The U.S. Department of Labor finally recently published its 2013 Spring Regulatory Agenda. Despite the extra time, a number of dates are still shown as “00” or undetermined / to be determined.

But hey, at least they’re not handling our healthcare…

It's not like they should be held accountable to deadlines like they do us, right?
It’s not like they should be held accountable to deadlines like they do us, right?

But tucked in the 67 pages of Spring Regulatory Agenda we found good news regarding two items affecting our precision machining industry.

Item 1, Cooperative Agreements

According to the Regulatory Agenda, OSHA has “withdrawn”  RIN # 1218-AC32,  effective 07/00/2013, (whatever “00” means) which would have-

  • eliminated exemptions from inspections for companies regardless of  participation in Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) exemption status;
  • allow Compliance Safety and Health Officers to proceed with enforcement visits resulting from referrals at sites undergoing Consultation visits and at sites that have been awarded SHARP status;
  • limit the deletion period from OSHA’s programmed inspection schedule for those employers participating in the SHARP program.

I guess someone figured out that there would be no incentive at all for companies to participate in these programs if their was no employer benefit at all.

Item 2, Revising Record Requirements in the Mechanical Power Press Standard

The other good news item  in the Spring Agenda was the notice that OSHA is Revising Record Requirements in the Mechanical Power Press Standard, RIN:  1218-AC80. Notice of proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Direct Final Rule dated 07/00/2013:

“As part of the Department of Labor’s burden hour and cost reduction initiatives, OSHA will examine revoking requirements for employers to prepare and maintain periodic records certifying that the employer performed the required tests and inspections on machinery.  The purpose of revoking these records is to minimize paperwork burdens imposed on employers.  Recently, OSHA revoked requirements that employers develop and retain training records for a number of standards when the revocation did not adversely affect worker safety and health.”

The other 8 OSHA items have potential major impact on our shops. We’re analyzing them for reporting to our members.

We call our attention to regulatory issues “PMPA  Regulatory Assurance.”

Who is working on this for you? Where do you go for OSHA regulatory guidance? Are your HR people proactively working these issues?

Thanks to  EndUserSharePoint for the photo

Slips, trips and falls- here are some facts to help you with training for your team.

We are currently working on our analysis of the 2013 Spring Regulatory Agenda which includes an item “Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (Slips Trips and Fall Protection)” shown as Final Rule  due for November 2013.

PMPA members will receive a report on each of the agenda items applicable to our industry.

Hope you find  this background information helpful in your training.
The Cost of Slip-and-Fall Accidents Infographic
Via: BOLT Insurance

Infographic produced by Infographicworld

Here are 4 questions to help you evaluate the value of your work.

-Is what I am doing needed?

Is this the simplest and best way to do it?

-Am I using the time, tools and materials effectively- and at their highest and best use?

-Am I proud of what I am doing?

Mirror, mirror on the wall...
Mirror, mirror on the wall…

If you answered “yes” to all of the above, congratulations to you.

Whatever it is that you are doing, you are rocking it.

If you didn’t say yes to all of them, well, now you have an idea on what to start improving…

What questions would you add, if any, to these 4?

PMPA’s Business Trends Index for June 2013 is 119, identical to the value for June 2012 and down 8 points month to month from May, mirroring last year’s 6 point drop from May to June.

119 for June - 2012 and 2013.
119 for June – 2012 and 2013.

The monthly average for the index for June 2012 year to date was 122.2; for year to date June 2013 it is 123.3.

We are surprised at how closely the industry’s shipments in 2013 are mirroring 2012. And of course, we are concerned at the apparent lack of substantial growth.

Markets for precision machined products include automotive, aerospace, medical fluid power, off highway, appliances and many others

Not really  cause for concern, because:  June’s 119 is 5 points above last year’s average.

So we are not sounding any alarms here. Just wondering if all the new business development folks have gone fishing…

Business Development?
Business Development?

Get the full report here.



While there is no real recovery in Workforce Participation Rate at the national level, individuals can create their own personal economic recovery plan through training for a career in precision machining.

In the precision machining industry, we are convinced that the unemployment issue is structural- we have job openings but no qualified applicants.

Here is a graph showing US Labor Participation Rate 2007- 2013.

Recovery in Jobs? What recovery?
Recovery in Jobs? What recovery?

Meanwhile, the folks who think that it isn’t structural continue to pump trillions into the economy- to no avail.

We're sure paying for a recovery. Are we getting our money's worth?
We’re sure paying for a recovery. Are we getting our money’s worth?

Advice to job seekers:

If you are comfortable doing high school math, and would like a career where you positively impact someone’s life everyday by making things like human safety critical  anti-lock brake  or airbag components, medical device components, aerospace, fluid power control, and parts used in other critical technologies, consider a job in precision machining.

Our shops continue to look for talented people to bring their skills to our shops.

A couple of introductory courses to our trade are all that is needed to get the skills needed for an initial hire.

Our latest Business Trends Report for May 2013 shows that 92% of our responding companies felt that employment prospects would be the same or better.

You can find information needed to find a training program at PMPA’s Comprehensive Career Database here.

Want to explore the idea of a career in precision machining? Go to our Careers Page here.

The folks in Washington D.C. continue to shovel money to the markets in hopes of creating recovery. We’ re not optimistic. Hasn’t worked yet, see the graphs above.

But we ARE optimistic that anyone that can do the math can make a strategic decision to get some training and create their own personal recovery with training leading to a job leading to a career in Precision Machining.

Our member companies are looking for people with skills. The want ads  around the country show plenty of machinist wanted, CNC machinist wanted, CNC setup operator wanted advertisements.

We're hiring folks with credentials too!
We’re hiring folks with credentials too!

You can get those skills.

Those skills will get you a job.


Fed assets graph courtesy NAM economist Chad Moutray

Northwestern University is co- hosting a program Aug 12-13 on Future Research Needs for Advanced Manufacturing “from an Industrial Perspective.”

workshop NW

It looks like three of the speakers are from Industry: Dr. Leo Christodoulou from Boeing; Dr. Eric J. Amis from United Technologies;  and Dr. Fukuo Hashimoto from Timken Company.

Dr. Hashimoto’s topic will be “Advanced Processes for Manufacturing Precision Components.”

Dr. Amis’ topic is titled “Advanced Manufacturing: The 21st  Century Materials Design Space”

The Boeing presenter’s topic is to be announced.

I’m hoping to get a copy of these.

The objective of the program is ” … to provide a forum for leaders in industry and academia to formulate the long term research goals in the area of manufacturing, particularly innovative manufacturing processes and equipment, and to enhance respective process capabilities while taking into account impacts on industrial ecology, for example, raw materials consumption and environmental impact.”

We were almost fooled into thinking that the topic “Making Chips, The Digital Future of Manufacturing”  presentation by Dr. Tom Kurfess  at Georgia Institute of Technology was about metal removal machining- but we think we were mistaken.

Our compliments to Northwestern University, NAMRI-SME, NSF and ASME for trying to get ahead of the curve on the research agenda.

But we wonder if the Future Research Needs for Advanced Manufacturing might instead  be more social and less technological in nature:

  • How to graduate more Math and Science  Literate Students from Public Schools – so that they can qualify to work in advanced manufacturing.
  • How to get families and educators to see the earning power in High Tech High Skill Advanced Manufacturing careers.
  • How much to earmark for vocational and skill training as opposed to the billions of dollars being shoveled into 4 year college degree tuition assistance resulting in graduates with worthless degrees, mountains of debt, and no practical manufacturing skills.
  • How  to get a coherent federal policy that matches protection of public, employee, consumer, environmental, and commercial interests across all spheres of public policy regulation and trade.

These might require a different set of Doctors…

But if I could nominate a topic for the program, it might be to address “optimizing interrupted cut machining processes for titanium and high nickel alloys.”

We could use some help making these...
We could use some help making these…

But chalk that up to my industrial practitioner perspective showing. (Titanium has poor thermal conductivity, tends to produce lamellar chips, wants to deform rather than shear, which adds to the demands on the tooling.)

Every megatrend that we see leads our industry to more and more production of titanium based workpieces – aerospace and medical to name just two  growing areas, as well as growing demand for chemical processing, energy  and aerospace applications of the high nickel grades.

If you could suggest a topic for “future research for advanced manufacturing” to the collective wisdom of the participants in this program, what would you request?

Would it be technological, methodological, or social?

Contact information for the program

Titanium rotor

Population Growth and Globalization are two very important determinants or drivers of your precision machine shop business.
Are you paying attention?

We think that the population growth is one of the most important determinants of demand for our products- after all, our products are bought and used by people.

Population growth = more customers
Population growth = more customers

But it goes further than that.

More people means more energy is needed. that means equipment to harvest, recover, refine and transport.

More people means that we need to use smaller amounts of materials to do an equivalent amount of work. This is called ephemeralization, and it is why we seldom see the 4″ Acme running round the clock, while all of our smaller diameter swiss machines are booked solid across multiple shifts.

Ephemeralization is why I can now watch TV on my hand held device, in contrast to the 75 pound “portable ” TV I had back in the 1970’s with a steel chassis and case.

Portable! Not quite...
Portable! Not quite…

Maybe the population isn’t growing where you live- but globally, globally we are adding 82,000,000 more people each year.

If they are to have the same standard of living, that means more energy, more appliances and plumbing, more transportation, more healthcare.

Global Population growth is the “Driver of Drivers.” it is what drives the change in the other market areas that affect our shops: Mobility, Communication, Health, etc.

So how can a shop owner look at these two megatrends of population growth and increasing globalization for planning purposes?

Population growth means

  • Increasing demand-Automatic machines to economically handle production volumes
  • Market demand following demographics
  • Low mass devices- Stronger more difficult to machine materials
  • Low mass devices- Smaller parts requiring greater precision
  • Smaller rather than larger size machines

Globalization means

  • Worldwide markets but needing localized products
  • Small batches for local markets
  • Greater competition moderated mostly by freight costs
  • Skills gaps can be solved “over there” if we don’t solve it here
  • Costs of raw materials reflect worldwide rather than local economic conditions.

One of the failings of Soviet style central planning was well, central planning.

One of the weaknesses that we have as small entrepreneurial shops is failure to see the big picture.

Population growth means more, smaller, and more difficult to machine and produce materials and products.

Globalization means larger markets but must be localized products, more expense for raw materials and energy, and greater competition.

What is it that your shop does better than anyone else in the world?

If it is making big parts in large volumes, from easy to machine materials, we would not be terribly optimistic.

If you say it is making batches of complex things with high value from difficult to machine materials in small to tiny sizes. if it is for critical parts used to collect or use energy, we think that you might be playing these megatrends just right.

Post inspired by presentation by Horn: Tools for Today and Tomorrow

Population Photo

Portable TV