Regulations may tighten on battery shipments
U.S. manufacturers of devices that use lithium batteries may face stricter regulations this year because of safety concerns over the shipment of damaged and overheated batteries. According to some air safety experts, lithium batteries can combust while aboard cargo planes and have already caused a number of incidents, including plane crashes. Pilot unions are calling for tighter shipping controls that include protective packaging, flame-resistant containers and warning labels. But these regulations could substantially raise costs for tool companies and others that make or use lithium batteries, according to the Rechargeable Battery Association, a trade group.
A rule change in January by the International Civil Aviation Organization has implemented new global safety standards for shipping lithium batteries. The U.S. Department of Transportation is now considering a proposal that could also affect domestic shipments. A 60-day comment period opened on Jan. 7.
Elmer’s partners with NineSigma
Glue manufacturer Elmer’s Products of Columbus, Ohio, and NineSigma of Cleveland have announced a collaboration that will focus on job creation and building competitive advantages for Ohio on a national and global level.
The Ohio Third Frontier Open Innovation Incentive (OII) Program will be led by NineSigma, which was selected by the State of Ohio to help middle-market companies, with revenues from $10 million to $1 billion, accelerate their adoption of open innovation to drive growth.
The Open Innovation will attempt to use “outside” new technologies, solutions and ideas to accelerate the development of new products and increase speed to market. Through the Open Innovation incentive, NineSigma is working closely with middle-market solution seekers to complement their internal R&D capabilities and create custom external networks of innovation providers with viable solutions, filtering responses for their quality and fit. The State of Ohio will assist by funding a portion of the transactional costs.
“We are excited to collaborate with [Elmer’s] innovation team as they look to the future and find new ways to deliver value through enhanced product features and solutions,” said Andy Zynga, CEO of NineSigma.
Elmer’s, a 65-year-old company, produces a range of products that include Elmer’s Glue-All, Instant Krazy Glue and X-ACTO.
NineSigma connects organizations with external innovation resources to accelerate innovation in private, public and social sectors. The company provides services to organizations worldwide, including Kraft Foods, Philips, Siemens and Unilever, to solve immediate challenges, integrate new knowledge, fill product pipelines and stay ahead of the competition.
Bright forecast for 2013 remodeling
U.S. homeowners, feeling positive about their financial future, are spending more on remodeling projects, according to a report by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The trade group’s fourth-quarter Remodeling Business Pulse, which measures current and future remodeling business conditions, has experienced significant growth across all indicators, with forecasting in the next three months hitting its all-time highest level.
The forecast data come from surveys with NARI members, who work as full-time remodelers.
“Remodelers are indicating major growth in the future, with many saying that clients are feeling more stable in their financial future and their employment situations; therefore, they are spending more freely on remodeling needs,” said Tom O’Grady, chairman of NARI’s strategic planning & research committee and president of O’Grady Builders, based in Drexel Hill, Pa.
Growth indicators in the last quarter of 2012 are as follows:
- Current business conditions are up 2.1% since last quarter;
- Number of inquiries is up 3.9% since last quarter;
- Requests for bids are up 3.7% since last quarter;
- Conversion of bids to jobs is up 3.5% since last quarter; and
- Value of jobs sold is up 4.3% since last quarter.
Throughout 2012, the Remodeling Business Pulse produced less statistically significant increases and decreases; however, the fourth-quarter data show movement in highly important business areas, such as conversion rates and value of jobs.
Although they provide positive marks, NARI members indicated that many consumers are spending on remodeling out of necessity.
As one NARI member put it: “Homeowners are still concerned about spending money but will do so because they cannot postpone any longer. They are spending more conservatively than they did prior to the crash.”
Still, according to the data, expectations for 2013 are even brighter. Two-thirds of remodelers forecasted the next three months positively, and the rating jumped 13.1% from last quarter.
Drivers of this positive outlook continue to be postponement of projects (81%) and the improvement of home prices (51%).
Of the small segment predicting declines, 91% cited uncertainty of the future with commentary focused largely on tax increases and leadership issues in Washington.
“Now that the election is over, consumer confidence is starting to grow and so has remodelers’ confidence,” O’Grady said. “NARI members are looking forward to having a well-deserved, productive year ahead.”