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Focusing on information waste

January 15, 2013

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Yesterday the Brookings Institution, along with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, proposed a program that would involve the federal government designating 20 “manufacturing universities” to prepare students for the sectors that need engineering help. Most intriguing, perhaps...

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Mexico's other competitive advantage

January 11, 2013

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It used to be just labor cost, but apparently Mexico has another secret weapon in trying to expand its role as the world's manufacturing partner: It can churn out engineering and manufacturing talent for the large multinational manufacturers looking to locate in North America. Don't believe it?...

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We’ve all fallen off the fiscal cliff

January 10, 2013

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If the headlines from a week ago are to be believed, Congress got its act together and cobbled together a last-minute deal to avoid sending the U.S. economy off the fiscal cliff. Needless to say, I don’t believe it. Yes, superficially, the new legislation prevented the U.S. economy from becoming...

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New Year, less money

January 9, 2013

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It’s a New Year, and we escaped falling off the fiscal cliff, thanks to the very last-minute, drama-laden efforts of Congress to pass a bill to avert a much-portended catastrophe. In fact, if you went to bed too early on New Year’s Eve, which I apparently did, you fell asleep thinking we were...

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Metal fabricating with focus amid chaos

January 8, 2013

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Early last year, I recall eating lunch in the break room at Atlanta-based Metcam, which hosted a press brake training seminar run by Steve Benson and organized by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association. Sitting across from me was a press brake supervisor, we chatted a bit about his tours...

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Chipmunks on the fiscal cliff

December 18, 2012

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In 2009 and 2010, I offered a little tongue-in-cheek look at current issues in December blog posts—one a parody of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and the other, a really lame take on “Let it Snow.” This year, I was motivated by Alvin and the Chipmunks to revive this holiday exercise to...

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Thoughts on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary

December 18, 2012

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It’s difficult to write today. The events of last Friday, Dec. 14, continue to weigh on my mind and the minds of everyone I know. Looking at all the sweet faces of innocent young children and those brave souls who tried to protect them is almost unbearable. You can’t do so without thinking of...

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A thanks to you all

December 17, 2012

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When I visit a contract metal fabricator, often the focus really isn’t about the metal parts or the fancy machinery. It’s about co-workers, who often happen to be family members. Some aren’t blood relatives, but they might as well be. There’s a real sense of community at these shops. I’ve...

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The competitive cluster in metal fabrication

December 13, 2012

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A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out the strength of U.S. manufacturing when it comes to--get ready for the technical jargon--“big stuff.” By that the Journal reporter meant mining equipment and heavy machinery. Economist Chris Kuehl pointed out this fact in a recent edition of...

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Wanted: Experienced workers who never retire

December 13, 2012

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"They've tried for two years to find my replacement, but they didn't find one yet," said 67-year-old Gil Smith, a second-shift welding technician for Rose City Manufacturing, Springfield, Ohio. He shared that fact with me after saying that he had read the December edition of the Fabricating Update...

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Go north, young welder?

December 13, 2012

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Recently, my fellow blogger Tim Heston published a post that cited a New York Times article from November about how entry level pay in manufacturing is waning. The article quoted a Boston Consulting Group report that actually questioned the skilled labor crisis: "Trying to hire high-skilled workers...

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Unions, right-to-work laws, and technical training

December 12, 2012

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On Dec. 20, 1936, workers at a  GM plant in Flint, Mich., had enough--and sat down. Many consider that sit-down strike in 1936 as the impetus for the modern labor movement. That made yesterday’s news more poignant--when Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature made Michigan a right-to-work state. People...

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A year's worth of advice

December 12, 2012

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It's customary for people to reflect on what has taken place over the last year. As I was flipping through each issue of Practical Welding Today from 2012, I found myself re-reading the advice that welders and fabricators shared in each of the Shop Stories features. As we approach the new year,...

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Skills gap, or education gap?

December 11, 2012

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Government officials are paying more attention to manufacturing these days. It’s now politically prudent to preach the merits of reshoring, near-shoring, and the return of the “good manufacturing job.” Of course, this also puts more scrutiny on manufacturing as an industry. Are these good...

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Labor strikes reveal strengths, weaknesses

December 6, 2012

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In the end, the labor strike was just eight days long, but for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, an eight-day strike idles a large number of workers and ties up a lot of cargo. The dispute largely centered around the alleged outsourcing of jobs, an accusation brought by the International...

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