Ergonomics can be thought of as much like a dinner table setting: Everything should be in easy reach and no one should have to reach too far or stretch into an unnatural position to get at what they need, says Ed Metzger, president of BioFit. “By ensuring that workers have the freedom to move comfortably and naturally, companies can prevent many of the musculoskeletal injuries and fatigue that leads to lost time and productivity.”
Manufacturing in America isn’t as simple as just setting up shop and producing a product. Nowadays, a globally networking economy means competition has taken on more nuance: labor rates are eroded by low cost countries, which results in lower cost imported goods and an ever-sloping playing field.
U.S. manufacturing lost over 2 million jobs between December 2007 and December 2009 — 17 percent of its workforce. While the U.S. hasn’t yet regained all of those jobs lost from the sector, about 12 million Americans are employed in manufacturing today. “Since the recession, manufacturing has been the driver for recovery and continuous economic growth,” says Douglas K. Woods, AMT president.
The veteran unemployment problem is a nuanced one. According to DoSomething.org, the country’s largest not-for-profit for young people and social change, the unemployment rate for veterans is three percent higher than that of the general population — with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) cited as the leading cause.
Many don’t think of Toshiba as an American-made brand, especially when it comes to the U.S. automotive market. And for quite some time, that was true. Since 2003, Toshiba had manufactured HEV motors for Ford Motor Company at its Japan facility. But in 2011, under the weight of supply chain pressures and growing currency risks, Toshiba Industrial Corporation began manufacturing motors for Ford’s hybrid vehicles in Houston, TX.
Lear Corporation’s 94,000-square-foot, four assembly line seating plant in Montgomery, AL is one of the most modern and efficient facilities of its kind. At peak production, Lear builds approximately 1,000 seat sets per day or 73 sets per hour in 56 distinct combinations of colors and options for the Hyundai Sonata sedan and Santa Fe SUV built at Hyundai’s Alabama plant.
Sometimes the most experienced technicians or skilled toolmakers need to look to specialists outside when it comes to solving critical service problems. Such was the case when a legendary helicopter company was confronted with a worldwide problem in cleaning scale from a small, outsourced part that was preventing it from proceeding with production of its helicopters all over the world.
Located in the heart of Coppell, Texas, just outside of Dallas, Stone Panels Incorporated manufactures one of a kind, light-weight stone veneer panels used in new construction and renovations across the globe. The facility does not have a centralized air-conditioning system and working in close quarters in a humid, and often times dusty facility can lead to uncomfortable employees and a drop in productivity.
Although the company operates a diverse collection of business units in 190 countries, German-based Siemens also employs more than 60,000 people in 130 U.S. manufacturing facilities. So with this in mind, we recently sat down with Helmuth Ludwig, the CEO of Siemens’ Industry Sector in North America.
What if you could report to your board room that reducing scrap has increased your company’s profit by 10 percent? Or, what if you could show plant managers that exactly 15 defects occurred within a particular shift? Because quality affects every level of an organization — from the plant floor, to the C-suite, to the customer — it is far more than a cost of doing business; it is a game changer.
Corwin Will is the facility manager of The Pampered Chef, a Berkshire Hathaway company, which has benefited from tremendous savings and safety improvements from installing Minit Chargers across four warehouses. The Pampered Chef warehouses face a daily challenge similar to those of all industrial facilities: trying to pick and ship thousands of items a day in the most efficient way possible.
At the recent Building America conference at Hypertherm, Inc., one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of advanced plasma cutting systems, something amazing happened: the 50+ customers and distributors in attendance stopped a Q&A session with the president to praise the company for its success in supplying a high quality product, delivering performance and exceeding customer expectations.
The deposition of material on heat transfer surfaces is called fouling which significantly impacts the thermal and mechanical performance of heat exchangers. Fouling increases the overall thermal resistance and lowers the overall heat transfer coefficient of heat exchangers as well as impeding fluid flow, accelerating corrosion and increasing pressure drop across the heat exchanger.
Despite the common preconceived notion that increasingly automated operations are eliminating opportunities in the manufacturing sector, the widespread adoption of advanced production technologies is actually creating opportunities, and demand, for more skilled professionals.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in May for the first time since November 2012, and the overall economy grew for the 48th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.
There has been a steady upward trend in average effective tax rates (ETR) of industrial products and automotive companies from 2010 (26.1 percent) to 2012 (28.3 percent), despite a reduction in statutory rates of corporate income tax around the world, according to the PwC US 2013 Assessing tax report, a tax rate benchmarking study covering 316 companies across the following industries.
Today’s smaller manufacturers are creating enormous amounts of data — everything from new product designs to top-secret intellectual property, as well as a constant flow of customer and sales information that must be managed and protected every day. To say that this data is vital would be understating the value of its constant use, and any loss of information could be devastating.
Training is extremely important to the future of manufacturing in the United States, yet in many states, it has fallen by the wayside. Training for skilled manufacturing positions has been hit by a perfect storm of budget cuts and the mistaken idea that all young workers should go to college.
Connected to a laptop I can’t afford, on the far end of a tangle of cords, is an exposed circuit board peppered with objects I can name — resistors, diodes — but not explain. The computer itself is running software that I’m not capable of programming myself. But none of that matters, and, in fact, is part of an educational plan from National Instruments’ Academic Program.
It costs U.S. industry billions of dollars a year to control and remove the limescale that builds up in industrial equipment such a heat exchangers, evaporative coolers, boilers, chillers and other water fed equipment. Limescale not only increases downtime, maintenance costs and causes the early renewal of capital equipment but also increases energy usage.