Industry Insight

It’s Back to School Time! And Not Just for the Kids……

Aug1.Continuing EdIt’s that time of year again….back to school. Excitement at the anticipation of a new learning year is upon us.  But it doesn’t just have to be for the kids… We, as adults, should continually embark on a new journey of learning and self-betterment.

 

Our clients rely on us for advice and counsel on marketing communications techniques and tactics. In order to best perform our jobs and remain a source of information, we seek out ways to hone our skills, learn about the latest trends and discover new ways to employ best practices in our clients’ programs. Our agency could not survive in this digital era if we had stopped trying to improve and innovate while everyone still relied on only print media in the 1980s.

 

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Industry Insight: Medical Device Manufacturing

medical device manufacturing, medicine, healthcareWith the initiation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last year, which placed a 2.3% additional revenue-based tax burden on medical device manufacturers, the landscape of medical equipment has changed. Already competing with price pressures in a global market and increasing regulatory demands, this market has quite the road ahead of it.

In addition to business pressures, patients and medical professional alike are increasing the expectations of this equipment and what functions they are expected to perform. While medical data is certainly available to facilitate diagnoses and improve patient care, this can only be done through the electronic equipment that serve this industry.

A far cry from the humble stethoscope, modern medical equipment is expected to adapt to a patient’s physiology, talk to other interconnected pieces of equipment and share information in real time, while accurately monitoring a patient to help determine the correct treatment, ailment or cause of a medical situation.

Medical electronics need to be rugged and reliable, while being mobile and money-saving. Even MRI machines, the behemoth of medical equipment, are now placed on trailers and driven to facilities to perform scans of patients. Conversely, patient-wearable diagnostic equipment, such as a surgically-placed defibrillator, is constantly subjected to the daily rigors of the patient who touts is around.

A major aspect that has fueled these advancements within the medical device industry is ruggedized electronics with denser functionality, and this trend is set to continue. The trick will be to balance innovation and growth with function and cost, keeping product development on track, while providing a good return on investment.

For more insights on technology and healthcare, check out this article: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/518871/we-need-a-moores-law-for-medicine/

 

Industry Insight: GPS Technology

GPS station

GPS station for transmitting data in the field

GPS technology has come a long way since its first satellite launch in the1970s by the US Department of Defense in the effort to create a missile guidance system for the military. Today it is still used for military and government purposes, as well as by millions of civilians in many different commercial industries. It is a great tool for pinpointing locations, navigation, tracking, mapping, and timing. With the growing improvements in GPS technology, these five applications have become more accurate and useful, increasing the number of uses for GPS across many industries.

Recently, a burgeoning trend is the use of GPS in cell phones as smartphones become more popular as well as in vehicle navigation systems. However, GPS is also being used in other industrial applications, such as surveying equipment. In construction and in other land surveying jobs, GPS receivers can plan out and accurately map the terrain, providing a three-dimensional reading of natural and artificial features, to determine the best approach for the project in a much shorter time and with fewer workers. Also, GPS automated grade control collects the data of the surrounding land and allows workers to be able to see if there are any potential problems with the area that need to be included in a project plan. Both of these tools save time and money.

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Industry Insight: RF & Wireless

We now live in a world of wireless technology, where convenience and time are essential.  Manufacturers of wireless and RF-technology based devices are constantly striving to produce faster, smaller equipment that can keep pace with the increased usage of electronic devices: multiple functions operating simultaneously, quicker data access, instant information updates.

From critical military systems and railway control applications to basic smart phones and retail operations, wireless systems are instrumental, and the electronic components that make up these systems are increasingly being taxed to perform in less space, with more duties required of them.

Each part of an electronic device contributes to the final product, no matter how small or seemingly irrelevant (in fact, sometimes the smaller the component, the more important it is!).  The tiniest bit of jitter, noise or heat can easily send a tightly compact, highly dense electronic device into a tailspin, making the function of each immensely important to the overall system.

Accounting for EMI, phase noise, jitter and higher tolerances, while improving frequency ranges and heat dissipation, in components help deliver more reliable devices.  As wireless and RF technology continues to proliferate into every day life, the need for sustained equipment reliability is becoming more important than ever.

Update on Biotech and Pharmaceutical Markets

Last year’s H1N1 flu epidemic caused a frantic reaction among the US population. President Obama recognized that the vast amount of vaccine shortages caused a major health concern in America. Due to the country’s reaction, President Obama and his administration recently released bio-defense funding specifically to fight infectious disease and bioterrorism threats.

The hope is that the funding will provide pharmaceutical companies the resources needed for newer and more advanced vaccines and technologies. The continued lag manufacturing companies face toward implementing newer machinery and technologies may be coming to an end. The newly designated $6.48 billion will go directly into spending for bio-defense agencies.

The government is looking beyond traditional pharmaceutical and biotechnology contactors in hopes to expand the country’s knowledge and skills in medical technology in order to increase innovation. Additional funding will provide attractive opportunities for many pharmaceutical, manufacturing, information technology, and biotech companies.

Making such investments for our country’s future is vital now more than ever. Pharmaceutical and biotech equipment manufacturers hold the power to create a better future for our country’s health. Upgrading to more advanced technologies will ultimately protect, enhance and provide for a brighter future.

Industry Insight: Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical

bio-pharmaceutical image

The need to balance stringent quality requirements with rapid production demands for larger volumes of product has placed a heavy toll on biotech and pharmaceutical companies…

But stronger regulations, tenuous financial stability and regulatory delays have made this industry reluctant to invest in newer technologies.

Concerns of expenses in hard economic times in the form of equipment purchase and installation and learning new technologies combined with uncertainty about machine usage as well as regulatory and waste related concerns have all played a role in the industry’s lag in moving toward more advanced equipment.

A prime example was the recent US H1N1 vaccine shortage, with the US administration putting the manufacturers on the short list of causes.  The importance of expedience and quality in the production of such vaccines, and related biotech and pharmaceutical products, is undeniable. Technologies and equipment that help meet these increasing, and many times life-saving, demands are paramount.

Balancing capital investments with best-in-class products will help prevent future product delays that could contribute to serious outcomes, while ensuring manufacturers are equipped with a reliable, up-to-date production facility.

Equipment manufacturers for this industry have continued to develop and produce quality products. Upgrading to faster and efficient machinery will increase business and meet the needs of the industry.

Industry Insight: Security

security camerasIt comes as no surprise that the security industry is demanding more advanced technology. The need for better security systems, from waterfront ports down to the local convenience store, is a continual process that even the latest economic climate hasn’t beaten. However, the downtrodden economy has played an important role in driving some of the industry’s technological developments by requiring more cost-effective systems with advanced functionality — quite the conundrum for manufacturers in this space. There is a big push for money-saving products that provide greater ROI and decreased electricity usage.

In a recent U.S. market report, the SIA (Security Industry Association) provides a long list of considerations pertinent to security system users when evaluating products:

  • Price/budget
  • Company reputation
  • Product reliability
  • Technical expertise
  • Customer service
  • Ease of use and functionality
  • System features
  • System integration and upgradeability

Among the multitude of available security systems, including physical access control, intrusion/fire detection, electronic article surveillance and CCTV/video detection, remote video surveillance is growing significantly in popularity. Affordable onboard memory and data streaming capabilities have made these types of products more obtainable to more users.  This is especially true for the residential market and outside businesses such as car dealerships, construction sites, apartment complexes, roofing companies, lumber yards, metal distributors and more. Security system product advancements are providing users with better system control and quicker data access to increase response time in the event of an emergency.

Overall, the security industry is meeting the challenge of simplifying more complex systems in terms of installation and use, while offering better control and protection. Ease of operation combined with cost-effective technology can expand the market to additional industries and more businesses.

Industry Insight: Military & Aerospace

collage of military applicationsDespite current economic conditions, the military and aerospace market is doing quite well. The Department of Defense’s 2010 budget request sought increases in funding for different types of missile defense systems. Although funding was cut for medium and long-range missile defense programs and the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, systems that have proven themselves useful in defending the nation at its current state, such as short-range and naval-based systems, received increased funding in the request, maintaining the strength of American missile defenses. Additionally, the embedded military electronics market is doing well thanks to the military’s need to remain strong and as technically advanced as possible.

Other events have also been stirring up the military and aerospace world. Striving to stay technically advanced, many military applications have begun utilizing MicroTCA-based embedded systems. MicroTCA’s small size, light weight, low power and low cost make it desirable for use in military applications such as battlefield communications, mission computers, monitoring and surveillance, emergency response and Navy open architecture. It also possesses a simple network comparable to a PC running software on its desktop. And the military’s recent shift toward network-centricity in open systems platforms has placed increased attention on MicroTCA. Rugged and extended temperature versions are currently in development to make MicroTCA even more useful in military applications.

Other interesting developments are on the horizon for military and defense applications as well as in other markets. Check back often to read about other industries.