Blown Film Extrusion Introduction

Blown Film Extrusion Introduction
Blown film extrusion is a technology that is the most common method to make plastic films, especially for the packaging industry. The process involves extruding a tube of molten polymer through a die and inflating to several times its initial diameter to form a thin film bubble. This bubble is then collapsed and used as a lay-flat film or can be made into bags. Usually polyethylene is used with this process, and other materials can be used as blends with these polymers. A diagram of a polyethylene chain is shown in Figure 1 to the right.
Background Theory on Polymers

In the cooling step of blown film extrusion, the amorphous, transparent melt crystallizes to form a translucent, hazy, or opaque film. The point where opacity begins in the bubble is known as the frost line. 
Fig 1: Model of polytheylene chain frompolyethylene Wikipedia article.The frost line height is controlled by several parameters: the air flow, film speed, and temperature difference between the film and the surroundings. Properties of the film, such as tensile strength, flexural strength, toughness, and optical properties, drastically change depending on the orientation of the molecules. As the transverse or hoop direction properties increase, the machine or longitudinal direction properties decrease. For instance, if all the molecules were aligned in the machine direction, it would be easy to tear the film in that direction, and very difficult in the transverse direction.

The Film Blowing machine Process

Fig 2: Schematic of set-up from User:J.Chiang.

Typically, blown film extrusion is carried out vertically upwards, however horizontal and downward extrusion processes are now becoming more common. Figure 2 shows a schematic of the set-up for blown film extrusion. This procedure consists of four main steps: The polymer material starts in a pellet form, which are successively compacted and melted to form a continuous, viscous liquid. This molten plastic is then forced, or extruded, through an annular die. Air is injected through a hole in the center of the die, and the pressure causes the extruded melt to expand into a bubble. The air entering the bubble replaces air leaving it, so that even and constant pressure is maintained to ensure uniform thickness of the film. The bubble is pulled continually upwards from the die and a cooling ring blows air onto the film. The film can also be cooled from the inside using internal bubble cooling. This reduces the temperature inside the bubble, while maintaining the bubble diameter. After solidification at the frost line, the film moves into a set of nip rollers which collapse the bubble and flatten it into two flat film layers. The puller rolls pull the film onto windup rollers. The film passes through idler rolls during this process to ensure that there is uniform tension in the film. Between the nip rollers and the windup rollers, the film may pass through a treatment centre, depending on the application. During this stage, the film may be slit to form one or two films, or surface treated. Advantages Blown film generally has a better balance of mechanical properties than cast or extruded films because it is drawn in both the transverse and machine directions. Mechanical properties of the thin film include tensile and flexural strength, and toughness. The nearly uniform properties in both directions allow for maximum toughness in the film.
Blown film extrusion can be used to make one large film, two smaller ones, or tubes that can be made into bags. Also, one die can make many different widths and sizes without significant trimming. This high level of flexibility in the process leads to less scrap material and higher productivity. Blown films also require lower melting temperatures than cast extrusion. Measured at the die opening, the temperature of cast film is about 220 C, where as the temperature of blown film is about 135 C. Furthermore, the cost of the equipment is approximately 50% of a cast line.

Blown Film Extrusion Disadvantages Blown film has a less effective cooling process than flat film. Flat film cooling is done by means of chill rolls or water, which have significantly higher specific heat capacities than the air that is used in the blown film cooling process. The higher specific heat capacity allows the substance to absorb more heat with less change in the substance temperature. Compared to cast film, blown film has a more complicated and less accurate method to control film thickness; cast film has a thickness variation of 1 to 2% versus the 3 to 4% for blown film. The resins used for casting typically have a lower melt flow index, which is the amount of polymer that can be forced through a standard die in 10 minutes according to a standard procedure. The melt flow index for cast film is about 5.0 g/10 min where as for blown film it is about 1.0 g/10 min. Consequently, the production rates for cast film are higher: cast film lines can reach production rates of up to 300m/min where as blown film lines are usually less than half this value. And finally, cast film has better optical properties, including transparency, haze, and gloss.

Common Problems Air entrapment between film layers and rollers – this may cause film scratching or wrinkling, or processing problems when winding up the film due to reduced friction. Possible solutions to this is using a vacuum to remove entrapped air or by using winding rolls with a diamond shaped groove in the rubber cover to increase surface area and decrease amount of entrapped air in the film. Large output fluctuations from the die – this causes thickness variations, and can be prevented by keeping the extruder clean and by using more consistently shaped pellets in the extruder. Melt fractures – these appear as roughness or wavy lines on the film surface, and can be eliminated by lowering the viscosity of the polymer melt. This can be done by increasing the melting temperature or by adding an internal lubricant to the material composition. Thickness variations in the film – this can be avoided by centering the die in the extrusion line before every run, adjusting the air speed of the cooling system, or by using heated die lips. Die lines on the surface of the film – this defect reduces the aesthetic appeal of the film, reduces optical properties, and weakens mechanical properties such as tear strength. This can usually be avoided by routinely cleaning the inner surfaces of the die and by refinishing scratched or roughened flow surfaces. Gels – these defects are small, hard globules encapsulated in the film or stuck on the film surface and reduce the aesthetic appeal of the film and cause stress concentration points which may result in premature failure. These are caused by overheating to the point of polymer degradation in the die, and can therefore be avoided by cleaning the inner surfaces of the die on a regular basis. Optimization of the Process Coextrusion One way to improve the line efficiency of blown film extrusion is to implement coextrusion. This is the process of extruding two or more materials simultaneously through a single die. The orifices in the die are arranged such that the layers merge together before cooling. This process saves time because it extrudes two or more layers at the same time, and it provides a method with fewer steps to produce multilayer films. The production rate for a coextruded multilayer film of three layers is about 65m/min, and the production rate for a single layer of blown film is about 130m/min. Thus, in order to produce 10 000m of a three layer multilayer film, it would take almost 4 hours using a single layer blown film process, and only 2 and a half hours using the coextrusion process. Furthermore, the film produced from the single layer process would require an extra step to glue the layers together using some sort of adhesive. Coextrusion is the least expensive means of producing layered films and the coextrusion system is capable of quick changeovers to minimize production line down time.

Minimizing the Melt Temperature
The efficiency of blown film extrusion can be improved by minimizing the temperature of the polymer melt. Reduction of the melt temperature causes the melt to require less heating in the extruder. Normal extrusion conditions have a melting temperature at about 190 C despite the fact that the temperature of the melt only needs to be about 135 C. However, it is not always practical to decrease the melting temperature by that much. By decreasing the melt temperature 2 to 20 C, the motor load can be decreased by about 1 to 10%. Furthermore, reduction of the melt temperature causes less need for cooling, so there is a reduced use of the cooling system. Moreover, removing heat from the bubble is usually the rate-limiting factor in this extrusion process, so by having less heat in the polymer to remove, the rate of the process can be increased, thus yielding higher productivity. A way to maintain the melt temperature at a minimum is to choose an extruder that is matched to the specific processing conditions, such as the material of the melt, pressure, and throughput.

Heated Extrusion Die Lips
Typically, solutions to melt fractures involve decreasing the output or increasing the melt temperature to decrease the shear stress in the extruder. Both of these methods are not ideal because they both reduce the efficiency of the blown film line. Heated extrusion die lips can solve this problem. This targeted heating method allows for film extruders to be run at higher production rates with narrower die gaps while eliminating melt fractures. Direct heat is applied to the surface of the polymer melt as it exits the die so that viscosity is reduced. Therefore, melt fractures, which are caused when trying to extrude too much of the polymer at one time, will no longer act as a limiting factor to increasing the production rate. Furthermore, heated die lips use less energy than increasing the melting temperature because only the surface of the melt is heated and not the bulk of the liquid. Another benefit of using heated die lips is that thickness variations can be controlled by adding heat to certain areas along the die circumference to make the film at that position thinner. This would ensure that no excess material is used.
Determine how much energy each of these processes can save per given volume of material. 

Above article from www.appropedia.org

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Realize Precisely How To Obtain Assistance With Discrimination At Work

Folks are protected from discrimination at their own workplace, but this will not suggest it won’t happen. Any time someone believes they’re being discriminated against at work for being a member of a protected class, they actually do have choices. A person in cases like this may desire to make certain they will document the discrimination just as much as is feasible as well as may want to speak to an attorney regarding their particular choices right away.

Typically, an individual can wish to be sure they’ll document the discrimination as much as possible so the attorney may review exactly what is happening as well as let them know what their own choices are. They can take note of nearly anything that has transpired, take pictures if possible, and also keep any kind of written discrimination copied so they’re able to utilize it as evidence just in case it is needed. They’re going to desire to find a lawyer who has experience handling discrimination suits and who can let them know if they will have a claim of discrimination and also, in that case, precisely what they could do to be able to handle the discrimination at the office.

If perhaps you feel you might be the target of discrimination, make sure you’ll consult with a lawyer now. Check out the web page for the Morelli Law Firm today in order to discover a lot more with regards to discrimination on the job as well as just what they are able to do to help you.

Benefits with Tuition Centre for Students!

When youngsters aren’t able to come up with the training that is taught in the classrooms it is able to be really frustrating for them. They should lose their self-assurance and can experience definitely demotivated. Even discern find it very tough when they see their kids lagging at the back of in the studies. The great answer for such problem can be sending the kid to science tuition centre in Singapore.

There are very many advantages that you may get through sending the child to tuition center.

Learning is made interesting:

Most of the kids who are struggling to pass in their grades are locating learning as a hard method. They feel the strain of the lecturers at faculty in addition to their buddies who are splendid than them. All such factors will deliver down their overall performance. Teachers at training centre are trained to change this attitude of the child. They will use numerous techniques to make learning a whole lot extra exciting and amusing. By making use of the modern-day technique of coaching instructors on the tuition centre will provide a higher environment for the kids to seize up along with his or her research.

Quick development:

It’s frequently visible that many children are finding it tough to recognize the topics whilst they may be taught in the crowd. This is the primary benefit of the tuition centre. Individual interest is given to the child that makes him extra open to mastering method. When he unearths the issue thrilling this could enhance him to carry out better in the assessments. As an end result, there’ll quick upgrades in his grades.

New studying approach:

At the tuition center, the lecturers will apply diverse new and modern-day strategies so one can expand interest for gaining knowledge of within the minds of the children. Special subjects lessons that wish extra attention like maths lessons or the technology training can be particularly decided on primarily based on the kid’s needs. By utilizing the brand new learning strategies the tuition centre provides your toddler with a hobby in getting to know and they carry out properly with none pressure. 

Increases confidence:

Most of the scholars who fail to perform properly in the tests feel annoyed and dissatisfied. This will affect their self-belief level making them very reserved. They examine themselves with their a success peers and experience the pressure. Even the dad and mom of such youngsters are very dissatisfied with their baby’s bad overall performance. All this adds up bad feelings to the child and accordingly will reduce his self-assurance level. Tuition centre will be able to provide appositive surroundings to the child and he can be glad to look his personal improvement in his studies. As a result, it’ll boost up his self-assurance level and thereby allow him to learn new classes in the quick time frame.

Various alternatives:

If your toddler is vulnerable in handiest specific topics then Singapore lessons centre will offer special training in those subjects. There is the center that is especially imparting maths tuition and science training and so forth. Based on the character wishes of the scholars the training center will provide precise education and thereby make him strong in the one’s topics.

Importance of Science: 

As a modern-day state, we champion engineering and scientific research, so it’s far critical for college kids to inquire how works matters. Science in the school curriculum tells students how the world works around them, from protons to energy stations.

Benefits of Science Tuition: 

Students with precise clinical understanding have an inquisitive mind and benefit from suitable independent learning talents. Science tuition in Singapore in the schooling device relies on excellent literacy and numeracy skills; students have to study up on science subjects and to reply questions with logic and reasoning. Scientific mastering may be surely enlightening for students and all sorts of grants exist for college students studying Science at college.

Manufacturing Corporations Must Offer Training To Advance

All businesses attempt to progress, to perform much more, and to pull in far more revenue. For manufacturing corporations, this means creating much more goods and also having the ability to accept far more clients. In order to accomplish this, they will have to ensure their particular employees will be top notch and also competent to get the job done correctly, swiftly, and with as little waste materials as is possible. Therefore companies will desire to ensure they will make the most of scientific molding training for their particular employees.

Despite the fact that it will cost money and also time in order to teach workers, the enterprise can see the improvements quickly as well as can gain back just what they lost with the elevated revenue after the education is completed. Employees who engage in scientific molding seminars understand a lot more concerning precisely how to perform their own jobs as well as, as a result, are capable of doing their particular jobs much better as well as faster. This can lead to the company having better results for all their ventures and also being able to handle far more clientele than they could have before the training was carried out.

Employees who become involved in the scientific molding classes find out exactly how to work together better to be able to make the final project. They’ll learn what the other staff members do so they are able to work closely together with them on the project. They also discover precisely how to stay away from widespread errors, just what to do in case something is not working correctly, and also find out much more concerning the systems they’re going to be working with. All around, this could result in higher productiveness, increased earnings, and significantly less waste when they’re working on a project.

Business owners will want to make certain they will take some time to be able to look into the coaching that is available to ensure their own employees have the training they need to be able to achieve far more and also to do much better. This helps the business carry on growing as well as to move ahead, and it’s going to be definitely worth the funds in the end. In case you want to receive the added instruction your staff members could need to have, make certain you check into injection molding training today.

The Best Way to Locate the Professional Property You Wish is to Deal with the Most Highly Regarded Firm Available

Lots of people think that they know real-estate due to the fact they have obtained a property, then down the road, made available that property and purchased a different one when their own family grew too large for the first residence, or whenever they were shifted someplace else to work. The reality is, they really probably have some basic familiarity with the home real estate sector, but Minnesota commercial real estate is really a horse under a unique colour. Your considerations which are important to an individual when purchasing a residence aren’t always the same whenever looking for the variety of property such as JGM Properties commercial real estate has accessible. When acquiring as well as booking a residence, individuals typically are curious about the overall region, the nearby schools, the volume of rooms, along with the luxury from the home’s different appointments.

Professional real estate property clients have got desires which might be a lot more varied compared to an average house owner’s. You cannot assume all people that require some sort of commercial property desire to buy such property. Their particular funds may well not permit it, their own all round business plan may necessitate these folks to move somewhere else in the next few years to a far more apparent locale, or even they only won’t desire to devote the time period that the care plus upkeep that real estate they purchased would likely necessitate. MN commercial real estate for lease, happily, is available in as many types as will those that would like to book it. To illustrate, look at the following – almost all are examples of property that would be taken into consideration “commercial.”

A mechanic’s work area is certainly one illustration of a commercial real estate for rent, and one which has highly unique necessities. A cafe or restaurant might be another. Furthermore, a health care professional or dentist’s place of work is actually associated with professional property, as is the real estate a group might plan to be employed to provide the housing for a non-public school or maybe a day care. Most everywhere you start looking exactly where commerce within daily life arises, you’ll find professional sorts of property. Stores, office spaces, food facilities, co-ops plus car lots all will need commercial real estate. You can even find many industrial environments that actually fall beyond your border within the industrial classification and also tend to work to be considered as being a business provision. The best way to find the right section of business oriented property for your needs would be to talk with the best commercial property agency around town!

5 Reasons Your Business Should Have an Information Protection Policy

Information is the lifeblood of all businesses, but many business owners and high level managers often overlook the security of their business information to focus on what they consider more important; “the generation of revenue.” Many even know the risk well in advance but take on the mentality, “It will never happen to us.” Then the inevitable happens.

Experience has proven that the disregard for the protection of business information is disastrous. The smallest vulnerability in a business’s Information Security System (ISS) can and does cause businesses thousands, even millions of dollars in financial loss everyday. Experts have found that in the majority of the cases involving “loss” from the theft of information that the business owner(s) or managers were aware that potential breaches existed and did nothing to correct the issue. Experts also point out that in 99% of the cases that the cost to fix the breach would have been thousands to millions of dollars cheaper then the loss the business sustained from the breach itself.

According to “Trends in Proprietary Loss” (ASIS International, 2007) these are the top 5 reasons businesses of all sizes should have an active and progressive Information Security System (ISS) and Information Security Management System (ISMS) in place.

  • Loss of reputation/image/goodwill – Taking a hit in the pocket could be bad but not as half as bad as taking a hit to your reputation. Many business can rebound from loss of revenue but repairing your business reputation can cost astronomical time, effort and money. The implications are overwhelming in most cases.
  • Loss of competitive advantage in one product/service – When you have been working feverishly to stay ahead of the game but your competitor beats you to the finish line every time, “There’s a hole in your boat.” The leaking of trade secrets, product delivery timelines and other business processes can completely derail a business and destroy its competitive advantage.” In 2006 there was a well known case of information theft concerning an employee from a major beverage. That employee stole trade information and conspired to sell it to another beverage company for 1.5 million dollars.The employee was arrested after the competitor turned her in.
  • Reduced of projected/anticipated returns or profitability – This can occur when your competitor knows your pricing strategy. If they’re selling the same type of product or service as your business they can, and will easily outprice you.
  • Loss of core business technology or process – A quick Google search will give you some insight on how businesses lose billions in the process when technology is leaked or stolen. The case of the drawn out and costly battle of the “Cell Phone Giants” comes to mind. Do a Google search about it. There are some really insightful facts that you may not have known about the case.
  • Loss of competitive advantage in multiple products/services

All of the above are sound reasons while your business should have an active information security policy. I am of the opinion that any business that regularly loses money and fails to implement processes to stop it,will soon be out of business. Therefore, I encourage all business managers, executives and owners to take the protection of their information seriously. Make time to review your current information security processes and policy with your security manager. Listen to his/her concerns and recommendations. After all that is what you hired him/her for. Concentrate on making your security a “Necessary good” instead of a “Necessary evil” and dedicate a reasonable but flexible budget to immediately address new or unexpected security threats. It could truly save you a life of headaches, court battles and money in the end.

Below are a few recommendations that I believe will help any business to begin improving their information security process. It will also help to improve overall security in general.

Recommendations

  • Ensure that sensitive information is only accessible to a small group of people based on a need to know basis. This information is to be kept in a secure area with progressive and redundant security measures.
  • The first level of security can be posted signage that designates the level of authorization required to be in specific areas. These signs should also advise the consequences for ignoring them.
  • The second level of security may include CCTV cameras which are manned or unmanned (but have the ability to be reviewed later). Cameras serve as a good method to detect, deter and in some cases respond to nefarious behavior.
  • The third level of security mandates designated key cards or key fobs to enter restricted areas. This authorization can also be indicated by color coded ID badges. A security checkpoint guarded by trained security officers is also an option.
  • The fourth level of security concerns areas where the most sensitive information is held. This area should include CCTV cameras, locked file cabinets and safes. This should be supported by a well written Information Protection Policy created in partnership with an experienced security professional and it should be strictly adhered to.
  • Lastly, a schedule for audit and compliance should be instituted and a designated person appointed the responsibility for its oversight. This recommendation has more to do with Information Security Management, which I will discuss in a later topic.

General Information Security Practices

The preceding concerned security strategies for highly sensitive information however, we must not overlook the need for the security of general business information. Information comes in many forms and businesses must protect them all. Here are a few more tips that I recommend to improve your current Information Security Policy:

  • Ensure that all documents that contain personal, personnel and company information are always kept secure. This information should never be left lying around on someone’s desk or in their inbox. Always keep this type of information under lock and key and designate a person to ensure strict accountability.
  • Ensure that you have a information security policy in place and share it with your entire staff. This policy should include how to file or discard company information.
  • Ensure that your company has a shredder and include shredding regulations (what should be shredded, when and by whom) into your policy.
  • Always ensure that someone in your organization stays abreast of current cyber threats. This person is normally the head of the IT department or your security manager. He/she should also ensure that your anti-virus and firewall systems are regularly updated and tested. If your company does not have a dedicated IT department of manager it wouldn’t hurt to consult with an IT Security firm to get a check-up.
  • Ensure that your Information Protection policy includes regulations pertaining to thumb drives and portable hard drives. The policy should clearly state what information can be saved or uploaded from and to the devices. Also consult with your IT department to disable the USB ports on your computers and networks if necessary.
  • Finally, every business should have a Non-Disclosure Agreement. NDAs set the expectations for your employees as it pertains to the privacy of your business affairs, processes and materials. It also provides the recourse for violating the policy. can be found on the web, but I recommend consulting with your attorney to ensure that your NDA provides you and your business optimum protection.

That about sums it up. I believe that by implementing these strategies that every business can improve the protection of their information and reduce the chances of suffering financial loss. In many cases you may even increase your profitability, which is why we are all in business anyway. I hope that you found this information valuable. Never underestimate what a solid Information Security Program can do for you.

Thanks for reading and I hope that these quick security tips help to kick start or rekindle your Information Security Program.

Making Your Employees Understand the Value of Information

When deploying a bespoke information security awareness campaign, the ultimate aim is to build a mindset in which employees come to respect and protect the information they work with. To achieve this, it’s imperative that employees fully understand the value of that information.

Failing to understand the value of information is a major cause of information security breaches. For example, it’s the reason why sensitive information ends up in wastepaper baskets or recycling boxes, which subsequently exposes it to ‘dumpster diving’ – the practice of scouring company bins for useful competitor intelligence.

Failing to understand the value of information has led to some of the high profile ‘laptop left on a train’ incidents, where employees are walking around with sensitive information on their hard drives that hasn’t been encrypted for transport.

Failing to understand the value of information can even cause employees to talk themselves into doing things they’ve already been told is bad practice, such as connecting to an unsecure hotel wi-fi to check email. We’ve all been tempted to do it because of the convenience. What stops us is knowing how valuable the emails coming in and out are – all of which can be intercepted on an unsecure wireless connection.

Communicating value

The value of information is best communicated through a clear information classification scheme. For example, let’s use the traditional labels of ‘public’, ‘internal’ and ‘confidential’ information. One of the most effective methods of communicating value is to consider all of the information types within your organisation and categorise them under these headings. Turn that into a clear communication that allows employees to see exactly which information types should be considered under which classification. There are also some engaging and fun ways to embed this in your employees’ minds.

Make classification mandatory

Making classification of all documents mandatory also helps to embed this consideration of value. A classification must be assigned to every new piece of information that employees generate. Similarly, every piece of information they receive must be immediately checked for its classification. If a piece of information is passed on without a classification, then the practice of sending it back to the originator for classification will eventually cause this handling procedure to become second nature.

Protecting confidential information: Carrot or stick?

For most organisations, accidentally or intentionally disclosing confidential information is a disciplinary offence. As long as you state this as part of a campaign that simultaneously instils the value of information, then it can be quite effective.

However, bear in mind that the most effective internal communications campaigns succeed by aligning the objectives of the employee with the objectives of the organisation. Therefore, a more effective method is to make the employee see the personal value of protecting information at work. There are many messages that can be used, such as building the employee’s perception of their contribution to organisation success, and the need to protect the integrity of this achievement. You can also communicate how devastating an information breach can be – for example, through lost revenue or a fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office. An information breach could even cause enough lost competitive advantage that an organisation is no longer able to operate at the same size it was. This associates the concept of information security with job security.

Acformation – The New Information Paradigm

The First Paradigm – Age of Information (circa 1980 – 2000)

Information, coming in, captured the then market realities. It represented the collective market notions such as ideas, beliefs, etc. for a given time period. The Information Gradient (IG), the rate at the which a given information changed – proven, disprove etc. was fairly linear. In other words, the market behaviour was within the predictable limits of Organizational Think-tanks (OT).

The Second Paradigm – The Rise and Fall of Real Time Information (circa 2000 – 2012)

The changing market dynamics brought new problems to these OT. The IG lost its linearity. It became a victim to unforeseen market forces, and thus became more skewed. The Information captured did not convincingly represent the market notions.

It was then time for the next paradigm shift – the Real Time Information (RIT). But, RIT never represented information at all. It was a screenshot of the market notions at any point of time. It allowed the OT to ‘trust’ the market forces before taking any strategic decision.

It worked well for a while. Until RIT started losing the ‘realness’ of the information. As the real-time capturing of information peaked, companies started becoming more aspirational. They wanted information created a moment ago. While the technological advancements made it possible to capture and deliver information real-time, these companies found it difficult to put this information into perspective. For a vital component of the information made no sense – how useful is this piece of information for the immediate decisions to be made and its integrity for long-term strategic decisions.

The era of RIT came to end.

The Third Paradigm – The Age of Acformation (Present)

RIT is dead. How could a piece of information captured a minute ago make sense? More so, when information captured a minute ago will not be the same as the information that is to be captured the next minute. Especially in an industry such as Apparel or Footwear where the fashion trends are changing.

RIT lacks a continuity, in terms of aiding the business in taking market decisions.

Acformation was born. It stands for Actionable Information.

Acformation is radically different. It does not capture or represent information at all.

Acformation, in essence, represents the rate of change of information. In other words, it represents IG. IG is a meta-information, i.e. information about Information. It provides the much need context for the information, and is thus, Actionable.

Understand your company’s Information Structure

As a retailer, you need to understand the Information Structure of your business.

Primary Information (PI)

Stock Levels

What do you have? How much of it do you have?

Sales

What has been sold?

How much of it has been sold?

Secondary (or Meta) Information (SI)

What did this customer buy?

How much did the customer buy?

What is the Customer Profile?

What is the customer buying history?

Miscellaneous Information (MI)

Company Performance

Accounts and Balance.

Actionable Information (AI)

Given the PI, SI & MI levels, how disposed is the customer (or a group of them) to buy in the future?

How likely will the purchase be made?

How frequent will this happen?

Will there any change in their preferences as result?

How resources is your shop in making this happen?

What Information Does An Employee Expect? – An Employee Communication Primer

OPENING BELL:

With the corporate laws becoming stricter in India and the ‘Right-To-Information’ Act being enforced in the ‘right’ spirit, coupled with the hyperactive media & proliferation of social networking websites, the word ‘Transparency’ has acquired a new meaning in the world of business. Till early 1990s, the word ‘transparency’ was just not in the business lexicon and today it is a stringent legal, a professional, business and a societal necessity.

Like a coin, the word ‘transparency’ has two sides. One side pertains to the information that the organization shares with the outer world (like government agencies, investors, business magazines, news channels, and voluntary organizations) for compelling reasons and the other side is about the stuff that the organization feeds or notifies to the employees for the intended reasons.

In the contemporary world, the employees are far more conscious and vocal about their rights. In fact, feeding them information is equal to “what the doctor ordered”; give them a little information and they ask for more. Why? Because they believe that the information (like knowledge) is power and more information is decidedly better than no or half information.

Employees born after 1992 (known as Gen x or Gen Alpha) are the blessed ones as they have escaped the era of ‘information starvation’. When they were growing up, India was getting progressively liberalized and information was becoming available more easily. Consequently, they became adult with the ‘mindset’ that they have a (legitimate) right to expect, get and receive information that affects them.

As of now, it seems that the HR profession in India has taken the partial cognizance of this ‘info savvy’ or ‘info hungry’ employees and their expectations for the ‘transparency’ in information sharing (within and from the organization). What information the ‘info hungry’ employees expect from the management or the company?

Let us explore in a telescopic way, i.e. from the personal level and to the organization level, and look at the instructive list of the information needs.

As an employee – Individual & direct information needs:

 

  • How is my compensation calculated and what is my take-home pay?
  • How do I plan for my income tax?
  • What are the HR policies applicable to me and what each policy means? Whom should I give feedback?
  • What are my entitlements and how & when do I receive or claim them?
  • What are the performance measurement criteria applicable to me?
  • How will I grow or get promoted and approximately within what time-frame?
  • Whom should I speak to in case of any difficulty, personal or professional?
  • What are the unwritten but important Dos and Don’ts, behavioral and otherwise, of the organization?
  • Who are the key members of my immediate senior management and what are their profiles?

 

As a team (cross-functional) member – Individual, collective & direct information needs:

 

  • Why I am chosen as a member? Why others are chosen as team members?
  • What are the goals of this team?
  • Why a particular employee has been appointed as the chief?
  • Whom the team will report to?
  • What is the timeline for presenting the outcomes?
  • What resources the team has at its disposal?
  • Will my job be at stake if the team does not deliver as expected?
  • What are the extra privileges available to a team member?
  • How the conflicts within the team will be resolved?
  • How will my performance as a team member be linked to my annual performance appraisal?
  • Who will help if I or the team requires training or other support?
  • What if my Functional Supervisor hinders my participation in the team’s work?

 

As a member of the Function/Department/Unit – Individual, collective & direct information needs:

 

  • How my function/department/unit has fared this year?
  • Why my boss has assessed my performance as inadequate when the function/department/unit has done so well? Does that imply that the ‘sword is likely to be on my neck’?
  • Why our function/department/unit is treated like an orphan by the management?
  • Why I am not being given challenging assignments?
  • What are the key developments in other functions/departments/units of the company?
  • Why employees of other functions/departments/units get better or more benefits?

 

As a member of the organization – Individual & indirect information needs:

 

  • What are the core values of my company?
  • How my company has performed during the specific period and what are the central reasons for the performance?
  • What are the significant developments (political issues, competition related, mergers, acquisitions, takeovers, government policies, etc.) that affect my company (and therefore, me)?
  • Whom should I talk to if I receive unsubstantiated information about my company from the external or internal sources?
  • How my company is planning to grow in coming 2-3 years?

 

CLOSING BELL:

Though the information needs become more specific, differentiated, and time sensitive as one moves up in the pecking order, it cannot be denied that the same information can be shared, of course, on a case-to-case basis, in different ways with different levels of the employees, at the same time or at different points of time. Reaching out to the employees at the right time is always a healthier option irrespective of whether the employees have voiced about their information needs. Information shared at a date later than the required, serves no purpose. All employees do not require all information, but some employees require some information. Correct?

Transparency in sharing of information implies ‘openness’, which is a key constituent of a healthy organizational culture. However, the degree of openness is a subjective criterion and it depends on the workforce’s collective perception, which is primarily influenced by the difference between the management’s advocated philosophy or business policy and the real practice of sharing the information. Transparency in sharing information is a key ingredient for trust-building between the employees & the management.

The real torch-bearer of the ‘transparency’ is the HR Head. She is not only accountable to make sure that every employee receives the ‘required’ information, but also should persuade or even insist when required, that the members of the senior management demonstrate openness and behavioral transparency, consistently.

‘Behavior speaks louder than words’ and here it means that no member of the senior management should be seen as ‘hiding’ or ‘suppressing’ or ‘tweaking’ the information. Practicing ‘transparency’ is an art as well as a science for HR the professionals. It is more an art when they have to be transparent themselves and it is more of a science when they have to make sure that the employees perceive the organization as transparent.

The Union’s Right to Information or How to File a Successful Request For Information

In this article we will answer the following questions and a whole lot more:

• What is a request for information?
• Under what conditions can I request information?
• What can I do if the company refuses to give me the information I requested?

The request for information comes from the obligation and duty to bargain and applies to contract negotiations as well as the grievance procedures that follow.

Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.

An employer who refuses to provide information or unreasonably delays the provision of information violates Section 8(a)(5) of the Act.

Information can be requested by a Union who is certified to represent company’s employees for the following reasons:

• To prepare for collective bargaining negotiations
• To monitor the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)
• To investigate a grievance

In order for a request to be valid it must somehow relate to one of the above issues.

For example, a Union is preparing for negotiations and requests a copy of all workplace rules and regulations, a list of all positions to include their duties, responsibilities and where their position is located at.

Another example would be if a Union was investigating the discharge of a member. The Union could request a copy of all information used by the employer to decide to terminate the member, including but not limited to, all evidence, statements, emails, photographs, video recordings, audio recordings, photographs and any notes.

Even though a grievance is not necessary to request information it is recommended that the Union has some form of probable cause to justify a request. It does not hurt the Union’s case to be able to articulate the reasons behind their request.

What types of information can the Union request?

It would actually be easier to list all of the information the Union cannot require from the employer. Here are a few examples of information that is not allowed:

• Information covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)
• Trade secrets covered as propriety information
• Information which the employer has consistently enforced a policy barring disclosure so long as the employer provides an alternative or substitute form of disclosure

In order for your request to be effective it must contain the following items:

• It must clearly identify the information being requested.
• If the request is in connection to another matter such as a grievance it must be clearly referenced.

The following items are highly recommended:

• Clearly state where the information is to be delivered
• Clearly state how the information is to be delivered
• Clearly state when the information is expected to be delivered
• Clearly state that if any part of the request is denied the employer must state this fact in its response

Now let’s talk about delivery. In order for a request to be effective you must have proof of delivery. This can be accomplished in several ways. They are:

• Via certified mail, return receipt requested.
• By hand delivery, with a statement from the person performing the delivery.
• By fax or by email along with a confirmation copy, a reply or a phone call verifying that it was actually delivered.

What can you do if the company refuses or fails to provide the information requested?

The agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB is an independent agency of the United States government charged with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. As previously mentioned, an employer who refuses to provide information or unreasonably delays the provision of information violates Section 8(a)(5) of the Act.

This next part will depend how your Union is set up. Many organizations require Locals to go through their parent organization in order to file NLRB charges. You should check with your National or International before moving forward.

For those Locals or Independent Unions who are left to fend for themselves you can file the charges in two ways. You can fill out the forms yourself and either walk them into the NLRB or fax them in, or you can call the NLRB and the Information Officer (who normally answers the phone) will take the necessary information from you.

After a few days an Agent will contact you and tell you what you will need to do. Be prepared to provide an affidavit under oath as well as provide all relevant information or witnesses to support your case.

Generally speaking, NLRB charges filed over refusals to provide information are not subject to the NLRB’s policy of deferral.

This means that the NLRB will fully investigate the issue and if the violation is found to be valid, the NLRB can order the employer to provide the information requested.