Archive for August, 2014

Who’s Counting Down the Days Until the iPhone 6 Release?

August 28, 2014 Leave a comment


One-quarter of iPhone 5s owners plan to upgrade to iPhone 6

Aug 28, 2014

 Fall is right around the corner, and many consumers are looking forward to colorful leaves, apple cider and—last but not least—Apple’s iPhone 6 release. A June 2014 study by comScore MobiLens found that 35% of all iPhone owners in the US planned to upgrade their phones within the next six months.

Research has indicated that mobile owners typically replace their devices within two years of ownership, but stragglers do exist, and comScore reported that those who owned iPhone models older than the iPhone 4 were the most interested in an upgrade (46%). iPhone 4 users were the second most likely to plan on upgrading, followed by 4s owners—the model with the largest number of users (nearly 20 million).

Interestingly, 24% of those who owned the iPhone 5s, the most recent version, still planned to upgrade their devices, a group comScore described as “tech-forward consumers,” typically made up of 25-to-34-year-old males. Among female iPhone 5s owners, those ages 13 to 17 were most likely to plan on upgrading, and owners from somewhat upper-income households ($75,000 to $100,000) and coastal regions were also more likely to intend to trade up.

According to Q2 2014 analysis by Netbiscuits, based on activity on its platform, Apple’s iPhone 5, 5c and 5s combined were the leading mobile device models worldwide in terms of mobile internet traffic, grabbing a 17% share of the total. The iPhone 4 and 4s ranked second, at 14%, while Samsung Galaxy, HTC and LG Nexus models, as well as older iPhone models, trailed far behind, with third- and fourth-place Samsung Galaxy III and S4 coming in at 4% each.

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Digital Advertising Agencies 2014: A Buyer’s Guide

August 28, 2014 Leave a comment
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Levi’s started selling Wal-Mart in 2003 to stem sales slide

August 28, 2014 Leave a comment

But Levi’s total sales STILL stuck at $4+billion 10 years later


by Kim Girard,  (former Levi’s CIO…now a consultant)

July 15, 2003

It’s noon on a Tuesday in late April, and the Levi Strauss in downtown San Francisco is nearly empty. There’d be echoes in the four-story flagship store on Post Street if not for the techno-jazz pounding on all floors. As smiling assistants fold T-shirts and straighten 501s, a cargo-style elevator creeps up and down the middle of the building. An old-fashioned sign, picturing a man in a cowboy hat and coveralls, reads “Levi’s fits ’em all.”

Maybe so. But these days, not enough customers are buying.

Once upon a time, Levi’s and blue jeans were synonymous. James Dean looked oh so cool in them. Marilyn Monroe looked…real good. Almost since its founding 150 years ago, the company has been an American icon. But tastes change. For a time, nothing could come between teenage girls and their Calvins. Twentysomethings started going to malls and haunting The Gap. And by the mid-1990s, Levi’s had missed the baggy pant craze that overtook American high schools. In 1996, Levi’s sales peaked at $7.1 billion. Last year, they fell to $4.1 billion, a six-year low. The competition has nibbled away at Levi’s jeans market share, which has tumbled to about 12 percent from 18.7 percent in 1997.

Since the peak, Levi’s, which also makes casual Dockers and higher-end Slates clothing lines, has seen its customer base pulled apart. On the high end of the market, fickle fashionistas are eschewing Levi’s in favor of boutique brands such as Blue Cult, Juicy and Seven. On the low end, moms are buying Lee and Wrangler for their kids because they’re affordable (on average $10 less than Levi’s Red Tab) and because they find these brands at the superstores they prefer: BJ’s, Sam’s Club, Target, T.J. Maxxand so on.

David Bergen, Levi’s senior vice president and CIO, says his company is caught in the “jaws of death.” “We’re getting squeezed,” he says in his office in Levi’s Plaza, which has a startling view of San Francisco Bay and is about a 30-minute walk away from the Post Street store. But Levi’s thinks it may have found a way to cheat a retail demise.


Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is where moms go to stock up on Max and Maddy’s school supplies, their juice boxes and, of course, their jeans. So if you want the kids, and the rest of their families, you need to sell at Wal-Mart.

And you need a new product for this new customer. This month, Levi’s is introducing its new, less expensive Signature jeans line. (The jeans, for men, women and children, sell for around $23. They have fewer detail finishes than Levi’s other lines. They don’t have the company’s trademark red tab or stitching on the pocket.) Of course, there’s something in it for Wal-Mart. The company, already the largest clothing retailer in the world, wants more affluent customers. To lure them in, it needs big brands. Acknowledging that the company’s customers come from a “cross-section of income levels and lifestyles,” Wal-Mart Senior Vice President Lois Mikita says the company “continues to tailor its selection to meet the needs of those customers.”

Levi’s believes the new line, and the new retail venue, will revitalize the company by boosting annual sales by hundreds of millions. With up to 100 million shoppers trolling through Wal-Mart every week, that’s not an unreasonable assumption. “Levi has to face reality,” says Ira Kalish, a retail industry economist. “This is a company that’s dropped in size 40 percent or so over the past couple of years. The move to Wal-Mart could be sizable.” By partnering with Wal-Mart, adds Harry Bernard, an executive at retail consultancy Colton Bernard, “they’ll get the volume they’ll need to survive.”

If it works.

And, to a large extent, the success of Levi’s strategy depends on the performance of its technology?and its CIO.

The Mass Market Changes Everything

Levi’s decision last November to begin doing business with Wal-Mart changed CIO Bergen’s life.

Like every supplier stocking the $245 billion retailer’s endless shelves, Bergen had to rethink his supply chain?every detail of how Levi’s jeans, jackets and shirts would get from factories to new regional warehouses to Wal-Mart’s 3,422 U.S. stores when they are needed, not before and certainly not after. That’s a mighty leap from the demands placed on Levi’s by smaller department store chains such as Macy’s (243 stores), or even J.C. Penney (1,049 stores).

Complicating this challenge was the fact that Bergen would be going live with a completely upgraded supply chain system during the back-to-school rush, the worst time for a retailer to roll out a new technology.

But 47-year-old Bergen says he signed on at Levi’s in November 2000 for precisely these kinds of challenges. He’s sought them out all through his career. In 1981, he helped install The Gap’s first point-of-sale system, which tracked both sales and inventory. In 1985, he moved to clothing maker Esprit de Corps, where he managed all IT development before heading back to The Gap to help improve production planning.

When Levi’s new President and CEO Philip A. Marineau called in 2000, Bergen was at, a startup with a business model he questioned. He was itching to return to the apparel business. “One of the things that excited me was the changes Levi’s was going through,” says Bergen, who bears a slight resemblance to the actor Tim Allen and, like most employees milling around Levi’s Plaza, dresses in the company’s casual clothes. Marineau came to Levi’s from PepsiCo in 1999, a year after helping the eternal number-two beverage maker surpass Coke in sales. Shortly after his arrival, he planned a turnaround that would entail making clothes that better met demands of stores and customers?selling to the mass market and tightening operations around the world.

Bergen wanted in. He knew that Marineau’s plan to change the line according to what customers wanted would demand big things. More slicing and dicing of customer data and investments in data warehouse technology. He knew that selling to the mass market would require supply chain improvements. He understood that globalization demanded standardized enterprise systems. What more could a CIO want?

After settling into his new job in 2000, he began working to make Levi’s technology fit for what the retail world calls the “mass channel,” big discount stores where 31 percent of all jeans in the country are now sold. Levi’s wanted to play in that channel, and when Bergen arrived, the company was in tentative discussions with Kmart, Target and Wal-Mart, among others. But the water in the channel flowed swiftly; Bergen knew that without a technology overhaul, Levi’s would surely drown. He was most concerned that the company’s national distribution strategy didn’t suit the way Wal-Mart did business. Levi’s had a poor on-time delivery record too?the result of manufacturing and logistics problems born when it shuttered company-owned factories in the United States during the late 1990s and transitioned largely to overseas manufacturing.

Making Levi’s Wal-Mart Ready

But all of this change took time.

When Levi’s and Wal-Mart first sat down to talk, Levi’s was not?as Gregg Hammann, Levi’s U.S. chief customer officer, recalls?up to the demands that Wal-Mart placed on its 30,000 suppliers.

“Our supply chain could not deliver the services Wal-Mart expected,” says Bergen, who spent time at Wal-Mart’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters during “exploratory meetings” before a deal was signed. Being a supplier to Wal-Mart demands a certain level of performance?and cost control. Wal-Mart drives you to work with your supply chain to put the same requirements on your suppliers that Wal-Mart puts on you. If you can’t make your supply chain work, you won’t benefit from being a supplier. Period.

At Levi’s, executives couldn’t track where its product was moving in the pipeline?how many pairs of jeans were being manufactured in which factories and how many were sitting in trucks or in distribution centers.

This wouldn’t fly with Wal-Mart, a supply chain pioneer that moves products off its shelves faster than any retailer and expects replenishment on time to keep costs down. Levi’s needed to both get a handle on how its products were doing in stores and accelerate the speed at which those products moved from import dock to warehouse to retail shelf.

The lack of information available to Levi’s executives translated into poor performance even without Wal-Mart. “Before David, we delivered 65 percent of our product on time to customers,” Hammann says. Industry gurus call that a poor performance. “Our rate today is 95 percent,” Hammann says. That’s a healthy bump that could improve sales by 10 percent to 15 percent, according to Marshal Cohen, senior industry analyst of NPD Group’s Fashionworld, an apparel and footwear market researcher. Hammann credits improved demand replenishment systems and forecasting technology the company now uses. Additions include a so-called dashboard Bergen developed that sits on executives’ desktops and shows how Levi’s 501 jeans are doing with, say, Kohl’s department stores on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. The dashboard is designed to look like a website and allows executives to click on a specific product to track how it moves from the factory to the distribution centers to the stores. It shows how many pairs of jeans are available at a given time, what the demand is from the stores and whether the company is meeting that demand. “When I first got here I didn’t see anything,” Hammann says. “Now I can drill down to the product level.”

This system, unlike the old one, connects the employees working within the supply chain to the salespeople all the way up to the company’s financial office, a change Bergen oversaw. Execs use the dashboard to track trends?such as whether denim shorts are a hot item in a particular geographic area?and to prevent problems. For example, during the third quarter of 2002, when the company started shipping Dockers Stain Defender pants, it expected to sell about 2 million pairs. The dashboard, however, alerted Levi’s to that fact that the pants were flying off the shelves and another 500,000 more would be needed to meet demand. Having that information at its fingertips helped the company avoid bungling its inventory, plan in advance and sell more pants, Hammann says. That same sort of information will be crucial to helping replenish Wal-Mart’s shelves during the back-to-school season.

Supply Chain Transformation

Bergen says the most challenging part of the technology overhaul was changing from a national distribution system to a regional one. Before, all Levi Strauss 501-style jeans, for example, arrived at stores from four distribution centers in Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada and Arkansas. This wasn’t good enough to meet Wal-Mart’s demands for rapid-fire replenishment.

So Levi’s has added three “pool points” (in California, Texas and Florida) to distribute in-bound freight to either Wal-Mart stores or to the distribution centers. In addition, Levi’s will ship products for each new season in full carton “prepacks” from its distribution centers to Wal-Mart’s distribution centers. The pool points will replenish this supply, working by region to send stacks of jeans to Wal-Mart’s distribution network.

As part of this network of facilities, Levi’s also developed a scanning tool for its manufacturers to check the accuracy of cartons ready to ship. The company implemented AS2 technology to exchange with Wal-Mart EDI transactions that support collaborative forecasting. And a set of Manugistics applications allow the company to collaborate on demand forecasting, product modifications and orders planning with Wal-Mart. All of those changes mean Levi’s can plan, define and ship prepackaged orders to the retailer. Bergen says testing of the new system went well and the company was on schedule for a June delivery as of press time.

To support the Wal-Mart initiative, Bergen helped put together a cross-functional team of employees from IT, finance and sales who helped with planning. That included supporting everything from ordering to logistics to making improvements to the data warehouse. The company also upgraded its networks and its U.S.-based applications, and it is testing to see whether its systems will scale to handle orders from all of Wal-Mart’s 3,200 stores.

“The changes to support Wal-Mart are extensive,” Bergen says. Eventually, about half of the upgrades required to do business with Wal-Mart in the United States will be replaced by the new SAP system the company will install during the next five years (see “Next Up: A Global ERP Rollout,” Page 44).

Simon Spence, a senior consultant at Perot Systems who works with clients preparing to do business with Wal-Mart, says businesses benefit technologically from the demands Wal-Mart puts on them as their biggest customer. “Wal-Mart is a great catalyst for them to invest more money than they would previously to stay in business,” he says. “That’s the way you grow. That’s the way you survive. It drives you to work toward becoming a global company.”

The First Signs of Turnaround

It wasn’t until Levi’s had a better window into its business that it was confident enough to do business with Wal-Mart. In May 2002, Hammann and Bergen sat down with a 25-person team for a daylong meeting in San Francisco. “We asked, Is this something we can do?” says Hammann. The team, composed of managers from all parts of Levi’s business, had covered its bases on the project, Bergen says, considering all “people changes, process changes and technology changes.”

By September 2002, the group decided to go forward. Hammann is confident. “We went from a company that couldn’t shoot straight to where we’re very capable of ready, aim, fire,” he says.

Wal-Mart’s Mikita says she is impressed with the level of detail Levi’s “has dug into to make the execution of this new launch 100 percent.”

And today, there are encouraging signs Levi’s is turning around. Sales for the company’s third and fourth quarters grew for the first time since 1996. During the spring and fall of 2002, Levi’s started popping up on NPD Fashionworld’s top 10 list of brands preferred by young women for the first time in recent memory. “It hadn’t been close to that for a while,” says Cohen. “Teens hadn’t gravitated toward Levi’s in years. That was incredible. A lot of that has to do with having the right style in the right place at the right time.” Cohen says Levi’s plans to upgrade its business processes, and its improved replenishment system has helped the company get the right sizes to the right stores. The question is, Will they be able to sustain it?

“The jury is still out as to whether this structure is going to work,” says retail consultant Bernard. Levi’s might think it can fool customers into thinking the jeans on a Wal-Mart rack are “real” Levi’s, but he’s not so sure customers will understand the $24.99 versus $50 price difference between the pair at Wal-Mart and the pair at Macy’s. And if the jeans aren’t selling well at Macy’s, what makes Levi’s so sure it can sell jeans at Wal-Mart?

Others say it’s tough for any supplier to turn a Wal-Mart relationship into a gold mine. “Wal-Mart works with their vendors to make sure [Wal-Mart] succeeds,” and that’s not a guarantee that the vendors make a lot of money, says Paula Rosenblum, a retail analyst at AMR Research. Indeed, a recent Bain survey of more than 20 Wal-Mart suppliers found that very few were doing everything right to gain on both the top and bottom lines (see “What Wal-Mart Wants,” Page 42). “The place where companies do fail is when they aren’t bringing anything new to Wal-Mart,” says Gib Carey, a supply chain analyst at Bain, who studies the company’s supplier relationships. “Wal-Mart is constantly looking at ’How can I get the same product I am selling today at a lower price somewhere else?’”

Nonetheless, Levi’s was due to start shipping the Signature line to Wal-Mart at the end of May, beginning with 40 stores. By June, Levi’s will be ferrying the new clothes to all U.S. Wal-Mart stores in preparation for the back-to-school rush. Bergen expects some bumps during the first three months. But if all goes well, the company plans to sign new deals with other discount retailers too.

“If I look overconfident, I’m not,” he says. “I’m very nervous about this change.” That’s understandable, considering the unchartered waters. “When we trip, we have to stand up real quick and get back on the horse, as they say.”

Preferably wearing a pair of Levi’s. (blogmaster note: They are still riding the horse but now it seems to be sidesadle)

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A Beginner’s Guide to App Marketing

August 28, 2014 Leave a comment
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JUST IN…Microsoft reissues flawed Windows security update

August 27, 2014 Leave a comment

zd net


Summary: UPDATED. A new version of MS14-045 has been pushed to Windows Update and the Download Center. Microsoft strongly recommends that users uninstall the old version first.

 Microsoft today re-released the updates for security bulletin MS14-045. This update had been released on the August Patch Tuesday, August 12, but withdrawn later in the week after user reports of blue screen crashes and disabled systems.

Special Feature

Why business leaders must be security leaders

Why business leaders must be security leaders

Why do many boards leave IT security primarily to security technicians, and why can’t techies convince their boards to spend scarce cash on protecting stakeholder information? We offer guidance on how to close the IT security governance gap.

At the same time Microsoft withdrew MS14-045, it withdrew three non-security updates, KB2970228, KB2975719 andKB2975331. None of those have been reissued and we have no further information on them.

Updated on August 27: With respect to these remaining updates, Tracey Pretorius, Director, Microsoft Trustworthy Computing told ZDNet “[w]e continue to work diligently to get the Windows August Update rereleased to customers.”

A blog entry from Tracey Pretorius, Director of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, implies that the problem was released to a change in the release schedules for non-security updates.

The security bulletin says that “Microsoft strongly recommends that customers who have not uninstalled the 2982791 update [i.e., the old version, released on Patch Tuesday] do so prior to applying the 2993651 update [the new version].” This recommendation applies to users whether they are having problems with the old update or not. Note that Windows Update and Automatic Updates do not remove the old version.

To uninstall the update go to Control Panel, Programs and Features, Installed Updates, find the 2982791 update in the Microsoft Windows section, right click and uninstall.

The update addresses three Windows kernel bugs, two of which could result in privilege elevation and the third in exposure of sensitive kernel information.

Topics: Security, Microsoft, Windows


Larry Seltzer has long been a recognized expert in technology, with a focus on mobile technology and security in recent years

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Investor Visas Soaked Up by Chinese

August 27, 2014 Leave a comment

EB-5 Program Allows Funders of U.S. Projects to Bypass Normal Wait; Supply All but Gone for Year

Aug. 26, 2014

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., received EB-5 visa funding.Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Due to a surge in Chinese participation, the U.S. for the first time is on course this fiscal year to run out of immigrant-investor visas that offer a fast track to permanent residency.

Started 24 years ago, the EB-5 program allots 10,000 visas annually to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. development projects, from dairy farms and ski resorts to hotels and bridges. In return, the investor and family members become eligible for green cards, or permanent residency, typically within two years.

As of this week, the visas—which have come under fire from critics who question their economic impact—are “unavailable” to Chinese individuals until the 2015 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, according to a State Department official.

Investors from China have accounted for about 85% of the visas this year, so the State Department action brings the program to a near standstill for the time being, experts said. They predict that next fiscal year the visas will be claimed even more quickly.

“This reflects the increasing popularity of the EB-5 program,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration attorney who specializes in the visas.

Another 10,375 investor petitions, an unprecedented number, are awaiting adjudication by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that approves the first step in the process. The State Department, through its embassies and consulates, issues the visas.

At an EB-5 conference in Chicago last Saturday, a senior government official estimated a two-year wait for EB-5 applicants to obtain a visa, starting next spring, people in attendance said. “Such a long backlog will cause problems both for investors and U.S. companies that want EB-5 money to start or finish their projects,” said Mr. Yale-Loehr, who was at the meeting.

American businesses have raised billions of dollars through the program, and its backers champion its potential to benefit the U.S. economy. But skeptics say they aren’t convinced that it is an engine of job creation. Other critics say it amounts to a visas-for-sale scheme that unfairly benefits the rich by allowing them to go to the front of the green-card line.

The EB-5 program accounts for less than 1% of the visas issued by theU.S. annually. Until recently, demand for EB-5 visas didn’t come close to exhausting the supply. Last year, the U.S. issued 8,564 visas. In fiscal 2012, the total was 7,641. Only 65 EB-5 visas were issued in 2003.

South Koreans, Indians and Mexicans also participate in the program in significant numbers. By law, no single country is allotted more than 7% of the visas available in any year. However, when a country’s cap isn’t reached, the State Department allows leftover visas to be transferred to another country. That has enabled China, where demand is strongest, to far exceed its normal EB-5 allotment.

The program has grown steadily as wealthy Chinese use it to gain a foothold in the U.S. Its main selling point is that it enables participants to bypass the uncertainty and yearslong wait to gain U.S. residency through an employer or relative. Last year, China accounted for more than 80% of all EB-5 investors.

“These investors aren’t coming for the investment,” said Yi Song, a New York lawyer who works with Chinese clients. “They are coming here for their children to obtain a better education and to get residence as an insurance policy.”

Congress created the program in 1990 to aid the economy. It attracted little interest from U.S. businesses until the recession hit in 2008 and bank financing dried up.

EB-5 money has helped fund a Marriott hotel in Los Angeles, theBarclays Center sports and entertainment complex in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is slated to help redevelop the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco, among other projects.

Investors must commit at least $500,000 if the funds go to a project in a high-unemployment or rural area, or $1 million elsewhere. Their money must create at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers for their residency permit to become permanent.

So-called regional centers may pool EB-5 capital from multiple investors for public and private projects in a defined region. Most EB-5 capital is raised and invested by the centers, which number close to 600 nationwide.

Among others, regional centers have supported transformation of a Navy yard in Philadelphia into a multiuse development and construction of retirement homes in Washington state.

IIUSA, the trade association representing the regional centers, and others have been lobbying Congress to expand the program. One pending bill would eliminate family members of EB-5 investors from the 10,000 cap, which could increase the number of EB-5 visas to about 30,000 annually.

One factor contributing to EB-5 demand is Canada’s elimination early this year of a decades-old investor program that also attracted many wealthy Chinese. The program allowed foreigners to apply for permanent residency in exchange for investing 800,000 Canadian dollars in a multiyear, interest-free loan to the government. Canada said it scrapped the program because it didn’t provide enough economic benefit.

The EB-5 program, which is overseen by Citizens and Immigration Services and the Securities and Exchange Commission, has had troubles. Some projects haven’t materialized, and several investors have sued businesses participating in the program. U.S. authorities uncovered fraud in an EB-5 project in Chicago, a proposed convention center near O’Hare International Airport. In South Dakota, a failed project has become an issue in that state’s U.S. Senate race.

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August 27, 2014 Leave a comment



For 47 years, Eton Systems has improved production efficiency in diverse sewn products and technical textile industries worldwide. The renowned Eton™ Unit Production System (UPS) was invented in 1967 to streamline the production process, minimize downtime and better utilize factory space by automating the flow of products through the production process and minimizing material handling for each operation in the manufacturing process.

The Eton UPS is a computerized, overhead conveyer with individually addressable workstations and automated buffer storage. The system eliminates manual transportation between workplaces, freeing-up workers and machine operators to focus on more value-added activities. The system automatically delivers components and products from overhead to the most ergonomic location for each workplace. The modular system provides the flexibility needed to run multiple operational paths and reconfigure or expand to meet changing business grows.

The Eton Select™ software is a valuable asset when it comes to performing otherwise time-consuming, administrative duties. To help maintain maximum productivity, lowest costs, and optimal balancing of manufacturing lines, the system maintains a skills history on each employee that assists supervisors in making critical staffing changes and placements in the fast-paced manufacturing process. It utilizes real-time production information to help managers view a wide range of production and quality information and manage potential bottlenecks before they develop into production delays.

ETONnote™, the company’s most recent innovation, is a shop floor control system that can be used either in conjunction with the Eton UPS or as a standalone real-time data collection solution. The innovative new productivity and information management solution utilizes wireless networking and standard Android™-based devices to collect real-time production and process information that can be used to increase individual and team productivity, enhance order tracking and streamline the incentive payroll process.

ETONnote is making real-time shop floor affordable for all manufacturers by eliminating the high costs and lengthy implementation times associated with wired networks and proprietary workplace terminals. A dynamic pay-per-use plan is also changing the game by charging only $1 each for the precise number of workers that use the system on a day by day basis.

More than 4,000 Eton systems have been installed in the plants of prestigious customers, both large and small, in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific, Australia and Africa. Efficiency improvements at these companies range from 30% to 100%; making the Eton system one of the most valuable investments a manufacturing operation can make.

For more information on Eton Systems in the Americas, phone +1-678-866-1820 or visit the website at:

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