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Madison Company Blog

In our almost 60 years of business, our team here at Madison Company and our many distributors across the United States have always been focused on customer collaboration, especially because many of our customer problems require a customized solution. During these years, we have developed many tools to support ‘the customer experience,’ even before that term was coined by professional marketers. Tools such as a website designed to help customers find information or purchase products, easy accessibility to our outstanding customer service team via phone, fax or emailor in-person visits from our outside sales folks  have helped guide customers along their journey towards a viable sensing solution that saves time, money and aggravation.

Now we are witnessing the introduction of a new style of communication – the collaboration bot! Imagine that while chatting with a co-worker about an important project you need to know who within your company speaks French; the WhoBot can answer that question within your chat stream! Need to schedule a meeting with four co-workers? Assign that task to Zoom.ai or Meekan and save everyone time. If you just received confirmation that you are going to that conference or expo next month, use the Hipmunk or Kayak bots to check flights and reserve hotels for you, and then check with Mica – your hipster advisor bot – on what to do in this new city. This is just a small sampling of the 600 bots that are listed today with the Microsoft Bot Framework directory.

Of course, the most well-known bot is the ‘chat’ bot – that little screen that drops down and allows you to chat in real-time with a product expert. What are your thoughts on this type of collaboration? Do you think we at Madison should introduce a ‘chat’ bot on our website? Do you use collaboration bots or other types of apps to boost productivity? Please comment below and let us know what empowers your workplace!

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Yes, it's true! Madison Company can design, manufacture and ship a custom switch or sensor in just six business days.

Our latest Application Bulletin illustrates the simple steps we take with our clients to have their switch or sensor quickly and affordably made to order. As a national leader providing sensing solutions since 1959, our product knowledge and engineering expertise allow Madison to promptly meet the needs of a wide range of applications. Here is an outline of the simple six-day process:

Day 1: Definition: Our client communicates their unique requirements to our technical sales staff.

Day 2: Quote: Madison provides pricing to establish budget and ROI.

Day 3: Discussion: Following quote approval, Madison’s engineers design a switch/sensor that satisfies the client’s application specifications.

Day 4: Design: Madison provides Proof of Concept to the client.

Day 5: Creation Upon client approval, the custom switch or sensor is manufactured.

Day 6: Delivery: Madison ships the final sensor solution to the client!

An illustration of this process can be downloaded as a PDF. In addition to the hundreds of standard switches and sensors ready to ship at MadisonCo.com, it’s important that our clients also understand the custom sensing solutions that are available quickly and at a competitive price point.

Madison Custom Solutions Banner

Last week our friends over at Material Handling & Logistics News released a very handy guide aptly named "How to Survive Supply Chain Complexity" that should be on everyone's reading list. Having been a critical supplier to many companies during our 58 years in business, we would encourage special attention to the "supplier collaboration" section. Our support team team is constantly in search of ways to have greater transparency with our OEM and manufacturing clients, to increase the collaboration and improve the solutions Madison provides from one year to the next.  Not only does the article describe four primary sources of Supply Chain complexity, they also describe seven solutions for managing Supply Chain complexity. Here are a few key takeaways:

1. Companies feel that good partners helped them address complexity by enhancing product and process innovation.

2. Transparent collaboration between a company and its partners opens up opportunities to reduce the processing exceptions that introduce complexity.

3. If suppliers better understood the role their output created, they’d be better positioned both to help deliver the best possible product and to do it in a manner that smoothed the flow and reduced complexity along the way.

 Be sure to take a few minutes this week to learn these important survival tactics for our modern times! 

Madison supply chain survival guide


Less than one week after we published a brand new case study (on Steam Cogeneration), our hardworking team at Madison Company is pleased to announce even more resources for our most valued clients and customers. We just released a new Application Overview targeted towards manufacturers of concrete, cement and aggregate. This single page PDF - complete with a great photo of the application - defines the problem our customer had and the sensing solution provided by Madison Company. Look for more of these Application Overviews in the future, and if you have a suggestion for one, please do not hesitate to contact us online or by phone: 203-488-4477. 

Click this LINK to download the Madison Company Application Overview for Aggregate!

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After nearly sixty years in business, we have seen our share of evidence of what water and steam can do to mission critical sensors and switches. As part of a new on-going series of case studies, each focusing on unique customer sectors, we are pleased to present our Steam Cogeneration & Water Level Sensing case study. With this being our very first case study, we look forward to feedback from our clients and customers to ensure this type of research and content is helpful going forward.  Further, if you have suggestions for Case Study topics in the future, please let us know by using our Contact form here

Madison SteamCo CaseStudy2

We have spent a lot time and space covering the Internet of Things (IoT) within the Madison Company blog and, from what we've heard, many of our most consistent readers are also self-proclaimed "tinkerers".  So in an effort to keep our readers abreast of the latest developments with miniature computers and smart sensors that could dramatically empower those experimenting with IoT in their factory or on their floor, we would like to introduce you to the $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W. While the original Pi Zero was introduced nearly 18 months back, the new "W" stands for "wireless" representing both wi-fi and bluetooth functionality!  As you might imagine, this new "W" changes IoT possibilities dramatically, especially given the low price point, since adding wireless LAN and bluetooth functionality to the original Pi computer sometimes cost as much or more than the computer itself.  How excited are you about this new wirless development and will it spur any new innovations with your company? 

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It's a strange new world.  The computer you bought six years ago still does 92% of the things that a brand new computer does. That new smartphone that came out six weeks ago looks and acts a lot like the one you bought three years ago. We've clearly reached a saturation point where migrating from one device to the next is less about new bells and whistles to become more about future functionality; what will that new device DO that I can't already do today? 

This recent report from European Communications, targeted to OEMs in the tech industry, say the next frontier is all about artificial intelligence - AI. We will quickly move beyond the simple in-home artificial personalities like Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri to advanced software systems that can assist, predict, recommend and even make automated decisions.  While an initial response might be to patch current technology with apps, a better tactic to improve user experience is a "AI-first" approach, not unlike the mobile-first strategy being adopted five years ago. This new approach requires integration of machine learning, neural networks and artificial intelligence while providing a user experience that features relevant content personalized to individual interests. 

The future is bright for those aware of and implementing the tactics needed to create a true AI platform. 


 Madison OEM AI



While we tend to dedicate most of our weekly MadisonCo blog posts to the various advantages technology brings to manufacturers, this week we discovered a great article about the "human" aspect of success for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Last week Digabit posted this story, Innovate to Improve OEM-Dealer Relations, Not Disrupt Them! Their story starts with a Harvard Business Review commentary from two decades ago, called "Make Your Dealers Your Partners" and positions Dealers as the cornerstone of the success of Caterpillar, according to their CEO, Donald Fites.  Then they present in the common opinions of today's management consultants, business pundits and technology salespeople with a few scenarios about the futue of B2B sales that, according to the author, are really much more advantageous for B2C sales of equipment and parts, in a more commoditized fashion. The compelling point of this article is that, depsite the many advances in technology during the past 20 years, the bottomline benefit and value for OEMs still remains with their dealer networks. This quote was a stand-out for our team:

"Rather than being archaic artifacts, dealers provide assurance for buyers who spend millions on equipment. Does anyone want to buy a $1,000 part for a $500,000 machine from an anonymous website? I don’t. That type of sale still requires a level of trust and accountability that you won’t get from slick websites or one-click processes."

Enjoy the article and we look forward to serving all of our OEM clients personally, as we have since 1959! 

Madison OEM heavy equipment

Exactly one week ago we witnessed the kick-off to the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that has unveiled to the world, for over 50 years, the latest in technology, home electronics and new gadgets.  This year the devices getting the greatest media attention seemed to be virtual and augmented reality glasses and goggles, as well as fold-out, multi-screen laptops.  One common theme, frequently repeated for business and industial device use, was "virtual collaboration". According to VR and AR device manufacturers, our near future will evolve beyond basic emails, instant messaging, confernece calls and Skype sessions.  Very soon you'll be able to don a head mounted display, connect with two or more other experts in any global location, and have them see what you see to virtually collaborate, brain storm and make sound business decisions.  While all of this, on the surface, sounds like a brave new world, this seems like an ideal time to revisit this powerful year-old article from Harvard Business Review titled Collaboration Overload. Spending just a few minutes with this study you'll soon discover that only 3-5% of employees truly add value to collaborations and, frequently, what begins as a virtuous cycle and quickly turns to a vicious one. Those who are frequently the most helpful during collaborations become bottlenecks in the future as organizations wait for their valued opinions to be expressed before any progress is made.  So as we see more powerful "virtual collaboration" tools in our future, we hope this important study helps you maintain a results reality and doesn't contribute to the burnout, disengagement and turnover that is becoming routine within a seemingly endless stream of meetings, debates, discussions and decisions.


Madison CollaborationOverload 


At the start of a fresh new year, the manufacturing industry seems poised for some positive results and profitable reporting. Our friends over at Magnatag have put together a very brief report on the 4 Insights That Will Transform Manufacturing in 2017 that should make our readers and customers very happy. Some "Insights" may not be a surprise to frequent readers of our blog, like Smart Manufacturing powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), but most are genuniely fresh scenarios that will help raise your awareness and maybe even your profits! 

MadisonCo 4Insights MFG

As we all look forward to a new year, The IEEE Institute provides clear forecasting of technologies that we will likely see on many factory floors and maybe even in your company.  This recent article, How Augmented Reality Will Change the Way We Work, focuses on two specific products that fall within the "helmets & headsets" device category. While many of us are well aware of Microsoft's advancement with the Hololens, a lesser-known contender in your workspace is the DAQRI Smart Helmet (DSH). There are some really compelling case scenarios described that include thermal cameras (within the DSH) and the power of virtual collaboration that the more affordable Hololens is already making advancements on.  A very worthwhile read as you contemplate a new year to come! 

Madison AR Workplace IEEE

If companies could wave a magic wand and receive all the products and services they needed, at the lowest possible prices without a worry about quality control, damaged goods, contract negotiations, logistical delays, inventory control and more, there would be no need to have a procurement process.  But despite many great technological improvements to how we find, acquire and purchase goods and services from outside sources over the years, procurement remains a challenge for even the most mature manufacturing companies.  So imagine the obstacles that start-up face when developing a new procurement process!  Luckily, this week's post from Supply Chain Digital can help those just starting to see the tip of that procurement iceberg. The article details five steps that every company, not just manufacturers, should considering when developing their own process and also provides a handy link to better understanding "e-procurement" and the software options available today. A very beneficial read, especially for those without a sound procurement process already in place!


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Early in 2016 we spent a lot of time, and blog space, focused on the subject of "Additive Manufacturing", also known as 3D printing.  Feedback from our customers and readers was that 3D printing didn't have much impact on "true" manufacturers and that legitmate uses by our actual clients might still be three-to-five years down the road.  With naysayers still echoing in our heads, we believe this brief article from MakePartsFast.com helps paint a more immediate reality for 3D printing by citing significant investments that are being made by some of the biggest manufacutring names within the United States. Be sure to note the $60 million "3D Printing Metal Powder Plant" recently opened by Alcoa just about 25 miles outside of Pittsburgh. Also take a look at the long list of 3D vendors that GE is either partnering with or acquiring as they plan to grow their additive manufacturing business to $1 billion by 2020. These are big investments with some significant returns being projected by companies that everyone in manufacturing knows and respects. As 2016 comes to a close, be sure to dedicate some attention and resources to monitoring the additive manufacturing trend in the new year.  You can bet that we will! 

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We wish to start by thanking our long-standing partners at ThomasNet for making us aware of this MIT article, posted today on SupplyChainMIT.com, regarding innovation within Supply Chain teams. The post is essentially an executive summary of a study conducted in January with 112 master's students taking part in a supply chain simulation. Their study is unique in that unique teams were created and all were handed a failing company scenarior that required innovation in order to turn the company profitable. Ultimately, there were five strongest predictors of improved performance within the supply chain, but the stand-out requirment was having a good knowledge of the functional challenges other team members faced.  The post is based upon an article written by Dr. Roberto Perez-Franco, founder and director of the MIT Supply Chain Strategy Lab is highly recommended for those attempting to innovate within their own teams. 

Earlier this month we posted The Five Ways IoT will Reshape Manufacturing on our blog and received some good messages and social comments.  Today we discovered a very helpful and somewhat complimentary article, with a powerful video accompaniment, called 10 Industries the Internet of Things Will Change Forever. Not surprisingly, at the top of this list is Manufacturing. Beyond the brief article, we recommend spending three minutes with the well-produced video as well which seems to focus on the "Industrial" Internet of Things and the value it may have the future. Ultimately, it would probably be a challenge to identify an industry that will not be changed forever as a result of the IoT revolution, but clearly we see this trend report as important for all of our clients to consider as a new year dawns. 

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As a sensor manufacturer for nearly 60 years, it's not hard for our team at Madison Company to foresee a future where smart sensors help make our world and workplace better.  The Internet of Things (IoT) has been predicted for many years and is only now starting to deliver true benefits to business and consumers.  Hewlett Packard Enterprise recently published this very quick guide, called Data Assembly Required, that defines these five ways IoT will reshape the manufacturing industry:

1 - Predictive Maintenance: Imagine a future where your factory machines remind you when they need to be routinely seriviced or when something is not operating within an acceptable range. 

2 - Easier Supply Chain Maintenance: Imagine a future where logistics for raw materials are precise and lends manufacturers greater control over inventory. 

3 - Remote Accessibility: Imagine a future where dashboards can tell you where things are in remote warehouses or with other vendors without a need to have real "boots on the ground". 

4 - Increased Safety: Imagine a future where sensors can convey dangerous situations prior to humans being exposed to potential safety hazards. 

5 - Overall Greater Efficiency: All four items above plus other ancillary benefits create a future manufacturing facility that produces more efficiently while saving time, money and the well-being of the staff. 


Be sure to read this quick post completely and follow the embeded link that defines how $70 billion will be invested globably by manufacturers by the year 2020!

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Madison Company Blog

Madison Company Blog