What would you like to add?
Posted by Bert Maes on April 19, 2011
What would you like to add?
Posted by Bert Maes on April 1, 2011
The Belgian backpacker Geert Van Vaeck who started his own ViaVia Travellers Café nine years ago in Honduras told me that he doesn’t expect decent economic or social change in the future. “Politicians and civilians here are used to just receiving money in the form of tips, without using it to build the community. We live here in a give-me-economy,” Geert said.
But not only Honduras is a nation of takers. Your country is nation of takers too. “We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers,” Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal claims. “Don’t expect a reversal of this trend anytime soon. Surveys of college graduates are finding that more and more of our top minds want to work for the government”, with a career offering lifetime security, no risks. “It is a system that breeds mediocrity, which is what we’ve gotten. Government jobs are being considered a life time job with rich benefits; all of which get paid by the taxpayers!”
In a recent study of Apple and Goldman-Sachs financials by John Cassidy of The New Yorker, it is estimated that the average Apple employee makes $46,000 per year. That same study concluded that at Goldman-Sachs the average salary is $430,700 per year. One of those companies “makes” a product that is sold and the other… manages money.
More people should be ‘nation builders’, more people should go in manufacturing again.
(…and nation building does not mean bombing other countries…)
Posted by Bert Maes on March 29, 2011
What is happening in your backyard? There is probably someone in his or her garage making money transforming metal or aluminium into new products using his or her advanced skills and cutting edge technology.
These people in their small manufacturing businesses, often micro-factories occupying just a few square meters of floor space – probably working almost next to your home – are the driving force of your wealth and your quality of life. Economic growth is generated locally, not by nations. The source of prosperity is always local! And that wealth always involves manufacturing.
So the small manufacturing companies are not solely there to make money for themselves; they are playing a bigger role.
And I see that students are becoming very aware of that. Andrew Reynolds Smith of GKN told the audience at the recent Rebuilding UK Manufacturing Summit that young people want to go into manufacturing, because it is their best chance of changing things.
How can that be encouraged further?
We urgently need to build a strong educational system… That is our weakness. Manufacturing education IS economic development.
Posted in Conversation Starter | Tagged: career, creativity, economy, education, employment, engineering, future, jobs, leadership, life, Manufacturing, skills, technology, Trends, vision | 1 Comment »
Posted by Bert Maes on February 10, 2011
Back in the days, craftsmen working in wood, stone and metal were professionals of high standing in the community. Joseph from Nazareth -for example- was a carpenter that was able to cut and trim trees, manage the forests so that people would have all the wood and lumber they needed in future generations, he knew how to lay a foundation, design and erect walls and ceilings of private houses or public buildings. It is said that Joseph introduced his son Jesus to this active and demanding profession at an early age.
“In his father’s workshop,” the French author Philippe Le Guillou writes, “Jesus had his preferred place: a beam supporting a platform that has never been built … While pulling off the bark of freshly cut wood, he inhaled the aroma that then floated in the workshop and into the house. Jesus was still too young to accompany his father climbing into the mountains to choose and cut trees. Instead, he spent his time repeating the litany of names of the tools, an activity that never bored him. And he kept asking Joseph if he could use the block, the working bench, the wood shaping plane, the blades, the molds, the jointers, the wood chips,…” 
Another example of wise people that were influenced by the manufacturing experience was Socrates, as reported by André Bonnard . “Socrates was a laborer, born from working people. His father was one of the stonemasons who squared, sealed and polished the blocks that were used to build the Parthenon. Socrates enjoyed observing those craftsmen. He marveled at the accuracy the workers put in their gestures. He dreamed of doing the same: using a set of fixed rules to adapt a block of stone towards its end goal. A noble profession.”
This common experience of the workshop, the contact with the material may have “sculpted” the souls of Socrates and Jesus. Without a doubt the lessons they learned at their father’s right hand influenced the thinking of those young men. They must have experienced that the strength, the precision and the patience needed to work the stubbornness of the material are essential in day-to-day life too.
The family workshop in-formed them, probably less in their physical vigor, rather in their power of thought. The experience of resistance and roughness of things builds a great soul. The experience of true manufacturing craftsmanship builds wise men and women…
Posted by Bert Maes on January 31, 2011
The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning recently conducted a public opinion research. One of the questions was: “What would make a big difference in improving science education?”
The results speak for themselves, and in my view can be generalized to CNC manufacturing education:
42% of people surveyed say that classrooms do not have the resources and equipment needed for STEM education…
>> Dear reader: what is your opinion on this???
Posted by Bert Maes on December 15, 2010
The 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data have been released and pretty much show that in general the past 9 years not a lot changed. Nothing suggests that we have made either substantial progress or experienced a marked decline in basic skills in reading, math and science.
That is a decade of status quo in most of the Western world. And I have got the strong feeling that both education and manufacturing lack a sense of urgency and a contagious enthusiasm. There seems no great dissatisfaction with this status quo. There is no fire. There seems to be no pressing need.
That was different in October 1957: the Soviet Union beat us into space by launching a satellite known as Sputnik. This immediately prompted fears that we had lost our worldwide dominance in the scientific arena and as a result were horrified by the thought of a space-based missile attack.
That was the wake-up call that caused the United States to boost investment in science and math education. Under the threat of national security, Congress immediately provided nearly $1 billion over four years to support improvements in teaching of science and mathematics, and fund low-interest loans for students pursuing higher education.
There we made a decision, we’ve put our minds to it, we got people together, we focused, we identified a very coherent and very particular vision of what to achieve, we formulated just a few very specific principles and above all: we got unified around an insistent, consistent and persistent shared practice.
And as a result, we not only did surpass the Soviets, we developed new technologies, industries, and jobs.
Since then, we have dismantled the essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. I am particularly thinking about two foundations of every economy: the education system and all manufacturing activities of building, creating, making life-saving things.
Both education and manufacturing have eroded rapidly. Investments have been neglected. This raises doubts about our future economic vitality, at a time when international competition from Asia and the Southern Hemisphere will pose serious challenges during this century.
It is only by creating great school cultures and great learning environments – where children truly can achieve great things and physically create a whole variety of great things – that we can be competitive internationally over the long run.
We cannot afford to cut back on creative technical education. But first we need to have a new sort of Sputnik event. We need a crack in the shell to move people. It seems to be very difficult for human beings to anticipate long-term forces in society and to jump over the walls of quick economic profitability, discomfort and immediate rewards.
Few will voluntarily embrace changes that make their lives more difficult. So few are aware of the importance and educational emergency.
The Huffington Post reports that it is nothing short of tragic to see that our kids aren’t getting the math and science skills they’ll need to thrive in their lives and jobs. “Government data show that almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require a firm grounding in STEM.”
>> Dear reader: what can change the status quo in education and/or in manufacturing?
Posted in Conversation Starter | Tagged: career, CNC, creativity, economy, education, employment, engineering, future, innovation, jobs, leadership, life, Manufacturing, skills, technology, Trends, vision | 3 Comments »
Posted by Bert Maes on November 18, 2010
Story by Matt Bailey
If you are machine tool manufacturing specialist or a student considering a long-term career as a CNC technologist, the following might spur you on and add a little inspiration to your day.
In 1979, American astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan co-wrote and presented an epic, 13-part TV documentary called Cosmos, in which the Cornell professor contemplated the origins and the immensity of the universe, the wonders of the solar system and the possibility and likelihood of extra-terrestrial life. The show was a huge success, on both sides of the Atlantic, due in no small part to its host’s ability to communicate complex and fascinating concepts.
In the very first episode Sagan used the familiar Roman calendar to illustrate the enormity of time since the universe was formed, during what astrophysicists refer to as the ‘Big Bang’, 15-billion years ago. He asked his audience to imagine that each month, from January to December was equivalent to one-and-a-quarter-billion-years. Each day using this scale is ‘worth’ approx 40-million years and each second, 500 years.
Sagan went on to explain that if we imagine the Cosmos began on January 1st, it was in May that the Milky Way was born and September when our Sun and Earth were formed. Early life, he explained, began soon after, but the first humans only appeared on the cosmic scene sometime around the penultimate day of the year. It wasn’t until December 31st 11:59 and 20 seconds, however, that humans applied their ability to make and use tools, organised themselves into societies and built cites. ‘We humans, appear on the cosmic calendar so recently,’ said Sagan, ‘that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st.’
The first, primitive tools were found in Tanzania, on the African continent, and have been dated at around 2 million years. Using Sagan’s scale, CNC machine tools, and all of the modern accoutrements and conveniences that we create with them, including aircraft, motor vehicles, domestic appliances, computers, medical devices, space craft and satellites – we’ve engineered and manufactured in the last seconds, just before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, where we live now.
We owe our standard of living to tools and their evolution and our future depends on how we choose to use them. When Sagan recorded Cosmos the world had a stockpile of 50,000 nuclear warheads, also made using numerically controlled machine tools, capable of destroying every city on the planet several times over. Thankfully, the world’s nuclear arsenal has been reduced dramatically and the global arms race is, we hope, forever behind us. But, unless we find new and better ways to engineer and make the things we take for granted; ways that do less damage to the environment and use less of our irreplaceable resources, we still run the risk of what came to be known in the Cold War as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).
‘We are the legacy of 15-billion years of cosmic evolution,’ said Sagan. ‘We have a choice: we can enhance life and come to know the Universe that made us, or we can squander our 15-billion year heritage in meaningless self-destruction. What happens in the first few seconds of the next cosmic year depends on what we do in the last few seconds of this one.’
CNC machine tools, and the people who operate them, will play a vital role.
Posted in Conversation Starter | Tagged: career, CNC, cosmos, creativity, economy, education, employment, engineering, future, Haas Automation, HTEC, innovation, jobs, Manufacturing, technology, Trends, video, vision | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Bert Maes on November 2, 2010
Family Tree by Signe Wilkinson:
Posted by Bert Maes on October 4, 2010
The employment losses make it tempting to conclude that manufacturing no longer matters much. The economy is ruled by the financial sector, many say, not by the production and supply of goods that people actually use. But when the banks got out of control, they dragged the rest of us down. Avoiding that happening again in the future requires “rebalancing”, says John Pullin.
Historically, manufacturing used to mean success. Historically, our strength has been in practical trial-and-error tinkering manufacturing and engineering, Mark Roulo explains.
Rebalancing, therefore, basically means “reigniting a fundamental relationship with dirt, work, and the business of making things, as opposed to the business of buying them”.
In the past, the biggest part of government strategies and ‘Marshall’ plans didn’t turn our declining economy into an expanding successful economy. I think we don’t want to see that the most vibrant regions today just take our innovative ideas and just imitate them, but especially: improve them. This ‘import-replacing’ is what makes them earning money. We stay behind with importing stuff, importing more than we can afford, losing money, governments that have to loan, and in the end can’t pay for the interest anymore, bringing us close to bankruptcy. We fail to make and produce a wide, diverse, creative, versatile and small-batch range of things for ourselves.
I feel we need to create a many-sided society again. With our current overspecialized economy every slight change makes us increasingly fragile. As a result, many economists still have no clue what will happen, and many shoppers stay home in uncertainty.
We have to start creating industries of our own again. I believe one of the best ways is this: Stop promoting non-technical education at the expense of our economy, but instead offer each student a wide range of technical skills and experience. Lack of investment in cutting-edge technical education is a likely step to long-term economic failure. The best way to prepare today’s students for the modern workforce is to give priority to training that leads towards high wages and good benefits (one of the hallmarks of manufacturing) and to skills that offer real value in the import-replacing workplace and in their personal lives:
“The high efficiency natural gas boilers come with computer controls and a 100 page manual. Damn, no-one should be ashamed to be the one who can come and make someone’s life better.” (from a post by Glenn Reynolds)
Posted in Conversation Starter, Policy, Solutions | Tagged: career, economy, education, employment, engineering, future, jobs, leadership, life, Manufacturing, technology, Trends, vision | 5 Comments »
Posted by Bert Maes on July 5, 2010
But if as plumbers, electricians, welders, carpenters, lathe operators, truck drivers and other “essentials” disappeared, our country would grind to a halt.
We must encourage skilled trades and people working with their hands. We must mobilize the public to restore the dignity of essential skilled workers. We must restore industrial arts programs in schools to provide opportunities for young people in greater numbers to build careers building the things the world needs.
The good news is that that there are successful national and local initiatives working to address this crisis. One of them is Bradley Tech, a Milwaukee-based high school that has four academies, each mentored by a sponsor company (AT&T, Harley-Davidson, PieperPower & Rockwell Automation)
Bradley Tech provides hands-on education that encourages skilled trades. Reaching the next generation of young people, with much-needed programs like this, is the key to a sustainable Great Recovery.
The lens through which I view the world is simple: The manual arts always take precedence over the fine arts. Remember, someone had to build the ceiling before Michelangelo could go to work.
Read full article: Help Wanted: Skilled Workers Need Apply
Dear reader: what is most important for the future of our globe – athletes, financing specialists or manufacturers? Or in the words of Nick Panayotopoulos: “What is more important? The performance of a country’s national soccer (football) team or its economy? I.e. goals or exports?”
Posted by Bert Maes on June 10, 2010
Posted by Bert Maes on May 31, 2010
Time to share cool stuff again after an inspirational trip across schools and training centers in Switzerland. I might talk about that later.
Today a video (received via @shreshtha19) with the perfect comment of one viewer: “Every time I watch this video I still get that WOW effect.”
That should be the goal of all manufacturing actions and communication!
For over 300 virtual factory tours visit Superfactory.
Posted by Bert Maes on May 21, 2010
The crisis has demonstrated that we can’t rely on finance to generate growth and drive recovery, but must restore innovation and manufacturing as the engines of added value in the economy, said Richard Olver, the chairman of BAE Systems Plc.
- excellent education systems,
- high levels of investment in research and development,
- strong links between industry and educational institutions (!),
- determination to increase exports,
- and an ability to translate research into products and services that sell.
Dear Reader: Do you know more characteristics?
Posted by Bert Maes on February 12, 2010
James Manyika, the San Francisco–based director of the McKinsey Global Institute:
With the unemployment rate in the United States lingering just below 10 percent and the midterm elections just nine months away, job creation has become the top priority in Washington.
President Obama has called for transferring $30 billion in repaid bank bailout money to a small-business lending fund, saying, “Jobs will be our number one focus in 2010, and we’re going to start where most new jobs do: with small business.”
The fund is among several measures—such as tax incentives, infrastructure projects, and efforts to increase exports—that the White House has proposed to help boost employment. As Americans consider the various approaches, we must have realistic expectations.
We need to debunk some myths about what it takes to stimulate job growth.
Oh, were that only the case. The scale of the challenge is enormous. Quick action is important, but remember that the US economy has lost more than 7 million jobs in the past two years. The country would need to create more than 200,000 net new jobs each month for the next seven years to get unemployment back to what was once considered a normal 5 percent. Quick fixes focused on 2010 alone won’t be enough. Of course, the right mix of government policies can help. But even if Obama’s proposals were enacted right away and they accomplished all that he hopes, they would at best represent a good start. America’s jobs challenge is a multiyear marathon, not a sprint.
New jobs come from both small and big businesses. From 1987 through 2005, nearly a third of net new jobs were created by businesses that each employed more than 500 workers. By 2005, these big companies accounted for about half of the country’s total employment, although they made up less than 1 percent of all US firms. But a look at the past two economic booms shows that the pace of job creation depends on more than the size of the businesses. During the economic expansion of the 1990s, large US multinational corporations—which employ an average of about 1,000 workers each in the United States—created jobs more rapidly than other companies. This was because they dominated computer and electronics manufacturing, the sector that drove much of that boom. During the more recent expansion of 2002–07, most of the net new jobs came from local service sectors, such as health care, construction, and real estate—which comprise both large and small businesses.
There is a lot of talk these days about green businesses, biotechnology, and other emerging industries that will create the jobs of the future. While they are obviously part of the solution, these industries are too small to create the millions of jobs that are needed right away. The semiconductor and biotech industries, for instance, each employ less than one-half of 1 percent of US workers; clean-technology workers, such as those who design and make wind turbines and solar panels, account for 0.6 percent of the workforce.
We’ll be able to generate significant numbers of new jobs only by spurring broad-based job growth across the economy, particularly in big sectors such as retail, wholesale, business services, and health care. High-tech innovations will help employment grow over the long term, as new technology spreads throughout the economy and transforms other, larger sectors. For example, while the semiconductor industry alone doesn’t account for much US employment, the computer revolution has fueled the growth of other industries such as retail and finance; similarly, the clean-technology business by itself doesn’t employ many people, but its developments could transform a big sector such as energy, creating new business models and new jobs.
Not so. While productivity growth means that individual companies may need fewer employees in the short term, it spurs long-term gains in the economy as a whole. Since the industrial revolution, increasing worker productivity has brought rising incomes, higher profits, and lower prices. These forces stimulate demand for consumer goods and services and for new plants and equipment—fostering, in turn, industry expansion and job creation. Take cell phones. Even 15 years ago, they were big, unwieldy, expensive, and worked only in limited coverage areas. But as new technologies enabled workers to produce phones and provide service more cheaply, the industry took off. Cell phones are now ubiquitous, and this has created jobs not just among phone makers but also among retailers, service providers, and a new industry of developing and selling applications for smart phones.
Maybe for some companies in some industries, but not for the economy overall. While it’s painful to accept, reducing unemployment is not mainly about regaining the jobs that have been lost. Sure, rising exports will cause some factories to scale up again, and many laid-off workers will be called back. But most new job growth will come from other sectors. History shows that recessions—particularly those that follow a financial crisis—accelerate the growth or decline already underway in industries. In this recession, for example, the auto, financial-services, and residential-real-estate industries have contracted significantly and won’t regain their peak employment anytime soon.
An increase in exports may stem—but will not reverse—the multidecade decline in manufacturing employment. In today’s developed economies, >> NET GROWTH IN NEW JOBS DOESN’T COME FROM MANUFACTURING; IT COMES FROM SERVICE INDUSTRIES. << (REALLY?????) Fortunately, boosting exports creates jobs in supporting service industries, such as design, trucking, shipping, and logistics.
James Manyika is the San Francisco–based director of the McKinsey Global Institute. Byron Auguste is a director in McKinsey’s Washington, DC, office. This article originally appeared in the Washington Post, on February 7, 2010. Copyright © 2010 McKinsey & Company. All rights reserved.
Posted in Conversation Starter | Tagged: biotechnology, clean-technology, economy, employment, energy, engineering, export, future, green, growth, high-tech, jobs, leadership, life, Manufacturing, McKinsey, production, productivity, technology, Trends, vision | 3 Comments »
Posted by Bert Maes on September 24, 2009
“Vehicles are not the whole story,” Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, said in a note to clients.
Gault noted that production rose in five out of 10 categories of durable goods, including machinery and electrical equipment.
The future is a career in precision manufacturing!
Check www.manufacturingiscool.com ~ includes sections for parents, teachers, kids with competitions, curricula, special events and fun.
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.
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 internal 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.
Full article: Revolutionary Times, Machinery.co.uk
Posted in Conversation Starter | Tagged: business, career, CNC, economy, education, energy, engineering, environment, future, green, Haas Automation, HTEC, industrial revolution, innovation, jeremy rifkin, leadership, life, Manufacturing, Peter Hall, production, Shortage, skills, technology, Trends, video, vision | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Bert Maes on September 21, 2009
Posted in Conversation Starter | Tagged: economy, engineering, future, industrial revolution, innovation, jeremy rifkin, leadership, life, Manufacturing, production, technology, Trends, vision | 1 Comment »
Posted by Bert Maes on August 5, 2009
If seen what GE is planning for the future: indeed manufacturing! and even better “green manufacturing“:
They call it the Net-Zero Energy home. It has ground source heat pumps (promising a 30% reduction in energy use), photovoltaic arrays, supplementary wind power, high efficiency appliances and battery storage, all talking to each other through a Home Energy Manager… (Source: Treehugger.com)
>> What do YOU think of this technology?
Previous post on GE:
BA in applied mathematics, MBA at Harvard and CEO of General Electric – Jeffrey R. Immelt stated:
“The United States needs to refocus its economy on manufacturing and exporting if it wishes to recover from a brutal recession.”
“Our economy de-emphasized technology and we tilted toward the quicker profits of financial services. The United States need to reduce its reliance on financial services to drive economic growth.”
GE will target manufacturing again, with reducing its GE Capital finance unit and building a new manufacturing research center outside Detroit that will employ 1,100 people.
Slowly the importance of manufacturing is being recognized…
Posted in Conversation Starter | Tagged: CNC, economy, education, finances, future, GE, General Electric, growth, HTEC, leadership, Manufacturing, real economy, technology, Trends, vision | 1 Comment »
Posted by Bert Maes on July 30, 2009
Mike Lynch, President of CNC Concepts, Inc. (email@example.com) gave an interesting interview on the reasons why he entered and stayed with CNC for his entire career. We wanted to make this information available to anyone who might have an interest in pursuing a career in CNC.
What do you like or dislike about CNC?
My favourite aspect is the feeling of accomplishment that comes with each success. Anyone who has written a CNC program knows this feeling. Seeing a workpiece being machined with your tooling, your process and your ideas is very satisfying.
Is there special training required?
The more training you have to start, the higher level position you can expect to get. And the more hands-on, the better!
Would more education or training be needed to get promoted?
In some companies, yes. However, you must understand that in general, manufacturing companies are starving for qualified people, especially qualified CNC people.
What is the condition of the working environment?
This varies dramatically from company to company. Many shops are downright filthy. Of course, the condition of the shop will tell you a great deal about the company management’s concern for their workers as you begin interviewing. Most manufacturing companies are highly concerned, and maintain very clean, safe, and pleasant environments for their workers.
Where do you think I am most likely to find work?
CNC machines are found everywhere. If you can get your hands on the business yellow pages, look up “machine shops” and “manufacturing companies“. A few calls asking whether the companies in your area have CNC machines will go a long way toward understanding the potential for a career in manufacturing in your area. Also note that people that have CNC experience can go just about anywhere. Many companies are willing to relocate qualified people and pay all moving expenses.
What are the requirements that companies looks for when taking on a CNC programmer or a CAD/CAM programmer?
At entry level (when hiring a person right out of technical school), most simply expect a high degree of enthusiasm and motivation. Believe it or not, your willingness to learn and grow with the company will probably be as important to your perspective employer as your qualifications.
We welcome comments…
Posted in Conversation Starter | Tagged: career, CNC, CNC concepts, economy, education, engineering, future, HTEC, interview, Manufacturing, mike lynch, Shortage, skills, technology, vision | 1 Comment »
Posted by Bert Maes on July 20, 2009
Mr. Chambers is right on!
More on: www.industryweek.com