Openings for skilled workers as older workers retire are seen as the biggest challenge facing manufacturers in this economic policy report from Connexus Indiana and CBER Muncie.

When these workers leave, we will need people with skills to replace them. What's your plan?
When these workers leave, we will need people with skills to replace them. What’s your plan?

“The most significant challenge facing Indiana’s manufacturing firms is the very high percentage of workers nearing retirement age (more than one in six workers over the next 10 years).”-CBER Manufacturing and Labor Market Frictions, Connexus Indiana, CBER Muncie Indiana.
“Since 1998, the share of manufacturing workers aged 55 to 64 has grown from 9.8 percent to 16.8 percent, which is a 71 percent increase in share in less than a generation’s time. This rapid growth is due to the movement of the baby boom generation into near-retirement and retirement years.
Although this transition is occurring across the economy, it is larger and growing more rapidly in manufacturing.” CBER Report
And it is not just in Indiana. This trend can be seen nationwide.
Skilled workforce. Our greatest challenge.
What is your plan?

Manganese ties up Sulfur before it can chemically combine with Iron  to form Iron Pyrite. Iron Pyrite occurs at grain boundaries and leads to hot shortness (brittle behavior) at rolling temperatures.

More than fools gold, Iron Pyrite can prevent steel from being hot worked by inducing "hot shortness."
More than fools gold, Iron Pyrite can prevent steel from being hot worked by inducing “hot shortness.”

We saw that several people found our blog with the search term “Carbon Steel Without Manganese.”
So we’ll take this opportunity to answer that.
We have already written about  5 Facts about Manganese in Steel which explains the contributions of Manganese to a steel’s properties.
But lets answer the question – is there a Carbon Steel without Manganese?
The answer to that is No.
Here is the primary reason why. Iron Pyrite.
There are always small amounts of sulfur in steel, and Sulfur combines with the iron in the steel to form Iron Pyrite. Iron Pyrite is also known as iron sulfide, though a more descriptive name might be Iron persulfide.
Regardless, this material is formed as sulfur in the melt reacts with iron , and this material segregates at grain boundaries., causing intergranular brittleness. This causes it to break, rather than behave in a ductile fashion and reduce under the pressure of the rolls.
By adding Manganese to the melt, Manganese preferentially ties up the available sulfur, forming manganese sulfides. this prevents the formation of iron pyrites in the grain boundaries, preserving the ductility of the steel at rolling temperatures.
That is why every steel that we have encountered contains enough Manganese to react with the sulfur in the melt.
Steel without Manganese? Nope, I’ve never encountered it. And that is a good thing!
 Photo credit

The 2014 Connexus Indiana Manufacturing and Logistics report is a clear, easy to understand 6 page document with graphs and a single Data table report card to give you great insights into the “state of Manufacturing in your state.”
We were pleased to find a treasure trove of state by state data on Manufacturing at the 2014 Manufacturing and Logistics report prepared by Connexus Indiana, CBER Ball State Muncie Indiana.
Think of this as a useful piece of “Business Intelligence” to confirm your feelings about your particular states Manufacturing performance.

Manufacturing Health

From the report:
“Manufacturing is the production of both consumer durable goods (e.g. automobiles, electronics, and home appliances that last for years) and consumer non-durable goods (e.g. clothing, processed foods, and other goods that are consumed after use).
To measure manufacturing industry health, we include three variables: the share of total income earned by manufacturing employees in each state, the wage premium paid to manufacturing workers relative to the other states’ employees, and the share of manufacturing employment per capita.
Sources: U.S. Department of the Census and Bureau of Economic Analysis. “
On this site you will also find indicators grading states for:

  • Human Capital,
  • Worker Benefit Costs,
  • Tax Climate,
  • Expected Fiscal Liability Gap,
  • Global Reach,
  • Sector Diversification,
  • Productivity and Innovation
  • And Logistics.

Here’s that link:  2014 Manufacturing and Logistics report
About Ball State CBER
The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) is an economic policy and forecasting research center at Ball State University. In addition to its analysis and data delivery offerings, CBER organizes the annual Indiana Economic Outlook and quarterly meetings of the Business Roundtable.
Center for Business and Economic Research
2000 W. University Ave. (WB 149)Muncie, IN

One of my friends on Facebook posted this video about how to sharpen a wood scraper by a guitar maker that she knows.
I was impressed that this video correctly shows us not just the “How” but also the “Why” of the steps needed when sharpening this tool.
The lessons in this video provide a master class of insights into the issues of sharpening any tool by hand.
The overall lesson that I took from this is the importance of properly holding our workpiece (in this case the tool) so that we don’t put distortions into it.
PS:  Look at the chips!
PPS: Do you have a favorite “Love of the Craft” video that you think we should share?

(Corrected) The PMPA Business Trends Index for June 2014 declined 8 points to 120. This is the same pattern that we reported in May-June 2013.
We are not alarmed at this drop because the value of 120 for June 2014 is 3 points above the average for calendar year 2013 (117) and 5 points above the 115 value for June 2013.

Seasonal change remains up over 2013.
Seasonal change remains up over 2013.


  • The number of respondents for June is 83- back to our pre-online system migration levels.
  • Our industry continues to show solid sales in 2014.
  • Sentiment for all indicators turned positive in this month’s reporting.

We are especially pleased to see the expectations for Lead times swing from last month’s negative 10% to +10%- a 20 point increase for June 2014.
Note about participation: The number of respondents for June is 83- back to our pre-online system migration levels. 
(CORRECTION: our first release of this report showed hours of first shift scheduled declining by 0.1 hour. we have corrected this report to reflect an 0.4 hour increase. the low initial report was due to a user data error.)
Link to full report here

How can you call yourself a manufacturer if you don’t manufacture anything?

If they don't really manufacture, why should we call them manufacturers?
If they don’t really manufacture, why should we call them manufacturers?

The Economic Classification Policy Committee (ECPC) of the Census Bureau is considering changing the definition of manufacturing to include “Factoryless Goods Producers” (FGP’s) as part of an update to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 2017.
They say “A factoryless Goods Producer (FGP) establishment outsources all of the transformation steps traditionally considered manufacturing (i.e., the actual physical chemical or mechanical transformation of inputs into new outputs), but undertakes all of the entrepreneurial steps and arranges for all required capital, labor, and material inputs required to make a good.” Factoryless Goods Producer Fact Sheet
Buying stuff from other manufacturers isn’t manufacturing, it’s wholesale trade.
If an establishment doesn’t actually manufacture something, why should it be classified as a manufacturer?
If a company doesn’t have a factory and means of transforming inputs into goods, why should that be classified as manufacturing?
If a firm doesn’t employ workers to transform inputs into finished goods, why is that manufacturing?
We submitted our comments on this issue.
You can too go to then

  • Type in “NAICS for 2017” in quotes in the  search box labeled ‘Rules, Comments, Adjudications or Supporting Documents’
  • Click search;
  • Click the Comment Now!
  • Follow instructions for submitting your comments.

There are many reasons to oppose the creation of a type of manufactuirer called a Factoryless Goods producer. I put a bunch of them in my comments.
But you only have to ask one logical question, really- How can you call yourself a manufacturer if you don’t manufacture anything?
And how does that help create statistics we can use if manufacturer no longer means “company that manufactures?”
 Photo credit:
We’ve covered this before:
Manufacturing Defined- Making Things!

On June 20th, OSHA published a memorandum to Regional Administrators outlining its temporary enforcement policy for 29 CFR 1910.137(b) and 1910.269; and 29 CFR 1926.97(b) and Subpart V
29 CFR 1910.137(b) and 1910.269 are for general industry.
29 CFR 1926.97(b) and Subpart V are construction standards.
This subject of electrical protection is in keeping with all of the attention that Arc-Flash seems to have at OSHA these days.
OSHA Arc-Flash Interpretation
Here is the text of the OSHA Temporary Citation Policy memorandum:
June 20,2014

SUBJECT: Temporary citation policy for
29 CFR 1910.137(b) and 1910.269; and
29 CFR 1926.97 and Subpart V

The purpose of this memorandum is to establish a temporary enforcement policy for: 29 CFR 1910.137(b) and 1910.269; and 29 CFR 1926.97(b) and Subpart V. On April 11, 2014, OSHA promulgated a final rule revising the general industry and construction standards for work on electric power generation, transmission and distribution installations and for electrical protective equipment. The new standards become effective on July 10, 2014, although some provisions have compliance deadlines in 2015. For enforcement purposes, OSHA has determined that it will accept compliance with the prior version of 29 CFR 1910.269 (i.e., the version of that standard that was in effect on April 11, 2014) as compliance with revised 29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR 1926, Subpart V until October 31, 2014. OSHA will also delay enforcement of paragraph (b) of revised 29 CFR 1910.137 and paragraph (b) of 29 CFR 1926.97 until October 31, 2014.
Therefore, beginning July 10, 2014, and continuing through October 31, 2014, the following policy applies:

  • no citations will be issued under 29 CFR 1910.269 or 1926, Subpart V to employers who are in compliance with the version of 29 CFR 1910.269 that was in effect on April 11, 2014, and
  • no citations will be issued under 29 CFR 1910.137(b) or 29 CFR 1926.97(b).

Paragraphs (a) and (c) of 29 CFR 1910.137 and 29 CFR 1926.97 become effective and enforceable on July 10, 2014 and are not affected by this policy. If, on or after July 10, 2014, an Area Director determines that an employer is not in compliance with the prior version of 29 CFR 1910.269, citations may be issued, as appropriate, for violations of any effective and applicable provision of revised 29 CFR 1910.269 and 29 CFR 1926, Subpart V. Any citation proposed to be issued under this temporary enforcement policy shall be forwarded to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs or the Directorate of Construction, as appropriate, through the Regional Office for clearance, which will include review by attorneys in the OSH Division of the Solicitor’s Office. Note that for purposes of this policy, employers engaged in construction work will be deemed in compliance with the prior version of 29 CFR 1910.269 only to the extent they are also in compliance with 29 CFR 1926, Subpart M requirements as they apply to fall protection in aerial lifts.
Please share this information with the State Plans and On-Site Consultation Projects in your region. If you have any questions regarding application of this memorandum in general industry, please contact Art Buchanan in DEP. And if you have questions related to application of this memorandum in construction, please contact Chuck Harvey in DOC.

Why I love manufacturing: we get to do cool stuff!
PMPA member company Micron Manufacturing is getting a new Mori Seiki.
The new machine will need some space- so they have to demolish a wall.
How do  Lean Business Expert / Shigeo Shingo Silver award-winning precision machinists demolish a wall?
With Lean Precision and Style of course!
Enjoy the time-lapse video:
Lean Lessons Learned:

  1. Mess is not mandatory for demolition work when you have a plan;
  2. The power of a plan is evident here.
  3. Lean demolition shall now be appended to your ISO scope.
  4. You can see the Culture of Lean in Micron’s work.