Blog! Five Fast Things for December 8, 2006


1. Air conditioning in January? Chicago awoke today to find temperatures in the single digits, wind chills below zero and frost everywhere. (If you are south of Nashville, stop snickering. We here up north see the way you drive when there’s a little ice on the road, and it’s hysterical.)

So anyway, talking about air conditioning at this time of the year seems a bit misplaced, but the annual AHR Expo is on the horizon in Dallas on January 29-31. This year’s event will focused on topics important any time of the year.

An AHR survey found the key industry issues are: energy efficiency, building controls and automation, green building issues and indoor air quality.

The Expo promoters will have a lot to say on those topics when the show opens next month. For a look at what the show has to offer in 2007, click here .

2. Healthy buildings in the air: ASHRAE’s Indoor Air Quality conference in Baltimore isn’t until Oct. 15, but it’s an issue that shouldn’t have to wait for a conference. Green buildings are increasingly an issue, especially in manufacturing, and a number of progressive manufacturers are looking at sustainable air quality as a driver of a better workplace environment. As we’re looking to hang on to employees and keep the ones we have healthier, this kind of initiative, properly communicated, shows workers we care about healthy and safety first.

“A building' health and efficiency impact everyone,” said Larry Schoen, chair of the committee organizing the conference. “It’s important to discuss how our designs as building professionals will affect the occupants’ lives and the global community for many years to come.”

3. ERP spending to grow: Trying to draw a straight line in manufacturing is getting difficult. Jobs are up one month, down the next. There’s a shortage of workers on one side, job cuts elsewhere. Money is tight, but spending on emerging technology in manufacturing is on the rise.

The latter point is made again by AMR Research , which just released a report showing that enterprise resource planning spending will jump 12.3% in 2007. “The survey found that technology buyers understand the need to invest in better information systems, and in most markets they have the capital to do so,” a press release on the report noted. “The survey found that globalization and lean manufacturing are the two most important business issues companies plan to address with ERP investments. 43% of respondents aim to have a single global ERP system within three years—compared with only 26% today.”

4. Chatting about China: The National Association of Manufacturers has been pushing the U.S. government to put more pressure on China to revalue the yuan to a more market-driven currency rather than one set at low levels by the government. Lower cost currency increases the consumer price on imports and artificially reduces the price of domestically-made products. So if China wants to work and play well in a global economy, NAM reason they ought to be playing by the same economic rules as everyone else.

A meeting last week with senior Bush Administration officials re-emphasized that point. “Our board-level task force delivered a clear message: we need to see progress from China on these issues and we need to see it soon,” NAM president John Engler said.s soon as possible.”

The U.S. is sending a high-level delegation to China next week to make that point as directly as possible, but they are also taking a more moderate position in public.

5. No butts about it: There nothing like standing in front of a room full of people wearing a tuxedo and announcing the Product of the Year Gold Award Winner is %%MDASSML%% Big Ass Fans. That’s what I did at my first POY dinner two years ago, and the room nervously giggled like a room full of third graders.

Big Ass Fans tends to thrive on such attention, and they’re at it again. Their new Website includes a place (I am not making this up) called Big Ass Fan Land . Oh, it’s a time waster, but an entertaining one %%MDASSML%% including something called Flying Fanny.

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