AREIR is the tool to help you upgrade your management practice from coping to proactively managing through a defined process of anticipation, recognition, evaluation, implementation and review.

The Deming “Plan, Do, Check, Act Cycle” is useful for managing industrial processes, but it is insufficient for broader management in today’s increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous  (VUCA) world.

Planning is not the same as anticipating, and after the fact planning is too late to assure that you meet your plan without serious  negative consequences.

The AREIR Management Cycle provides a means to systematize the way that you guide your firm through today’s VUCA landscape. It consists of 5 steps

  • Anticipate
  • Recognize
  • Evaluate
  • Implement
  • Review

Anticipate is more than just planning. It is actively identifying vulnerabilities and opportunities that are likely to emerge.

Recognize means that when a change has occurred, you are aware of it.

Evaluate means to think critically about the facts and their implications for your business. (How these facts challenge your current plan and making the appropriate inferences will take courage.)

Implement gets you and your team safely back into Deming Land -it is the “Do”  in the Plan Do Check Act Cycle.

Review is where your commitment to continuous improvement is demonstrated. Without continuous improvement, companies lose their competitiveness and sustainability. Continuous Improvement is always on the agenda.

PDCA (Plan Do Check Act)  is the perfect tool for nurturing an industrial process where the inputs are known the people and processes are known, and the outputs are known.

AREIR (Anticipate, Recognize, Evaluate, Implement, Review) is the tool for managers facing a world where inputs, people, processes, outputs, and regulations can change in an instant and yet you still have to deliver results.

The ability to anticipate is what sets apart the successful managers from those who are just ‘traffic cops’ that react and respond to events.

Original Article in Production Machining

We sent our letter to attention of Chairman Darrell Issa…

Earlier this month,  Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) submitted a  joint letter with NTMA and PMA in response to a request by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Darrell Issa for examples of ill-conceived regulations and rules interpretations and their impact on metalworking manufacturers.

The letter stated, “The first week of May 2012, the federal government issued 77 new final rules and regulations and proposed 40 new rules. As of May 25, 2012, the year-to-date total for new federal rules and regulations issued was 1,506, filling 31,432 pages. Of these new rules, the government classified 292 as having a significant impact on small businesses. Companies like our members simply lack the resources, financial or personnel, to sort through the thousands of pages of new regulations each year. Compounding this challenge is a lack of knowledge of industry process by regulators who are not familiar with manufacturing and therefore often issue ineffective rules with unintended consequences.”

The letter provided examples of existing and proposed regulations and rules interpretations that negatively impact metalworking manufacturers, reduce global competitiveness and restrict the ability to hire employees and invest in facilities. Examples included the EPA’s TRI Article Exemption Rule, Nickel Rule and Metalworking Financial Responsibility Requirements Rule; OSHA’s interpretation of lockout guidelines, arc flash requirements and guidance memo indicating that safety incentive programs may potentially be a discriminatory violation against disciplined employees and may discourage safety violation reporting; and the SEC’s conflict minerals rule. Read the full letter.

You have more than enough on your plate to say grace over without having to battle the bureacrats and regulators and their ill conceived burdensome regulations.  PMPA’s regulatory efforts are just one way of  “effective associating” that can help you and your company in today’s hostile regulatory environment.

Last week Bloomberg BusinessWeek published an insightful article on the hassles of small manufacturers with their China businesses.

The jobs, not the products, are starting to return to our shops in North America.

“American production is “increasingly competitive,” says Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative, a group of companies and trade associations trying to bring factory jobs back to the U.S. “In the last two years there’s been a dramatic increase” in the amount of work returning.”

“As costs in China rise and owners look closely at the hassles of using factories 12,000 miles and 12 time zones away, many small companies have decided manufacturing overseas isn’t worth the trouble.”

Our shops are seeing an increasing number of opportunities to manufacture products that were previously made in China.

Our consistent quality, agile ability to implement design changes, and faith in the raw materials to meet spec here in North America are helping our shops win this business back.

Freight costs continue to climb, and holding costs for the larger amounts of inventory needed to fill a  shipping container are also factors in the Make Here or Buy There decision.

The Boston Consulting Group predicted Cost Parity with China by U.S Manufacturers in 2015.
Many Precision Machining Shops are finding that they are competitive today.

Thanks to Bloomberg for the Article

This is awesome photography and will convince you that perhaps there is some Magical “Slinky Antigravity Technology” involved that keeps the bottom motionless as the top of the Slinky descends.


Unless you can  get your head around the idea of the slinky as a system and some fundamental physics concepts.

A tip of the  hat to the folks at Questacon who did the slow motion Photography.

And to one of the longest running and most interesting blogs out there.

My apologies for the scanning lines folks. Click the link below for the video.

In most of this footage you will see that there is a small mass of workpiece material (Built Up Edge or BUE) that is doing the “penetration.”


The fracturing ahead of the tool, and the occassional jamming of material under the tool, and the waviness of the generated surface are concepts to keep in mind when you try to understand why you are getting the finish on the surface that you get.

Also, a good way to visualize how the material is being workhardened by “rubbing” where the material is not separating easily ahead of the tool.

What you are seeing.

Despite the declines reported for May 2012  in both the  ISM Purchasing Managers Index for Manufacturing and Industrial Production (IP),  PMPA’s Business Trends Sales Index is once again back at its peak of 127.

This is an increase of 9 percent over April, up 8 percent over last year’s average, and up 7 percent compared to same year to date last year.

Strong Demand for Precision Machined Components!

PMPA’s Business Trends Sales Index shows a strong continued demand for the products of the precision machining industry.

PMPA Business Trends Report

The ISM Manufacturing PMI decreased modestly from 54.8 percent to 53.5 percent in May 2012, contrasting to our index’s gain. Industrial Production (IP) also slipped 0.1 lower in May, as Manufacturing Activity contracted 0.4%. (Note: Manufacturing Activity is actually up 5.2% on a year over year basis.)

The 3 month moving average (3MMA) for PMPA’s Business Trends Index of Sales remains above the 12 month moving average (12MMA).

We are strongly optimistic about prospects for manufacturing knowing the role our industry’s production plays as supplier of critical componentry in manufactured goods.

 How is your shop doing? Are you getting your share of the Industry’s unexpectedly strong sales?

How do you reconcile this to all the doom and gloom we hear on the news?

Darlene Miller was interviewed by President Bill Clinton at Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago recently.

Darlene Miller, President and CEO of Permac Industries,  Vice President of PMPA, gave an employer’s perspective of Right Skills Now during a panel discussion about developing talent to continue economic recovery that has been led by manufacturing.

Darlene ‘s segment begins at 9:00 in the below video.

Clinton asks  “Why is manufacturing recovering  and growing  again, and what are the constraints to finding workers, and what have you done about it?”

Miller answers “US manufactures as much as Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. We need skilled people- to fill over 600,000 openings we have. But we don’t need just labor, we need skilled people. We started Right Skills Now to help people get the skills they need for a career in Advanced Manufacturing.”

Video: Jumpstart America Clinton Global Initiative. (Advance to 9:00 to hear Mr. Clinton’s and Ms. Miller’s exchange.)

Right Skills Now

PMPA provides staff support to Ms. Miller and her work on the President’s Job Council and Right Skills Now. Our precision machining companies are looking for people with skills and talent to get a great career in advanced manufacturing.

Why doesn’t the cost of these correlate to the investment needed to produce them?

Bread= $3.80/pound.
Cold drawn bars for machining right now ~$0.66-68/pound.

This great question came from a discussion I had with Ronnie Masliansky, General Manager, Marketing and Product Control, Arcelor Mittal Steel.

Arecelor Mittal Long Carbon North America is a PMPA Technical Member.

So why do you think that the price of these items doesn’t correlate with the investment needed to produce them?

The competitiveness of Manufacturing in North America has helped it to lead the recovery out of the last recession.

What are the trends that we face in Manufacturing going forward?

” I see two graphs that will determine the success of manufacturing.”


The following graph shows that since 2007, manufacturers have added more educated workers while eliminating less skilled / less educated positions:

Word to potential workers: Skills not labor to work in Manufacturing.

Increasingly employers are looking for credentials for skills rather than 2 and 4 year degrees.

Right Skills Now is one way for math capable candidates to get their start in a career in advanced manufacturing in CNC operations.

RSN curriculum

Demand for skilled workers “blues”:

The blue bar segments in the following graph shows us that as the baby boomer cohort leave the workforce, there are currently not enough under 25  and 25- 34 year olds to make up for their loss. This means that  not only will productivity increases have to continue, but also that we need to really make an effort to bring 34 and under people into our skilled workforce in manufacturing. This will certainly be a challenge for employers, and if nothing is done, will mean a new management version of  the  No Job Blues–  “the no skilled worker blues” – for our shops as we try to find candidates for open positions left by the departing boomers.

If you are a savvy shop, you are working on this issue today- if the average age of our manufacturing workers is 50, that means over half of our workforce are within a few short years of retirement.

What’s your plan for workforce and skill development in your shop, city, region and state?

How’s it working out for you?

Graphs : U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration, Mark Doms Chief Economist

Crystal Ball