Ergonomics, packing sweep stickgoods

Vendors in the stickgoods/smallwares business are continuing to focus on high-performance, upscale products for 1991. While vivid colors remain a major thrust in the category, manufacturers are placing an increased emphasis on high-impact packaging, better-quality features and ergonomic designs.

Major suppliers like Rubbermaid, Drackett Products Co. and Quickie have all unveiled lines this year that feature ergonomic designs. Many of these introductions also come in revamped, more “consumer-friendly” packaging, and highlight better-quality features such as metal handles on stickgoods and cellulose sponges in smallwares.
“The whole cleaning category is going more upscale,” said Bruce Panveno, director of marketing for National Brush Co. “In the past, the products were generally considered low-end impulse items. Now the trend is to upgrade the category with better features, high-impact packaging and colors.”

Rob Cockfield, senior product manager at Rubbermaid, added, “Manufacturers are really making improvements in their product offerings in the cleaning business. And retailers in turn are promoting the category more than they did in the past.” Cockfield cited ergonomics as a particularly significant product benefit in the stickgoods/smallwares business.
Ergonomically designed products, including scrub brushes, spin mop bucket and brooms, are specially developed to offer the consumer the best grip and angle possible for cleaning jobs. Some manufacturers are targeting the older-age-population as a natural tie-in.
At Rubbermaid, ergonomics was a major thrust behind its cleaning line introduction this year, Cockfield said. The company’s blue 50-SKU collection includes short-handled brooms and scrub brushes designed to clean hard-to-reach areas.

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Cockfield added products geared to the “seniors market” are also emerging as an important area in the cleaning category. “This whole area will be more pronounced in the future,” he said.
Judy L. Cline, director of marketing for Drackett, also cites the senior market and ergonomics as areas that represent growth potential. “There are a lot of opportunities in niche markets in the cleaning category, like the older age group and ergonomics,” she said.

Drackett first came out with an ergonomically designed line about two years ago with its Easy Reach Scrubber. This year the company is highlighting ergonomically designed handles on some of the products in its 17-SKU scrub brush line as well. Other product benefits include Drakett’s Power Tip Bristles (with stiffer tips) and dual color brushes.
According to Cline, Drackett will emphasize its new scrub brush line in ad campaigns and promotions this year.
Other manufacturers who have recently focused on the ergonomics trend include Quickie, Libman, and Empire Brushes.
Empire’s Comfortably Yours line of mops and brooms, for instance, features comfort grip handles to prevent hand and arm strain. The company also launched a newly designed brush line that was “specifically designed with the aging consumer in mind,” said Fred Nover, senior vice president of sales, marketing and logistics.
Besides ergonomics, cleaning vendors are also upgrading their lines with higher quality materials that offer extra durability and better performance.

Libman, for example, redesigned several of its mops and brooms this year to make them more comfortable to use as well as more durable, said Robert Libman, president. He explained most of the company’s brooms and mops now have pained metal tubes instead of wooden handles. Other product improvements include better quality yarn on Libman’s Freedom Dust Mop and hang holders on the steel handles of all the microfiber mop head and brooms.

Libman is keying in on its Wonder Mop this year in ad campaigns and promotions–mainly because of the product’s unique features, such as a self-regulating wringer cup, according to Libman.
Product innovation continues to be the focal point at M.B. Walton Inc., known for its Roll-O-Matic mop and Performer Angle Broom. Art Frigo, president, said the Performer Angle Broom will be the centerpiece of the company’s national TV advertising campaigns and other promotions this year. The brooms, which has a red handle and black bristles, features, patented angled bristles for hard-to-reach corners and crevices.

“We believe there is a significant demand for high-quality, upscale brooms with attractive designs and color,” Frigo said. “Cleaning is a drudgery, and if consumers are going to have to do it, they might as well use a product that works well and looks good.”

Kellogg Brush Manufacturing Co. is another vendor that will put its weight behind better-quality features and innovation this year, according to Ben Wilde, vice president of sales. He said the company’s three key products are the Plastic Sponge Mop, with the “only long-lasting true hinge assembly on the market,” the Captain Hook angled broom; and the Suds & Sponge, a detergent dispenser that comes with either a cellulose sponge or a non-scratch scrubber sponge.
“Cleaning is a drudgery,” added Wilde. “And if consumers are going to have to do it, they might as well use product that works well and looks good.”

At Quickie, meanwhile, all of the company’s 1991 product introductions highlight better quality and profitability for the retailer, said Vince Cella, director of marketing. “Our housewares and hardware show introductions are premium quality, higher-ticket items,” Cella said. He added that better-quality features on Quickie products include foam cushion grips on broom handles, spin mop reviews with more absorbent sponges and industrial-strength handles.
Cella cited the company’s HomePro Automatic Sponge Mop as a prime example of Quickie’s direction to offer a greater variety of step-up cleaning products. The mop features a cellulose sponge and oversize rollers that make it easier to squeeze water out of the sponge.

“The consumer is ready for better-quality features and durability in cleaning products today,” cella said. “they are also willing to spend more money if they perceive that the value is there.”
High-quality brooms is where the action is at National Brush this year, said Panveno. He explained that the company is playing up its Steel-Craft Push Broom line in promotions. The higher-end brooms feature durable metal frames, vergus the traditional wood block style brooms, according to Panveno.
Virtually all the manufacturers polled by HFD have worked with color, larger photographs, and more simplified copy on packaging to highlight upscale features introduced this year.
Suburbanite has addressed the color trends in packaging and products with a new program called Accents. The program focuses on forest green and white color-coordinated products and displays for springs, and a green and plum collection for the fall.

Protecting Our Patients

images (1)Nurses should be free to speak out against dangerous practices–it could save your life

Nobody really likes going to a hospital or nursing home. But all of us will probably need to at some point in our lives, either for a loved one or for ourselves. The unfamiliar environment of a health-care facility can be frightening, and the realization that we are at the mercy of our doctors and nurses can make us feel even more vulnerable.

I am a registered nurse who has worked on the front lines of patient care for the last seven years. We are the only licensed health-care professionals at a patient’s bedside 24 hours a day. Nurses today are in charge of patients who cannot be cared for either at home or in outpatient clinics. With managed care’s emphasis on cost-cutting, only the most seriously ill are permitted an overnight stay in a hospital, and that stay is as brief as possible. As a result, most hospital floors resemble the intensive-care units of the past, with patients’ conditions changing rapidly from moment to moment. Nurses are in the best position to know when they are stretched too far to provide good care. Unfortunately, in most states we are not protected against retribution if we report short staffing or other dangerous circumstances that put patients in harm’s way.

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I know, because I stood up for my patients and paid a painful price. I reported dangerous staffing levels in my hospital. At first my complaints were brushed off, and when I persisted I was fired. Eventually I was legally vindicated, and the state board of health found the hospital in violation of eight standards of care including “patient neglect.” Now I am supporting federal legislation to protect health-care professionals when they speak up about patients in danger.

My difficulties began two years ago when the hospital trimmed costs by reducing the nursing staff. The number of patients assigned to my care doubled, from six to 12. This meant I couldn’t even look after basic hygiene, let alone assess patients for subtle changes in their conditions, give them medication on schedule or monitor them for possible side effects–nursing skills that keep patients safe and comfortable. I found a 92-year-old stroke victim soaking in her own urine, unable to reach her call button to alert nurses. I saw patients who, tired of waiting for someone to help them to the bathroom, had tried to make the trip themselves, only to slip in their own urine and feces.

What’s more, newly graduated nurses were frequently left alone to perform complicated procedures without training or supervision. One day I found an inexperienced nurse rushing to administer a man’s medication. She was preparing 50 times the prescribed dosage to inject into the unsuspecting patient’s central venous line. Had I not caught the error, the man would have died.

Along with other nurses, I expressed my concerns to the director of nursing and the administrator in written memos. Three months before I was fired, my personnel review stated that I was “an excellent role model conducts himself in a professional manner is an advocate for his patients and channels his concerns appropriately.” After I spoke up, my supervisors began to find fault with my performance. I was wrongfully charged with having “time-management problems” and fired for being “unprofessional” when I refused to sign the disciplinary notice. In November 1997, after I filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, a federal judge ruled that my termination was unlawful and motivated by “the [institution’s] desire to silence [me] and retaliate against [me].” The judge ordered the hospital to reinstate me, pay all back wages with interest and expunge all record of my illegal termination.

In October 1996, the same month I was fired, my worst fears came true. A nurse who had never been trained by the hospital to administer intravenous medication accidentally gave a woman an overdose of morphine, and the woman died. Within one year after I was fired, a second patient was given the wrong medication but survived, and yet another unattended patient fractured his skull when he fell down two flights of stairs while strapped to his wheelchair.

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I wish I could say the situation is better in other states. But a recent survey by the American Journal of Nursing found that more than two thirds of nurses don’t have time for basic nursing care, like teaching patients how to tend to wounds or inject themselves with insulin. More than half are too busy to consult with other members of the patient’s health-care team. A full one third would not recommend that their family members receive care at the facility where they work. State boards of nursing and the nurses-association code call on us to safeguard our patients. Where is the legal protection we need to truly uphold this charge?

There is some progress. Just this year Kentucky passed legislation to protect nurses who speak out. Similar measures are pending in seven states. But will they pass soon enough to protect you or someone you know?

Many health professionals, like me, are willing to speak out and take the risk of being fired. But forcing us to choose between keeping our jobs and meeting our obligations to ensure safe care can put patients in jeopardy.

A new Patients’ Bill of Rights contains whistle-blower language that would allow nurses to uphold the trust people place in us during their time of need. We could report patient-safety concerns without fear of termination. Every American should understand that “ungagging” health-care professionals is one of the best ways to guarantee that life-threatening conditions are brought to light. As a Louisville Courier-Journal editorial stated, “Americans rightly expect their doctors and nurses to be vigorous advocates for the care they need, not silent partners in settling for less.”

You really don’t want to go to the hospital. But if you have to go, and you are lying in that awkward bed in a paper-thin gown, worried, helpless in a sea of intimidating equipment, unfamiliar sights and smells, wouldn’t you want to be looking at a nurse who is free to speak on your behalf? It’s time to stop settling for less.

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Creating identity in mops and brooms

With mops, brooms and other cleaning aids becoming increasingly price-sensitive due to imports, manufacturers are updating packaging and retail displays as well as adding SKUs to stay afloat in a competitive market.

Manufacturers surveyed by HOUSEWARES generally agreed that the category lacks consumer brand awareness and that purchases are largely impulsive. For this reason, makers of household cleaning supplies ideally look to set up total shops of their wares at supermarkets, mass merchants and hardware stores.

Drackett, however, is one company that claims high consumer brand recognition. Judy Cline, drackett’s director of marketing for O-Cedar, pegged consumer awareness of the O-Cedar line at 83%. “We feel there’s definitely brand recognition and brand loyalty. The O-Cedar name has been around for a long time and we continue to be a leader. I’m not denying that the market is price sensitive, but there’s no question that our name makes a difference,” she said.

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Cline added that “active advertising and promotional campaigns,” keep the O-Cedar name continually in the consumer’s eye. Drackett’s advertising program for O-Cedar includes a newly revised schedule of ads in top women’s magazines as well as special tie-ins such as the rebate/coupon program recently run with Pine-Sol.

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Drackett has also just introduced O-Cedar Outsiders, a new line of out-door brooms. According to Cline, the brooms are being shipped now for the Fall cleanup season. The 4-SKU Outsider line includes an 18-inch push broom with patented dual-bristle construction. Coarse bristles are in the front to trap tough dirt, while finer bristles in the back catch smaller particles. Suggested retail is $9.99.

Also in the line is a heavy-duty Angler broom, a Wet ‘n Dry broom and an Angler corn broom. Suggested retails are $8.99, $6.99 and $8.99 respectively.

All Outsider SKUs feature an extra-large, durable handle and are able to resist water, chemicals, grease and snow. Packaging for the Outsider line utliizes the O-Cedar grid pattern to lend continuity, but beige and brown graphics were chosen to give “a more heavy, outdoorsy, masculine presentation,” said Cline.

Cline pointed out that the Outsider line “will appeal most to non-food outlets, but there’s also a place for them in seasonal grocery displays. It’s an in-and-out business but most grocery stores set aside space for seasonal items.”

At Greenville, NC-based Empire Brush, the recently introduced Flex Scrub scrub brush has racked up impressive sales figures in all classes of trade, according to Marketing Manager Donald Pack. “This is the first-ever flexible scrub brush. It’s probably the most phenomenally successful cleaning aid ever introduced.

“We never expected it to take off like this. It was introduced in March and it’s already become the third best-selling item in the line,” stated Pack.

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The debut and ensuing success of the Flex Scrub prompted Empire to create a national advertising program for the new product. “We’ve just put together a commercial for Flex Scrub. The format we used gives it an animated look–the brush glides by itself over surfaces. This is our first strong venture into national advertising and we’re very pleased with it,” Pack enthused.

The TV spot will break nationwide Sept. 15, running for 30 days in 40 major markets.

Empire is also aiming to increase consumer brand awareness with its new packaging. According to Pack, the new design was based on extensive market research by Empire, testing not only old and new Empire packaging but all others in the field. “We feel we have now have the best packaging in the industry because we let the consumer decide,” said Pack. The new design features a modified Empire logo and four-color photography.

Updated presentation is also a priority at Gem, where the entire line of mops, brooms and ironing board covers now sport cleaner, more unified packaging. “It’s very bold, very bright,” said Gem’s Jim McIntyre of the new packaging. “A prominent Gem logo is used along with a simple ID of the product. The main colors are blues, greens and oranges. All refills will be color-coordinated, too,” the sales vp added.

McIntyre admitted that Gem does very little in the way of promotion, but added that the firm’s private label business is very lucrative. Gem’s major private label accounts include K mart and Woolworth’s.

Kellogg Brush Mfg. Co. has also redesigned its packaging as well as entered a new product area (see story, page 22). A major feature of the revamped brown and orange packaging is its “Made In U.S.A.” theme. “In light of Wal-Mart’s recent comments we think this is very important. We’ve stressed this for a long time and will continue to do so,” emphasized Kathy Alexa, Kellogg’s national marketing and sales director.

She added that the new packaging “presents the line as a whole,” which aids the firm’s pursuit of Kellogg “shops” at retail. “A shop look generally works the best,” said Alexa. “Mops and brooms are often an impulse item; a shop makes the product more attractive to the consumer.”

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Uniform packaging also enhances brand identity, a generally weak factor in mop and broom purchases. “Our feeling is that there’s not a great amount of brand loyalty. Imports at lower price points just add to the confusion,” conceded Alexa. “But our research shows that the consumer wants the quality we offer.”

At the Arcola, IL-based Libman Company, line extension is being stressed over new products and packaging. According to VP Joyce Libman, Different assortments of the firm’s pre-pack displays are being offered to retailers, primarily with a greater variety of mop sizes.

Libman also stressed the importance of effective merchandisers in the highly competitive cleaning aids market.

“When you think of buying habits, nobody puts brooms on their shopping list. Something in that rack has to attract their eye,” she said.

 

Supermarkets planning push behind mops, brooms

LUFKIN, TX–Even with snappy point-of-purchase displays and eye-catching packaging, spin mop reviews, brooms and brushes remain a steady, but unspectacular, seller in their prime medium of distribution–supermarkets.
For 1985, this stable housewares category, which can be found in almost all supermarkets across the country, is expected to maintain a healthy sales margin, but experience little increase in revenues, noted non-foods buyers and other observers.
Supermarket sales of twist and shout mop and brooms totaled about $185 million in 1983 while brushes accounted for $110.5 million.
Overall, mops and brooms accounted for 7.6% of all housewares sales at supermarkets that year while brushes were responsible for 4.2% of housewares sales.
This year, the overall category, which features upgraded packaging from Libman and Royal Maid Assn. for the Blind and new products from Kellogg Brush, Drackett and Empire Brush, is expected to receive more promotion and additional space at supermarkets.

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“It’s not a category we go out of our way to promote, although it does bring in steady revenues,” stated Ray Campbell, general merchandise manager at Brookshire Bros., a chain of 41 supermarkets based here. “We stock most of the major brands, and have found it to be one of the more steady-selling housewares areas.”
Campbell agreed with manufacturers that while quality and price are still important, most consumers consider mops, brooms and brushes a generic buy. “Displays help, to an extent,” he said. “It helps to identify brands, but customers will probably choose price over anything else.”
A spokesman for Ralphs Grocery Co., a 135 store operation based in suburban Los Angeles, said the chain will use more cap displays this year to promote mops and brooms. Sales were “especially good” in ’84, he said, based on the upgraded packaging and effective displays some manufacturers presented.
Roger Lipskin, president of New York-based Supermarket Representatives, which handles the non-foods buying accounts of some 10,000 small and medium-sized supermarkets, noted mops, brooms and brushes are price promotional and, therefore, can be used in many continuity programs.
“Some supermarkets here (on the East Coast) have found success using that category in their promotional programs,” he said. “We don’t have to venture too far to find appropriate suppliers. The handfull of manufacturers have been in the business for quite a while and know what it takes to promote this merchandise.”
Supermarket shoppers will be seeing upgraded packaging from several firms this year, including new designs from Libman and Royal Maid. Both companies have repackaged their entire lines, as seen at the October NHMA Show, with emphasis, on a product family identity.
Drackett is promoting its line of two no-wax sponge o cedar spin mop, the No-Wax Power Strip and No-Wax Light & Easy while Kellogg Brush has come out with a line of push and angler brooms.
To round out offerings, Empire Brush has introduced an automatic sponge mop and its first line of corn broom while Gem, Inc. has added a sponge mop called the Guzzler.
Whether these new products will be found on most supermarket shelves in the next few months depends on manufacturer distribution schedules. However, some non-foods buyers are eagerly anticipating any product in this category that stands apart from the norm.
“You don’t see to much innovation in best spin mop and brooms, not like you would see in some electric housewares,” said a spokesman for Albertson’s, the 418-supermarket store chain based in Boise, ID. “Anything that could be considered new would attract consumers’ attention.”
Jerry Clark, basic housewares buyer for Dillon Stores in Hutchinson, KS, agreed, noting that mops, brooms and brushes, even with smart packaging and unique displays, are treated as a staple, although a slow-growth, area by non-foods buyers.
“It’s difficult to plan any year-long promotions with a standard category that doesn’t change much from season to season,” he said. “We usually keep promotions to a minimum. Customers know where the section is and they’ll usually buy the some no matter what’s out on the display floor.”

Self-locking thread forms solve fastening problem

The 3M Medical Division recently faced a threading problem with their line of 3M Littmann Lightweight II Review stethoscopes. The company found the solution when one of its engineers saw an advertisement for self-locking thread forms available from Detroit Tool Industries, 17644 Mt. Elliott Ave., Detroit, MI 48212.

The Littman stethoscope line consists of general purpose, highly portable units, specialized devices for heart sound monitoring, pediatric and infant scopes, blood pressure scopes, differential scopes for pulmonary use, teaching stethoscopes and anesthescopes. All the stethoscopes use a piece of threaded metal tubing that fastens the eartubes to the earpieces. In the different models that make up the Littman line, the tubing comes in a variety of materials and surface finishes including anodized aluminum, stainless steel, plated brass and others. The earpiece is made of thermoplastic rubber with a harder plastic insert that is threaded to mate with the tubing.

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The threaded connection between the tubing and the earpieces is critical to product performance. The earpieces are repeatedly removed from the stethoscope for cleaning. This means that the threaded connection must be near free-spinning for easy assembly. At the same time, the connection must be secure against vibration. Stethoscopes are frequently carried around in a pocket or a case where substantial vibrations may be experienced. If the earpieces come loose there is a good chance they will be lost. At worst, a doctor or technician will put the best stethoscope review on without the earpieces and be injured.

The old method of fastening the earpiece was with a standard 60-degree V-thread form using a tight GH fit to secure the connection against vibration. A variety of problems were experienced. It was difficult to hold the fit within tolerance limits because the variety of different materials and surfaces used for the male fastener changed the size of the finished threads even though the same tool was always used. If the male threads were too small, the earpiece had a tendency to come loose. When the threads were too big, users had difficulty re-attaching the earpiece and could experience cross-threading which made it necessary to repair or replace the earpiece.

When one of the company’s engineers saw an advertisement for the Spiralock self-locking thread forms, it seemed to be the answer they were looking for. The company decided to try them on the stethoscopes. The Spiralock achieves a self-locking effect by means of a unique female thread geometry. The form mates with a standard male thread, is totally free-spinning on assembly, does not require close tolerances, and can be loosened and re-tightened as many times as necessary, without losing the locking effect.

Previously, the molder was molding the V-threads in an un-screwing mold. Switching to Spiralock was accomplished by simply changing the configuration of the cores. Now up to 700,000 parts per core are produced without excessive wear or failure on the core that forms the thread.

The company discovered that once the change was made the improvements became quickly apparent. Problems of the earpieces loosening and being difficult to attach to stethoscope for sales disappeared. In addition, the company found the tolerance of the tubing threading operation was no longer as critical. This meant the elimination of rejects in this operation and further cost reductions through the ability to extend the life of the cutting tool.

The Spiralock offers a 30-degree wedge-shaped ramp at the root of the female thread. Under clamp load, the crests of the thread on any standard bolt are drawn tightly against the Spiralock wedge ramp. This causes thread contact forces to be applied at approximately 60 degrees from the bolt axis, rather than 30 degrees away as in a standard thread form. The mechanical advantage–the angular relationship between the wedge ramp and the male thread–restricts bolt or screw movement. Additionally, common stripping or shearing problems are eliminated as well.

Spiralock taps and thread plug gages are available in 36 different metric sizes for hole diameters ranging from 2.5 mm to 39 mm and pitches ranging from 0.45 mm to 4 mm. Five different tap styles are available; general purpose, straight flute, spiral-pointed, fast spiral-fluted, space alloy and T-10. The Spiralock internal thread form is designed to mate with a commercial 2A bolt.

Lịch sự phát triển SMS tại Việt Nam

SMS tại Việt Nam

Tại Việt Nam, cũng không thể phủ nhận ý nghĩa to lớn của dịch vụ nhắn tin SMS. Năm 1993, mạng ĐTDĐ đầu tiên của Việt Nam được thiết lập và triển khai cung cấp dịch vụ. Trải qua gần 20 năm xây dựng và phát triển, đến nay có 6 doanh nghiệp được cấp giấy phép cung cấp dịch vụ ĐTDĐ, tổng số thuê bao là 120,7 triệu tính đến tháng 6/2012.

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Cũng như nhiều nước, dịch vụ nhắn tin qua ĐTDĐ cũng phát triển vượt bậc. Chỉ bằng việc gửi một tin nhắn người sử dụng Việt Nam hiện nay có thể tải các hình ảnh, nhạc chuông, bài hát, tra cứu điểm, tư vấn tình cảm, kết bạn… đáp ứng nhu cầu thông tin một cách kịp thời, nhu cầu giải trí lành mạnh, góp phần làm phong phú đời sống tinh thần của đông đảo người sử dụng.

Các cơ quan nhà nước cũng như doanh nghiệp đã ứng dụng dịch vụ nhắn tin từ đầu số để phục vụ công tác quản lý, chỉ đạo, điều hành, sản xuất, dịch vụ sms brand name hiệu quả. Nhiều chương trình nhân đạo mang tính nhân văn cao sử dụng phương thức nhắn tin đến đầu số đã có sức lan tỏa rộng lớn trong toàn xã hội như: “Mỗi tin nhắn, một viên đá xây Trường Sa”, “Trái tim cho em”, “Tấm lưới nghĩa tình”. Sau 3 năm triển khai 17 chiến dịch đã quyên góp được với tổng số tiền gần 60 tỷ đồng.