The terrier can ship, why not you?

Guest post by Seth Godin

Maybe next year…

The economy will be going gangbusters
Your knowledge will reach critical mass
Your boss will give you the go ahead (and agree to take the heat if things don’t work out)
Your family situation will be stable
The competition will stop innovating
Someone else will drive the carpool, freeing up a few hours a week
There won’t be any computer viruses to deal with, and
Your neighbor will return the lawnmower.
You can ship, you can launch your project, you can make the impact you’ve been planning on.
Of course, all of these things won’t happen. Why not ship anyway?
[While others were hiding last year, new products were launched, new subscriptions were sold and new companies came into being. While they were laying low, websites got new traffic, organizations grew, and contracts were signed. While they were stuck, money was being lent, star employees were hired and trust was built.
Most of all, art got created.
That’s okay, though, because it’s all going to happen again in 2011. It’s not too late, just later than it was.]
Originally posted here.
Photo credit.

Integrity. Motivation. Objectivity. Ability. Audacity.

Integrity. Motivation. Objectivity. Ability. AUDACITY!

Integrity is the foundation of our technical profession. Without credibility, how can we expect others to rely on our work?
Motivation gives us the passion to see the work through. The discipline to do the impossible difficult calculations, to find the answer in the data available. To complete the assignment. And verify our solution.
Objectivity is the greatest tool of our profession. Learning, understanding, and applying the facts to a situation that we have analyzed, and anticipating the consequences is our objective work. We rely on facts and data.
Ability is how we execute. We have served our apprenticeship, learned our profession. We have spent time with the books. We have learned to do the math, and understand which  mathematical relationships apply to the situations we are asked to solve. We have rolled up our sleeves. Used the tools. And learned from doing.
Audacity is the engineer’s greatest gift to mankind. How audacious- to seek a better way. How daring to invest time and effort to solve the difficult problem. How dare we tackle the greatest problems facing humanity- safe water systems, safe transportation systems, safe medical devices, utilities and technologies to make our world a better place.
 How dare we try to find a better way?
Photo credit: Thanks to the Audacious Engineers of NASA Apollo 8

We recently caught up with Santa on his pre- flight rounds checking chimney status in Ohio.

"I'm a big fan of the Precision Machined Products Industry, you know."

Speaking of Precision: What brings you to Ohio now? I would have thought that you’d be back at the North Pole frantically working on Production?
Santa Claus: Frantically working on production? Heck No. We’re ISO/TS 16949. We have systems in place. Procedures to follow. There is nothing ‘frantic’ about our product realization methodology.
SOP: Sorry about that Santa. I guess it isn’t very well known that your North Pole Workshop is ISO TS 16949 Certified.
SC: Yes. Everybody thinks we’re this old fashioned, 19th century kind of sweat shop. We’ve had to keep up with the manufacturing technology you know. We’re nothing at all like that overly sentimental Coke commercial. We’re up to date. Using best practices. Modern lighting. Safe job procedures. Continuous improvement. Who has time for nostalgia?  Do you know how much coal I have to deliver to Wall Street Bankers this year?
Our monitoring and measurement of product (TS 16949 Clause 8.2.4 )  is one of the reasons I’m out here with the Medina Township Fire Dpartment today. Our procedures require us to validate delivery systems, so the fire department is driving me around to verify chimneys. The data I get will be used in our algorithm for lean delivery…

SOP:  Santa, who would have thought that you were a proponent of “lean anything?” Just sayin…  But why not just do a reindeer flyover?
SC: Are you kidding me?  I’m all about reducing waste. I have a world to satisfy in just one night. As for why not use the reindeer, look, you don’t know just  how hot  it is here. Look at me, I’m really sweating here in this heat wave. Is Ohio always this hot?
SOP: Santa, its 10 degrees F, we just got 6 inches of snow…
SC. Down right tropical. Down right tropical. If I’d have brought my deer, they’d be losing weight. They will need all their energy for our big night. Thank goodness the fire department can take me around on this preflight.  So what is it that you have on your list? New Car? Vacation? Stop foreclosure on your house?
SOP: Santa, Thanks for asking, on behalf of the precision machined products industry (we’re the people who make things)…
SC: Just like us at the North Pole, I know you guys. You make the crucial components that make other technologies function. I use a lot of your stuff in my work. And I think one of your shops made the hardware for my hip replacement last June.
SOP: You had a hip replacement?
SC: Yes, it was the off season. Your guys did a nice job on the screws  to attach it. Looked like they were whirled, not chased.
SOP: Well Santa some of our shops do that. Now about that list.
SC: Yes- The List.
SOP:  What we’d  like from you, Santa,  is to see continued and growing demand for  our Precision Machined Products.
SC: Well of course you do, you tracked me down to ask for that?
SOP: Also, we’d really like to see improved availability of the raw materials that we use to make our products. ..
SC: You’re telling me. I had a bit of a time finding some rare earth magnetic materials for earbuds and hard drives. I’ll see what I can do- professional courtesy, manufacturer to manufacturer,  you know. You guys wouldn’t happen to need any coal would you?”
SOP: No thanks on the coal Santa. Save it for the bankers. Finally, we’d like to see some real substantive action out of Washington on the issues of manipulated currency and regulation escalation.  The last two administrations have been do- nothings on the artificially low value of the Renminbi, and we are constantly trying to respond to the latest regulation or reinterpretation that puts our shops at a disadvantage globally, increases our costs to comply, and increase our risk of facing draconian fines and penalties….
SC: Can’t help you there, son. Even my magic has limits…   Why not ask for a winning season for your local Cleveland sports teams? Better chance of my delivering that- someday.  Sheeessh! We’ll see what we can do on the demand and raw materials side, but your industry is going to have to effectively work with the folks in Washington if you want to get any real change. Asking magic guys in flying sleighs isn’t going to help in that arena. That one you’ll have to tackle yourselves.
SC:Well  I’ve got to run, off to verify the quality of my purchased product. You know, ISO TS 16949 Clause 7.4.3. Tell your people thanks for making quality parts that make a difference. I’m really enjoying my new hip. Improved mobility is a real blessing. Your peoples’ focus on Quality will continue to be the key to keep them on my Nice List. You should see how many Wall Street Bankers I have on my Naughty List.
SOP: I’ll tell them Santa. Thanks for the chat.

 News to China: Fair Trade means Trade Fair.

WTO Decision: Chinese Tires Dumped!

 Our original post on this subject: Chinese tire dumping .
 A ruling announced yesterday by the World Trade Organization (WTO)  upheld U.S. tariffs levied on China-made tires entering the U.S.
 Moments after the WTO ruling the Chinese said they would appeal the decision.
Here is a summary of findings and conclusions.
The WTO’s dispute settlement panel rejected China’s position  that U.S. tariffs imposed last September on all Chinese tires violated global trade rules.  
China  retaliated  against the U.S. tariffs by slapping duties on a variety of American-made products, including chicken and nylon. 
So much for a commitment to trade fair under WTO by China.
So much for mature behavior from our “global trading partner” and “manufacturer to the world.”
The decision to impose the tariffs came last September after a complaint brought by the United Steelworkers union was confirmed by the U.S. International Trade Commission and subsequently recommended by the ITC.  The tariffs levied are 35% in the first year, 30% in the second year and drop to 25% in the third year. 
 According to the initial complaint, China has more than tripled its low cost tire exports to the U.S. between 2004 and 2008, costing the U.S. tire industry more than 5,100 jobs.
Maybe that’s why its called Dumping.
 The ITC ruled June 19th that Chinese tire manufacturers were dumping their products on the U.S. market, hurting domestic tire manufacturers and causing increased unemployment in the domestic tire industry. 
And now the WTO agrees.

When I was a blast furnace burden clerk at USS back in the 1970’s, the hot metal production that I reported was the CEO’s critical indicator for the Company. He knew that he couldn’t possibly track every product and process in the far flung USS empire. 
However, he did know that he couldn’t get more finished steel  production out of his company than was originally produced as hot metal in the blast furnaces.
So blast furnace production was the single most important production indicator that was used to manage the business.

2010 remains above 2009 and 2008 data.

Rail shipments are an equally valid indicator to those of us in manufacturing- raw materials such as iron ore, semi finished products such as steel, and finished goods such as motor vehicles are all a component of the Monthly Carload Report compiled by the Association of American Railroads.

U.S. freight railroads originated an average of 284,407 carloads per week in November 2010, for a total of 1,137,626 carloads for the month.

 That’s up 4.5% over November 2009.

Year-to-date carloads the end of November 2010  were 13.46 million, up 7.1% from the 12.57 million through same time period in 2009.

The following chart shows us just how well the “tangible economy” has come back: 


November  2010 was the ninth straight month with higher year-over-year average weekly rail carloads  something that hasn’t happened since 2004. I like where we are!

According to the AAR comparing shipments in November 2010 to November 2009,

  • Metallic ores shipments are up 86%;
  • Primary Metal prodyucts (mostly steel) up 26%;
  • Waste and Scrap (largely scrap) up 11.4%.

There are a lot of conflicting and confusing indicators being circulated in the media today. We continue to be a fan of rail shipments as an indicator of the real status of the ‘Tangible Economy’ of manufacturing. Just like the iron production numbers I helped track back in the day,  These rail shipments are a great proxy for manufacturing to come (ore and scrap shipments) and present manufacturing (Motor vehicle and parts shipments) as well as a proxy for the larger economy that is built of the ‘stuff’ carried by rail.

 On my honor I will try to serve God and my country

This is what they wore when I was still in school.

So imagine the brouhaha when the Girl Scouts of America put up their uniform contract for bid and two of the potential bidders were Overseas companies.
Imagine the concerns that farming out the work to a place like China could result in Girl Scout uniforms being made by child labor in poor working conditions. Girls who, by our standards, probably ought to be in a scouting program, not  exploited in abysmal working conditions in a sweatshop.
Imagine the phone calls, emails and letters the Girl Scouts must have received.
Happy Ending?
 Girl Scouts spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins said the organization, which has its national headquarters in New York City, had been contacted by parents, members and volunteers urging it to keep the uniforms American-made. She said the contract hadn’t been awarded but the bid request had been modified to require that the uniforms be made domestically and that companies adhere to strict guidelines regarding worker age, treatment and safety. This was reported here.
Girl Scouts of America Spokesperson Michelle Tompkins had this to say: “We thank the many Girl Scout parents and volunteers who stood up for their beliefs and showed our 2.4 million girls that every voice makes a difference. They are the role models who help build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.”
Every voice makes a difference. Every choice has a consequence.  When you buy, how do you choose?
Economic patriotism is official policy in China  (indigenous innovation is what they call it) and many other places.   
Is economic patriotism part of your thinking?

Summary: A change in the interpretation of  the word ‘FEASIBLE’ by OSHA could cause all shop owners whose shops noise level exceeds 85 dB to be REQUIRED by OSHA under this new definition to install expensive engineering or administrative controls to abate the noise  to levels below the action level. PPE could no longer be acceptable as the sole means of addressing noise exposure in our shops.
Action You Need to Take:
1)      Determine the noise level in your shop to see if it exceeds 85dB TWA.
2)      Determine cost to install noise guarding on machines necessary to abate noise levels to below 85dB (engineering control)
3)      Determine how many machines must be taken out of service at a time to prevent the noise level from exceeding the 85dB level ( administrative control )
4)      Perform a business case analysis to see if your company can remain in business if this change to the definition becomes law, requiring you to purchase sound dampening or reduce production.
5)      Document the cost to comply, loss of jobs, and any reduction in competitiveness, capacity or other issue that is a result.
6)      Send to Miles Free  gro.apmp@eerfm so that I can include in PMPA’s formal comments.
7)      Send a letter to the Docket for comments on this proposed change in interpretation as well as one to your congressman and please copy PMPA.
Submit comments at Individuals who mail or deliver comments must submit three copies to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2010-0032, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. Submissions not longer than 10 pages may be faxed to 202-693-1648 
Don’t delay.
PMPA and other metalworking associations requested, and received an extension on the Comments deadline so that we could obtain facts needed to properly assess the consequences of this new interpretation. Comments are now due by March 21, 2011. We need your facts to make our case!
 We need your data now to effectively represent you on this potentially shop closing issue.
 All data that we have seen from Member shops so far has shown that these shops will need to add sound dampening equipment.
Links: Extension letter:
Notice of Proposed Reinterpretation:
PMPA Extension Request Letter:
The shop (and machininst jobs) you save may be your own.

Speaking of assembly…
 Last weekend I bought a table that my wife wanted, to replace the classic old drop leaf which had seen better days.

Picking up the carton, I was fascinated by the red ribbon that was strung out of the box itself and a few inches proudly waving around for all to see.

What's up with the Red Ribbon?

When I opened the carton, guess what was on the end of that ribbon?

The blister pack containing the nuts, washers, and assembly wrench.
Too bad I didn’t take the photo before I assembled the table…
What a splendid poka yoke. The red ribbon sticking out of the package was proof positive that the necessary blister pack was in fact in the carton.
No x rays or TSA groping needed.
That’s what I like about visuals.
Visuals are simple, elegant, and can save you a whole bunch of time (time=money).
Just by showing up, being red, and waving around.
How about you? 
Any elegant “visual solutions” that you have deployed to make a difference in your manufacturing, assembly or packaging operations?
P.S. She loves the table…

Guest post by Peter Morici.
Only 39,000 new jobs created is awful.
After we back out health care and social services, which are largely gov’t funded, the private sector is not creating permanent jobs.
None, zero, nada. 

Where's the Jobs?

After health care, social services and temp services are backed out, the private sector ACTUALLY LOST lost 24,000 jobs
Ugh! (SpeakingofPrecision asks-IS THAT A TECHNICAL TERM?) 
So much for the gradual recovery.
 Meanwhile Congress and President negotiate extending the tax cuts–which everyone knows will end in a compromise in the range of $500,000 to $1,000,000 for the cutoff or a temporary extension or both, and extending unemployment benefits, again. 
Deck chair anyone?

 Rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic! 
The economy must add 13 million private sector jobs by the end of 2013 to bring unemployment down to 6 percent.
 President Obama’s policies are not creating conditions for businesses to hire those 350,000 workers each month, net of layoffs. 
Peter Morici
703 618 4338 
Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland School, and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission.
 Photo credit.
Actual photo of Titanic Deck Chairs

There are a lot of things to consider in the chart below, but as a manufacturing guy, I believe that the strong economic performance by Germany, compared to Ireland at the current moment,  might be partly explained by Germany’s strong apprenticeship programs, as opposed to sending everyone off to University.
Making people who can make things as opposed to churning out masses of  “symbol managers.”
Q: Who would have thought of “Post Secondary Educational Achievement” a possible negative economic indicator?

A: Professional Journeymen in the trades, perhaps.
So why is the German economy, with its relative lack of  large numbers of well educated citizens in the 20-24 year old age group so far ahead of Ireland?
Perhaps –Manufacturing.
Perhaps- Apprenticeships.
Chart courtesy of Clusterstock Who captioned this Graph” The Irish Collapse Is An Embarrassment To Everyone Who Loves Education”
Further Reading: Shopcraft as Soulcraft