After years of advice, prodding, urging and incentivizing, manufacturers are greener than ever, and so are their pocket books. According to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average retail price of electricity for industrial customers has risen steadily from 5.05 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2001 to 6.82 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011.
Perhaps one of the most significant contributions the Internet has made to our daily lives is the ability to find the rock-bottom price for just about anything we need to purchase easily. With a quick search on the right keywords, we can find exactly what we’re looking for and save a lot of money to boot. Or so it would seem. The truth is that strategy works for some items but not others.
As we grow up, we often get wonderful gifts from mom and dad. Gifts such as intelligence, passion, communication and leadership skills. We also get gifts from different mentors, which can complement the ones from our parents. As adults, business leaders bring these childhood gifts — or lack thereof — to the companies they lead.
2012 saw the widespread acceptance of cloud computing, “including the validation of the model by some of the largest software companies in the world.” So as leading vendors continue to invest the resources in making this technology smarter, more reliable, and easier to use, manufacturers can do their fair share by giving these innovative solutions a little attention as well.
Manufacturing floors don’t have Lego stations and pool tables – and yes, OSHA may take issue with throwing empty cans from the mini bar into the same bin as the scrap metal from the lathe, but that doesn’t mean that the industry has any fewer engineers flocking to it.
Industrial work environments requiring physical labor pose a variety of risk. Injuries can occur from lifting, straining or moving, but also from contact with irritants and chemicals in the warehouse or distribution center. The safety and security of employees should be the number one priority of any business.
As manufacturing processes become more automated, it is essential for companies to invest in partnerships with local technical schools to maintain a qualified, knowledgeable workforce. In June 2011, President Obama launched a national effort to revitalize American manufacturing.
The food manufacturing industry defines the kind of variable, often-extreme working environment in which a rugged tablet PC thrives. Refrigerated areas must be at or below 45 degrees, freezers at or below zero, and hot food must remain at 140 degrees or just higher. Rugged tablets have to endure these highly variable temperatures and move among them as needed.
When Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor for President Obama was asked what the two most pressing issues that kept him up at night, he replied, terrorist attacks and the US declining national competitiveness. The backdrop of 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs at a time when unemployment is near 8 percent has most certainly been his nightmare in the making.
Maybe, in comparing the benefits of working on a plant floor against the benefits of working at Facebook, engineers chose the latter. Because let’s face it — OSHA wouldn’t be too happy to see a ping pong table alongside the stamping machine.
The Lean methodology of process improvement defines at least 7 classical forms of waste. Going through notes, over and over again, as to the root cause of wastes we experience indicates that indecision often drives waste, even if it appears to be a circumstantial cause and not a regular or systemic cause of the system.
The fact is that our trade and economic policies – or lack thereof – are the primary cause of stagnant manufacturing growth in this country. We in and of manufacturing find ourselves in an environment of two camps, vying on many fronts for supremacy & influence. And, these days, it sure seems like the inmates are running the asylum.
In 2009, President Obama set a goal of doubling exports in 5 years. The President portrayed his initiative as a boon for small companies, likely because fewer than four percent of all service businesses export, according to the Small Business Administration.
I was interested to learn a little more about the relationship between listening and hearing at a recent seminar at the Grainger show in Orlando. The focus of this presentation was not on eliminating noise, rather, addressing the ways those affected could greatly reduce or eliminate the resulting damage that came with the prolonged exposure to high volumes.
Big data is not just for predicting election outcomes and mapping genomes. General Electric (GE) is betting on the so-called Industrial Internet — a term they coined — to help manufacturers boost performance, streamline processes and better compete in the global marketplace.
Most economists agree that the “Great Recession” of 2008 ended sometime around August 2009, and while the economy has been slowly recovering, unemployment still appears to be a stubborn problem. The headline rate is just a shade under 8 percent, which translates into a little over 12 million Americans out of work.
I’ve heard for years that “soon we’ll have solar panels on everything.” To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to the hype because these magical solar panels that can fit on and inside everything never seemed to materialize commercially. But researchers seem to have made a real breakthrough in solar technology: thin, sticky, flexible solar panels that can stick to just about any surface or object imaginable.
The U.S. must soon decide whether to allow unrestricted liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to non-U.S. markets, or to enact limits on natural gas exports to keep more of the fuel in the country. Vast reserves of natural gas in the U.S. and newly developed extraction techniques have made it economically sensible to extract previously unviable deposits of natural gas.
It is a phenomenon that is referred to with a catchy rhyme: “the brain drain.” Older workers are leaving companies, taking their experience and knowledge with them. And, for various reasons, the reservoir is not being refilled at the same rate. Knowledge leaves, and the tank threatens to go dry.
The industry is still a global juggernaut; producing 18.2 percent of all manufactured goods which tops the list globally (still over half a percent more than China). But quite frankly, ‘dominant’ would be one of the last terms to sum up the past fifteen years of U.S. manufacturing, despite our strong presence.