DBusiness Daily Update: PizzaForno Expands in Michigan, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Automated pizza oven brand PizzaForno is adding three more outlets in Michigan. // Courtesy of PizzaForno
Automated pizza oven brand PizzaForno is adding three more outlets in Michigan. // Courtesy of PizzaForno

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

PizzaForno Continues to Expand in Michigan

Canada-based automated pizzeria PizzaForno, whose two original U.S. outlets are in Jackson, are planning to add two more outlets outside of Jackson and another in Ann Arbor.

The Michigan PizzaForno franchisees are entrepreneurs Adam Page, who works in the medical device space, and Tim Ekpo, an orthopedic surgeon.

PizzaForno is an automated pizza oven that produces gourmet artisanal pizzas in less than three minutes. Accessible 24/7 at the tap of a digital screen, PizzaForno offers a selection of menu options, each made fresh.

The brand currently is working on an app that will allow customers to order an artisanal pizza directly from their phones. The order is then sent to the nearest PizzaForno oven location for a nearly touchless experience. The app is in the testing phase and is expected to be available to consumers this fall.

For more information about PizzaForno and its licensing opportunities, visit here.

Nexteer Expands Capabilities for EV Power Steering Systems

Nexteer Automotive in Auburn Hills has expanded the output capabilities of its pinion electric power steering (EPS) systems to meet the needs of heavier electric vehicles (EVs) in segments B through D.

Nexteer’s new high-output options for single pinon-assist EPS (SPEPS) and dual pinion-assist EPS (DPEPS) join the company’s previously announced High-Out Rack-Assist EPS (REPS) to provide high-output options for all types of under-hood EPS systems.

The company’s new high-output options for DPEPS and SPEPS systems increase the steering capability by 12 to 20 percent — up to 14.5 kilonewtons (kN) for DPEPS and up to 12.5kN for SPEPS. These high-output solutions are designed to benefit OEM customers by enabling them to steer heavier EV loads in B through D segment vehicles without the need to move up to more premium EPS technologies that are traditionally employed for larger segment vehicles.

“Nexteer’s high-output EPS portfolio expansion further enhances the Company’s position within the growing electrification trend — as well as capitalizes on our global market leadership in REPS and market leadership with SPEPS in Europe,” says Robin Milavec, executive board director, senior vice president, chief technology officer, and chief strategy officer at Nexteer. “We believe our expanded high-output EPS product portfolio further strengthens our ability to meet the needs of our customers globally, while also offering new opportunities to expand our customer base and market diversification in an increasingly electrified future.”

In addition to Nexteer’s new high-output DPEPS and high-output SPEPS systems, the company’s high-output REPS increases the steering capacity of Nexteer’s REPS — steering up to 24kN of load compared with 10-17kN for a typical REPS system.

In addition to EVs, which are in many cases heavier than comparable internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, high-output REPS also can convert heavy-duty (HD) trucks and light commercial vehicles (LCV), in the 3.5–6T segment, from hydraulic to electric power steering.

Now with the ability to steer these vehicle types electrically, drivers of HD trucks and LCVs can benefit from enhanced fuel efficiency and advanced safety and comfort features such as lane keep assist, crosswind compensation, trailer assist, and more.

To date, Nexteer has booked three electric applications for high-output REPS, including a full-size electric pick-up truck, an electric LCV (delivery van), and an electric autonomous Level 4 people mover (with no steering wheel).

Little Caesars and M&Ms Team Up to Create Post-pizza Dessert

Little Caesars in Detroit and Mars Inc. of Chicago have joined forces to create the cookie dough brownie, made with M&M Minis that will be available at Little Caesars.

The new dessert features soft, chocolate brownies, each topped with a cookie dough frosting and sprinkled with candy-coated chocolate M&M Minis.

One order of Cookie Dough Brownies has four servings and is priced at $3.69 plus applicable sales tax. This item is available using the Little Caesars app for pickup or delivery, as well as for in-store pickup at any participating Little Caesars locations without preordering.

Hyzon Motors to Supply Hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Truck for California Test

Hyzon Motors Inc., the New York-based fuel cell manufacturer with operations in metro Detroit, is providing a hydrogen fuel cell-powered commercial truck to a company in California to put the technology to the test.

Southern California’s Total Transport Services Inc., a prominent port trucking company in and a provider of logistics services with expertise in distributing imports within the U.S. and Canada, with test the Class 8 truck 30 day trial during the fourth quarter of 2021.

The truck, built on a 2022 Freightliner Cascadia chassis, is expected to have 600 peak horsepower and a range of up to 400 miles. Because of those specifications, the truck can be placed into TTSI’s existing operations, hauling up to 82,000 pounds gross combined vehicle weight (GCVW), a standard load for TTSI, and taking advantage of the public heavy-duty hydrogen refueling station in Wilmington, Calif., close to TTSI’s Long Beach Custom’s House operations.

“Deploying the truck in real operations was a key requirement for us,” says Vic LaRosa, president of TTSI. “TTSI’s trucks run 18-20 hours each day, hauling heavy loads. Hyzon’s FCEVs provide the quick refueling and high performance necessary to meet these operational needs.”

Southfield’s Nexcess Introduces Sales Performance Monitor

Nexcess, the Southfield-based digital commerce cloud platform built to optimize WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento sites and stores, today announced the release of Sales Performance Monitor as a feature on all WooCommerce plans.

“We wanted our WooCommerce store owners to have critical insights into the health of their online store revenue,” says Chris Lema, vice president of products and innovation for WooCommerce Authority. “Merchants are often unaware when their online store is experiencing degraded services. Most monitoring systems will alert a merchant when their entire site is down but not capture issues with payment processors or site slowness. With Nexcess Sales Performance Monitor, our intelligence engine will send merchants alerts on sales trends, giving them much needed visibility and allowing them to get back on track if store sales are slowing down.”

Included in the cost of the Managed WooCommerce Hosting plans, the added feature means that store owners can take immediate action to understand revenue trends, should shifts occur. The Nexcess Sales Performance Monitor will monitor a store’s sales and measure them against a predicted model based on daily/weekly historical performance. When the store’s sales are slowing down or disappearing in a way that is “abnormal” to the specific store’s trends, the monitor will alert the owner.

For more information, visit here.

Eaton Develops 48-volt Technologies to Help OEMs Meet New Global Emission Regulations

Power management company Eaton, in Galesburg (east of Kalamazoo), today announced its vehicle group has developed a series of 48-volt technologies to assist its global on- and off-highway commercial vehicle customers transition from traditional 12- and 24-volt vehicle systems to systems that include 48-volt architecture.

These 48-volt systems can power new, advanced energy-consuming components and can help reduce emissions and improve fuel economy and performance.

“This development comes as global vehicle manufacturers are making decisions to adopt new technologies to meet emissions regulations,” says Ben Karrer, manager of technology development for the Eaton Vehicle Group. “Of the options available, 48-volt architectures are becoming more popular because they can decrease both CO2 and NOx simultaneously, which helps both our customers and the environment.”

Most vehicles traditionally have operated with a 12-volt system, but with tightening fuel economy regulations and new, advanced power-consuming components being added, increasing power needs are driving the move toward 48-volt systems.

Eaton’s Vehicle Group also is developing power electronics for 48-volt electric catalyst heating, which provides heat directly to the vehicle’s aftertreatment system. This active heating helps catalyst components reach efficient operating temperatures faster upon engine start and maintain those temperatures during low load operation. This will be an essential strategy for reducing emissions to the levels required by future regulations, Eaton says.

“Forty-eight-volt power will also be used to power systems such as HVAC and the engine cooling fan, which are traditionally run by the engine,” says Karrer. “Today’s systems are not intelligent — you can’t control when they’re on or off or adjust the levels. Converting those components to electric alternatives allows you to intelligently control them and eliminate mechanical loads.”

For more information, visit here.

WorkForce Software Achieves Record Results in First Half of 2021

Livonia-based WorkForce Software posted more than a 20 percent increase in year-over-year revenue growth, strengthened by the addition of 232 new or expanded customer relationships in the first half of 2021.

The revenue growth, according to the company, is attributed to the need for immediate investment in solutions like the WorkForce Suite. Through the uncertainty of COVID-19, which upended business operations this past year, many companies identified gaps in their ability to adequately communicate, adapt, manage, and retain employees in their global workforce, especially front-line workers and the otherwise unreachable deskless employees.

Throughout the first half of 2021, WorkForce Software has added 115 new customers, an increase of 360 percent over the same time last year. This growth was driven by more than 400 transactions in first half 2021, made up of both new customer bookings and existing customer expansions.

“WorkForce Software is in a position to help transform business operations through next-level employee engagement. Employees need to be heard and empowered to manage their work lives and have meaningful interactions with their employers — and inclusive of the 2.7 billion employees who don’t sit behind a desk and are often underserved by existing workforce solutions,” says Mike Morini, CEO of WorkForce Software.

“COVID uncovered significant gaps in the ways in which many companies were able to communicate with and manage employee time and scheduling, leaving them exposed and vulnerable to compliance challenges. WorkForce’s growth and momentum over the last year and into 2021 is proof that our customers are using technology to engage their entire employee population and are better equipped to meet their changing needs and improve employee engagement — all leading to a more agile business.”

Plante Moran Elects 24 New Partners

Plante Moran, a large certified public accounting, tax, and consulting firm based in Southfield, has elected 24 new partners. They are:

Jaime Eckels, Dori Eggett, Valerie Grunduski, Stan Hannah, Jerry Luebbers, Scott McLellan, Ashley Paschke, Scott Petree, Ginger Powell, John Samulak, Tim St. Andrew, Brett Stetson, Adam Stevenson, Randy Surratt, Amber Terakedis, Jeanette Tolar, Jonathon Trionfi, Diana Verdun, Colleen Wellman, Josh White, Kipp Yost, Craig Zampa, and Jenna Zhou.

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