The Manufacturing Institute has developed a one-stop, how-to guide on developing and recruiting a skilled workforce.  Written by and for manufacturers, the toolkit on Developing Skilled Workers speaks to chief executives, human resources professionals, and operations managers, with steps to take, partners to build, and templates to use to grow their own talent pipeline.
Toolkit for employers
Toolkit for employers
Here’s the link.

The patent pending indentation yield strength test developed by Nanovea in my mind is the greatest development in mechanical testing since digital readouts.

Yield strength determination no longer requires tensile machines and expensive specimen preparation

The use of a cylindrical flat tip penetrator’s load per unit surface area, at increased speed, has been shown to  correlate to the load per surface area at which material starts flowing when in tension. See the report for the correlation studies on a variety of materials and details of the calculation of Yield Strength.

The Nanovea technology can determine the Yield Strength in less than a minute and in an area as small as 5 microns.

This gives smaller companies a way to more afforably chaaracterize materials without the expense of outside lab services for sample prep and testing.

Two caveats:

  • Because this test covers a very small area, it truly characterizes the base material itself, and not necessarily how it will behave in bulk form due to casting, forging, voids or other imperfections.
  • For the same reason, test results from this technology may be slightly higher than those by traditional tensile test / extensometer readings.

But the inverse of these statements is probably more valid: the tensile test results will always be less than the materials actual or ideal Yield Strength because its larger scale includes a greater volume and selection of various internal imperfections and macro defects.

We see this new Nanovea Technology as an exciting development for our field that will give engineers, product developers, and manufacturing companies better  tools they can use to characterize materials at scale of use.

We can also see this being used by some bright engineers to determine Yield Strength of coatings! and films being used in today’s latest solar and fuel cell technologies.

For more information contact Nanovea.

Sometimes, you just have to leave it in the good hands of your trusted colleagues.

If I was there this year, my smile would be even wider.

I was on the schedule for this year’s PMPA National Technical Conference and Precision Machining Technology Show being held in Columbus now through Thursday. I had prepared a couple of presentations and was really looking forward to reconnecting with the people who make things– You!
Sometimes however, Life has other plans.
I’m happy to know that Bob Drab, a colleague of many years and THE product specialist on stainless at Schmolz + Bickenbach will be presenting my program on Material Sensemaking- Understanding Foreign Grade Designations. And that one of my fellow staff directors will be giving my presentation giving you a behind the scenes look at the TOOLS YOU CAN USE on PMPA’s website.
Precision Machining companies belong to the PMPA because they know the benefits of collaborating to solve problems. To share resources that perhaps each one needs but cannot afford on their own. To know that they have a network of knowledgeable industry professionals available to back them up when they run into a problem they haven’t seen before.
Just as companies in the PMPA back each other up by sharing resources, knowledge and solutions to solved problems, I have learned that staff and colleagues do the same for each other when the need arises.
I’d have given anything to be there with my ‘INDUSTRY’ in Columbus this week.  To see you. To listen to your ideas, answer your questions, hear your concerns, see new processes, meet old friends.
But it wasn’t in the cards.
Why, I’d rather  chauffeur Bob Drab around on a bicycle… than miss this event.
Id do about anything to be at PMTS

Sorry I’m not able to be there. While you’re there, say”Hi” for me to Bob Drab,  and my staff colleagues Monte, Rob, Mike, and Carla.
And please, somebody take some photos!

Sometimes the wisdom is just undeniable.
I spend quite a bit of my time writing what I hope to be interesting articles for our many readers. Knowledge retention and thought leadership posts for our member companies.
Written pieces that give the readers ‘Tools They Can Use.
If I’m  writing, I’m  probably not spending a lot of time reading…
So when I got a copy of ph Horn’s latest  World of Tools 2/10 magazine, I was captivated by the following comment made by Lothar Horn, Managing Director.

Lothar Horn

“How can our tools best be used so that the customer can obtain the maximum benefit from this investment?”
At PMPA, we’re pretty familiar with the concept of  ‘Tools You Can Use’– in fact we use it as our Tagline.
But we were really interested in the answer that Mr. Horn gave to his own question:
“…we have developed new products, strengthened support and service and expanded our portfolio in the direction of complete machining.”
Let’s see, how can we as an industry face the challenges of the current market situation?
 1) Use the tools we have to develop new products,
 2) Strengthen support and service to our customers,
 3) Expand capabilities toward complete solutions…
Couldn’t have said it better myself!
You can download the Horn World of Tools Magazine at this link ; just click on the pdf download link for the 2/10 issue.
If this was a quiz, would you have gotten 3 out of 3?

Temper colors of 0.95% carbon steel at temperatures indicated.

In steels, tempering is reheating hardened steel to some temperature below the lower critical temperature for the purpose of decreasing hardness and increasing toughness.
(The lower critical temperature is the temperature of the austenite-to-pearlite eutectoid transformation in steels- below this temperature austenite does not exist.)
Tempering is also sometimes applied to normalized steels. For the same reasons- decrease hardness and improve toughness.
The chart above shows the colors that are elicited by tempering a 0.95% carbon content steel at the temperatures shown. (Think drill rod.)
I saved this chart back in my youth from a Bethlehem Steel Handbook.
This is what we here at PMPA call “Knowledge Retention” and “Tools You Can Use.”

Setting up and operating offshore manufacturing doesn’t save money on a total cost basis, but trying to do so may compromise quality, delivery and product development, which could otherwise provide real cost reduction and the pursuit of new high-profit opportunities, like mass customizing of products. 

Is the deciding factor really just low cost of labor?

Rather than weakening operations with the burdens of offshoring, local operations could pursue more effective cost reduction by designing low-cost products, eliminating waste through Lean Production, lowering the cost of quality and setting up flexible factories that could build standard products and mass-custom versions on-demand without the costs and risks of  carrying inventory.
This article in Orthoworld will give you 21 thinking points to understand why offshoring will actually work against your company’s  and customers’ best interests and bottom line.
21 Tools for better sensemaking.
Our job here at is to help you find “Tools You Can Use” to keep your medical shop competitive and sustainable.
We think getting you the ideas in this thoughtful article is best use of our blog today.

Either you can execute, or you can't...

Don’t You Agree?
It’s not about ability to promise.
Heck, that’s pretty easy.
It’s not about ability to plan.
I’ve seen (and made) some pretty nice plans in my day.
But plans that aren’t executed are- well,  not much more than recorded dreams.
I think that it’s all about execution. That is, meeting and exceeding our customer’s expectations every day.
Every day! Every Customer! Every transaction! Every touch!
What is the secret of execution?
There are a couple. But the most important is your company’s commitment to continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement is what helps you keep your service and processes leading and sustainable.
The minute you stop improving, you reduce your chance of successful execution.
We execute. But the reason we produce this conference is so that our member companies can drive continuous improvement of their key people.  The people who make a difference- in their shop, in their culture, and to their customers.
I am looking forward to meeting the industry’s executioners in Pittsburgh at PMPA’s NTC.
Because it’s all about execution. Isn’t it?
Execution is the key. PMPA’s National Technical Conference drives execution by giving attendees tools they can use for continuous improvement.

I’m really more focused on Quality.
On draining the swamp, not swamp beautification.
Quality Assurance.
Organizational Improvement. (People and Processes.)
Lean is just another way of saying eliminate waste.
Six Sigma uses statistical jargon, but how many people in top management can even get close to describing the area under the normal curve at +/- 3 sigma? Or know that a sigma is a standard deviation? And what that means?
Let alone recognize non-normal data?
(“Six Sigma” is just another term for “Magic ” to the guys wearing ties at the OEM’s…)
I’m not into cute names for serious tools. We were using  powerful  statistical techniques before they got new cute  names and became safe  Okay fashionable  to say up in the carpeted front office.

Draining the swamp doesn't need tools with cute names.

However, if you are serious about Quality. Quality Assurance. Organizational Improvement. And Tools You Can Use to drain the swamp, instead of reading crap of unknown provenance from the web,  here’s your reading list:
1) Competing Against Time by Stalk and Hout
2) Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker.Frankly, if you haven’t already read
3) The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt, (get this one first it will give you key insight into how to think about manufacturing.)
4) The Machine That Changed The World by Womack is also worth your time.
Take these tools, and love it.
Excavator photo credit.

These past two years have taught us all some valuable lessons. But, we haven’t yet recognized the change that these lessons have brought with them. I found a brilliant description of the change and the lessons laid out in a book. The book is titled Linchpin, written by Seth Godin.

The only MUST READ book for you this year!

Here are three lessons about our new world of work:
Lesson 1: There are fewer and fewer jobs where you can get paid merely for showing up. (Page 23) Instead progressive shops are looking for people who make a difference and they are shedding everyone else.
Lesson 2: If you want a job where you get to do more than follow instructions, don’t be surprised if you get asked to do things they never taught you to do in school.(Page 30) No one today is looking for people who need to be told what to do. Shops that are busy today are desperate to find talented, courageous, competent people who know what to do.
Lesson 3: For nearly three hundred years…factory owners wanted compliant, low paid replaceable workers to run their machines. (Page 7) We just lived through the last two years of management in our  precision machining shops doing everything they could to keep their most talented, dare I say it, most indispensable people on the payroll.
We have come through an incredible change in business and manufacturing in the past two years. The days of business success being assured by having a high Percentage of Easily Replaced Laborers (PERL) is over. (Page 10)  Low cost labor in Asia and former Eastern Bloc countries win that game hands down. The system of show up, do what they tell you, work hard, keep your head down, fit in, try to be average, stick it out, be part of the system, died an ugly death over these past two years. (By the way, it didn’t work so well in junior high either.)
THE SYSTEM HAS CHANGED. You know it as an employee. You know it as an employer. This book  explains the change. And how you (and your organization) can thrive in this new reality.
This is not just a book for managers. This is not just a book for employees. This is not just a book for people who want the latest thinking. This book  will give you, no matter who you are or what  you do, tools you can use to make sense of today’s new world of work, and your essential part in it.
Without you...

You have brilliance in you. Your contribution is valuable. What you create is precious. (In our industry, often it saves lives!) Only you can do what you do. Bring your best with you to work. We’re counting on you! (Page 3)

Six exceptions to employer prohibitions on acquiring genetic information are

  • Inadvertent acquisitions of genetic information do not violate GINA, such as in situations where a manager or supervisor overhears someone talking about a family member’s illness.
  • Voluntary disclosure: Genetic information (such as family medical history) may be obtained as part of health or genetic services, including wellness programs, offered by the employer on a voluntary basis, if certain specific requirements are met.
  • Genetic information may be acquired as part of the certification process for FMLA leave (or leave under similar state or local laws), where an employee is asking for leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
  • Publically available: Acquisition through commercially and publicly available documents like newspapers is permitted, as long as the employer is not searching those sources with the intent of finding genetic information.
  • Where required by law: Acquisition through a genetic monitoring program that monitors the biological effects of toxic substances in the workplace is permitted where the monitoring is required by law or, under carefully defined conditions, where the program is voluntary.
  • Forensics Baseline in Law Enforcement Laboratories: Acquisition of genetic information of employees by employers who engage in DNA testing for law enforcement purposes as a forensic lab or for purposes of human remains identification is permitted, but the genetic information may only be used for analysis of DNA markers for quality control to detect sample contamination.

Get this and other info on Genetic Discrimination  here.
Free Posters
Don’t get extorted into purchasing expensive new posters by those sermonizing emails from high priced poster companies. You can download the latest  GINA compliant posters  directly from the EEOC  in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese.