I wonder if the average voter really knows what a jump back to a tax rate of 39.6 percent from the current level of 35 percent might mean. The underinformed might view it as a slight financial inconvenience for the Wall Street button-down types and the owners and management of large corporations. Unfortunately, many of the folks that are going to get hit with the higher tax rate at the end of the year—if Congress doesn’t complete a Hail Mary pass to renew the Bush-era tax cuts—will be owners of manufacturing firms. (more...)
Archive for the ‘Industry Trends & Analysis’ Category
By: Dan Davis
Who do you believe the Mayans or the political pundits?
If the Mayans' ancient beliefs are correct, you shouldn't plan anything after Dec. 21 because that's supposedly the end of the world. For those that have their doubts about the prognostication power of ancient people, all they have to do is look ahead to the end of the year as the U.S. government approaches the dreaded "fiscal cliff," the time when a combination of tax cuts suddenly end and $100 billion in federal government spending cuts are enacted. Pundits believe that'll bring any U.S. economic growth to a complete stop and cause a slump that makes the Great Recession look like spring break.
Will it be the end of the world as we know it by the start of 2013?
By: Tim Heston
Last week I called a manager of a heavy fabrication operation. We chatted briefly, but after a few minutes he had to go. He told me six of his operators hadn’t shown up that morning, so shop managers were scrambling.
Then I saw a headline on the front page of the Sunday New York Times: “Skilled work, without the worker: New wave of deft robots is changing global industry.”
Industry leaders continue to scream for good people, those with good attitudes, work ethic, and (ideally) technical aptitude. Sometimes, managers are just looking for people who actually show up. Meanwhile, mass media conveys the idea that robots are taking over the modern factory. No wonder manufacturing has trouble attracting enough people.
By: Vicki Bell
Have you read the article “A moral argument for manufacturing?” If you haven’t, please do, and if you agree with the author’s premise that the only way to really change the landscape for manufacturing in the U.S. is to bring the moral argument for its existence to the collective consciousness, then please share this article with others.
I spoke with the article's author, Jim O’Leary, yesterday. We had a nice chat about his article, the business he works for, and how much faith he has in this country’s ability to right its manufacturing ship. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
Positive thinkers make me nervous, and motivational speakers make me roll my eyes. I'm a self-motivated individual who has a clear understanding of the reality around him. I believe in the ability to scale mountains, but those that believe they can move them through sheer will deserve to have Tony Robbins take their $350 in exchange for an autographed book and an afternoon of self-help babble.
So back in 2008 I laughed as manufacturers tried to convince me that the media was causing the economic downturn initiated by the collapse of the real estate market. So if everyone had ignored the facts around them, the economy magically would have improved overnight? Reality wasn't going to cooperate. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
The rain fell so hard on June 18 in my hometown of Crystal Lake, Ill., that the power went out because broken tree limbs snapped power transmission wires. It was a great night.
Forget any perceived sarcasm. I'm totally serious. Like other states, northern Illinois is in dire need of rain. It's been a brutally dry and hot summer.
Of course, I have to take care of just six tomato plants, four pepper plants, two cucumber vines, and my ever-growing pumpkin plant. I don't have to worry about an entire farm. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
Is the U.S. manufacturing slowdown a speed bump or a sink hole? Honestly, the answer really doesn't matter.
The June 2012 Institute for Supply Management™ Manufacturing Business Survey—the Purchasing Managers Index—declined 3.8 percentage points from the May numbers, falling to 49.7 percent, which typically means U.S. manufacturing went into contraction. This is noteworthy because the retrenchment comes after almost three years of consecutive months of growth; the last time the survey came in under 50 percent was in July 2009.
Enlightened manufacturers might show some concern, but they are looking ahead because they know U.S. manufacturing is about to undergo a big change. The work is going to be there for those that can deliver quickly and be cost-competitive. (more...)
By: Tim Heston
Manufacturing didn’t fare so well last month, falling just slightly into contraction territory, as measured by the Institute for Supply Management. The data support what a few shop owners have been telling me.
“Business is softening.”
That was Bruce Hupfer, director of technical sales at Qualtek Manufacturing. The 40 people at this manufacturer know how tumultuous U.S. manufacturing can be. At one point, much of its business came from stamping computer chassis. After that business left for Asia, the company made a push for diversification. Today the stamper serves the medical field, renewable energy, as well as general industrial customers.
The shop has technology that can form components like few competitors can. The company invested in several servo-presses with a ram stroke that’s fully controllable. The ram can change speed during forming, dwell at the bottom, and even rock back and forth to ensure the metal of the formed part has “settled” into its final shape. This technology can take on some seriously complex parts.
The company also offers finishing and heat treatment services, making it one-stop shop for many customers. The shop’s diverse capabilities and customer base will most likely protect the firm for what may be a bumpy road ahead.
By: Dan Davis
At the Salvagnini dealer gathering, Meet-In America, in Hamilton, Ohio, in last week, the company's sales representatives got a reminder of how the company has evolved in recent years. It's no longer just thought of as a major supplier of flexible manufacturing systems; people are recognizing the company for its laser cutting machines as well.
Pierandrea Bello, a Salvagnini product manager, offered several statistics to stress that point, but perhaps the most telling was the 300 percent rise in laser cutting machine production just in the last two years. Fiber lasers are driving that growth, and Salvagnini remains one of the few companies that offer only a solid-state laser cutting machine, not the more traditional CO2 lasers commonly found in metal fabricating shops. (more...)