by Pecan Lodge
- 1 1/2 cups paprika
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons onion powder
• 3 tablespoons garlic salt
• 1 tablespoons celery salt
• 1 tablespoons black pepper
• 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
• 1 teaspoon mustard powder
• 1 teaspoon cayenne
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 trim brisket, about 5 to 6 pounds
- Combine all the drying ingredients in a bowl and blend well.
2. Trim the brisket, leaving about 1/4-inch of fat.
3. Season the brisket with about 1/4-cup of the rub. (NOTE: You don’t want such a thick crust that the smoke won’t penetrate the meat. Let the brisket marinate overnight in the refrigerator.)
4. Preheat your grill to 250 degrees F using charcoal and hickory.
5. Using indirect heat, cook the brisket for 3 1/2 hours and flip. Cook another 3 1/2 hours, cooking for a total of 7 hours (about 1 1/2 hours per pound.) The brisket should cook to an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
6. Rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing. Slice brisket against the grain
How long does it take to smoke a brisket? And at what temperature? Are there any tricks to creating the “bark” on the brisket?
The answer varies, depending on the weight and type of smoker you are working with. Most of our briskets cook between 15 and 18 hours. To get a nice bark, we use a generous layer of spice rub, which — blended with the fat insulating the brisket — leads to a nice, dark bark on the outer layer.
I hope you’ve got that and will be willing to give it a try. The Lodge is very willing to give you this recipe which I think is outstanding.
The Pecan Lodge opens at 11:00 A.M. each day. Parking is no problem at all with plenty of spaces in the back and sides of the building. As you walk towards the entrance you see two massive smokers. These smokers run seven days a week with each brisket taking eighteen hours (minimum) to cook. We were fortunate this day because the doors to the smoke house were open.
Since it was the Thanksgiving holiday, there were fifty or sixty people in line to pick up call-in orders. I can imagine turkey and brisket sitting on dining room tables across the Dallas area. NOTE: The pick-up line is separate from the line for indoor and outdoor seating. Don’t get in the wrong line.
We got there around 11:20 thinking we would be one of the first families in line. Please note we were at the back of the line you see below. Down the sidewalk and around the corner past the “bull” you see in the background. I stepped out to take this picture to indicate just how popular this place is.
Due to the number of people ordering and needing to be seated, the management requires each order to be submitted before individuals are seated. In other words, you can’t send a family member to save a seat while you are in line. They are really big on this one.
The two digital pictures below will give some indication as to the size of the indoor dining room. It’s big and notice not too many people are looking up—all looking down at their plates and going at it.
It would not be a BBQ “joint” without hats, shirts, belt buckles, etc etc. These are on display so you can choose and pay as you place your order.
Given below is the menu. It’s the only one you get. We all ordered one, two or three meats and one or two sides. This gave us variety to share with each other. Note the “Hot Mess” in the upper right of the menu. I did not order this but my son did and it is outstanding—hot but outstanding.
We were very lucky in that the day gave us seventy-five degree temperatures and plenty of great sunshine. We ate outside where there were eleven picnic tables—most of them full.
I know we have BBQ in east Tennessee and some of it is pretty good, but we do not have Texas brisket. Hope you enjoyed this post and can make the visit to the Pecan Lodge in big “D”.
November 12, 2016
We hear a great deal these days about wearable technology. Let’s see if we can get “calibrated” relative to the definition and what devices are available. First, the definition:
DEFINITION NUMBER 1:
Electronics that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as part of material used in clothing. One of the major features of wearable technology is its ability to connect to the Internet, enabling data to be exchanged between a network and the device.
DEFINITION NUMBER 2:
A wearable device is a technology that is worn on the human body. This type of device has become a more common part of the tech world as companies have started to evolve more types of devices that are small enough to wear and that include powerful sensor technologies that can collect and deliver information about their surroundings.
Wearable devices are also known as wearable gadgets, wearable technology or simply wearables.
DEFINITION NUMBER 3:
Wearable technology (also called wearable gadgets) is a category of technology devices that can be worn by a consumer and often include tracking information related to health and fitness. Other wearable tech gadgets include devices that have small motion sensors to take photos and sync with your mobile devices.
I’ve given you three definitions although I really don’t like or completely agree with either. As we delve further into what is available in today’s modern world you will understand where I’m coming from.
Now we tackle trends in wearable technology by looking at the devices available. This post is a marathon and not a sprint but I think you will be surprised, as was I, when you see the number of possibilities are what consumers are buying. I can’t indicate all hardware available so I have provided a representative sample of what’s out there.
I’ve started off with man’s best friend because my son’s dog, an Alaskan Husky, frequently decides he wants to explore the “hood”. He is one of the most elusive “critters” on the planet and loves to avoid capture at all costs.
Part pet tracker and part insurance company; Nuzzle is a GPS collar that goes the extra mile when it comes to looking after your furry friends. This device provides activity monitoring and GPS mapping features alongside data on favorite walks and wellness stats in the companion app. That app can be downloaded onto your cell phone, laptop or PC.
GPS is integral to proper sports tracking, and TomTom is set to transform itself into a sports brand in 2016. I enjoy play golf but am certainly not ready for Augusta. As a matter of fact, I’m not too sure I’ve ever owned a used ball. They simply don’t last that long. This device allows you to track your shank or slice so recoverability is possible.
Xmetrics is the hottest swimming wearable and is designed for pros and enthusiasts. It sits on the back of your head to minimize drag and measures a broader set of bio-mechanics than any other swimming wearable. Between kick-turn times, breath counts, stroke efficiency, all fed back to you in real time audio; it’s a far more detailed and complete platform than anyone’s made before. It should sell big.
If gaming were any more real, then it would no longer be a game. The Void is a real-life virtual reality (VR) theme park built in Salt Lake City. In beta phase at the moment but opening soon, it’s virtual gaming experiences are superimposed onto a blank maze-like space. The upshot is that all your other senses buy into the vision of your adventure as well as just your eyes. I have no real use for VR or other video experiences but must include this one due to the rising popularity of VR systems. (A complete waste of time in my opinion.)
This one I love. Wearables’ unique position on the body make them more personal than ever before, and offer the chance for them to become real life savers. Crowdfunded Athena smashed its goal thanks to its promise to protect women via an alarm and GPS alerts. Cheaper sensors also help tech companies build for the developing world. From storing medical records or even warning people about floods and earthquakes, wearables are set to make a difference in 2016. Our youngest son has a medical condition and early-warning can be big.
The big frustration with fitness platforms is that those programs they assign to us are far too general and wearables in 2015 have begun to clue up to this. Moov has already tackled the problem and Fitbit has promised a bigger emphasis on coaching, too. I have a Fitbit and love it. It tracks the number of steps per day, the number of stairs climbed and calorie count.
Once again, a device I love because it gives early warning of impending medical problems. The newly rebranded Google Life Sciences already has ambitious projects, including its glucose-detecting contact lens. Google’s also set to use tech to target cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health problems too. I have low blood sugar and a device such as this could keep me from issues that would definitely ruin my day.
As smartwatches mature, the need for a constant digital umbilical cord to a smartphone starts to feel a little antiquated. The great separation is already underway with Android Wear and the Samsung Gear S2 both supporting e-SIMs, which tap into your pre-existing cell network at no extra cost. While the first untethered Android Wear device, the LG Watch Urbane Second Edition has been cancelled, we’d bet that every smartwatch brand with have an LTE version by the end of 2016.
Ears are perfect for biometric measurements and a natural home for all those virtual assistants from the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple. Wearable broke the news that Microsoft is working on a hearable called Clip, Jabra’s CEO is in on the game, we’re expecting a second crack at the Moto Hint and Bragi Dash is just about to ship.
Digital health is an enormous opportunity for both the private and public sectors. More accurate, more constant and better respected measures of individual’s biometrics mean both money- and life-saving. If you’re the NHS, you can axe millions from your costs by ensuring that people are compliant with drugs. If you’re an insurance company, you can price your premiums accordingly. If you’re a tech giant, you can capitalize with your health platform and data sales. Whomever you are, it’s a winning situation. The only haunting figure is the specter of possible identity theft; no small deal but perhaps no big problem.
Discussed for years but the rest of the world needs to catch up on invisibles. Sensory tech is far easier to design when you don’t have to worry about it looking great, so there are tech tattoos in development from Chaotic Moon, New Deal Design and more which might only need power from your movement or the current across your skin. And what they could learn from your sweat, we’re sure to find out.
It would not be a post without the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch was number one on the Wearable 50 for 2015 and that was before it was even announced. All the same, we were right to champion it as the hot wearable of the year. Perhaps, once again, the smart money is on the Apple to be another huge deal as the calendar ticks over. The first iPhone had no 3G or Bluetooth. What style gaps and feature flaws will the Apple Watch 2 set out to fill? We look forward to finding out.
The infrastructure is here but people aren’t paying from their wrists – yet. But wearable payments are set to become the norm in 2016. A few million Apple Watches in the wild, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, bPay, plus MasterCard backing the likes of Ringly and Nymi mean that there are going to be more ways to pay, and more securely than ever. With so many of the big players behind it, it’s sure to be the year for wearable payments.
OK, this will do it for now. You get the picture thought—we will be seeing more and more wearable technology as time go by. If I were a betting man, I would say you will own some form of wearable during the next five (5) years.
As always, I welcome your comments.
November 5, 2016
I grew up in the ’50s in post-world war two (WWII) decade. It truly was a very simple time as compared to the chaotic, time-obsessed, “hair-on-fire”, get-it-done-at-any cost times we experience today. One expression I remember very clearly was: “faster than a ’57 Chevy”. Anything over walking speed was faster than a ’57 Chevy. This, of course, was handed down from the older kids to guys my age. The object of that expression may be seen below.
(I told you those were much more simple days.) If we only knew what was coming down the pike, we would have never never used that expression. You know what is really faster than a ’57 Chevy? Let’s take a look.
This month the Top 500 biannual ranking of the world’s fastest, publicly known supercomputers will be updated. The list release will coincide with SC16, the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis held in Salt Lake City from November 13 to November 18. The last Top 500 update in June revealed that China maintained its grip on the number one spot with the new and surprising Sunway TaihuLight device, which reached ninety-three (93) petaflops per second or ninety-three quadrillion calculations per second or “faster than a ’57 Chevy”.
Let’s refresh our memory. A petaflop is a measure of a computer’s processing speed and can be expressed as:
- A quadrillion (thousand trillion) floating point operations per second (FLOPS)
- A thousand teraflops
- 10 to the 15th power FLOPS
- 2 to the 50th power FLOPS
NUMBER 1: National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China: Sunway TaihuLight with 10,649,600 cores running 15,371 Kw. The Sunway is shown below:
NUMBER 2: National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, China: Tianhe-2(MilkyWay-2) with 3,120,000 cores running 17,808 Kw.
NUMBER 3: DOE/SC/OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY, UNITED STATES: Titan-Cray XK7: 560,640 cores running 8,209 Kw.
NUMBER 4: DOE/NNSA/LLNL, UNITED STATES: Sequioa-BlueGene/Q: 1,572,864 cores running 7,890 Kw.
NUMBER 5: RIKEN ADVANCED INSTITUTE FOR COMPUTATIONAL SCIENCE, JAPAN: K Computer SPARC64: 705,024 cores running 12,660 Kw.
Not only has China outdone itself in terms of the fastest supercomputer, it is now home to the largest number of supercomputers on the list. One hundred sixty-seven (167) to be exact. This doubles the number in the United States. This year marks the first time since the Top 500 rankings began twenty-three (23) years ago, that the United States cannot lay claim to the most machines on the list. All is lost—well not quite.
In September, the DOE’s Exascale Computing Project or ECP, announced the first round of funding for advanced computers. It awarded $39.8 million to fifteen (15) application development proposals for full funding and seven proposals for seed funding. This is significant and will provide necessary financing to keep up and even surpass the Chinese.
If we look at the history of computing power, we see the following:
Compare that with the cost of computing power:
As you can see, the advances in computing power are remarkable but at a significant cost. Speed vs. cost. This is one very expensive technology. Fortunately, the computers we mortals use, do not require the speeds cutting-edge technology requires. With that being the case, computing power on the domestic scale has decreased significantly over the years.
November 3, 2016
I think we are all aware that automotive trends point towards autonomous vehicles; i.e. “self-driving” cars. Personally, I’m not too thrilled about the prospects and feel the reality of one in my driveway is down the road, if ever. With that being the case, BMW, INTEL, and Mobileye have teamed up to bring autonomous vehicles to the BMW product line. I must admit, this appears to be one “mean ride”. Let’s take a very quick at the styling to date.
As you can see, the styling is truly beautiful. Each company represents leadership in automotive technology, computer vision, and machine learning and share the opinion that automated driving technologies will make travel safer and easier. No doubt, easier is a given but I have yet to be convinced safer is right around the corner. There are significant challenges to overcome before road-worthy vehicles such as the i NEXT receives certification and goes into production for the buying public.
The goal of collaborative effort is to develop future-proofed solutions that will enable drivers to reach the so called “eyes-off”, or level 3, and ultimately the “mind-off” or level 4 by 2021. This would transform “getting there” to leisure and/or work time. BMW said the new i NEXT model will be the basis for future fleets of fully autonomous vehicles that will drive on both highways and in urban environments, which are far more challenging. A BMW spokesman said it expects a steering wheel and pedals to remain in the fully self-driving vehicle, in case the driver wants to be in control. I personally feel even these will be removed if the concept proves itself with greatly improved safety. By doing so, cost savings may be accomplished and reduction in system complexity.
While BMW lends its automotive expertise to the collaboration, INTEL is providing computing power ranging from its INTEL Atom to INTEL Xenon processors, which deliver up to one hundred (100) teraflops of power-efficient performance without having to rewrite code. Mobileye is developing software algorithms, system-on-chips, and customer applications based upon processing visual information for driver assistance systems.
BMW is actively revamping company concepts to assure direct competition with the likes of new OEM Tesla, along with the usual suspects, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. In March, the company showed its future ideas regarding vehicle autonomy via its Vision Next 100 concept cars. This was likely an overly obvious foreshadowing of the iNext platform.
Harald Krueger, BMW CEO told annual shareholders in Munich that the upcoming vehicle with “cutting-edge” electric drive-train and all new interior will be able to drive itself. The new release, along with BMW’s current “i” line are all efforts to compete in the luxury car electric vehicle market. This will be an addition to the line which already includes the i8 PHEV and the i3 BEV/REx. Krueger said:
i Next is set to be “our new innovation driver, with autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road.”
In addition to this, as companies are realizing that car ownership is continually diminishing in “big city” environments, BMW has announced its jump onto the bandwagon of car-sharing and ride-sharing ventures. Its first delve into the scene is a car-sharing situation in Seattle, with the possibility of more such services to come.
The numbers are showing that Tesla is dominating the European market and lighting a fire under established automakers. Mercedes has been luckier than BMW with being ahead of the game, launching new product lineups and a multiplex of new models. BMW’s sales in the first quarter of 2016 only gained marginal success compared to that of Mercedes.
In an attempt to try to regain momentum and push ahead, BMW has cut prices by approximately six percent (5.9%) across the board. This is partly since the company’s available models are all “older” models, in direct comparison to the competitors. Nevertheless, BMW is reportedly still on par with 2016 projections.
Krueger, in his stockholder’s address, assured that for the seventh consecutive year, his company is on target. While, unfortunately, above target needs to be the goal when factoring in the accelerated growth of the dominant competition.
“After our first quarter, we are on track for the full year. We have always stressed that our centenary is a springboard to the future.”
CONCLUSION: I marvel at the technology. There is absolutely no way any company or companies could have developed a vehicle such as this as far back as five (5) years ago. The technology was just not there. Hopefully, BMW is successful, but as I mentioned earlier, there are tremendous hurdles and challenges before the rubber hits the road. I certainly wish them success.
October 29, 2016
WARNING: This will probably be very boring to most of you but important if you are in manufacturing. Consider this a public service announcement.
OK, first let us take a look at the following definition:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. Congress established the agency under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which President Richard M. Nixon signed into law on December 29, 1970.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more commonly known by its acronym OSHA, is responsible for protecting worker health and safety in the United States. Congress created OSHA in 1971 following its passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for workers by enforcing workplace laws and standards and also by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. Congress enacted the OSH Act in response to annual workplace accidents that resulted in 14,000 worker deaths and 2.5 million disabled workers annually. Since its inception, OSHA has cut the work-fatality rate by more than half, and it has significantly reduced the overall injury and illness rates in industries where OSHA has concentrated its attention, such as textiles and excavation. The administrator for OSHA is the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health; the position answers to the Secretary of Labor, a member of the Cabinet of the United States.
You know how the FED works, laws are passed WITH penalties for violations. OSHA works in the same fashion. As of August 1, 2016, the dollar amounts for maximum civil penalties have increased considerably. If you are an employer and violate an OSHA regulation you can be fined. Congress has not raised the dollar figures since 1990, but last year they included a provision in budget legislation allowing all federal agencies to increase fines and penalties to match inflation. That twenty-six (26) year combination inflation rate total of seventy-eight percent (78%) was used to establish new amounts announced by OSHA on 1 July of this year. The new amounts will apply only to civil penalties after 1 August 2016 for associated violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, the date of enactment of the budget legislation.
In addition to the catch-up adjustment this year, the bill allows OSHA to continue raising fines annually to keep pace with inflation. While most statute violation penalties have been inflated every four years, OSHA and a few other federal agencies were previously exempted from raising their fines under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act. Moving forward, businesses can expect to see these annual increases by no later than January 15 of each year. The goal of this new change is to keep the fines up-to-date as a relevant penalty.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that administrative civil penalties like those OSHA imposes on employers “are intended to punish, and label defendants wrongdoers”, which means they could be found to fall under the ex post facto ban. NOTE: The definition of ex post facto is as follows:
A law that makes illegal an act that was legal when committed, increases the penalties for an infraction after it has been committed, or changes the rules of evidence to make conviction easier. The Constitution prohibits the making of ex post facto law.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
To illustrate the impact of this change, we see the following:
- Other-than-serious violation, from $7,000 to $12,471
- Serious violation, from $7,000 to $12,471
- Repeat violation, from $70,000 to $124,709
- Willful violation, from $70,000 to $124,000
- Failure to abate violation, from $7,000 to $12,741 per day.
- Violation of a posting requirement from $7.000 to $12,471
If you manufacturer a product and have responsibility for safety in your facility, please take a look at all changes to the OSHA document and make sure you are aware of additional penalties. I have no idea as to why the FED decided to “catch up” with increases being other than incremental. I suppose they do it because they can do it.
October 16, 2016
Ever been on an Interstate? Ever travel those highways WITHOUT seeing one of the “big rigs”? I don’t think so. I have a commute every day on Interstate 75 and even at 0530 hours the heavy-duty truck traffic is significant. As I travel that route, I pass two rest stops dedicated solely for drivers needing to take a break. They are always full; lights on, engines running. (More about that later.)
Let’s take a very quick look at transportation in the United States to get calibrated as to the scope and breadth of the transportation industry. (NOTE: The following information comes from TruckInfo.net.)
- How big is the trucking industry?
The trucking companies, warehouses and private sector in the U.S. employs an estimated 8.9 million people employed in trucking-related jobs; nearly 3.5 million were truck drivers. Of this figure UPS employs 60,000 workers and 9% are owner operators. LTL shippers account for around 13.6 percent of America’s trucking sector.
- How many trucks operate in the U.S.?
Estimates of 15.5 million trucks operate in the U.S. Of this figure 2 million are tractor trailers.
- How many truckers are there?
It is an estimated over 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. Of that one in nine are independent, a majority of which are owner operators. Canada has in excess of 250,000 truck drivers.
- How many trucking companies are there in the U.S.?
Estimates of 1.2 million companies in the U.S. Of that figure 97% operate 20 or fewer while 90% operate 6 or fewer trucks.
- How many miles does the transportation industry transports good in a year?
In 2006 the transportation industry logged 432.9 billion miles. Class 8 trucks accounted for 139.3 billion of those miles, up from 130.5 billion in 2005
- What is the volume of goods transported by the trucking industry?
The United States economy depends on trucks to deliver nearly 70 percent of all freight transported annually in the U.S., accounting for $671 billion worth of manufactured and retail goods transported by truck in the U.S. alone. Add $295 billion in truck trade with Canada and $195.6 billion in truck trade with Mexico.
As you can see, the transportation industry, moving products from point “A” to point “B” by truck, is HUGE—absolutely HUGE. With this being the case, our country has established goals to improving gas mileage for passenger cars, light trucks and heavy-duty trucks. These goals are dedicated to improving gas mileage but also goals to reduce emissions. Let’s take a look.
Passenger Car and Light Truck Standards for 2017 and beyond
In 2012, NHTSA established final passenger car and light truck CAFE standards for model years 2017-2021, which the agency projects will require in model year 2021, on average, a combined fleet-wide fuel economy of 40.3-41.0 mpg. As part of the same rulemaking action, EPA issued GHG standards, which are harmonized with NHTSA’s fuel economy standards that are projected to require 163 grams/mile of carbon dioxide (CO2) in model year 2025. EPA will reexamine the GHG standards for model years 2022-2025 and NHTSA will set new CAFE standards for those model years in the next couple of years, based on the best available information at that time.
The Big Rigs
On June 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced major increases for fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks. Part of President Obama’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan, Phase 2 of the Heavy-Duty National Program tightens emission standards for heavy-duty trucks and includes big rigs, delivery vehicles, dump trucks and buses. The updated efficiency rule for trucks joins a growing list of fuel efficiency measures, including the President’s 2012 doubling of fuel efficiency standards for cars and light-duty trucks (CAFE standards), as well as expected aircraft rules, following the agency’s finding that aircraft emissions endanger human health.
While the miles per gallon (mpg) rating of cars and light duty trucks has increased over the last decade or so, the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks has held at 5 mpg for over four decades. Conversely, the average passenger vehicle reached 24 mpg in 2010. Under CAFE, cars and light duty trucks are set to reach 54.5 MPG by 2025.
According to EPA, heavy-duty trucks are the fastest growing emissions segment of the U.S. transportation sector; they are currently responsible for twenty percent (20%) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while comprising just four percent (4%) of on-road vehicles. Heavy duty trucks power the consumer economy, carrying seventy percent (70%) of all U.S. freight – weighing in at 10 billion tons of everything from food to electronics, building materials, clothes and other consumer goods.
As you can see, the goals are not only reduction in fuel usage but improvements in emissions. There are companies and programs dedicated to meeting these goals. The reason for this post is to indicate that people and companies are working to provide answers; solving problems; providing value-added to our environment and even our way of life. One such company is Intelligent Fleet Solutions.
The big questions is, how do we meet these goals? The burden is up to companies manufacturing the engines and design of the cabs and trailers. Alternate fuels are one answer; i.e. using CNG (compressed natural gas), biofuels, hydrogen, etc. but maybe not the entire answer.
One manner in which these goals may be met is reducing engine idle while trucks are at rest. The following chart will explain the dilemma and one target for reduction in petroleum consumption.
This chart shows petroleum consumption of various vehicles at idle. Notice: diesel engine consumption can use up to 1.00 gallon per hour when idling. Question, can we lessen this consumption?
Companies designing and manufacturing devices to contribute to this effort are being introduced helping to drive us towards meeting really tough café goals. One such company is Intelligent Fleet Solutions. Let’s take a look.
INTELLIGENT FLEET SOLUTIONS
What if the vehicle you drive could automatically alter its performance by doing the following?
- Governing maximum speed in Class 8 vehicles
- Optimizing acceleration
- Providing for a more efficient cruise
If you look carefully at the following brochure you will see a device that provides all three. The DERIVE program is downloaded into your vehicle’s ECM (Electronic Control Module) allowing control from generic to specific. You are in control. The program is contained in a hand-held pendent that “jacks” into the same receptacle used to reset your check engine light. Heavy-duty trucks may have another port for this pendent but the same process is used. The great part—the software is quick loading and low cost. A driver or owner has a payback considerably less one year. My friend Amy Dobrikova is an approved reseller for DERIVE technologies. Please contact her for further information at 765-617-8614.
CONCLUSIONS: Intelligent Fleet Solutions performs a great service in helping to preserve non-renewable fossil fuels AND lessening or eliminating harmful effluent from our environment. “Solutions” recognizes the fact that “all hands must be on deck” to solve emission problems and conserve remaining petroleum supplies. This company embodies the fact that America is still THE country in which technology is applied to solve problems and insure specific goals are met. Intelligent Fleet Solutions is a great contributor to that effort. Check them out at intelligent-fleet.com