Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Horse Rider and Managing Headaches

In my Physiotherapy practice I treat 100’s of patients a year for headaches. Many of these have recurring neck pain and stiffness as well as headaches. I teach riding and very many riders admit to suffering from headaches. Riders tend to get neck pain and headache after riding at the end of the day. Unless there is a medical cause then most headaches are what we call ‘cervicogenic’ (cervico means neck and genic means origin of) so cervicogenic means the headache starts from the neck and are caused by the neck joints and muscles. The upper two joints are the major cause of headaches because the nerves that supply the head, temples and eyes are related to the upper two neck joints.

Headaches that originate from the neck are due to the nerves being squeezed or pressured by the joints and or muscles of the upper neck. There are many other causes of headaches. This article is only talking about cervicogenic headache (start from the upper neck) not headaches of any other cause. It is important to be assessed by a Physiotherapist and or a Doctor to determine if your headaches are cervicogenic or other.

Poor neck posture and poor general posture will nearly always result in headache, given enough time. Repetitive behaviors and postures resulting in the neck being in a poor posture will result in headaches. These postures are the positions we use in our daily work and in our riding posture.

So what is the Relationship between the horse rider and headaches?

The ultimate poor neck posture comes from the round shoulder posture. A person with round shoulders on the ground will have round shoulders in the saddle. When the shoulders are forward and so called round then the neck will be in a forward poking chin posture. This posture puts the upper neck in an extended position and this squeezes the joints, nerves and muscles. Over a period of time the joints become stiff and painful the muscles shorten and the nerves become inflamed. The nerve then refers the pain into the head as a headache. The increased pressure riding in a round shoulder posture will increase the pressure and hence nerve pain. Horse riding is a major cause of headaches. All other activities associated with horses can put pressure on the neck as well.

Many teenager’s posture is unfortunately the norm. Their shoulders are slumped, their chin is poking forward and their upper neck is in a jammed closed position. Many do not use any of their postural muscles and are just hanging off their joints. Many people spend many hours in a similar posture. Driving, computer work house work, are just a few of the activities that reproduce this posture. As horse riders we then adapt the same posture in the saddle. Horse riders get told to sit up and put your shoulders back.

How do you fix it?

The easy quick answer is to straighten up, correct your posture and manage your mobility. The long answer is to educate yourself and mange it with knowledge. First of all, see a Physiotherapist and have a professional assessment. Learn how and why you adopt the postures you do and then become educated on how to fix yourself and manage your pain with posture management. Not many therapists will be able to relate your headaches to horse riding unless they know about the horse riding posture. Very few therapists can relate to the muscles used in horse riding or the amount of skill required to ride well. Remember to the non horse rider it looks so easy. You just sit there!

To manage headaches as a rider can be easy.

The control of headaches in horse riders is the same as for all people; however I put an increased emphasis on particular features of treatment, because I am a horse rider. If you have been assessed and your problems are not too severe, but are chronic in nature, that is, they keep returning, then these simple exercises will help. This must be regarded as basic advice only. To control headaches your upper neck joints must have mobility. Your muscles must have strength and endurance. You must have strong core stability as well. The deep core muscle strength will reinforce the correct upper neck posture. I start with the core muscles on every patient I treat for headaches. The success of management without this knowledge and strength is always limited. This is why chiropractic treatment (and or other) is very come back come back.

I give simple but effective stretching exercises and I educate patients about their posture. I advice all my horse riding pupils to follow the Applied Posture Riding program.

Simple Stretches to gain neck mobility

Stretch 1

Stand tall, clasp your hands behind your back and tilt your head so your ear moves towards your shoulder. This stretch can hurt so take care.

Stretch 2

Stand tall, close your eyes and turn your head so your chin moves towards your shoulder.

Stretch 3

Push your chin with the opposite hand to force the stretch more. Feel the stretch and or some pain in your neck. Don’t increase the headache pain with this stretch. Obviously do both sides and if it makes you worse see a Physiotherapist. Hold for 10-20 seconds ease off and repeat. Do these stretches little and often and do them when you are well, don’t wait for stiffness and headache to return. Manage good mobility and keep pain away.

How to Evaluate Your Finance Department

Nobody knows your business better than you do. After all, you are the CEO. You know what the engineers do; you know what the production managers do; and nobody understands the sales process better than you. You know who is carrying their weight and who isn’t. That is, unless we’re talking about the finance and accounting managers.

Most CEO’s, especially in small and mid-size enterprises, come from operational or sales backgrounds. They have often gained some knowledge of finance and accounting through their careers, but only to the extent necessary. But as the CEO, they must make judgments about the performance and competence of the accountants as well as the operations and sales managers.

So, how does the diligent CEO evaluate the finance and accounting functions in his company? All too often, the CEO assigns a qualitative value based on the quantitative message. In other words, if the Controller delivers a positive, upbeat financial report, the CEO will have positive feelings toward the Controller. And if the Controller delivers a bleak message, the CEO will have a negative reaction to the person. Unfortunately, “shooting the messenger” is not at all uncommon.

The dangers inherent in this approach should be obvious. The Controller (or CFO, bookkeeper, whoever) may realize that in order to protect their career, they need to make the numbers look better than they really are, or they need to draw attention away from negative matters and focus on positive matters. This raises the probability that important issues won’t get the attention they deserve. It also raises the probability that good people will be lost for the wrong reasons.

The CEO’s of large public companies have a big advantage when it comes to evaluating the performance of the finance department. They have the audit committee of the board of directors, the auditors, the SEC, Wall Street analyst and public shareholders giving them feedback. In smaller businesses, however, CEO’s need to develop their own methods and processes for evaluating the performance of their financial managers.

Here are a few suggestions for the small business CEO:

Timely and Accurate Financial Reports

Chances are that at some point in your career, you have been advised that you should insist on “timely and accurate” financial reports from your accounting group. Unfortunately, you are probably a very good judge of what is timely, but you may not be nearly as good a judge of what is accurate. Certainly, you don’t have the time to test the recording of transactions and to verify the accuracy of reports, but there are some things that you can and should do.

  • Insist that financial reports include comparisons over a number of periods. This will allow you to judge the consistency of recording and reporting transactions.
  • Make sure that all anomalies are explained.
  • Recurring expenses such as rents and utilities should be reported in the appropriate period. An explanation that – “there are two rents in April because we paid May early” – is unacceptable. The May rent should be reported as a May expense.
  • Occasionally, ask to be reminded about the company’s policies for recording revenues, capitalizing costs, etc.

Beyond Monthly Financial Reports

You should expect to get information from your accounting and finance groups on a daily basis, not just when monthly financial reports are due. Some good examples are:

  • Daily cash balance reports.
  • Accounts receivable collection updates.
  • Cash flow forecasts (cash requirements)
  • Significant or unusual transactions.

Consistent Work Habits

We’ve all known people who took it easy for weeks, then pulled an all-nighter to meet a deadline. Such inconsistent work habits are strong indicators that the individual is not attentive to processes. It also sharply raises the probability of errors in the frantic last-minute activities.

Willingness to Be Controversial

As the CEO, you need to make it very clear to the finance/accounting managers that you expect frank and honest information and that they will not be victims of “shoot the messenger” thinking. Once that assurance is given, your financial managers should be an integral part of your company’s management team. They should not be reluctant to express their opinions and concerns to you or to other department leaders.

Market Research – Why Screening For Talkative Respondents Doesn’t Work

We recently published a special report titled 25 Common Field Mistakes to Avoid When Conducting Your Qualitative Market Research. In point #12, we suggest that researchers scrap open-ended screening questions that are intended to identify respondents who are outgoing and able to express themselves.

Here is the complete text of point #12:

“If your screener contains open-ended questions that are intended to elicit expressive types of people, drop those questions. Questions like that don’t work, and they needlessly lengthen your screening process. Yes, you do want to exclude respondents who cannot or will not express themselves, but you don’t need an extra question to identify these people. Well-trained recruiters will eliminate them within the first few minutes of screening. If you want further reassurance that your respondents will be outgoing and talkative, over-recruit and include a pre-discussion telephone interview. This would be conducted by the moderator who would then select appropriate respondents.”

Our suggestions elicited a lot of feedback. Some readers agreed with us, others didn’t. One of the most interesting comments we received came from a qualitative fieldwork manager at a major full-service research firm. It went like this: “I disagree with one item in your list about excluding open end questions from screeners. Good recruiters may be able to easily identify articulate respondents, but tired or distracted recruiters may occasionally go on autopilot…I think a little qualitative in a screener is worth the time.”

Do you agree with this reader’s comment? Should you?

What is an articulation question?

Articulation questions measure a respondent’s ability to communicate. Articulation questions also judge respondents’ expected communicativeness in a focus group or interview.

Some synonyms for “communicative” include: outgoing, open, forthcoming, talkative, unrestrained, chatty. So who decides what is communicative? The recruiter? The recruiting supervisor? The client who reads the verbatims on their daily reports? And how much communicativeness is enough? How much is too much?

Even the most experienced recruiters can’t determine how outgoing, open, forthcoming, talkative, unrestrained or chatty a respondent will be at a future point. That’s a judgment call recruiters are not qualified to make. But they can be counted on to spot respondents who have…

  • language barriers
  • casual attitudes toward the recruiter, the recruiter’s questions or the research
  • reservations about their ability to attend the research
  • any problems communicating during the screening process

What you must watch for…

Respondents get tired or go on autopilot when screening interviews last too long (10 minutes or longer).

Articulation questions don’t belong at the end of your screener. For some reason, articulation screening is almost always performed at the end of the screening interview. But why is a question that is supposedly so important put at the end of the screener, when the chances for respondents to be tired or distracted are the highest? What are recruiters learning about respondents at this point in the process that they don’t already know?

Articulation questions don’t belong at the front of your screener, either. Well-trained recruiters immediately engage respondents in conversation regarding the details of the research. It is during this prelude to the screening questions that recruiters deal with respondents’ questions and concerns and make an assessment about a respondent’s ability to communicate.

Articulation questions aren’t magic bullets that ensure good focus group participants. These questions simply ask recruiters to use their own biased judgment to decide if a respondent can communicate clearly.

Articulation questions lengthen your screener. Remember this. The longer your screener, the higher your costs.

Respondents become anxious when asked questions out of left field that are unrelated to the screening questions. Being asked, “What is a gazinkle?” or “How many different things can you do with a paperclip?” or “If you were a tree…?” might stump even the most articulate respondent. Off-the-wall questioning from recruiters confuses and frustrates respondents. This line of questioning is the moderator’s territory.

Of course, group dynamics and respondent personalities affect how open and responsive respondents will be. For example, a person may be forthcoming over the phone with the recruiter, but feel intimidated if an aggressive personality dominates the group. Or, a respondent may not be as comfortable with the research topic as they thought they’d be and feel out of place – especially if the subject matter offered during recruiting was vague. How can recruiters know how respondents will act in a variety of conditions? Handling reserved respondents is the moderator’s area of expertise.

In fact, moderators are best qualified to know what can and should be expected of respondents in terms of communicativeness and articulation. So it makes sense that, as we suggest in point #12 of our special report, moderators should pre-interview respondents and select the right personalities for the research.

So what about articulation questions being useful for snapping distracted or unconscious recruiters out of their daze (as our reader suggested)? Assuming that a tired, distracted recruiter missed all of the red flags during screening, will the articulation question suddenly remind the recruiter that the respondent isn’t chatty? What should you do about recruiters on “autopilot?” Simple.

The researcher’s job is not to craft questions that keep recruiters alert and focused. Tired or distracted recruiters are not an asset to your research. They don’t help you get great respondents. And neither do articulation questions. Don’t use either of them.

Sekonda & Seksy Watches – A Brief History

The history of Sekonda watches began in Moscow in 1930 with the founding of the First State Watch Factory, the Soviet watch manufacturer. Created under orders of Stalin, the First State Watch Factory was the first Soviet attempt at manufacturing watch movements and watches. During World War II the factory was briefly evacuated but upon it’s return to Moscow it was renamed the First Moscow Watch Factory. During the Soviet era this factory manufactured many watches, notably Poljot watches. These watches were used by the Soviet Armed Forces and were required to be of a very high quality as a result. The factory also manufactured the air force standard issue ‘Navigator’ watch worn by Yuri Gagarin on his historic first manned space flight.

The Petrodvorets Watch Factory is the oldest factory in Russia. The factory, located in Saint Petersburg, was founded by Peter the Great in 1721, and since 1962, has manufactured Raketa watches.

In 1966, Sekonda was founded in the United Kingdom. Sekonda imported the Poljot and Raketa watches from the USSR and re-badged them with the Sekonda name. These high quality, reliable watches were relatively cheap and were very successful. Due to the introduction of quartz movements, Sekonda moved production to Hong Kong and began making more fashionable watches with this new technology. Excellent marketing skills and a range of great watches led Sekonda to sell more watches than any other brand in the UK in 1988. This position has been held ever since due to an ever expanding, innovative range of watches.

In 1998, the watch market began to expand with a number of fashion watch brands designing and manufacturing their own fashion watches. Instead of increasing the overall sales of watches, this led to market share being spread more thinly across all the watch brands and it became clear that Sekonda watches would need to diversify in order to maintain its market leading position.

In 2004, Sekonda watches added the stylish and contemporary ladies Seksy watch line to it’s range. The Seksy watch range was to be aimed at the 25 to 35 age group and would build on the well known and successful Sekonda watch brand name. This brand recognition would instil customer confidence in this new range of ladies Seksy watches. The initial Seksy watch range consisted of eleven watch models and with some excellent marketing campaigns and some very clever and innovative watch designs, a number of these Seksy ladies watches quickly became best sellers. The success of the Seksy watch brand prompted Sekonda to expand the Seksy watch line to around thirty models within a year.

A year after the launch of the ladies Seksy watches, Sekonda introduced the Sekonda One range of watches. The Sekonda One watches are fashion watches aimed at men and, similarly to the ladies Seksy watches, stick to Sekonda’s winning philosophy of offering excellent quality watches at a low price point. Both lines have since been heavily advertised.

A very popular Seksy watch line is the Seksy Hidden Hearts ladies watch, a polished chrome plated bracelet watch comprising of interlinked heart shapes forming the bracelet and case, a mother of pearl dial and Swarovski crystals set in the case and dial with a high quality Japanese quartz movement. Another popular Seksy watch is the Seksy Eclipse ladies watch, a Swarovski stone set chrome plated quartz watch with an ‘eclipse’ design incorporated into the case and each watch link. Other ladies Seksy watches include the Seksy Curve ladies watch and the Seksy Electra ladies watch, both chrome plated, stone set contemporary designs with beautiful shapes.

Sekonda’s main line of watches consist of numerous gold and chrome plated dress watches for men and women with almost every style imaginable. Many watch lines use popular expanding bracelets for convenience and standard bracelet watches and leather strap watches are also available in abundance, all with the same high quality and standards of workmanship that have led to a less than 1% return rate.

Due to their outstanding value for money, Sekonda watches have been the UK’s best selling watch brand for the last two decades. The Sekonda range includes numerous stylish dress watches for men and women in gold plated, stainless steel and bi-colour designs as well as contemporary or classic stone set watches. Sekonda also manufacture SEKSY watches, an exceptionally popular and modern fashion brand also available on our site. All our Sekonda watches feature a high quality movement and come with a 2 year Sekonda guarantee.

Polypropylene – The Non-Woven Fabric

Polypropylene is a great eco friendly fabric that is being used today to replace other disposable plastic materials. For example, polypropylene has taken a great share of the disposable plastic bags used in grocery stores. There is still much work to be done to minimize the disposable plastic bags, but the polypropylene bags are working great.

What exactly is polypropylene? It is a plastic that is manufactured through a high heat source. It’s molecular formula is (C3 H6)x. There are a few different names such as Polypropene, Polipropene 25, Propylene polymers, and more.

Properties

It is rough and resistant to other chemicals. Polypropylene is also tough, but also flexible. This makes the material to be used easily for chemical and plastic engineering experiments because it is so tough and flexible.

It is also economical because it can be reused. The fabric that is made is tough and durable so that it can be reused in different forms after being manufactured. Polypropylene fabric can be translucent, but because it does not fade very easily, most people use polypropylene as a colored fabric. So, the fabric can be dyed and will not fade easily.

Industry

Polypropylene’s melting point is approximately 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the chemicals have been bonded, they are melted and pressed through tight rollers that will make a thin fabric. This process is called extrusion and molding. As opposed to cotton or other natural fibers, which are woven, polypropylene is not woven. Many people in the fabric industry refer to these types of materials as “non-wovens.” Cotton’s fibers are typically spun into threads and woven together, but polypropylene is pressed into a fabric.

There are other finishes that can be applied to the finished fabric. Different types of finishes will produce different results. Some finishes are applied that will help the fabric accept ink better, which is better for imprinting. Some finishes will help repel other chemicals and solutions.

Uses

The polypropylene is used in a number of different fabric styles. These non-woven fabrics can be used to produce non-woven bags. Shirts are also manufactured using the non-woven material, such as Under Armor. The polypropylene properties keep sweat off of the body. It can also be used in ropes and other packaging materials. Surgeons are even using the fabric in hernia operations. After fixing the hernia, the doctor places the fabric over the area to prevent future blow-outs.

Most importantly, the non-woven fabric can be recycled, which is great for the environment. The resin identification code is number 5, and most recycling centers will accept these bags to be recycled.

Production Linearity – Eliminating the “Hockey Stick Syndrome”

Why is linear production so important? It’s simple; “It’s where the money is!” Scrap, rework, overtime and poor quality are all non-value-added costs that increased as a function of the famous “Hockey Stick Syndrome”. That is, as we delay our production schedule completions toward the end of the month (or worse, to the end of the financial quarter), there is a tremendous pressure put on Manufacturing that produces shop floor chaos that generates significant non-value-added cost. We usually end up making the production plan and financial forecast because the “Knights in shining armor” come through with a last minute, heroic performance. But, at what cost? Some companies actually give up 10 to 20% of their potential profit margins because they have developed and fostered a manufacturing team that perpetuates the “Hockey Stick Syndrome”.

Companies that continue to live with the end-of-the-quarter “push” will never achieve their full growth and profit potentials. How do you smooth schedules and achieve linear production? The challenge is in how to keep daily pressure on the critical path of schedule achievement. We need to have the visibility of all critical tasks and milestones from day one of the quarter and create team awareness and commitment to their timely achievement. Our manufacturing team must become sensitive and proactive in the execution of early production planning details and they must learn to apply their creativity and energy in a linear style. To be sure, up front planning and execution can yield amazing manufacturing results and lead to profitability beyond expectations.

The most effective production manager I’ve ever known used a huge magnetic board to schedule production planning details and monitor production linearity. An early focus on details, corrective actions and recovery planning was his management style. He would hold early morning meetings every day to status yesterday’s progress on the magnetic board and to establish the daily challenges. He was an expert at team dynamics and his people always new what they had to do and they were always provided the tools to get the job done. The combination of the magnetic board, the morning meetings and his team dynamics skills made this production manger an effective leader and an expert in achieving linear production.

Today many production managers are still trying to solve their linear production problem by pursuing a sophisticated computer software solution. Most companies are now using MRPII/ERP manufacturing systems to control their production environments. These systems do not provide a focus on the detail, up front tasks and milestones that are critical to linear production and consequently have not presented a solution to the “Hockey Stick Syndrome”. On the other hand, using an old magnetic board in this day and age of computer sophistication may not be an acceptable alternative. A good trade-off might be to develop a simple computer spread sheet specially designed to plan critical production milestones and to measure/monitor production linearity.

Using this daily schedule as the “bible”, the next step would be to retrain the “Knights in shining armor” to gradually shift their manufacturing paradigm from end-of-the-quarter “fire fighting” to daily proactive problem solving.

Finally, it is important to differentiate between shipment linearity and production linearity. In a widget, make-to-shelf manufacturing company that build substantial finish goods inventory and in highly engineered capitol equipment manufacturing companies the two linearity measurements will not be equal.

Shipment linearity may be more of a function of Sales’ bookings and customer’s preference rather than nonlinear production. Consequently, the measure of production linearity must be developed to measure the performance of the manufacturing process and not be influenced by Sales bookings or customer related shipment delays.

Computer Aided Manufacturing Applications

Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) refers to an automation process, which accurately converts product design and drawing or the object into a code format, readable by the machine to manufacture the product. Computer aided manufacturing complements the computer aided design (CAD) systems to offer a wide range of applications in different manufacturing fields. CAM evolved from the technology utilized in the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines that were used in the early 1950s. CNC involved the use of coded instructions on a punched paper tape and could control single manufacturing functions. CAM controlled computer systems, however, can control a whole set of manufacturing functions simultaneously.

CAM allows work instructions and procedures to be communicated directly to the manufacturing machines. A CAM system controls manufacturing operations performed by robotic milling machines, lathes, welding machines and other industrial tools. It moves the raw material to different machines within the system by allowing systematic completion of each step. Finished products can also be moved within the system to complete other manufacturing operations such as packaging, synthesizing and making final checks and changes.

Some of the major applications of the CAM system are glass working, woodturning, metalworking and spinning, and graphical optimization of the entire manufacturing procedure. Production of the solids of rotation, plane surfaces, and screw threads is done by applying CAM systems.
A CAM system allows the manufacturing of three-dimensional solids, using ornamental lathes with greater intricacy and detail. Products such as candlestick holders, table legs, bowls, baseball bats, crankshafts, and camshafts can be manufactured using the CAM system. CAM system can also be applied to the process of diamond turning to manufacture diamond tipped cutting materials. Aspheric optical elements made from glass, crystals, and other metals can also be produced using CAM systems.
Computer aided manufacturing can be applied to the fields of mechanical, electrical, industrial and aerospace engineering. Applications such as thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, and kinematics can be controlled using CAM systems. Other applications such as electromagnetism, ergonomics, aerodynamics, and propulsion and material science may also use computer aided manufacturing.