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Posts Tagged ‘Policy’

The Reiman’s Harley-Davidson Letter

The Reiman’s Harley-Davidson Letter

I’m talking about a photo that’s being shared on Facebook, of a letter.

A simple, short letter, from Reiman’s Harley-Davidson, in Kewanee, IL.   That reads:

Dear Christopher and Jamie,

Enclosed you will find the check you mailed to us regarding the account of Christopher. It is the policy of Reiman’s Harley-Davidson to waive storage fees for our active-duty service members who are deployed. It is our honor to keep your bike safe and secure while you provide us with our freedoms. We hope you return to us safe and sound.  Until that time, we will store your bike at no charge to you. This is our way of saying “Thank you” for your service to our country. 

Sincerely,
C. Dennis Packee
Dealer Principal

The backstory is Christopher Walters is currently deployed to Afghanistan. His wife, Jaime, had sent in a check and an apology for being late on a payment to her husband’s account. He had been renting storage space at Reiman’s for his motorcycle while he was deployed. When the dealership owner Dennis Packee saw the letter, he would have none of that and sent the money back to her.

Mr. Packee didn’t think much about the gesture and went back to work.  It’s Reiman’s H-D policy and seemed like common sense to him.  The letter got posted on Facebook and then the phone began to ring… from people all across the U.S. who expressed their appreciation of the gesture.

Thank you Mr. Packee for the gesture and giving back to those that have given much!

Photo courtesy of Reiman’s H-D.

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Automatic License Plate Reader Technology

Automatic License Plate Reader Technology

Earlier today I received a notice from the Portland Police Bureau about their new patrol cars and the Police technology that will be on display for the general public.  It’s a “show-and-tell” exercise for the media.

The demonstration includes the latest in Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology.

Yeah, those quiet mass tracking devices that log license plates and perform driver surveillance!  Cruiser-mounted cameras can scan about 700 license plates an hour.  We’re starting to get a clear picture of the technology deployed for mass routine location tracking and surveillance.

Automatic license plate readers are the most widespread location tracking technology available to law enforcement. Mounted on patrol cars or stationary objects like bridges, they snap photos of every passing car, and motorcycle recording their plate numbers, times, and locations.

At first the captured plate data was used just to check against lists of motorcycles or cars law enforcement hoped to locate for various reasons (to act on arrest warrants, find stolen vehicles, etc.). Increasingly, however, all of this data is being fed into massive databases that contain the location information of many millions of innocent Americans stretching back for months or even years.  In addition, private companies are also using license plate readers and sharing the information they collect with police with little or no oversight or privacy protections.

I’m okay with law enforcement’s use of these systems to take pictures of plates to identify people who are driving stolen cars or are subject to an arrest warrant.  The technology makes it possible to check plates against “hot lists” of vehicles that are of interest to law enforcement. This can be done almost instantaneously and if the plates generate a “hit” I can understand the need to store the data for investigative purposes.

But, how long should the plate data be retained?

Automatic license plate readers have the potential to create permanent records of virtually everywhere any of us has driven.  It could radically transform the consequences of leaving home to pursue private life, and opening up many opportunities for abuse.

In Portland, Or., the data retention rules are a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 4-years.  More information is HERE.  Like many, I don’t like this growing trend where the government is increasingly using new technology to collect information about American citizens, all the time, and is storing it forever — providing a complete record of citizens’ lives for the government to access at will.

Should you care?   Yes.  In New York City, for instance, police officers have reportedly driven unmarked vehicles equipped with license plate readers around local mosques in order to record each attendee.

What if entire motorcycle clubs/communities are targeted based on their associational makeup?

It’s a core principle that in the United States of America, the government does not invade its citizens’ privacy and store information about their innocent activities just in case they do something wrong.

Photo courtesy of firstcoastnews.com

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Productivity.

It’s the manufacturing mantra of the corporate world.  It’s about making X number of  “widgets” an hour and reducing unplanned absences to maintain plant productivity.

Harley-Davidson’s CEO and President, Keith Wandell, told analyst during the Q4 2009 revenue results that the company intends to enhance profitability through continuous improvement in manufacturing, product development and business operations.

I would submit that H-D doesn’t have a productivity problem.  They have an absenteeism problem!  If a worker calls in sick that is considered an unplanned absent which brings down manufacturing productivity.  In fact, a company document indicates the motor company incurred some 382,000 hours of missed work time during 2009 which was worth about $13 million.  The document doesn’t state whether that number refers to the company as a whole or some other subset of operations, but we do know that one of the major considerations cited for moving the York Vehicle Operations from PA. to another state was the excessive absenteeism at the Springettsbury Township plant.

As a result of the concessions to keep the plant in York, changes in work culture and a new attendance policy was negotiated as part of the multi-year restructuring process.  A point system was created and the new policy gives an employee points or partial points for failure to appropriately report an absence in addition to the actual absence.  Now there are reports the Union (IAM) is whining about unilateral policy changes and trying to move the debate from absenteeism to policy.

Many would debate that unions cripple companies.  The debate often centers around how they are anti-technology, anti-productivity and pro-wage growth.  It’s like they live in a virtual reality world where price points, product-market pressures, and capital returns don’t matter.  The net-net is that unions are adept at demanding the highest dollar for the least amount of time worked.  And as worker costs escalate firms cut back on technology, plant investments and business process improvements.  Sound familiar?

Still don’t believe me that H-D has an absenteeism issue?  Well let’s look at the numbers.

H-D has about 9000 employees worldwide.  Taking H-D supplied numbers of 382,000 hours and divide it by the total number of employees (9000) equals 42.44 hours of unplanned absence per employee.  That’s more than one work week of absenteeism for each and every employee!  This in addition to the 15 work days of annual leave (vacation + holidays) employees typically receive in U.S. based companies.  Wow, talk about “iron-clad” benefits!  Yet, it’s actually worse because to correctly analyze the absenteeism number you need to take into account standard manufacturing practices which are based on the number of Full Time Equivalents (FTE) and available work hours a year (1928 hours) per FTE.  Calculating absence using this method means there were 198 employees (FTE) absent all year during 2009.

I don’t know if this situation is an accurate reflection of the mental state of the H-D work force or if it’s an edge case due to issues like H1N1?  However, an absenteeism rate which effects ~20% of your work force is a systemic issue and without a doubt one of the most significant factors to affect quality in an assembly line along with negatively effecting employee morale.  Let’s hope they get a handle on this issue.

Photo courtesy of Scribd.

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