Stealing Trade Secrets

When you are in business and working your ass off to develop a new product, and someone sneaks into your building and steals that secret, and then builds a competing product that beats yours to the market place would you be angry? I would, and I am. I don’t have any secrets because I’m not researching or developing a product, at least not anymore. When I did work, I was researching and developing new products continuously. I can vouch for the amount of energy it takes to do that. Thankfully, my boss, who happened to own the company had a tough security policy in place. His philosophy was that he pays for developing new products and his competitors should do the same. He refused to give competitors the keys to the factory.

There was nothing he could do about a competitor buying our product and reverse engineering it, or giving it to one of our material suppliers to have them analyze it. I did the same thing, but that is fair. What is not fair is stealing the key design features and or the process for making a product from the producer.

Today, I read another news article about how China has infiltrated so many of our institutions of learning and research to find shortcuts to their success. They don’t have the brain power to do the job so they use any method they can to take products to market. It seems they have the money to bribe employees within key markets but not the money to develop the same information. Actually, I think they have the money. What they don’t have is people smart enough to think for themselves.

Why does China do this? Because they can. We let them in and open the files for them to see. Yes, they are thieves and they take advantage of our country at every opportunity, but that is because we let them do it. We look upon them as a country with too many people to feed and as a backward nation so we tend to be loose with our information. It is my opinion that America will continue to get raped by China until we take action against that happening. A few new laws might help, but what will help the most are tough security policies within companies. If a company is complaining that China is stealing its secrets then that company should take a look in the mirror and examine its security rules and its philosophy on transparency. Transparency and security don’t always mix. The most secure companies operate under handicaps in the industry. I for one thought our policies about not speaking to vendors about our processes and designs made my job a thousand percent tougher because i couldn’t get technical information from vendor experts without divulging my information. The result was we had to expend more time and effort to learn what we needed when experts in companies like DuPont, Monsanto, Celanese had super labs with a myriad of Ph.D.’s hired to help customers.

Competition is what makes capitalism work as well as it does. Competition keeps companies sharp and focused. All it takes is for a competitor to tweak a design to make it better than yours and bingo you just lost. The end result is you spend more money catching up and out doing the foe. If the profit is there it is worth doing, if not, you may just give it up and sell it cheaper than him to save your initial investment. All products have a life cycle and the first one on the market may last for forty years as did the products I worked on. In today’s world the life cycle may only be eighteen months, meaning your product will be out dated by a newer product that people will want more than your tired old eighteen month one. With products that have such a short life cycle security is imperative.

What really gets me is the auto industry. Have you ever wondered how new cars always look eerily similar to each other? Sure they are noticeably different, but their general shapes and lines are similar. Many times I have seen cars in the parking lot that looked like mine but it wasn’t mine. I blame that on poor security within the auto industry. These guys must be sending each other design files via internet to compare shapes and features. Of course cars require a lot of tooling to make, such as dies, and molds. The tools are made by outside companies. This outside source is ripe for picking and giving the competition free peeks at designs. The owner I worked for understood this and insisted that all tooling needed for making our products will be done in house. Now that is expensive, but he felt it worth the money.

My advice to companies, hospitals, laboratories, etc that are losing information to the Chinese is simple, adopt a policy of ‘if you need to know it you get to know it.’ If you don’t need the information on your job you won’t get it. The key is to adopt the policy, and then to enforce it. If you don’t you will be raped over, and over, and over again. You know what is said about doing the same thing over, and over and expecting a different result, that is the definition of insanity.

Dreams

My pillow wrestled with me all night long while I dreamt sad dreams. I couldn’t believe the sadness that overwhelmed me even though I was in a deep sleep. The dream was about my former place of employment. Mind you, I retired in 2001 and yet I dreamed about the dismantling of the manufacturing plant where I spent a huge part of my life.

There was a lot of confusion that didn’t make sense as in most dreams, but the theme dealt with ending the life of a very successful manufacturing plant that began in the 1950’s and continued producing until sometime in the 2010’s. The product line consisted of two items in various sizes. One was a plastic duct for routing wire, and the second was a plastic tie to bind loose wires together. These products evolved into a catalogue of the same in various material, colors, lengths, and accessories to enhance the finished product of electricians who used them in their work. As most successful companies do, ours grew. By the time I left the company our product line was merely a section in a large catalog and a department within a larger division. The products still have life, but no longer merit the attention they once did. They still produce profit and therefore they continue to live, but at the sign of a decline the business will change the model and eventually they will be sold or dropped.

Throughout his life the owner re-invested his profits to make more stuff. Out first plant (the one in my dream) became one of eight around the world. Eventually, the product I spent my life designing, improving, and making became a Division. Each of the manufacturing plants had their own product specialties, and they also grew. Of the seven domestic plants in the towns of Tinley Park, New Lenox, Romeoville, Cummings, Burr Ridge, Lockport, and Orland Park four have been moved to foreign countries. Three of the plants were sold and repurposed by the new owners. Only one, the one I toiled in, is gone from the face of the earth, and now I am having dreams about it.

I don’t miss being there anymore, and I am forgetting the names of the people with whom I worked, but I still recognize their faces although with an extra twenty years on them it takes a few seconds to register who they are. Why my brain decided to play this movie about the dismantling of the Tinley Park plant makes no sense to me. The second thing that makes no sense is the feeling of sadness that overwhelmed me. Maybe it is because four of my former bosses have passed as well as the owner, and their souls were uneasy last night. What did I do to poke my mind into this confusing whirlwind of disconnected stuff being removed, sold, destroyed, or sent someplace else?

All day, I’ve been feeling down because of this dream. Maybe it was because I took a bike ride yesterday instead of a walk. My entire body might have gone into automatic as it did for the many years that I commuted by bicycle to the office. I didn’t drink anything unusual, nor did I over eat. I will never solve this mystery and once this post is online I will put the whole affair to bed.

I enjoyed the fire fly display the night before much better.

Day 40-Quarantine-Security

My boss, owner of the company, had a preoccupation with security. Most of us didn’t understand it at first, but got the idea with time. He was an inventor who liked to test his ideas for success in the market place. If an invention was good, the product sold. If it was a dud, it flopped. His record, however of dreaming up great ideas vs dumb ideas was to his favor. I always thought the eyes of God were upon him and he capitalized on it.

Our security in the plant was simple. If you needed to know something you could know it. If you didn’t need the information for your job, then you stayed in the dark. It wasn’t until 2016, sixteen years after I retired from a forty year career that I read the book titled The Girls Of Atomic City, The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win WW II. The story is about the development of the atomic bomb known as the Manhattan Project. Scientists needed enriched uranium in large quantities to develop the weapon. A sister project was begun in the Smokey mountains far away from Los Alamos where the actual bomb would eventually be made. All they started with was a piece of property in the middle of nowhere miles from any city or town. A clean sheet of paper. They hired people from the big cities under contract. They paid huge salaries and made the employees swear to secrecy. They established laboratories, dormitories, factories, transportation systems, and life sustaining towns within the boundaries of this government property. They operated on a need to know basis. If a particular process required ten operations each separate from one another, each was kept secret from the others. If your job was to drill a hole in a piece, and you didn’t need to know what the hole was for, or why it was needed you drilled the hole and passed the piece on to the next department. You didn’t know who worked there or what they did there, nor why. Passing from one department to another required getting a security check before being allowed to enter, even if you worked in the department. When I read this description of how they treated security I understood where our system came from. My company operated exactly the same way.

I was a long time employee when I finally asked the boss why we are so careful about our confidential processes. His answer, “I spent a lot of time and money learning how to make our products, if our competitors want to make the same thing as good as we do, let them learn on their own.” Great idea, if they actually do it by experiment, but it is much easier and quicker if you steal the process.

A billboard posted in Oak Ridge. 31st December 1943. The town of Oak Ridge was established by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Clinton Engineer Works in 1942 on isolated farm land as part of the Manhattan Project. The site was chosen for the X-10 Graphite Reactor, used to show that plutonium can be extracted from enriched uranium. Tennessee, USA.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Social Distancing to Keep Your Job a Secret
A Very Heavily Enforced Policy

When my company finally decided to establish a manufacturing facility in the far east we did it with security in mind. My boss wouldn’t trust a Chinaman with any of our proprietary manufacturing processes, but he did like making money. He sent his crew to Singapore, a small Island City-Country off the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula south of China. The population was eighty percent Chinese, they speak a form of English, and they are a free market economy. Whereas China is a socialist country, speaks only Chinese, and believes that capitalism is stupid.

Because the boss still didn’t believe the new operation should have our state of the art processes, he chose to send only the archaic high-cost operations to take advantage of the lower labor rates, and then applied the same or even stricter security rules as we used in the US. I’ve told this story before about one of our managers visiting cable tie manufacturing plants across Asia and finding one that made a carbon copy of our design. He challenged them and their reply was “yes, we copy you because you have the best design.” They spent some money to get our design, so I guess it was okay? Wrong, our designs are patented and protected. I never did find out if we sued them or not, I didn’t need to know.

We hear a lot about China stealing designs and intellectual property. What most people think about is stolen music, or lyrics, or art. Intellectual property includes all forms of designs. They steal designs daily. Of course many of our companies, mine included, encourage the theft by recognizing they do it, and looking the other way instead of prosecuting them. I think the reason is because we don’t know how to prosecute or sue a Chinaman in their courts, or even if they have any courts.

We can thank COVID-19 for raising our awareness about the problem of sending products to China for low cost manufacturing. Our drugs are now made there, not here. So, they can hurt us big time by delaying shipment or even denying shipment if they want to. They are now making aircraft carriers, airplanes, war materials all patterned after our best designs. In some cases we gave them the designs. I still remember slick Willy Clinton agreeing to send them plans for missiles.

A time will come when Americans will again look for the label to say Made In America meaning the United States of America and not America, China. For your edification the Japanese out smarted us for awhile by making things in the town of Usa, Japan, and then labeling the product Made In USA. We better hope and pray that our homeland companies continue to make ammunition on our shores. 

Day 24- Quarantine, COVID-19 Warrior

 

 

COVID-19 WARRIORIt is a beautiful Good Friday in Frankfort, Illinois today as the COVID-19 Warrior made his patrol around the town. Armed with his trusty bar of soap, face mask, goggles, and gloves, only thing spoiled the day, the temperature is a brisk 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After all it is still only April. Last year around this time we had snow.

I watched the news this morning for just enough time to realize the world is going stir crazy over COVID-19.  Two short weeks ago all I heard was how we were going to watch our country die if we didn’t hunker down and hide from the virus. The President was a national hero by reporting daily the efforts being made by all to avert deaths. Hospitals of a thousand or more beds were being constructed, masks were in short supply, then other forms of protective gear also went short. Health workers were the new warriors on the front-line fighting the invisible enemy. I have to agree, nurses and doctors have been working valiantly to maintain order and sanity in our health care system.

I have also been reading many blogs and news sites about how the virus spread and its origination from Wuhan. How the World Health Organization (WHO) told us in the early days that the virus is not spread by people. How they supported China and their efforts to control the spread. Yet somehow, the USA has the virus all across fifty states while China has it only in one geographical area which coincidentally is the home of a biological lab. How can China keep the virus from spreading across its country and we can’t? Either they don’t travel anywhere except to the USA, or their mitigation efforts are much more advanced than ours.

I have conjured two wild conspiracy theories which I want to spread across the internet as food for thought.

  1. It is known that China has set up an area to which they send their muslims. There are over a million muslims now held in limbo in this area. It makes logical sense to me that some radicalized muslim group would inflict the scourge of COVID-19 upon the perpetrators of this atrocity by stealing the virus from the biological lab, and  spreading it all about the Wuhan area. They were able to do so with abandon because they are jihadists and ready to die for their cause. By the way, so what if the virus crosses into Europe and to the USA there are infidels everywhere?
  2. China’s ultimate goal to rule the world is widely written about, and this may have been their way of stepping up the plot. What better way to cripple the Western World than to kill the economies of their countries? President Trump zeroes in on China with his philosophy of evening out the playing field of trade. He is right, but the deal he made with China has cost them dearly, and this Pandemic may be China’s answer to slowing or even destroying the American economy. One can never underestimate the extent a communist country will go to to spread it’s stupidity.

I totally agree with the President’s next target the World Health Organization. Why is America paying four hundred and fifty billion dollars a year to support the WHO when China only pays forty billion? A very good question. Gone are the Nixon days of the seventies when China had no way to feed it’s people. It is no secret that the USA and European companies all ran to China to takes advantage of their cheap labor so we could enjoy low cost products. The USA gave up its entire manufacturing capability. My company did the same. The problem is that we are still treating poor China s if they were still poor. They are not. They are a huge economy only a few dollars away from overtaking the United States or the EU. So why should we continue to treat them so favorably like they were poor China. They are fat-cat capitalistic communists. They have learned to adopt capitalism as a tool for spreading their socialist government.

China still has many millions of people who are poor and starving, but they are also very rich and can use some of their wealth to put into practice some of their own socialist ideas. Why are they not leveling the way of life for all their people in the Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer socialist way? Instead they have created two societies, one poor, and one very rich, and they play the world to sympathize with their poor, and control the rich with the iron fist.

Here are some of the things the President and his task force are being accused of:

  1. Not stopping travel to the USA. Not true, Trump banned flights from China as soon as he could in January. This was not an easy decision to make. His mistake was not realizing that travelers from China to the USA would take another route to get here, i.e. via Europe. When he finally woke up he shut off that route also.
  2. The task force refused to recommend wearing masks. Why? Early on the WHO said it wasn’t necessary.
  3. The task force changes the model used to change outcomes to suit their agenda. My opinion is that even if they didn’t use the same model throughout this pandemic it wouldn’t change the result much. The models are all based on mathematics and the formulas are derived from differential equations. Anyone with experienced with differential equations knows that you can incorporate hundreds of variables, and if you don’t know enough about a particular variable you make assumptions. Also, many variables are dropped if the assumption is they are inconsequential. All of us knows that assumptions often make an ASS out of U and Me.
  4. Trump should open the economy and let the virus run its course. True, in that we will not develop an immunity to the virus if we don’t catch it. Is it worth the deaths that might occur to pay for that immunity? If the deaths predicted by the early model calculations occur I would answer no, it is not worth it. If the deaths that occur are no greater or slightly higher than that of a normal flu season, my answer is yes its s worth it.  Is the natural (herding) immunity gained worth destroying our health care system worth it? No, not in my opinion but two trillion dollars is huge price to pay. I think we could rebuild the health care system for less than two trillion dollars.

Most of the answers to the questions being posed require a crystal ball. There is only one entity that can answer them with accuracy, that is only God has the answers. Yet, I believe there will be fighting over this matter to change the minds of voters to put the blame of this pandemic on Trump. They will do it just to get their socialist feet in power, and thus give China the upper hand at ruling the world.

One Way To Enforce Stay In Place, Or Maybe It Is Just Poor Planning.

 

Day 12-Quarantine-Respirators by GM?

This post will not be a reflection of my day, rather an opinion on President Trump’s latest effort to move the country through the COVID-19 virus. This morning I listened to a news bit about Trump’s direction to General Motors to make respirators by the thousands and in a hurry. GM offered to help the country, but is moving slowly so the president being a typical impatient CEO has taken over and is using the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to force them into action. My comment on that is “Good Luck Pres.”

At one time GM was the largest car maker in the world and they let the Japs take it away from them. If any company will work like government i.e. slow, sluggish, takes forever, gets lost in its own bureaucracy General Motors is it. One of their largest problems has been with dealing in downsizing in order to increase profit. They have not learned how to make more with less, and that is after thirty years of trying. One anchor around their corporate neck is the UAW union.

coronavirus_ventilators_032520getty

GM knows how to make cars, that is their business and that is what they can do best. How in the world will they be able to translate car manufacturing into respirators is a wish. Unfortunately, wishes don’t get things done. I give them credit for trying.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a disgruntled former GM employee. I started at GM in 1963 working for the Electromotive Division. At that time GM had over 90% of the world market share for diesel locomotives. What is their market share today? Who knows, but they lost the bulk of it to competitor’s because of two reasons; 1. They didn’t listen to their customers, and 2. They continued to kiss the ass of the UAW. GM finally gave up making locomotives in 2005 after converting the world from steam to diesel.

2020-gmc-yukon-mmp-1-1579200879

I can not picture the kind of respirator that GM will build. It will most likely have four wheels and great styling, and they will all look like a Chevy or Cadillac . . .  SUV’s.

Another problem is that GM produces cars from components made in countries around the world. They only assemble them in the US. An internet search reports that 55 percent of GM car parts are from the United States and Canada, 20 percent from Japan, 15 percent from China,…

Any car company would be better off starting a new factory in an available warehouse with all new CNC machines installed for making parts. They would also buy ready made high volume components like pumps from companies that make pumps for a living. Put a team of engineers on this project and challenge them to get the problem solved, and respirators made in record time. I wouldn’t use GM engineers, because their culture is not to do things fast. The guys at Ford would be better suited for this type of project.

In my day as Chief Engineer, I would have had a field day managing this kind of work, and could easily have respirators in production quickly. The only requirement being that we don’t have to design the device from scratch.

Companies that make equipment like respirators for hospitals.

  • Resmed (USA)
  • Weinmann (Germany)
  • Philips Healthcare (Netherlands)
  • Carefusion (USA)
  • GE Healthcare (USA)
  • Medtronic (USA)
  • Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (New Zealand)
  • Teijin Pharma (Japan)
  • MEKICS (South Korea)
  • Dräger Medical (Germany)
  • DeVilbiss (USA)
  • Apex Medical (Taiwan)
  • Air Liquide (France)
  • Hamilton Medical (Switzerland)
  • SLE Ltd (United Kingdom)
  • eVent Medical (USA)
  • Maquet (Germany)
  • Siare Engineering (Italy)

I don’t see General Motors on this list anywhere. I would use these companies to make respirators en masse, not GM.

Another thing, I would demand a realistic estimate of the quantity needed. There is at least one report I read that stated we need seven billion respirators. Really? That is one for every citizen on the planet Earth. That is panic reporting and stupid. Not all seven billion people on this planet are sick today. The panic sellers conclude that this pandemic has the potential for infecting the entire Earth. Even if that happened only a small percentage would need respirators. And if we all needed them who would be healthy enough to hook us up to them? Calm down folks, there comes a time when we have to let nature take it’s course.

People who worry about death from pandemics also worry that the population of the Earth is too large thus causing all kinds of pollution and global warming.  Wars reduce population too, so does terrorism, and humans love to kill each other. A good purge might be healthy for Earth.

My prediction is that we will get through this pandemic in good condition because the virus will disappear for reasons we don’t understand. That will give us some time to finish and proof the vaccines in process, and that will happen long before GM can tool up to make seven billion respirators.

 

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