Concours Louisville

In the name of elegance

A medical billing course is crucial for one who wishes to work in the medical billing department of any hospital or for a doctor practicing independently for that matter. Medical billing is simply the set of processes involved in the claims made for payment from insurance companies for those health services given to a patient which that company covers. Usually, there are complex processes as those of coding which are involved. It then follows that anyone with the need to do such work needs the right kind of training to enable him get the best out of his employment.  Read about this at www.medical-billing.net

Luckily, there are a number of institutions today which will offer these courses. However, when you go about the choice of the right college, there are important factors which you cannot afford to ignore. First and foremost, you need to ensure that the institution you are choosing to take the medical billing course from needs to have the right accreditation. Only then will you be sure that you will be getting standard training. Also, be sure to know that the tutors offering this training are people with the right education and experience in the niche. Do not be caught by the trap of bogus training which will not help you realize your ambitions in this career.

Read about this at www.medical-billing.net

An increasing percentage of America’s R12 comes from more than 60 reclaimers operating around the country. In a conversation with Joan Terry Drucker of Refrigerant Reclaim in Red Wing, MN, we learned that reclaiming refrigerant is a large-scale operation requiring lots of capital equipment. They process used refrigerants in very large batches, and they prefer to sell it that way too. She explained that buying reclaimed R12 in quantity is “more cost-effective” than buying virgin R12 when several shops in an area get together and buy an entire skid of forty, 30-lb. canisters.

Look familiar to you?

Look familiar to you?

Reclaimed R12 is just as good as virgin R12, if the container has the proper certification from the Air Conditioning and Refrigerant Institute. ARI was organized in 1953 to set industry standards for refrigerants and the equipment that uses them, and those standards are applied around the world. In fact, the testing methods used by ARI are referenced in the SAE and EPA definitions of reclaimed refrigerant. R12 that meets the ARI 700 standard for reclaimed refrigerant is 99.5% pure, meaning there is only CFC12 in that can and it is uncontaminated by water, acid, oil or particulates. With the ARI 700 certification label on the container, you can be sure that it’s all good stuff no matter where it comes from.

Recycled refrigerant is not the same as reclaimed. The SAE has defined recycling equipment that can reduce the amount of moisture, oil and air in the refrigerant down to specific levels, and the big names in the industry make their equipment to that standard. This makes it possible to remove `known good’ R12 from one vehicle and use it in another. The EPA recognizes the market for used R12 and has developed rules governing its recovery and resale by salvage yards. It must be recycled through approved equipment by a certified technician and it must be accompanied by the correct documentation. Buying recycled refrigerant is illegal under any other circumstances and risky at best, especially with the proliferation of alternates and blends. If you decide to buy used R12, make sure it has its papers, then test it with your own identifier before using it, just to cover yourself.

R12 substitutes

There are several alternatives to using R12 for servicing or topping-off, but there is not a single manufacturer who recommends using them. In fact, most compressor builders will not warranty failed units with traces of anything other than R12 or R134a and the appropriate oil. These alternative refrigerants are blends of other industrial refrigerants, intended as a drop-in or direct replacement for R12. The EPA has approved nine alternative refrigerants for mobile air conditioning systems under their SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Policy). The SNAP refrigerants are `acceptable for use’ only because they are non-toxic and do not damage the atmospheric ozone layer. The EPA does not test them for performance or for how they may cause damage to the system. In addition to these SNAP refrigerants, several others are available that have not been approved. These have been developed specifically for performance and may also cause damage to the A/C system and/or the environment. Legal or not, the use of alternative refrigerants other than R134a causes four basic problems (aside from the warranty concerns):

1. Almost all contain R22, which causes serious damage to hoses, seals and O-rings designed for use in R12 systems. The potential for leaks and major component failure is high.

2. They are all blends containing more than one refrigerant, so as pressure increases in the system, each component is compressed at a different rate. This produces local pressure differences that affect the operation of orifice tubes and expansion valves. Also, some of the `lighter’ components leak more easily, meaning the blend will change over time. In some cases the heavier components settle out when the compressor is not running, making it difficult to remove all the refrigerant when evacuating the system.

3. Many of these alternatives contain flammable hydrocarbons. While the concentrations are low, it still increases the possibility of fire and explosion both in the shop, under the hood and in a traffic accident. Some of the non-approved alternatives contain high percentages of propane or butane, so take every precaution when your refrigerant identifier shows a high percentage of `unknown.’

4. The alternatives (legal and illegal) can be added by almost anyone at anytime, meaning an R12 system that’s been serviced improperly may contain almost anything. Also there is no recycling equipment certified for use with blends. This makes it absolutely necessary to use a refrigerant identifier before every recovery and to have recovery equipment dedicated to `taking out the garbage.’

Why not retrofit?

There are more arguments against retrofitting than in favor of it. First of all, none of the manufacturers recommend it. Their position seems to be that, since there is enough R12 still available to service those systems for the expected life of the vehicle, there is no point in taking the risks inherent in a retrofit. However they do recognize the realities of the market and most have made the investment to develop kits and procedures that will provide the best chance of a successful retrofit. This research should carry a lot of weight in your decision. One reason is that R134a operates at higher pressure, so filling a system originally designed for R12 with 134a makes leakage more likely, especially if the seals or O-rings in the system are old and weak. Leaks are also more likely because R134a is a smaller molecule. In lab tests it permeated and leaked through brand new non-barrier type hoses. In real life this hasn’t been a big problem in retrofits because the oil that’s already been absorbed into the hoses forms a good barrier seal that even flushing won’t loosen. However if you’re installing a new hose as part of the total job, it must be a barrier type hose compatible with R134a, not just the original replacement part.

Again, since the R134a molecule is smaller, smaller leaks are more likely. This makes leak detection somewhat more difficult. According to CPS Products, maker of the Leak Seeker[TM], the instruments being sold today will find leaks in any system, but older units originally made for R12 systems are not sensitive enough to work with R134a.

Another potential problem arises when installing a new compressor. It’s been discovered that R12 forms a thin film on the compressor bearing surfaces that offers very good anti-wear protection. When converting to R134a, that film remains on the original compressor bearings. But if a new compressor is being installed as part of the retrofit job, it won’t have the opportunity to get that coating on the bearings, and the compressor may not last as long as the original. In addition, some of the older compressor designs use Viton seals that are not compatible with R134a and the new lubricants. Those seals and O-rings will swell and ooze out of place, causing a heavy leak in as little as one season. Most compressor builders now supply units with the correct seal materials, but you need to make sure the unit you’re about to install hasn’t been on the shelf since before new materials were available.

How to decide

Aside from the technical aspects, there are other practical matters to consider when trying to decide whether or not to retrofit. According to Simon Oulouhojian, president of MACS, the most important question in this decision can only be answered by the vehicle owner: Are you happy with the way the air conditioner works now? If the answer is “yes,” a retrofit probably won’t make it work any better. Of course if your customer is already asking about A/C service, the answer is probably “No” and it’s time to see if a retrofit might make sense. Basically you and the vehicle owner must make that decision together, meaning you must communicate a lot of information to each other. In their Guidance on Retrofitting to R134a, the EPA’ s Ozone Protection Division has developed a few guidelines to help with this. While it may seem unusual to seek the federal government’s help with customer relations, remember that this office has relied heavily on the SAE, the manufacturers, MACS and various service industry sources to help us get R12 out of the system. Even though we have outlined many of the same issues in this article, it’s still a good idea to check out their web site at (www.epa.gov/ozone/ title609). Both the EPA and SAE sites also have good general procedures for retrofitting, and we’ve seen some factory procedures on the various CD-ROM information systems too. Read these to determine how big the job is and what kind of parts and equipment are required.

Basically, the EPA points out that most people will rely on their service dealer to educate them and help them answer three big questions: How much will it cost to keep the R12 system running over the rest of the life of the vehicle? What will it cost to retrofit? Will it work? Part of the answer to the first question depends on the condition of the vehicle and the A/C system. If the system has always been reliable and doesn’t need any major components, the cost and availability of R12 is probably not enough to justify a retrofit no matter how long the vehicle owner plans to keep the car.

As for the second question, the SAE has defined two different types of retrofit based on the price. A Type I retrofit is the manufacturer’s recommended procedure, often involving new components and other modifications. A likely candidate for a Type I retrofit is a late model R12 vehicle that needs major A/C service, like a car that has front-end collision damage. Since major components need to be replaced anyway, it may not cost much more to install all of the factory recommended retrofit parts. In contrast, a Type II retrofit consists of removing the R12, installing the new fittings and compressor switch and recharging with R134a and the proper oil, keeping the costs to a minimum. The only real reason for doing this is to simply get the R12 out of the system. It’s unlikely any customer will ask for that kind of service, so the real job lies somewhere in between. If A/C service is needed because there’s something wrong in the refrigerant system, it’s a good bet that parts must be replaced. Be aware that there is no such thing as a universal kit or procedure that will guarantee a successful retrofit for every make and model. Even within particular models, retrofit requirements may vary with climate or system use.

Another cost to consider is your own. You need to decide how you will warranty the retrofit job if the customer is not happy with the performance. The best guide here is experience. We’ve spoken with shop owners who have needed to reverse retrofits. In one case the owner and the customer weighed all the data, made the decision, and he used the factory kit and procedures. But in that part of the country, the system just couldn’t keep up with the demand. Fortunately the new parts were compatible with R134a so he only needed to replace the fittings and refrigerant, but this still cost him time, parts and some bruised customer confidence. If you’ve never done a retrofit or never done one on a particular vehicle, check with other shops in the area and with the manufacturer for their opinion as well as technical information. Find out about the manufacturer’s warranty on parts and components used for a retrofit to determine your own liability.

How well a retrofit works depends on several things. First of all, the climate where the vehicle is typically used is important. It’s unlikely a Type II retrofit will keep any car cool in a July traffic jam in Dallas, but on the same vehicle it might work just fine in Vancouver or even Chicago. The vehicle in question is probably the next biggest factor. Again the manufacturer’s recommendation is probably the best technical guide, but MACS has generated some good business information too. They surveyed A/C shops around the country in 1996, and the results indicate that 1990 and newer vehicles are the most likely candidates for retrofit. While we stated that there is no universal retrofit procedure, most shops tend to specialize in one type of retrofit and, with a little experience, have had few problems.

Retrofitting an A/C system to use a different refrigerant than it was designed for is a major modification. As in any other modification, those who have spent the time and money on engineering can offer the best technical advice. It’s up to you to determine the best way to offer service to your customer and still make a profit, and the answer to that lies in asking the right questions.

There are the normal problems you and I face trying to find the right part at the right price, problems exacerbated by the distribution centers that close the last half of December. Not to mention our employees’, our suppliers’, and our own brains seem to shut down for just about the same period of time. And there are the problems that come naturally when you try to push 20 percent more work out of an environment `comfortable’ with present production. All these realities contribute to the kind of physical and emotional exhaustion you probably know all too well.

psBy the time Christmas Eve rolls around I make Scrooge look like a party animal! I don’t want to answer the telephone. I don’t want to smile and say `Happy Holidays’. And I don’t want to be surrounded by throngs of people pushing, shoving, bumping, or in some other way invading my private space. All I want is to be left alone, slowly reducing speed so nothing breaks as I quietly come to a complete stop.

After that, I face the same kinds of `Honey, do …’ tasks most of us confront.

This morning, it was “Honey, please fix the shower handle in our bathroom. It’s broken again.” In the past, I’ve been absolutely brilliant when it comes to avoiding work around the house. Especially, when experiencing a complete and total meltdown. However, the shower handle is in our bathroom and there was no way to ignore it when my wife realized she couldn’t shut the water off! All of these realities forced me to leave the comfort and security of the couch and the remote control. Although, I have to tell you, my first plan of attack was to simply move the shower handle from the other bathroom into ours thus eliminating the source of my irritation. It was a good plan, even though it wouldn’t have worked for very long with a college-age daughter home for the Winter Break and marching back and forth to use our shower.

I broke down, removed the broken shower handle from the valve and headed off to the store. Sometimes, I think things happen to help teach us understanding and compassion for our customers. I know all I could think about as I drove to the store was the pressure some of our customers must feel as their husbands or wives push them to bring their car or truck in for service. Fixing the broken handle was something I had to do; it wasn’t something I wanted to do. There were other things much higher on my list of things-to-do, things like taking a nap! Recognizing that, I found myself feeling much better about fixing the broken shower valve.

I pulled into the parking lot of a local plumbing supply store and went inside to purchase the valve. I took the plastic valve out of my pocket, laid it on the counter, explained the problem and asked if there was a metal replacement handle less likely to fail as often. The young man behind the counter was pleasant and helpful. He walked over to a rack and immediately pulled a shiny chrome handle down and guaranteed that my problems were over. I smiled, purchased two of the handles, one for each bathroom and went home to install them. All I could think about as I opened the door to the shower was going `toes up’ on the couch again in order to resume my quest for the perfect, albeit, mindless diversion.

The handle did not fit. The inside diameter was too small to fit over the part of the lever assembly that changes the water temperature. I was not happy. Although, it was reassuring to note that ours is not the only industry in which getting the right part to the right person is an adventure. I got back into the car and headed for the plumbing supply store … again. I was frustrated. The store I had picked is a local merchant and not one of those giant building-supply super-stores. I like supporting local merchants in the community because that’s what we are and because I like to think the overall quality of service is better somehow. I like to think you are more likely to find someone with a pulse, someone capable of helping you or answering your questions in that kind of an environment. And, I like to think the extra value that comes from someone with a brain more than compensates for the slightly higher prices you are likely to pay.

The same young man came over to help me again. I explained the problem as he tried one shiny new chrome handle after another on the various mixing valve levers he took down for comparison purposes. None of them worked. Finally, a voice from the bowels of the stock room boomed out explaining that the chrome handle would only work with the companion chrome mixing valve lever. Plastic handles and metal levers were not interchangeable. I was on the verge of asking why not, when I remembered just how frustrating questions like that can be when asked across my service counter. Instead, I kept one metal handle for our shower, purchased a matching metal mix-it lever, returned one metal handle, and purchased a new plastic valve handle for the guest bathroom.

I was frustrated. I’d wasted a lot of time, precious time I planned to spend doing absolutely nothing. `Nothing time’ is extremely valuable time. I don’t get much of it. Consequently, I carefully guard what little I see. I suppose that’s why I almost lost it when the cashier made a joke out of my inconvenience. “How many more times before you “get it right?” she asked. “As many times as it takes to get it right!” I replied However, that wasn’t the question she should be concerned with. I explained that I had chosen to patronize their store instead of the mass marketer across the street to insure I would get the right kind of help: help that would result in only one trip to the store and not a series of trips. That objective had already been defeated.

Then I asked her why I should patronize their store if there was no difference in the quality of service between the mass-marketer across the street and them? Without extraordinary service, where was the value?

At that point, this customer relations fiasco took a strange turn. The young man who had helped me earlier asked if I had ever thought about a situation like this from the other guy’s perspective. I replied “I have. Have you?” He said he had. My next question was equally simple and yet he had no answer for me. “If you have, why didn’t you help me by asking the right questions or offering the right advice before I made my purchase and left the store?” At that point, the manager felt compelled to join the confusion. He wanted to know what the big deal was and when I told him, he didn’t seem to get it either.

All I wanted was to know why they would let me leave the store knowing there was a high probability I’d be back? None of them could answer the question, they couldn’t see where they might be wrong. After all, they gave me what I asked for … a metal handle. It wasn’t their fault it wouldn’t work.

They were right, it wasn’t. And I wasn’t willing to argue about it. I had more important things to do … things like, nothing. I went home, installed the handles, levers and valves and resumed my place on the couch. But, instead of doing nothing I found myself reflecting on what had just transpired. There were too many parallels with things that happen in our industry every day, too many reasons we have the public image and lack of respect we suffer, for me to feel comfortable. There are too many times the motorist gets what they ask for and not what they need; tune-ups that won’t cure a rough idle caused by a bad valve, and transmission services that won’t fix worn out overdrive clutch packs. And, yet, they are sold because that’s what was requested.

Around midnight on July 25, 1956, the luxury passenger liner Andrea Doria collided with the Stockholm in a fog bank 50 miles south of Nantucket Island. Eleven hours later, after most of its passengers, including actress Ruth Roman, had been rescued, the stricken liner turned on its starboard side and sank in 250 feet of water.

Sent to a watery grave along with 46 of its 1706 passengers was a fortune in paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and other artwork, which has lured treasure hunters for more than four decades. Often overlooked, however, has been a priceless piece of automotive history. Locked in the Andrea Doria’s cargo hold was a one-of-a-kind “idea car” from Chrysler, the “Norseman,” which no one but its craftsmen at the Ghia studios in Italy had ever seen. A few publicity photos and drawings are all the public has ever seen of the car. But that may be about to change.

This summer, John Moyer of Moyer Expeditions, which holds the salvage rights to the liner, has decided to dive into the cargo hold in search of what remains of the Norseman.

“We’ll attempt to locate it and possibly photograph it,” Moyer said from his offices in Vineland, New Jersey. “Beyond that, it depends on what condition it’s in.”

Whatever is left of the Norseman would be put on display by Moyer in an exhibit of the ship’s artifacts he’s helped assemble.

The Norseman: in an Octopus' garden, apparently.

The Norseman: in an Octopus’ garden, apparently.

Unlike a freighter shipment of new Essex automobiles that sank in 1914 and are all still in almost pristine condition on the bottom of Lake Michigan, a steel automobile that has now spent 40-plus years in a salt-water bath in the frigid northern Atlantic could be little more than rusty stalagmites.

Moyer has been trying to research the manner in which the Norseman was contained for shipping. Most likely it was strapped to a pallet and stacked in the cargo hold. At best, it may have been put in a container, which would have helped preserve it. At worst, it was merely parked in the liner’s garage, where it probably would have been heavily damaged in the ship’s rollover and plunge to the ocean floor.

The container scenario would make it more difficult to find, Moyer said. “If it was in the garage, it should be easier to find, because that’s more accessible. But nothing is easy to find down there,” said Moyer, who has spent 16 years just looking for the ship’s bell. “Conditions in that area of the Atlantic are quite extreme for diving. The sea’s temperatures are in the 40s, visibility is 15 to 20 feet at best, and there are strong currents.

“Conditions on the wreck itself are quite dangerous, too. The rigging is full of netting, cables, and fishing line. Once we locate the wreckage, we usually follow our anchor line down and start searching from there. It becomes very difficult to move away from that line.”

Moyer doesn’t use the nifty little submarines depicted in the movie Titanic; his dives are conducted with little more than glorified scuba gear. That’s possible because the Andrea Doria is in such shallow water, compared with the 12,500-foot-depth at which the Titanic rests.

“We’re hoping to find recognizable parts and pieces of the Norseman. It would be difficult to bring up the whole car,” Moyer explained. “We believe it’s deep inside one of the holds of the ship. We’d have to maneuver it from deep inside to get it out. I don’t know if that’s possible.”

In 1993, Moyer managed to pull two 1000-pound pieces of sculpture from inside the ship’s opulent first-class compartments. Those are the heaviest items retrieved so far; the Norseman weighed close to 4000 pounds.

Auto enthusiasts would rejoice if anything recognizable of the Norseman were ever recovered. Collector car magazines speak of it–and the dozen or so other idea cars–wistfully, especially as automakers increasingly return to the past for design inspiration. The Norseman occupies an almost mythical place in automotive history–the car that essentially no one ever saw.

What could Moyer expect to find extant of the Norseman?

“A lot of the detail parts were made in brass, then chrome-plated; that stands up pretty well,” said Virgil Exner Jr., son of the legendary Chrysler stylist who, along with the late Cliff Voss, executed the Norseman’s design. “The tires and the wheel covers should still be there. And then, of course, there’s all that glass.”

The car was a veritable greenhouse of glass.

“The Norseman had many experimental features, but the most striking was its cantilever roof,” Exner said. “The glass was totally wraparound. There was no traditional A-pillar. The two roof supports were integrated into the lower body through the C-pillar position. The front tips of the roof supports were tied down with thin steel rods. In case of an accident, the tension on them would cause them to snap up, instead of being crushed down, to protect the occupants. A portion of the top was retractable, too.”

The Norseman was one of the first true “fastback” designs. Its styling was clearly the star. Under the hood was the already obsolete 331-cubic-inch Chrysler Hemi with one four-barrel carburetor, making just 235 horsepower. The car was 227 inches long and 82 inches wide and had a 129-inch wheelbase.

“My father and Cliff went over there to Ghia earlier in the year and turned over the drawings,” Exner Jr. said. “They may have seen the full-size mannequin from which the sheetmetal was cut. But they never saw the whole car.”

Ghia finished the car just in time for it to be shipped on the ill-fated liner from Genoa, Italy, to Chrysler for fall model introductions. Whether it would have actually made a public debut then is uncertain.

“When the ship went down, my father was in the hospital for his first heart attack,” Exner Jr. said. “Nobody wanted to tell him. We didn’t know how he would take it.

“I was there with my mother when Tex Keller told him. Know what he said? `That’s really neat?’ He was a romanticist. He was disappointed they lost the car, of course, but he thought it was neat that it would become a part of automotive folklore.”

Exner said his father gave no real thought to re-creating the car.

“It was very expensive–one of the most expensive idea cars they had done. Certainly, the most elaborate,” Exner Jr. said. “There was no tooling. All the panels were beat out by hand. They had probably all put too much into it to start over from scratch. They just went on to the next thing.”

If you watch the nonstop bustle on an automobile assembly line long enough, it’s easy to get a skewed idea of the process. Close up, each step appears discrete and disconnected–engines being lowered into frames, door assemblies being bolted onto bodies. Step back to where you can see all the bright, shiny new cars rolling off the end of the line, however, and the whole thing starts to make sense.

In much the same way, if you want to understand the rapidly changing IT strategy at automotive giant Ford Motor Co., it helps to step back.

asslineSince taking over as CIO and executive director at Ford two years ago, Bernard Mathaisel has engineered four major, high-profile outsourcing deals that have transferred significant chunks of Ford’s IT operations to IBM Global Services, Compuware Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. These deals, however, are anything but discrete, disconnected events. Together, they constitute Mathaisel’s plan to transform Ford’s 5,100-person IT organization from a group focused exclusively on operational excellence to one that can also help the company improve customer service through rapid delivery of Web-based systems and processes.

Ford’s IT group historically has been tasked by top management to keep the IT assembly line in order. That meant running first-class, efficient data centers and networks and delivering rock-bottom total- cost-of-ownership numbers. That emphasis, however, began to change a couple of years ago. The shift culminated in January when new President and CEO Jacques Nasser announced that Ford, based in Dearborn, Mich., would become the Nordstrom Inc. of the automotive world: a company focused on customer service.

“That meant we had to place a significant consumer emphasis on everything we do,” said Mathaisel, who joined Ford from Boston-based Ernst & Young LLP, where he was a partner and the national director of multimedia services consulting.

Not surprisingly, Ford decided to deliver many of its new customer- focused services via the Web. Although Ford, like other big automakers, has trailed nimble startups such as Autobytel.com in delivering Web- based automotive consumer services, the company in the last few months has kicked off major electronic commerce initiatives, including “The Connection,” a collection of e-commerce sites aimed at buyers, dealers, and current owners of Ford cars and trucks. Ford also plans to roll out new intranet-based systems that will let dealers help customers get custom-configured vehicles more quickly.

Ford’s new emphasis, however, meant IT itself had to change dramatically. For one thing, the organization would have to ramp up to Web time, delivering new applications much faster than before. In addition, IT would need to take on a leadership role at Ford to guide the process redesign. In fact, it is Mathaisel’s group that is in the driver’s seat when it comes to helping line-of-business managers re- engineer key business processes for delivery over the Web.

With its new direction, however, Mathaisel’s group no longer has the time or the manpower to deal with the nuts and bolts of IT by itself.

The outsourcing motorcade

The outsourcing deals are intended to help Ford’s IT organization concentrate on its new course. The company’s $300 million, five-year deal with IBM Global Services, for example, inked in January (see PC Week, Jan. 18, Page 15), is designed specifically to turbocharge Ford’s application development processes. Ford and IBM, of Somers, N.Y., are building three dedicated Accelerated Solutions Centers in Dearborn, Germany and England, where engineers from Ford, IBM and Compuware will apply new tools and collaborative rapid application development techniques. The goal: cut software development cycle times by 50 percent, which will speed up Web-based application rollouts.

Ford’s deals with Compuware, Dell and HP, meanwhile, are designed to free the automaker’s IT organization from some of its operational responsibilities so that it can focus on revamping customer service processes and developing Web-based systems. For example, Compuware, of Farmington Hills, Mich., will take over maintenance and enhancement of Ford’s legacy applications; through an expansion of its existing hardware contract, Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, will take on asset management responsibilities related to Ford’s 165,000 workstations; and HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., will take over support of Ford’s Web server infrastructure. Meanwhile, to ensure that RAID servers are maintained and repaired when recovery is needed, Hard Drive Recovery Group of Irvine, Calif., will be there.

According to Mathaisel, a “very big part” of the outsourcing providers’ compensation will depend on whether they deliver agreed-to cycle times, customer satisfaction and cost improvements.

Besides allowing Ford to refocus its IT priorities, the outsourcing deals will help the company cope with the industrywide shortage of skilled IT professionals.

“We have less IT talent than we would like,” Mathaisel said. “The deal with IBM in particular will bring [Ford] hundreds of the best people and some of the best software development practices. And it will allow our people to focus on business process re-engineering and strategy.”

Ford’s Mathaisel may be a leader in using a series of targeted, strategic outsourcing deals to help refocus the role of IT, but he isn’t alone, analysts said.

“What Ford is doing is squarely in line with what we’re seeing from a number of our clients,” said Fred Joy, an analyst with Meta Group Inc., in Stamford, Conn. “The more savvy ones are moving away from the kind of panic outsourcing where they’re throwing everything into one deal. Instead, like Ford, they’re becoming more aware of the different services IT provides, and they’re concentrating on where [their in- house] IT can deliver the most value.” The rest, Joy said, they’re outsourcing.

Staying away from hard drive crash can be quite difficult particularly if the computer is being used by different individuals. There are certain safety measures that must be observed in order to prevent serious hard drive problems. There are two types of issues that can prompt these kinds of problems. These are logical and physical issues. Logical issues can cause file system corruption that can lead to hard drive crash.

Physical issues that can lead to hard drive crash can be prevented through proper computer maintenance. However, some circumstances that can result to physical issues are difficult to avoid. You should refer to a computer technician if you have noticed something unusual with the device. It is vital to be aware about the signs of hard drive crash so you can react to it immediately. You must not try to resolve the crash if you are not an experienced computer technician. This is because an incorrect procedure can cause serious damage on the device. You should consult a professional that can rebuild the device efficient. There are cheap hard drive recovery services out there.

Getting Your Lost Data Back
The procedure that will be used to rebuild your hard drive and recover data is reliant on the issue the drive is encountering. The hard drive could fail due to a logical or physical problem or both. You must not effort to fix the device if you are uncertain about the real cause of the problem. You can find cheap hard drive recovery that is dependable. The device must be fixed using specialized tools in the right environment. If you are going to mend the device without the correctly suitable tools, you might create more damage. A skilled tech will assess the form of the device in order to determine if it is still repairable. The likelihood of having the device restored is dependent on the scale of the damage. You should avoid running any program if you think that there is a problem with the device. It is also recommended to turn off the computer if a physical drive problem is being suspected. The device will be scanned if there are logical issues. While physical issues are resolved by repairing or replacing damaged parts.

About Hard Disk Technology

Is static an issue for your hard disk?

Is static an issue for your hard disk?

Every computer user will likely at some point experience a hard drive difficulty. It does not mean that the quality of modern hard drive devices is not impressive. There are just several circumstances that can damage these devices which are beyond the control of computer owners. Power surges and electrostatic discharges are just two of the things that can fry a hard drive device.

And yet, some of the circumstances that commonly prompt hard drive crash are preventable. These include excessive heat, physical shock and malware and virus attacks. Excessive heat can expand particular parts of the device. The changes in the sizes of these parts can cause misalignment issues. Physical shock can also prompt hard drive malfunctions of this kind. Computer owners are advised to install a fan that will provide solid levels of cooling. It is also advised to install an anti-malware and anti-virus software which will shield the computer from malware and virus attacks. It is urged to contact a computer technician if there are glitches in the activities of the hard drive. There are plenty of hard drive recovery firms out there.

How To Know When Professional Help Is Required

It is important to know when you may need to consult with a hard drive recovery technician. Although you should respond to any hard drive defects before they become worse, if the drive is terribly damaged, it will be difficult to rebuild it yourself. You just might have to pay for a repair. It is always better to check with a hard drive recovery technician while the situation is still manageable.

You should be alerted that serious clean room recovery is needed once the hard drive begins to produce clicking, grinding or screeching sounds. These sounds signify that the device has a damaged component. You can usually contain the problem by powering down, although this doesn’t always work. The hard drive might continue running for some time but it will eventually crash. You should also get some kind of experienced help if the computer starts displaying blue screen messages and formatting requests. Remember that hard drive problems can be quite complex. Thus, it is better to put the situation on the hands of the experts.

Traditional 4WD systems are still available, but as time goes on, their prevalence has lessened greatly. They work manually, and are very effective overall.

Locking front and rear drivetrains together makes the vehicle jerk and lurch in good traction, especially while turning. (This is called driveline windup or tight comer braking.) These systems will wear out quickly or break if used extensively on clean pavement.

4-wheel-drive LayoutWhile unlocking manual free-running front hubs saves fuel and cuts wear on the front driveline, the driver must know the hubs’ position without an indicator. When locked, they allow `shift-on-the-fly’ 4WD engagement. However, shifting into 4WD while driving with the hubs unlocked could lead to `powertrain parts on the fly!’

Many off-road drivers prefer this system. Simple and reliable, when combined with limited-slip differential options it can be nearly unstoppable in extreme conditions. But most motorists don’t encounter such extremes and prefer something more user-friendly.

Full-time four-wheel-drive

Often also called all-wheel-drive (AWD), basic AWD uses an open differential at the transfer case to relieve powertrain loads (driveline windup) developed as front and rear wheels travel varying distances around curves. However, the open differentials may allow the one wheel lacking traction to get all the torque in extreme situations. The chief purposes of AWD are to improve everyday driving feel on dry pavement, increase power delivery to the ground and enhance traction in `routine’ slippery driving, such as rain-slicked or snowy highways. This isn’t king of the hill for off-road trailblazing.

Infinite (confusing) variety

Few new vehicles offer full-time or part-time 4WD in pure form. Part-time variants include automatic locking hubs, electric or vacuum connection/disconnection of front halfshafts, electrically-shifted transfer cases, and electromagnetic front driveline spool-up clutches.

Full-time systems have been enhanced with viscous couplings or hydraulic clutch packs to progressively lock front and rear drivetrains or with manually-lockable center differentials for rough going (in effect, adding part-time 4WD to full-time 4WD).

Getting the front driveline up to speed

Standard, part-time 4WD may be shifted `on the fly’ as long as the front driveshaft yoke is moving at-or nearly at-the same speed as the shaft or gear it engages in the transfer case. Otherwise, there will be a severe shock to the powertrain upon engagement.

If all four wheels are moving at or very near the same speed and the front hubs are already locked, all is well, since the front drivetrain and transfer case are in more-or-less synchronized motion. But having the front halfshafts locked to the hubs isn’t the only way to get the driveline going.

One method borrows from air conditioning practice. When 4WD is selected, an electromagnetic clutch starts the driveline turning, spooling it up to speed very rapidly–though not suddenly enough to do harm. Meanwhile, engaging the transfer case–once handled by wrestling a `Johnson bar’ on the vehicle floor–is handled by an electric motor. Typically, the motor spring-loads a splined collar, which slips into place and locks input and output shafts together when rotational speeds match.

So far, so good, but today’s more `user-friendly’ systems don’t require the driver to stop and lock the front hubs before shifting into 4WD on the fly. But on the other hand, even if the front prop shaft is disconnected at the transfer case, all the front driveline parts still turn–wearing and using fuel–if attached to the wheels. That’s why free-running hubs were developed. In fact, one advantage of part-time 4WD is that much of the front driveline isn’t in motion when in 2WD.

Even most of the simplest-to-use, push-button 4WD systems allow the front driveshaft and ring-and-pinion to rest when in 2WD. In some, the shorter front halfshaft is always connected to the hub on its side, so the short shaft, the differential spider gears and the CV joints turn whenever the truck is rolling. In 2WD, however, the longer halfshaft is disconnected from its spider gear. When 4WD is selected, an electromagnetic or cone clutch brings the front driveshaft up to speed while an electric motor and spring (or a vacuum servo) at the front axle pushes against a splined, locking collar on the halfshaft. When speeds match, the collar snaps into place.

The other system employs automatic locking hubs. Just as manual locking hubs engage when you turn the knob to spring-load a locking collar within the hub, the turning motion of the axle coming up to speed engages a cam inside the automatic hub. This loads a similar spring, causing the collar to slip into place and engage the hub-once hub and shaft speeds match.

Progressive lockup for full-time systems

Although severe off-road conditions were not the top priority when engineers initially designed most AWD systems, they’ve developed effective ways of dealing with full-time 4WD’s chief weakness under poor traction, the unlocked center differential.

One strategy, already mentioned, is to have the ABS computer use wheel-speed sensor information to selectively grip brakes at spinning wheels. Two other approaches-the viscous coupling and the hydraulic clutch pack-add progressive lockup capability at the transfer case.

Viscous couplings provide locking action while tolerating enough slippage to allow cornering with very little driveline windup. The coupling interrupts the driveline to one end of the vehicle. It contains a series of clutch discs bathed in a silicone-based fluid. Half (every other) of the discs are connected to the coupling’s input; the other half are splined to its output. If both sets of discs are moving at or near the same speed, nothing remarkable happens. But when a wheel starts to spin (or, in some cases, the vehicle takes a very sharp comer), the relative motion of the discs quickly heats the fluid, which thickens, sticking the discs to each other, nearly locking the coupling’s input and output. When conditions change, the fluid cools quickly, relaxing its grip.

Hydraulic clutch packs resemble viscous couplings, with clutch discs splined alternatively to the input and output sides. However, instead of using friction, heat and temperature-sensitive goo, pressurized hydraulic fluid pushes the discs together. Pressure varies based on signals from a microprocessor acting upon readings from wheel speed sensors.

Which is it?

It’s important to know which system a vehicle uses to troubleshoot it correctly, but how do you tell which it has? Sometimes it’s obvious: a floor-mounted lever and locking hubs mean `traditional’ 4WD. If there are no switches or levers but there are front and rear drivelines, it has AWD. (Note: Some AWD systems do have controls for options like locking center differentials.) However, there are variations on both AWD and part-time shift-on-the-fly systems. The next step is consulting the owner’s manual and comparing components with systems described in the manual. Manufacturers we consulted say the VIN is not reliable for identifying drive systems, but matching the manual’s description of controls and characteristics to what you see is helpful.

Depending on the system in use, a customer complaint may mean a complicated problem or something simple. For example, a sport-ute may lurch around comers on dry pavement for several possible masons:

Nothing is wrong, but the part-time transfer case hasn’t been shifted out of four-wheel-drive;

The driver has attempted to disengage 4WD but the system won’t shift out;

A progressive-lockup clutch in AWD is locking inappropriately. Hydraulic or control system failure could be the cause.

Tire troubles

Something as simple as mismatched tires can cause problems in tough, reliable 4X4 systems. Not only size matters: All four tires should be the same make and tread design. Variations in inflation pressure can cause a change in effective circumference–making the tires behave as though they’re different sizes, loading up the driveline and causing windup even while traveling in a straight line. Rotating tires helps prevent uneven wear which can cause noise and erratic driving characteristics. The practice may also prevent actual changes in tire diameter.

Tire mismatches (or turning on dry pavement) can cause 4WD to remain engaged when the driver tries to shift it out. This may happen when the front-drive locking collar is under stress and can’t be pushed away by the spring meant to disengage it. The resulting, continuous lurching could cause damage. Driving straight forward and back on a reduced-traction surface may let the collar release. If not, jack up a front wheel. If it spins as it leaves the ground followed by the `thunk’ of a collar slipping out of engagement, you’ve just released a wound-up driveline. Check the tires and/or instruct the driver against running in 4WD on the road. If the system is electrically shifted and doesn’t release when jacked up, check for current at the engage/disengage motor.

Different uses, different maintenance

Talk with your customers about their 4WD/AWD vehicles and how they use them. Most won’t subject their vehicles to off-road driving or hard work. Be sure they’re aware they have extra components (a transfer case and an extra driveline with another differential and possibly extra Cardan or CV joints) which need servicing. And be doubly cautious about fluids when doing routine preventive maintenance. For example, many All-Trac Toyotas with automatic transmissions use ATF in a hydraulic clutch pack. There’s potential for confusion because the pack is located inside the transfer case where the remaining parts are lubed with gear oil!

Customers who bought part-time 4WD just for use on snowy roads need to know the `ten-mile-a-month’ rule: If the front driveline sits idle for too long, gears may rust and seals may stick to shafts. They need to find some low-traction surfaces and exercise their systems.

Any part-time 4WD driver needs to know that engaging the system after it’s already needed is bad news. For example, if the rear wheels are spinning, kicking in the front driveline (which is just turning at the truck’s forward speed) can cause violent engagement, and expensive damage. They should engage 4WD when conditions are slippery, but before wheels start slipping.

Off-road customers (and your own truck) may see tough duty. Manufacturers may specify synthetic gear lube for towing, plowing or desert rock climbing, while allowing mineral oil for less severe driving. The judgment call should be made based on your experience and knowledge of the customer’s habits.

Off-road trucks may be subjected to dust, which can clog filters. On the other hand, crossing rivers means that under-vehicle fluids will need changing to remove water, and unsealed U-joints will need greasing. (Be careful if pressure-washing to remove mud. Excessive pressure can blast water and detergent right past axle seals and even damage hoses and wires). Rough, off-road brush can tug at wires and hoses under the vehicle, requiring frequent inspection. Because there are all kinds of 4WD and all kinds of drivers, you need to be ready to do all kinds of 4WD maintenance!