ML Wins, VW Gets Athletic, and a VP Worth Checking Out

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation

I get to chat with you through this column just six times a year, so there’s usually a ton of information that I wish to share/discuss/pontificate about and a limited amount of opportunity, time and space to do so. Therefore, I’m devoting this issue’s column to clearing my memory bank and scattershooting on several topics.

Honored by an Honor

We at Noria are in the knowledge-dissemination business, not the trophy-gathering business, but it’s always nice to be recognized by your peers for outstanding or enterprising work. As such, I and the Machinery Lubrication magazine team were humbled recently to have won an award for editorial excellence in the 32nd annual American Society for Business Publication Editors competition.

More than 2,000 entries, from editorial products published in 2009, were considered for awards in this year’s ASBPE contest. After five months of judging, only a small fraction of entries were cited for honors. The judges selected my cover story on lubrication and reliability excellence at Texas Instruments (“Texas Instruments: Pure and Reliable”, July/August 2009 issue) as a winner in the case history category.

This is the second time in the last three years that Machinery Lubrication was recognized in the ASBPE competition. Over the last five years, Noria media products have won 21 awards for editorial and design excellence.

Crafting ‘Industrial Athletes’

Industrial companies expect their machinery to run at peak performance – without unscheduled slowdown or breakdown – throughout the course of the work day. Shouldn’t they expect the same from the people who work with those machines? Volkswagen now does. The car manufacturer made headlines this spring by announcing that workers hired for its new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., were being put through a fitness program, on top of the normal job training, with the goal of creating “industrial athletes” who could achieve peak performance – without unscheduled slowdown or breakdown – throughout the course of the work day.

According to company wellness-disability specialist Marsha Wood, exercises in the two-hour daily workout sessions are linked to movements that plant workers will do every day and include stretching, cardiovascular strength, endurance and physical strength (grip, push and pull).

Volkswagen Chattanooga spokesman Scott Wilson says the company’s classroom, hands-on and fitness training is all “focused on getting each and every one of us, no matter what our job is at the plant, prepared to show up and perform at the highest level of professional excellence.”

It goes back to a column I wrote recently. Whether you’re talking about the industrial machine or the human machine, you truly do get out of it only what you put into it.

Catch a Rising Star

Nissan received a lot of press in late May when it began construction on a manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn., that will produce the lithium-ion batteries that power the Nissan LEAF zero-emission vehicle. The all-electric LEAF will be produced at Nissan’s vehicle assembly facility in Smyrna beginning in 2012.

Taking center stage and commenting at the groundbreaking ceremony were Nissan president/CEO Carlos Ghosn, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Mark Swenson, Nissan North America’s vice president of manufacturing engineering and vehicle production engineering. Swenson, a true rising star in the auto sector, will provide the opening keynote address on August 31 at Noria’s RELIABLE PLANT 2010 conference and exhibition in Nashville.

Swenson’s keynote speech, titled “From Adversity to Competitive Advantage: Nissan Turns Over a New LEAF”, will surely be among the high points of the three-day event (visit for more info and to register). I’ve already received requests from media outlets to cover the Nissan VP’s address.

On a side note, Nissan LEAF and battery production will create up to 1,300 jobs when the plants are operating at full capacity. The battery plant, 1.3 million square feet when it’s completed, will be capable of producing 200,000 advanced-technology batteries annually. It will be located adjacent to the vehicle assembly plant, which will be retooled to accommodate LEAF production and will be capable of producing 150,000 electric cars annually.

And, Furthermore ...

Is it just me or do you think that the whole BP catastrophe could have been solved right away by putting a bunch of Machinery Lubrication readers in a room and letting them hash out some ideas? I’m totally serious. ... ICML’s Suzy Jamieson does so much for the lubrication profession. Be sure to say thanks when you see her at the RELIABLE PLANT conference. ... The Web site is on pace to draw more than 1 million visitors this year.