BERT MAES

The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

Posts Tagged ‘environment’

If you want to have a green job: get in manufacturing!

Posted by Bert Maes on September 5, 2011


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Investment in the green economy and renewable energy today will help ensure our economies stay competitive in the future. But perhaps more importantly, right now investment in the green economy is creating new jobs for millions of job-seekers.

And guess what? If you want to have a green job: get in manufacturing!

A great portion of jobs in the clean economy is in manufacturing-related segments.

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[VIDEO] Why Manufacturing is so Important to Each of Our Lives

Posted by Bert Maes on June 8, 2011


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A video highlighting manufacturing career opportunities

Posted by Bert Maes on October 11, 2010


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What would be the best realistic manufacturing policy?

Posted by Bert Maes on July 12, 2010


The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is now promoting its priorities and policy recommendations of its June 2010 “Manufacturing Strategy – For Jobs and a Competitive America”. The Business Roundtable has released a similar report: List Obstacles to Growth.

The message of all experts: government should take a greater role in making manufacturing (the foundation of the economy) more competitive and more productive. The NAM report says that all foreign countries use all the tools of their governments to support industry and as a result they outgun the United States.

Both NAM and the Business Roundtable rally against:

  • The high corporate taxes, especially the high tax rates for small businesses, as they are responsible for the bulk of the new jobs, and the best jobs;
  • The rigid labor regulations, wages and benefits, making flexible work arrangements impossible;
  • The tough environmental regulations without a global approach will impose additional expenses, create uncertainty and will damage the ability of manufacturers in the US to compete;
  • The non-existent R&D tax provisions that could stimulate investment, recovery, significant rise of GDP and strong job creation;
  • The insufficient focus on Intellectual Property and increased immigration (access qualified, highly skilled professionals around the glob e), which should both be fixed to remain competitive;
  • The unfair (tariff) trade barriers China, India, Brazil, Europe, South America, Canada and Australia are constructing to protect and promote their own domestic manufacturing companies;
  • The underfunded tools to help small and mid-sized manufacturing export such as trade fairs, marketing assistance and the export-import bank;
  • The energy dependence without sufficient domestic supply of energy, coal, hydropower, gas, nuclear, renewable and alternative fuels:
  • The poor infrastructure in transportation and high-speed communications;
  • The uncertainty and danger of the ever increasing employer mandates and business costs of the health care reform;
  • The disappointing quality of education as the majority of manufacturers in America face a serious shortage of qualified employees, and cannot be given the certainty that they are hiring a skilled technical workforce when recruiting from schools.

Or in other words “SHOW US THE MONEY!” And then I ask myself the eternal question:

  • Government spending with lasting corporate tax cuts to boost economy and thus increase export earnings (“the only way to get us out of the recession”), but first lending more billions from mainly China (The current US debt to China is $2 trillion or $2 000 000 000 000) and threatening the nation’s future stability (potential new financial crises), security and independence. Additionally, the current levels of debt will crowd out private capital. If less capital is available for corporate borrowers, it will retard future growth and investment, and, eventually, reduce consumer spending power.

Difficult choice, isn’t it?

Decision making is all about prioritizing your opportunities. And it should be a genuine mix of policies that pay quickly and policies that bring long-term strategic opportunities.

I see the US working hard on the latter ‘secondary‘ areas that support long term export opportunities, such as health-care, education, immigration and energy policies.

I also see the government is not taking away immediate fear. There are intentions to raise taxes on business.

That is probably the biggest challenge we all face during crisis, whether it’s a personal crisis or a global one: FEAR.

Governments all over the world will have to figure out how they are going to communicate the stability of their countries in a way that the citizens will understand and believe it. Government should show enough detail of the state financials so that firms and consumers know, beyond all doubt, that the country isn’t in ‘free fall’ and that customer spending is a safe bet. A president’s personal guarantee won’t be enough.

The job is to lift people’s heads, with policies that decrease the number of business failures and increase their odds of success. The job is to lessen the people’s fear. This is not the time for messages of high risk that emphasize inspiration, empowerment and innovation.  It’s the time for messages of low risk like protection, security and stability.

If governments show how they will protect jobs and reduce structural unemployment… they’re 90 percent on the way to further recovery.

What would be the best realistic manufacturing policy?

I am thinking about:

  • Lower corporate taxes and force banks to restore small business credit quickly to trigger investments in efficient manufacturing technology.
  • But keep the environmental and labor regulations to ensure the health, safety and quality of life of the people. I can live with the government intentions to award  federal contracts to companies that provide living wage, health care, retirement and paid sick leave and have fewer violations in labor and employment, tax, environment and antitrust.
  • “Develop a system of financial incentives: levy an extra tax on the product of off-shored labor [personal note: and on heavily polluting off-shored production?]. Keep that money separate. Deposit it in the coffers of what we might call the Scaling Bank of the U.S. and make these sums available to companies that will scale their American operations.” (Andrew Grove, co-founder and senior adviser to Intel Corp)
  • Bring better qualified, higher-skilled professionals inside manufacturing by restructuring immigration and starting to reform manufacturing education. The success of top-performing states – a Chamber of Commerce report points out – depends on their “ability to execute successful initiatives” in amongst others: basic education; “delivering adequate funding for initiatives; (…) enterprise-friendly tax and regulation systems; and vigorous collaboration between business, government and education.”

I believe a lot more is not possible under the current financial constraints and in the given four-year terms. The education reform will already take 10 to 15 years…

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The 25 factors that underpin manufacturing competitiveness (US, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia)

Posted by Bert Maes on June 25, 2010


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According to a new report access to talent that supports innovation is the key factor driving global manufacturing competitiveness, well ahead of traditional factors such as cost of labor and materials and energy policies.

In the 2010 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, a joint report from Deloitte’s Global Manufacturing Industry group and the United States Council on Competitiveness, manufacturing executives identify talent-driven innovation as the most important competitive driver.

The quality and availability of skilled production workers, scientists, researchers, engineers, and teachers, who collectively have the capacity to continuously innovate and improve production efficiency, is the most significant driver of manufacturing competitiveness, the report says.

Talented people are giving companies the greatest potential for making a company innovative and for improving the overall competitiveness of the country. The capacity of a country thus largely depends on the quality of its education and training.

The quality of talented people is driving manufacturing innovation. Coupled with the costs of labor and materials and the costs of energy, these three are the “foundations” of manufacturing competitiveness.

After the key factors of production – labor, materials and energy – government forces have the most significant impact on manufacturing. These include environmental, institutional and infrastructural elements.

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It is interesting to see the differences across continents:

  • Talent-driven innovation is the top driver of manufacturing competitiveness across global regions. The exception is Mexico and South America, where executives rate the quality of the physical infrastructure (roads, ports, electricity grids, telecom) as the most important.
  • European executives view energy costs and policies as the second most important driver. The European Union faces serious challenges concerning security of supply as the dependence of several member states on one single gas suppliers (Russia) makes the continent very vulnerable for shortfalls in supply and energy crises. So clearly manufacturers in Europe see the availability of cost-effective alternative energy as key to competitiveness and the springboard to leapfrog competing regions of the world. However a common energy policy in Europe is very controversial as many nations see access and sources of energy supply as too critical to national security and should remain under the control of member nations.
  • In the US between 50 and 60% of the respondents considered major current policy trends as very disadvantageous: (1) the bail outs that hinders competition and does not benefit business over the long term, (2) the corporate taxes making US manufacturers pay 18% more on taxes, natural gas, employee benefits and pollution abatement than a foreign competitor making a similar product, and (3) the increasing costs of healthcare that will stifle manufacturers’ ability to grow and create jobs.
  • In China on the other hand the lack of access to healthcare and insurance is seen as very disadvantageous, as that is a major contributor to poverty in China. Low levels of insurance coverage have resulted in high savings rates and reduced consumption – key determinants of economic growth. China’s leaders recognize that they need to improve the equity and efficiency of the healthcare system, which plays a critical role in the economy.

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Overall the study concludes that difficulties in accessing an empowered talent base are likely to contribute to the United States and Europe becoming less globally competitive in the next five years.


…Time to act towards attractive, inspiring and advanced manufacturing education…

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The future of Manufacturing in Europe 2015-2020: 4 SCENARIOS

Posted by Bert Maes on February 23, 2010


In 2003 the European Commission released a report on 4 scenarios on the Future of European Manufacturing in the next 2 decades.

First, I shortly describe the 4 scenarios and its implications for education.

Second, I reflect on the scenario I see Europe following today, 7 years after the release of the report.

SCENARIO 1: The European Union doesn’t get stronger, large multinationals shape international trade, consumers don’t care much about environmental impacts of production and consumption. Energy efficiency in production improves only because of strategies of company cost reduction. There are no incentives for radical changes.
>> In EDUCATION, due to the lack of government commitment, more and more private initiatives will pop up, focusing on excellence in education.

  • Reflection: The European Union is weak and will probably always be weak. The creation of the EU presidency post following the Lisbon Treaty was great. But Europe will never be unified as a transnational entity: too many cultural and historical differences, too many national minorities, all protecting their own interests. Guy Verhofstadt, president of the European Liberals ELDR recently wrote that the future of Europe doesn’t lie in the juxtaposition of national identities. “That would be a Europe that is incapable of solving problems,” Verhofstadt says,  “that would be a Europe that can’t play a significant role in the multi-polar world of the 21st century.
    >> This means that private initiatives in EDUCATION will be crucial to raise the quality and attractiveness of manufacturing education.
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SCENARIO 2: Regional governments take over and determine policy priorities. Strict environmental regulations lead to a concentration of manufacturing activities in creative regional clusters that work with radical new manufacturing approaches and alternative energy systems for cleaner production. But there is little trans-regional coordination of policies.
>> In EDUCATION regional government bodies will work closely with industry and associations in training initiatives.

  • Reflection: Building regional innovative clusters is probably the right way forward. Economic growth and economic business is generated by autonomous regions, not by nations. In my view, the source of prosperity is always REGIONAL, e.g. Hong Kong/Shenzhen, Singapore/Johore/Batam, Taiwan/Fujian, South China, South India (Bangalore), Northern Mexico, North West coast of US (Silicon Valley), Eindhoven Netherlands for the ICT industry, North Rhine-Westphalia & Bavaria Germany for chips, Cambridge UK for Mechanical engineering, Northern Italy for Valves. [Related: the pledge from Mitch Free (CEO at MFG.com) for regional Special Economic Zones (SEZs) with reduced tax burdens, streamlined bureaucracy and administrative requirements]
    >> BUT the weakness of the whole system is EDUCATION, i.e. the supply of human resources. You can have the right ideas, work hard, take initiatives, bring together governments, professors, companies, students & financiers to make new companies happen, you can have lots of money, but without the right people with the right skills and with the right tools you will not make it. A strong economy is routed in a strong educational system.
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SCENARIO 3: Global governance emerges, that promotes sustainability . The European Union defines and implements clear sustainability policies, with energy taxes, emission charges, strict regulations and financial incentives. Governments watch the designing and implementing of new technologies closely. Major technological breakthroughs result in more environmental production with renewable materials.
>> In EDUCATION governments retain the lead role, emphasizing interdisciplinary training, soft skills and problem solving capabilities. This scenario requires a highly qualified labor force with new skills to operate and manage sustainable production systems.

  • Reflection: The global governance is the ideal scenario for sustainability of our planet. But as said in Scenario 1: I doubt if Europe will ever speak with a unified voice. Moreover, the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009 has shown us how difficult it is to unlock a global collective action.
  • >> On the other hand, TRAINING in interdisciplinary skills will become more important as the manufacturing industry will be completely reinvented by online communities, asking for highly customized products and smart, creative, innovative thinkers that will set up completely new client-centered business models to better meet the needs of increasingly demanding customers. [One of my posts that is linked with this: "The Small Batch Movement"]
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SCENARIO 4: Europe establishes a strong industrial policy, but there is little willingness of China and India to include environmental and social concerns in their production. There are incentives for industry to invest in sustainable manufacturing solutions, but they run along existing application trajectories.
>> In EDUCATION there will be a EU-wide training certification system, coordinating public and private training schemes focusing in excellence in education.

  • Reflection: Europe that is focused on itself is PROBABLY WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW. East Asia is a huge competitive problem. So Europe will try to push innovation in high quality technologies that use new eco-friendly materials and product designs. That will create new export opportunities for companies. But – unfortunately – I don’t expect radical shifts in European manufacturing.
    >> Although in EDUCATION a EU-wide training certification system is a very interesting track to bring together all public and private education initiatives and could set the world-wide standard for manufacturing training.

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Dear READER: >> Do you think of other scenarios? Or do you have different reflections?

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Only the manufacturers with highly skilled machinists can survive: an example

Posted by Bert Maes on February 17, 2010


Detroit-area auto suppliers are differentiating and rolling in new business. At least 100 auto suppliers already have secured contracts in other industries and that at least 250 have bid for work.

The machine tool and parts company W Industries, once an exclusive supplier to the auto industry, is now:

  • Making heavy steel parts for the frames, bodies and gun mounts of Humvees and Stryker combat vehicles destined for Afghanistan and Iraq. (see CHART expected growth in defense)
  • Testing the Orion space module by simulating the violent vibrations of liftoff. The NASA Orion space program aims to send human explorers to the moon by 2020 and then to Mars and beyond. (see CHART expected growth in aerospace)
  • Finishing a steel mold that will be used to make 70-foot-long roof sections of Airbus A350 passenger jets.

Race-car engine developer McLaren Performance Technologies is now making components for thousands of SunCatcher solar dishes, and is helping to design and build the motorized units that will convert concentrated sunlight into electricity. (See CHART expected growth in energy & resources)

Dowding Industries, a tool-and-die shop for Oldsmobile in 1965, later expanded into metal auto parts, tractor and rail car parts. In 2006, the company started to develop better-performing tools for plane makers and wind turbine components, in one-fifth the time of current methods. The carbon-composite blades will be 30 percent lighter than fiberglass blades and last 20 years or longer. (See article: the challenges of manufacturing wind turbines). Dowding sees opportunities to use similar technologies for bridges, expressways and ships.

Upcoming products in Michigan include remotely piloted military aircraft, lithium-ion batteries (Johnson Controls), the next-generation wind turbines (General Electric), a Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier engineering center, solar panels and battery systems for utilities.

What makes this shift possible?

The standard of manufacturing in the automotive industry is extraordinarily high in Detroit, and that is the only place you can find such a concentration of skills, for R&D, pilot projects and early-stage production.

The main allure of the Detroit area is its ability to quickly turn designs and prototypes into real workable products, that are more efficient, less expensive and easier to mass-produce.

The region is the country’s premier precision manufacturing base, with tens of thousands of highly skilled, underemployed mechanical engineers, machinists and factory managers. “We have the best manufacturing resources on the planet here in Michigan,” says Chris Long, the founder and chief executive of Global Wind Systems. “We just need to get aligned.”

A BIG question is whether the new work will sustain Detroit’s manufacturing ecosystem if auto assembly keeps migrating elsewhere. As suppliers close, more managers and engineers could move away.

To illustrate how difficult that manufacturing talent would be to replace, Bud Kimmel, vice president for business development at W Industries, points out to 30-year-old machining whiz Jason Sobieck.

Jason is like an artist,” Mr. Kimmel says. “We built our whole program around him. Jason began work at 17 at a small Detroit welding shop. He then worked for tooling companies, where he learned to program automated systems and manage projects. “These skills really aren’t taught in school,” Mr. Sobieck says, “This is a trade you learn on the shop floor.”

That’s one reason that W Industries wants to snap up as many good machinists and engineers as it can afford.

If we don’t re-engage the automotive workers soon in major programs,” Mr. Kimmel says, “this set of skills will be lost.”

Source: Detroit Auto-Parts Suppliers Branch Out to Other Industries – NYTimes.com

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How wind turbines work and the big challenges of manufacturing them

Posted by Bert Maes on February 9, 2010


A summary of Assembly Magazine’s cover article “Assemblers Harness Wind Power“, by Austin Weber, January 27th 2010.

Wind power is the cheapest and most popular type of regenerative energy. As a result, manufacturers all over the world are scrambling to build gearboxes, generators, blades, power systems, motors, control systems and other types of electromechanical devices.

How does a wind turbine work?

Wind power works by harnessing the breeze that passes over the rotor blades of a wind turbine and rotates a hub. The hub is connected to a gearbox via low-speed and high-speed shafts that drive a generator contained within a nacelle. A generator converts the energy into electricity and then transmits it to a power grid.

The typical wind turbine is a slender structure that consists of a three-bladed rotor that extends up to 300 feet in diameter attached to the top of tall towers that soar hundreds of feet into the air. A yaw mechanism uses electrical motors to turn the nacelle with the rotor against the wind. An electronic controller senses the wind direction using a wind vane.

How is a wind turbine made?

The average wind turbine contains up to 8,000 parts that must be assembled. Towers and rotors are the largest and most basic components.

Most wind turbines are designed for a 20-year life cycle. The gearbox and drivetrain system must be strong enough to handle frequent changes in torque caused by changes in wind speed. Bearings are extremely critical. The whole system must be correctly aligned to minimize wear from vibration and any resulting noise.

One thing that differentiates wind turbine manufacturing from other industries is sheer size. All components, such as bearings, gears and generators, must be extra large and extra strong. Big parts and big plants are common in the industry. For instance, the typical gearbox weighs around 30,000 pounds.

Due to their size and weight, gearboxes are often moved through assembly steps at plants in Germany using large rail systems similar to those in automotive plants. Quality expectations in the industry are huge, because manufacturers demand reliability and low maintenance. Wind turbines don’t make money if they’re not working.

Towers typically consist of large tubular structures. Plated steel sheets are rolled into rings and joined together with submerged arc welding. The tower sections are typically fabricated into cans about 20 meter long and then bolted together through internal flanges. This is an industry that needs to build large, high-capital items in a production line manner. It may be compared to aerospace.

There is great potential for advanced robotic welding to be developed. On the other hand, rotor blade manufacturing from fiberglass and other composite materials tends to be the most innovative and highly secretive area of the wind turbine industry. Blades over 70 meters long are now being designed. To achieve low-cost mass production, automated solutions from aerospace or automotive, such as robotic tape layers, have to be used to join long lengths of blade to assure aerodynamic conformance.

What are the challenges facing manufacturing wind turbines?

Wind technology will need to evolve. Engineers need to make wind turbines larger, taller, less expensive, more reliable and more efficient. Because wind turbine components undergo excessive forces and a tremendous amount of joint stresses and failures, numerous manufacturing issues must be addressed.

It looks very graceful and simple, but the aerodynamics, power characteristics, vibrations, system fatigue, acoustics of a wind turbine are harder to understand than an airplane or a helicopter.
For instance, blades, towers and casings must be able to withstand heat, cold, rain, ice and abuse from changing wind speeds. Blades must also be built with a high strength-to-weight ratio, so research into new materials is key.

Making wind energy practical is a matter of maximizing efficiency and minimizing production cost.

Reliability is critical in the wind turbine industry. The most difficult application is the gearbox, because it is important to avoid any distortion. The challenge is to maintain clamp loads for the service life of the turbine. Manufacturers are looking at weight reduction and improved assembly of threaded joints.”

Close tolerances, the ability of components to withstand operation in difficult conditions, and the availability of quality materials are all important challenges facing engineers. It is also a challenge to develop parts that are light-weight enough so that the final system can be assembled more easily, but they must also be durable enough to withstand difficult operating conditions.

And finally: the industry is struggling to build a local supply chain. The availability of a steady and sufficient supply of locally sourced components is important, as turbine companies increasingly develop production facilities away from their home base, they need to be able to have access to enough quality components to build the systems at their new location.”

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Feel free to also read:

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The Manufacturing Sectors of the Future

Posted by Bert Maes on February 8, 2010


The U.S. manufacturing economy shifts away from heavy sectors, such as automobiles and basic chemicals, toward higher-tech products like super-fast computer chips.

The restructuring now under way offers insights into what kinds of goods the U.S. should produce, and in what volumes.

Semiconductor makers saw U.S. demand recover sharply as computer makers scrambled to catch up with a pickup in business investment toward the end of 2009.

Intel, which produces chips in Chandler, Ariz., Rio Rancho, N.M. and Hillsboro, Ore., boosted its capital investments to $1.08 billion in the fourth quarter, part of a two-year, $7 billion program to upgrade its U.S. plants.

Many companies still prefer to produce semiconductors in the U.S., particularly if their manufacturing is highly complex. Being close to the U.S.-based design centers of major chip users like computer maker Dell Inc. and consumer-electronics maker Apple Inc. also can be an advantage.

Texas Instruments Inc., the second-largest U.S. chipmaker will spend almost $1 billion this year to expand three factories and open a fourth to fill orders. The company is also hiring 250 workers to open a new chip-manufacturing plant in Richardson, Texas, that will eventually employ 1,000. (press-enterprise.com)

This is a kind of manufacturing that will make sense to do in the U.S. for a long time to come,” said Tim Peddecord, chief executive of privately held memory-module producer Avant Technology, which recently opened a new 50,000-square-foot plant in Pflugerville, Texas.

Manufacturing in the U.S., Mr. Peddecord said, allows it to turn around U.S. orders in 24 hours, an advantage in an industry where demand is volatile and clients try to keep inventories low. In addition, the reduced freight costs, compared with shipping goods from China, can offset the added cost of U.S. labor, since labor accounts for less than a hundredth of his average sales price.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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A Framework for Revitalizing Manufacturing EDUCATION

Posted by Bert Maes on January 22, 2010


Two reports have recently been released about revitalizing the United States manufacturing industry: President Obama’s FRAMEWORK FOR REVITALIZING AMERICAN MANUFACTURING, December 16th, 2009 AND Manufacturing Resurgence – a Must for US Prosperity, Joel Popkin & Kathryn Kobe , January 21st, 2010

>> BUT WHAT’S IN IT FOR MANUFACTURING EDUCATION?

Ian Fraser stated in his “Economics for Business”: “The Only Sustainable Competitive Advantage is LEARNING”: Products can be copied. Processes can be copied. Services can be copied. >> So how does a company create a sustainable advantage over competitors???

Innovation Nation, John Kao

Whole industries have emerged from inventions of Edison, Bell, and the Wright Brothers. US leadership springs from the willingness of American inventors to challenge conventional wisdom,” according to John Kao.

= Know-how is the foundation for tomorrow’s innovations. So we will have to create a national culture in which individuals and enterprises LEARN MORE QUICKLY THAN ITS COMPETITORS.

Education should be THE national growth strategy, focusing on massive funding for education, to give our country the engineers and inventors to thrive in a high-tech global economy,” John Kao added.

Popkin, Kobe & Obama follow the same vision on education in their frameworks for revitalizing manufacturing:

  • Labor in our manufacturing industry is more costly than it is in other parts of the world. An important way to keep the total cost of labor competitive is to maximize the productivity of each hour of labor.
  • The essential factor to accelerate and enhance productivity, is a skilled, well-trained workforce. Building world-class products using new cleaner, more efficient, more sustainable manufacturing process technologies (such as robotics and advanced materials), demands a workforce with an increasingly advanced set of skills and competencies.

  • = A leading incentive for offshoring is ‘race for talent’. IBM has built a new research center in Shanghai, China, because of the rich pool of science and engineering talent in China, as well as the continued commitment to expand collaboration with academic institutions.
  • A skilled workforce is the lifeblood of R&D, the lifeblood of innovation and competitiveness. Only those nations that continue to invest in highly skilled and talented workforce will stay competitive in the long run.
  • The United States must meet the long-term demand for workers with math and science training, to maintain the US manufacturing industry’s ability to compete worldwide. Other countries are already making significant strides in R&D in some of these areas and are manufacturing the leading edge products.
  • We will have to improve our education quality to meet employer needs. That means building programs that:
  • encourage partnerships with businesses and other educational institutions;
  • modernize technical schools’ facilities;
  • expand high-quality online course offerings;
  • focus on technical retraining in order to smooth the transition of employees from one manufacturing industry to another;
  • promote inhouse manufacturing worker training & broaden opportunities for career advancement;
  • make college more affordable for unemployed workers to pursue educational opportunities that will lead to good jobs and career pathways;
  • improve early childhood education that nurtures math and science proficiency.

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An education program that fits nicely into this framework is the “Haas Technical Education Center” concept from www.HTECnetwork.eu. It is set up as a long-term partnership program between education and manufacturing industry, in which the company Haas Automation, inc. helps technical schools towards:

-      Attractiveness & getting more students;

-      Higher motivation of young people;

-      Saving teachers time via offering them proven CNC teaching materials for direct use in the classroom;

-      Supporting the quality of instruction and the performance of student learning;

-      Helping the school to build a very strong reputation and competitiveness in the field of manufacturing education (and beyond);

-      Bringing education closer to the workplace and the “real industry”;

-      Bringing the training directly into line with the needs of the local manufacturing industry, etc.

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Check www.HTECnetwork.eu to get amazing offers for your CNC manufacturing classes.

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Learn how to make wind turbines in 6 weeks

Posted by Bert Maes on January 4, 2010


This is a compilation of activities that occured during the 3rd CNC Fast Track training program at Macomb Community College in 2009.

Students with a Machinist background registered for a 6-week (180 hour) program to learn how to program, setup, and operate CNC Machining and Turning Centers.

Their class project was to develop programs and CNC machine 50 small scale Wind Turbines.

Thanks to Gary Walters, Macomb Community College.

Great video and wonderful soundtrack, Gary!

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5 Reasons To Choose A Career in Precision Machining

Posted by Bert Maes on December 17, 2009


http://pmpaspeakingofprecision.com/

Precision machinists make the things that make today’s quality of life technologies go. And stop. Anti lock brakes – we make them. Airbag parts.  Bonescrews and medical implants too.

Here are 5 reasons to choose a career in precision machining:

Ready employment. Even at the bottom of this last recession, there were openings for precision machinists advertised in the major newspapers around the country. Our parts are indispensable. So are our skilled machinists.

Great work. Our work is challenging, satisfying, and technical. At the end of the day, you can see the results of your skill and effort. Lives that will be saved. Cars that will run.

Great Wages and Benefits. We don’t know what the Obama administration has in mind for the benefits side of the equation, but set up machinist and toolmakers  wages are on par with the wages that a business major might earn after a 4 or 5 year bachelors degree program.

Great life. How many fields do you know of where the people don’t have some  worry about the future, and their place in it? Low cost competition from China and India has not killed our industry. We continue to make the high precision, high value added parts that make a difference in people’s lives, everyday.

Great values. Today shops are managed by international environmental management systems like ISO 14001 and international quality standards like ISO/TS 16949. We are sustainable, lean, just in time, and environmentally sustainable companies that make a difference.  Making high value high precision parts. You can too.

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If you build it, you are unusual

Posted by Bert Maes on December 15, 2009


Survey finds Americans avoid hands-on projects or repairs

12 december 2009 — By RICK BARRETT

In a poll of 1,000 U.S. adults, nearly six in 10 said they had never made or built a toy. Six in 10 avoid doing major household repairs themselves, noted the survey from The Foundation of the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association

It’s worrisome because the “hands off” policy around the house has kept people from learning valuable skills — including ones associated with productive careers in the metal fabrication industry.

Many Americans simply do not work with their hands anymore, whether it’s to tackle a hobby for pleasure or to handle a necessary household repair. Young people essentially have no role models when it comes to fixing things or taking pride in building something,” said Gerald Shankel, Fabricators and Manufacturers Association president.

It’s no wonder why so many teens today dismiss the idea of a career in manufacturing,” Shankel said.

There’s a growing shortage of tinkerers and people with hands-on skills in the workplace. The Hudson Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C., predicts the supply of skilled labor in the U.S. will not catch up with the demand until the year 2050. Many studies predict a labor shortage as waves of blue-collar workers reach retirement age.

A national poll of 500 teenagers, however, showed that 73% had little or no interest in those hands-on careers.

It’s absolutely critical for this mind-set to change because when America recovers from our economic downturn, there will be a dire need for skilled manpower in the trades,” said John Ratzenberger, producer of the television show “John Ratzenberger’s Made in America.”

We need to convey that such occupations are honorable ones,” Ratzenberger said. “And if adults are not showing by example the joys and feelings of accomplishment gained from tinkering, they at least should take time every week to encourage children to play with plastic tools or even take a household item apart and put it back together.

Reaching out to youth

At Milwaukee School of Engineering, students are encouraged to do hands-on work as part of their studies. MSOE also reaches out to children, encouraging them to tinker.

Kids love to touch things and do things,” said Julie Schuster, MSOE associate director of admissions. “We want to show them that things like fluid power can be fun. It’s important because by the time they get to high school they often have preconceived notions of what they want to do when they grow up.”

It’s a tragedy that we no longer teach our young people to work with their hands or even encourage them to try it on their own,” Ratzenberger said. “When so few experience a factory tour or can’t take pride in finishing a shop project, it’s no wonder that a manufacturing career receives low marks.

Even if manufacturing does not rebound, Ratzenberger added: “This country is going to be in trouble if we don’t have people who can weld or operate a backhoe. Who are you going to call when your air- conditioner breaks or the sewer backs up? A hedge-fund manager?

Eric Isbister, chief executive officer of General MetalWorks Corp.  said he agrees that we are becoming a nation of non- tinkerers, and he worries about the consequences. “If someone doesn’t know which way to turn a screw or what tool to use in fixing something, they will shy away from tinkering-type careers. Then we will have a nation of service workers and paper pushers.”

We won’t be able to invent new life saving technologies…

Source: Industrial Laser Solutions

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An inspiring school building

Posted by Bert Maes on December 3, 2009


The newly opened Langley science academy in Slough has just about everything to motivate, inspire and excite students to study science.

The building is:

  • airy
  • light
  • open
  • eco-friendly
  • full of modern technologies

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Read more about the impact of the school infrastructure on student outcomes…

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End of the world near? Start a career in Manufacturing!

Posted by Bert Maes on November 20, 2009


NOW your daily life depends on manufacturing (just look through my blog category “Value of CNC). But… the manufacturing sector will be even MORE important in the future:

  • In my opinion, the 21st century is the decisive century in which we choose (all countries) whether we will become a great civilization and human species longevity ill continue or we will lose it all.” (TSP, in: End of the world near?)
  • “Any approach that does not focus on technological solutions to climate change  is one of  utter hopelessness.” (Sir David King, in: Science chief: greens hurting climate fight)
  • Science, technology & manufacturing provide the only hope for mankind to attain a sustainable existence on earth. (Peter Hall, in: Revolutionary Times)

So if your goal in life is “making a real difference in the world“, I have only one advice: START A CAREER IN MANUFACTURING.

BUT… don’t focus on just any manufacturing course. Follow those in which you can actually get real relevant hands-on experience on the latest and greatest manufacturing equipment.

Haas Automation (Oxnard, California) is doing “a great thing” in this regards, says Patrick E. Dessert (in: Writing a hot resume for today’s job market):

“They are setting up a partner program with learning institutions across the world. “In this program Haas works with community colleges, providing them modern equipment for training their student technologists. Find one of the community colleges that is a Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) and go there. If you are going to spend the time, make it worthwhile. You can even check the internet at http://www.HTECnetwork.org/ or http://www.HTECnetwork.eu to find a school near you“.

Get fully acquainted with the machine tools, CAD, CAM and  robotics. afterwards go into nanomanufacturing: “In many ways I see manufacturing being reinvented in the next ten years. I believe that the way to a new future is going to be led by the seismic shift to nanomanufacturing and micromanufacturing.” (Patrick E. Dessert)

Also see my post: Green Technology ~ Nano-engineering and CNC

http://www.nationalexpositor.com/files/rawles.jpg

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How to Inspire Young People: The Noble Cause of #Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on October 26, 2009


Written by:  Ronald Bennett

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Once only royalty enjoyed extraordinary conveniences, today the extraordinary is the ordinary thanks to manufacturing.

Imagine you are King in the 16th Century. You live in a cold, stone palace with no central air or heat. There’s no running water or indoor plumbing. With no radio, television or newspapers to keep you informed, the world seems small and isolated.

Fast forward to the 21st Century. We have comfortable, climate controlled homes. We turn a faucet and water comes out. The world’s events are literally at our fingertips 24 hours a day. Thanks to technological advances, many of us now live better than the royalty of the past, even on modest incomes. The industry that makes this possible? Manufacturing.

Manufacturing is the life sustaining force that touches every single thing around you—from the furnace in your home to your laptop computer to the pacemaker that may someday save your life. Manufacturers are central in creating a better, more convenient, cleaner and healthier life; but few of us focus on the positives, and that’s a mistake.

To reach and recruit the next generation of would-be manufacturers, it is imperative that we—the old guard—talk about the benefits of a job in manufacturing, rather than just its features. When reaching out to young people, talk about manufacturing’s role in the stewardship of our planet through recycling and eco-friendly practices. Talk about it helps people in need through bio-manufacturing and work in the health industry. Play up the myriad products that make people’s lives better and create a safer world.

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To talk the talk, of course, we must walk the walk. Jump on the green bandwagon by using lean and sustainable practices to conserve nature’s precious resources. Open your minds—and the doors of your shop—to new technology, energy and water conservation, affordable health care and other modern elements. Not only will you attract the best and brightest of today’s generation, you’ll be involved in work that is rewarding. And, you may even boost that bottom line.

If you are still skeptical about your role in creating a better world, here’s some food for thought: You may just stamp hinges in your factory, but somewhere down the supply chain, you’re contributing to an energy-efficient freezer. You may just solder circuits, but the pacemaker you helped create saves lives. You get the idea.

What does your manufacturing operation do to benefit mankind?  If you can make that clear, you stand a good chance of attracting the talent you’ll need this century to have a sustainable business, maximize Minnesota’s competitiveness and maybe even change the world.

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Feel free to browse through my posts.
Many articles are linked with the vision above.
I especially recommend:

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Tech skills: companies should get their hands dirty and help students

Posted by Bert Maes on September 29, 2009


http://management.silicon.com/careers/0,39024671,39529891,00.htm

Businesses must do more to help boost the numbers of students taking science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees in order to ensure the UK does not lag behind its international competitors, a new report has warned.

Failure to increase the number of STEM grads will mean the UK can kiss goodbye to being a world leader in sectors such as environmental technology, pharmaceuticals, high value-added manufacturing and financial services, according to the report by business association the CBI.

Effective collaboration between the higher education sector, business and government will be critical to the UK’s economic recovery and sustainable international competitiveness,” Sam Laidlaw, chairman of the CBI higher education task force, and CEO of Centrica, said in a statement.

Richard Lambert

Richard Lambert

The report notes that while UK undergraduate numbers have risen by 35 per cent since 1997, the proportion of students taking STEM degrees has declined by 20 per cent since 1999-2000.

While the CBI report also notes the recession has “undoubtedly” reduced the number of IT jobs available, it adds: “There is a strong demand from the business community for graduates and postgraduates with STEM skills, and this is expected to intensify in the future.

Richard Lambert, CBI director-general, said in a statement: “Business should engage more with universities, both financially and intellectually. More firms should help design and pay for courses for the benefit of the current and future workforce, and more firms should offer students practical work experience.”

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We’re in the Third Industrial Revolution :: Implications for education

Posted by Bert Maes on September 22, 2009


Notwithstanding the current market problems, there is a strong future for manufacturing, plus a strong need for people able to effectively CNC machine tools, says Peter Hall, managing director of Haas Automation Europe.

March 2009 Last Word front

Peter Hall

We are, according to Jeremy Rifkin, a leading US economist and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, entering the third industrial revolution. What he means by this is the end of the oil/carbon-based energy era and the transition to a new, sustainable energy future. Indeed, he suggests peak oil production will occur somewhere between 2010 and 2030 – after that the amount of oil coming out of the ground starts to diminish.

In brief, what he sees is locally-generated green energy distributed
via an ‘intergrid’. It will drive a revolution in technology that will require a huge variety of new and different things to be made and which will require machine tools as part of that process. That apart, up to 2030, a trillion euros – a million, million euros – must be invested annually into the energy sector to meet the world’s forecast demand. All that investment for products that must be manufactured.

But many things are going to have to change. Cars driven by i
nternal combustion engines will give way to electric cars, for example. But these new sustainable solutions will need to be manufactured, and manufacturing technology – machine tools and more – will be required to turn these solutions into products!

Smart programs and investments into technical educations are needed to  attract many more youngsters into manufacturing training.

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Full article: Revolutionary Times, Machinery.co.uk

Video: CNN – The Third Industrial Revolution

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Looking for a job? 1000’s of jobs available in the Wind Power Industry! Free guide here…

Posted by Bert Maes on September 20, 2009


wind-turbine-workersWind is the fastest growing energy source in the world. In the US alone, wind energy production increased by more than 21 percent year on year since 2007. It is predicted that that it could contribute 20 percent of the Nation’s electricity by 2030.

Most of wind energy workers are technicians specialized in turbine blade repair or electrical work.

wind_turbine_installation

Manufacturers of wind towers, wind turbine blades and nacelles (the turbine housing units that sit atop the tower and contain key components like the gearbox, generator and transformer) are investing heavily in the windy regions of the U.S.

Possibilities in the manufacturing sector

• Turbine Production
• Tower Production
• Gearbox and Component Parts

Click here for FREE GUIDE…

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Thanks to http://twitter.com/MyGreenEducate

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Manufacturing Education – How To Fight Back

Posted by Bert Maes on September 14, 2009


Matt Holzmann posted a very interesting read, titled: North American Manufacturing – How To Fight Back Against the Odds.

Amongst others, he clearly states that “fewer and fewer of our leaders have a real grasp of the process of making things”

But “crisis generates opportunity, there is a window open”, Matt adds. “Der Spiegel reported that it is manufacturing which is leading Germany out of the recession. Germany now leads the world in making the equipment and materials for many green technologies.”

Matt advises: “Technology equipment in many companies is 20-30 years old. We must retool for the new technology. Our infrastructure must be upgraded, especially if we are to see a transition to electric cars.

CareerlineThe same is so true for all schools offering metal shaping education!

>> Due to a lack of investments and a lack of “focus on building long term value” and benefits, the majority of the technical education establishments in Europe completely miss key technologies… to equip young talented creators with the skills they need to become leaders in reinvention of products, for “a world demanding green technology solutions“.

School leaders actually have the opportunity to make a real difference “for our future as individuals, as families, as industries, and as nations” by focusing on the right industry/projects/products.

CNC manufacturing for green technology engineering must become a central subject at each technical school…

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Linked post: “what can make the difference between success and failure of a school?

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